Today NutKase is delighted to present the third and final part of a three part series by Tracy Brown, an Instructional Support Teacher in Enumclaw, Washington.
3. Start Somewhere and Don’t Ever Go Back
In the past, students may have been lucky enough to be placed with a teacher with a lot of technology in his/her class and then jump to another teacher with similar technology in his/her room the following year. Unfortunately, more often than not, the student would be technology rich one year and then technology poor the following year. Over the past few years, I have began to see this trend change. The new trend is that once the student has access to the device anytime and anywhere, he/she will never be without it. In my first district, the rollout began in 3rd and 4th grades and moved up to 5th and 6th the following years. The students were able to carry the momentum of using GSuite tools across grade levels. In my current district we started the 1:1 rollout with students in grades 8-10 and cart access in grade 5. The high school students will continue to use their devices throughout the summer and into the next school year. Our fifth graders will be able to take home a device when they are in 6th grade. Both districts have the vision to make this project sustainable through a renewal of a technology levy every few years.
4. Understand the Need for “Dabble Time” and Constant Feedback
Jeff Utecht, one of the founders of Eduro Learning, says that teachers need time to learn and to play with devices and to try new things in a low-stakes environment – “Dabble Time.” Integrating technology into teaching can be overwhelming for some teachers. It is important to build a system for ongoing professional learning. In both rollouts, training was offered initially or in the spring before deployments with follow-up training throughout the year. This professional learning is offered during the teacher’s school day so that all teachers receive the training. It is important to build a common mindset with teachers from the beginning. Equally important is the follow-up training where teachers share their successes and work through their challenges with colleagues that teach the same content. After the initial year of training in the rollout, it is important to continue to feed teachers. One way that both districts do this is through a technology coach or facilitator. As a technology coach, I can model and share new technology, collaborate with teachers and co-teach in their classroom so there is tech support in the room when the teacher tries something new. I get the opportunity to see and to share the great things that are happening across our system.
Feedback is important as you are building and planning a 1:1 system. There are so many stakeholders in this process. It is important to gather feedback from teachers and students. Both have a perspective about the project. My favorite feedback examples come from students. In my first district, students in grades 3-4 were asked why every student needs a Chromebook. This is a visual picture of their response:
In my current district, we polled our high school students after two months with their devices. Students were asked which GSuite Apps and Web tools they were using on a daily basis, this is a picture of their responses:
5. Do Work Differently
To me, this is the trickiest part of the entire rollout process. How do you change the entire system to embrace the change in teaching and learning? How do you help all teachers, especially those new to your system, embrace the instructional changes that technology can bring? How do you help teachers to persevere through the challenges going back to their “old” ways because it feels easier when classroom “chaos” ensues? How do you adopt curriculum that embraces creating, collaborating, communicating and critical thinking? How do you continue to feed staff through professional learning opportunities? How do you evaluate the impact of a 1:1 project over time? How do you keep the system moving forward?
The answer is that I don’t know. I have ideas to keep teachers learning, to keep district leadership modelling blended learning, and to keep students engaged. The reality is that I need more time to see the true impact of these 1:1 projects. For now, I leave you with this: Blended learning through devices is how we do business now in my district, and I am so excited to be a part of it!