Baking Bread- Intgrating Technology

We are in our second year of integrating technology. We moved from isolated and parallel “computer classes” to co-teaching with subject area teachers. THEIR curriculum drives what we teach, introduce, and reinforce in the computer lab. I am available full time (my colleague Paige M. part time)  to our faculty to plan, co-teach, and lead professional development opportunities for faculty, staff and administration. We emphasize our ability to :

  • co-plan
  • co-teach
  • co-assess
  • co-reflect
  • co-learn

After 1 1/2 years of introducing and working as the “Technology-Everything” person at the school, I am reflecting on the successes and pitfalls of our model. While I was searching for appropriate visuals to support this blog post, it crystallized itself that in reality technology integration is similar….to baking bread.

Baking bread or my reflections on integrating technology.

Recipe

If you desire to bake good bread, you will need to start out with a  good recipe. To get a good recipe, you may choose to use a good cookbook and/or learn from someone that has a lot of experience in baking and is willing to share. Make sure that you have all the ingredients and resources that you need. Make sure you have the required time to dedicate to seeing the bake process through. You are in trouble if you figure out half way through the process that you are missing the flour or that you will not be at home, when it is time to take the bread out of the oven.

So, the scenario is set…

As the technology integration facilitator, not the computer teacher or the babysitting service, you are to:

  • assemble all the ingredients
  • the utensils
  • know the procedures
  • have the right feeling for the mix- is a pinch of this or a spoonful of that missing?
  • be able to time each step of the way just right- know when to push ahead or when to allow time to let the dough rise

egg1

Most of the subject areas at school are separated by classroom, by class period, even by teachers ( in upper level at elementary school). If each subject area is restricted within its shell, than no knowledge or learning can spill out, connect with or through.

egg2

I see it as part of my work to crack the shells of each subject area open and let the content flow through technology In order to create we need to pull from all of our knowledge, not just the area of a particular period we are currently in. I need to make sure that I remember that grade levels might not have it clear how the skills they teach “fit into the big pictures”. They might not have it clear how they pick up where other grade levels or subject areas have left off and how they are the stepping stools for the “yet to come” learning.

egg3

So, all the shells are cracked open, the content areas are touching each other, they are all combined in a great big bowl, yet they are still separated by  a thin skin from the others. This thin skin could be:

  • individual preference
  • scheduling issues
  • territorialism
  • the way things have always been done
  • fear
  • inexperience
  • lack of self-confidence

It “seems” to be so organized, each subject area knowledge has its own place, assessed seperatly, everything seems in order and everybody content. What kind of learning is going on or missing if knowledge is separated?

It is time to mix ingredients. Flour or aka technology integration by co-planning and co-teaching is being added.

egg4

First it looks like that nothing is blending together. The flour, egg white and yolk don’t mix naturally at all. We need to bring in some tools that will make the process easier:

  • Professional Development
    • One on one
    • Just in time
    • Small group
    • School wide
    • Conferences
    • Mentoring
    • How- to Guides
    • Screencasts
  • Co-teaching
    • Co-planning
    • Tech Support in the classroom
  • Accountability
    • Teacher technology evaluations
  • Minimize technology related frustrations
    • Hardware, software, internet connections that work

schneebesen

Not every tool will work as expected. Sometimes we have to be innovative and flexible in order to blend all the ingredients. Depending on the situation some more ingredients might be necessary to create the perfect dough. A little bit of salt here, a little bit of professional development there.

baking2

A lot of hard work is involved in kneading the ingredients in becoming smooth dough. While kneading the dough over and over again, keep in mind:

  • student learning
  • relationships among and with colleagues
  • overall school philosophy and atmosphere
  • leadership
  • technology comfort levels
  • assessing
  • reflecting
  • re-evaluating
  • patience
  • patience
  • patience

making-bread

Sometimes the most perfectly formed dough, needs to undergo revisions again, there might be air bubbles, there might be pockets of flour. The doug needs to be flattened in order start
over again and giving it a new shape.

rolling_pin_and_dough

You will get the feel of what dough should feel like. Nobody can really teach you that. You know it when you get it 🙂

Next comes the feel for timing.

  • time to push for more change
  • time to support without overwhelming
  • time to hold back and let teachers rise on their own

dough-rise

So, when is it time to put the dough in the oven?

  • When is it time to require your teachers to integrate technology?
  • When are they ready to take off the training wheels?

bread
Image by sarako

When the bread is ready to come out of the oven, make sure to take the time to share with the hungry! 🙂

sharing-bread