Technology Integration and Baseball

@mr_brett_clark 0 Comments

I recently sat down with my boss to reflect on the past year.  For those of you who don't know, I am an eLearning Coach in a school district in Southern Indiana.  I spend most of my days helping teachers integrate technology into their lesson plans.  This is our districts first year of being 1:1 in grades 6-12.  We were already 1:1 in the high schools the past two years but added the middle school students this year.  Like anything knew, we had our ups and downs throughout the year but overall it has been a great year.

When we were done reflecting on the past, we began to talk about the future.  What is next year going to look like?  I talked about the need to really begin to shift the way we do education.  I talked about how we spent most of this year just getting comfortable with the tools of the trade.  Now that we were all comfortable with the tools we had and felt more comfortable learning new tools, it is time to start leveraging technology to change how we teach.

My boss and I talked about how many school districts have fumbled through a similar process as they've integrated more and more technology into their schools.  He wondered aloud about schools that tried to do both, learn the tools and transform education at the same time.  Our discussion lead me to this analogy about the stages of technology integration.

Stage 1: Coach Pitch/T-Ball
Have you ever been to a coach pitch baseball game?  They are a lot of fun to watch.  Not because Albert Pujos is at the plate or Justin Verlander is on the mound.  They are fun because the kids are having so much fun with the new and there is little to no pressure.  Well, at least their shouldn't be.  This is the time for kids to learn the tools of baseball.  All I'm worried about are the basics. Can you swing a bat, run, catch, and throw?  The same thing is true with tech integration.  Do you know how the new tool works?  Can you turn it on, explain how to use it students?  In coach pitch, ever kid is suppose to be set up for success.  I really felt like that is what I tried to do this year.  I tried to set up every teacher in my building for success.

Stage 2: Little League/Babe Ruth League/High School/College/Minor League
I lump all of these together because this is that major transition time that continues from the initial entrance to baseball to the big leagues.  As kids get older, the coaching changes.  The conversation moves from swing, run, catch and throw, to batting stance, base stealing, when to dive and when to let it bounce, and when to throw to cut-off man or to come home with it.  The conversation shifts from the tools that are being used to how those tools are being applied.  Each year following that initial time of technology integration should be met with less talk about the tools themselves and more talk about how they tools can be used.  This should always be the endgame when it comes to technology integration.  If the tools we use in our classroom are only there to provide a little bit of flair to the lesson, then we are at a risk of those tools becoming a distraction.

This is an important stage because it really begins to separate people.  This is about dedication on everyone's part.  Are we as educators satisfied with our just knowing how the tools work or are we willing to push ourselves to change the way we teach?

Stage 3: Major League
Most people will stay somewhere in that spectrum of stage 2 the majority of their careers and their is nothing wrong with that.  The major leaguers are the ones who are the innovators that all of us in the lower stages try to imitate and emulate.  I still remember standing in the batters box as a young kid trying to swing the bat like Frank Thomas or having fun playing softball with the bat over my head like Julio Franco.

We need major leaguers that push us and inspire us to do more with technology in our classrooms.  By "more with technology" I don't mean we need more technology but we need to do more with the technology we have. We need to move beyond just knowing the tools but we need to pick the right tool for the job.  You don't pay baseball with a tennis racket.  It's not the best tool for the job.  If it was, you'd see Derek Jeter using one the next time he stepped up to the plate.

Many teachers have a fear of integrating technology.  They fear the students will know more than they do, and they will which isn't a bad thing.  They fear they will make a mistake, which they will but we all do.  I think one of the biggest things I can do as a coach is listen to teachers and their concerns, and help them see what stage of implementation they are at.  Once you know where you are at, and where you want to go, then the journey doesn't seem so bad.

Also, I must say, I love analogies.  I use them all the time when explaining things to people.  I used them when I was in the classroom and I use them now as an eLearning Coach.  I think I need AA (Analogy Anonymous)

Just for fun, here is a clip from Community explaining what an analogy is:



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From Innovation to Implementation

@MrBrettClark 0 Comments

I sat in a meeting recently where presenters from NCRTI were talking about moving from innovation to implementation.  Innovation is defined as a new idea, method, product, etc.  Implementation is defined as the act of accomplishing some aim or executing some order.  While we're at it, lets go ahead and define innovative as a person or business that introduces new ideas, methods, products, etc.  

I hear a lot of talk about schools, principals, and teachers wanting to be innovative.  However, I contest, that we must be much more than innovative.  Just using the latest teaching strategies or the newest technology does guarantee success.  As Adam Bellow says, "Actions speak louder than buzz words."


Look at the difference between the definitions of innovation and implementation. Innovation is simply the new, where implementation is the act of accomplishing some aim.  It takes more than a cool tool to do something great, but you must accomplish something and have aim.  How do you get there?  How do you move from an amazing idea to amazing results? Here are things our presenters touched on with my thoughts.

1.  You Explore and Adopt/Reject

I think this first step speaks directly to the Adam Bellow tweet above.  There are some amazingly awesome ideas out there when it comes to education.  However, we cannot just randomly pick the "flavor of the month", tell our teachers to "do it", and hope for success.  We must look at the innovation, whether its a new teaching model, piece of technology, or an app, and explore it to make sure it's the right choice for our students and our school.  I am not the first person to say this and I won't be the last, but we have to make sure the things we are implementing will bring us closer to what we are trying to accomplish.  I have seen many great websites, apps, and pieces of technology in my job and have instantly thought about how cool it would be to use such a tool in my work.  However, when I got over the initial excitement and began to think about it's usefulness, I realized that I was fine without it and it didn't fit the needs of my class.  Set goals, and then find the innovation that will bring you closer.  Remember, implementation is about "aim".

2. Planning

If you think we run through step 1, then you better not blink or you'll miss the planning stage.  We have a tendency to fall in love quickly with the new and then just throw it out there and hope it sticks.  Success does not happen by accident, you have to aim for it.  When moving from innovation to implementation, the first thing you need to plan for is what and how you are going to assess the success of the innovation.  Just like a good teachers decides how they are going to assess what they are teaching BEFORE they teach it, those who are going to introduce something new to a staff must do the same thing. You must decide what it is you are looking for and how you are going to measure for that success.  Secondly, you must decide how you are going to support those who are implementing the new concept or tool.  Then, once you have decide what you looking for, how you are going to measure it, and how you are going to support it, you plan on how you are going to introduce it.  Finally, plan on what the innovation looks like when it is fully implemented.  A good teacher wouldn't give his or her students a project without showing them the rubric by which it was going to be graded and giving examples.  Design a rubric of innovation that spells out what you are expecting this innovation to look like fully implemented in the classroom.  Then stair-step down a few levels to show teachers where they can start and how to build up to full implementation.

I personally believe you must have these things in place before you introduce the innovation to the staff because it will help you get buy in.  If the staff see that you and your team have done your homework, picked an innovation that serves a purpose, set a goal, designed adequate tools to measure success, planned to support, and have spelled out what your expectations are along the way, then they are more likely to buy in.  Without buy in, I don't care how good the innovation is...it won't work.

3.  Implementing

With your plan in place, you can now move forward and implement the innovation.  This section becomes a lot shorter because you planned well before you got here.  When you get to this point, trust the plan and stick to it.  We deviate and allow things to slide during the implementation stage if we have not adequately planned.  Don't compromise any part of the plan if it's going to undermine the integrity of the innovation.  Now I'm not saying you can't make adjustments on the fly, because you certainly can and will.  However, there probably won't be any sweeping changes to the plan, if you have adequately planned.  Also, be open, honest, and realistic throughout the implementation stage of the innovation.  Know when to push ahead and know when to slow down.  Putting something new into place is a delicate process and timing is everything.  Implementing is not like downloading an update to an app.  I don't have to convince my iPad that the latest update to GarageBand is a good idea.  However, education is very personal and you can almost always expect to have push back at this stage in the game.  Push back is not a negative thing.  It's through resistance, that we gain strength.

4.  Continuously Improve

I don't care how well you explored, planned, or implemented, nothing is ever perfect the first time through.  This is why you planned to assess.  This is why you planned to support.  This is why you planned to implement.  So that while you are working through this process you are making adjustments as needed.  Of course, this is also the time where you can decide if the innovation was the wrong choice and go a different direction.

Throughout this blog post I have used the word "you".  However, do not think I believe the journey from innovation to implementation occurs just because of the work of one person.  Every step of this process must be a team effort.  Throughout the process of moving from innovation to implementation I encourage you to include all staff, students, parents, and the community.  Great things occur when we when we all work together for a cause greater than ourselves.

Professional development is all about gradual release.  When you move from innovation to implementation, that which is innovative becomes an imbedded tool in the teachers' tool-belt. Unfortunately, for too long it has been more like "catch and release".  We bring educators into a room, catch their attention with something shiny, and release them into the wild.  Gradual release is a longer process that takes patience and dedication, but in the end everyone benefits.

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Support a "Bold School"

@MrBrettClark 0 Comments



Hello,

I don't normally do this but I wanted to let all of you know that my family and I are participating in The Delaware Dash. This is going to support the school my oldest and middle child attend. Delaware Elementary School, in conjunction with the Welborn HEROES Healthy School Initiative, will be hosting a 5K Run/Walk for the Evansville area at Garvin Park on Saturday, April 28, 2012, at 9:00 A.M.

Purpose of Event:
Our Mission: Equity and Excellence through Collaboration, Innovation, and Core Experiences. Providing such experiences to our students can get costly with the price of admissions and transportation. In addition to raising funds to provide Core Experiences for our students, this event will also bring families and community members together and encourage healthy lifestyles.

Delaware offers three exciting core experience classes: Science Lego Engineering, Math & Technology, and World Languages. These three core experience classes are offered along with the three traditional "special" classes of art, gym, and music. As a parent, my boys absolutely love these classes as well as the core classes they take at Delaware.

I recently read a blog post from Will Richardson about "Bold Schools". Everything about this post made me think of the school I am blessed to send my boys to on a daily basis. My kids have no textbooks, are rich in technology, have no letter-grades, and no homework. They have fallen in love with learning and have both made tremendous gains. Delaware was recently praised for their progress as they saw a 24% increase in the number of students who passed our state exam. They did it by focusing on students and their needs, not by teaching to the test. I would love to tell you more but I plan on doing that when I interview one of their leaders for an upcoming blog post!

That being said below is more information about The Delaware Dash. If you, or your business, are interested in helping out, please email me, mrbrettclark@educationdreamer.com, and I'll tell you how you can donate to this great cause. 










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