Archive for April, 2010


The Way of the Future: Embedding Technology in 21st Century Schools

April 12, 2010

Why is it so important that we integrate technology?

“I would rather stick to the same lessons I have taught for the last 30 years, thank you.”

“ If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

These are clichés that just won’t cut it…if you want to survive in the 21st century. That’s right, I said, “Survive.” Darwin’s Survival of the Fittest  can be applied to our connected world and once again, educators are responsible for ensuring that our children, our future, are equipped with the skills they need to keep our world safe, healthy, and peaceful. We will evolve, our schools will need to evolve, if we want to survive in today’s digitized world. Integrating technology isn’t just about handing out toys to students and teachers, “It’s about unleashing the powers that students bring with them into the classroom” (A Vision of 21st century teachers ).  Technology enables teachers to plan, teach, and assess in more creative, engaging, and authentic ways than ever before. Technologies enhance the learners’ multifaceted, multi-sensory, exploratory experiences and facilitates a constructivist approach to learning.

Making It Happen

There are a couple of ways that technology integration can be implemented in schools.  One is at a personal level with small pockets of digital pioneers  who are risk takers and life long learners. This is the method I feel is most effective as teachers and students see you working alongside them, in the trenches, slugging it day in and day out. I believe teachers will be more willing to follow their tribal leader  if  they respect and trust that leader, a relationship that is more likely to be accomplished through continuous collaboration.

There is also School Wide Educational Technology Integration, which usually requires a more sophisticated and structured approach. There are several models that can be used when implementing the use of a technology on a wider scale.

One is the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge or TPCK (McAnnear 2008). This model provides a clear look at the need to ensure that the technology, content, and teaching practice are not separated, but rather considered simultaneously when planning the integration of a new technology.

Summerville and Reid-Griffin (2008) provide the Instructional Design Model, which focuses on learning about technology through the use of technology.

I like Walters’ 5W/5E  model for schools that are not yet progressing together, but all have a common goal: to enhance the student and teacher learning experience.  I see this model as clear cut and non-threatening. It is linear, and could easily be adapted so that it can be embedded in unit/lesson plan templates. I also think that this model has the potential to be collaboratively revised by the teachers who use it after 1or2 years of its implementation. There are many different models out there, but what  is most important is that you adapt, reflect on, and seek the input of teachers before implementing a model. Regardless of the model you choose, it is important to have a visual representation of that model for your teachers to keep technology integration focused and purposeful.

How does this affect me as a teacher-librarian?

Now, my role in the explicit instruction of digital citizenship  is more crucial than ever before. As students and teachers become more frequently exposed to life online, both formally and informally, codes of conduct are necessary to maintain order and peace in physical and virtual worlds. I also feel like it is important that I have already learned whatever technology is being implemented, so that I can differentiate instruction and offer mentorship for the different learning styles and needs of my teachers. Does this mean that the library will become obsolete? Definitely not. Students and teachers still need the face to face instruction, encouragement, and support that a teacher-librarian provides. Students still need their teacher-librarians to teach the how to locate, analyze, and evaluate information online.  The library still holds valuable print resources, computers, and a place for people to gather and community to be built.  And the library is still a great place to become enveloped in a good book The role I see myself playing in the technology integration at my school, is one of instructional leader, support person, and Professional Learning Network facilitator. A Teacher-Librarian with a flexible teaching schedule enables this vision to become a reality. One person can make a difference, but it takes a team of people, working towards a common goal, to make CHANGE. The excitement for all the possibilities that technology provides is contagious, and slowly, more and more teachers are joining my “tribe.”

These are web2.0 tools one might want to suggest to teachers looking to embed technology in their instruction.

Video and Photo Sharing Sites:,, United Streaming, flickr,

Video and photos can be used to teach concepts directly, to extend or support concepts already taught, to facilitate authentic understanding, and as a platform for creating new content.

Digital Storytelling:

Movie Maker (Microsoft), Audacity, VoiceThread

These tools help students to more clearly express themselves, represent in a variety of ways, and to learn to use different media.


Blogger, MyBlogSite, Edublogs, LearnerBlog, Worpress

These create authentic writing platforms, and platforms for communication.

Social Networking:, Twitter, Diigo

Current events:
Teacher Centre: A collection of lesson plans and activities to accompany FRONTLINE documentaries in the classroom.

The resource I have found to be most useful when advising teachers on which web tools would enhance their students’ learning, is this one because it lists online tools and how they can be  used to address curricular content.

Where to from here?

Katie Ash provides a hopeful glimpse into our future in her article,  where she describes the plan set forward by the Obama administration. I am hopeful when I read that the plan calls for a change in the infrastructure of schools, a change in the way we view academic success, and change in assessment, as well as a focus on using technology to taylor the learning of individual students. I am hopeful that people in positions of power, policy makers, administrators, are all on the same page: It takes more than throwing computers at teachers. Technology integreation takes training, time for play and exploration, expertise, and mentorship.


  1. Ash, Katie. (March 5, 2010) “U.S. Ed-Tech Plan Prods K-12 to Innovate.” Education Week.
  2. McAnear, Anita. (February 2008). “School-wide Technology Integration.” Learning and Leading with Technology. Pg.5.
  3. Mullen, Rebecca and Wedwick, Linda. (November/December 2008  ). “Avoiding the Digital Abyss.”  The Clearing House.  82;2 Pg.66-69.
  4. Summerville, Jennifer and Reid-Griffen, Angelia. (Sept/Oct 2008). “Technology Integration and Instructional Design.” TechTrends. Proquest Education Journals. 52;5 Pg45

5. Wang, Christine; Jaruszewicz, Candace; Rosen, Dina; Berson, Ilene; Bailey, Mark. (2008). “Meaningful Technology Integration in Early Learning Environments.” Young Children. Proquest Education Journals. 63;5 Pg.48




A Born Again Learner

April 5, 2010

“Lifelong learning is now possible in ways they never imagined,” Miguel Guhlin (Aug.19, 2009)

She sits in her seat, listening carefully to the melodious scribble of pencils sliding frantically across the papers on student desks. The odd sneeze, the odd shuffle, but nothing breaks that telling sign of good old fashioned hard work. “Ahh, it’s music to my ears,” she thinks, as the silence fills the room. A sure sign that her students are hard at work, learning…or are they?

Across the room, there’s a buzz of activity, as students think-pair-share about an experience they had similar to that of Emma, one of the characters in Margriet Ruurs’ book, Emma’s Eggs. And suddenly, the voices subside, with only one, unfamiliar, voice to be heard from across the hallway. The unfamiliarity of this voice pulls the neighboring teacher from her desk to investigate. To the surprise of the neighbor, a large screen displaying Margriet Ruurs’ face is displayed at the front of the class. Not only is she talking, but she is interacting with students who are sharing their experiences and connections, with her and the students behind her!

Later, in the teacher’s lounge, one teacher asks the other, “How on Earth did you set up a live meeting with an author?” To which the other replied, “I saw a tweet about and it immediately caught my attention. I asked some of the members of my Ning if they had tried this out before, and a couple of them said they had. The teaching ideas and resources are endless once you’re set up with these networks.”

Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) can be anything from a weekly coffee date with like-minded individuals, to a complex and organized network of Twitter, Ning, Facebook, Diigo, and Blackboard accounts. Regardless of the medium, the key is connectivity and the exchange of ideas that occur. With today’s fast paced society, it seems to make the most sense for teachers to use Web.0 tools, as these facilitate fast, organized, global connections.

I believe that teachers are naturally lifelong learners, because we are passionate about learning. Learning is what we “make.”

Professional Development through PLNs could be one of the most effective ways to support teachers as they continue to learn into the 1st century.

Recipe for an Effective PLN

With contributions from Camilla Gagliolo (2008), the INGREDIENTS for an effective PLN are:
1 cup of student centered focus
1cup of collaboration among teachers
1 cup of meta-cognition and reflection
1/2 cup of constructive feedback to individuals
A large bowl of goal setting as a community

Light the fire

Sparking a passion for learning

Note: Lighting a fire under “digital immigrants” is a mission to approach cautiously. There are several factors one must consider if expecting teachers to be willing to adopt a new “culture.” These include a need for time, encouragement, immediate feedback, and a time for reflection. Without these elements and not knowing the personality types of your teachers could be a recipe for disaster.
5 tools to adopt when creating a PLN (Sue Waters) Posted by David Kapuler in TheUnquiet Librarian Nov.23,
• a Twitter account
• Start your own blog
• Subscribe to blogs
• Start using a social bookmarking tool (Diigo)
• Join a Ning Community
Begin as a consumer, just as Cathy Nelson did, and become a producer once you are more comfortable in a culture of learning.
Addressing different teacher personalities is key when deciding on different ways to execute educational technology professional development (ETPD). We have the Innovators, who are adventurous pioneers and prefer individualized, hands-on inquiry. The Early Adopters focus on quality and are well respected, preferring group work . There is the Early Majority, who are not necessarily leaders, as they usually wait until critical mass is reached, but who interact easily with others to provide connections and prefer collaborative problem solving. We have the Late Majority who are skeptical, cautious, and adopt new tech only because they have to. This group prefers structured and assisted workshops. Finally, one needs to consider the needs of the Laggards who resist change and are more traditional, as they are generally more comfortable with individualized plans. As with any labeling system, there are exceptions. The key to successful implementation of ETPD is knowing your learners.
How do we support teachers’ pedagogical change? In my experience, I have found that lots of demonstrations, examples, and one on one instruction are key. Implementing one tool at a time is also necessary to make sure we’re not scaring everyone off. Lastly, I try to come up with ways that the new tech will actually SAVE teachers time, ORGANIZE their lives, and ENHANCE their students’ learning…Baby Steps.

What is it about this recipe that makes it so

Tag words: *Feedback *Support *Inspiration *Quality Instruction *Collaboration *Resource development

Our Predicament

“Most teachers probably have not had sufficient time or opportunity to engage in the kinds of professional learning necessary to help them to use educational technologies in new ways to assist their students’ learning,” (Harris 2008).

The Causes?

*A society that is changing way faster than our education system is capable of and our innate desire to give our students “the best” quality education possible.

The Result?

*Teachers who are burnt out, who feel defeated, and who develop a sense of resentment toward whichever policy makers are attempting to implement these initiatives. Often, the middle men, either librarians, tech people, or mentors, get the brunt end of this resentment too. But can we really blame them?

The Solution?

Time, Empathy, Time, Encouragement, Time…you see where I’m going with this one. Regardless of how this happens, it is crucial that teachers become “master learners” and that “students are apprentices” if we are going to be successful in the 21st century (Will Richardson 2010).

The Icing on the PLN

Formally living the role of student these last couple of years, has really allowed me to become more aware of the challenges, emotional obstacles, and motivation that my students and colleagues experience when they are learning something new. I have become more able to show cognitive empathy (trying to see where my students are coming from), which forces me to challenge my assumptions about students’ and colleagues’ actions. I think that Will Richardson might say that in the future, teachers need to work WITH students on learning new tech tools (our students can show us HOW they are comfortable using these tools), then more time for reflection among colleagues as well as collaboration on further implications/integrations of those tools to enhance student learning.

Gagliolo, Camilla (September/October 2008). “Help Teachers Mentor One Another.” Learning and Leading With   Technology. ISTE. PG.39.

Guhlin, Miguel (August 19, 2009). “Light the Flame – PLNs in Schools.” Around the Corner –

Harris, Judi (February 2008). “One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Customizing Educational Technology Professional Development Part One.” Learning and Leading with Technology. ISTE.Pg18-23.

Harris, Judi (March/April 2008). “One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Customizing Educational Technology Professional Development Part Two.” Learning and Leading with Technology. ISTE.Pg22-25.

Harris, Judi (March/April 2008). “One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Customizing Educational Technology Professional Development Part Three.” Learning and Leading with Technology. ISTE.Pg.

Kapuler, David (November 23, 2009). “Special Guest Post –Personal Learning Networks.” The Unquiet Librarian, Buffy Hamilton.

Ketterer, Kimberly (june/July 2008). “ A Professional Development Menu.” Learning and Leading with Technology. ISTE. Pg.11

Richardson, Will (Feb. 24, 2010). “Teachers as Master Learners.” Weblogg-ed. accessed April 1, 2010.