This past week was FETC, Future of Education Technology Conference, week on my calendar. I have been going to FETC for at least 5 years. Some years I have felt that I got more out of the workshops and presentations than other years. But I always go because I truly feel it is important to be a life long learner and FETC is in my back yard. It makes it easy to attend since I live in Orlando and FETC is held in Orlando. Just walking the Expo floor you can see new products and trends that always got my mind turning as to how I can support the teachers in my former role as Principal. This year I looked at the vendors with a fresh eye as to how I can support schools that I am and will consult with to enhance their technology integration.

FETC also came this year as I am participating in ISTE’s Edtech Coaches PLN Book Study. This is a slow Twitter Chat book study on Liz Kolb’s book, Learning First, Technology Second. So I attended some great workshop sessions this year at FETC with a mindset for putting good/effective teaching pedagogy before the technology. Funny thing was that the presenters also seemed to be in that mindset. They often reminded their audiences that learning objectives and student needs must be defined first and then decide what technology would be appropriate. I would like to take it a step further and remind us educators that after deciding the learning objectives and student needs we determine what resources, digital or not, are best suited for incorporation into our lesson plans.

Learning First, Technology Second, discusses in chapter 2 frameworks for technology integration. One such framework is SAMR (substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition). In a Twitter post for the book study I said that I don’t think of SAMR as a scale from worst to best but rather an engagement scale for teachers moving forward in their use of technology in the classroom. I am starting to revise this a bit as I think intentionality is a key component of how we integrate technology into our classes and schools.

We presented a Poster Session at FETC on coding in elementary school. During the conversations I had during this session, the focus kept returning to the idea of doing activities, coding or STEM or STEAM, with little or no thought to the learning objectives. According to some of the conversations (and several presenters alluded to this), some teachers considered the activities as suitable ways to declare they were coding or incorporating technology into their classes. These teachers were doing what they thought was important for their students, to be given coding and STEAM opportunities. But I think we need to be more intentional with how we bring technology into our classes.

Talking with Micheal, my EdTech EASE partner, in between these conversations, led us to the word “intentional.” It is not enough to just “do” activities. There must be an intention plan for how these activities support the curriculum, provide enhanced ways for students to construct new knowledge, and engage the students beyond being fun. When teachers say they have no time to “do” technology, it is because they consider it an add-on rather than an effective resource for involving students in their learning. Instead of giving students a science vocabulary list that requires the teacher to explain each word, let the students do an experiment first (with technology or not). Then reflect with them why it worked or not, then introduce the vocabulary to put words to their reflections. The meaning of the words will be so much clearer.

So as you plan, be intentional. Don’t just create a plan of lessons, create an intentional plan of learning objectives. Then intentionally plan which resources to use to meet the learning objectives and needs of the students.

Originally posted on Friday, 02 February 2018

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