Monday, February 6, 2017

The Literacy of the 21st Century

In the last couple of weeks, we have made significant progress towards making our Five-Year Technology Plan go from words and numbers on paper to a reality.  On January 24th, I presented the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget to the School Board.  The budget includes funding to replace our technology infrastructure in all schools, adding ITRTs and technology support personnel, funding teacher laptops, and funding a 1-to-1 computing device initiative for all secondary students.

This was followed by the unveiling of our new Classrooms of the Future initiative, which I first identified as a goal in my Post-Immersion Report last summer.  With funding provided by the Hanover Education Foundation, this exciting opportunity allows teachers to compete for a complete classroom makeover, including modern furniture and technology, in order to promote more innovative and active learning spaces.  I’m encouraged by all the many possibilities that await us as we explore better ways to serve our students’ needs.

In the Information Age, we have access to more resources than ever before that can be used to design lessons that are more relevant and make real-world connections.  Further, technology affords us the opportunity to know our students in a more authentic way through adaptive software that aids in identifying which students would benefit from more rigorous work, as well as which students may need concepts retaught in a different way.

However, as with any new initiative, we must be deliberate in our efforts.  As we transition into a more digital platform, it is easy to fall victim to changing methods simply because something appears “cool” or “fun.”  In other words, technology should not simply be a substitution for what is already being done.  For instance, a dry erase board has become the modern substitute for the chalkboard of yesteryear.  A computer though, should not simply be a replacement for a textbook.  While a substitution may serve as a starting point, we will eventually need to work towards redefining what is possible in our classrooms by providing students with opportunities to participate in lessons through the use of technology that was not previously possible.

As technology becomes more prevalent in our classrooms, begin asking yourself these questions as lessons are designed:

1.    Is using technology going to enhance the delivery of the curriculum?
2.    If so, will it likely be a more effective method than my previous way of delivering similar material?
3.    Does the lesson deliver the appropriate amount of rigor?
4.    Is it relevant/applicable to real-world situations?
5.    Is the lesson student-centered as opposed to teacher-centered?

If the answer to all of these questions isn’t “yes,” that’s okay!  Start with making sure the answer to at least one or two is “yes.”  As you become more proficient and comfortable in a new environment, begin using technology to make your classroom truly transformational.

Happy Trailblazing!