Saturday, April 30, 2011

Have a second?

Tech Training for Teachers

I’m currently on a tech committee in my district looking to update our tech plan. One of the things I have been passionate about is the way training takes place. I firmly believe that if we want teachers to be comfortable using new forms of technology in their classes, we need full time technology integrationists. The powers that be like the idea, but want to know a little more.

I propose that 5.0 Technology Integrationists (TI) be added to the district. There would be 2.0 for the High Schools and 2.0 for K-8. The remaining 1.0 Technology Integrationis  would be in charge of coordinating the programs for the district and supporting the other 4.0 in the various buildings in the district.

I see this as a two-year plan to help support the teachers in the district. This is where I need your help. What ways have TIs been used in your district? What specific tools should our TIs focus on when working with staff? I would like to have certain areas to focus on during this two year commitment. What worked and what didn't work for your district. I really want this to be a great experience for the students and staff in the district. Any help you can provide would be awesome.  Please leave a comment below and pass this along to others who might have great ideas to share. Thanks for helping this nerdy teacher out.

- Nick


  1. This is very basic, but I believe teachers should utilize Google Docs and also a blogging platform. I have mixed feelings about wikis simply because I have not used them that much myself.

  2. Tools for saving/syncing work such as Dropbox, iwork, zotero etc

    Tools for student collaboration such as google docs, voicethread, online discussion etc

    Tools for authority-building such as the above, plus social-bookmarking, blogging, wikis etc

    Tools that every student will eventually use so teachers should know about them such as Facebook

    Tools for creating digital onjects such as screencasting, podcasting, word clouds

    For good list of specific tools see

  3. I agree that be able to use Google Docs is a great place to start. I also think the teachers need to know about web safety and copyright to model and help their students in the classroom, especially if the school is 1-to-1 with computers. I think keeping teachers up to date of new digital tools and online resources for curriculum units would also be a big benefit.

  4. Teachers need a home base to build from. I spend a lot of time showing teachers different web 2.0 tools and the key to success is having a teacher website to keep everything organized. Teachers need one URL to give their students and we aren't there yet in my district. I hope we will be there soon.

  5. Sorry if you receive a duplicate comment from me - my first attempt didn't seem to work.

    I know that this isn't exactly what you were looking for but my first suggestion is to ask your teachers what they want. I know that we are not always aware of what we don't know but when we recently asked our teachers what they have always wanted to know or try with technology we got some great (and very specific) responses. You could try that.

    Secondly, you could ensure that teachers are familiar with 21st century skills and then share tools that could be used for each. Cheryl Lemke recently shared this short list at a workshop and I find it more manageable:
    Inventive thinking:
    - critical thinking
    - creativity
    - self-direction
    Community Connections:
    - collaboration
    - communication
    - cultural literacy
    Digital Learning:
    - information/ media literacy
    - digital citizenship
    - global awareness
    Maybe you could focus on one section at a time and some tools that could be used to support it in different subject areas and at a variety of grade-levels.

    Regardless of how you do it, in my first year as ICT integrator this year, I have learned that teachers need to leave your PD sessions feeling empowered and supported to try something new. To do this, they need to see how the tools could easily be implemented and be of benefit to students. Also, having someone around the first time they try something new to "trouble-shoot" is very comforting to many.

  6. Our technology integrationists doing ongoing training on the technology we have in our district so teachers know how to use them effectively and they also share what kinds of projects they could do with them. This most often occurs when the technology is new. For instance, our interactive white boards (and they offer basic classes, intermediate classes and advanced classes), activotes, dual pens for interactive whiteboards, web 2.0 tools, and anything that is fresh and new in the technology world. Our trainings are offered after school for 2 hours at a time and we are allowed to use them for Act 48 hours. At times, though, we have been even paid to attend them when it has been incorporated into a grant for certain technology that we receive.

    In addition to trainings, they also are available to come into our classrooms for set times for bigger projects (like Skype sessions) that we would feel we'd need an extra pair of hands to trouble shoot if a glitch should arise.

    Good luck! We love our TI's and couldn't imagine life without them.

  7. This is going to sound ridiculous, but here it goes. Make sure all of your teachers are comfortable with all of the Microsoft Office applications.(if that is what your district is using )I was truly surprised to find out that 60% of my teachers knew just the bare minimum.

    Also, provide in-depth training on your email system. Not everyone is familiar with email and they feel uncomfortable asking for help.

    I also believe making staff and students aware of online note-taking tools is important, like Zoho Notebook. Also, familiarize everyone with EasyBib.
    This makes citing sources easy to handle.

  8. OOOH. What if you started with a list of technologies to choose from, and introduced teachers to them in a brief overview/demonstration. Then teachers could choose the ones they see working best for them, and be given actual time with the tech specialists to help them develop lessons that will serve them AND integrate the new technologies.

  9. I suggest several areas and within the areas, put resources, how-tos, people to contact and maybe suggestions

    links to state or district content standards

    Materials list
    all the ancillaries that go with adopted materials
    standards traces if you have them
    pacing charts
    TOOLS - links and directions for accessing online textbooks; PollEverywhere or other response tool like ActiVotes; Google forms or surveymonkey; Tikatok for writing composition, GrammarGirl; APA or AMA style manual (OwlWise??)

    Links to other online textbooks (free list at California's CLRN, some at and more)
    starfall, Time for Kids Readers, Promethean Planet; Illuminations Virtual Manipulatives

    Assessment blueprints
    data analysis protocols
    Team meeting resources (articles on how to run team meetings, effective communication, if you have a PLC protocol.
    Fair Use documents
    Acceptable Use Agreement
    School calendar
    TOOLS: Google calendar for lesson planning; SlideShare for sharing articles, powerpoints other pdfs and ppts; Google docs; a share drive or DropBox; Type with Me

    Links and directions to parent portal, report card program
    Blog, webpage or newsletter on SlideShare or other
    Parent Handbook

    Links to standards for the teaching profession; links to PD calendars and conferences
    Sample of district evaluation form and explanation
    How to use MS Office tools especially tracking changes on a Word doc; the full program of Adobe Acrobat so they can make and break documents;

    that's enough for now

  10. Basic creation software:
    Microsoft Office, Google Docs, whatever your school/district uses

    If you have interactive whiteboards, knowledge of the included software.

    Blogging platform

    Social media tools for their own PD.

  11. Tools for collaboration. We actually found that as a first step, Diigo was a great tool. Once they begin bookmarking, they move on to follow each other and share resources and articles of interest.

    A school Ning is also a great way to foster communication among faculty and collaboration on projects.

    Once they are comfortable, they should work to further develop their PLN with RSS feeds, Twitter, blogs, etc.

  12. As a technology integration specialist for the last two years, I can honestly tell you that if your focus is on the tools, this endeavor will be a colossal waste of time and money for everyone involved.
    You need to focus on the elements of effective PD. By effective, I mean PD that is going to change teaching practice. If a teacher moves from using worksheets on an overhead projector to worksheets on their new IWB, will there be any benefit to students academically?
    Workshops and "showing" sessions are only good for introducing teachers and potentially motivating them to learn more. You need to develop a model of in-class, just-in-time PD where your ET's are working shoulder to shoulder with teachers in classrooms, often with students. There should be collaboration (building PBLs), peer observation/coaching, and modeling. The focus should be on the curriculum and teaching, not the tools. I'd recommend looking at the TPACK model.
    Everyone is at a different place on the teaching spectrum which means they all need individualized PD. You also need huge admin support in each school. Without their promotion, you are sunk.

    Good luck, you are on the right track and changes will be noticeable from the beginning. Capitalize on the early adopters and master teachers. Their enthusiasm will infect others.

  13. Since launching MOOPLE.NET within a range of schools we have seen that many of the schools have benefited from adopting a core set of tools around which a culture of self-help can be built within individual schools.

    Many of our schools have adopted Google Apps as their core, although a few more are now choosing Live@Edu.

    The schools can then build a CPD programme around using the core Google or Microsoft tools across the curriculum. By using the ability for staff to create their own widgets and dashboards in MOOPLE.NET they can then use these core tools to create simple, online learning activities for individual lessons or over a longer period of time.

    Learning the core Google/Microsoft/MOOPLE tools then seems to be giving staff the confidence to start exploring other online tools and integrating them into the MOOPLE Dashboard structures, allowing those staff who are less confident to experiment in private.

    And since the Microsoft/Google/MOOPLE.NET tools are all free to use the schools have lost nothing.

    When I did this in my old school we spent 18 months focusing on the core tools but supporting individuals and departments in the use of specific tools that supported their needs. The key was that they had chosen these tools themselves because of an identified need and so it was much easier to support them in the early stages.

    After an 18 month programme, which involved a lot more than I have written above, we had all the school making use of ICT effectively and because subjects and teachers had taken ownership of their use of ICT they were also engaging in some quite effective assessment of ICT competency.

  14. Teachers need a central place to work from, not a bunch of random web2.0 tools. This could be a wiki, an LMS (like Moodle), a class website (Google sites, Edline, etc.).

    Show teachers how they can use the tech with other teachers, and they will immediately see how they can use it with their students.

    I would nix Google docs - very hard to use, which will turn tech-fearful teachers off forever.

  15. Nick,

    You have a great list here already but I think the key will be for these people to be plugged in with a solid PLN on social media. That is truly the best way to stay on top of what's new and what is working in other schools.

    Also, I was say that in my experience these tech people need specific strategies and opportunities to get into classrooms with kids and teachers. That is the best way to see what the needs are and how new tools can best be used.

    Good luck!

  16. All of the previously mentions tools are great but I think the focus needs to be taken away from the tools and be on program. A Technology Integrationist's success is dependent on establishing relationships with the teachers. They need to know where each teacher is with tech, know what fuels their passion in education and then collaborate with the individual teacher to find the specific tools that will best advance their practice. Then they need to follow through and support the teacher's use of that tool. Collaborate, implement, assess, and then repeat the cycle.

    Making a list of tech tools that each teacher must learn to use is flat, it becomes a chore. Keep the excitement that technology offers, connect the learning, make it personal, inspire not require.

  17. I agree, teaching only the tool is not effective. Teachers need to understand why a tool will be beneficial to them before they will care about how it works. I also agree that relationships are a big key. I am partially responsible for tech integration at my school, and the people who come to me for help are the ones that I have a solid relationship with. Make technology integration relevant to teachers in their subject/grade level and figure out what they want/need. Technology integration looks different in a 1st grade room than it does in an 8th grade room.

  18. It's not about the technology, it is about instruction so be sure your TI's are actual classroom teachers with experience with the grades they are supporting and the standards for those grades. One thing we did well was create 3 levels of technology proficiencies. We then did twice per month learning opportunities and all teachers and admins had to actual demonstrate they had these skills. 1st year level 1, 2nd year. level two and the 3rd year tech integration will become a part of the walkthrough/eval system. Also, our goal was to empower the staff to be the experts...I could write about this all day...feel free to contact me via twitter @theresashafer , I will happily send you what we have.

  19. Just some quick thoughts, as our county has this position in just about every school, which is crazy rare.

    -Hire certified teachers that are well respected as both quality teachers and quality users of technology. And make sure people like them and they're patient.

    -Go with modelling for the vat majority of training- divvy up grade levels, get coverage, then have the TI model a lesson using technology while the other teachers observe, take notes, write questions, etc. Then have teachers create some plans with something they're comfortable with and have the TI co-teach with them. After each, have conversations about what went on, what went wrong, and share ideas on things to try in the future.

    -Support, support, support! It's all about support and patience! It's definitely the right direction because too many districts buy the equipment but then do a shoddy job of actually providing embedded ongoing support so the $$$ is pretty much wasted.

    Good luck!!!

  20. Nick,

    I agree with Andy above... offering PD for tech training is key.

    I'm not sure how people are using IWB's in your school, but we are now getting a lot in our building. Three years ago, we had zero - now, nearly every teacher has one; however, most are still using them as white boards.

    The interactive features aren't being used to their full potential due to lack of 'know-how' and time.

    If our building was offered a quality PD on Notebook, I believe more would be actively engaging their students with the various features the product has to offer.

    Teachers want the training... we're waiting. :) Our district is great - so, I'm sure it's coming.

    See you this weekend! - May 7th!!


    Erin Klein

  21. I am a TI and a teacher. When our high school added a TI we decided to split it between two teachers. We are both in the classroom each day and yet do not overlap so we can support teachers any hour of the day. We love it. It adds all sorts of credibility to what you do if teachers can stop by your rooms and see it work or if you can talk about what you do with students. If you cannot do this then get a certified teacher who likes teaching.

    My second piece of advice is to remember that it is a process. We have been one to one for five years and some research that I read from the early 90s still rings true today. In year one a teacher will just do the same old thing using the technology. A lot of Word documents instead of worksheets. In year two they start to change lessons and activities to have all the advantages of technology but they are still in the framework of old units. In year three they blow up the entire structure of their units in response to the power of the technology resources.

    Finally, remember that technology integration needs to be taught in the best ways. Personalized, constructivist, and learner centered is all that works with teachers. Start with each teacher's strengths and integrate the technology there. Never suggest technology to shore up a weak area in a teacher's course. If you build on their strengths eventually there will be so much of the good the bad will be minimized. This is actually pretty good advice for working with teachers in any capacity, not just technology.

    Feel free to contact me for more, or better yet come on over and visit. We have hosted hundreds of schools over the last five years looking at our PD model and our one to one program. I think from looking around you are only a couple hours away.

  22. Our IT integration specialist structure:

    14 Schools
    1 ET

    Schools book dates directly with the ET, some book regular days throughout the year, while some book as the need arises. Sub coverage from the district is provided if the schools request, however, many schools utilize internal coverage or preps. School admin or school tech lead will create a schedule for the appointment date and send to the ET. ET contacts the teachers to find out what they would like to work on during the visit.

    If you'd like more info, contact me: @cunningandy

  23. I am a TI, but I have to just sit and wait for people to ask for help. I am often an afterthought. I have been working to change that, but teachers aren't really interested. Most of what I can do is a result of sharing resources along the way.

    I believe that administrative encouragement to teachers would be so helpful. I have great relationships with the teachers, but they often go "hey, we should have asked you for help with..." I also see that our teachers are quite overwhelmed with the "have-tos" to look at what they consider "want-tos".

  24. @Amy

    Can you take care of an "have to" for them so they are freed to see you? This has worked in my environment for some teachers.


Please post your thoughts here. Thanks!