My Agenda

Last spring I became the Instructional Technology Coordinator at The Boys’ Latin Charter School in Philadelphia. I have outlined my action plan and presented my faculty with a comprehensive survey that posed a variety of questions concerning technology and education. Here is the list I presented:

1. What is your comfort level when it comes to using technology to drive lessons and projects? (5 being the highest)

2. What is your knowledge level of Web 2.0 resources (5 being the highest)

3. What open source or Web 2.0 programs are you currently using or have used in the past?

4. How often do you use your smart board per week beyond projecting notes on to the board?

5. Beyond projecting your desktop screen and PowerPoints, how have you used your Smart board this year?

6. Are you familiar with using Google Docs? If yes, describe what you know or ways in which you have used Google Docs in the classroom.

7. What is your comfort level using Google Docs? (5 being the highest)

8. What types of technology would you like to use more of in your classroom? List 3

9. How would you use an instructional technology specialist in your classroom? Planning?

10. What kind of technology PD sessions would you like to see presented in August and throughout the school year? List 3

I received a variety of responses from my colleagues and was able to gauge what kind of professional development to implement this summer. Below is a list of items that I will be covering with my faculty this summer and into the fall.

1. Google Docs
I figure I would start with a tool that most teachers are familiar with and is rather easy to grasp and integrate. I hope to focus on the magic, yes the magic, of google forms and how they can be used to collect data, discussion prompts, and warm up sets.

The other great feature of Google Docs that I will be presenting will be shared folders. We currently have a server at our school that houses all of our data but can be a pain when collaborating on a document. I plan on showing teachers how they can share folders via Google Docs within their departments and in their classrooms.

2. Podcasts
Many of my colleagues listed podcasts as something they wanted to learn about and immediately integrate into their curriculum. I have used podcasts before as public service announcements for vocabulary words, learning foreign language vocabulary, and phrases. There are so many possibilities when incorporating podcasts into the classroom and it creates a working functioning working environment when done correctly. Every student is part of the process and they are working towards producing something that they will deliver and present to the class or possibly publish on the web. The task is student driven and everyone is an active participant in the process. In short, students create their own product for learning that they can use themselves and pass on, present, and teach to younger students.

Podcasts are simple and easy to integrate. Kids love them and the output is media that they can use on any device that has the ability to sync with a computer and play audio files. Not to mention this media becomes sustainable and easily modeled and incorporated for future teachers of this particular class and students that take this course.

3. Blogs
I hope I can get all of my faculty blogging on a consistent basis. I really feel this is a great way to reflect on your own practice and learn from others within your school. Some of my students already have their own blogs that they have been writing for years. They understand the power of the digital world and it’s importance in their education. My goal is to get all of my colleagues blogging and writing about their classroom. Their focus does not have to be technology focused, but simply a way to reflect and share on best practices used from year to year.

There are numerous ways students and teachers can use blogs for learning purpose. I could begin listing, but would most likely run out of space. In my classroom last year I introduced my 10th grade English class to wikis and blogs. One of the best outcomes of this process was that students could see the power of the written word when you give it a vast audience. They also focused on their writing, spelling, and grammar a lot more when they knew they were presenting their work to a broad audience. Blogs can also serve as discussion spring boards within a classroom and provide transparency for parents and administration who would like to look in on the classroom occasionally.

These are just three of the tools I want my colleagues to explore, master, and integrate into their classrooms this year. I figure keeping it simple initially is a great way to create buy in and also give them practical tools that will save them time and create sustainable material that they can incorporate for years.

I will also be presenting the same professional development sessions either once or twice a month in the evenings to Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, etc. that would like to join in the learning process of their students. This is another way to create buy in from home and provide lasting relevance at school.

I look forward to your comments, ideas, and suggestions on this post. If you are an Instructional Technology specialist, coach, coordinator, director, etc. please leave your feedback and ways in which you incorporated technology into your curriculum.

**photo courtesy of