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Running head: IMPROVING TECHNOLOGY USE IN AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

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Improving Technology Use in an Elementary School

Internship Website: http://flancbaumintern.weebly.com/

Mark Flancbaum

March 31, 2015

University of Colorado, Denver

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Introduction and Problem Statement

I am a fifth grade teacher at Brown International Academy, an urban, K­5 elementary school. I am colleagues with approximately 40 teachers, specialists, and interventionists. Access to technology varies from classroom to classroom. All teachers have access to one Chromebook lab and one Mac desktop lab. Teachers have an assortment of technology in their classrooms including Chromebooks, iMacs, iPads, Promethean Boards, and document cameras. 85% of Brown’s students have access to the Internet at home.

My direct supervisor at Brown is my principal, Lynn Heintzman. She was also my supervisor for my internship. Throughout my internship I worked collaboratively with my supervisor. I also worked with our technology committee, the current technology specialist, and next year’s technology specialist when appropriate. For my internship my supervisor asked me to improve the technology use of our staff and students. I had the task of figuring out what that meant.

Our school recently increased the amount of technology available to teachers and students. One problem is the technology is not being used as effectively as possible. The main uses of technology are currently research, typing, and testing. Means (2001) said, “Despite countless networking and interactive possibilities, the most commonly assigned use of classroom technology during 1997­98 was word processing, followed by Internet research and information gathering” (p. 57). I was surprised to find our school in 2015 was is in the same situation Means described in 1997­98. Many staff members want to use technology effectively, but do not know how. As a result, students in our school are missing out on powerful ways technology can enhance their learning. In my internship, I worked to move our school toward more effective technology use.

Purpose and Goals

The purpose of my internship was to improve the technology use in our school. Although many ILT competencies were addressed, my focus was on competency 6: Professional learning and leadership. I began with one objective in mind. As I started my work, that objective became three major objectives. The three objectives were:

  • 1. Teach classroom teachers’ students to improve student and teacher technology use.

  • 2. Deliver professional development and provide individualized support to improve teacher technology use.

  • 3. Assess teacher technology needs to improve school technology use.

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Phase 1: Teach classroom teachers’ students

Working with classroom teachers and their students was my original goal for this internship. I planned to teach classes so their teachers could see effective technology instruction in action. I aimed to support each teacher in a way that would be most beneficial to where they currently were in their technology instruction.

Intervention

I worked with three third grade teachers and their students. I chose third grade because I found they had open time that coincided with my planning period. This allowed me to teach classes in the limited open time I had during my day. In addition, I chose this grade level based on Rogers’ (1995) theory of diffusion of innovations (see image A). I knew all three third grade teachers fell into the early adopters or early majority categories. Because of this, I was confident they would make strong starting candidates.

Image A: Rogers Diffusion of Innovations

IMPROVING TECHNOLOGY USE IN AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 3 Phase 1: Teach classroom teachers’ students Working with

Constraints

The major constraint I had was available time. In order to teach other teachers’ students, it had to be done during a time when I did not have students. My planning period was the only period long enough where this was the case. I also had to consider the other teachers’ schedules. Time to teach their students was already limited. It was not possible for them to give up large amounts of time for technology lessons. Even with these constraints, I was able to move forward with this group of motivated third grade teachers.

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Procedures

To begin, I informally contacted each third grade teacher to gauge interest. After getting the green light, I surveyed the teachers using Google Forms to check schedules and needs. From the survey and informal conversations I was able to determine which teacher was most ready. I created a schedule to meet with each class twice over several weeks time. I also determined what lesson each teacher thought would be most valuable. This helped me to plan the content of each session.

In my first session, I consulted with the classroom teacher and found she had a strong desire to use PowToon with her students. PowToon is a web­based program used to make animated videos. The teacher wanted her students to learn how to use the program so they could use it for future projects.

Because this was a group of third grade students with limited technology experience, and because I had limited time with them, I created PowToon accounts for each student. During the two lessons I taught the third grade students the basic elements of PowToon. Each student created their own basic PowToon. I used teaching moves I have found to be effective in my own technology instruction. This was for the benefit of the classroom teacher who was watching the lesson.

I repeated a similar process with the other two classes. In the second and third classes we used our time to set up shared Google Drive folders. The folders we set up were shared between the student and the classroom teacher. I taught students how to create documents inside the folder to share with their teacher. I also taught the teacher how to efficiently access these folders and provide meaningful feedback using the commenting feature in Google Docs.

Findings

Overall, Phase 1 of my internship was successful. Teachers gave positive feedback when asked

about the experience. Table A highlights some feedback given by teachers.

Table A: Classroom Teacher Feedback

Teacher

Feedback

Carly

"Many of my students are using PowToons for our upcoming summative assessment in our heroes unit. They feel confident to complete this independently. Also, the time spent with user names, passwords, and logging in has helped make them more comfortable on other websites."

Amy

"Some of my kids do their reading responses on Google and share them

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with me. Also, I have kids working on projects for end of unit assessments in Google, and they will be sharing that with me as well. I would love some advice about the best way to set up folders for next year."

Diane E.

"I have been able to use Google Drive in small groups in reading. Students respond to reading and I am able to give them feedback. Thanks!"

Teaching three rounds helped me to refine the process. In hindsight, I believe the sessions on Google Drive were more powerful than the sessions on PowToon. I noticed throughout my internship that when teachers were clearly shown how to use Google Drive with their students, it had the greatest impact on effective technology use.

  • I also believe starting with a small group of motivated teachers was a smart decision. It made the

process manageable for me and for them. I would like to continue with other grade levels, however at this point that is not a feasible option. Perhaps in the future, if my time constraints were to change, I could pursue expanding this work.

Phase 2: Deliver professional development for staff

In Phase 2 of my internship I designed and delivered a professional development to teachers about digital feedback in Google Docs. During a staff meeting, teachers were sharing methods of feedback they use with their students. I shared how I use real­time commenting with my students in Google Docs. There seemed to be a lot of interest from staff members, and so my principal asked me to teach a professional development on the topic for our staff. I considered

her request, but asked for one modification. I asked if we could make it part of a differentiated professional development. Klemmer (2013) said, "Differentiated instruction is something practiced and lauded within classrooms across America. Yet, we don’t practice any type of

differentiation when it comes to developing our best teachers.”

I only wanted people to come to

my session if they were ready and motivated to implement this strategy. I asked this of her because I have done other technology professional developments where only a handful of teachers were ready for the instruction. I did not want to waste teachers’ time, and I wanted to focus on those who were truly motivated and ready.

Intervention

  • I had eight motivated teachers attend my professional development. The major goals for the PD

were:

  • 1. Teachers will experience feedback as a student

  • 2. Teachers will see one way to structure student shared folders

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Constraints

The major constraint in this phase was the experience of the teachers attending the PD. All teachers were motivated to learn, but there was a wide range of readiness to receive the instruction I was presenting. Due to this constraint, several participants were not ready to implement what I was teaching. However, the participants’ different competency levels led to powerful individualized support after the PD.

Procedures

The PD was unique in that I did not know who would be attending. To prepare for this, I set up

my classroom to accommodate 20 teachers. This included setting up 20 computers and printing 20 Google Drive logins.

Through using Google Drive with my own students, I have refined my methods of providing real­time digital feedback. I wanted my participants to experience feedback as if they were a student in my classroom. I knew experiencing the process would be more meaningful than hearing about it.

I had each teacher login to Google Drive as one of my students. In order recreate my classroom environment, I walked a teacher through the process on the Promethean Board so that other teachers could see and hear the steps. I then had each teacher create a new document in the shared folder and type a short paragraph. Just as I would in my classroom, I quickly popped into each shared folder and provided formative feedback on the participants’ writing as they were typing.

Throughout this process I switched back and forth between teacher and presenter mode. This allowed me to show my participants how I provide feedback, and also why I use the methods I do.

After providing teachers with the student experience, I did a quick tutorial on three different ways you can provide formative feedback in Google Drive.

  • 1. Comment on a section of text

  • 2. Use suggesting mode to make edits

  • 3. Bring up a students’ work on the Promethean Board and use it as a tool for providing formative feedback to the whole class.

At the end of the session I asked teachers to fill out a brief survey. Fullerton (2013) said, “I would suggest that if we want to effect systemic change, we would do well to involve practitioners in the decision­making process and to value and support that process.” My

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objective in giving these surveys was to involve my participants in deciding what they needed to learn next. Two examples of surveys can be found in Appendix B. The rest can be found on my internship website at: http://flancbaumintern.weebly.com/pd­artifacts.html

Findings

I believe I had a solid plan to deliver the content of this professional development. The teachers

who were ready to receive this level of instruction have started using digital feedback. Table B highlights two teachers who are using digital feedback in their classrooms.

Table B: Classroom Teacher Feedback ­ Digital Commenting

Teacher

Feedback

Julie

"I am giving about half of my students feedback during guided reading. I have created folders, shared documents with them, and posed questions that they have to answer using evidence from the text we are working on. My students have also used Google Docs to type their final writing projects and shared them with me. They seem to be so proficient."

Kathleen

"Mark, I immediately began using the Google Doc simultaneous teaching. That has been great for me and for the kids. I also benefitted from consulting with you about what I can and can't delete ­ I immediately became more confident about cleaning up my account. Thanks again for the help."

The surveys in Appendix B proved to be the most powerful part of my internship. These surveys asked how I could support each teacher in their technology use. I found each teacher had very unique next steps. Table C shows the way in which each teacher desired support.

Table B: Classroom Teacher Feedback ­ Digital Commenting

Teacher

Support Requested

Julie

“I want to give my students an opportunity to type more in the classroom when we have a limited amount of time.”

Jamie

“Putting PDU documents on Google Drive.”

Kate

“I would love to create some documents, share those documents in small groups, and then have them work together to revise/edit. I also need support with folders.”

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Diane S.

“I feel like I have some good ideas already, but could use some help with acquiring technology. Grants?”

Shelley

“Yes! I need help with learning Google Drive. Brainstorming best way to set things up for my students and collaboration with teachers also. I also need support setting up my new Kindle Fires.”

Lindsey

“Yes! I need to know how to access the drives the staff at Brown uses such as computer lab sign up and shared folders of different grade­level teams. Thanks.”

Michelle

“Would your students be able to share their folders with me? How can I keep them organized by class?”

Kathleen

“Can you help me set up the Google Drive like 5th grade? Or a page for me? I would like to have a resource where kids could access content. I do not understand how we are all connected at the same time on one page. Also, I need to clean up my drive. Can you help?”

It was clear I was working with a diverse group of learners. I decided to set up a one­on­one meeting with each of the eight teachers. These meetings were highly successful. I was able to work with each teacher in their zone of proximal development (ZPD). I tried to listen well, and then help each teacher the best way I knew how, following up when necessary. The feedback from Table B along with the feedback in Table C show some of the successes.

Table C: Classroom Teacher Feedback ­ Individual Meetings

Teacher

Feedback

Shelley

“I am in the process of programming the 10 Kindles with Amazon’s education program Whispercast! Once you got them all connected I have been using them for research exclusively. I am excited to get some safe reading and language games. I am also learning how to put certain books and games on some tablets and not others.”

Lindsey

"I feel so much more comfortable on Google Drive now. I can actually participate in meetings without feeling lost!”

Diane S.

“I applied for a grant. Cross your fingers!”

Overall, the individualized meetings allowed me to differentiate to the needs of my learners. I worked with these eight teachers in response to their survey. However, throughout my internship I learned of several other technology needs in the school. I met with other teachers to support

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them with their technology needs. Although time consuming, the individual meetings were worth the investment.

Phase 3: Collect technology data

In Phase 3 of my internship I collected technology data. I conducted two different surveys/inventories to inform decisions for next year. These surveys were done in collaboration with my principal and next year’s technology specialist.

Intervention

Two data collection needs arose during my internship.

  • 1. An inventory of existing technology in classrooms

  • 2. Analysis of teachers’ hopes for our technology special next year

  • I decided to take on this project to support my principal and next year’s technology specialist in their decision making process.

Procedures

The technology inventory was requested by my principal. She wanted to have a clearer picture of what technology teachers had. She would use the information to help inform purchasing decisions in the future. I collaborated with my principal to better understand what information she needed. Based on our collaboration, I designed an inventory to collect the information. The completed inventory can be found in Appendix C.

  • I began collecting data through email. I knew I would not get information from all teachers, but

about half the teachers returned my email detailing their technology. I then started visiting classrooms of teachers who had not responded. I was able to get all of the data I needed through these two methods.

The technology survey was a collaborative effort between next year’s technology specialist and myself. Next year’s technology specialist, Michelle, does not have a lot of experience in the technology field. She was my fifth grade teammate this year, and is moving into the technology role next year. I offered to collect data to help her plan for instruction next year. She wanted to know which two technology skills teachers thought were most crucial to success at their grade level. I designed a form to collect this data. The completed form can be found in Appendix D.

Findings

This data collection phase of my internship produced what I expected. At the end of the process

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data, but in this situation, it was not my role. Instead, giving the data to the appropriate people will allow them to make more informed decisions. I believe this will improve the technology use at our school.

Conclusion

My goal during my internship was to improve technology use in my school. I began with the idea of teaching other teachers’ students to model effective technology instruction. I completed this objective, but was not able to take it as far as I had planned. This allowed me to branch into other objectives.

My internship included a variety of different tasks. On the surface, these tasks did not seem to have much in common. However, I believe each task came back to my initial goal: to improve technology use at my school.

I recognize the steps I made during this internship were small ones. Change happens slowly. However, each small improvement is a step forward. I hope the small growth I made will build momentum into larger growth at our school. As Fullerton (2013) said, “If we can establish learning communities in our schools in which teachers feel that they have voice, that their concerns are being heard and addressed, where they feel safe to take risks, we can build a culture of learning in schools.” I hope the culture of learning at Brown has been strengthened through my work.

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References

Fullerton, T. t. (2013). A reflection on my experiences engaging teachers in professional development on the integration of technology into their practice. Mcgill Journal of Education, 48(2), 443­448.

Klemmer, T. (2013). Help 'A­List' teachers with differentiated PD. Education Week, 32(28), 27.

Means, B. (2001). Technology use in tomorrow's school. Educational Leadership, 58(4), 57­61. Retrieved from http://www.researchgate.net/publication/ 234606681_Technology_Use_ in_ Tomorrow%27s_Schools.

Rogers, E. M. (1995). Diffusion of innovations. Simon and Schuster.

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Appendices

The following appendices are artifacts from my work in the field. More artifacts and information can be found at: http://flancbaumintern.weebly.com/

Appendix A: Google Forms Survey

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IMPROVING TECHNOLOGY USE IN AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 12 Appendices The following appendices are artifacts from my

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Appendix B: Examples of Teacher Surveys

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Appendix C: Existing Technology Inventory

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Appendix D: Teacher Hopes for Next Year Technology Special

IMPROVING TECHNOLOGY USE IN AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 15 Appendix D: Teacher Hopes for Next Year Technology