Instructional Technology Tools: A Professional Development Plan

Instructional Technology Tools: A Professional Development Plan

by L. Robert Furman EdD

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Overview

The use of instructional technology in twenty-first-century classrooms is not a subject to be debated. Rather, it needs to be embraced as a standard practice rather than an enriching activity. In Instructional Technology Tools: A Professional Development Plan, author L. Robert Furman presents a comprehensive guide to help educators embrace the use of instructional technology tools in the classroom.

Answering the typical questions often posed by teachers and staff, Furman emphasizes the practical use of technology and introduces a breakthrough development called E-ProDev Days for offsite electronic professional development. He gives administrators the tools necessary to conduct fulfilling and meaningful professional development days, in-house or electronically, revolving around technology. Instructional Technology Tools: A Professional Development Plan also includes

• professional development lesson plans;
• tutorials for teachers and students;
• sample sites where examples of each e-tool are available to share;
• addresses to obtain the e-tools.

Presenting a logical and practical approach to teaching a staff how to successfully use e-tools in their classroom, Instructional Technology Tools: A Professional Development Plan helps administrators help teachers to enhance their classrooms, manage time, organize themselves, and save money.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469789309
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 03/13/2012
Pages: 124
Product dimensions: 8.25(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.26(d)

Read an Excerpt

INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGY TOOLS

A PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN
By L. Robert Furman

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2012 L. Robert Furman, EdD
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4697-8930-9


Chapter One

Instructional Technology Tools

As a principal in a typical middle-class elementary school, I am sure that when I bring up the subject of technology in the classroom, I hear the same concerns from teachers that many other school administrators hear. I hear the same concerns every time I send out the agenda for the next professional development day and the word "technology" is somewhere on that agenda. When administrators ask teachers to use technology, we often hear the following questions:

Why do we have to use this technology?

When are we going to have the time to learn how to use this new software?

It will take me twice as long to use the technology because I have to teach the students how to use it before I assign the project that uses the technology. Where is the time?

Technology never works in our school. Will this be available to us in the classroom when we want to use it, or will it be blocked?

Is our network strong enough to handle thirty students on the same web page at the same time?

Do these questions sound familiar? This manual will give your district's professional development presenter the answers to all of these difficult questions that teachers ask. These are the common obstacles that administrators have to overcome when presenting a professional development day that features technology. But there is hope.

Preparing an effective professional development day can be compared to what our teachers do when they prepare effective lessons in their classrooms. Our professional development days have to be engaging, with good pacing and solid outcomes. They have to be planned to accommodate all different types of learners and include an exciting, motivational beginning known as an anticipatory set that will grab our listeners from the beginning. We, as administrators, have to model the same quality of instruction that we expect from our teachers.

This book is designed to give the administrator all the tools necessary to conduct fulfilling and meaningful professional development days, in-house or electronically, revolving around the topic of technology. It will give you the ability to address those difficult questions the teachers have been asking. This publication also includes:

Professional development lesson plans

Tutorials for teachers and students

Sample sites where examples of each E-Tool are available for you to share

Addresses to obtain the E-Tools

As an administrator, you are the instructional leader. Administrators must take that title to heart and feel the power of that title to the core. As instructional leaders, we must be the models for excellent teaching. Opportunities to shine and model superior teaching lie in well-structured professional development days. We can win the hearts of our staff with one good, meaningful lesson. If we want the staff to use the E-Tools that we share with them, then we need to model those tools. If we want our schools to be on the cutting edge of instructional technology, then we must be willing to share the use of technology in our daily work.

Walden University, an online university, did a wonderful study on myths involving technology and education (Grunwald and Associates). Three of the myths are worth repeating here because they drive home the realization that some teachers and administrators are not all on the same page when it comes to technology.

Myth: Given that students today are already comfortable with technology, teachers' use of technology is less important to student learning.

The Walden study has shown that this statement simply is not true. Students perceive their teachers differently when a teacher uses technology versus when a teacher uses more traditional methods. The Walden study proved that technology has a positive effect on:

• Student behaviors

• Class attendance

• Focus and task completion

• Student achievement

• Dropout rate reduction

• Accommodation of high-needs students

Myth: Teachers and administrators have shared understandings about classroom technology and twenty-first-century skills.

This statement was sadly proven false as well. Teachers and administrators, according to this study, do not agree on technology and its usage. Administrators have a stronger desire to use technology than teachers do. One very important revelation was that administrators have a skewed belief that their teachers have more background in and knowledge about current technological skills and tools than teachers really do.

Myth: Teachers feel well prepared from their initial prep programs to effectively incorporate technology into instruction.

According to the Walden study, teachers who have been certified since 2000 generally do not feel well prepared in how to use technology in their classes. Teachers reported that continual professional development in technology increases their comfort with using technology in their instruction.

This manual will not only give you the tools necessary to hold positive, effective professional development days using technology, but will also give you many "techie tidbits" that you and your staff can use to save time, organize, collaborate, and so much more.

Money is often the magic word when it comes to using and sharing technology. Sadly, education has a tendency to get less and less money from the people who make the budget decisions. Being careful with your spending is the key to building a quality program. Every techie tidbit in this book, as of the time of printing, is free. Free is defined differently by each site, but overall, these techie tidbits can be used without charge as described in this book. Some sites have fee-based services that would be over and above what a free registration would allow, such as space to save more than one project, larger file sizes, more edit options, etc. There is no need to purchase any of these add-ons to get the benefit of these programs. However, if you do find one that you use a service more than most and/or you find a favorite, consider exploring the added benefits of a paid subscription.

Online Resource

As you go through this publication, visit furmanr.com. You will find examples of all of the E-Tools as well as a forum section where your faculty can upload their projects and responses. This will prove extremely valuable if you choose to engage in an Electronic Professional Development day (E-ProDev day). If you would like to have your own personal group where you can keep your faculty's responses private, please contact the author at L.R.Furman@gmail.com. Please feel free to leave comments about the applications or websites found in this book and to add a review of your own about how you used the applications or site. Also under the forums section, you may add a new E-Tool you may have found useful. The website that was used to create this online collaboration and review environment is one of the many E-Tools in this book. See, they do work!

Now let's attack those bothersome questions.

Typical Questions/ Concerns from Teachers

The teacher questions I listed previously are not the only ones we hear, but they are typically the basis of dispute when it comes to using technology. Below are some suggested responses to those questions/concerns.

Why do we have to use this technology?

There has been a research explosion when it comes to the benefits of technology in education. However, the best answers for the question why is more practical. Teachers get tired of hearing overquoted statistics and studies that have been controlled in a college lab setting. Teachers appreciate honest, logical answers to which they can relate on a practitioner level.

We need to use technology because the students we are teaching in today's classrooms were born and raised with technology. They expect to be taught using the devices of their generation. Think of it like this: we would not be expected to teach using an abacus and vinyl records. To our ears, those tools sound ridiculous because our generation was raised with CDs and calculators. We do not even think of the older generation of technology. Technology such as iPads and cell phones are normal tools for kids today, and we appear old-fashioned and out-of-date when we do not use what they have been using since birth.

When are we going to have the time to learn how to use this new software?

Educators have to think about technology in the same way they think about getting a new edition of a curriculum. First, administrators must give teachers time to get acquainted with the material. Then teachers should pilot various materials, using the materials without a heavy emphasis on grading or testing. Finally, teachers should choose the material that works best for them and their students and integrate it into their rotation of resources that they find to be useful.

It is the principal's responsibility to budget time for the staff to go through all of these steps. Giving teachers time to create during a professional development day is essential. We will be discussing exactly how to go about allocating that necessary time in the following chapters. Administrators need to set the groundwork for introducing these new concepts.

A common misconception about professional development is that every minute of every hour in the professional development day must be devoted to continual, direct instruction. The principal must be in front of the staff, sharing, showing, and lecturing to them, for the day to be viewed as worthwhile time for the staff.

This is simply not true. As in any good lesson, there needs to be time for guided practice and exploration. Your staff needs time to be creative. They need time to explore the technology that you are sharing. It is also very important to give them clearly defined outcomes to demonstrate when they return from their own exploratory time. This will be further discussed in the chapter titled "Professional Development Plans."

It will take me twice as long to use the technology because I have to teach the students how to use it before I assign the project that uses the technology. Where is the time?

This is another misconception. We have to remember that the students are native to technology. They will pick up these programs faster than the average staff member. This book contains clear and commonsense tutorials on each of the E-Tools for both the teacher and the students. Many of these programs can be learned in twenty minutes or less, and a simple project completed within another twenty minutes. Teachers have been able to share a techie tidbit with examples, explain to the class how to create a project using the tutorial sheets, and guide students through the completion of a self-directed project within a standard forty-minute class period. The end result makes the extra time worthwhile.

Technology never works in our school. Will this be available to us in the classroom when we want to use it, or will it be blocked? Is our network strong enough to handle thirty students on the same web page at the same time?

These issues come up in every discussion dealing with technology. They are also very fair questions. Having been on the teacher side of the professional development table, I understand how incredibly upsetting it is to have a four-hour discussion and training on something technological, and then get back to the classroom to find the site blocked, or to have Internet access go down because every teacher is trying to get on the same website at the same time.

These are real issues and must be dealt with before you have any professional development days that deal with technology. Again, think of the professional development day as your opportunity to be the teacher. Imagine that someone was observing you teach in your classroom. You had a wonderful lesson prepared, but when your students turned on their computers, everything was blocked and frozen. The observer would not think this was a well-prepared lesson, and would assume some issues had not been addressed before the live lesson began.

With this example in mind, here are some steps to take a few days before you plan on having your professional development event.

1. Send a list of all the websites you will be using during your lesson to your instructional technology (IT) director at least two weeks before the scheduled date. Request that he/she check and unblock any sites that you have on the list. This may take some discussion to convince your IT director of the validity of the sites. Your position in this discussion could simply be that these sites are educator-tested and educator-approved. Send the IT director documentation from the websites that supports their worth to educators.

2. Check the websites one week before scheduled date to make sure they are working properly and that you can access them via your school computer.

3 Go through the tutorials that you will be using to make sure everything is logical and is still functional on each website.

4. Review the day's events with your IT director and make sure he/she understands the draw on the network that will happen when participants are using several computers at the same time. This issue was more of a concern several years ago, but schools that still have limited broadband connections may want to confirm that using multiple computers at the same time will not put too much stress on the network.

These steps will ensure a successful lesson. When the question comes up from your staff, you will be able to give a definite, honest response: "No, the site will not be blocked for you or your students, and yes, our system is strong."

Electronic Professional Development Days

Electronic Professional Development (E-ProDev) days have become a new and enticing concept for many school districts, especially those that deal with snow days. An E-ProDev day is a typical in-service, but performed online by the teachers, possibly even from home. The tutorials, lesson, and project are all given to the staff ahead of time. The teachers must go through the tutorial on their own, review the lesson, answer any questions that are in the lesson, and complete a project using the assigned technology.

Everything needed to hold an E-ProDev day can be found at furmanr.com. You may also have your staff turn in their projects to the community forum on the site. One of the E-Tools described in a later chapter is also a verification survey, in which the teachers must validate that they did everything as per the instructions. Once you return to school, you can review the verifications and check all of the projects.

The advantage of this for those in snowbelts, where days off from school can occur rather randomly, is that if you prepare these lessons and hand them out to the teachers in advance, you can count a snow day as a professional development day and not have to make it up per se. Just send out a notice as part of your snow-day announcement that it is also an E-ProDev day. Your staff will know to complete one of the several assignments you have made prior to snow season.

Professional Development Plans

Professional development is not only necessary for faculty and staff, but also essential for the school administrator. Professional development is critical for any leader to continue providing quality service for the organization. It gives the leader an opportunity to expand his or her skills beyond initial training and to acquire additional knowledge that will benefit the organization. A leader must also provide the model for lifelong learning. Furthermore, professional development should be linked to the actual practice of the profession; the effects of any training should be evident to one's colleagues. The effectiveness of an organization depends largely on the quality of its leader.

In many school districts, the planning of a professional development day rests solely on the shoulders of the administrators. Complaints from teachers about the day usually fall into the category of the use of time:

The professional development lesson was not something I could ever use in my classroom.

The professional development days are not a good use of my time.

I need time to be creative and work on enhancing my own lessons.

I already have too many initiatives, and I can never get a good, solid grasp on any one topic throughout the school year.

Knowing that you may get these responses is valuable as long as you have the autonomy to plan accordingly. Yes, we do want the material to be worthwhile and practical. Yes, we want the professional day to be valued, and we want the teachers to be as creative as possible and always enhancing their lessons. We want the teachers to feel that the initiative we are sharing is worth the time spent to master its functions. The model in this book takes into consideration all of these common concerns and helps the administrator or facilitator to respond to the staff.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGY TOOLS by L. Robert Furman Copyright © 2012 by L. Robert Furman, EdD. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Dedication....................1
Preface....................2
Acknowledgments....................3
Glossary of Terms....................4
Instructional Technology Tools....................5
Online Resource....................8
Typical Questions/Concerns from Teachers....................9
Electronic Professional Development Days....................12
Professional Development Plans....................13
Full-day (8 Hour) Plan....................15
Half-day (4 Hour) Plan....................17
Full-day (8 Hour) E-ProDev Plan....................19
Year-long Plan with Technology as the Focus....................22
Tutorials....................25
WebQuest....................26
Zunal....................27
Glogster....................29
WizIQ....................32
Museum Box....................34
GoAnimate....................37
Prezi....................39
Webspiration....................42
Hot Potatoes....................45
VUVOX....................49
quikmaps....................53
TargetMap....................55
ChartGizmo....................57
Solvr....................59
DecideAlready....................60
Diffen....................63
Bubblus....................64
Bookr....................66
Penzu....................68
Masher....................70
Integration Ideas....................71
Management E-Tools....................77
Collaboration Tools....................78
Organization and Management....................84
Research....................91
Communication....................93
Resources....................96
Administrative Professional Development Planning Form....................97
Beginning of the Year Welcome Letter....................101
Reproducible Full-day Agenda....................103
Reproducible Half-day Agenda....................104
Reproducible E-ProDev Day Packet....................105
Evaluation Form for Professional Development Day....................109
Technology Project Rubric....................110
Works Cited....................111
E-Tools Cited....................112

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