Professional Development Overview
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Integration into the Curriculum
Several key strategies to integrate technology, instructional software and online learning supports into all curricular areas so that students develop the 21st century information and communications technology skills that will support their learning and success in the working world include:
• Standards setting. Learning goals should drive technology use. The initial task is to develop a clear set of goals, expectations, and criteria for student learning based on national and state educational content standards. The school can then determine the types of technology that will support those goals (Gahala, 2001).
• Coaching and mentoring. Providing classroom-embedded mentoring, tutoring or follow-up activities is among the most effective methods of technology training, and avoids the
problem of having to ask teachers for additional time outside the school day (Corcoran, 1995; Gahala, 2001). Teachers are more likely to apply new instructional strategies if they receive feedback and support while trying the new strategies in their classrooms (Gahala, 2001). Teachers who engage in collaborative planning and sharing of instructional strategies with other teachers most frequently demonstrate effective use of computers in the classroom (Becker & Riel, 2000). Teachers learn best when engaged in meaningful projects that relate to their own classrooms (Gahala, 2001). They need long-term professional development to adapt and infuse curricula with technology (Wetzel, 2001a, 2001b; Wetzel, Zambo, Buss & Padgett, 2001). Individual tutoring, peer coaching, collaboration, networking and mentoring have been used successfully over extended periods to help teachers at all levels of technology implementation develop technology applications that promote engaged learning (Gahala, 2000l; Ike, 1997; Mckenzie, 1994; Miller, 1998; Norton & Gonzales, 1998; Poole & Moran, 1009; Saye, 1998; Tenbusch, 1998; Yocam, 1996). Mentors who can help teachers adapt technology applications to their classroom needs are important to the success of innovative uses of technology (Zhao, Pugh, Sheldon & Byers, 2002); considerable time for collaborative learning and practice is required for teachers to gain confidence in using technology (Coley, Crader & Engel, 1997). Strudler (1994) stressed the need for a technology coordinator at the school site who can serve as a mentor or “translator” or technology applications and instructional integration for teachers.
• Curriculum development integrated with staff development. There is significant evidence that the learning and sustaining of new instructional approaches are directly connected to the degree that teachers are engaged in planning and evaluating classroom instruction (Cradler, 2002; Calhorn, 2002). This model of on-going professional development focused on continuous improvement (called Action Research) will be utilized to drive the integration of technology that ultimately will improve student learning. The Educational Technology Department will provide intensive training and support to the teachers at the district’s new schools, to prepare them to use the technology resources designed into their school facilities and to integrate them into their teaching.