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Questioning Teacher Training

Ken Pruitt, a technology integration specialist in a Pennsylvania district, is trying to figure out how to provide relevant, meaningful technology training for his teachers.

Something that many of us are trying to do.

To gather data for his action research project, Ken is asking these three questions of the larger community.

1. What are the 21st century skills we want our teachers to model?
2. How can we provide consistent and relevant training to 200 teachers?
3. Will adequate resources encourage teachers to integrate technology into their curriculum?

Certainly a good starting point, for teachers as well as students, is outlined in the new ISTE NETS standards.

They need to be able to find, organize, evaluate, analyze, and use information in many forms to solve different problems. They must be able to use a variety of tools to communicate effectively.

Teachers must actually use these skills throughout their professional practice since we know that modeling them is a far more effective way to teach them to their students than is direct instruction.

As to question 3, what are “adequate resources”? Adequate would depend on many factors, not the least of which is the amount and quality of training the teacher has received.

It also depends on how open the teacher is to changing their instructional practice to match the power of the tools they have available.

We have many classrooms in our district with what some would consider more than adequate technology but where the teacher makes minimal use of the resources.

“If you build it and they will come” doesn’t work in this case.

Instead of installing the same technology for everyone at the same time, I’m a big advocate of providing it as the teacher progresses in their ability and willingness to incorporate the tools into their instruction.

And that brings us to question 2. We do too much one-shot staff development, and not just in terms of technology training.

Teachers know that kids often need some degree of repetition and follow up to learn any subject. The same is true of adults, but that is a huge missing piece from most training we provide teachers.

Doing that for 200 will be a challenge for Ken. In our overly-large district we need to do it for 16,000.

However, the content and needs don’t change. They just get bigger.

[Thanks to Scott for the link]

education, teacher, training, technology


  1. Ken

    Well said. Thank you for adding to the discussion. The question of resources has been a tricky one. I think you articulated exactly how I feel.

    I never thought I would say this, but I am enjoying the research process. As a kid who would rather shoot foul shots than be stuck in library I feel a new level of excitement everytime I make a new connection.
    Thanks, stay in touch.

    Should be interesting when I start plugging new teachers into a networked community.

  2. Dennis O'Connor

    I’d like to beat the drum for the refreshed student nets. My focus is on Standard 3:

    Research and Information Fluency
    Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information. Students:
    plan strategies to guide inquiry.
    locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.
    evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.
    process data and report results.

    Since the last century I’ve been working to train teachers in the essentials of Information Fluency.

    I hope that by teaching teachers to search, evaluate, and ethically use digital information, I’ll also be teaching kids.

    The universal cry is there isn’t enough time in a test prep curriculum to teach these skills.

    My answer is a combination of providing great free materials, modeling integrated units of instruction, and explaining that digital natives remain untaught and gullible when it comes to finding information on the web.

    It’s an uphill battle to find a way in, but worth the struggle. For years worth of free research based learning materials (including flash games, lesson plans, micro-modules, and online classes) visit the 21st Century Information Fluency Project at: http://21cif.imsa.edu

    Dennis O’Connor

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