Today is it—Digital Learning Day, a national campaign that celebrates teachers and shines a spotlight on successful instructional practice and effective use of technology in classrooms across the United States.
A great idea indeed but logistically impossible in a school in which there are only two computer labs and two laptops carts available for 450 students and 30+ teachers—especially if the focus is on students being the users of the tech tools—as it should be. But instead of using this dilemma as an excuse for not participating in this very important day of learning, the technology coach (yep, that’s me!) provided our administration with a solution: Tech It Up in Ten.
For the teachers at the Bellwood-Antis Middle School, this meant that Digital Learning Day was going to be morphed into a ten school day period of time in which they were encouraged (OK, required) to experiment with a new digital learning tool(s) and/or an innovative educational technology of their choosing with at least one class of students. No big deal, right? Well, there was one caveat—the lesson had to involve students creating a finished product with the tool! Yeah, I was hoping to meet some of the digital components found in the Common Core State Standards as well!
Of course, there was some hesitation and reluctance to do so—particularly because some staff members are not comfortable using some forms of technology let along teaching and/or facilitating a tech-based lesson, activity or project.
However, despite the initial anxiety, the concept has been well-received and to date, very successful. Students are loving the opportunities they have been given to demonstrate knowledge using real-world applications while many teachers are moving out of their comfort zone to provide students with some really neat experiences using a variety of “cool tools”. And then there’s the Tech Coach, who is extremely excited that a lot of really meaningful 21st Century teaching and learning is taking place at her school! Yay!
I have attached a Tech It Up in Ten handout explaining the project as well as a lesson plan template teachers were asked to complete. My goal is to create a first-ever BAMS catalog of tech-based lesson plans—one that can be used as a future reference for teachers wishing to integrate different types of tools into their curriculum. Feel free to use these documents to create a digital learning project in your school. I would just appreciate a shout out and/or a link to my blog if you do so!
BTW—Digital Learning Day is sponsored by the Alliance for Excellent Education.