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EdTech With A Purpose: An Introductory Guide to Education Technology for NYC Educators

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Across the New York City public school district (NYC Schools), educators are successfully using education technology (edtech) to support instructional objectives and student learning. These schools demonstrate that edtech is not a “silver bullet” or teacher replacement, but can be used enhance good teaching practice when integrated into instruction. We created this guide to support educators with small-scale implementation of instructional edtech tools by sharing insights, tips, and lessons learned from real-life cases of integrating education technology.

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EdTech With A Purpose: An Introductory Guide to Education Technology for NYC Educators

  1. 1. EDTECH WITH A PURPOSE: AN INTRODUCTORY GUIDE TO EDTECH FOR NYC EDUCATORS Carmen Fariña, Chancellor
  2. 2. 2 Across the New York City public school district (NYC Schools), educators are successfully using education technology (edtech) to support instructional objectives and student learning. These schools demonstrate that edtech is not a “silver bullet” or teacher replacement, but can be used enhance good teaching practice when integrated into instruction. While there is no best or single answer to what edtech looks like in the classroom, especially in a large and diverse district such as ours, strong implementation starts with a clear purpose. Determining that purpose and assessing which technology tools are appropriate and easy to use can be challenging for even the most tech-savvy educators. We created this guide to support educators with small-scale implementation of instructional edtech tools by sharing insights, tips, and lessons learned from real-life cases of integrating education technology. This guide was developed with input from fellow teachers across the city who saw firsthand the benefits of integrating technology into their classrooms. We also drew from findings and lessons learned from iZone projects and pilot programs focused on adopting and evaluating new technologies. By sharing these practices from the iZone community and beyond, we as a district can overcome common challenges and misconceptions around using edtech. This introductory guide may be read alone to help you get started with edtech or used as a discussion tool for teacher teams. It may also be used as a resource in professional development settings. The New York City Department of Education established the iZone to incubate new ways of teaching and learning. Through education technology- focused programs and engagements we aim to foster a forward-thinking community of NYC Schools that supports educators in creating relevant and personalized learning experiences for their students.
  3. 3. 3 EdTech Terms Digital Literacy Digital literacy is the knowledge and ability to use a range of technology tools for varied purposes. A digitally literate person can use technology to find and evaluate information, connect and collaborate with others, produce and share original content, and use the Internet and technology to achieve academic, professional, or personal goals. Personalized Learning Personalized learning bases the pace of instruction and pedagogy on the needs of each student. Learning objectives, instructional approaches, content, and sequencing all vary based on learner needs. Additionally, learning activities are more meaningful and relevant to the students because they’re driven by their interests and often self-initiated. Blended Learning Blended Learning refers to an environment or classroom where technology is integrated to augment or support instructional practices. Student learning occurs in person and online. Blended learning approaches often allow students to have some control over time, place, path, or pace of learning. Three Steps to Getting Started Identify your goal for using edtech Resources and considerations when sourcing edtech tools Planning advice and tips for using edtech in your classroom pages 6-7 pages 8-9 pages 10-11 USING EDTECH WITH A PURPOSE
  4. 4. 4 Mr. K teaches a self-contained special-education class with 12 students. The classroom is equipped with two desktop computers for student access. Mr. K uses IXL Math, an online site with practice questions aligned with Common Core and New York State Standards, to facilitate differentiation in his classroom for remediation and enrichment. He likes the scope of grade-level skills covered on the site and the reporting features that provide instant feedback with corrective guides for students. During a math unit on circles, Mr. K noticed that one of his students, Jeremiah, was advancing much faster than the rest of the class — he had completed all of his classwork and reviewed it with his paraprofessional. While the other students in the class focused on reaching the learning objective for the day, Jeremiah logged in to IXL to learn and practice a higher-level skill of circle math. Initially, Jeremiah struggled at the start of the activity, but was able to work through the problems and nearly master the advanced skill within the remaining class time. Using IXL allowed Mr. K to individualize Jeremiah’s learning experience with the support of technology, enabling him to focus his pedagogy on the other 11 students in the class who needed help to reach the learning objective for the day. The technology also enabled Jeremiah to initially fail at the higher-level problems, get immediate and targeted feedback, and independently improve towards mastery. Online Math Practice For Independent Student Enrichment Mrs. F teaches a social studies class with 30 students. Mrs. F shares a laptop cart that she uses with her students frequently with several of her colleagues. This year, Mrs. F introduced Actively Learn, a digital reading product that allows teachers to integrate questions and discussions into online texts, to encourage higher-order thinking skills. Having had difficulty finding engaging articles for teaching social studies to her class, she was excited to try the tool. Mrs. F was able to group her students by reading ability and have each group read articles that corresponded with their levels. Alexa, a long-time reader, enjoyed analyzing articles with her peers and felt that the online discussion allowed her to interact with them in a new way. Mrs. F thought that the program fostered collaborative problem-solving among her students, especially those who were at or above grade level. Scaffolding Texts and Fostering Student Discussion With a Digital Reading Software EXAMPLES OF EDTECH IN THE CLASSROOM While there is no best or single answer to what edtech looks like in the classroom, especially in a large and diverse district such as ours, strong implementation starts with a clear purpose. These examples illustrate promising edtech practices employed by NYC educators.
  5. 5. 5 Mrs. X teaches in a 1:1 iPad school where each student is assigned a device at the beginning of the school year. Students sign contracts to assume responsibility for the devices and use them daily in their classrooms and at home. Ms. X leverages the devices to create a blended learning classroom environment. At the beginning of her class, students use their iPads to access Padlet, an online collaboration tool, to review their daily learning objectives and instructions for a “Do Now” activity. Students post open-ended responses to the activity and can view other students’ responses as they post in real time. Additionally, Ms. X uses a SMART Board to project what students are viewing on their individual tablets. In the back of the classroom, Ms. X has created a vocabulary word wall, but instead of writing out definitions, she printed and hung up QR codes, which are matrix barcodes that students can scan using an app on their iPads. When students need to look up the definitions of certain words, they can walk to the word wall and scan the QR code and the definition will promptly appear on their devices. Students can save those definitions on their iPads and refer back to them at their desk or at home as needed. Using iPad Apps in a Blended Learning Classroom Ms. S and Mr. Z co-teach in a tech-enriched classroom equipped with a set of Chromebooks and Samsung tablets, Google Apps for Education, and MakerWare. In the spring of each school year, they participate in a school-wide “Integrated Project Week,” during which students engage in an intensive inquiry-based project. During “Integrated Project Week” last year, Ms. S and Mr. Z used edtech to engage students in a design process to solve a local school problem. They asked students to design, critique, and prototype models of school recycling bins to encourage better and more efficient recycling habits. For the project, students used Google Drive to collaborate on the research, planning, design, and presentation process. Students also used Tinkercad to design digital prototypes for 3D software and a MakerBot 3D printer to turn them into physical prototypes in order to scale models of the final product. Finally, the students used GoPro and Windows Movie Maker to document and edit a short video on their process (vimeo.com/128986643). Fostering Student-Driven, Project-Based Learning
  6. 6. 6 Your school’s culture and environment will be the biggest factor for determining whether an edtech product will be a good fit for you and your students. These are questions to ask yourself, your colleagues, or school leaders prior to trying a new edtech tool. What’s your school’s vision or instructional priorities? Aligning with the priorities of your school will help you garner support from your administration and colleagues and increase the likelihood of successful implementation. Consider how open your administration is to using technology and whether there are other teachers implementing technology in their classrooms. Consider the supports and resources that are available at your school: Does your school have a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy? Does your school provide students with their own email address? What hardware or devices do you have access to at your school (e.g., laptop cart, desktop, tablets, etc.)? How many are functionally operating (e.g., full classroom set, 1-2 devices for group use, etc.)? How strong is the Internet connection in your classroom? Does the connection vary by time of day or number of users? Consider the needs and capabilities of your students: Do your students have basic technology skills? Will you need to introduce procedural steps to your students? Are there special needs or considerations that you will need to account for? GETTING STARTED WITH EDTECH • • • • • • •
  7. 7. 7 Curate digital and multimedia content to help teach or reinforce a new concept. Differentiate instruction for small groups or individual students. Scaffold content and activities that enable students to move at their own pace. Help incorporate or meet standards (e.g., New York State and Common Core State Standards). Facilitate student collaboration and discussion. Enable students to create original work with digital tools. Introduce digital or online practice problems for independent remediation or enrichment. WHAT’S YOUR GOAL FOR INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY? Conduct real-time checks for understanding. Administer online formative assessments for diagnosing student learning needs. Capture student work over time to gauge progress and improve instruction. Track student progress or mastery. Other: Here are some examples of goals educators have set for using edtech. Choose a goal from the list below or write your own: Knowing your overall goal for using technology before searching for specific apps, websites, or software will help you prioritize what you are looking for in a specific edtech tool. Many teachers start using edtech tools as new ways to better engage their students. Others start with an instructional problem of practice and look to technology to help address or “solve” their challenge.
  8. 8. 8 Many educators look to websites and social media channels as leads for new edtech tools to try. Educators have also reported that they often learn more about edtech products from peers either through informal conversations and word of mouth or formally through product reviews. The NYC Schools Tech Facebook group (bit.ly/NYCSchoolsTech) is a Division of Instructional and Information Technology (DIIT)-moderated technology forum. Join to share ideas and build your personal learning network. The NYC School Technology Summit (bit.ly/NYCSchoolsTechSummit) is an annual event typically held in June that connects educators, administrators, and other staff to share best practices in education technology. Graphite (graphite.org) is a free service from nonprofit Common Sense Education designed to help preK-12 educators discover, use, and share apps, games, websites, and digital curriculum by providing ratings and insights from an active community of educators. The EdSurge Product Index (edsurge.com/product- reviews/) is a community-driven database of edtech products. Online discussion groups like the Google Apps for Education (bit.ly/NYCSchoolsGEG) and BYOD groups (bit.ly/NYCSchoolsBYOD), Twitter Chats (bit.ly/19TwitterChats), and in-person NYC Meetups (bit.ly/edtechMeetups). FINDING EDTECH TOOLS THAT WORK FOR YOU The market for edtech products is vast and open, and finding what works often requires educators to invest their time. Luckily, there are resources that provide information about edtech products available in the market. • • • • •
  9. 9. 9 Think about pricing, especially when trying new edtech tools. If your budget is limited, consider trying edtech tools that offer a free trial or basic version of the app, website, or software free of charge, before advocating for the purchase of a wider implementation of the app. Other teachers have found workarounds by sharing licenses or subscriptions and applying for edtech pilot programs. It is more beneficial to choose an edtech tool that is relatively easy for your students to navigate within the instructional time allotted. Also, it should not take you an excessive amount of time and effort to learn the tool. Tips for Finding EdTech Tools • • Use this checklist to assess whether an edtech app, website, or software will be an appropriate match for your local context and goal(s). General considerations: This tool aligns with my school’s instructional vision or priorities. This tool is compatible with the hardware or devices at my school. This tool can be incorporated into my lesson and unit schedule. This tool does not conflict with other school- wide technology use or data systems at my school. I have enough time to learn or receive training on basic use of this tool. I am excited to use this tool. Student considerations: This tool is accessible for my students’ technological skills and learning capabilities. This tool has supported a student population similar to mine, or has features to suggest it could. The majority of my students will be excited to use this tool. Considerations for curriculum edtech tools: The content aligns with my school’s curriculum and instructional practices. The content is rigorous enough to push my students. The content supports and encourages differentiated instruction. Checklist for Instructional EdTech Tools If the edtech tool you choose is web-based, check to make sure the website or app is not blocked at your school. With the NYCDOE Websense Filter Lookup Tool (bit.ly/ WebSecurityChange) you can request to block or unblock certain categories of websites, like social media sites, and game-based sites with approval from your school principal. (Note: you must be connected to the NYCDOE network to access this site). Edtech tools that require individual logins can be difficult to manage. Apps, websites, or software that offer single sign-ins or interoperability with existing accounts save you time and headaches, especially if your students already have individual, school-issued email accounts. • •
  10. 10. 10 1. Test before you implement. Make sure that the app, website, or software will work in your school and is not blocked before rolling out. Try to test far enough in advance that you can get support through the proper channels to troubleshoot issues prior to implementation. 2. Start small. Begin with one new edtech tool at a time with the devices you have available. Consider testing the software, app, or website with a small group of students before introducing it to the whole classroom. This allows you to troubleshoot and better understand how the tool works before rolling it out, which will help you meet your objectives more effectively. 3. Collaborate with like-minded colleagues. Don’t go at this alone. Planning with other educators on your content or grade-level team (or even teachers beyond your school) can provide a helpful perspective. 4. Be realistic about what you can accomplish. Consider the amount of time available for students to engage with and get the most out of the edtech tool. This will help you determine whether the product should be one component of a larger lesson, as is common in blended learning environments, or whether the majority of class time will be devoted to using the tool. INTEGRATING EDTECH IN YOUR CLASSROOM After identifying promising edtech tools that support your teaching and learning goals, the next step is to plan how you will integrate it into your classroom. Implementing edtech is similar to incorporating other content or analog tools into your unit or lesson planning, with extra technical considerations — it will be more effective if it is scaffolded and relevant to instructional objectives. In this section, we provide implementation tips and advice from experienced NYC teachers about integrating technology into your classroom. 10 Teacher Tips for EdTech Integration
  11. 11. 11 5. Establish classroom procedures for using edtech. Based on the product or tool you are using, identify what procedures you’ll need to cover (e.g., checking out and returning devices and login processes). Determine how you will share these systems with your students. Some methods to consider: creating a how-to presentation or video or creating a flowchart. 6. Set up your classroom. Gather all the resources you will need in advance. This includes hardware devices (laptops, desktops, tablets, etc.) and accessories (headphones, microphones, powerstrips, etc.). Before your lesson, check that the devices you plan to use are charged. If you plan to use the devices throughout the day, determine how and when to charge the devices in between student use. 7. Anticipate student needs. Just because you start using technology does not mean that students will automatically be engaged. While some students may be excited to use new tools or products, others may experience frustration, especially when faced with tasks that require higher-order thinking. Remember that this is part of the learning process. 8. Have a backup plan. It is inevitable that something will go wrong when using edtech. On any given day, the Internet or Wi-Fi at your school may be down, devices may need troubleshooting, or students may forget their login info, causing delays and disruption to limited instructional time. Anticipating what challenges may occur or the worse-case scenario will help you troubleshoot these common issues. 9. Don’t expect to have all the answers. Remember that your knowledge of content and pedagogy trumps technology savviness. It’s far more important to facilitate student learning and assess student work than to know the ins and outs of a particular product. 10. Reflect. After implementing, review what went well, what landed, and what needs to be changed the next time you use the edtech tool. Some educators use exit tickets or online surveys after a lesson with their students to assess both learning objectives and effectiveness of an edtech tool.
  12. 12. #NYCSchoolsTech Use the #NYCSchoolTech hashtag on social media to share your experiences using technology at your school and to connect with like-minded educators. Give Us Feedback Help us improve this guide! Send us a note with your questions, comments, or feedback to innovation@schools.nyc.gov. Acknowledgments This guide was developed by the NYC Department of Education’s iZone. Special thanks to the educators who informed and shaped this guide, in particular to: Farrah Abdul Wahhab, Daniel Babauta, Ross Berman, Jeffrey Bradshaw, Helen Bruno- Raccuia, Catherine Calogero, Gloria Canales McCabe, Jim Chin, Eric Dailo, Jerry France, Alyssa Greenwood, Scott Larsen, Ivy Lesser, Saleemah Madyun, Ryan Milano, Bryan Miltenberg, Monique Moore, Rahul Patel, Laura Singleton, Jennifer Shuman, Gina Tesoriero, Jerusha Theobald, Joseph Videtto and Kristi Vilberg. © 2016 | version 1.0 strategy & design by TYTHEdesign

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