I thought more about David Warlick’s blog in which he proposed a modified, digital, capstone project that would demonstrate what students had learned though application. It sounds initially like a useful model in that it could synchronize Understanding by Design planning, NETs, and the mission statement of each, unique school. This could also be a goal around which a school could design an technology integration model, with different groups taking part. Each department and grade level could be assigned tasks that would prepare students for the capstone project.
It would answer the important question of who will teach the NETs standards. We all would. We already meet many standards when we plan and teach units. For example:
–Safe, legal and responsible use of information includes using bibliographies, footnotes, and citations and understanding how these principles apply to digital information and images.
–Using models and identifying trends are standards already used in the sciences.
–Standard 3: Research and information fluency list the fundamental skills taught from Junior School through High School that are evident in authentic report writing.
The next step is to continue these fundamental skills into the digital learning environment. Trista Meisner’s blog post on how they approached this at ISB was a valuable overview.
The value of the NETS standards is that they are a good starting point for digital scope and sequence planning, which would be required to prepare students for David Warlick’s digital capstone project. King George County (Virginia, USA) offers a good example. For this to be successful, it must be a school-wide conversation. Guided by UbD, teachers should agree on the principles and general form of the digital capstone project and participate by preparing students at each grade level with the necessary skills and experiences. This also would help the school remain true to its mission statement as the learning moves further into the 1:1 model and, probably, becomes increasingly project-based.
At ISSH, we use what could be thought of as a version of the just in time approach which has been modified to technology teaching. The philosophy has been that each teacher incorporates the hardware or software needed as they become available and meet instructional needs. It allows for flexibility and, as long as each department is checking back at intervals with the TIS or Curriculum Coordinator to demonstrate that NETs guidelines are being met, then it works as a grassroots-driven model. This can work well in an international school environment because new teachers will introduce or emphasize different applications depending on their training and teaching experiences. How well teachers are meeting NETs can be tracked with curriculum mapping tools and regular department and curricular.
This week my Theory of Knowledge students are working on a virtual museum in which they will tell the story of human history by selecting and grouping objects within a virtual museum plan as part of the History and Areas of Knowledge unit. This was based on the a review that I read in the American Historical Review. Students knew how to use either PowerPoint or Google Presentations, so I suggested that as the software. One of my suggestions was to create a hyperlink to a exhibit explanation card. The students who did not know how to do this could learn quickly. When my students created Digital Family History stories in Grade 10, I suggested using Garage Band or iMovie as the tool. Everything they needed to learn to achieve their own goals or incorporate my suggestions they could learn quickly.
We cannot assume that this will always be easy. Some skills, such as using and synthesizing diverse resources, may be better taught using traditional or digital tools. In other cases, there may be strong disagreement and the lines between professional opinions could also be seen as generational, with younger teachers or those with more recent training advocating more digital tools. The expectations related to tools like laptops, Smartboards, and Web 2.0 applications in the classroom (NETs 6.a, b, c) will need to be navigated with respect for both groups of teachers. This is essential in order to retain effective, experienced faculty, and sustain professional relations in the future.
As long as we are all contributing, and trying to incorporate NETs in our teaching, it should matter less which way we take to meet the goals as long as the approach works for our learning community.
Garry Leroy Baker