Yesterday, I met with some of our Hale Kula teachers who were able to attend the International Society for Technology in Education Conference in San Diego last week. We never know ahead-of-time whether it is "worth it" to send a team to the mainland for a conference. Well, it was obvious that not only are these three teachers raring-to-go with their awareness of new resources, apps, project ideas, and opportunities to collaborate and communicate with others around the USA and the world, they feel a responsibility to be change-agents at our school and in our District. One of the "big ideas" they emphasized in their conversation with me was something they heard over and over again at the conference - if we want to transform our schools,we need to start at the top.
So taking that to heart, let me reflect on our journey at Hale Kula Elementary School and ponder how to move forward to infuse 21st Century technology skills and knowledge to equip our students for success in their future.
When I became principal in February 2003, our technology lab consisted of fifteen old Macs. Classrooms were lucky if they had one computer for student use. We were already in the 21st Century, yet our students and teachers had limited access to the tools they would need to be successful. Today, thanks to generous grants and a different formula for school funding, we have two tech labs and three mobile labs, an iPad lab, an iPod Touch lab, and computers in every classroom.
However, if I am honest about how we are using these tech tools, I have to admit that we are still in the early stages of implementation. These tech tools are mostly used to practice skills, take assessments, or to research information for a unit the class is studying. Where are the 4C's which define how students should be using technology -to develop critical thinking, to communicate, to collaborate, and to create?
Some of our teachers have embraced the use of technology with their students. After attending local conferences or training sessions or by observing other teachers model use of a web2.0 tool and trying it out themselves, they are hooked. We have exciting examples of student work as a testament to possibilities of what can be done. However, we need to ensure that every student in every grade level has the opportunity to gain the skills they need to demonstrate the 4C's through their work.
So what's next? Step one is to model the use of tech and web2.0 tools in my role as principal. With a new school year beginning in less than three weeks, there's not much time left to plan! As we move forward towards a change in how we teach and learn at Hale Kula, my goal is to use this blog to share reflections, successes, lessons learned,, and next steps. Hopefully, I'll have lots of student examples to share!