Saturday, February 4, 2012

WPP PART A - Description of Need or Opportunity

The Educational Need
Within the school system today, the focus is shifting from traditional sit and listen tasks to activities that require thought, discussion, and interaction. All students are expected to make progress. Within the school system, educators are utilizing the principles of RTI (Response to Intervention), and UDL (Universal Design for Learning or AKA differentiation) to help all students reach their greatest potential. One piece of technology that is becoming more prevalent in classrooms is the interactive whiteboard (IWB).

As an intervention specialist, I get to see the education world as a teacher within my own classroom and as an observer while I am proving intervention services within the general education classroom. Within my classroom, my main job is to create a learning environment that supports the goals and objectives of my students whose academic skills range can be anywhere from 6 months (developmentally) to a student performing on grade level, but need some classwork or behavior modifications. UDL/differentiation is just a part of my classroom environment due to the range of student needs. While visiting the general education classrooms, too often I see students, unengaged in the paper/pencil lessons and wonderful technology tools being left untouched. I see students who would benefit from a slight change within the instructional strategies to incorporate a UDL principle. This has especially been the case for the past few years as our school slowly added SMART Boards to the classrooms.

As the school district begins focusing more on inquiry based learning (or PBL = problem or project based learning), I see missed opportunities for the students to get “involved” and use the technologies tools available. One of the best ways that I see students getting involved in an elementary classroom is through the use of an interactive whiteboard. Two years ago, I was lucky enough to receive a SMART Board for my classroom. Since that time, my method of instruction and student participation has changed drastically. Every chance I get, I structure lessons so that my students are the ones who are using the board. Now, it is impractical of me to think of using the SMART Board all the time. I still will use it for projection, but if a lesson can be created (or modified) to allow student manipulation of the activities, I do my best to accomplish that for the lesson. I also understand that: creating lessons takes time, structuring the lesson to incorporate student use of the SMART Board takes time, rethinking the classroom routine takes time and all of the above takes a change in the teacher mindset. However, once these routines and lesson structures are establish, some great things can occur.  A change in the current pedagogy is needed in order to meet the needs of all the learners and in order for the students to reap the full benefits of the SMART Board.

The Plan
As mentioned above, most teachers within my building have a SMART Board (with the exception of the PreK classrooms). In the past few years, the district has a history of rotating staff to different buildings resulting in new teachers to the building who have little to no experience with a SMART Board. With this change, the “new” teachers have been left unsupported with formal training of the basic “how to’s” of the SMART Board. It has been left up to the individual teachers to learn for themselves or for other teachers to step up and offer assistance.

This educational technology wicked problem needs to be address by starting with teachers beginning to feel comfortable with the technology that has been afforded to them. Teachers need time to evaluate how they can incorporate the SMART Board as well as time to discuss appropriate use as an interactive board versus a projection screen. Teachers also need to reflect on how the incorporation will impact the current pedagogy of the classroom.

In Embedding interactive whiteboards in teaching and learning: The process of change in pedagogic practice (2008), the authors identified a three stages of pedagogic change when incorporating an IWB.
Stage 1 -  teachers fitting new technologies into established pedagogies;
Stage 2 - teachers engaging in collaborative exploration of the new opportunities offered by the technologies; 
Stage 3 -  teachers using the IWB skillfully and intuitively in way that extend or transform their established pedagogic practices.

With that summary as framework, I will be addressed these stages of needed changes within my building. Creation and implementation of meaningful professional development opportunities that allow staff to see the pedagogic stage they are in and give them the tools to go to the next stage. I also think it is important to instruct the students on what type of tool the SMART Board is and how they are to interactive with it in a meaningful way. My plan for address this wicked problem was constructed by using the aforementioned paper by Lewin, Somekh, and Steadman (2008) as well as the Derek Kaufaman’s article from Distance Learning (Vol. 6, Iss. 2) How Does the Use of Interactive Whiteboards Affect Teaching and Learning? (Both resources were retrieved from

The Implementation
There will be a couple stages of implementation that will need to take place in order to work on a solution to this wicked problem . First, I will gather information and review journal articles regarding IWB use with elementary students. I will research various school district implementation ideas for IWB as well suggestions made my the SMART company in order to compare findings. Next, I will survey staff to see where they see is the greatest need when utilizing the SMART Board. Third, I will create timeline for implementation. This is an example of what the implementation could look like:
  • Create and implement one mini-workshop regarding introduction to SMART Board. Attendees will be pre-assessed and what they would like to learn in the class, possible incorporating leveled groups or pairing teachers who can help each other
  • Create and implement one “how to” lesson for the students within at least one general education classroom.
  • Demonstrate at least one “model” lesson on using the SMART Board either in my special education classroom OR within the general education classroom.
  • Create one screencast explaining how to search SMART Exchange website for pre-made SMART Board lessons.
  • About 4 weeks after mini-workshop, set aside part of a morning to have people come share a lesson that they created or downloaded from SMART Exchange OR I will set aside time to observe his/her lesson within the classroom setting.

Additional Resources - 6 Strategies for Using a Smart Board in Class - Technology Combined with Good Teaching Leads to Success (paper) - PRESENTATION AND PEDAGOGY: THE EFFECTIVE USE OF INTERACTIVE WHITEBOARDS IN MATHEMATICS LESSONS (abstract) THE IMPACT OF IWB ON TEACHER-PUPIL INTERACTIONS IN NATIONAL LITERACY AND NUMERACY STRATEGIES - Google Scholar Search Results
see MSU library research for addition documention

Was the project successful? How will I know?
Well, the long term effects may not been visible for a while as it will take teachers a while to feel comfortable with the pedagogic change not to mention the comfort level of using technology. Some paperwork items that would help me assess the success of the project:
  • compile feedback from staff to see if/what information presented was helpful
  • track how many users used the exchange screencast
  • compile information from sharing session or lesson notes from classroom observation
Additionally, some visible short term results I hope to see from this implementation are:
  • positive feedback from mini-workshop
  • teachers share with me an activity they have done or invite me into the classroom to show me what they have done
  • how many teachers attend the sharing session and have something NEW to share
  • lastly, and most important....student’s are seen accessing the SMART Board for an appropriate learning experiences!

1 comment:

  1. Melanie,
    These are wonderful ideas. I can tell you have put a lot of thought into implementation. I think with your encouragement you should see teachers using their boards differently. There are some great YouTube tutorials that I have seen. I think Smart has their own Channel. You can reference these also.
    I look forward to seeing your progress in the next couple of weeks!