Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Technology and Teacher as Leaders

At Sioux Central, our teachers were key to implementing our one-to-one laptop initiative. They were the leaders who got our program going and who are responsible for the success of this initiative to date.

Last winter, we used our professional development time for teachers to travel to other schools and observe laptop instruction in action. We had teachers observing in the classrooms of the leading laptop schools in Iowa such as Newell-Fonda, BCLUW, Sidney, South Hamilton, and Van Meter. When our teachers reached consensus that laptops were needed at Sioux Central in order to further our instructional aims, it was a delegation of teachers who presented to the school board and made the sales pitch as to why we needed these teaching tools.

The research on laptop instruction indicates that schools need to fully utilize the devices for a laptop initiative to be successful. Central to utilization, is teacher acceptance of the new methodology and the willingness to change.

This is a big change in instruction. Laptops should not be just a new way to take notes during a lecture or fill out forms on-line instead of blanks on a paper worksheet. The laptops need to be research tools that allow students to find the information, break it down into terms they can use, and then re-assemble the information in a new form of their own. This is known among educators as the learning process of synthesis, and it is among the highest orders of thinking and learning skills.

It is the teachers who must challenge the status quo for traditional instruction, so they need to be central to any discuss and decisions for any school implementing a laptop program among its students.

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