Innovative Teaching and Learning

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Innovative Teaching & Learning

       By using a technology integration framework, administrators can promote a healthy integration of technology aimed at improving instruction and student achievement. This isn’t my first time reviewing the SAMR Model as I was exposed to this during my pursuit of a Master’s Degree in Classroom Technology. However, this takes on a slightly different view as I examine the model through the eyes of a (perspective) administrator. Personally, I can relate to this model. I feel a good portion of the beginning of my personal transition into a digital classroom was based on augmentation. I had a hard time working with G Suites because I was so comfortable with Microsoft Office programs like Word and Powerpoint. I was stubborn and resisted change. I could feel engagement levels being capped with the way I was using new technologies. Yes, it was neat and new for students but that wore off quickly.

      Therefore, I shifted my attitude because of the technology’s ability to modify and redefine new tasks and I directly contribute to this change with the implementation of Google Classroom. My classroom was rewarded, at least I perceive it as being rewarded because they receive a stronger lesson, with more authentic learning experiences because of this shift. For me, this took the shape of student-created work that was shared with students and teachers, from the previous teacher-created work that was forced onto students. This shift in pedagogy transformed the ownership in the learning and changed the dynamics of my classroom this year.

        This is important to utilize models, such as SAMR, as a school leader. We need to be aware that we are not merely exchanging old tasks on old platforms with old tasks on new platforms. We need to rethink the entire task altogether with 21st Century technology which can be linked to the ideas behind the TPACK Model. I didn’t want my students using Chromebooks to work on practice problems out of their online textbook. I want them to collaborate and communicate their understandings, and misunderstandings, of the required content with other students in the classroom (and, hopefully, eventually with students across the web!). The way students present and organize their ideas, or the actual path towards understanding, can tap into their creativity and critical thinking skills. These 4’s C (bolded above), enrich content mastery but the “21st Century students need to harness technology to be effective problem solvers, collaborators, communicators, and creators” (NEA, An Educator’s Guide to the “4 Cs”).

Supporting Our Teachers

       Models like the ones discussed above can provide educators with the proper ideology to approach meaningful shifts in instructional practices and assessments that lend itself to reaching higher levels of engagement and understanding. Using common platform allows for common language during times of reflection, observation, and evaluation. The biggest hurdle to implement technology integration often resides with an educator’s lack of knowledge and skill. Technology ready administrators "provide time for professional development, experimentation, as well as follow-up support” for this transitional period (Born, 2013). By administrative leaders providing meaningful professional development opportunities, we allow educators to be more conscious of their use of technology in the classroom and shift away from the idea of using technology for the pure sake of using the technology.

        For my district, I think the PD would have to be differentiated because of the extremely different comfortable levels of exploiting classroom technology. For this situation, I think it would also benefit to create ‘tech teams’ or 'tech days' with varying levels of technology comfort for teachers to collaborate with each other. However, it shouldn’t stop at the walls of our building. Teachers need to create PLNs for “invaluable tools that are always at their disposal to help them acquire knowledge, resources, ideas, strategies, advice, and feedback as well as learn from world-renowned experts and practitioners in the field of education” (Eric Sheninger). I also love the idea of Genius Hours, FedEx Days, and Google’s 20% initiative for PD. I think my district is a ways away from these types of initiatives but we have to have the focus and determination to get started.

     We can start by setting school and personal teacher goals as they work to identify their strengths while aiming to improve areas of weakness. These goals can be accomplished with the PD tools mentioned above. It is essential that school leaders provide teachers with tools for reflection and innovation on their own such as encouraging the use of the 4 Shifts Protocol to deepen learning, personalize learning, create authentic work, and infuse rich technology. 
      During walkthroughs, formal, or informal observations, administrators need a shift in what they should be on the look for. This would include the digital, collaborative culture that has been created, routines that have cultivated blended learning, the integration of digital curriculum, student-centered instruction, collection and analyzation of data sources, and adapting technology solutions (Education Elements). Impactful observation is necessary for honest discussion and improved teaching practices that evolve to increase student engagement and achievement. Therefore, as teaching practices adapt to the 21st century learning so must the collection of evidence.

Born, C. (2013). The technology ready administrator: Standards-based performance. Morrisville, NC: Lulu Enterprises, Inc.

Sheninger, E. (2014). Digital leadership: Changing paradigms for changing times. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.


  1. Hi Ralph! Great post this week. When you stated, " For my district, I think the PD would have to be differentiated because of the extremely different comfortable levels of exploiting classroom technology," I thought this was a really thoughtful response. We have been talking about teacher buy-in, but the idea of a differentiated PD sounds like it would be really helpful for teachers, especially when dealing with their own personal comfort levels with technology. I feel that the biggest hurdle, in the beginning, is lack of teacher willingness to try something new. Getting teachers out of their comfort zones can be an obstacle. I came across this Ted Talk dealing with "Redefining Learning and Teaching Using Technology." The presentation is from 2 years ago and focuses on Great Britain. But I feel that the statistics and education system highly resembles ours. It's only 10 minutes long and the presenter states some of the points we've been talking about the last couple of weeks. Only his presentation is geared towards teachers.
    Check it out when you get a chance and let me know what you think. :)

  2. Hi Ralph,

    Interesting take on the SAMR model and the engagement for students. You talked about using Google classroom as a means to enhance your lessons and to make them more meaningful for the students; I couldn’t agree more with you. I, too, use Google classroom to enhance student learning and as a means of sharing my plans with colleagues.

    I agree with you that timing is important when promoting the use of technology in your lessons. It makes sense that you might first have students complete some math problems on their own first to assess student understanding before you allow them to collaborate with each other and think through some of the responses with partners. Collaborating with students across the web is a step that could naturally follow but again I think it is best to see the students complete some part of the assignment independently first before using technology to collaborate in order to ensure that learning has actually occurred at a proficient level.

    I am highly supportive of collaboration and wonder if you sometimes feel that facilitating collaboration with students is like pulling teeth? I actually feel badly for some students, at times, as they appear so hooked on technology that their dependency on it seems to be negatively impacting their ability to simply communicate with each other and with adults effectively. I am wondering if you concur and see the same issues in your classroom?

    I want to thank you for linking and sharing the article about the 4 C’s, this article opened my eyes and gave me further insights about how technology should be implemented into instruction for our students.

    In your blog, you talk specifically about supporting teachers with time in professional development sessions to learn more about effectively using different technology platforms and then following up the professional development with further observation and reflection. Do you see this often in your school? I know that a common complaint in my school, at times, is that there is not a lot of time devoted to follow up from administration and it can sometimes leave teachers feeling left confused and upset.

    As you mentioned, a big shift that should happen in classrooms today is facilitating student led conversations with students and empowering students to taking over more of the class time talking to each other about the big ideas and concepts presented instead of talking directly to the teacher. Student engagement will undoubtedly increase with this type of shift in teaching and a higher level of learning should also occur. How do you feel about this? I agree that this needs to happen, however, I can see how some teachers might struggle with this shift in pedagogy and teaching because it does mean that teachers will have to understand and be comfortable with giving up some classroom control.

    Having an Impactful observation and administrative follow up upon the conclusion of an observation is necessary for a teacher’s professional learning and growth; I couldn’t agree more. Have you ever had an observation and a follow up meeting that resulted in no real feedback, reflection, or discussion about how you can improve teaching and learning? I certainly have and left the experience thinking that no lesson is perfect and then questioning why the administrator didn’t share any strategies for growth. I am hoping I will be able to identify, together with the classroom teacher, meaningful and significant strategies and areas for professional growth following a classroom observation when I am an administrator. I do think peer observations and follow up reflection can help us to better prepare for this responsibility when we ultimately become administrators.


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