Royal Happenings: Integrating technology takes time

By Scott Fitzsimonds

Technology has become an essential part of our everyday life. Its ever-changing influence is impacting how we as a global society advance in the constantly evolving 21st Century. It provides us with an opportunity to transform and enhance student learning.

The Watertown-Mayer Public School District believes that the integration of technology in the classroom should be for the academic benefit of all students. To that end, we will use technology to enhance: Literacy, Curriculum, Assessment, Differentiation, and 21st Century skills.

Watertown-Mayer Schools is using the SAMR model (developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura) to help guide us as we journey through the process of transforming instruction and learning. The model, as described by Dr. Puentedura, aims to enable teachers to design, develop, and integrate digital learning experiences that utilize technology to transform learning experiences into high levels of achievement for students.

The SAMR model identifies four levels in the process of moving from using technology to enhance instruction and learning to using it to transform instruction and learning: 1. Substitution: the computer/device stands in for another technological tool without a significant change in the tool’s function. 2. Augmentation: the computer/device replaces another technological tool, with significant functionality increase. 3. Modification: the computer/device enables the redesign of significant portions of a task. 4. Redefinition: the computer/device allows for the creation of new tasks that would otherwise be inconceivable without the technology.

To support teachers as we progress through these levels, there are many professional development activities taking place. We have a 22-member team, referred to as our “Apple Cohort,” learning new skills and strategies on the uses of our new technology, and teaching those skills and strategies to teachers and staff in the district. We have many teachers developing expertise in various areas, and are teaching others what they learn.

Teachers are meeting in Professional Learning Communities multiple times each month to share and learn. Additionally, each building is conducting professional development activities on any given day before or after school, and on staff development days. Our paraprofessionals and secretarial staff also have access to this and other training.

The use of our new technology goes beyond the classroom. Coaches and advisors within the district are using the iPads and other technology to enhance and improve the learning and experiences of students in athletics and activities. Moving through the four levels will take time, but we are happy to say that we are well within the substitution level, with many teachers using various strategies that go into augmentation, modification, and redefinition. We’re happy to say that we are progressing more quickly than anticipated.

Our staff is spending much time to learn and advance their practices using our new technologies, and deserve a heart-filled “Congratulations” for their work and dedication.

Scott Fitzsimonds is the Director of Technology, Teaching and Learning for the Watertown-Mayer School District.