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A Framework for Technology Integration: One School’s Approach

By Eric C. MacDonald
 | May 20, 2016

shutterstock_141772771_x300Integrating technology into instruction can be an overwhelming task for classroom teachers. How do new digital technologies fit with what I am currently doing? How do I add one more thing to an already overcrowded day? How do I make the best choices? What does technology have to do with literacy anyway? These are just some of the many questions facing classroom teachers today that can lead to resistance in adapting technology for literacy and learning.

The teachers at Benchmark School had these concerns. We knew technology was important for preparing our students to be successful literacy learners, but we had more questions than answers. Benchmark School is a small, independent school for students in grades 1–8 who have challenges with how they process language or have experienced a mismatch in how they learn related to how they have been instructed. A few years ago, the school took on the challenge of equipping its teachers and students to leverage the power of technology and develop a framework for technology integration.

There are many resources that provide direction for technology integration. The Benchmark community examined a number of these:

  1. International Society for Technology in Education Student Standards
  2. Manitoba Literacy with ICT Continuum
  3. NCTE Framework for 21st Century Curriculum and Assessment
  4. Mozilla Web Literacy Map
  5. Common Sense Media K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum

As we explored each of these resources, we reflected on how they matched the instructional philosophy of the school. We also consulted with leading literacy researchers with interest in technology, including Julie Coiro and Jill Castek, for feedback and direction.

Out of our reflections and discussions developed the Benchmark School Framework for Technology Integration. The framework covers five key areas:

  1. Online Research and Reading Comprehension
  2. Communication & Collaboration
  3. Problem Solving & Creative Innovation
  4. Digital Citizenship
  5. Strategic and Efficient Use of Technology

For each of these key areas, we developed a rationale and list of student standards.

After completing work on the framework, we felt that it was important to develop a version of the framework that was student-friendly and could be used by teachers in instruction and to cue students to implement what they have been learning. The five key areas from the framework were posed as questions:

  1. What are my strategies for reading and researching online?
  2. What strategies can I use to work well with others online?
  3. How do I use technology to creatively think about and solve problems?
  4. What strategies can I use to be safe and respect the privacy of others and myself?
  5. What strategies do I have to be an effective, efficient, and strategic user of technology?

Each of the key questions was broken down into more focused questions to help students (and teachers) understand various aspects of the key questions. Finally, a poster was developed to display in classrooms so that the questions would be visible to all and to serve as a constant reminder for the strategic and efficient uses of technology.

Once the framework and poster were complete, we determined a process for implementation of the framework. We began by asking teachers to focus on one question, “What strategies can I use to be safe and respect the privacy of others and myself?” The next year, we expanded to another question to build on the previous year’s work. Once teachers are familiar with the five key areas and have developed classroom lessons, we hope they will focus on all five throughout the school year.

First and foremost, we learned that technology integration is not an “add on.” Technology helps us to achieve our goal of developing more strategic and effective learners. Second, it was helpful to have a conversation about the role of technology for our students. The most important aspect was taking the ideas of others and adapting them to the particular needs of our school and its students. Each school, to effectively leverage the power of technology for literacy and learning, would benefit from a similar discussion. As a literacy community, we all will benefit if we seek ways to share the frameworks we develop and build on each other’s work to meet the needs of our particular communities. As the framework states, collaboration is a key strategy for our digital world.

Eric MacDonald teaches in the middle school at Benchmark School in Media, PA.

This article is part of a series from the Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).

 

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