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Harnessing Technology for Deeper Learning

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Reshape educational technology integration in classrooms to build truly transformative learning spaces. This concise, reader-friendly guide outlines a clear approach for properly and skillfully using digital learning tools to promote deeper, personalized learning across subjects and grade levels. The authors impart tips and strategies for avoiding common missteps, overcoming implementation challenges, and redesigning instruction that is both meaningful and engaging.

This quick guide will help you integrate educational technology in the classroom and create digital learning spaces:

  • Consider the challenge educators face when integrating technology in the classroom and current technology-integration frameworks, such as SAMR, RAT, and TPACK.
  • Discover how to create a successful digital learning space or environment that encourages academic growth.
  • Explore the authors' 4 Shifts Protocol (formerly trudacot), which focuses on the four big shifts that schools are making toward (1) deeper thinking and learning, (2) authentic work, (3) student agency and personalized learning, and (4) technology infusion.
  • Learn how the 4 Shifts Protocol can help teachers adjust and improve their current lessons and activities.
  • Study specific scenarios on how to utilize the 4 Shifts Protocol across multiple subjects and grade levels.

Contents:
About the Authors
Foreword
Introduction: Framing the Challenge
Chapter 1: Seeking a New Approach
Chapter 2: Introducing the 4 Shifts Protocol
Chapter 3: Redesigning Elementary School Lessons and Units
Chapter 4: Redesigning Secondary Lessons and Units
Chapter 5: Designing From Standards
Chapter 6: Implementing the Protocol -- Tips, Strategies, and Other Suggestions
Epilogue: Staying in Touch
References and Resources

Books in the Solutions for Creating the Learning Spaces Students Deserve series:

  • Embracing a Culture of Joy
  • Creating a Culture of Feedback
  • Reimagining Literacy Through Global Collaboration
  • Making Learning Flow
  • Different Schools for a Different World
  • Personalizing Learning Through Voice and Choice
  • Harnessing Technology for Deeper Learning

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Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

Seeking a

New Approach

The ongoing criticisms of educators’ current technology integration practices are deadly accurate. Although most schools have a lot of technology, they rarely use it well. As a result, they usually find that their technology-related efforts aren’t paying off as they had hoped, leaving them open to understandable and easily anticipated questions about time, energy, and financial cost. There is a lot of replicative use—doing the same things that educators used to do in analog classrooms, only with more expensive tools—and many schools and educators are using technology simply for technology’s sake. Until schools can get beyond basic replication with the digital devices that they’ve purchased, they are never going to satisfy the questions and concerns of their parents, communities, and outside critics.

Educators need better resources in order to move toward more transformative technology environments in which students and teachers use digital tools to actually do things that they couldn’t previously do in analog learning spaces. In this chapter, we review several conceptual models that are worth understanding, but they also are insufficient for most school systems.

 

Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

Introducing the

4 Shifts Protocol

The frameworks we describe in the previous chapter are helpful as general overviews of what schools are trying to accomplish with classroom technology integration. But we still felt that we needed more. We wanted to have different and more detailed—but still structured—conversations with the teachers and administrators whom we serve and we just felt that existing models were too vague and general.

So we went on a hunt for something more specific. Our goal was to find a discussion protocol, classroom observation template, conversation tool, or something that allows educators to concretely and explicitly assess technology integration within the context of higher-order-thinking skills that are steeped in important disciplinary concepts. We found very quickly that what we were looking for didn’t seem to exist.

The Search for the Ideal Approach

The list of possibilities we researched was long: Bloom’s revised taxonomy

 

Chapter 3

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Chapter 3

Redesigning

Elementary School

Lessons and Units

In this chapter, we present three examples to introduce you to the protocol and how you might use it for elementary lesson redesign. Chapters 4 and 5 include three secondary lesson redesign examples and two lessons—one elementary and one secondary—that we design from the beginning with the protocol. We encourage you to read through all of the examples, even if they’re not in your grade level or subject area, to see what ideas may transfer into your own instructional work.

Elementary School Social Studies

Let’s start our lesson redesign examples by taking a deeper look at Mystery

Skype, an increasingly popular activity in elementary classrooms. Say that two teachers want to briefly connect their classrooms. These teachers may already know each other, have connected via social media, or have used an online classroom connection or brokerage site such as Skype in the Classroom (https:// bit.ly/2ck6fgE; Microsoft, 2018). The two teachers know where in the world the other’s classroom is but their students do not.

 

Chapter 4

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Chapter 4

Redesigning Secondary

Lessons and Units

In this chapter, we present three examples that show how educators might use the protocol for secondary lesson and unit redesign. The previous chapter includes three elementary school redesign examples. The next chapter contains one elementary and one secondary unit that we designed from the beginning with the protocol.

Once again, we strongly encourage you to read every chapter, even if it doesn’t address your grade level or subject area, to see what ideas may transfer into your own instructional work.

High School Life Science

For our fourth example of lesson or unit redesign, let’s visit a tenth-grade science classroom. In this class, the teacher gives her students a few weeks to work on a project about bacteria, and they show their learning by creating posters.

Bacteria Poster

In this unit, each student creates a poster about a water-borne bacterium that can be harmful to humans, the bacterium’s effects, and disease prevention and treatment (see Larmer & Mergendoller, 2010). The teacher then displays the best posters in the hallway.

 

Chapter 5

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Chapter 5

Designing From

Standards

So far we have provided six examples of how the 4 Shifts Protocol (page 13) can help educators redesign existing lessons, and we encourage you to read through all of them to see what ideas may transfer into your own classrooms. In this chapter, we illustrate how teachers also can use the protocol to design lessons or units from scratch, using examples from elementary school social studies and high school

English language arts. For this design process to succeed, we believe that it is critical to start with a rich, deep, robust content standard. This standard should be conceptual in nature, ask learners to construct knowledge, and encourage authentic or highly relevant student work. This work would reflect that of experts outside of school and students would most likely share it to an outside audience.

Elementary School Social Studies

In the first of our two original design examples, we are going to use a secondgrade social studies standard to launch a new unit.

 

Chapter 6

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Chapter 6

Implementing the

Protocol—Techniques,

Strategies, and Suggestions

In the preceding chapters, we provide some examples of lesson and unit (re)design to give you an idea of how schools and educators can use the 4 Shifts Protocol to move instructional activities toward deeper thinking and learning, authentic work, student agency and personalization, and technology infusion. As we note at the end of chapter 2, we have found few books that offer concrete suggestions regarding lesson and unit redesign. Hopefully, you found our examples both informative and inspiring. This is complex instructional work! If we can help our fellow educators think more deeply and critically about instructional purpose when we pull technology tools into students’ learning work, we can use the protocol to assess whether we are accomplishing those goals and to pivot in desired directions if our answers aren’t yet what we want them to be.

As you think about using the 4 Shifts Protocol in your own classrooms and school buildings, consider the following techniques, strategies, and other suggestions that we have compiled from our own usage of the protocol.

 

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