Tech team brings new skills to teachers one school at a time

Teachers at the Wolf Creek Public Schools have been getting in-classroom training to get them up to speed with integrating technology

Teachers at the Wolf Creek Public Schools have been getting in-classroom training to get them up to speed with integrating technology into their teaching.

Technology integration leaders Kylie Kissel and Janice VanCampen spent time updating the board of trustees during a regular meeting Wednesday, March 4 on what it has been like to be right in the classroom alongside teachers and students.

“Day-to-day, we’re working mainly with teachers and the technology coaches to build up their capacities,” explained Kissel.

He says the skill levels of each school and teacher is at a different place and their goal is to spend one to two weeks working directly in a school. The purpose of them being in the classes is to give teachers much-needed technology support.

VanCampen added that being in a school for a longer period of time has helped build trust in the process and the teachers are gaining confidence in their own abilities because of it. “There’s a whole lot of shifts going on,” she stressed.

Rather than inundate teachers and school administrators with information, the team is taking a more comprehensive approach to technology integration into education, added Greg Esteves, technology integration director.

“You can’t just go from zero to a fully developed model,” said Estevez.

He suggests often times people look for a silver bullet solution but there are situations where using technology is not the best method of teaching. VanCampen added that specific steps must be followed to ensure a safe and fulfilling integration experience.

Kissel said the goal is to give students a critical eye and, “how do we get kids to think critically about what they’re seeing on the Internet?”

If students are on the right path, Kissel says they will be able to gather information and know how to handle it responsibly. Smart phones and tablets are making it easier to gather that information quickly.

“Although this is a consumption device, you have to look at how it can be a productive device,” said Kissel, referring to a smart phone.

Technology is moving at such a fast pace that new jobs are being created every year to deal with the new ideas, said Kissel. He referred to a quote from writer Alvin Toffler who said, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ”

VanCampen added that the use of Chromebooks in the school is not to teach students how to use them necessarily, but to give them the skills needed to learn in a fast-paced environment. “You can approach the same problem in about 10 different ways,” she explained.

The best part for Kissel and VanCampen is seeing teachers buy into the program. Both attribute that engagement to them being in the classrooms ready to help no matter the skill set. Their next step is to get some teaching out to parents who may not know much about technology.

The two have co-founded a community site on Google Plus called GEG Alberta for teachers to connect, share and learn from each other’s successes.