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Know the ISTE Standards for Coaches: Support learning with technology

By Helen Crompton 5/13/2015 Assessment Project-based learning

ISTE Standards for Coaches 2: Teaching, Learning and Assessments. Technology coaches assist teachers in using technology effectively for assessing student learning, differentiating instruction, and providing rigorous, relevant and engaging learning experiences for all students.

Good technology coaches are always on the lookout for new strategies and technological innovations that can improve the way students learn and teachers teach. One such effective, researched-based strategy is problem- or project-based learning (PBL). In broad terms, PBL helps students learn content and skills through the process of solving a real-world issue. The teacher presents a driving question to the students, who develop their own line of inquiry to address the problem. The result is a student-generated product that answers the question.

Technology can enhance PBL by expanding students’ ability to research, collaborate and share their work. And tech-enhanced PBL can enable teachers to differentiate instruction at various points in the learning process.

Differentiation supports student learning by tailoring instruction to the appropriate level and by promoting student autonomy. And when educators use technology appropriately to enhance PBL, it can provide rigorous, relevant and engaging learning experiences for all students.

To capture interest at the start, students can ask their own unique question(s) within a broad theme. A multitude of research tools and resources can then support students working across a variety of performance levels as they collect and compile information. Students can make their own choices about which technology applications to use and select tools that capitalize on their strengths and showcase their talents. Communication tools allow students to collaborate with one another and with outside experts. Online assessment strategies allow them to request feedback from any number of reviewers and in the areas where they need it most. And they can present their findings and express their learning in any number of formats, then share their final products in class or online for the world to see.

The three approaches in the table below show three different ways technology coaches could consider and perhaps use PBL in their schools.

ISTE Standards-C 2: Teaching, Learning and Assessments. Technology coaches assist teachers in using technology effectively for assessing student learning, differentiating instruction and providing rigorous, relevant and engaging learning experiences for all students.

Approach 1. This technology coach decides that a technology-enhanced PBL approach is not effective and chooses to stick with the drill-and-practice approach already in use. 
 
 

Approach 2. Following a thorough review of the research, this tech coach implements a technology-enhanced PBL initiative in the school. He develops a website with PBL tips for educators, divided into sections, tied to content standards and the ISTE Standards, covering such topics as higher-order thinking, diverse learner needs and preferences, and assessment with analysis, interpretation and dissemination.

Approach 3. Following a thorough review of the research, this tech coach implements a technology-enhanced PBL initiative in the school. She provides PBL coaching and modeling on a continual basis that connects to a website with collated PBL information tied to content standards and the ISTE Standards, including sections on higher-order thinking, diverse learner needs and preferences, and assessment with analysis, interpretation and dissemination.

a. Coach teachers in and model design and implementation of technology-enhanced learning experiences addressing content standards and student technology standards.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of this indicator.

Partially addressed: Standards are included in the premade instructional activities, there is no coaching or modeling on this topic.

Addressed:
The implementation models and/or co-teaches how to create technology-enhanced instruction and connects with content and technology standards.

b. Coach teachers in and model design and implementation of technology-enhanced learning experiences using a variety of research-based, learner-centered instructional strategies and assessment tools to address the diverse needs and interests of all students.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of this indicator.

Partially addressed: Diversity and strategies are included in the PBL activities. Assessment is included, but there is no coaching or modeling on this topic.

Addressed: The PBL implementation includes coaching and modeling, and the nature of PBL addresses students’ diverse needs and interests.
 

c. Coach teachers in and model engagement of students in local and global interdisciplinary units in which technology helps students assume professional roles, research real-world problems, collaborate with others, and produce products that are meaningful and useful to a wide audience.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of this indicator.

Partially addressed: The website’s information covers real-world problems, collaboration and creating, but the audience is limited and/or there is no coaching or modeling on these topics.

Addressed: The modeling and coaching, which is based on PBL research, shows teachers how to connect projects to real-world problems while giving students opportunities to collaborate and produce and share their final products. Students engage with their peers outside of the classroom and post their projects digitally to represent learning to a global audience.

d. Coach teachers in and model design and implementation of technology-enhanced learning experiences emphasizing creativity, higher-order thinking skills and processes, and mental habits of mind (such as critical thinking, metacognition and self-regulation).
 

Not addressed: There is no evidence of this indicator. Drill-and-practice programs may cover some skills, but probably not those using skills such as critical thinking.

Partially addressed: The PBL information on the website includes creativity and higher-order thinking, but there is no coaching or modeling on this topic.

Addressed: Through modeling, and later coaching, the selection of the effective teaching and learning experiences ensure that students are active learners who practice higher-order thinking skills while using technology, including critical thinking, creativity and thinking about their own thinking.

e. Coach teachers in and model design and implementation of technology-enhanced learning experiences using differentiation including adjusting content, process, product and learning environment based upon student readiness levels, learning styles, interests, and personal goals.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of this indicator. Drill-and-practice programs probably do not offer many opportunities for differentiation.

Partially addressed: Differentiation in various aspects is included in the technology-enhanced learning experiences  but there is no coaching or modeling on this topic.

Addressed: With modeling and later coaching, student-selected problems and questions, as well as investigation of those problems through technology-enhanced learning experiences, guarantee differentiation of content, process and/or product. Design of instruction, which embeds student choice, addresses learning styles and interests.

f. Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of this indicator.

Partially addressed: This coach uses research-based best practices in the instructional design process but no coaching or modeling.

Addressed: Together, the coach and teacher find and use research-based best practices during many phases of the PBL approach to ensure that the integration of technology enhances student learning.

g. Coach teachers in and model effective use of technology tools and resources to continuously assess student learning and technology literacy by applying a rich variety of formative and summative assessments aligned with content and student technology standards.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of this indicator. The drill-and-practice programs likely do not provide opportunities for a rich variety of formative and summative assessments.

Partially addressed: The initiative includes summative assessment but no formative assessment, and there is no coaching or modeling on this topic.

Addressed: This initiative includes many different formative and a few summative assessments to evaluate student learning and provide valuable feedback to assist students in the learning process. The technology-integrated experiences are a natural combination of both content and technology standards.

h. Coach teachers in and model effective use of technology tools and resources to systematically collect and analyze student achievement data, interpret results, and communicate findings to improve instructional practice and maximize student learning.

Not addressed: There is no evidence of this indicator.

Partially addressed: The website information includes assessment follow-up, but the coach does not use it to inform instruction or disseminate it.

Addressed: The coach analyzes, interprets and uses multiple assessments with the help of technological tools to drive instructional decisions. The coach then shares these data with students, parents and school administrators. The coach and teacher work collaboratively, and the coach provides the level of support needed based on the teacher’s experience.

 
In Approach 1, the technology coach believes PBL is an unwieldy and impractical strategy in a standards-based environment. She does not think teachers can engage students in meaningful projects and still have time to get through all the content they are required to teach. She wants to spend her time supporting just the drill-and-practice programs her district currently uses. Unfortunately, this coach has chosen an approach that is often called “drill and kill,” referring to the endless repetition of individual skills that students do not understand but are forced to memorize, which can “kill” students’ ability to think for themselves as well as their motivation to learn. This approach does not meet any of the indicators described in this standard.
 
For Approach 2, the coach understands some of the benefits of PBL and compiles resources for teachers who want to try it out. He creates an online repository of PBL projects with guidelines for teachers to implement the teaching approach in their classrooms, professional development links and resources. He promotes this site via email to all the teachers in the district. Although this approach may make it easier for teachers to use PBL to get students solving real-world problems, collaborating and creating, there is no indication of this technology coach doing any coaching and modeling for the teachers to help them use PBL effectively. Assessment is included, but again there is no indication that it is used to inform instruction or disseminated to others to support student learning.
 
In Approach 3, the technology coach uses PBL and models and coaches teachers to use it effectively with technology and works with them to plan and implement PBL in their classrooms. She creates a PBL website as a repository of information and works alongside teachers to use it to locate resources, develop activities to scaffold the process, discuss and select appropriate tools, and design assessment methods to evaluate student products. Add in coaching and modeling how to do these things effectively, and this approach meets all elements of this indicator.

To be clear, to meet this standard, technology coaches do not have to implement PBL, but they should incorporate pedagogical models that enable teachers to use technology effectively for assessing student learning, differentiating instruction, and providing rigorous, relevant and engaging learning experiences for all students.

Acknowledgments
Jennifer Kidd is a senior lecturer in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Old Dominion University and a former elementary school teacher. Her passion is using technology to support student-generated content.

Jody Sommerfeldt is a senior lecturer in the department of Teaching & Learning at Old Dominion University in Virginia. She is an educator in the field of instructional technology and has served as a technology coach. She earned her Ed.S. in educational leadership and her MS.Ed. in curriculum and instruction, instructional technology from the Old Dominion University.

Helen Crompton is an assistant professor of instructional technology at Old Dominion University in Virginia. She is a researcher and educator in the field of instructional technology, and she earned her Ph.D. in educational technology and mathematics education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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