Innovate to Educate Entry
Boyertown Area School District
Michelle Hanna and Rabecca Hester, Instructional Technology Coaches
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|Boyertown Area School District Tech Fest and Student Showcase|
What innovative technology initiative or project are you most proud of, and how has it improved teaching and learning in your school/district?This past year we coordinated and facilitated a district-wide innovation summit we named the Boyertown Area School District Tech Fest. It involved over 500 educators and close to 300 parents and students. The purpose of this conference was to share and provide teachers with hands-on experiences regarding innovative classroom practices support by technology. During the day-long summit a keynote speaker shared ideas and a message of innovation. Then, teachers and administrators attended breakout sessions in the morning and the afternoon. This summit was unique for two reasons. First, our own district educators are primarily the ones facilitating the workshops. Encouraging our own teachers and administrators to share ideas and strategies builds leadership capacity within our own staff and a culture of professional sharing and intelligent risk-taking. Second, the day included a student showcase. This showcase spotlighted student creations involving collaboration, communication and creativity which emphasize technology integration. Throughout the summit, teachers had the opportunity to walk through the showcase, see student projects, and hear students' voices as they showcased their projects with pride! This summit rejuvenated our educators. They left wanting to apply what they had learned and, in many cases, called upon the district instructional coaches for support in the implementation of ideas and teaching practices. The summit has inspired both teachers and administrators in our district to incorporate the 4 Cs into lessons and professional development.
As per our evaluation results, the following data was gathered. We are currently in the planning stages for this year's summit, and we strive to increase the percentage of participant satisfaction. Our reflection of the previous year's summit is being utilized to impact teacher learning and, indirectly, student innovation.
- "I was satisfied with the workshop."- 90% of participants agreed or strongly agreed
- "Time in workshop was sufficient to allow learning and practice." - 87% of participants agreed or strongly agreed
- "The workshop was well-planned and interactive."- 92% of participants agreed or strongly agreed
- "Workshop content and strategies will be useful in my work."- 86% of participants agreed or strongly agreed
What were some of the biggest challenges to your initiative, and how did you meet those challenges?There were certainly challenges to facilitating such a large event. First, students, parents and teachers work all year long to develop engaging learning experiences that can be entered into the student showcase of the innovation summit. Coordination of entry forms, communication between all stakeholders, t-shirt sizes, instructional coaching, and set up of the showcase was a challenge. However, we learned very quickly on to be proactive, create a timeline, and provide timely responses to questions and concerns so that all ran smoothly. Second, we were challenged by the consistency of our wireless infrastructure. We found that the building in which we facilitated the summit could not accommodate so many users on the wireless network in certain areas. To overcome this issue, we coordinated with our district information technology center to locate rooms with network cables. Additionally, we communicated with facilitators of workshops â€œwork aroundsâ€ until we could resolve the issue. Our summit evaluations showed that our teachers were understanding and flexible. They were appreciative for the quick attention to the issue and resolution.
What are the three biggest components that need to be in place for tech innovation to succeed are:
|In order for ed-tech innovation in education to succeed, there are a few components that must be in place. First, a clear vision for how technology will become a part of the learning environment needs to be in place. Communication of this vision sends a clear message to all stakeholders that educational technology must become part of the learning culture for students and educators and not just an "add-on"".|
|Next, teachers need to feel comfortable taking risks with their instruction and utilizing educational technology beyond consumption types of activities. In the Boyertown Area School District, we do this by providing support to teachers and administrators through instructional coaching. Additionally, our administrations do a fantastic job of modeling educational technology learning for staff members. When teachers see their leaders taking risks using technology, they feel comfortable doing the same with students.|
Third, a culture of innovation must be developed to inspire out-of-the box ideas in teachers and students, to provide students with voice and choice in their learning, and to encourage problem solving, communication and collaboration. We do this by coordinating our innovation summit, professional learning for all teachers on the four Cs and educational technology use, and encouraging teachers to be part of an innovation incubator cohort. "