Instructional Practices

The eight instructional practices outlined below will provide focus for Professional Development for teachers through our 1:1 laptop initiative.

Web-Based Lessons

Advantages– student access 24/7, never forget or lose assignments. Can review lessons when necessary. Go over what they didn’t understand or to review for assessments. Pacing is at the individuals’ choice. (Differentiation)

Challenges– developing the lessons or selecting appropriate materials for the lessons. Making sure they are at the proper level of instruction. Training (PD) required.

Teacher Created Digital Content

Advantages– Easily done through Haiku. Students have access 24/7. Many teachers doing this already. Students like to review the material they have found difficult. Excellent for review purposes. Many different types of content now available that couldn’t be viewed outside the classroom. i.e. Video clips to be viewed for homework instead of using class time, discussion boards etc.

Challenges– Many other teachers are NOT currently doing this. Some added training or demonstration would be helpful.

Student Created Multimedia

Advantages– More student directed instruction. Developing not only content understanding but also presentation skills that are applicable in real world settings. Greater depth of understanding through research, creativity and the presentation.

Challenges– Time, familiarity with programs such as iMovie, Photo Booth etc.

Telecomputing Projects – connecting with students in other schools and with guest speakers

Advantages– Developing 21st Century skills in our students that they will need in their jobs of the future. (Also a state standard.) As the world gets smaller our students will need to be exposed to people and cultures beyond the walls of our school and the borders of the United States. There are a number of organizations that facilitate programs that we can use such as: Coverdell World Wise Schools program, Peace Corps partnerships, Council for Economic Education, World Savvy, Hungry Planet and Material World programs.

Challenges– We might not be able to communicate in real time due to time zone differences. However there are many other ways to carry on discussions. We would have to think beyond the normal school day. Homework assignments could be to carry on discussions with students from around the world. Many of the above mentioned programs have done all of the background work for us. All departments could benefit from these types of programs.

Online Discussions

Advantages– allowing students who don’t typically participate in class discussion to have a greater voice in on-line discussions. This is happening now and teachers are surprised at the level of discussion. Because students communicate on a regular basis in this way it is second nature to them. Teachers who are out for the day can still run their classes on a limited basis from home using this feature. We have had several teachers use this feature this year. Many different uses of discussions related to a reading, video, primary source document etc. Teachers can comment on the discussions and monitor the activity to make sure the conversation remains focused.

Challenges– While discussions are good they do not get into the depth of in person discussions and they may not take place in real time. Students post comments in reaction to other students’ comments may not read what everyone has said and as a result missed an important part of the conversation. Also they are more likely to misinterpret what has been posted. Practice in class should be used to set expectations and provide feedback to the students.

Online Assessments

Advantages– Instant feedback for the student taking the assessment. Some assessments require the student to keep working on the question until they get it right before moving on. Teachers who use this feature while teaching know if the students understand the material or if they have to reteach certain aspects before moving on. We could use Haiku to give these assessments right now. PARCC is an online assessment, so our students should be as comfortable as possible in this environment.

Challenges– for formal assessments security is always the primary concern. Will the students be locked out of other programs or search engines while taking the assessment? Training will be required to set up the various types of assessments. Digital Citizenship/Academic Integrity will have to play a major part in this initiative. While security is a concern, formative assessments might provide a good focus and initial use.

Cooperative Learning and WikiProjects

Advantages – The multitude of present tools now available through technology (Haiku, Google drive, PowerSchool, project building tools) support the 4 major components of cooperative learning. A device in the hands of all students and teachers greatly enhances the possibility that true cooperative learning will be seen throughout the school community.

The core principles of cooperative learning are:

  • Positive Interdependence – Is my gain your gain?
  • Individual Accountability – Is there individual public performance present?
  • Equal Participation – How equal is the participation?
  • Simultaneous Interaction – What percent of the class are active at any one moment?

Challenges– without clear roles established, projects may see slow starts or fail.

Flipped Classrooms

Advantages– This concept is simply one possibility that could be used. In terms of DI it is just one way to introduce content and therefore should be used in conjunction with a variety of modalities. Every content area could flip some classes but at this time no course could be replaced with this strategy. It is recommended that people read some of Sal Khan’s articles to get a better understanding of the possibilities of a flipped class.

Challenges– with the multitude of possible content it is difficult takes time to curate content. Perception is that this approach might not be good for all students. Requires more extensive rethinking of traditional teaching pedagogy.