On Wednesday, the entire secondary staff at Van Meter attended the 2nd Annual Iowa 1:1 Institute. It was a great opportunity for our teachers to learn, collaborate, and share about their experiences teaching and learning in a 1:1 environment. Over 1,200 educators participated in the conference this year. Many are there to learn what it takes to implement a 1:1 technology initiative. Many are there to ask questions about different web 2.0 tools, software, and other technologies that will help make them a more effective teacher. Still others are there to find out what all of the fuss is about when it comes to kids having access to technology. I have news for you, IT IS NOT ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY! Though the technology can help teachers more effectively:
- Teach for Understanding
- Provide Rigorous and Relevant Curriculum
- Assess FOR Learning
- Differentiate Instruction
- Center the Classroom Around Students Needs
Providing students a laptop will not magically improve the quality of instruction provided to students.
Our focus as move forward as a state needs to be on ensuring all teachers are providing meaningful learning opportunities for students. The focus should be on LEARNING! Don't get me wrong, there were many great sessions at the 1:1 Institute. Many focused on quality instruction, but there were too many sessions talking about cool tools, and not nearly enough about one or any of the 5 Characteristics of Instruction outlined in the Iowa Core.
Next year, we need more sessions like Matt Townsley and Russ Goerend's Rethink Assessment. We need more sessions that help teachers see how effectively implementing quality instructional strategies like the five outlined in the Iowa Core is what will truly improve learning opportunities for our students. We need more sessions focusing on how to not only teach students the universal constructs, but how we as educators need to model these skills as well.
We need to take the next step in our journey to transform the educational system in Iowa into a system that meets that is flexible enough to adjust to each student's needs instead of trying to cram all students through the one-size fits all model we have now. We need to help people realize that it is not about providing every kid a laptop, but it is about providing students the best instruction from the most qualified educators. The sooner we are able to ensure that all students have access to the best teachers, the sooner we will see the system transform into what it needs to be.