Sunday, July 25, 2010

My practicum proposal - Empowering our future global citizens through digital literacy

How does the purposeful and intentional use of technology integrated into professional development and dialogue affect student achievement? This is the question I wish to address during my practicum proposal. The intent of the proposal is very clearly articulated first and foremost under the category of leading the Instructional Program of the Ontario Leadership Framework. It indicates that a “principal has knowledge and understanding of (the) use of new and emerging technologies to support teaching and learning.” In addition, one of the practices of the principals in setting direction is to: “ensure creativity, innovation and the use of appropriate technologies to achieve excellence.” The framework goes on to highlight that a principal has knowledge of “new technologies, their use and impact; (and) leading change, creativity and innovation.”

My practicum will also address how a principal develops the organization and “challenges thinking and learning of staff to further develop professional practice.” Professional Development should push the envelope and allow staff to explore new and different ways of teaching. Lastly, creating and taking part in professional learning communities on the topic of technology or through the use of technology is an area that I further wish to explore during this practicum. The Framework does indicate that a principal “is able to collaborate and network with others inside and outside the school.”

Some of the first questions that PQP part 1 explored from the onset was: “What do you value? What are your beliefs? How does your behaviour exemplify your beliefs?” Before embarking on a change in career path, it is vital that we all have a very good understanding of our personal goals and beliefs. I believe that our students are global citizens, that they need 21st century skills and that they should have a universal conscience. Students in my classrooms are exposed to such ideas and I firmly believe that more and more teachers should embrace such a philosophy. As a teacher, I may be able to reach students in my classroom, but as an instructional leader, I can reach many more.

I can see some links with my philosophy of education and Fullan’s book studied in this course, The Moral Imperative of Leadership. In chapter 4, Fullan speaks of making a difference at a societal level, but stops short at discussing change in the context of a district through collaboration and personal learning communities. (Fullan, 2003) I would take this imperative a step further, to say that, as school leaders, we have a global moral responsibility to affect education for the betterment of society as a whole. We can attain this goal through collaboration in online learning communities, like twitter, which are already affecting change in the lives of educators and leaders alike.

According to Méndez-Morse, “Leaders of change recognize shifts in the environment and guide their organization to be responsive to those changes.” (Méndez-Morse, 1992) As the new literacy creates a new world order, our future citizens must know how to filter through information and use it to the end of a common good. The York Region District School Board is committed to a vision for technology that, “will transform our educational and workplace environments for improved student achievement and success.” (Board, 2010)

Under Curriculum Implementation of the board’s School Effectiveness Framework, the board intends to: “develop and implement a multi-layered learning strategy to provide opportunities for digital literacy and new approaches to learning” by 2012. (Board, Board Plan for Continuous Improvement, 2009) During my practicum, I wish to explore what is meant by a “multi-layered strategy”. Moreover, I wish to engage teachers and students to explore digital literacy in an intentional manner to harness the power to collaborate globally and learn from one another.

Throughout this practicum, I will have the opportunity to work with students, staff, parents and the community at large. With limited resources at times, access to technology is somewhat limited in our school. It is important to note that the board has recently introduced wifi in all areas of our school building. This will change the scope and increase technology use in the building through PDA’s and personal laptops. To ensure equality of access, it may be important to have laptops available for sign out through the main office or library.

It will be imperative to work with staff on various PD sessions outlining options to work with the technology now available in classrooms. This year, I was actively involved in planning and presenting a workshop on Moodle, an online, board endorsed classroom management resource. My role was to present the technology and then have one-on-one sessions with staff to help them explore.

Student achievement is always at the crux of any new school initiative. I can explore the uses of technology as I have always done, through demonstration and time to experiment with it. For instance, this last school year, I introduced the prezi, an online presentation software similar to powerpoint, but much more effective in demonstrating connections between concepts. More information is available at Many of my students were intrigued by the prezi, and several of them used it in presenting their culminating assignments. It is important to note that students need to be taught how to use technology appropriately, and how to avoid being accused of plagiarism, one of the major issues plaguing technology use in the high school classroom.

It is my intention to increase awareness of the different technologies available to support success for all students. Parents may not be aware of the gamut of resources the web provides, nor the safety issues or bullying possibilities that may arise while students are online.

Lastly, making a difference beyond the school is really my moral imperative. Not only do I want to affect learning from within the system, I want to affect learning on a much broader scale. In connecting teachers and students to others with similar interests via the web, our entire global community is strengthened. Not only are we preparing the students in our school or district for the 21st century, we are creating citizens of the world, working together for one common purpose and that is: progress.

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