I have spent the last three days in an intensive training about Standards Based Instruction. It was intended to prepare me to train others in my district to implement and use Standards to guide IEP creation and assessments in the classroom. At the same time I have been asked to reflect about the content of my most recent Post University class on learning and the integration of technology. The course has focused on Bloom’s (oh, how we love thee) and how to find technology tools to help students demonstrate that level of the taxonomy as well as ways to weave them into the classroom. At the same time, this training seemed to really look at how you demonstrate learning through standards. I couldn’t help but see a parallel.
When we discuss the ways that students with disabilities, especially students with profound and severe disabilities, access the curriculum, I think it is obvious to ask how technology can help. What the Standards Based Instruction has really highlighted is the need we have to hold all students to the same standard of learning. Anyone in education (I hope) believes that all students can learn. And we have all heard the push to have students perform at the highest level of the Taxonomy. What I think the training and the coursework have clarified for me is the ways in which we can make that a reality. The idea of a cookie-cutter demonstration of knowledge is long gone and I think the technology is there to make the possibilities a reality. Using tools like the matrix of ways to demonstrate from the TEA STAAR-Alt assessment materials as well as the Digital Bloom’s Taxonomy makes it clear to see the limitless possibilities.
But all this reaching for the stars soon ends when I once again (in the training and in this course) realize the limit of possibilities falls on the teacher of record in the classroom. Technology is there. My question is: Are our teachers ready? Are they willing? Are the able? And do they have the support of their building, school district, or administration? Too often we fall prey to the ease of allowing students to work only on the lower level of Blooms and assess them based on their ability to recall and understand information. With all the technology out there that is available to make the higher level thinking tasks fun and interesting, there is hope to liven up our classrooms. The recent video of Jeff, a high school student politely voicing his opinion about another day in the classroom doing worksheets, should signal us that our students are ready and even eager for this kind of learning. Using tools like VoiceThread, Screenr, and Prezi to create materials that demonstrate mastery of a content standard are far more interesting than doing another worksheet or bubbling in another scantron and speak to their real applicable knowledge of a skill. Even small steps like assessing on the go with Socrative to hit some of those lower level thinking skills is a change that needs to happen to make Standard Based Instruction the new norm.
You can have the greatest plan of attack, but without the support of the foot soldiers, you will not win the war.
I believe in the need to integrate technology in the classroom. I also believe in the Standards and the SBI approach. I think they are both more realistic, meaningful, and equitable ways to teach and assess learning. I sat in my training and thought of the teachers I was going to have to bring this information to. I know there will be naysayers. I know there will be nonbelievers. And I know there will be resistance. The integration of technology in the classroom is essential and such a great tool to use in the implementation of standards based instruction. I hope as I go forward in my endeavors I can figure out a way to make them believe and empower them to act.