Description and overview:

The thoughtful integration of technology into teaching and learning is challenging. Effective technology integration supports learning curricular content and concepts in ways that connect well with the chosen pedagogical approach and provides a relative advantage over other ways to approach the lesson. The learning goals should be focused on the curriculum; not on the technology. This is a tall order, but this approach to using technology pays significant dividends and makes the extra time and effort "worth it."

Here at William & Mary, Dr. Judi Harris and Dr. Mark Hofer have developed a planning approach for technology integration that I would like to share with you. It is called a "grounded" approach in that the integration of technology is grounded in the curriculum, students learning needs and preferences, the context of your classroom, and is focused upon content-based learning activities. They call this the Learning Activity Types approach to technology integration. You can read more about this approach__here__.

To develop your thinking for technology integration, Dr. Harris, Dr. Hofer, and I think it involves both sustained individual thinking and planning as well as sharing ideas and suggestions with your colleagues. To this end, I am introducing you to a substantial planning process for you to work through. While most of the work is done independently there are steps in the process that recommend discussing your draft lesson with others. By class on Wednesday, October 29 you must have prepared a LAT planning guide for use in discussions that week. Your completed final lesson is due in Blackboard by the start of class on Wednesday, November 19.

What you will create:

  1. Your lesson plan should be developed in the format required by your methods instructor informed by the LAT planning approach. Please note that in whatever format you write up the lesson plan, you will need to specify (in bold text) the learning activity types you include in the plan, the technologies/resources (both digital and non-digital) you will use in the plan (in bold text), and a "plan b" for what you might do if the digital technologies in the plan would fail.

  1. In addition to this lesson plan, you will create an accompanying technology product. If you as the teacher will use the technology, you should create what you might present to the students. If the students will be using the technology, you should create a sample of what the students might do or create. The technology product should be complete and demonstrate mastery of the particular tool or resource you are employing. If you have questions about what would be appropriate to turn in for this portion of the assignment, please consult with Mr. Pantazes.
  2. The final component of the lesson plan is a reflection. This reflection will be comprised of six parts:
    1. How do you address one or more UDL principles in the lesson to meet the needs of diverse learners?
    2. How do you see the use of technology connecting with the content focus?
    3. How do you see the use of technology connecting with the pedagogical approach you’ve selected?
    4. How do the content, pedagogy and technology all “fit” together in the lesson?
    5. What is the relative advantage of the technology(ies) used in the lesson?
    6. What was your overall experience like designing this lesson using the Learning Activity Types approach to technology integration planning? In other words, how, if at all, did this process help you to zero in on appropriate and effective technologies to approach the lesson?

  1. The lesson plan document, technology sample, and reflection should all be submitted via the assignments page on our course Blackboard site.

Process:

Now that we have worked through some taxonomies and studied other teachers’ lesson plans, it is time to begin planning your own technology-enhanced learning experience. Before you read further, carefully consider the content focus and learning goals for a lesson that you would like to develop through the remainder of this experience. Ideally, you should select a topic that you will be teaching either in your practica or student teaching work. As you think through the lesson, use the lesson plan format that your methods professor requires.

When we studied the LATs in class, it may have occurred to you that at any given point in a lesson, there were probably multiple learning activity types that could have been selected. How, then, can you determine which LATs “fit” best in each curriculum-based lesson, project, or unit?

There are, of course, multiple learning activities that can “fit” a particular instructional plan. Finding “the best fit” involves considering several dimensions of that plan. One key determinant is pedagogical stance. If you believe strongly that an inquiry approach to teaching in your content area is the optimal approach, this will narrow possible learning activity types quite dramatically. If you are more eclectic in your approach to teaching, there will be more LATs from which to choose for each lesson, project, or unit that you plan.

Another key determinant is the classroom context in which you are working. Teachers plan with a student or particular group of students, in a particular classroom and school, and at a particular time of day in mind, using particular curricular scope and sequence. The chart of these types of pedagogical decisions pictured below can help you to recognize these contextual parameters within which a particular lesson, project, or unit will occur.


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Placing a dot on each of these continua to describe the context in which the lesson, project, or unit that you are planning will occur can make choosing the particular learning activities and corresponding easier. You may have limited information on your classroom context at this point, and not be able to make all these decisions on your own. However, make your best guess for each of the continua.
You should also consider the particular planning models and learning activities introduced in your teaching methods courses. How do these parameters help you to zero in on the selection of learning activity types?

Any instructional planning should begin with a focus on learning goals and your students' needs and preferences. You should begin planning with your curriculum and specific learning goals in mind. You can use this focus to drive all subsequent instructional decisions as you plan your learning experience.

Once you've clearly delineated the focus for the lesson and all the learning goals (both standards-oriented and more "big picture" goals), you can then begin to use the LAT taxonomy to select and sequence a combination of LATs to most effectively help your students meet the learning goals. Remember the contextual and pedagogical decisions you considered in the last step as you make your selections. Please also consider how the LAT’s can serve as formative or summative assessment opportunities for you to help gauge student progress in meeting the learning goals. Complete a__LAT Planning Guide__ for your lesson. Please fill out more than one LAT option for each segment (e.g., hook) of the lesson. This will encourage you to consider multiple possibilities in designing your lesson. For an example of how to work with the LAT Planning Guide,__watch this video__.

Once you have completed the planning guide, consider how different combinations and sequences of the learning activities would alter the learning experience for your students. Keep in mind your learning goals, students' needs, classroom context, and particular values related to teaching and learning in settling on a particular sequence of learning activities for your lesson. You need to have completed this LAT planning guide by Wednesday, October 29. You will share and discuss your sequence as part of the online learning homework before class on Wednesday, November 5.

If possible, it is also extremely helpful to discuss this with your methods professor if at all possible. The more feedback you can get at this stage of the process, the better lesson you will come up with in the end.
After you have developed an effective sequence of learning activities for the lesson, you can then consider the suggested technology possibilities in the taxonomy connected with each of the LATs you selected. Please note that you may not (in fact, probably shouldn't) select a technology to support each LAT. As you consider the technology possibilities, think about which of the tools you have easy access to, how well they would support student learning, and the relative advantage of the technology over tools to assist you in teaching the lesson. Most importantly, think about how well the technology "fits" with the curriculum focus, learning goals, and learning activities you're working from. Again, your group and professors can be helpful in talking through the challenges and opportunities associated with the different technology possibilities for your lesson.

Once you've completed your technology-enhanced lesson plan, there are a number of ways you can assess the quality of technology integration for yourself. One way is __Judi Harris' "Is It Worth It?" test__.

In this test, you essentially ask yourself three questions about the use of technology in the lesson:
  • Will this learning activity idea work, given the technological, interpersonal, logistical and contextual factors currently operating in this particular learning environment?
  • Is this learning activity appropriate both for these students, given what we know about their learning needs and preferences, and for teaching the particular curriculum content and processes targeted?
  • Can the same learning outcomes be accomplished just as well or better using more readily available and easy-to-use tools and resources?
Another way you might self-assess the quality of technology integration in your lesson plan is to use this __Technology Integration Lesson Assessment rubric__. Please note that this rubric corresponds with the class lesson plan assessment rubric. I'll also be assessing the reflection and technology product components of the plan as well. For complete assignment requirements, please see the course wiki6.

The rubric includes four questions for you to judge how well the technology connects with the content and learning activities you've selected for the lesson and how well the content, pedagogy and technology all "fit" together in the lesson. It can be very helpful to swap lessons with one or more members of your group and assess each others' work with the full assignment rubric. This process can help you identify gaps in your plan, additional pedagogical or technology opportunities, and to just help you clarify your thinking.
With either of these assessment approaches, you might find that the technology isn't integrated as effectively as you might like in the lesson. You might choose to go back to the taxonomy and consider if any of the other technology options might "pass the test."

Please note that we're not suggesting that you go back and re-select LATs for the lesson so that you might find some better technology connections. If the particular sequence of LATs that you selected is optimal for student learning, it's a better choice to reduce the number of technologies included than to redesign the lesson to better use technology. After all, the end game of teaching is about student learning, not the integration of technology.

Once you are satisfied with your lesson plan, please post your completed plan, technology example and reflection to the assignment page in Blackboard so that all of your classmates can see what you've created.

We hope that this experience has helped you to see technology integration in a more "grounded" way and that you have a new set of (cognitive) tools to help you to integrate technology in your teaching. For more information, articles, and presentations related to the Learning Activity Types approach to technology integration, please visit the __Web site__.

I look forward to seeing your final work.