NEWSLETTER: VOL II, # 12, May 8, 1998
Mary Lundeberg, Professor; Kathleen Daly,
Dean; and Nina Harmes, Graduate Assistant
College of Education and Graduate Studies, UW-River Falls
Teachers, Professors, Interns, and Students using Technology in Pedagogical Strategies
Time for Instructional Partnerships
Educational partnerships have the potential to utilize resources and expertise to accomplish complex educational goals. TIPS is a collaborative partnership among the College of Education and Graduate Studies at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls, the Hudson and River Falls School Districts, and their respective communities. The partnership is designed to prepare citizens better for living and working in a diverse, global society by enhancing teaching and learning consistent with constructivist theory and practice. This project is funded by AT & T and the University of Wisconsin Extension through the UW-System PK-16 Initiative: Professional Development in Instructional Technology for Teachers and also funded by the Department of Public Instruction LEA/IHE Preservice/Professional Development Planning Grant through Goals 2000 monies.
Technology in Pedagogical Strategies
Technology has been a societal tidal wave, yet in most schools and universities, technology integration has moved more like a glacier. A key component of our partnership is to take the time to explore meaningful curricular integration of technology so that teachers and students may use this tool to foster higher-level thinking. Thus, teachers, professors, university pre-service students and pupils use instructional technology in interdisciplinary projects in which authentic assessment of learning is emphasized. PK-12 teachers, working with university interns, provide technology mentoring and training to colleagues in their respective buildings. Additional grants have been available to other district teachers to implement technology projects in their classrooms. Some of the current projects include an electronic mail exchange of digital photos between the School District of Hudson and the School District of River Falls, creation of environmental sister schools via the Internet, development of a multimedia yearbook and Camp Houlton 1861: A living history project. Preservice teachers in Mary Lundeberg's courses interviewed these teachers to learn more about the kinds of technology projects being implemented in schools.
Interns to Release Teacher Leaders
One of the major components of the project utilizes preservice teachers as interns from the University to "release" teachers in their schools to help other faculty with technology in a timely fashion. Having high quality interns is a key factor in the success of this program and allows teacher leaders to assist other faculty to integrate constructivist practice and technology into their specific curriculum. Teacher leaders hold workshops for faculty in their schools, work on an individual basis with faculty during their preparation periods and team teach. Teacher leaders may also assist faculty with technological problems that arise. This timely, personalized assistance has been incredibly valuable to faculty. Tara Guimont, a former intern at Rocky Branch, explained that the release time gives teachers the ability to help each other during class time. A teacher can go right into another first grade teacher's class in order to help out, rather than try to do all this extra work after school when a teacher's time is so precious. Helping out during prep time, with class, without a class, anytime--this has really been beneficial in her building. The interns in the project meet with Mary Lundeberg for a biweekly seminar. The teacher leaders also meet with on a regular basis with Kathy Daly, Lorraine Davis, Mary Lundeberg and Chuck Sambs.
The mentor teachers and interns focus on merging technology with constructivist teaching and project-based learning. Constructivism is an educational philosophy in which the teacher's role is to act primarily as a facilitator rather than as a dispenser of knowledge. The students have more responsibility for learning and more choices regarding their learning. Some teachers have found that through increasing the use of technology leads to a more constructivist approach to learning. Nancy Toll, an eighth grade science teacher at Hudson Middle School, sees that the students are learning to become better problem solvers and are learning to ask questions. She says
"..science to me is pure problem solving, [which starts with] asking questions. I see kids asking questions all the time now... They don't just want to be on the computer. [They want to know] how does this actually work? And to get them to think [constructively]...I think might be more valuable than memorizing some fact."
The mentor teachers and interns have workshops which focus on learning to incorporate technology into the curriculum in meaningful ways. They in turn teach the rest of the faculty at their respective schools. Some of the technologically innovative practices that have been implemented include developing electronic portfolios, using digital cameras, creating web pages and using presentation software such as Powerpoint or Hyperstudio for project presentations.
Initial Assessment Results
The teacher leaders developed surveys which they used to assess their buildings' technology needs. Each teacher leader then implemented various methods of meeting these identified needs. As a group, the teacher leaders, along with the curriculum directors (Lorraine Davis and Chuck Sambs) and university professors (Kathy Daly and Mary Lundeberg) developed a log system to keep track of the kinds of assistance teacher leaders provided and also developed surveys given to teachers to assess the effects of teacher leaders' assistance. The survey results from first semester indicated that this program has been very successful in helping teachers utilize technology in their classrooms to enhance student learning. The use of technology enhances a constructivist approach in that it facilitates project-based learning, utilizes a constructivist approach, promotes critical thinking and expands learning to distant audiences. Teachers reported that this assistance increased their confidence, made them more productive, enabled tham to utilize their time more effectively and provided students with current resources. Teacher leaders co-taught lessons with teachers which encouraged them to use technology in the curriculum. The personal imdividualized timely assistance which teacher leaders provided was especially beneficial.
History of TIPS
TIPS originally started in 1995 as a federally funded Goals 2000 project in Wisconsin and has expanded with the use of additional funds from the University of Wisconsin System for the PK-16 Initiative to include Prescott schools and St. Bridget School in River Falls.
The purpose of TIPS is for teachers, administrators, parents, PK-20 students, and university faculty to share their vision about what they want students to know and be able to do, and to restructure K-12 schools and preservice/inservice education. The project participants formulated the following project goals: (a) to develop a collaborative and cooperative partnership by creating a shared vision and long range plan; (b) to restructure the PK-20 curriculum to make fundamental changes in the ways faculty and students know, act, and believe through sustained professional development, technology infusion, and interdisciplinary project-based learning in which faculty establish appropriate interdisciplinary contexts and students frame problems; (c) to facilitate a sustained professional development process that is technology-mediated, problem-based, and interdisciplinary; (d) to develop authentic assessment practices consistent with and appropriate to technology infusion and constructivist classroom principles; and (e) to institute organizational changes by developing school-based centers, changing school/university instructional time schedules, using technology-mediated delivery systems, redefining the roles of K-12 faculty in the preparation of preservice students, redefining the role of university faculty in school-based preservice teacher preparation, and redefining the roles of parents and community citizens in life-long learning.
Members of the Consortia
The Prescott school district and St. Bridget Catholic School in River Falls will be included with the current consortia next year. At present, the teacher leaders involved in the project include: Dave Grambow, Elizabeth Horneck, Jodi Magee, Larry Parfitt, Deborah Schutts, Jill Tammen, Nancy Toll, and Jay Wollan from Hudson; Darrell Anderson, Kit Bruesewitz, Sarah Mauseth, Lynda Meyers, Carole Mottaz, Marcia Pharis, Toni Velure, and Debbi VerBurg from River Falls. The university interns for first semester 1997-1998 were Sandra Burke, Christina Dobberstein, Lynn Ewings, Tara Guimont, Douglas Humes, Doug Lindee, and Karl Ludvigson. The university interns for second semester 1997-1998 are Joshua Bock, Thomas Daugherty, Mary Hanson, Rita Hanson, Kristi Iwen, Renee Kautz, Laurie Klinkhammer, Kris Koch, Sara Krautkremer, James Reidy, and Heather Schmidt. In addition to facilitating the seminar for the interns, Mary Lundeberg is leading the teachers in using action research to assess the effects of this partnership on teaching and learning. Nina Harmes is a graduate assistant involved in the project. Further information about this project can be found on the following website: www.uwrf.edu/college-of-education/goals2000/welcome.html