As new technology becomes more of the norm in 21st century schools, it is sometimes necessary for education professionals to rewrite their lesson plans to accommodate the new technology.
Teachers and principals need to understand how to formulate effective and engaging lesson plans when students are using technology in the classroom, as well as at home as they do assignments and study.
Many educators ponder the issue of finding time to bring technology into their classrooms. One of the most obvious solutions is to integrate it into current lesson plans. While on the face of this, it sounds relatively easy, it may not be for every teacher. However, it’s one of the most important parts of a well-implemented technology plan for the 21st century classroom.
Based on surveys, only 10 to 15 percent of a school's current teaching staff understands today's technology and realizes how it can make lesson plans more effective and engaging. The teachers in this category have developed personal learning networks, also known as PLNs, where they can go to ask questions, find resources, and acquire grade or subject level expertise from other educators all around the world in their global network.
For the remaining 85 to 90 percent of a teaching staff, integrating technology into lesson plans is a challenge; some even consider it a waste of their limited and valuable time. Most of these teachers prefer to use the readily available resources, such as playing games, downloading worksheets from the Internet, or simply letting students search for relevant websites to the subject matter, yet with no clear plan about how this fits into their classroom lesson plans.
Motivated teachers have taken the time to search for and locate resources and support to help them develop high quality, technology-integrated lesson plans. Likewise, proactive principals have found resources to help their teachers who don’t have the ability or knowledge to develop integrated lessons themselves. In either scenario, outside help is necessary and valuable. This “last mile in education” is where technology and curriculum meet to create powerful, relevant, and engaging learning opportunities for students during which the power of technology becomes a reality in the classroom.
A good rule of thumb for classroom teachers who consider themselves novices to technology integration would be to identify and focus on at least four lessons throughout a school year for technology integration. These lessons should focus on proven strategies, state and common core standards, and the technology available to each teacher.
Next, each teacher should schedule time with a grade level or subject matter expert who can help find the appropriate software, app, strategy and technology to weave into that classroom lesson plan.
The 3 C's
The next step should involve consideration of the 3 c’s: confidence, competence and content.
A teacher with a lower level of confidence in creating technology-enhanced lessons plans will most likely need someone else to help write these integrated lesson plans (either in-house or outsourced assistance). Higher level teachers with more technology savvy should be able to develop these lessons themselves; as they gain experience and competence, they will also improve the quality of these lessons as time goes by.
At this point, principals may need to make a decision to determine if certain teachers should continue investing time in creating these integrated lessons or if an in-house or outsourced specialist should be in charge of the integration effort. Integrating technology into lessons can be time consuming, especially since consistency and quality are vital to the overall effectiveness of the content of the lessons and their desired outcomes to meet learning objectives.