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Evolution of Technology Training:

A Teachers Efforts to Implement Effective Practices

Samantha Cornella
University of Colorado Denver

Evolution of Technology Training

First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and
plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as
you will observe, is in your imagination.
- Napoleon Hill

Purpose and Goals


My internship project began in one direction, then branched off to include several
other paths. Initially, I intended to focus on systematic vocabulary instruction though the
use of technology. I wanted to research, plan and implement effective practices in my
math and science classrooms, then share my experiences and techniques with the staff at
my school. Beck, McKeown and Kucan (2002) stated, As students fall behind in their
understanding of the words they encounter, gathering and understanding information
becomes tedious and difficult, and students are even less likely to increase their
understanding of facts and concepts. Multiple vocabulary words are introduced weekly
in every subject. Thus, I believed this to be a worthy goal for my project.
I met with my building principal, Lisa Grosz, to discuss this idea. Though she
agreed that vocabulary was important, she asked me to consider a different task. She
preferred me to somehow pass along my classroom technology practices to the other
middle school and upper elementary math teachers in our building. Though she was
applauding my teaching techniques with this request, I was unsure how to turn this idea
into a ninety-hour internship project. I agreed to brainstorm and meet with her the
following week.
I returned and presented my proposal to create a staff-run professional learning
community in the form of a mathematics technology committee. I hoped that by inviting
others to contribute, teachers might be more open to trying the practices my administrator
wanted me to share. Fuller (2000) stated, Teachers receiving instructional support from
a homophilous coordinator may show increased use of technology with students. My
principal agreed and I began to plan for implementation.
Professional Setting
This project was carried out at Murphy Creek P-8 School in Aurora, Colorado.
The school had eighteen elementary classroom teachers and eight middle school teachers.
All teachers in grades 3-8 had one-to-one technology (new chrome books, iPads or
netbooks) as of the 2014-15 school year. All teachers in grades K-2 had 5-10 iPads
available for student use.
All teachers had IXL classroom licenses to use for math instruction, but no
guidance had been offered concerning effective practice. Since I had already been
gathering information through informal conversations for the past two years, I found it to
be a natural fit to share my experiences with this program. Most teachers used IXL as

Evolution of Technology Training

class time allowed, having students occasionally log in and choose a skill to practice.
Some teachers required a specific amount of time be completed each week. Only one
teacher had ever used another program, Khan Academy, though others had voiced
interest in learning more about it. Another topic of discussion (and one I began
investigating this year) was using technology for vocabulary instruction. Teachers were
interested in learning how to use their technology to assist with this directive, as every
unit contained so many new words that needed emphasis and frequent practice
throughout the year.
Constraints
Though the school was named a district technology school and given resources to
purchase technology, there was a lack of staff training concerning effective technology
use. Teachers were given the tools, but implementation with them was left up to
individuals. There was no plan for fidelity of implementation, other than providing
teachers with a new technology coach one day per week. This was unfortunate, as
Programs will be implemented with higher fidelity when there is an agreement between
the provider and the program approach (Moncher & Prinz, 1991).
When I agreed to change my internship topic based on my principals request, she
had promised to provide me with common time during the duty day for committee
meetings, planning and implementation. However, when I met with her to discuss dates
and times for these meetings and various teacher observations, she realized there would
only be 1-3 dates free for this use of time between September and December. All other
collaborative times were scheduled for district or school meetings, mandated professional
development trainings, etc. I wondered how much time my potential committee members
would be willing to spend outside of their normal duty day to collaborate on these
discretionary technology goals.
Role and Participation
I was a sixth grade math and science teacher throughout this internship and I
reported directly to my principal for approval of ideas and for evaluation. Due to the fact
that my school had a newly hired technology coach as of August, 2014, I also included
her in my plans and asked her advice throughout the semester. My role and participation
in this work metamorphosed. It began as one idea, then morphed into others for various
reasons. I will refer to these periods as phases.
Phase 1: Building a Technology Committee (August 20 September 8)
My principal convinced me to create a committee for upper elementary and
middle school math teachers because she wanted me to share my classroom technology
practices. Specifically, I was to share:

Evolution of Technology Training

1. Targeted numeracy instruction with IXL


2. Differentiated skills practice and gap filling with Khan Academy
(remediation and/or acceleration)
3. Using Acuity for data-driven skills practice
4. Blended learning techniques (rotation or individual models with small
group instruction)
My assistant principal believed I should include all teachers on the invitation to
join this committee, rather than limit members to math-only teachers. All elementary
teachers instruct in mathematics and could benefit from the information, as well. With
the principals approval, I crafted a solicitation email to all staff, inviting them to join this
math-based technology committee. Not wanting to come across as the dispenser of all
information, I made sure the email portrayed a collaborative tone. I asked for members
who wanted to learn about and share best practices with technology concerning
mathematics instruction. After eight teachers responded (31% of the teachers), I sent out
a follow-up email with a list of potential topics we might investigate together (Appendix
A). I also asked them if they would be willing to share their ideas about effective math
practices.
I was eager to get started. I scheduled another meeting with my principal to
discuss dates and times she could dedicate for the committee to begin our work together.
Looking at her calendar, she informed me there were only 1-3 times during late start
Wednesdays that we could dedicate for our meetings. All other gatherings would have to
be after school, as there was not common plan time. I was deflated, but determined. I
sent another email to my teammates. I scheduled an initial meeting to discuss our goals
together. We briefly met after school for twenty minutes, where my new committee
came to an abrupt halt. With no common plan time and limited school professional
development time to meet, the teachers could not agree about when to work on this
committee. Though all agreed the work was important, none were willing to dedicate
their time after school to investigate these instructional strategies.
Phase 2: Working Independently (September 9 November 4)
I began to split my time. I worked on my original vocabulary instruction research
idea for my math and science classrooms. I found two sites that I began to use:
www.vocabtest.com and www.learnclick.com. Vocabtest.com was a free site for
students to practice and interact with new vocabulary words. After I created the tests by
inputting words and definitions, students could practice with learning definitions, reverse
definitions, crossword puzzles, spelling practice, word search, flashcards, and a game
called VocaBuzz. Students enjoyed this site and were actually excited to practice their
new vocabulary.

Evolution of Technology Training

Every 2-3 weeks, I created a new practice quiz and embedded the link on my
classroom Canvas LMS for students to access. Then, when they had practiced for several
days, I assessed their knowledge of the vocabulary through learnclick.com. This site,
though not free, provided student proficiency reports. There were several types of
quizzes to choose from, but I preferred the matching and drop-down menu options for
assessment. I communicated to parents about how to access these practice quizzes and
also used assessment scores for my grade book.
During this time, I consulted with my technology coach weekly. She suggested I
create ten minute tech tips and email them out to staff. I set to work creating videos on
targeted numeracy instruction with IXL, Khan Academy, and Acuity. I was inspired
to have another outlet by which to share my original content with staff members.
I began working on a website, Best Practices with Technology to house my tech tips
(https://sites.google.com/site/bestpracticeswithtechnology/). I hoped this site could replace my
original technology committee by fostering collaboration among colleagues. When
sharing it with staff members, I encouraged them to leave comments and/or upload any
relevant attachments they might want to contribute. I hoped this would be a professional
learning community for interested teachers. Each tech tip included both video and
written information. A couple teachers responded positively, thanking me for the
information. However, none contributed to the website with comments or attachments.
As a result of my efforts, four teachers approached me with questions concerning
IXL and Acuity. I met with these teachers individually. I also met with the middle
school math teachers to explain available reports on these sites, as well as how to assign
student skills and monitor student progress through Acuity. The technology coach and I
met every week to discuss various topics and trends in educational technology, as well as
future topics for my tech tip work. This staff collaboration was not ideal, as it lacked
clear vision and focus. However, it was better than nothing and at least some teachers
seemed appreciative of the ideas and assistance.
Phase 3: Beginnings of Professional Development (September 16 25)
Within phase 2, a new opportunity to lead face-to-face professional development
sessions arose. It began when I first met our new building technology coach in early
September. Introducing herself, she asked how she could best support me. After a
lengthy discussion about technology in education, my graduate studies and my career
ambitions, I suggested a different approach to her support. I asked, Wouldnt it be nice
to initiate support by first celebrating and sharing what teachers were already doing well
with technology? She liked the idea. We gained permission and secured professional
development time from the principal on a late start Wednesday. We created a Google
form asking teachers about their technology interests, as well as if they were interested in
sharing (Appendix B). Six people decided to share, including the tech coach and myself.
A schedule was made to include the various topics being offered that morning. Staff

Evolution of Technology Training

members would be encouraged to attend two sessions based on interest. I decided to


share about effective technology use in my math classroom.
I wanted to offer some choice within my in-service. I knew there was interest
in IXL and Khan Academy. I also wanted to share my successes with the vocabulary
sites. I decided to send out a staff email, asking potential attendees to respond with their
topic preference. I thought this would narrow my focus and provide a more in-depth
experience. No one responded. When I asked the tech coach for a list of teachers who
were attending my session, she explained that teachers were going to just show up to
the session they were interested in attending on the morning of the PD.
I had no choice but to prepare for all three topics. After a bit of brainstorming, I
decided to set up three stations in my classroom. Two stations (IXL and Khan
Academy) would have hand-outs that I created, as well as video introductions to the
topics. Earphones would be placed beside each computer to prevent noise pollution in
the room while teachers listened to videos. I would run the third station on vocabulary
instruction at my Promethean board, comparing/contrasting two sites I have been using
and providing a hand-out with pros and cons of each site. I hoped there would be time
for teachers to explore their topic of choice, as well as ask me questions or have a
discussion about best practices.
I was surprised when 11 teachers showed up for my session. Their station
selection was based more on social groups than interest (I believe) because they sat with
their teammates when choosing between IXL, Khan or vocabulary. The instruction ran
smoothly at the Khan Academy and IXL tables. Teachers seemed to enjoy the Voki
YouTube video I created to introduce IXL. Meanwhile, I demonstrated some aspects of
vocabtest.com and learnclick.com on the Promethean board while explaining some
benefits and drawbacks of each program through my experience.
The group had a decent conversation about both IXL and Khan Academy during
the last 20 minutes. We used the entire 15-minute transitional period to continue on our
topics while teachers were rotating to other sessions. I offered to meet with anyone who
might want more in-depth explanation or assistance. Although people expressed interest,
no one scheduled a time to meet with me.
Phase 4: Tech Tip Tuesdays (November 5 December 2 and beyond)
After experiencing the success of the differentiated technology PD, my
technology coach and I decided to send out another Google form for feedback from the
teachers (Appendix C). Attendees all seemed to enjoy their sessions. Most of all, they
expressed gratitude for having a choice and finally getting some training on their
technology topics of interest.
We thought about how we could keep the momentum and came up with the idea
to offer Tech Tip Tuesdays. I gained administrative approval and sent an email to staff
explaining the idea. Every Tuesday, from 2:45 - 3:15 in my classroom, I would offer
mini technology PDs to any interested teachers. I also asked who among staff would be

Evolution of Technology Training

willing to assist in the trainings and/or share their own expertise with others. I offered
the following topics as initial concepts to present:
1. Acuity use this data to drive instruction; assign student skills
2. Beyond the Basics with Promethean Boards
3. Google Forms a variety of classroom uses
4. Clickers/Active Expressions a variety of classroom use
5. Vocabulary Instruction/Assessment sites
6. Targeted Numeracy with IXL
7. Differentiated Skills Assignment/Practice with Khan Academy
The technology coach agreed to assist me on topics I didnt feel qualified to lead, such as
clickers and beyond the basics of Promethean boards. I felt confident with the other
topics and even had most materials already prepared from my last PD session.
The Monday prior to the first Tech Tip Tuesday, I sent out an Outlook
appointment to the staff. Several teachers responded they would not attend, as they did
not give the Acuity test to their students (only administered in grades 3-8). Five teachers
agreed to attend, and seven actually came (27 % of teachers). The session went well.
Although I had prepared step-by-step videos explaining how to assign Acuity skills to
students, most attendees preferred one-on-one assistance with this process. It was tedious
to help one teacher at a time, but luckily another middle school teacher attended whom I
had helped individually the previous month. She assisted me with helping the teachers
navigate through the Acuity site and assign skills to students. I followed up with an
email to these teachers, again sharing my technology web site in case they forgot any
steps from the training. I was also able to get the PD time qualified as continuing
education and eligible for license renewal. That was an added bonus for attendees.
The following week, I again sent a whole-staff email to announce the next Tech
Tip Tuesday session: Beyond the Basics for Promethean Boards. One staff member
volunteered to contribute at the PD and twelve teachers attended (46% of teachers). The
session was a success, with several teachers sharing. I learned quite a bit about
Promethean boards and was exposed to capabilities that I had not known. This session
was particularly exciting for me because I was not the leader and took the position of
collaborative learner.
Our third session was offered early in December and covered some uses of
Google Forms as formative assessments. The technology coach and I led the meeting.
Eight teachers attended (31% of teachers) and it was received well. I will continue to
offer these Tech Tip Tuesdays throughout the year, as interest continues.
Findings / Outcomes
The final phase of the internship was most successful. Teachers who were
interested in learning more about effective technology practices in the classroom had the
opportunity to explore a variety of topics based on interest. The trainings were face-to-

Evolution of Technology Training

face which provided a more personal feel. I hope the attendees will return to their grade
level teams and share their new knowledge, perhaps inspiring others to try something
new, as well.
Thoughts and Reflections
Teachers are extremely busy individuals and schools are complex machines,
making any type of change or innovation a slow process. As illustrated by Scrogans
Missing Links: Understanding Complex Change chart, in order for change to occur, these
components must be present: trust, vision, skills, incentives, resources, action plan, and
results (Appendix D). When even one element is missing, other unintended outcomes
result, including confusion, anxiety and frustration.
My initial plan for the technology committee was insufficient because I had little
in the way of incentives, resources and an action plan. My emailed technology tips
lacked the same elements. It is understandable why those efforts failed. My one-on-one
technology coaching with individual teachers lacked incentives. These meetings may
still bring about change, but it will be gradual change. Finally, the Tech Tip Tuesdays
lacked incentives. As illustrated in my force field analysis (Appendix E), teacher
trainings were optional and offered during the last thirty minutes of the work day.
Teachers often used this time as an additional planning period. Because there were no
motivations for them to attend or to implement the practices, many teachers did not
attend. There was also no plan for fidelity of practice, other than offering to assist
teachers who requested assistance after the training. Although administrators were
supportive of the idea to offer trainings, no encouragement or incentives were given to
enhance attendance.
School administrators or other school authorities must actively support an
initiative if it is to succeed. In this case, my administrator gave me permission to
implement my ideas, but had no direct role or assistance in the goals she wanted me to
achieve. She did not provide time for the committee she wanted me to form, nor did she
provide incentives to teachers who were willing to learn effective technology practices
after school. Ruiz-Primo (2006) stated, Ambiguity about what contributes to the
effectiveness of a program plays a key role. With more administrative support, my
goals may have been better realized.
Despite these realities about the difficulty to create change, I am hopeful that my
efforts made a positive impact in my school. I received encouraging feedback in the form
of verbal comments, as well as through the Google form sent out for teacher feedback. In
addition, teachers continue to attend the Tech Tip Tuesday sessions. I imagine that
interested teachers will continue to collaborate with me and together we will create
gradual change in the building. I am willing to accept this as a slow beginning and
motivated to continue the momentum I have created.

Evolution of Technology Training


References

Beck, I.L., McKeown, M.G., & Kucuan, L. (2002). Brining words to life: Robust
vocabulary instruction. NY: Guilford Press.
Fuller, H. (2000). First teach their teachers: technology support and computer use in
academic subjects. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 32 (4), 511537.
Lewis, J. (n.d.). Wisdom quotes. Retrieved from http://www.wisdomquotes.com/.
Moncher, F. J., & Prinz, R. (1991). Treatment fidelity in outcome studies. Clinical
Psychology Review, 11, 247-266.
Ruiz-Primo, M. (2006). A multi-method and multi-source approach for studying fidelity
of implementation. CSE Report 677. University of California.
Scrogan, L. (2014). Missing links: understanding complex change [chart].

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Appendix A: Initial Plan for Technology Committee
Topic
What are our
overall goals
for this year as
the math tech
integration
team?

Targeted
Numeracy
With
Student
Accountability

Differentiated
Skills Practice
And Gap
Filling

Goal
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

IXL student use, accountability, teacher reports


Khan Academy for gap filling; assigning skills to students, teacher reports
ACUITY reports, student skill assignment, student records sheet/accountability for practice
Use of technology to reinforce vocabulary throughout the year
Blended learning techniques; when and how students use the technology; how students are
held accountable to time with technology

Radar Graphs examine skills that need reinforcement during numeracy time (IXL and warmups); specific to each teachers grade
How can we use this information to focus numeracy time? Plot calendar for numeracy through
December
What does this look like in the classroom with kids? How do we know they are learning these
skills?
IXL reports? Weekly quiz/exit ticket on these skills?

Khan Academy for gap filling


How to create accounts for minors
How to assign skills for students to practice
Teacher reports

What does this


look like?

Observation of classroom teacher/debrief, ask questions, gain insight, etc.

Using Acuity
for targeted
skills practice
and ongoing
small group
instruction

ACUITY
What are the reports telling us?
How can we use the reports to assign group or individual skills to students?
How do students keep track of their progress on this work (creating student folders and skills
lists)
Teacher reports concerning student mastery (or not) of practiced skills: using this information to
drive small group instruction

What does this


look like?

Observation of classroom teacher/debrief, ask questions, gain insight, etc.

Research-based
use of
technology.
What is
blended
learning?

Blended learning theory and practice


What types of blended learning techniques can be useful in our classrooms: focus on station
rotation and individual rotation. (http://blendedlearninganalysis.weebly.com/models.html)
How do we hold students accountable within each task?
What are teachers doing while students are working online?

What does this


look like?

Observation of classroom teacher/debrief, ask questions, gain insight, etc.

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Technologybased vocab.
Reinforcement

Examine vocabulary reinforcement through technology:


Create PDF vocab flashcards for stations
Use www.vocabtest.com to create practice tests
Create drag-and-drop vocab games for review/practice

What does this


look like?

Try one out and report back to committee about student response. Possibly use pre/post test data to
support use of one method vs. another.

Appendix B: Results of Staff Survey for Tech Interests/Needs


https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1cU8oqXmpzTPgK63c8XqISHrtdW_VW0zMSPUv2cQbWQ/edit?usp=sharing

Appendix C: Results of Staff Feedback from Differentiated Technology PD


https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1oUQ5LBPD2i9SedXt3N3h7s5ZIIJbQZit8vBUJ2Hb98Q/edi
t?usp=sharing

Evolution of Technology Training


Appendix D: Missing Links: Understanding Complex Change

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Appendix E: Force-field Analysis for Tech Tip Tuesdays

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