Technology Integration in a PYP School

A vision of collaboration, cooperation and more productive student achievement

Thinking of my job responsibilities for the coming year, has lead me to consider what will be the best method to implement these responsibilities. I decided to do some research into what the IBO thinks about ICT and the role it plays in the PYP. I did this to better understand what my role should be. According to Making the PYP Happen. “ In the PYP, the ever-increasing impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) on teaching and learning is recognized. It is recommended that all staff be trained to learn how to use any technologies provided for them by the school, and that the use of the available technologies be integrated into student inquiries.

The part which immediately caught my attention was the sentence , about how all staff should be trained to use the technologies provided by the school and integrate them into student inquiries. Two ideas come to my mind after reading this statement.

  • ICT in the PYP is not a separate subject it is considered a tool that will, if integrated into student inquires, help to deepen understanding and increase student achievement.
  • Technology should be integrated into the classroom environment as much as possible, as this approach lends itself to making more and deeper connections and also helps to create a community of learners.

    I then wondered if the IBO also agreed with my conclusions, so I read a little further. I found out that yes indeed, the IBO agrees with both my conclusions. “It (ICT) is best considered as a tool for learning, albeit with its own set of skills, as opposed to an additional subject area.” and “ICT provides opportunities for the enhancement of learning, and may significantly support students in their inquiries, and in developing their conceptual understanding.” it further states that “Many students will bring previous experience and knowledge that can be drawn upon to enhance the learning of others, including that of the teacher. In fact, it is in this area that a PYP classroom most often resembles a community of learners.”

    So my next pondering was to ask, “What is the best way to set up technology integration to be in line with the ideas of the IBO, to create a POI that integrates these tools to their full extent?”

    As I re-read the statement on the role of the ICT found in “Making it Happen”, I saw a vision appearing in the words they chose to use. This is what I saw,

    Technology is a tool which the classroom teacher in collaboration with the ICT teacher and more knowledgeable students, embark on a learning process in which the technology is used as artifacts, which help to enhance the understanding of everyone in the learning community.

    If this is the case then ICT and Library -Media should be integrated as best as possible in the classroom. The homeroom teacher should have the freedom to use the computer carts, or the lab, or go to the library whenever it best fits within their learning community. Basically, use it when they need it.

    This sounds like a wonderful way for all people to learn and improve their technology skills while deepening their understanding of the central idea.

    The Role of the ICT Person in this Vision

    For this type of learning environment to happen in a more natural manner the ICT persons role needs to change. Instead of being locked into a teaching schedule, full flexibility to be available to teachers as needed would best lend itself to this type of collaboration. The ICT person becomes and integration facilitator who is now ready to be with the students when they need it.

    With this type of flexibility, the ICT person is now available to team teach with teachers in their classroom. The classroom teacher will cover the content and the ICT facilitator will cover the technology. This provides a great professional development opportunity for the teacher (it’s not a special where they leave to correct papers or plan). I can foresee teachers using the facilitator for the first, and sometimes second time they do such an assignment. After that they take it on their own. (The teacher has then been trained to use that specific type of technology. (This is the recommendation from the IBO) The ICT person could also provide professional development to teachers by appointment or after school in open sessions, and help to coordinate TTT sessions.

    This arrangement creates an atmosphere which empowers teachers to teach with technology that is integrated into the curriculum, not divorced from it.

    Needless to say, I was very excited about the possibilities which lay ahead and wondered if other schools had already moved beyond into this collaborative learning environment? So I did some research and was surprised by what I found. Not only have other schools moved in this direction successfully but AISG has also made some important steps in the right direction.

    These other schools already have systems in place which help to facilitate this type of technology integration such as

    • Flexible scheduling and access.

    • a planning process where collaboration is the key to success.

    • clearly defined roles for each participant of the learning community

    • technology integration is actually helping to enhance student learning as well as help teachers become better at their craft.

    The vision I have is a school where the homeroom teachers, ICT Integration Facilitator, PYP Coordinator, and Administrators are involved in the planning process for each unit. Each of the key players has a specific role during the planning process. During this planning, decisions are made as to how best integrate technology. In this way all people involved have a say as to what is happening in the classroom.

    It might look like this

    The central ideas and the lines of inquiry are the main focus that drive the establishment of learning goals. After learning goals have been established, we can then think about how might we best learn, what we need to in order to reach these goals. After this step, we will mix and match and choose activities which will take students in and out of the phases of our Inquiry Cycle: Tuning In, Finding Out, Sorting Out, Going Further, Making Conclusions, and Taking Action. In the next step we will look at formative and summative assessments which will help us see if the students are on track to reaching the established goals. Finally, after taking into account our learning goals, formative and summative assessments, and the learning activities or experiences, we will then think about what tools we will use to help us accomplish this. This is where technology will play a large part, when the relative advantage of using technology is apparent.

    After the planning is complete the homeroom teacher and the ICT teacher work together as a team to implement the plan.

    I began to think of the profile and attitudes. Which of these could be the focus of this new way of looking at technology?

    First, in order for any of this to work, we must first be open-minded to the possibilities that our students are changing and, therefore, our roles as teachers are also changing. Along these lines we must also understand that it is hard to change the way we have been doing things, so we must all be risk-takers as well. Second, everyone involved, from the classroom teachers to the ICT integration facilitator needs to work together in a more collaborative environment, therefore, we must also be cooperative and communicators working to improve the learning happening in the classroom. Whenever anyone tries a new approach it is also important to reflect about what we are doing why we are doing it and how it going. If we can, as teachers, do this, we will be living the learner profile to a greater extent.

    Ultimately, technology and the integration of it within the unit of inquiry, will benefit the students and the teachers involved, as all will be within this new collaborative learning environment.

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