Magazine article Teach

Staff Development Key to Successful Computer Integration at the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board

Magazine article Teach

Staff Development Key to Successful Computer Integration at the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board

Article excerpt

What's the best way to successfully integrate computers into the classroom? This was the question the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board was grappling with two years ago as it was developing a comprehensive plan for using technology effectively throughout its twelve elementary and four junior high schools. The school board quickly discovered the right answer was a commitment to staff development.

"The school board's philosophy is to put people first and technology second," said Ivan Strachan, a long-time Technology Consultant for the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board. "We realized when drawing up our plans for putting computers in the classroom that first we needed to take a strong staff training orientation."

When designing its approach to technology staff development, the school board drew heavily from the Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow (ACOT) research project which examined the best process to help teachers learn to use and apply technology effectively. The ACOT project determined that teachers, when learning to use computers, progress through five stages: entry, adoption, adaptation, appropriation, and innovation. To maximize learning at all stages, Apple designed a three-tiered staff development model on which the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board program is based.

"I've noticed that every teacher who has participated in the staff development program has moved up at least two stages in the one and a half year period," said Strachan. "Many of the teachers started the program at the entry or adoption stage, but we now have teachers who have reached the innovation stage and have demonstrated real technology curriculum integration and leadership when they returned to the classroom."

To date, 28 teachers from 13 of the board's 16 elementary schools have finished an extensive training program taking place over a year and a half. Two teachers from each school have completed a series of workshops that include subjects such as fundamental training on productivity software, technology and curriculum integration, and technology leadership. Some of these workshops were conducted by Apple's professional staff development consultants.

Before starting the training program, each teacher was provided with an Apple Powerbook to use for personal work and classroom instruction. Once a month, the teachers bring their PowerBooks to the central office training lab where, in addition to learning new skills, they can address any problems they experienced in the classroom since the last workshop. …

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