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also serve as a facilitator, encouraging teach- school on an as-needed basis. As teach-
ers to share and collaborate as they develop ers have realized that it’s okay to not “do it
their own skills and confidence, and work all,” they’ve become more comfortable, less
with my administrators to help identify and stressed, and more successful at integrating
Numerous develop other site-based leaders, providing twenty-first-century skills into their class-
small changes
teachers with an opportunity to learn from room environments.
over time
and support each other. Finally, there is the infrastructural support
It is important to make the distinction required for any kind of technological push.
will result in
that I am not a computer technician. I don’t Teachers and students need access to comput-
manageable install software, fix computers, or manage ers, software, and networks. Projection units,
and significant
a network, though helping teachers learn to interactive white boards, student response sys-
troubleshoot is also a regular part of my day. tems, and probeware are all part of the twenty-
My sole responsibility involves helping teach- first-century learning environment.
ers implement the twenty-first-century frame- There is a significant cost associated with
work into the core academic curriculum. all of these, and acquiring funding can be
challenging. We are lucky in that we have a
very supportive community and an active dis-
Challenges to overcome
trict foundation, which supported recent tech-
nology bond initiatives that have provided the
Time is also a significant issue, particularly
district with the financial means to implement
as planning time has begun to shrink in
technological changes district wide.
many districts due to budgetary constraints
every teacher now has a laptop, a projection
while class sizes have grown. This need is
unit, and speakers in the classroom. Teach-
Wayne Thornes has taught
being addressed in my district by educating
ers who opted for additional training over the
middle school mathemat- teachers, administrators, and the public that summer were given SmartBoards for use in
ics for sixteen years. This
the migration to a twenty-first-century learn-
their classrooms. All schools in the district
year he is working as a
ing environment will not happen overnight,
received several sets of student response sys-
Curriculum and Technol-
and is indeed evolving at such a rate that we
tems that can be shared by teachers. Laptops
ogy Integration Specialist
and is splitting his time
will never be satisfied with where we are.
for students are bundled onto COWs (Comput-
between two elementary New tools and software are generally
ers on Wheels) that both charge the laptops
schools: Canyon View and
introduced at staff meetings, where an hour
and allow them to be easily moved from room
Ventana Vista, both a part
might be spent exploring and learning about
to room, improving the ease of access to tech-
of the Catalina Foothills
the tool. We also spend a small portion
nology that was among the most common
School District in Tucson,
(10–15 minutes) of our regular early-release
roadblock in years past.
time in staff development,
In the coming year, the district will be
either sharing what someone
using those bond funds to increase the band-
has done that worked or in
width and networking capabilities at all the
learning a specific skill that
schools. We also have strong and active fam-
could be useful to everyone.
ily faculty organizations that have stepped up
During these times, teach-
with software and peripheral purchases, such
ers are reminded that huge,
as headsets and digital cameras, which were
immediate changes are not
not provided by the district. It has truly been a
expected, but that numerous
community effort.
small changes over time will
As we move forward we are constantly ask-
result in manageable and sig-
ing ourselves what can we do that is in the best
nificant change.
interest of our students. Children today live in
My position also allows
a rapidly changing and interconnected world,
teachers the opportunity
and the teaching methods of the previous cen-
to schedule individual and
tury do not always meet their needs. Clearly,
small-group development
implementing a twenty-first-century frame-
opportunities on their own
work has many challenges, but the results we
time with me—and this
are seeing from our students, and the feed-
occurs during individual
back we are getting from our community, are
plans, lunch hours, or after
encouraging us to continue the effort. !
Page 6 • Connect © synergy learning • 800-769-6199 • January/February 2010
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