Palo Verde Elementary Coaching Chronicles

This article is designed to describe the process of coaching educators in the use and integration of technology in their classrooms. It is also meant to celebrate the successes of this technique of professional development for teachers. In this article you will learn how we used the peer coaching model at Palo Verde Elementary to teach the curriculum using technology as a tool. There have been many challenges and successes, but as you will see, this ongoing adventure has been well worth the time and effort.

How Peer Coaching Works

The coaches worked one on one with a collaborating teacher as a team to take existing lessons and enhance them with the use of technology. Both members dedicated time to meet and work on the lessons, find and use appropriate technology to enhance the lesson, and even learn how to use the specific type of technology that is being integrated. The coaches also had to make time available to go into the collaborating teacher's classroom for support during the lessons. What makes this type of professional development so effective is the ongoing nature of it. Meeting before, during, and after gives both team members time to reflect and challenge themselves to go further and try new technologies.

We all know that in today's society it is vital that students feel at ease using all types of technology, The problem is finding the time to teach these skills without pushing out other important curriculum. The most important part of this model is that we are finding ways to embed the technology training into the curriculum.

The benefits are endless when you work as a team and develop new ideas. Our collaborative teachers have been challenged to bring in technology that has enhanced their existing units, increased students motivation, and improved technology skills. One of the quotes from a collaborative teacher mentioned, "My students are excited to be working on their PowerPoint project instead of classwork." The beauty of that quote is that the students are doing the classwork, but they are having so much fun they don't realize it. Working as a team brings ease when working to integrate technology in our classrooms. The coaches and collaborating teacher can meet at their convenience which ever works best to suit their schedules.

Student Projects

Collaborative teachers have a variety of web resources that can be available for integrating technology. Web resources include tutorials that will help guide teachers and students to utilize certain programs. The following are some specific examples of student projects and the process that the collaborative teams went through to create the lessons.

Example 1

One of the collaborative teachers who teaches first grade was excited about improving a lesson she had on using order words. In her experience she had found that it took lots of repetition in order for students to master this skill. We decided to work on a project that could be used multiple times for extra practice. First, we worked with the high end students to come up with some pictures which we inserted into a presentation software. The students then were able to come up with sentences, using order words to describe what was happening in each picture. Finally, we were able to use these with all of the students and provide them with lots of different scenarios in which to practice using order words.

Example 2

A group of 5th grade students were given an assignment to create a project on the Power Point program. These students were eager and motivated to begin. Their task was to choose an article from their weekly readers and summarize the article by utilizing a graph of the 5W's. The next part would be to work with their group and develop a presentation on PowerPoint to complete the project by utilizing the 5w's template.

The best part of this project is giving the students the opportunity to choose what they wanted to add in their Power Point presentations. For example, they were very enthusiastic about choosing their own images and placing their graphics into the presentation. One group even located an image of the author who wrote the article.