A Standards-Based Technology Elementary School Curriculum
Dr. Fred Hofstetter
The author explores the national perspective on technology education standards as well as examines Delaware’s position on technology education and current academic standards. Using these three sources, the paper aligns computer skills with the standards to frame an elementary level technology curriculum. This curriculum and plan will eventually be implemented in an elementary school in northern Delaware.
This paper is a review of Technology and Computer standards. The final purpose of this paper is to design a working curriculum and development plan to be implemented in an elementary school in northern Delaware.
The population of the target school is approximately 550 students composed of 75% White, 12% Asian American, 9% African American, and 3.4% Hispanic. The school is located in a semi-urban area, drawing students from both rural and urban homes. The school has recently lost 23% of its population to the opening of a new school. (Linden Hill Elementary)
Children, grades one through five, received instruction focusing on computing and the application of computing skills for 45 minutes once or twice a week. Technology has been taught by three different individuals with varying computing skill levels. No formalized curriculum was followed although lessons sought to enrich academic skills. Fourth and fifth grade students received instruction from one individual with strong computing skills. Students were introduced to a wide range of software, peripheries, and web applications. Younger grades received training in using mice, monitors, and limited software programs. Classroom activities dovetailed technology class instruction upon request of the classroom teachers.
The administration has budgeted instructional units to develop programs that are attractive to families with strong interest in academic achievement. It is the goal of the administration to aggressively explore how technology can be more fully integrated in the classroom while enhancing computing skills through systematic and consistent instruction. It is with this intent that a “formalized technology” program is being added to the related arts program:
1. The program should promote and support academic subjects through the use of computers and peripheries.
2. Technology should reflect and support classroom activity.
3. Technology should offer opportunities to explore alternative means to teach classroom concepts.
4. Technology should teach skills to prepare students for middle school, high school and beyond.
Succinctly written, technology is the application of scientific discovery. To create a working definition of technology, it is the formalized study of applying diversified thought through the application of scientific discovery. Teaching technology is the discipline of guiding students to make connections across curricular areas by applying scientific discovery. Scientific discovery is the creation of tools or means that enhance human senses. Tools enhance human senses. It is in this context in which the words technology, teaching technology (or teach technology), scientific discovery, and tools will be addressed throughout this paper.
In the last 22 years, most states in in the United States have adopted academic standards for specific areas of instruction. All but two states list academic standards on their Department of Education web sites. Of the 48 states, listing academic standards, all listed reading and mathematics standards. (Other State's DOEs, 2005) Yet, as a whole, American education has taken a pause when drafting standards for “technological” tools.
Standards writers are faced with limited and restricted means to answer fundamental questions surrounding computers and technology. What is technology? Should we call computers technology? What will our students need to know in 5, 10, or 20 years? How should students use computers? How should we educate our educators about computers and technology? How should teachers use computers and technology in the classroom?
In June of 1998, the National Education Technology Standards Project (NETS) unveiled six technology driven standards by which to direct curriculum development. This document was entitled “Technology Foundation Standards”. (Technology Foundation Standards) The standards sought to weave skills, design application, and problem solving together. If a student could demonstrate competency in all of the performance indicators, the student would be “technologically literate”.
The NETS Project developed the standards to work hand-in-hand with standards from other academic subject areas. NETS outlines conditions for successful application of the standards stressing that “technology” cannot be taught in isolation. Using the NETS model, a classroom successfully implementing the standards has moved away from lectured lessons and the lone classroom computer sitting on the teacher’s desk. The computers are used to connect students, teachers, and active resources. NETS also emphasizes that educators must be willing participants in the process and that standards must have full administrative support and interaction. The chart below demonstrates the resulting effect of correctly applied technology:
ESTABLISHING NEW LEARNING
While reviewing the technology standards of the different states, it is apparent that the NETS framework has been considered and, to some degree, adopted by most of the states. (Other State's DOEs, 2005) Most states attempt to blend future technological unknowns and current computer skills with problem solving. Most states recognized that technology education cannot be taught in isolation and must be used to direct and enrich traditional curriculum. On a state-to-state basis, what is striking is that technology training for teachers, using the NETS model, is not as well developed as the student model. Many states offer teacher, online PowerPoint self-help tutorials, FAQ discussion boards, and software courses. During the course of writing this paper, not one state department of education web site offered a link to formalized NETS teacher training.
Delaware has yet to clearly define how its public school teachers should approach technology as well as computers. Organizations associated with Delaware’s Department of Education have published documents indicating that Delaware recognizes the difference between technology and computing. Delaware has defined computer skills but thus far has not drafted a formalized technology program. Beginning in 2003 the Red Clay School District launched a pilot program, entitled Loti, to measure and develop technology use in the classroom. (Moersch) The Loti program reached a statewide level in 2004. The separation of computer skills and classroom application appears to be a unique model on a state-to-state level.
In 2005, the Delaware Center for Technology Education (DCET) finalized a set of computer skills (“Computer Skills Growth Chart”), which delineate a level of competence a student, should master throughout their scholastic experience. DCET’s “INTEGRATE” Committee, the authors of the “Computer Skills Growth Chart”, purposefully narrowed the scope of the document to a set of computer-based skills while briefly mentioning technology and curriculum. The chart encompasses skills that, in 2005, a graduating senior would need to secure employment in today’s job market. The preamble of the document states that the purpose of “the CHART is intended as a planning aid and a vehicle to support discussion of technology integration across the curriculum to help students develop 21st century skills”. (Delaware Center for Educational Technology 2005)
Pat Sine, from the University of Delaware, sat on the INTEGRATE committee from the project inception to the final document. On her web site, Ms. Sine notes that, “Reasonably skilled, well-intentioned teachers are stymied in trying to create lessons that incorporate technology up to the performance indicators described in NETS and that help students meet the Delaware and national standards”. (Sine, 2001) Where the INTEGRATE committee mentions NETS, there is no link or other information about how to access the standards. The approach to this chart may be the introduction of technology related application in smaller, incremental steps that will eventually develop into a more fully defined set of technology standards.
As a classroom teacher, the INTEGRATE committee’s intent to guide rather than mandate is laudable and appreciated. However, there is a concern that the chart is not addressing skills that a student may need that have yet to be developed. In addition, programming and basic hardware maintenance is excluded from the skills list. Furthermore, established and emerging technologies allow children to become active, directed participants in their own learning. These are not mentioned in the chart or corresponding documentation. The chart does not indicate resources for teachers to use to help implement these skills in the classroom. Segregating skills from a contextual environment may undermine the simplicity of the INTEGRATE committee’s original intention.
In an effort heighten awareness of teacher technology use in the classroom, Delaware began using the Loti Survey on a statewide level in 2004. All public school, classroom teachers and administrators took the Loti survey. This survey indicates an individual teacher’s use of technology in the classroom. The survey results indicate the teacher’s educational philosophy as he or she uses technology. The more closely the teacher is aligned with Dewian philosophies and applying Bloom’s Taxonomy, the better he or she will score. If the teacher requires the students to use technology as a tool, the teacher will score even higher. If the teacher allows for student directed learning using technology, the teacher may score the highest possible score of six. Teachers are scored on their knowledge of computers, their educational philosophies, as well as their use of technologies within the classroom.
LoTi Framework Characteristics and Benchmarks
The desired outcome of the program is to guide teachers to create lessons involving higher-level thinking, while encouraging student use of computers to solve “real-life” problems. Teachers are given their score as a baseline to motivate them to become more active users of computers in the classroom. The LotiLouge is a site where teachers can peruse computer-based lessons rated at different Loti levels. (Moersch) The program does not offer teachers a means to learn and improve computer skills or how to actually create a higher-level lesson.
What is interesting about the INTEGRATE document and the Loti survey is that the two do not seem to support or acknowledge the other as a tool to more effectively meet the other’s goals. The Delaware Center for Educational Technology, the sponsoring organization for the INTEGRATE committee, does include Loti information on its website.
After reviewing the different standards presented by national and state organizations, the proposed “technology” curriculum will loosely follow the NETS format. Again, using the NETS model, this program will address staff curriculum and development plan as well as student curriculum and development plan.
The most critical aspect to this program is to ensure that all teachers, classroom and specialists, become involved in a continuous improvement plan to strengthen their computing skills. Without this support a student plan is less likely to succeed. The yearly Loti survey is the measurement tool to quantify year-to-year staff growth for overall computer competency. The 2004 Loti survey results place the target elementary school at a level 3 for “Personal Computer Use” (or PCU) and a level 4 for “Current Instructional Practices” (or CIP). The school scored a level 3 for overall CPU and CIP use. This indicates that with the development of staff computing skills, the school’s overall Loti level has the potential to quickly move to a level 4 (with 3-4 year goal of a level 5). Without the continuous improvement of staff computing skills, the school-wide Loti levels will most likely remain at their present levels.
The teacher curriculum involves a “four-tiered” level of support and development as well as staff development, one-on-one development, and user-friendly tools. As teachers become more comfortable with computers, student and teacher interaction will catapult teacher and student learning.
As teachers interact with their students using computers, they will begin to develop higher-end computing skills. The table below demonstrates the activities associated with each level of interaction a teacher will encounter.
Note: Computers can also signify peripheries.
The above chart lists particular programs such as WISE (What is Wise), KDN (Teacher's Guide, 2005), and Project Learn. (Bernal, 2005) WISE and KDN are programs that have already been developed and are established with lesson plans, projects, and activities. Project Learn is a conservation program design in 2005 for a fifth grade classroom. The programs will serve as the focus for inquiry-based learning with technology.
Interviews with an elementary school teacher indicated a strong desire to have the ability to create a simple web page (E. Longacre, personal communication, 07, 2005) (M. Fong, personal communication, 07, 2005) (E. Keech, personal communication, 07, 2005). The teacher’s desire to author a website was to promote communication with parents as well as posting safe websites for students. Teachers indicated that they find it difficult to have students key in the website addresses. Some URL’s are long and involve symbols unfamiliar to elementary age students. It would be easier to post links to a site and have the students access the sites from a computer rather than key in the address.
A simple content management program (cms) such as Drupal (Drupal.org, 2005), GeekLog (Welcome to Geek Log, 2005), or Xoops (The Official Xoops Page: Powered By You), are being considered to have teachers post links. A combination of all three cms programs may provide the best solution. All of the considered content management systems offer a simple login and posting feature. Drupal offers a simple, clean look with few extraneous features. This would be an ideal beginner program for a technologically inexperienced teacher. This interface would be the least difficult to master. Xoops features a few higher-end module tools to categorize links and secondary pages. GeekLog presents a wide range of tools such as wikis, document management, polls, link manager, calendar, site statistics. As the teacher progress technologically, he or she will still have a means to post safely and easily.
Red Clay’s Technology Integration Team (Technology Integration Team Web Site) requires that each school offer technology integration training on a building wide level. This training can be a large group session or an individual lesson. Training sessions are designed to address teacher computing skills as well as integrating technology in the classroom. The school’s Technology Integration Team chairperson created the Linden Cafe (Bernal, 2005) to assist with training as well as documentation, resource tools, and inter-staff communication. This site was the collaborative work of the faculty’s technological needs. This site will continue to be maintained and developed to meet the faculty’s needs.
The student curriculum will use a Loti framework on a 4 to 5 level to engage students to maximize interest and retention. The INTEGRATE skills chart will be used as a guide to determine age-appropriate skills for each grade. The technology curriculum will encompass lessons that tie academic standards with opportunities to enhance academic skills while reinforcing classroom activities.
The student curriculum will be based on an inquiry/project-based (Project-Based Learning Research, 2001) approach to learning using the “Scaffolded Knowledge Integration Framework” (SKIF for short). Dr. Marcia Linn of the University of California, Berkeley developed the “Scaffolded Knowledge Integration Framework” for application in science related inquiry. (Linn, 1995) SKIF designs active curriculum into a four tiered learning experience:
1. Identifying New Goals for Science Learning: use accessible models for scientific concepts, helping students to connect new information to existing ideas and to problems that are both familiar and relevant.
2. Making Thinking Visible: To facilitate understanding, concepts and ideas must be made explicit.
3. Encouraging Autonomous Learning: ensure that students actively integrate science knowledge rather than adopting a rote approach to science learning.
4. Providing Social Supports: student collaboration as a mechanism for encouraging autonomy and for fostering a classroom culture of inquiry and mutual respect. Students work together, most often in pairs, to share ideas and discuss scientific concepts with others
Although the original SKIF design was intended for science education, the concept of using computer tools to scaffold inquiry can be used across the curriculum. This framework takes a proactive stance toward cross-curricular integration. Aspects of scientific inquiry overlap with mathematics (graphing, interpolating, extrapolating, predicting,..), language and reading (decoding, non-fiction reading, predicting, skimming,…) social studies (civic action, researching,…). This framework supports and reinforces Delaware’s academic standards.
The WISE website offers an array of tools to create lessons asking children to integrate knowledge from all aspects of their scholastic day. They then delve into more involved principles that are introduced in the technology classroom. The fourth grade land and water science unit presents a multitude of supplemental technology-related inquiry lessons. Run-off, erosion, and deposition, are all concepts associated with this unit and that have been headline issues for northern Delaware. The cause for the recent water issues is directly link to increased urbanization. WISE offers online tools unit that compel children to connect water’s effect on their own environment. The unit described in the below chart will cover an eight week period and will be taught in conjunction with the science unit.
Thus far, the proposed curriculum has only reviewed science related units. During the course of the school year, each grade cycles through five different types of units touching on each major academic area: math, ELA, reading, social studies, and science. Each unit’s scope and sequence chart sequentially develops academic, technological, and computing skills. These units will change to fit the needs and interests of the teachers, students, and community. Much of this curriculum will change and evolve as the needs of the students become more apparent. Many of the ideas for lessons are based on lessons that worked quite well in a fifth grade classroom.
Eight Week Unit
The KDN or Kid’s Design Network (Teacher's Guide, 2005) integrates an inquiry-based model using technology as a communication and development tool between engineers and children. The KND curriculum challenges students to create an original invention to solve a real-life problem. Coincidentally, the third grade science unit culminates in an "Invention Convention". The KND site allows students to interact with engineers to test their project. The KND challenges involve chemical engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, or a blend of engineering disciplines. This program works in conjunction with the science unit to help facilitate and reinforce classroom concepts.
Creating a technologically advanced program requires support and computing proficiency from teachers as well as students. Transitioning educational practices to include technology on a daily basis requires that teachers develop high level computing skills. Schools must support teacher computer education as well as provide tools at that support each teacher’s computing ability.
Labeling computers as “technology” and teaching computer skills as technology may not be the best way to prepare students for their future. Knowing how to operate a computer, in today’s world, is critical to advancing technology as a whole. What education should strive to promote is being able to think logically and diversely, to use tools, and to pull information from different areas. Education should strive to promote innovation through technology.
Bernal, Y. (2005). Linden cafe. Retrieved Jul. 10, 2005, from Linden Cafe Home Page Web site: http://www.lindencafe.info/.
Bernal, Y. (2005). Project learn- based on ebam. Retrieved Jul. 08, 2005, from TunaRuna Web site:
Delaware Center for Educational Technology, (2005). Computer skills growth chart. Retrieved Jul. 05, 2005, from Delaware Center for Educational Technology Web site: http://www.dcet.k12.de.us/instructional/skills/index.html.
Drupal.org. (2005). Retrieved Jul. 10, 2005, from Drupal.org Web site: http://www.drupal.org/.
Kie tour: Scaffolded knowledge integration. (n.d.). Retrieved Jul. 05, 2005, from KIE Project Web site: http://kie.berkeley.edu/KIE/tour/tour3.html.
Linden hill elementary. (n.d.). Retrieved Jul. 10, 2005, from Public School Review Web site: http://www.publicschoolreview.com/school_overview.php.
Linn, M. (1995). Designing Computer Learning Environments for Engineering and Computer Science: the Scaffolded Knowledge Integration Framework. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 4(2), 103-126.
Mambo: power in simplicity. (n.d.). Retrieved Jul. 10, 2005, from MamboServer Web site: http://www.mamboserver.com/.
Moersch, C. (2004). Loti framework characteristics and benchmarks. Retrieved Jul. 06, 2005, from About LoTi in Delaware Web site: http://www.dcet.k12.de.us/instructional/loti/lotilevelchar.html.
Moersch, C. (n.d.). Welcome to the loti connection. Retrieved Jul. 10, 2005, from The Loti Connection Web site: http://www.loticonnection.com/.
National Education Technology Standards Project, (n.d.). All children must be ready. Retrieved Jul. 05, 2005, from nsteNETS Web site: http://cnets.iste.org/intro2.html.
Other state's DOEs. (2005). Retrieved Jul. 10, 2005, from Indiana Department of Education Web site: http://www.doe.state.in.us/htmls/states.html.
Project-based learning research. (2001). Retrieved Jul. 08, 2005, from Edutopia Web site:
Publications. (n.d.). Retrieved Jul. 10, 2005, from National Numeracy Strategy Web site: http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/numeracy/publications/.
Sine, P. (2001). Retrieved Jul. 05, 2005, from Computer Skills Growth Chart Web site: http://www.udel.edu/sine/growth/idea/need.html.
Teacher's guide. (2005). Retrieved Jul. 08, 2005, from Kids Design Network Web site:
Technology integration team web site. (n.d.). Retrieved Jul. 10, 2005, from Technology Integration Team Web Site Web site: http://rctech.redclay.k12.de.us/insttechweb/.
Technology foundation standards. (n.d.). Retrieved Jul. 05, 2005, from National Education Technology Standards Project Web site: http://cnets.iste.org/students/s_stands.html.
The official xoops page: powered by you. (n.d.). Retrieved Jul. 10, 2005, from The Official Xoops Page Web site: http://www.xoops.org/.
U.S. Department of Education, (n.d.). Improve student performance: Use technology . Retrieved Jul. 05, 2005, from No Child Left Behind Web site: http://www.ed.gov/teachers/how/tech/edpicks.jhtml?src=ln.
Welcome to geek log. (2005). Retrieved Jul. 10, 2005, from Geek Log: The Ultimate Web Log System Web site: http://www.geeklog.net/.
What is wise. (n.d.). Retrieved Jul. 08, 2005, from WISE Web site: