In the latest installment of our EdTech interview series, Jenny Grabiec describes her role as a Director of Technology. This position requires educators to combine their knowledge of curriculum, instruction and technology to support teachers, students and leaders in their school. You can follow Jenny on Twitter to learn more about her work.
I currently serve as the Director of Technology at The Fletcher School in Charlotte, NC. The Fletcher School, named for one of its founders, Mac Fletcher, is a kindergarten through 12th grade college preparatory school offering intense remediation in academic subjects as well as opportunities to learn strategies for compensating. Students must have a learning disability (LD) and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnosis, documentation of average or above average IQ, and evidence that emotional or behavioral issues are not the primary concern. My job is an overlap of IT and instructional technology. With our technology facilitator, Patti Weiss, I lead professional development for teachers, work directly with students in the classroom and with our Techsperts, a student-led “Genius Bar.”
A Director of Technology has a challenging role in that she must have a strong pulse on two very different fields: Information Technology and Curriculum and Instruction. Though they are vastly different, there are so many connections between the two, which leaves administrators seeking the right person to fill this important role in schools. A Director of Technology may be stronger in one field than the other, but it is her task and opportunity to grow in both the areas of information technology and curriculum and instruction. I immerse myself in both worlds serving as the “break/fix” technician while also meeting with teachers during planning times and offering workshops for students. Although I spend a lot of time working with technicians in a server room, I strive to spend the rest of that time in classrooms working with teachers and students on lesson planning and projects.
We are a 1:1 iPad/Mac Apple Distinguished School offering each administrator and faculty member an iPad and MacBook. All students in grades K-4 have an assigned iPad, while grade 5-12 students have an assigned MacBook Air. Apple TVs are available in most meeting areas and all K-12 classrooms. Students use built-in accessibility tools to support their learning and rely heavily on Google Apps for Education. Students in grades 5–12 use Read and Write for Google Chrome to grow their reading comprehension and written expression skills. Our iPad users in grades K-4 use accessibility tools, such as speak screen, quicktype and dictation to grow their literacy skills.
Technology in the classroom gives our students a strong opportunity to make their thinking patterns visible. They can apply their knowledge in published works, such as movies, slideshows, books, comics and more. For example, the multisensory instruction that our school’s philosophy is built upon is much more attainable with iPads that have a camera, video player, microphone, speakers for audio and music and a touch screen. They can manipulate objects and record their voice to explain a process in a fun and creative way — the iPad has made that possible. We create content for our students through screencasting, moviemaking and book writing that has built-in accessibility to reach all learners. This would not be possible without technology.
In the future, technology apps and tools will evolve faster than we can even imagine. My hope is that we are teaching students now how to be flexible, confident, lifelong learners with strong problem solving skills that always know how to select the best tool for the job.
Monica Burns is an EdTech & Curriculum Consultant, Author and Apple Distinguished Educator. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.
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