ISB Learning Philosophy and How It Aligns With My Personal View


A technology and learning coordinator is charged with making a positive impact on the development of both students and teachers. This dual role is a fantastic opportunity to influence the growth of an organization such as ISB.  Permit me to reflect on this question through my role as a classroom teacher and then as a technology coach.

As An Educator In The Classroom

The ISB philosophy essentially outlines a scaffolded process of learning from beginning to end.  Currently, in addition to my role as technology coach, I teach broadcast and media literacy classes. At the beginning of the class students are faced with a problem:  How do we create a compelling and interesting news broadcast for middle school students?  While some students come to the class with some film and technology skills, many do not. In addition, producing a broadcast is usually new to everybody.

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Concordia MS Broadcast Logo

As a class we create solutions to this problem by coming up with a mission to rally around. For example, “The Concordia MS Broadcast Team creates, shares and distributes interesting information about our school.”  This enables us to have a common understanding to draw from as our ideas meander back and forth.

To make connections across our learning we realize that a news broadcast is really the telling of a story.  That skill is fostered and developed in the Humanities classes and we can pull the learnings from that discipline into our broadcast work. This also offers an opportunity for students to extend their learnings across disciplines.

Communicating our learnings is done by completing and distributing the broadcast show to people at the middle school and beyond.

Reflecting critically is done when students are asked to post work on their personal website and reflect on how they did and how they can improve for the next round. The cycle then begins again.

As A Technology Coach

The other day our PE department approached me and said,  “Hey Michael, you know those iPod’s we have our students wear during class each day to collect biometric data?  Well we would like to start graphing that data on a large scale to look for trends and patterns into how we can improve our teaching practices.”

“Sounds like fun to me; let’s do it” I responded.

The PE department wanted to inquire and extend their learning, so clearly I had to create some solutions here! While I had a concept of what I wanted to do, I did not have the specific skills to do it on my own.  Taking raw data from 400 students and converting it to something visual and easy to understand is a challenge.   Something I needed to learn and figure out.

My first step was to make connections across my learning. Some of the most compelling TED talks discuss the power of  visualizing data and seek help from others around me. I had worked with our statistics teacher in the high school recently on a presentation he was doing for EARCOS. Along the way I developed a better understanding of what is possible with data, statistics and visualizations.   I quickly contacted him for assistance. and thankfully he was thrilled to help out.

FINAL-300x300Our next step was to communicate our learnings to a wider audience.  The three Concordia Technology Coaches (ES,MS, and HS) team up to do a weekly podcast about what we have learned and what is going on in the educational technology world.  This platform enables me to do that on a regular basis.

The last step in this project is to reflect critically on the process and the result.  We are still finalizing the entire effort and working through the bugs that come up with a project like this.  Once completed, it will be used in the PE classrooms.  From there we can reflect on what works and what does not.  More importantly, we will assess the strengths and weaknesses of the project.  Next, and this is the best part, we can decide what the next great leap forward is to making it even better.

The SAMR model exemplifies my philosophy of having a methodology that allows for a measurable impact on the use of technology and innovation in the classroom.

The SAMR Model

SAMR is a popular, research based model to promote and assess  effective integration of technology in the classroom.  Credit is due to Dr. Rueben Puentedura who created it.

SAMR stands for:

  • samr_coffeeSubstitution: For example using the keyboard to type instead of handwriting.  Simply a substitution for the existing method.
  •  Augmentation: For example using a program such as TypingWeb to customize, differentiate and track a students path as they learn to keyboard.
  • Modification: For example students reflect on their learning through an audio or video podcast and post it on their ePortfolio for others to enjoy.
  • Redefinition: Students become social entrepreneurs and promote, as a class,  a cause they care about via blogging, audio and video productions, social media campaigns and crowd funding. Technology allows them to reach out to others far, far away.

SAMR enables technology and learning coaches to share a framework for improving teaching and learning practices in the classroom.  It is reasonably easy to explain, quantifiable and customizable to each individual teacher.

For more information, please see my website:

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