On this episode of Tackling Tech Podcast, powered by Dyknow, Brett McGrath speaks with Katie Bond, the Digital Learning Specialist for Martin County Schools. Katie explains how her district is simultaneously teaching classes with some students in-person and some students remote. Katie advises that teachers let go of some control during these challenging times and give their students more of a voice and choice.
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Don’t have time to listen to the episode? Here’s a peek at what’s inside…
Martin County School’s current learning setup
Last semester, Martin County Schools followed the majority of K-12 schools and conducted asynchronous learning remotely. When they went back to school this Fall, instruction moved to in-person learning with the option of remote learning still available to students. Currently, teachers are simultaneously teaching students in class and via Zoom with students who are still learning remotely at home, so Katie Bond described their current setup as a hybrid learning environment.
Katie Bond’s role is to help teachers figure out how to make engaging lessons and use technology that they weren’t using before. Martin County School District has moved completely 1:1 during this time which is exciting for Katie’s role because now all students and teachers are on the same playing field.
The challenges and surprises of asynchronous learning
Katie shared that there was a steep learning curve at the beginning of the year when their district was going 1:1. Specifically, there was a large gap between teachers who were comfortable using technology and those who weren’t familiar at all. Katie explained that before they went 1:1. some teachers didn’t know what Google Classroom was or had never used certain basic technology tools before, so there was a need for support at this basic level.
Throughout this transition, Martin County has made huge steps in the right direction. Technology initiatives that they’ve been trying to push for 10 years are now coming to life and being implemented all at once. The biggest surprise for Katie throughout this time has been how gracious teachers were with accepting and adopting the technology that they were given. Teachers have become flexible and ready to learn.
Using technology to increase student engagement
In our conversation, Katie shared that a challenge during this time has been that everyone is now using technology that they’ve never used before, so a lot of teachers are starting out by substituting or replacing what they would have used in a more traditional setting. Overall, Katie’s team is still trying to push teachers to use technology for more than just substitution or replacement. She shared that if teachers are just replacing things with technology, that is not going to be truly engaging for students.
The engagement piece is using the base knowledge of technology that you have and saying, “how can I use this for more and do more with this?”
The Martin County technology team is seeing this happen live. After the first month or two of having conversations with teachers, and once teachers were comfortable with the hybrid instruction, they began to ask questions about how they could use technology to increase student engagement and really enhance the learning.
“It is really tough to engage two groups of people in two different worlds at the same time.” – Katie Bond
Student engagement strategies and tools
Aside from using technology to enhance lessons, it is important to understand the strategies and tools that make lessons truly engaging for students.
Katie explained that the most important strategy for all teachers is not necessarily finding the right tool for the job, but starting with the learning goals and standards first, and then figuring out how to integrate a tool that they are comfortable with or a new tool that they’ve heard about.
Katie recommends thinking about the learning goal first and the technology tool second. Teachers should be going beyond the surface level and figure out how to use these tools to truly enhance and transform learning
“It’s not about the tool, it’s about how you use the technology to leverage the instruction and assess your students in a unique way that wasn’t possible before the technology.” – Katie Bond