When we launched the Dynamic Learning Project (DLP), a program from EdTechTeam, Google, and Digital Promise that empowers school leaders to transform instruction across every classroom for every student, we wanted to put teachers in control of their professional development. So, we developed a first-of-its-kind coaching model, based on Jennie Magiera’s work in Courageous Edventures, aimed at helping teachers tackle their challenges with personalized strategies and innovative tools.
To help coaches put the DLP’s challenge-based coaching model into action, we worked with expert technology coaches to create the DLP Strategy Menu ⎯ a new tool that helps educators explore common classroom challenges and find strategies and tech tools to jump start students’ learning. And today, we’re sharing our Strategy Menu with educators across the globe and providing them with 150+ ready-to-use instructional strategies and tech tools.
Head to the DLP Strategy Menu to take a tour of this new tool, or see below for step-by-step guide on how to get started. This is just one element of the Dynamic Learning Project, now available for all schools! The full paid program offers many more supports, including individualized program consultancy and activation events at Google’s campuses to help school leadership teams get the most impact from our program and transform every classroom in their buildings. Click here to learn how to join for the 2019-2020 school year.
3 Steps: How to Use the Strategy Menu
Step 1: Identify the Challenge
The DLP Strategy Menu was developed to help both tech coaches and teachers identify their problems of practice, and consider different strategies to overcome those challenges. We built this tool based on one key belief: teaching and learning is primary, technology tools are secondary. As a result, the Strategy Menu was primarily designed to help educators identify and implement effective strategies to help tackle the challenges they face, and their students face.
“Is there an app that can help?” Sure there is, but back it up for a sec. What’s the precise problem you’re trying to solve?
Too often in the edtech community, teachers simply want to know if there is an app they can use without identifying and understanding their instructional challenges. If you know the type of challenge you’re facing, you can jump right into the Strategy Menu and do a keyword search or filter by challenge areas. When you do, you will notice that the challenges are structured by category to help the educator not only find the challenge they’re facing, but help them find related challenges.
If a teacher is new to using technology in the classroom, a common practice by tech coaches is to simply give a teacher something new to try. What’s the problem with just looking for a new app to try in the classroom? Well, here are a few potential pitfalls of that approach:
- As educators, it’s important to remember that the challenges we face in our classrooms revolve around pedagogy, not technology. Apps can only supplement best teaching practices, not substitute for them.
- It’s easy for teachers to overload their arsenal with certain types of apps without recognizing that their teaching practice may reflect the imbalance of those types of applications. Google Forms, Quizizz, Quizlet, GoFormative, Kahoot! are all fantastic assessment apps, but students may benefit from a variety of learning experiences to truly engage their class content.
- Teachers can become disillusioned if they run into problems with a particular app, resulting in giving up on integrating technology altogether. Whereas if they were given a couple of tech tools to try, they can be advised to switch to the alternate tool while maintaining their strategy.
Step 2: Choose a Strategy
After a teacher identifies their challenge, their tech coach can point them to the Strategy Menu to see, there’s a strat for that! Imagine that, during a tech coaching meeting, a teacher admits to having some issues with classroom management and believes that at the root of the issue, her students are not motivated to give the extra effort with the classwork. In this instance, the coach may recommend the teacher try creating a sense of collaborative competition.
Note, the strategy is the focal point. In this case, the teacher is committed to implementing incentive trackers and sharing it out so that the students can both see their progress, but also collaborate in some way. If the progress tracker doesn’t seem to motivate the students (or if it gets old after a while), then she can try one of the several other strategies that are under the challenge area topic of Classroom Management. The challenge remains the same, it’s the strategies and tools that can change.
If the coach or teacher desires to share out a strategy, simply hover over or click on the plus button to the right to copy the strategy to your clipboard or share out on social media.
Step 3: Try a Tool
When viewing the strategies, you will notice that there are a few apps identified that can be used to implement that particular strategy. All of the apps listed in the Strategy Menu are free (or free for basic use, with upgradable options), web-based, or cross-platform for Android and iOS. The recommended apps are not meant to be an exhaustive list, but simply a starting place for executing the listed strategy. If unfamiliar with the app, simply click on the link to explore more. For the more adventurous, you can search YouTube for tutorials on a particular app or reach out to your personal learning network (i.e., “has anyone ever used Google Slides for creating incentive trackers?”).
Apps should be evaluated based on accessibility of use in the school setting, ease of use for teacher and students, and overall effectiveness for accomplishing the recommended strategy.
Have suggestions for strategies or additional tools to try? Please provide feedback, as seen below!
The Strategy Menu is just a tool itself, one that is best used in conversation between a tech coach and teacher. Remember, apps are just tools in the toolbox to be used in certain situations. Tools come and go, but that’s why good teaching practices are paramount.
Originally from Southern California, “Sociologist turned Technologist,” Dee Lanier is a passionate and energetic educator and learner with over a decade of instructional experience on the K-12 and collegiate level. Dee holds Undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Sociology with special interests in education, race relations, and inequality. Dee served at Crossroads Charter High School as a full-time Vocational Studies teacher, Testing Coordinator and Title I Director then went on to become the Technology Catalyst for the Lower School at Trinity Episcopal School. He was also an Executive Director of a national nonprofit and a founding board member and tech coach at Charlotte Lab School. Dee is a Google Certified Trainer and Innovator and specializes in creative applications for mobile devices and Chromebooks, low-cost makerspaces, and gamified learning activities. Dee is currently a Program Coordinator for EdTechTeam. You can find him on Twitter @deelanier from Southern California, “Sociologist turned Technologist,” Dee Lanier is a passionate and energetic educator and learner with over a decade of instructional experience on the K-12 and collegiate level. Dee holds Undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Sociology with special interests in education, race relations, and inequality. Dee served at Crossroads Charter High School as a full-time Vocational Studies teacher, Testing Coordinator and Title I Director then went on to become the Technology Catalyst for the Lower School at Trinity Episcopal School. He was also an Executive Director of a national nonprofit and a founding board member and tech coach at Charlotte Lab School. Dee is a Google Certified Trainer and Innovator and specializes in creative applications for mobile devices and Chromebooks, low-cost makerspaces, and gamified learning activities. Dee is currently a Program Coordinator for EdTechTeam and Dynamic Learning Project Mentor. You can find him on Twitter @deelanier