TWT Assignment 1
Introduction and Analysis of Need

Key Questions:
1. How does this online course work?
2. How will I accomplish my TWT goals by working through this online course?
3. What topics will be covered and what activities will I complete in this course?
4. What about the PCC?
5. How does technology fit?
6. How will I begin designing a unit of instruction (analysis of need)?

 

1. How does this online course work?

The primary focus of this TWT course is on developing and implementing a meaningful unit of instruction that includes student use of technology tools. This course consists of six assignments, which provide the background, theory, and other resources to work step-by-step through the process of developing your TWT unit of instruction. You will be asked to complete one or more activities before you move on to the next assignment. Each assignment builds on work completed in the preceding assignment, so plan to work through the assignments in sequence. Upon completion of this online course, you will have designed a unit of instruction. You will then implement your planned activities with your students.

2. How will I accomplish my TWT goals by working through this online course?
Your unit of instruction will be developed using an online template. Even though the template is online, it is always a good practice to first compose your assignments in a word processor and then copy/paste them into the template. This provides a backup copy of your work and gives you the ability to take advantage of the spelling and grammar tools as part of most word processing programs. As you develop your unit, it is critical that you review the TWT Course Assessment Rubric to make sure you are meeting the requirements for each assignment.

Special Note: For rubric item #11, Timeliness, you must request (of TWT instructors) an interim review of your unit by April 4, 2005 to maintain an "A" in that category. This means that you need to complete the online activities through Assignment 6 by April 4. You will receive feedback and can make changes up until June 3, 2005 (the course end date).

The use of the template serves to standardize the format of the proposals so that they can be shared with others through an online database. One important characteristic of being a transformational educator is sharing with others. The database of TWT instructional units will make sharing more efficient. Be aware that your template can be viewed by anyone via the searchable database and you may search and view the templates of others. This give and take of ideas is an important piece of collaboration.

3. What topics will be covered and what activities will I complete in this course?

The following topics will be covered in this online course:

 

- Instructional Needs Assessment
- Content / Technology Standards
- Unit Goals and Objectives
- Assessment
- Learning Strategies
- Student Products
- Student Learning Activities
- TWT Project Implementation

4. What about the PCC (Professional Competency Continuum)?
One of the original goals of TWT was to provide professional development opportunities that assist educators in moving toward transformation on the Professional Competency Continuum (PCC). The PCC tool is an online self-assessment for identifying one's knowledge and skill within several technology integration competency areas. The purpose of the PCC is to assess the behavior of educators in relation to the national technology integration standards. Upon completion of the instrument, educators are placed on a continuum ranging from entry to adaptation to transformation (Figure 1).

PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCY CONTINUUM

Entry

Adaptation

Transformation

The learning and teaching in this educatorís classroom remains relatively unchanged. Although the educator at this level recognizes technology as a valid educational tool, the individual lacks the requisite skills to implement and sustain significant changes in practice. There is limited use of multimedia in these teachersí classrooms and there is not a seamless transition to classroom integration. Core technology skills and beginning technology integration professional development are needed.

This teacher is a proficient user of core technology including hardware, software, peripherals and the internet. Teachers at this level are also efficient at trouble-shooting basic technical issues. Technology is thoroughly integrated into the classroom in support of existing practices. Educators at this stage have developed skills related to the use of technology, but have primarily applied these skills to automate, accelerate and enhance the teaching and learning strategies already in place.

Technology is a catalyst for significant changes in learning practice. Students and teachers adopt new roles and relationships. Teachers are skilled at developing and implementing student activities within technology-rich classroom environments. Teachers use a variety of computer applications to support instructional management. The physical classroom environment is convenient and well organized for student use of the technology tools. Teachers support a variety of learning strategies to meet content standards.

Figure 1

An educator's placement on the continuum corresponds to the degree to which the educator exhibits transformational behaviors with regard to technology integration. The PCC self-assessment rates classroom educator behavior on four major themes. These themes are:

One of the activities associated with this course is to take the PCC self-assessment and to reflect on your results and how you might approach the design of your unit in such a way that you continue moving toward transformation. We suggest that you pay particular attention to the category of Curriculum, Learning, and Assessment when reviewing your results.

Yearly completion of the PCC is now a state requirement. If you have not already completed the 5th administration of the PCC as an activity within your building please plan to complete it by June 3, 2005 (completion of the PCC is a requirement of this course).

5. How does technology fit?
The North Dakota Teaching with Technology Initiative focuses on the teaching and learning activities that occur in the classroom when transformational learning takes place. Technology plays a key role. TWT encourages the effective use of technology to support the transformational learning environment realizing that new ways of thinking, teaching, and learning must transpire. Technology does not drive the curriculum; rather the technology supports the curriculum.

 

6. How will I begin designing a unit of instruction (analysis of need)?
On a day by day basis, teachers are placed in the position to make powerful decisions that impact student learning. You are asked to determine the learning needs of your students and to make wise choices about what happens in the classroom. When you focus on the targeted students’ needs by analyzing information and data that is available (needs assessment), the content of your unit of instruction will involve the “real” needs of the students. This analysis is where you begin in developing your unit of instruction.

So, how do you do that? A powerful way to begin is to identify the gap between “what is and what needs to be;” that is, what do learners know now, and what do learners need to know? This gap is often referred to as a “need.” Your content standards are an important part of the question “what needs to be.”

Standards-based assessments are one medium that can provide information about gaps or needs. Data from the North Dakota State Assessment and/or district assessment results such as the MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) are excellent resources for teachers to determine gaps. But, if we assume that standardized tests are the only way of gauging student achievement, we are going to short-change the students.

If knowledge is power, then studying the current abilities, skills, attitudes, and learning styles of students empowers educators to develop instruction and learning to achieve whatever the students need.

Many teachers are using performance assessments to measure what students know and what they can do. These evaluations include standards-based projects that require students to apply their knowledge and skill using clearly defined rubrics (or criteria) to facilitate a consistent evaluation of student work. Examples of performance assessment are group projects, such as the challenge of designing a new school, individual research and science projects, or portfolios representing a broad selection of a student's work in a given content area.

Let’s use a math class in an example where a teacher recognizes a gap in learning. The teacher acknowledges that he/she can't assess a student's deep understanding of content and their ability to apply a concept through a traditional paper-and-pencil, crank-out-the-formulas, kind of assessment. Consequently, he/she collects data from performance-based projects. By incorporating small-group projects into a geometry unit, students are required to apply the abstract skills and formulas to real-world settings. Teachers collect meaningful assessment pieces when students are required to develop a shopping mall site plan, create a scale model, prepare cost estimates, and write a formal proposal. As they present their plan to their classmates and a group of architects who serve as mentors and judges throughout the project, they are assessed using a rubric. Evaluating teamwork (participation, level of involvement, and quality of work as a team member) during the implementation of the project also provides valuable data about teaching and learning strategies. A volume of concrete data can be collected and analyzed during an authentic unit such as this.

The more you can know about your targeted learners the better! Additional important pieces to analyze are the specific students’ learning characteristics which include their learning styles, cognitive abilities, previous experiences, and motivational interests. New student educational needs or enhancements may also arise because of changes in legislation (NCLB) or updated standards/benchmarks. All of these create a need and determine your (teacher’s) instructional goal and learning objectives in the design of your unit.

You will be asked to provide rationale for your unit of instruction. See the example below (Figure 2):

Unit Design Analysis Rationale

Example #1: Relating to an elementary language arts unit.

Data from the 2004 North Dakota State Assessment, the district School Improvement Plan, scientific research, and personal observations were the rationale for developing this unit.

After are viewing the North Dakota Reading Assessment, I compared the overall performance levels of our districts’ fourth grade students to the overall aggregated performance results of fourth graders statewide. The test was given on February 23, 2004. The data showed me that the fourth graders in our district rated at the following overall performance levels in reading: Advanced, 36% (state, 24%); Proficient, 52% (state, 56%); Partially Proficient, 6% (state, 15%); and Novice, 6% (state, 4%). In matching that information to Standard 2: Engage in the Reading Process, I find that our fourth graders rated slightly higher than the state average with 82% correct in Benchmark 2: “Make/confirm predictions to understand text;” and 75% correct in Benchmark 5: “Use clues to determine the meaning of words.” The state aggregate scores on those two benchmarks were 77% and 74% respectively. Our district’s fourth grade scores relating to Standard 1: Gather and organize information were also higher than the state average. On Benchmark 1: “Understand main idea and supporting details,” our fourth graders scored at 80% while the state average was at 76%. This information gives me a foundation for the second grade standards that I am using in this unit: Standard #1, Students engage in the research process; Standard #2, Students engage in the reading process, and Standard #3, Students will engage in the writing process.

Tierney and Shanahan’s research reveals that reading and writing should go hand in hand to promote higher order thinking. They state that “classrooms that actively foster meaning construction through reading and writing will produce better thinkers.” This research supports my rationale to blend reading and writing activities to promote higher level thinking in my classroom. By linking the reading process to the writing process students will meet Language Arts, Standard #2: Students engage in the reading process and Standard #3: Students engage in the writing process.

As our School Improvement goals moves towards improving the writing skills of our students, it has been my experience that the students' interests in writing are decreasing. I have observed many times that when I approach a writing assignment the majority of students groan, sigh, and become frustrated. In an effort to alleviate this growing problem, I want to bring enthusiasm back to reading and writing with this unit.

 

Example #2: Relating to a 9th grade unit on wellness and nutrition.

In determining the greatest need for my unit of instruction, I focused on the growing trend of inactivity and obesity in our culture. Many national organizations and educational institutions show a growing concern for the health of our youth due to poor eating habits and lack of exercise. Note the following findings:

The North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction 2001-2003 Biennial Report cites that one of the educational trends with which we are faced is dealing with social problems. A specifically mentioned social problem is that obesity in our society. Further, the American Obesity Association (2002) states that, "Diabetes, hypertension and other obesity-related chronic diseases that are prevalent among adults have now become more common in youngsters. The percentage of children and adolescents who are overweight and obese is now higher than ever before. Poor dietary habits and inactivity are reported to contribute to the increase of obesity in youth. … Obesity prevalence more than doubled over 25 years among adolescent males and females."

The American Psychological Association (2004) reports that, "twice as many (14%) adolescent girls today are overweight as in 1994, a situation probably brought on by a near-addiction to fast food coupled with America’s increasingly sedentary lifestyle. ... However, whether they are too thin, too heavy, or somewhere in between, most adolescents don’t eat right."

In respose to the concern on obseity, the Surgeon General's Call To Action To Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity (2001) proposes and is committed to five principles:
• Promote the recognition of overweight and obesity as major public health problems.
• Assist Americans in balancing healthful eating with regular physical activity to achieve and maintain a healthy or healthier body weight.
• Identify effective and culturally appropriate interventions to prevent and treat overweight and obesity.
• Encourage environmental changes that help prevent overweight and obesity.
• Develop and enhance public-private partnerships to help implement this vision."

Studies by these organizations show that our young people do not know how to choose and/or understand the importance of choosing a healthy diet and lifestyle.

This unit of instruction will help students bridge the gap between wanting a healthy lifestyle and actually having the knowledge and tools to achieve a healthy lifestyle. These skills will not only help them as they go through adolescence, but as life long skills for healthy living and weight management. The application of sound nutrition and exercise practices will result in a high degree of authentic learning and make the learning more personal and meaningful to the students. It is important to teach good eating habits and regular exercise habits as early in life as possible to help people maintain healthy habits throughout their lives.

This unit will draw from two different sets of ND Standards, (1) Health and (2) Physical Education. The primary focus will be on Standard 4 from Physical Education and Standard #5 from Health.

Standard 4: MAINTAINING PHYSICAL FITNESS
Students understand how to maintain a health-enhancing level of physical fitness

Benchmark 3: Understand how to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle

Standard 5: BEHAVIORS AND RISKS
Students demonstrate the ability to practice health-enhancing behaviors and reduce health risks

Benchmark 1: Know the role of individual responsibility for enhancing health
Benchmark 2: Know strategies to use for personal health enhancement

(adapted with permission from Shannay Witte, New England Public School)

Figure 2

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