George Lucas Educational Foundation
Technology Integration

Using a Personalized Instructional Playbook to Revitalize Your Teaching

This type of guide helps teachers choose appropriate technology to go along with a particular instructional strategy.

February 23, 2024
FG Trade / iStock

In today’s educational landscape, where technology plays such a pivotal role, integrating instructional strategies with technology is increasingly important. As an instructional technology resource teacher, I have a primary role of supporting teachers in effectively integrating technology into their classroom instruction. The shift to remote learning in 2020 necessitated a rapid and often uncomfortable adaptation to technology use in teaching.

Creating an instructional playbook emerged as a pathway to support teachers with leveraging technology, not just as a supplementary tool but as a crucial component in enhancing impactful teaching strategies, ensuring that technology’s role in education is purposeful and powerful.

A Collaborative Beginning

Inspired by researcher Jim Knight’s The Instructional Playbook, I sought an existing playbook that would resonate with my role as an instructional technology coach. However, I realized that most resources did not fully encapsulate the nuanced relationship between technology and instructional strategy, particularly in the post-pandemic era of heightened technology usage in education.

This gap led to a collaborative effort with educators and coaches across North America to create a playbook that purposefully integrates technology with instructional strategies, enhancing my approach to teaching.

Creating the Playbook

The essence of a well-crafted instructional playbook lies in its ability to be both concise and comprehensive, outlining evidence-based teaching strategies crucial in assisting teachers and students. These strategies should form the foundation of a district’s professional development program, emphasizing the playbook’s role as a pivotal tool.

For me, crafting the playbook was as much about exploration and discovery as it was about creation. Initially, our team grappled with fundamental questions: What instructional strategies should be central to our playbook? How do we distinguish between strategies and activities? These early discussions were crucial, as they helped us sift through a myriad of educational practices to identify what truly mattered.

During these formative stages, we learned to focus on our overarching purpose and the specific needs that the playbook was meant to address, rather than getting bogged down in details. This perspective allowed us to develop a playbook adaptable to diverse educational settings.

For the broader educational community, we endeavored to create a playbook that was comprehensive in scope, including various instructional strategies carefully aligned with International Society for Technology in Education standards and Universal Design for Learning principles. We aimed to ensure that technology integration was intentional and meaningful, enhancing rather than overshadowing the instructional strategies.

As the playbook evolved, it became a living document, shaped by continuous contributions and enriched by diverse perspectives. Educators from different backgrounds brought templates and ideas, each adding unique value to the playbook. This collaborative approach meant that the playbook could be adapted and modified to fit unique contexts, making it a versatile tool for educators.

In contrast to this broad resource, the playbook I tailored for my professional learning community (PLC) had a much narrower focus. Recognizing the specific needs and goals of my PLC, I crafted a version of the playbook with a more concentrated scope. This personalized playbook addresses the particular challenges and objectives we face in our learning environment, proving that the playbook’s format and content could be as flexible and varied as the educators and students it serves.

Overall, crafting the playbook highlighted the importance of purpose-driven design in educational resources. By understanding our goals, we created a comprehensive, adaptable playbook that resonates with educators’ and students’ diverse needs.

Refocusing on Instructional Strategies

With more than two decades of teaching experience, this project allowed me to refocus on the core of teaching—instructional strategies. The playbook became a common language among teachers, coaches, and administrators, facilitating more focused discussions on teaching practices. It encouraged a shift from merely engaging students in fun activities to employing strategies that significantly impact learning.

Back in the classroom, the playbook transformed my approach to lesson planning. I started with the learning objectives and anticipated barriers, which allowed me to select the most appropriate instructional strategies. This backward-design approach ensured that technology was used not as a substitute but as a meaningful enhancer of the lesson objectives. Since developing the playbook, I have noticed a marked increase in collaboration, classroom discussion, and flexible grouping in my lesson plans. Technology was no longer just a tool for substitution but a means for collaboration, creation, and learning opportunities that students would not have with paper and pencil.

The Impact of the Playbook

Creating a playbook is not a one-off task. It demands continuous engagement, reflection, and refinement. We continue to update our activity hub, ensuring that it remains a relevant and dynamic resource for educators. Creating and using the Comprehensive Instructional Playbook reinvigorates my teaching practice. It makes me more mindful of the instructional strategies I choose and their alignment with my lesson objectives. It fosters a deeper understanding of when and why to use specific methods and how to effectively integrate technology into my teaching.

The playbook also proves valuable for new teachers and career switchers who need more exposure to diverse instructional practices. It serves as a guide, helping them navigate the complexities of effective teaching strategies and technology integration.

The playbook is more than a collection of strategies; it’s a testament to the power of collaboration and continuous learning in education. It reminds us that the teaching process, like learning, is ever-evolving and enriched by shared experiences and knowledge. As educators, we must remain adaptable, always seeking to enhance our practices for the ultimate benefit of our students.

Check out “Collaborate to Create Your Own Instructional Playbook,“ which has a variety of resources and templates.

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