George Lucas Educational Foundation

Technology Workshops for Teachers Make Computer Connections

The key to efficiency and innovation in the classroom is using tech tools.
Edutopia Team
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Credit: Daniel Lincoln

This article accompanies the feature "A Louisiana School Leader Answers the Call of Duty."

Twice a month, it's Technology Thursday for teachers at New Orleans's Martin Behrman Charter Academy of Creative Arts & Sciences, where Assistant Principal Cherie Goins, also the school's technology coordinator, presents a three-hour training session that brings staff up to speed on technology for teaching, record keeping, research, and more. Here is a rundown of the content she covers throughout the school year.

Lesson Plans

This session covers how to set up and save weekly lesson plans in a digital format. Teachers learn about the school's lesson-plan template in Microsoft Word and Excel, review the essential elements of the plan, and find out how to name and save each lesson plan in their own folder on the school's server, which allows for safe storage and easy access.

Curriculum Mapping

After an introduction to the basic elements of a curriculum map, teachers become familiar with the tools and skills they need to map out their course content for the year.

Creating E-Portfolios

The school uses electronic portfolios for documenting students' academic growth and success. To set these portfolios up, teachers learn to scan and save a variety of documents and pictures and to create hyperlinks inside a Microsoft PowerPoint slide show.

Laptops in the Classroom

The teachers review the dos and don'ts of using laptops with students, including procedures for loading and unloading the laptop cart, basic troubleshooting, and how to use TrackStar to focus students' Internet browsing. They also get an introduction to Web- and server-based software programs.

Handheld Computers

Teachers get hands-on training in using handhelds with students and learn basics such as how to take pictures, search for educational software, and use a stylus to input text.

Grade Keeping on the Computer

The school maintains its student data in a Web-based application called PowerSchool. Teachers receive introductory and ongoing training on how to use the program to access student data and input grades and notes for their students.

Taking Advantage of Interactive Whiteboards

These ongoing sessions provide teachers first with the basics of using interactive whiteboards as instructional tools, then move on to more advanced topics such as downloading and creating flip charts. Teachers begin by using a blank page as an electronic blackboard. Later, they practice more sophisticated skills, such as preparing interactive flip charts for use in every subject.

The Power of PowerPoint

Teachers learn the basics of creating a PowerPoint presentation and discover the software's many classroom uses. They leave the session with a PowerPoint slide show they can present.

Handy Resources for Effective Teaching

This session explores ten top online resources for teachers, including teAchnology (lesson plans), Twitter for Teachers (networking), and Delicious (bookmarking). What's more, teachers find out how to conduct an effective Internet search to uncover additional learning resources.

Innovations in Classroom Technology

Teachers get first-hand knowledge about the hottest topics in technology to keep up with the latest applications and approaches to interactive teaching and learning. They learn about blogs, wikis, Twitter, podcasts, e-books, WebQuests, streaming video, widgets, and other ways of engaging students.

Email as a Management Tool

Because email volume can be overwhelming, this session demonstrates how teachers can better manage their email and use it as a tool for personal organization. It also shows them how to use email to save lesson plans, pictures, and other important documents for easy access, and, perhaps most important, to document correspondence with parents and administrators.

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Janice's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I would love to have this kind of Professional Development in my school district. So many teachers are "afraid" of technology, afraid they are going to break it or do something that will not make it work anymore and are unwilling to just jump in and explore. Students are far more technologically savvy than most teachers and I feel that we are missing out on a new and exciting dimension of teaching and learning. Hopefully more and more districts will adopt this kind of professional development.

Kristie's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

At our school we have an integrated system called Aspen ( that integrates all these functions. It is so great to teach and assess, enter the results, and be able to share the class profile with other teachers as we collaborate to plan extensions and extra help. Having the data for curriculum, instruction, assessment, and intervention all in one system is a real asset.

Technology is definitely the key to increased efficiency in handling the "paperwork" of education and the time saved, means more time to focus on individual students and their needs.


Nicholas Hobar's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Great article! Readers might be interested in -- a free learning community dedicated to improving teaching and student learning that offers social media tools integrated with professional development tools. The tools are used to develop and share lessons and assessments, co-create and share resources with Syzygy and Wikitasks, and participate in online training. I've used it successfully with schools and teachers in MD, NJ, and PA to improve student performance on classroom authentic assessments and state tests for accountability purposes. I'm now expanding my LearningFront PLN with colleagues from other states and countries. Exciting stuff!

Andrew Pass's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

What struck me about this article is that the tech coordinator is also an assistant principal. Assuming that tech coordination is a major component of Ms. Goins' professional portfolio I think that this is a great role for an assistant principal. The title elevates the focus on technology.

I wish that there was a way for me to let Ms. Goins and other tech coordinators know about core subject area resources that I have developed for English/language arts and social studies using Twenty First Century Technology. I have a suite of five Google Earth units.

Andrew Pass

Cherie Goins's picture

You are right. Serving as both Tech Coordinator and AP has it's advantages. Everythign I do (literally) has a technology connection. Teacher Observations, Monitoring grades and attendance data, communicating with parents, and professional development all have a tech component. It is expected (since I am lead tech teacher) that my communications, records, pd sessions, etc incorporate technology to a great extent. My teachers are hungry for the knowledge and skills I exhibit on a daily basis. I tell them I'm still learning, so they are welcomed to set up small-group or private sessions with me. I appreciate their enthusiasm and it motivates ME to stay abreast of the latest innovations in educational technology.

Mark Slayton's picture

While technology can be incredibly efficient and cost-saving, the desire to implement it needs to be present in the teachers as well. Many people don't realize that when tech. is implemented, its easy to maintain, and can show performance levels. The approach of Cherie Goins, to reduce common fears of technology while incentivizing teacher learning is a great example of how teachers can expand their skill set while learning technology. This should be implemented in every school district!

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