The ESETT program prepares and supports teachers as they enhance content with the use of educational technology, including computers, presentation systems, electronic learning resources, and software applications. Computers and electronic learning resources allow students to work on authentic, meaningful and challenging problems, similar to tasks performed by professionals. Technology also facilitates student interaction with data in ways that allow student-directed learning and collaborative knowledge building. Technologies can also be used to promote the development of higher-order thinking skills and allow opportunities for teachers to act as facilitators or guides and often as co-learner with the students (Gahala, 2001).
The ESETT professional development is based on the following research principles:
- The integration of technology into curriculum and instruction requires professional development that will result in improving student learning (Cradler, McNabb, Freeman, Burchett, 2002).
- Teachers’ learning and sustaining new instructional approaches depends on the degree that teachers are engaged in planning and evaluating classroom instruction (Cradler, 2002; Calhoun, 2002).
- Model of on-going professional development focused on continuous improvement is often called action research (Cradler, 2002; Calhoun, 2002).
- When teachers develop and implement personalized plans for the integration of technology into the curriculum, there were greater increases in student learning and sustained infusion of technology into instruction (Cradler, 2002).
- Teachers engaged in collaborative planning and sharing of instructional strategies more effectively use technology in the classroom (Becker and Riel, 2002).
- When teachers receive a project-based approach to staff development, they in turn apply project-based teaching principles to their own teaching (Cradler & Crader, 2002).
- As teachers are learning to integrate technology into their classrooms, the most important staff development features include opportunities to explore, reflect, collaborate with peers, work on authentic learning tasks, and engage in active, hands-on learning (Kelley & Ringstaff, 2002; Schacter, 1999).
The ESETT professional development program has four components:
(1) Workshops and Teacher Training Seminars:
- Each ESETT teacher will participate in 65 hours of hands-on seminars, workshops and teacher training sessions including the ESETT Summer Institute.
- Teachers will collaborate in small groups to augment standards-based lessons (using Lesson Builder) that use technology to enhance the district adopted science curriculum.
- During the academic year, teachers will be released to attend full-day professional development sessions where they will work with educational technology resource teachers, and university content experts (from the San Diego Supercomputer Center’s TeacherTech program) in large and small groups to build knowledge and understanding in the integration of technology through standards-based content and pedagogy.
- Site-based learning time and follow-up sessions will be provided for teachers to meet in groups with peers from other participating schools.
(2) Independent Action Research:
- Each ESETT teacher will participate in 40 hours of independent study each year.
- Teachers will be assisted by the educational technology resource teacher in developing annual ESETT Individual Action Plans that outline goals and activities for their independent study. These plans will include experiences for themselves using technology and inquiry-based lessons. As learners in this context, teachers will be able to observe the application of technology and inquiry-based pedagogy in direct support of the district-adopted curriculum.
- Each year teachers will produce an ESETT Individual Action Plan Portfolio that will include items that demonstrate the skills and integration strategies that teachers are using to enhance the adopted curriculum. The portfolios will be assessed against an ESETT rubric as part of the evaluation.
(3) Onsite Capacity Building:
- Teachers will learn to integrate technology into their classroom through professional development opportunities such as exploration, reflection, collaboration with peers, authentic learning tasks, hands-on active learning, planning, and sharing of instructional strategies.
- Each participating school will share an educational technology resource teacher who will provide coaching and support to the participating middle school science teachers.
- Each participating school will have an Lead Teacher, chosen from the school’s science staff, to develop expertise and lead the capacity building at the school site. The Lead Teacher will facilitate on-site support and instruction for effective implementation of technology-based instruction that augments the science curriculum materials.
(4) Professional Learning Communities:
- The Lead Teacher at each school will facilitate the development of a professional learning community in which teachers engage in collaborative planning, development, and sharing of their technology usage to enhance instructional strategies.
- Teachers will spend 20 hours, in the second year, augmenting lesson plans in the Lesson Builder.
- Teachers will regularly discuss their own learning with other teachers and work to translate what they have experienced into effective teaching approaches for students with different backgrounds.
- Each participating middle school will have access to a web-based distance learning application (Moodle) which provides a web portal for the ESETT program. The portal is where teachers can access ESETT professional development information, access rich content resources, participate in electronic collaboration and obtain learning support for district-adopted SALI, CIPS and Holt science curriculum. Teacher resources will include best practice video clips (through online video streaming), lesson building resources, modules for teachers to strengthen technology skills and information on how to set up the technology, materials, and equipment.