Monday, 20 February 2012

How to Make Technology in the Classroom

The ISTE Classroom Observation Tool (ICOT) is an observation tool developed by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The association’s purpose is to engage in advancing excellence in learning and teaching through technology. The association is also responsible for developing the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for students, teachers, and administrators. The classroom observation tool was designed to evaluate the amount of technology being used in the classroom as well as its effective use based on the NETS.

Why use ICOT as an Observation Tool?

There are several good reasons for using an observation tool such as ICOT to evaluate the effective use of technology in the classroom. The authors report that technology spending in education will reach $56 billion by 2012. A final reason for using such technology to evaluate the use of technology in the classroom is for administrators to better prepare and plan professional development for teachers in the use of technology. The components of the ICOT instrument consist of setting, groups, activities, technology, NETS, and charts. The technology component is the meat of the observation tool. The NETS component reports on what teacher or student standards are being taught or used during the lesson.


For the practical purposes of this article the writer used the ICOT instrument to observer a fifth grade teacher at the writer’s school. The teacher is a fifth year teacher who has taught traditional classes as well as boys’ single gender classes. There are five fifth grade classes containing approximately 23 students per class. Teachers are encouraged to engage students in the use of technology at least on a daily basis.

There were 23 students in the classroom at the time. Each student had their own lap top computer provided by the school. Students were creating, researching, collaborating during the lesson. Second, the teacher created a developmentally appropriate learning activity for fifth grade boys. Third, the technology used during the lesson enhanced instruction. Fourth, the technology supported learner-centered strategies. Fifth, the teacher applied technology to develop students’ creativity. Finally, the teacher modeled legal and ethical technology practices by using the interactive board to show examples.

ICOT is a useful tool for administrators to safely document the effective use of technology in the classroom. The tool allows educators to observe technology being used by both students and teachers based on the NETS. Many general classroom observation tools touch on technology in the classroom, but very few if any go in to as much detail as the ICOT does. As administrators observe in classrooms and upload data to the website, district administrators can generate and view reports that can guide professional development and future purchases.

Effective Classroom Management

Let's not also forget that a large proportion of pupils in our classes are EBD, ADHD or on the autistic spectrum and as such, have a genuine need for unambiguous, precise instructions.

The following example illustrates this need perfectly:

At the first EBD centre I taught in, the pupils (11-14yrs) were allowed on the yard at break to play football.

The instructions, which sound incredibly pedantic, broke the short 200 yard journey into very small segments and went something like this...

(wait for them to stand in silence before giving next instruction) "Walk across the hall to the fire door and wait in line." "Go though the doors and walk down the corridor to the outside doors. Here's another example to show how vague instructions are such a waste of time...

On the way back from the yard at break one day, Mark was deliberately lagging behind, bouncing the football.

"Come on Mark, quick... Hurry up Mark, lessons have started... Mark! Break's over Mark!... Quickly Mark!... Mark!... Mark then proceeded to enjoy the undivided attention of two members of staff as they altered their approach from friendly cajoling and encouragement to aggressive shouting and frustrated threats. Had the teacher altered her instruction slightly at the beginning, the situation could have been very different. "Mark break is over.

Collier, S., Weinburgh, M. H., & Rivera, M. (2004). Infusing technology skills into a teacher education program: Change in students’ knowledge about and use of technology. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 12(3), 447-468.

Moskowitz, S. & Martabano, S. (2009). Administrators accessing the effectiveness of technology. Retrieved from

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