Implementation of the 4 Cs at Boerne ISD
At Boerne ISD, transformational change has been a long process. Just like any major change that is intended to be sustainable, the path has not been easy, especially at the beginning stages. Today, Boerne ISD's culture is one of change and high expectations together with low fear of risk-taking, technology-rich instruction and lots of support.
Starting from district leadership, the vision of high quality instruction in a digital learning environment is lived out on a daily basis. District and campus leaders were the first in Boerne ISD to adopt Google Apps for Education, the digital platform chosen by the district. Through modeling, they have set the expectation for all district staff. All teachers and students have GAFE accounts, yet more work needs to be done for a successful implementation.
This implementation is not about technology, though, but about learning in the digital age. District Clarity data shows readiness - optimum levels of access, high foundational skills, strong beliefs and support. Yet the classroom domain is an area that needs attention. Boerne ISD leaders know that their district is not alone; most districts across the state and the nation are in a similar situation. Clarity allows districts to view the quality of their instruction through different lenses - the lenses of digital age learning also known as 21st Century skills.
So the question was, how could the district increase the implementation of 21st Century skills across the curriculum? The superintendent's encouragement to think differently about instruction has given teachers the freedom to take risks. However, those teachers need the time and professional development to learn the techniques, strategies and digital resources to support this transformation.
As a result, high-quality professional development opportunities targeting a digital classroom and instructional design happen in a relaxed and non-threatening environment. Small groups of teachers from each campus - 96 teachers in total - sit on couches with iPads and laptops, having meaningful conversations around communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. Why are these skills so critical? The next step is to create pockets of success that can be replicated at each campus.
Technology is transparent and therefore the question is not teaching content versus teaching technology. Rather, conversations revolve around the possibilities that technology offers for taking good teaching to its highest expression. Examples include elementary students journaling while creating a game for a competition; starting a business and documenting profits and expenditures; blogging about fractions in real life; video chatting. And what else? At lunchtime, teachers sit around with Ed Tech Coaches to brainstorm ideas.
Clarity results are displayed around the room and classified by each of the 4 Cs (communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity). Teachers generate ideas on how to address each of these skills and write them on post-it notes, which they stick by each of the Clarity charts. The rest of the day is spent on the creation of age-appropriate technology-infused lessons that address the 4 Cs. The expectation is to implement the lesson in the spring semester of 2015.
Professional development does not stop at the end of the workshop. On-site, ongoing, just-in-time pedagogical and technical support is provided to each individual teacher by the Educational Technology Coach, resulting in proficiency, self-confidence and successful experiences for teachers and learners.