Technology and Curriculum: A Local GT/GA Inspired Plan
Introduction: A GT/GA Inspired Secondary School Technology Plan
A) Planning Team
· Advisory Committee (including: administrators, teachers, students, parents)-Creating this team is essential as they will decide procedures
for the upkeep and maintenance of the system as well as how to integrate curriculum and learning into the system’s present
and future design. One thing to remember: The incorporation of technology must be practically based. Technology is easily
abused at under-performing schools. It should not be used without proper research justifying its use, and its expense must
be weighed against the learning expectations that are derived in the school’s “guiding principles."
· Questions the Committee Must Answer-This list of questions should be used to help guide the development process: 1) What will teachers
have in their rooms and how will it be used?, 2) How many public places will be made available and how will they be used and
up kept?, 3) How will technology be integrated into curricula and learning models?, 4) How will hardware and software be maintained?,
5) How will instructors be trained?, and 6) What are the future plans for technology?
C) Current Status and Direction
· Current Status of System and Systemic Considerations-The A/C should find out what is being
used and by whom. They should also focus on what the system can actually achieve.
· Future Points of Realization (general)-The A/C should ascertain how the system will utilize
technology in the future.
· Guiding Principles (practical and theoretical)-The A/C should recognize the importance of clear
principles of guidance that will direct the school’s ultimate vision.
· Timeframe and General Outline (to be financially rectified at a later date)-The A/C will
create a general outline which includes timelines. This document if only a starting point; it should, however, be finalized
within two months.
· Grounded Action Research Committee-This committee is separate from the Advisory Committee and should be comprised of at least two experts
· Leadership Team, Protocols, and Continuous Data Collection and Review-The Leadership Team should be comprised
of a group of master teachers who will, with the help of the Research Committee,
review the results of the research and begin to facilitate voluntary “grounded protocols” to the staff members.
The results should be incorporated in the school’s final yearly technology plan.
D) Strategies for Improved Instruction
· Curriculum and Instruction-This is a key element that should include all three committees’ input. The question is: How will
technology support what is learned and how it is learned?
· Professional Development through Scholarship (protocols: individual and, eventually, departmental)-This concerns how and where the grounded protocols
will be applied.
E) Institutional Realities: Final STP
· Technology Maintenance and Upkeep-The final draft of the STP will include how to achieve
· Fiscal Limits, Budget and Timeline-The final STP must have real numbers for the first, second,
and third years of the plan.
B. A GT/GA Inspired Secondary School Technology Plan
Grounded Action and the Use of Protocols to Guide Reform
Let me start by saying that I did not foresee developing a GA
inspired plan for instruction at the outset of this project, but my work in the GT/GA
group has definitely influenced my thinking. I believe that I have lacked, up until now, a process that could guide transformations
through the use of empirical evidence. In GT, data is king, and more often than
not the kingdoms of public schools respect little existing local evidence in the changes they institute; often times driving
in the blind. It seems that schools rarely see the patterns of dysfunction that dictate their failures. As Glaser (1978) notes,
“The goal of grounded theory is to generate a theory that accounts for a pattern of human behavior which is relevant
and problematic for those involved” (p. 93).
As I began to understand how GT works and how GA could benefit schools like the one I worked at for seven years, a rudimentary plan began to germinate.
I envisioned a school that accepts the precept that the social and political components in school systems are highly charged
elements and susceptible to great fluctuations and that these variations should not be dismissed off-hand or ignored, they
should be identified, studied, and operational theories
expounded about how best to transform them. It’s important to note that not all of these variations are negative, for
instance if one category of interest was the success of a certain demographic, then a school could study its positive attributes
and search for the “core variable” that best defines its essence and then propose an operational theory as a guide
for systemic modifications that could be reviewed, at regular periods, through application of new data, and re-conceptualized
if necessary. I’d like to suggest what I feel is a practical way to incorporate the processes of continual modification
at a school site suffering from the systemic pressures of operating well below the state’s middle-range in terms of
academic achievement. I propose to accomplish this task by focusing on analyzing indicators and creating changes based on
increased awareness by key players. As Simmons & Gregory (2003) maintain:
Proposed solutions to complex problems must directly address the full complexity of the social systems
and organizations within which they exist, including the likely consequences of actions. And importantly, they must include
an understanding of the factors that promote, inhibit, and prohibit change (P. 4).
Public schools in California continue to struggle. A growing population of foreign students along with an existing
population of under-performers continues to stretch the system resources to its extremes.
A recent Rand study notes:
The combination of a student population with relatively great needs, relatively low funding levels,
and relatively inadequate resources, may have contributed to California’s comparatively low
levels of student academic achievement (p. 28).
Moreover, to earn a school score of 4 on the California State API (Academic Performance Index) is
to be below the state average on all standardized tests. This is the case at all three public high schools in the Vallejo
City Unified School Distinct where I worked for seven years. Although it can be argued that these tests are unfair and contain
bias, it is apparent that these low scores reflect the volatility of staffing at these schools where, for the last five years,
on average about 20% of teachers are either new or in their second year. This type of rampant
turnover points to a system in flux, unable to keep and attract quality professionals. In my opinion, this statistic, in and
of itself, is enough to warrant a system evaluation and analysis, and that is where my plan begins. It is important to note
that this plan is targeted to schools like these as it is easy to employ, inexpensive, and requires little training (except
for the GT analysts). My experience tells me that for a program to be efficient
at this level it must be something that can be managed without great expenditure of time and effort.
By moving past the discussion arguing whether the school needs to change, and it is, believe it or
not, still an argument that many key players want to pursue, I claim that any school with failure this deeply ingrained must
endeavor to improve. But in order to improve, a different approach to change must be utilized and this is where I believe
that my experience working in a dysfunctional system is critical to my approach.
The GT/GA Component of
The technology plan I’ve devised incorporates and embeds a GT/GA
component into the procedure. These are the steps for that component:
1. An advisory committee is chosen to represent teachers, administrators, students
and the community.
2. All pertinent data concerning the school for the last five years is disaggregated
and reduced into a paper outlining the schools strengths and weaknesses and a quantitative analysis (foundation) is prepared
for later comparison.
3. The School Technology Plan (timeframe and outline) is ratified by the above committee and in the plan a school-wide information network
is targeted for completion. This network is a key component because it will enable the school to ask for and collect data
quickly. These data can help with in-year modifications.
4. A research committee is chosen.
5. The school prepares a study the using GT/GA
with a possible grand tour question of “What are your experiences with technology on campus?” This could eventually
lead to a narrowing of questions of which some would be more specific.
6. The data is compiled and analyzed with the core variable and pertinent categories
discussed by the learning community. Once again, communication technologies make it easy for dynamic forums to be devised
using email, conference calling, and traditional meetings highlighted by interactive presentations.
7. An explanatory theory and an operational theory are created and a plan of action
formulated. The action is systematic and measurable. Teachers are given time to explore their responsibilities regarding the
changes and experts are made available to help them. Problems are dealt with as they are encountered because a group of operational
catalysts are scheduled to observe instruction on a daily basis. Technology allows
them to post their finding on the school’s website for instant dialogue.
8. Teacher protocols are administered using a GI/GP
inspired method and a dynamic process of community-interchange is created.
9. Qualitative and quantitative data are gathered and the information is combined when
feasible. Some data is acquired through the use of internet surveys and interviews that are conducted at regular interviews.
These results are also shared with the learning community.
10. The process becomes an integral part of an ever-changing system and is refined as time passes and
more specific situations arise. It succeeds because it empowers through empirical study; it resonates with the learning community
because it confirms the power of analysis to all members. In fact, the process is itself a learning module as students who
are engaged in its function are learning important social dynamics.