This blog first appeared here.
By: Stephanee Stephens
The Vanguard Team Supports Innovative Instruction with Technology in Fulton County Schools-Atlanta, Georgia
The Vanguard Team is a group of elite teachers, media and educational technology instructors, and district/ school leaders who have mastered the art of technology use with classroom instruction. As technology innovators, they build the foundation for Fulton’s technology strategic initiative which is to, “ensure student access to technologies that support innovative instruction”. Vanguard teachers are banding together to gain perspective, fellowship, and training to make this vision a reality in all schools and for all students. This team is supported by Hoke Wilcox, Director of Instructional Technology, and the members of the Instructional Technology Department.
The current Vanguard Team is 75 members strong, and the goal is to grow the group to 400 in the coming years. Above all, the Vanguard Team members will understand that technology is just a tool, and must be used to support world-class instructional practices. The new Vanguard Team members will be provided with tools and specific professional development during the 2014-15 school year focusing on developing transformational, personalized learning experiences for our students while learning about effective coaching strategies. In return, all members will provide professional development and coaching to schools across Fulton County. The first two days of professional development occurred June 24-25 at the Georgia Tech Research Institute. The first day involved collaboration with Georgia Tech Research Institute researcher Jessica Pater to roadmap the development of Digital Citizenship training and lessons for educators in our district. The next day served as a ‘micro-conference’, offering personalized access to innovative leaders. Empowering our own to build the capacity in others has been powerful, and the best is yet to come.
Using technology to organize, personalize and create, teachers and students are interacting on a level like never before. Tools like Skype and Twitter have broken down the brick and mortar of traditional classrooms and are allowing students to communicate and collaborate with other students and professionals globally. Teachers are using tools like Edmodo, Edgenuity, Blendspace, Gaggle and others to post assignments, hold class discussions, and facilitate learning as a continuum, rather than an event that can only take place in a traditional setting. This type of Blended Learning approach allows for the type of personalization that we know has a great impact on achievement. Students are becoming curators of content;,creating digital stories, micro-blogging, and interacting with primary source materials as a part of regular instruction. With the expansion of The Vanguard Team, Fulton County is set to become a district rich with leaders and innovators, and a flagship for personalized learning.
Tom spent a day with the Fulton Vanguard teachers last week and found the district initiative a great example of identifying and supporting teacher leaders
Stephanee Stephens is the instructional technology program specialist at Fulton Count Schools. Find her on Twitter at @StephSteph83.