Toggle open
Learning Library Blog Lead with instruction — not tools!
Expand breadcrumbs

Lead with instruction — not tools!

By Vanessa Monterosa
June 11, 2019
Leadinstruction Version Id9zq Lc O Op130 Fa A Mb Uo Kz I3sp5 Pyp N Lwo

The districtwide adoption of the ISTE Standards for Students in 2016 supported L.A. Unified School District's  turnaround from tool-driven to leading with instruction.

The Instructional Technology Initiative (ITI), a department within the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Division of Instruction, is focused on providing 21st century professional learning supports across the nation’s second largest school district, which means creating models of supports for 60,000 educators who serve our student body of over 600,000.

The mission of ITI is to lead with instruction, which means strategically selecting digital tools and resources that explicitly connect to established learning goals informed by the ISTE Standards. While the tools leveraged for instruction may vary, the teacher’s role in facilitating, creating and designing the learning environment remains constant.

The nature of ITI’s work within L.A. Unified is interdisciplinary, which calls for a synthesis of rigorous, digital-age instructional frameworks and perspectives to develop and design pedagogical supports for all learners. The following resources guide all ITI efforts:

  • Prosci ADKAR Change Management Model
  • ISTE Standards
  • National Education Technology Plan
  • K-12 Computer Science Framework

To inform professional learning design and development, ITI draws upon a change management framework to build a continuum of supports from individual to cohort-based opportunities.

For example, ITI structures professional learning sessions following a 2+1 Approach, which calls for providing two consecutive days of content and lesson planning and then inviting participants to go back to their classrooms and try out the lesson they planned. Participants are given a week to implement their lesson. During the third session, they reconvene to share how the lesson went with their students and engage in a Critical Friends Protocol, where each participant gives and receives feedback that will refine their lesson.

Using this approach, we are reinforcing the ADKAR Change Management Model to engage educators beyond just awareness of the topic and content covered. The ADKAR Model addresses the following goals for change:

  • Awareness of the need to change
  • Desire to participate and support the change
  • Knowledge of how to change
  • Ability to implement the change
  • Reinforcement to keep the change in place

Change is not immediate; it takes time and is an ongoing process. Through increasing professional learning opportunities and embracing a districtwide culture of exploring and experimenting, the district supports the ability for educators to apply what they have learned. Accepting that this change will require sustained effort and time to implement is critical to the success of an instructional paradigm shift.

To support the processing of content within our professional learning sessions, we use the Adaptive School’s strategy of Triple Track to organize and integrate content. In triple tracking, the emphasis is on the participants’ learning  how it can apply to other adult learners and how it applies in the classroom.

To further support the processing of content, we also layer in Google Apps for Education, which all district educators have access to as an enterprise resource; and then reinforce the same content by integrating Schoology, the district’s learning management system. Through this approach, content is the primary focus and the digital tools are secondary to the learning.

By aligning the district’s professional learning sessions to the ISTE Standards, for instance, learners engage with pedagogical strategies that support the cultivation of students as empowered learners, digital citizens and computational thinkers. The catalog of ITI’s professional learning offerings cover computer science education, digital citizenship and 21st century learning foundations. All professional learning opportunities incorporate the use of digital tools and resources to ensure a relationship between the tool and instruction as informed by the ISTE Standards.

Vanessa Monterosa, Ed.D., is ISTE Digital Citizenship Network co-chair and a program and policy development specialist for the Los Angeles Unified School District. She coordinates digital citizenship efforts and conducts districtwide research and analysis on instructional technology practices.

Learn more about ISTE 2019