Technology Coach Focuses On Learning

Learning is Starting Point for Infusing Technology
Posted on 11/29/2017
Ronit Shapiro is the district's first Instructional Technology CoachMotivating students to write, finding ways for students to share their thinking and structuring classroom time around research projects are typical challenges for elementary classroom teachers.

But why would a technology coach want to address these challenges?
For District 28’s new elementary instructional technology coach, these challenges are her inspiration. Technology ‘coaching’ never starts with the tools; it starts with the learning objectives, says Ronit Shapiro, who is the first person to assume the title of District 28 Elementary Instructional Technology Coach.

Mrs. Shapiro will spend a few hours each week over four to six weeks helping teachers enhance student learning. The position was added this year to provide teachers support they need to try something new. Mrs. Shapiro makes sure the learning objectives come before the technology.

Jeri Hart, a fourth-grade teacher at Greenbriar School, turned to Mrs. Shapiro to help with a “Wonder Workshop” research project. “Ronit was willing to spend time bouncing ideas around and deciding where to go after each lesson,” Ms. Hart said. Shapiro helped connect students with outside experts to interview and showed the students a variety of tools to use to present their work.

Debra Klarfeld, a second-grade teacher at Meadowbrook School, set up Seesaw digital portfolios for each of her students so they could share their thinking with their parents during conferences.

Mrs. Klarfeld, who calls Mrs. Shapiro her “guardian tech angel,” said having the support in the classroom while establishing Seesaw accounts made the project a reality. “The kids take pride in their work. They’re confident, and they’re able to talk about it with their parents,” Mrs. Klarfeld said.

Michele Anderson, a second-grade teacher at Westmoor, said getting her students to write in their notebooks was a challenge – they didn’t know what to write. So, she enlisted Mrs. Shapiro’s help to set up student blogs.

“It’s writing that has extended beyond our classroom, and that makes them take it more seriously,” Mrs. Anderson said. And, when they’re engaged with the task, they learn keyboarding at the same time they’re thinking about their writing.

“If they write a book review and we Tweet it out to a real author and the author sees it, how cool is that?” Mrs. Shapiro said. “The realness of technology is motivating, and if that’s how we start – that we want kids engaged -- then they are capable of doing so much more later on.”

After just a few months in her new role, Mrs. Shapiro says it's a perfect fit. She has a master’s degree in instructional technology and was a classroom teacher for four years.

“I would love for everyone to get to practice and see the best use of instructional technology is focused on student learning,” she said.

Ronit Shapiro works with students in Ms. Harts classroom