Students supporting teachers with technology

In Professional Learning, Tools on May 27, 2009 by TIPS Team Tagged: , , ,

How many of us have our students or our own kids teach us about technology?

Reading a great article in the Toronto Star this morning, Tech-savvy teens ‘adopt’ teachers: Students help instructors navigate computer techniques, blogging, multimedia. It talks about how students in a Toronto school are mentoring teachers in their use of technology. It reminds me of the conversation that occurred during the David Warlick PD day in March 2009, where several conference participants weighed in on this topic. Here’s Warlick’s Knitter thread from that day.

Many school districts have adopted the SWAT approach to technology integration. SWAT refers to “Students Willing to Assist with Technology.” A simple google search provides many examples of SWAT Teams in schools. I first read the concept of SWAT in an ASCD’s Educational Leadership, called “Going to One-to-One” by Mark Warschauer. When talking with schools, teachers and admin get excited about this idea, but it can be a challenge to implement.

Aaron Muller, one of our TIPS consultants, provides some simple strategies for putting a SWAT team into place. He successfully created a SWAT team during his time at Glenora School when the school received wireless laptop carts. Teacher anxiety was greatly reduced by having a group of SWAT team members come into their classroom to help them distribute laptops to the kids.

  • Designate a couple of teachers responsible for the SWAT team
  • Similar to how you pick students for AMA Patrol, pick students from a couple of grades (ex. grades 4, 5 and 6).
  • Provide some hands-on training for the students and show them basic troubleshooting (settting up projectors, calibrating SMARTBoards, logging into the network, etc.)
  • Provide a performance-based assessment of their skills – give them a problem and have them try to solve it as a team
  • Provide some kind of “official designation” (i.e., certificate, button, t-shirt) that identifies them as a SWAT member
  • Regularly meet to go over the common or “less-common” issues in classrooms
  • Most importantly, SWAT members come in many different shapes and sizes. Students with special needs (learning, language or behavior) can be great SWAT members and so can younger children.

Make SWAT part of your professional learning plan for your school. Plus it’s a great way of engaging your students.


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