Issue No.:HB20150601E   Date:2015-06-01   Author:Power Wu、 I-Hua Chang   More   News

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The Professional Development of Smarter Teachers , Smarter Teaching Model and the Achievements Thereof

I. Introduction

The path of implementing Smarter Education starts from initiating Smarter Lectures, to training Smarter Teachers, establishing Smarter Classrooms, developing Smarter Schools, and finally Smarter Districts. This process is an operational mechanism in which all components are connected in a hierarchical progression (Fig. 1) (Chang & Wu, 2014). It can also be said that the implementation of Smarter Education requires the “smart power” that involves the soft and hard powers of teachers. Soft power in this case refers to Smarter Teachers, Smarter Models, and Smarter Lectures. Hard power, on the other hand, refers to Smarter Classrooms, Smarter Schools, and Smarter Districts. With the combination of soft and hard powers and “one thousand teachers of talent,” the goal of Smarter Education can be achieved (Chang, 2014). The purpose of “one thousand teachers of talent” is to train one thousand teachers with both soft and hard powers, which are smart power collectively, and to establish one thousand TEAM Model Smarter Classrooms that can benefit more than thirty thousand students.

Fig.1. The path of implementing Smarter Education

The driving force in “one thousand teachers of talent” or even “ten thousand teachers of talent” are professional Smarter Teachers who are able to utilize Smarter Classrooms effectively and extract effective and duplicable Smarter Classroom Innovative Teaching Models (Smarter Models for short), to achieve the paradigm shift of teaching that is student-oriented and implement the ideal of one-on-one teaching.

To effectively utilize Smarter Classrooms, Smarter Teachers have to enhance their professional knowledge through professional development, which is the process in which active educators adjust their teaching according to the needs of the students. In the field of education, it is called “teacher professional development” (Diaz-Maggioli, 2004). The ultimate goal of teacher professional development is the improvement of learning results. With teacher professional development, teachers can have the skills, knowledge, and attitudes for integrating technology (Andrew, Mimi, Lei, Robertshaw, Linda, & Heather, 2012).

II. Definition of Smarter Teacher

Smarter Teachers refer to teachers with appropriate knowledge of ICT who are able to demonstrate lively, interactive, and active teaching to enhance student collaboration by utilizing ICT in the teaching process. At the same time, Smarter Teachers should be able to employ the smart analysis of ICT before, during, and after class to achieve correct, delicate, and improving learning insight, demonstrate Smarter Teaching, and manage lectures in an adaptive and timely manner with appropriate workload (Ho, 2010). More importantly, Smarter Teachers are able to extract Smarter Models by reflecting on the teaching process and gain invaluable practice wisdom. In other words, Smarter Teachers are required to demonstrate Practice wisdom, Intelligence teaching, Collaborative learning, and Knowledge of ICT (the “PICK” elements) to achieve lively, interactive, and active teaching performance, correct, delicate, and improving learning insight, and managing lectures in an adaptive and timely manner with appropriate workload, to obtain the education goals of nurturing talents and fair homogeneity. The core abilities of Smarter Teachers discussed above correspond to the “Elementary and High School Information Literacy Training” and “Elementary and High School Information Technology Integration with Innovative Teaching Models” programs of the Ministry of Education in 2015, the objectives of which focus on improving teachers’ professional skills in information education and encouraging teachers to implement innovative teaching models, which involve training elementary and high school teachers on information literacy to effectively enhance teaching quality and learning results and achieve the goals of implementing innovative information education in teaching (Ministry of Education Department of Information and Technology Education, 2015).

III. Professional Development of Smarter Teachers

In this study, the research team investigated the professional development and innovative teaching models of five Smarter Teachers using semi-structured interviews. Qualitative interview is one of the most widely employed data collection method in social sciences. It focuses on the accounts of feelings, life, and experiences provided by subjects. In the interviews with subjects, researchers are able to obtain, understand, and interpret the perception of social facts of the subjects (Lin, Yen, & Chen, 2005). The five Smarter Teachers in this study (coded A, B, C, D, and E) teach at Shuangyuan Elementary School (A), National Taipei University of Education Experimental Elementary School (B and C), NanGang Elementary School (D), and Jin-Hua Elementary School (E). With in-depth interviews, the researchers were able to understand the professional development of Smarter Teachers and innovative teaching models and the results thereof.

1.Establishing Community for Teachers’ Professional Learning

By establishing on-campus professional communities and facilitating professional conversations, feedback, and reflections among members, teachers can develop professionally.

I think the most basic part about joining the teachers’ professional learning community is to share experiences and feedback with members in the community, which allows me to reflect on my effectiveness and the effectiveness of the group. Therefore, I think it is good to join the teachers’ professional learning community. It would be even better to participate in teachers’ professional learning programs, if teachers have time. (2014/12/11, interview with teacher E, 35-35)

In fact, teachers’ professional communities exist in every school. Our main objective is…We worked on a single objective at first. We held technology and network as the main objective of our community. Then we moved on to returning discipline meetings to conversations in the professional discipline… In discipline meetings, we assign topics, and teachers have to make plans before each discipline conversation takes place. (2014/11/27, interview with teacher D, 43-43)

It is probably impossible to do it on my own, so I established a professional community. My school has another professional community project from the Ministry of Education. However, our professional community for Smarter Classroom is different from the one with the school. This is an independent one that I set up. I put some thoughts into setting up this community for discussions and observations. We call this community the IPAD team, or the IPAD community. Members of the community recording my lectures for me, so that I can see my weaknesses. (2014/12/01, interview with teacher B, 25-25)

The professional communities at my school are developing very well. There are ten professional communities based on teachers’ interests and goals… My community meet once a month. With long-term projects and annual community demonstrations, members of the community utilize this mechanism to execute projects that that think help their professional development. The topics of my community are technology and thinking, and therefore, our annual focus is developing action research. (2014/11/28, interview with teacher C, 27-27)

With professional learning communities, members can expand their professional knowledge through professional conversations, experience exchange, information sharing, and model learning. (2014/11/21, interview with teacher A, 25-25)

2.Action Research of Education Research

Teachers’ professional abilities can be enhanced through research projects and on-campus teaching research, action research, and teaching seminars.

Teaching results are assessed via research projects or more rigorous processes of teaching. We have partners in Smarter Classroom, and we work on improvement in teaching and teaching research. We improve professional abilities with teaching research. (2014/11/27, interview with teacher D, 33-33, 35-35)

We work on action research and course development because action research is both a motive and a source of pressure. It encourages you to do research and improve on your work. You will try and teach, and then you can see what does not work. We ran a research a while ago. We actually entered it into the action research competition in its second year because after the first year, we revised the teaching materials for the sixth grade and applied the materials to the students of the following year. (2014/12/01, interview with teacher B, 25-25)

In terms of Smarter Classroom, community members can start together with learning basic functionalities and then prepare for courses, discuss teaching models, and develop Smarter Teaching together. They can also solve and overcome hardware contingencies as they support each other. (2014/11/21, interview with teacher A, 25-25)

In the past when I taught a class, I did research with teachers from the community. We discovered well-designed model through action study to help our teaching. Now, I am head of the research section at the school. It is different because now the work I do is to develop courses for the school based on past experiences to guide and help teachers of the school. (2014/11/28, interview with teacher C, 25-25)

3.Smarter Classroom Workshop and Observation

Teachers can enhance their professional abilities by participating in Smarter Classroom workshops on- and off-campus and by observing teaching activities of other teachers.

I actively participate in various workshops. I go to all Smarter Classroom workshops. I even cancel engagements to attend them on holidays. I do this to learn more, and as I learn more, I discover the wonderful results other teachers have enjoyed. Then I feel more encouraged to train and apply my abilities to my students and help them achieve better results. I feel that I keep an open mind, and I am determined to always get the most out of every workshop I attend.(2014/12/11, interview with teacher E, 35-35)

This kind of workshops are further training. We have them on- and off-campus. It depends, however. As a full-time teacher, I have 20 classes a week. Some workshops require rescheduling classes. Some teachers do not allow rescheduling, in which case I cannot go. Fortunately, we have many online courses available now. (2014/12/01, interview with teacher B, 27-27)

Observing teaching activities is actually the fastest way because we can see how others apply their abilities. However, we have to know the basics beforehand so that we can think about the weaknesses in our own teaching. Then we discover possibilities through observation. (2014/11/27, interview with teacher D, 31-31)

I think we can attend workshops at NanGang Elementary, XingAn Elementary, National Taipei University of Education Experimental Elementary School, and even junior high schools. I was at a workshop at National Taipei University of Education. This kind of workshops, public observations, and demonstrations offer many successful models for Smarter Classroom. (2014/12/11, interview with teacher E, 35-35)

Ways for Smarter Teachers’ professional development also include reading books and periodicals, professional certification, course reflections, peer discussions, and school-business partnerships.

IV. Smarter Models for Smarter Teachers

1. “Preview and Review” Smarter Model

Weekly progress is planned based on the course of a semester, and preview and review contents are planned based on the progress of the course. Then, questions are formulated based on course content. To avoid affecting the schedule for normal teaching activities, two or three preview questions and two to three review questions are planned for each session for only three to five minutes, so that students’ preview and review results can be assessed in a short period of time. Teacher A’s “preview and review” innovative teaching model is shown in Fig. 2 (Wu, Chang, Hsu, Wu, & Wang, 2012)

Fig.2.“Preview and Review” Smarter Model

2.“Golden Triangle of Thinking” Smarter Model (in the case of the subject of mathematics)

Teacher C believed that to successfully integrate teaching technology into lectures, teachers have to understand the features of each technological application in Smarter Classroom. For student tablets, to realize student-oriented learning results, course design should be able to allow students their chance to voice their opinions in the different processes of teaching. Student tablets, in particular, enables personalized and adaptive learning for each student while increasing willingness to learn by facilitating work sharing for peer discussions and learning from each other. Teacher C’s student tablet model is based on the “golden triangle of thinking” (Fig. 3) as core philosophy. She believed that as technology enters teaching, it has to play critical roles in various learning processes (Wu, 2012).

Fig.3. “Golden Triangle of Thinking”

The “golden triangle of thinking” is student-oriented and emphasizes encouraging active thinking in students. It utilizes technology to constantly allow students’ thoughts to be seen and then expand, transform, and apply these thoughts. Teacher C used student tablets in Chinese, math, and integrative activities. In math class, she designed an innovative teaching model (Fig. 4) for the “map and proportional scale” portion of the class.

Fig. 4.“Golden Triangle of Thinking” Smarter Model

3.“6E Inquiry” Smarter Model

Teacher B pointed out that “Schools implement Smarter Lecture largely in two ways - teacher-guided and community-assisted. In the teacher-guided approach, we establish two Smarter Classrooms for experiments conducted by two outstanding teachers. Other teachers then improve their teaching based on the experiences of the two teachers.” The “6E Inquiry” teaching model (Fig. 5) developed by Teacher B was based on the 5E teaching system - adopting its actively constructive spirit and incorporating the inquiry teaching method, which is commonly used in social disciplines. In this process, students are guided to analyze, organize, assess, perform divergent thinking, reflect, apply, and accomplish problem-solving, which are learning that require higher-level thinking. Students thus become active learners, and teaching and learning results are improved (Chang et al., 2014).

Fig. 5. The “6E Inquiry”

4.“Discussion-inspiring” Smarter Model

Teacher C and colleagues developed the “discussion-inspiring” smarter model with “incorporating information technology into the discussion method for math teaching” as a research topic (Fig. 6). The main purposes of this model are to develop a teaching model that incorporates information technology into the discussion method for math teaching, making the discussion method for math teaching more systematic and structured, and lowering learning difficulties.

Fig. 6. “Discussion-inspiring” smarter model.

By applying the teaching model, effective classroom discussion can be conducted, and the effectiveness, interests, and participation of the learning of fraction multiplication and division can be enhanced. The implementation and revision of the model guides the systemization of the discussion process, which serves as reference for teachers. Teacher C conducted discussion-inspiring teaching model, experience model development, teaching practice, and result analysis using action research, which systemized the teaching process and transformed it into a dispersible teaching model. Research results showed that (1) by developing the discussion-inspiring teaching model and analyzing teaching process to discover the pattern for driving discussions, the results are more valuable, (2) applying the discussion-inspiring teaching model in teaching effectively improved students math learning results, and (3) applying the discussion-inspiring teaching model in teaching effectively improved students’ attitude toward studying math. The cost-effectiveness analysis for the discussion-inspiring teaching model is as follows: 1. Convenience: The teacher only has to organize questions to collect students’ ideas, use statistics to incite discussions, “show response” to help discussions find foci, and finally re-organize questions to assess learning results. This process is simple, compatible with the simplest lectures, able to be applied continuously, and capable of collecting information on student learning progress without changing too much teaching practice. 2. Effectiveness: The purpose of the design of this model is to use simple functions to create meaningful results in critical teaching activities. For instance: Before a discussion, statistics help the class choose a scenario and incite further discussion. During discussion, “show response” help students pose more concrete questions to each other and understand each other better. After discussion, statistics graphics from a previous quiz can be used in comparison to discover how ideas have changed. The features of technology can thusly be used to create the best possible teaching results in critical activities. 3. Intelligence: “Change of ideas” in the statistics graphics of multiple quizzes can be used to incite discussion and as a criterion for whether a consensus is reached. Effectively using the computing power of technology can offer technological scaffolding that furthers teaching (Teacher C et al., 2014).

V. Verification of the Results of Smarter Models

1. Verification of the Results of the “Preview and Review” Smarter Model

With the statistics in the IRS system, teachers can keep track of students’ understanding of previously-taught content and also gain insight into where emphasis should be placed in future classes (see Fig. 8-10). Therefore, teachers can readily adjust the depth and pacing of teaching materials, which helps improve the effectiveness of teaching activities. In addition, after teaching activities, recorded data are uploaded to clouDAS(cloud-computing diagnosing & analyzing service) for group and individual performance diagnosis, the results of which are presented in elaborated graphics. Teachers are able to understand the learning progress of whole classes and the appropriateness of questions, while students and parents are able to understand strengths and weaknesses in learning with individual student reports. The innovative teaching model with preview and review offers students and teachers tremendous help. Teacher A stated that “For students, with the quizzes, they have read the materials and can understand the teacher when in class. If they have questions about the preview content, they can raise them in class. For teachers, because students have previewed the material, they do not have to place much emphasis on facts that should be memorized. Teachers can then use the time thusly saved to tackle questions of application and understanding to help students better understand concepts. This is a more efficient and more effective way of teaching” (Wu, 2012).

2. Verification of the Results of the “Golden Triangle of Thinking” Smarter Model (in the case of the subject of mathematics)

Raising questions can help students establish concepts. Using buzz-in activities in peer competition can encourage students to express their opinions and can enhance students’ concentration and participation. Example practice can help students apply classroom knowledge to real life situations. After-class evaluation and diagnosis can assess learning results and clarify incorrect concepts in a timely manner. According to Teacher C, “As technology enters the classroom, it should help us see what was concealed from us. To achieve this goal, teachers play an important role. Good teaching designs and appropriate application of knowledge can truly help us improve students’ learning.” Indeed, with the convenient, effective, and intelligent Student Tablet Smarter Classroom, Teacher C refined her innovative teaching model and developed the core value of applying technology to education. Moreover, only with student tablet technology combined with teachers’innovative teaching models can the student-oriented value of “golden triangle of thinking” be realized. Teachers can thus see what they could not and effectively improve teaching quality and learning results (Wu et al, 2012).

3. Verification of the Results of the “6E Inquiry” Smarter Model

Teacher B raises questions based on past experiences at the beginning of class and uses HiLearning to collect student opinions and incite their interest in learning. After Teacher B guided students in understanding main concepts, Teacher B uses IRS to assess students’ understanding. With statistics, students of diverse opinions can express their reasoning, and concepts are clarifies through conversation between the teacher and the student and among students. Next, inquiries are pushed to students, who think independently on their tablets, write down their ideas, then bring those ideas to their groups for group discussions and group learning. After groups complete their discussions, they demonstrate their conclusions on the stage. The groups then revise their conclusions based on feedback from the teacher and other students, thus improving learning results. Lastly, students are guided to reflect on the content of the class. The teacher and students construct new understanding through questions and answers then use it in real-life situations. Teacher B further pointed out that the application of information has to be based on deep thinking and creative, organic courses, so as to maximize its effectiveness. With systems like HiTeach and HiLearning, students evolve from passive receivers of knowledge into active learning thinkers, and teachers can obtain the goal of student-oriented education (Chang et al., 2014).

4. Verification of the Results of the “Discussion-inspiring” Smarter Model

Teacher C pointed out that the discussion-inspiring teaching model has the following effects: (1) Instigating cognitive conflict and inciting the motivation to participate in discussions: In this teaching model, inciting motivation to participate in discussions is the goal of the teacher. Options involving misconceptions are included in the teaching material design to discover student misconceptions. The best timing for discussion is when statistics show “multiple choices.” Using the teaching cycle of “statistics - sharing ideas - new statistics - reasons for change,” students are guided to constantly compare their ideas and others’ and reflect on the change of their ideas. The highest motivation for discussion occurs when students engage in reflecting on the discussion process. (2) Flexible teaching strategy for diverse discussion foci: In the “collecting ideas” process, the teacher does not always have to prepare options for students to select. Different teaching strategies can be utilized to create diverse discussion foci. For instance, different types of problem-solving processes can be selected from student answers for designing discussion tasks. Alternatively, students can select the same type of problem-solving as their own via IRS for discussion. Students can select incorrect submissions via IRS for discussion. Students can also select the “fastest problem-solving” via IRS for discussion. The options go on. Based on teaching objectives, diverse discussion foci can be created using task design based on collected ideas. (3) Guidance strategy after statistics is key to guiding discussion conclusions: Technology helps is see students ideas, yet guiding discussions after seeing those ideas is critical in the change in students’ conception. In terms of classroom atmosphere, teachers have to create a warm and safe discussion scenario to guide students to regard mistakes as opportunities for discussion without withholding ideas for fear of making mistakes. In terms of brainstorming, teachers have to refrain from value judgment and allow each student their opportunity to think. Teachers should also lead the class to more in-depth discussions with a guidance strategy of acknowledgement, reiteration, inquiry, and induction. (4) The “re-selection”design shows the change in students’ ideas: When discussion was used in teaching in the past, it was difficult for teachers to determine whether students have actually understood concepts after discussions and thus achieving the goal of discussion. Technology now offers a record of multiple quizzes, which in combination with the “re-selection” design, allows teachers to keep track of students change in ideas, by which students also clarify their own ideas. It is also a key strategy that helps clarifying concepts, forming consensus, and reaching conclusions during group discussions. (5) “See students’thinking - make teaching decisions” is a dynamic evaluation process: Students’learning is a changing process. In the past, it was difficult to see the change in each process. Now, each step in the “discussion-inspiring” teaching model is an assessment of students’ learning progress. With assistive technology, teachers simply see students’ thinking, then guide discussions in accordance with teaching objectives based on diagnostic reports. This is a real process of dynamic evaluation. It helps discussions to be more focused and more efficient while helping teachers to effectively diagnose students’ changes. Students are also able to understand their own changes in learning, allowing the thinking of the learning process a clearer presentation. This shows one of the most valuable aspects of Smarter Models (Teacher C et al., 2014).

VI. Conclusions

The main purposes of this study are investigating the application of Smarter Classrooms by teachers, experience the professional development of teachers, extracting effective Smarter Models, creating more ideal Smarter Lectures, and obtaining duplicable and dispersible models. In the following, the summary of the results of Smarter Lectures, teachers’professional development, and Smarter Models are discussed in the aspects of teaching demonstration, learning insight, and lecture adaptability (Fig. 7):

Fig. 7. Smarter Lectures

(1) The Results of Teaching Demonstration

Liveliness, interactivity, and activeness are the representations of the teaching demonstration of a lecture. Smarter Teachers utilize the Smarter Models they extract to create lectures that meet these three criteria, liven the classroom, and enhance the learning and collaboration among students. For instance, Teacher C’s “discussion-inspiring” Smarter Model utilizes technology to provide thoroughly lively lectures. Students use the IRS to achieve the range (simultaneous participants) and speed (real-time access) of interactivity. The statistics functions can further incite active motivation for discussion. These are the most significant benefits of Smarter Models for teaching demonstration.

(2) The Results of Learning Insight

Correctness, delicacy, and improvement are the three abilities of a teacher in learning insight. This is a challenge for Smarter Teachers in one-on-many lectures. Smarter teachers can gain better insight into students’ learning progress with the help of Smarter Classroom systems. For instance, in Teacher A’s “preview and review” Smarter Model, teachers have access to correct students’ progress on preview and review based on the contents in the previous class and in the assigned preview. The statistics of the progress can be used for delicate explanations and evaluation while helping to delicately adjust the depth and range of a lecture. With the accumulated Big Data on student evaluations, teachers conduct learning diagnoses for students for improving students’ learning.

(3) The Results of Lecture Adaptability

Adaptability, timeliness, and appropriate workload are three elements in the implementation of adaptive teaching, which when put into terms of classroom teaching, is a teacher’s lecture adaptability. It is also a key to demonstrating smart generative lectures. For instance, in Teacher C’s “golden triangle of thinking” Smarter Model, heterogeneous grouping is used in group learning to enhance lecture adaptability and allow students to exercise their diverse abilities. Teachers use Smarter Classroom evaluation and interactive statistics functions to adjust questions and allow student participation to demonstrate the adaptability of appropriate workload. The demonstration of the adaptability of timeliness can be seen when students' thinking is seen by teachers and other students, teachers guide students to expand, transform, and apply their ideas in a timely manner.


Author Info

Wu, Chuan-Wei (Power Wu)
Founder and chairman of HABOOK Information Technology. He specializes in educational technology and educational system development. He founded the international “TEAM Model” smart classroom brand and system with which he successfully established large-scale smart education experimental model schools and smart education model school districts. His practical and academic experience of over 20 years in elementary school and normal university has resulted in works includingSmarter Education: Vision & Practice and over one hundred books on computer and information. He is passionate for education and aims at helping teachers realize their ideals and create new possibilities for education. Professor Wu is currently an executive director at Taiwan Technology Leadership and Instructional Technology Development Association, secretary-general at Smarter Education District Alliance, and visiting professor at Beijing Institute of Education and Chengdu Normal University.
Chang, I-Hua (Eric Chang)
Doctor of educational leadership and policy analysis and master of information science and learning technology from University of Missouri–Columbia. His specialties include principal technology leadership and management, smart classroom and innovation diffusion, principal in data-driven decision making, and teacher academic optimism and influences. His works include School Technology Leadership and Management,Smarter Education: Vision & Practice、and over one hundred papers in local and international journals and seminars (inducing SSCI and TSSCI). Dr. Chang is currently a full-time professor at National Chengchi University Department of Education and director at Taiwan Technology Leadership and Instructional Technology Development Association.

Further Reading

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