Meeting the “So What?” Test

20In my Curriculum and Instruction course for mostly seniors in education at New England College, I have coined a phrase (likely borrowed from Grant Wiggins and/or Jay McTighe) which is used to test any part of the instructional planning process. Does your favorite lesson relate to the goals of your unit? Did you develop a performance task just for the sake of impressing your students and showing them how clever you are? So what? 

I’ve been reflecting on the appropriate use of technology in my school while always placing the “So What” test front and center. I have a wonderfully competent staff at Harold Martin School and they are generally very willing to try new ideas and take risks. But I am well aware that if a new initiative is proposed, there better be a good reason for it. 

This year I have entered into a collegial partnership with Nancy Alibrandi, our Media Specialist, in exploring the richness of Wed 2.0. Both of us have started blogs, we are regular podcasters, and we are experimenting with wikis with the goal of introducing them to our staff. We are building our networks on Twitter and have already made wonderful connections with like-minded educators throughout the world. This is in addition to our work on digital portfolios which has had numerous advantages for technology throughout our district. As a part-time musician, I have enjoyed the fruits of digital recording and I am a bit of a Mac fanatic as well.

Yet,  how much of this technology is a love for its “wow factor”? Am I certain that my passion for technology will inspire others to use it to improve their instruction and therefore enhance student achievement? Or do I simply love gadgets? It likely comes down to  needing to siphon the fun from the function. Thankfully, the two often intersect. 

I will continue to apply the “So What Test” to balance my love for cool technology with what is truly useful for teachers and students. In the meantime, excuse me while I check my recent Tweets on my iPod Touch, edit a podcast in Garageband, and then touch up a digital pic in Aperture.

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