Perspectives from the Field: Helping Teachers in Your School Use PowerUp

Harry Greenwald has worked in the Passaic Public Schools for 16 years. He has been the school technology coordinator at Martin Luther King Jr. Public School 6 since 2000 and participated in the original piloting of PowerUp What Works since its launch in Passaic in 2011. As technology coordinator, Harry leads instruction of students in the school computer lab and also supports teachers at his school in the use of technologies in their daily teaching. Prior to entering work as a public school teacher, Harry was an adult educator for many years.

This is his first guest appearance on the Tech Matters Blog.

How do you help teachers learn about PowerUp What Works in your school?

I have been a part of the PowerUp What Works pilot program for three years. I have seen an unbelievable evolution of both concept and content.

I believe that the product that is now available can be a very useful tool for teachers. To better understand this statement, one has to realize that our classrooms are programmed: 90 minutes of English-language arts, done to a specific time frame schedule, 60 minutes of math done exactly the same way, etc. This leaves the teacher with limited time for creative teaching, except within the confines outlined for them.

PowerUp What Works is an excellent resource for teachers. How do we get the valuable tools in Powerup to our teachers? So far, we have used two methods. First, our department heads in Math, English-language arts, and ESL reviewed the entire website with every teacher grades 1 - 6 plus all Basic Skills Instructors and resource teachers at grade level meetings. Once reviewed teachers were given time to explore the website on their own. At the following month’s meeting the department heads asked for comments from the teachers and encouraged them to use the program as a resource.

The second way we get PowerUp to the teachers is that every time I receive the PowerUp What Works e-newsletter, I forward it to my staff. However, knowing how many emails they get and how much pressure that they are under, I know that many just click and put it in their deleted mail. I select specific sections of the e-newsletter and forward it to selected teachers, usually with the text of the subject something like "I think this is a valuable tool for you". Something to get their attention. I also make a point whenever I meet a teacher in the hallway or elsewhere to say that I sent you a special email, please take a look at it. I know they do, because I get email and verbal responses.

For example, in the Technology in Your Classroom section, I forwarded the "Teaching Students with Disabilities about Online Safety" to our eight Special Ed with disabilities classrooms. Or "Improving Fluency with Technology - Assisted Reading", I sent to out two reading intervention coaches.

I believe we are impacting our teachers and will look forward to hearing how others are using the program and getting its value to their teachers.

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