Supporting Teachers to Achieve Results by Integrating Technology into the Curriculum
The STAR Tech Professional Development Program
The STAR Tech (Supporting Teachers to Achieve Results) Professional Development Program was developed and tested over five years by the Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) (www.edc.org; www.startechprogram.org) with funding from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. The defining characteristic of the STAR Tech program is the formation of communities of practice. General education, special education, and technology teachers, along with specialists from curriculum, Title 1, ELL, and technology teachers and specialists meet on a regular basis as a collaborative team, led by a facilitator.
The goal of STAR Tech is to help teachers collaborate to improve the performance of students with diverse abilities and needs in grades K-12 by integrating a range of technology tools into the curriculum. More specifically the goals are for teachers to do the following:
- Understand students' abilities and needs. By appreciating student variation and seeing each student as having both strengths and weaknesses, teachers have a context for customizing instructional goals, designing powerful instructional practices that follow the principles of UDL, make accommodations, employ assessments tied directly to instruction, and use a range of technology tools in meaningful ways as part of the instructional process.
- Identify curriculum standards and goals. National, state, and local standards set forth what all students should know and be able to do in core content areas. While all students are working towards meeting a common set of curriculum goals or learning standards, we need to recognize that they may be accomplishing them in different ways, at different times, and with different degrees of mastery. By taking into account individual student's abilities, prior knowledge, needs, and interests, the teacher becomes clearer about what "knowing" and "being able to do" mean for each child.
- Use effective instructional strategies that meaningfully integrate technology tools. There is a growing body of effective, research-based instructional strategies, particularly for teaching literacy and mathematics. Teachers determine how best to integrate technology, based on recognizing students' strengths and needs, identifying the instructional goals, and connecting technology use with these instructional strategies.
- Assess results. Ongoing assessment is central and intimately tied to powerful instructional practices. The goal of assessment is primarily to educate teachers and improve student performance—for teachers to understand how students are doing and what they can do to improve teaching and learning.
Read more about STAR Tech Goals.
STAR Tech Leaders
STAR Tech provides a set of coordinated guidelines for district leaders, "champions," principals, and local facilitators.
- District leaders (e.g., administrators, coordinators, and specialists from the areas of curriculum, professional development, special education, technology, Title I, and bilingual education) are guided to take overall responsibility for launching and supporting the program.
- Champions (e.g., assistant superintendent, director of technology, special education technology coordinator, curriculum specialist) become the point people for the initiative. These individuals are key in shepherding the process by working closely with the district leaders, principals, and overseeing the work of the facilitators.
- Principals (or their delegates) assume responsibility at the school level for coordinating implementation of professional development programs and ensuring that collaborative teams have the protected time they need to meet on a regular basis.
- Facilitators work directly with teachers and experts at the school level to implement the collaborative work, which involves the STAR Cycle.
Read more about STAR Tech Leaders.
The STAR Cycle
The school-based collaborative teams carry out the STAR Cycle. Each letter in the acronym "STAR" denotes a different step of an ongoing cycle:
S = Set the Context
T = Teamwork
A = Apply Strategies
R = Reflect on Results
Read more about the STAR Tech Components.
Tools to Guide the Work
The following tools support the team as they carry out the STAR Cycle:
- The LASW Protocol lists the steps in the process and the suggested amount of time to spend on each step. The facilitator will ask for a volunteer to serve as the timekeeper to keep the meeting on track. The LASW Record is the name of the documentation sheet used during the meeting. The facilitator will also ask for a volunteer to serve as a recorder using this sheet. The LASW Record is organized to follow along with the protocol so that there is a place to record each part of the discussion. It is also very useful to have this record so that at the end of the meeting when the facilitator asks whether there are any strategies that teachers want to try, the facilitator can ask the recorder to read off all the strategies that have been discussed.
- The Set the Context Tool is what the presenting teacher uses to prepare for the meeting. Many times the teachers will make copies of the completed tool and distribute it at the beginning of the meeting. This is efficient and gives everyone documentation to refer to. The three student work samples are appended to this tool.
- The Apply Strategies Tool asks teachers to note the students who will be targeted; instructional strategies, technology tools, and any other supports that will be used; standards that apply; changes in performance the teacher expects to see; evidence the teacher is collecting; and criteria to be used for evaluation.
- The Reflect on Results Tool is a way for teachers to document what happened in their classrooms after they applied their new strategies. They also bring this tool to the next team meeting, when they share their results with the team. This tool asks them to report what they did and with whom, what tools they used, how the students were assessed, what the results were, and what they might do differently.
Visit the STAR Tech Site