Examining teachers' experiences in a professional learning community focused on integrating technology into literacy instruction

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Thoma, Jennifer
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Donald Bear Amy Hutchison
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Many factors, such as lack of time, access to technology resources, and professional development, have been indicated as barriers to technology integration in teaching. One possible way to support teachers as they integrate technology into their instruction is through professional learning communities . The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine how teachers experienced a Professional Learning Community (PLC) focused on integrating technology into literacy instruction. In this study, the PLC framework was situated as the means for teacher learning and planning. As such, it provided opportunities for teachers to learn from one another as well as share their knowledge. Providing just-in-time professional development through explicitly mediated training sessions, tools were introduced to help guide the teachers’ thinking and behavior as they worked to integrate technology into literacy instruction.

Three 5th-grade teachers from the same elementary school participated in this study. The research was focused on the processes and actions occurring within PLC meetings. Interviews were conducted to gather data, such as teachers’ personal beliefs, that were unobtainable through PLC meetings. Also, memos of meetings and meeting transcriptions were taken to capture the essence of meetings. Different sources were used to triangulate the data to ensure reliability of the findings.

Results indicated a difference in how time was spent in a PLC between explicitly and implicitly mediated activity. The teachers experienced initial difficulty in using the technology integration planning cycle that was introduced to them due to a lack of ability to establish instructional goals. Several factors were found to impact teachers in the area of goal setting and how time was spent. Implications point to a need for guidance for teachers in using the PLC process, time to engage in dialogue around goal setting, as well as time to learn about and problem solve using digital tools that may serve students during literacy instruction.

Fri Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2016