Sunday, March 29, 2009

Looking for my Sweet Spot

I recently spent some time listening to Bob Marzano deliver a keynote speech at the March 2009 CUE conference. The CUE (Computer Using Educators) organization's goal is to advance student achievement through technology in all disciplines from preschool through college.

Bob Marzano's keynote (you can find it embedded below) addresses the question "What do we know about the effect of technology on student achievement?" The title intrigued me so I spent some time listening to what he had to say. The results are quite interesting and caused me to reflect quite a bit on my own teaching practice. The research focused on three practices: The use of white board technology, the use of technology in formative assessment, and teacher feedback and teacher interaction.

I'm new to the world of white board technology. I've rigged up a little eInstruction setup with wires running up from my computer, along the ceiling, down to the whiteboard sensor. Sometimes I use it, sometimes I don't. I know I need more training, though I'm learning quite a bit teaching myself. Though Marzano's research focuses on Promethean Technology, my eInstruction works almost as nicely. Marzano mentions the "Sweet Spot" as being the conditions under which you get the projected highest increase in student achievement. What do I need to do to find my "Sweet Spot"? Here's what his study stated:
  • You must be an experienced teacher (have good grasp of instructional strategies,)
  • Who has been using the white board technology for two years,
  • Who uses it about 75% of the time in class,
  • Who has had enough training to be confident in their use of the technology.
So, how do I measure up? I have experience on my side. I've been using the technology for a few months and I have to admit sometimes I get so frustrated by not being able to manipulate the program I give up on the technology. I'm not even close to using it 75% of the time and I certainly am not confident in using this technology. This doesn't mean I'm not willing to try. The video encourages me to keep trudging along the road of the unknown. I wish there were someone else in the school joining me on this journey. Any takers? Trouble is, there's only one eInstruction setup.

He goes on to discuss the research relating to formative assessment - all of which want to make me use our clicker system more. Part II is available after you finish Part I. More on that later.

The video is worth watching.


  1. I loved Marzano's video. He is so on. But I also think he forgets to talk about the students taking the lead on some of the sharing of knowledge. We can't be confident with everything we teach - especially if you are teaching technology. Technology constantly changes, we need to be able to move to wherever we are going. If students figure it out faster than we do, we need to allow them to lead. I am with you.

  2. Looking for my sweet spot - sounds more towards the idea of alone and sweet time but the article talks about somethin else which is quie intersting and a good read.