Technology, Leadership, and Differentiation: #LeadershipDay2014

Leadership Day 2014

“Successful leaders understand that if they want to improve, they have to be willing to keep growing and changing. … invest their time, energy, money, and thinking into growing others as leaders.” (Maxwell, 2013, p. 97).  Two important pieces here: 1) self-efficacy; and 2) supporting efficacy in others.  How do administrators build their own efficacy with technology when they are tasked with building the (technological) efficacy of those around them?

The first step from tech “newbi” to tech “natural” is taking the step.  Purposefully.  Even if it’s small.  Your toe in the pond that is 21st century learning will cause a ripple that others will notice.

I recently took a class on Differentiated Instruction, and we were asked to reflect on research-based practices that support success.  I choose integration of technology.  We were to consider guidelines for success, on-line resources for further exploration, and make the connection between tech and DI.  When @ecsaibel suggested that I contribute to #leadershipday2014, I took a closer look at some of the question prompts, and I figure that my discussion post would be a great ‘first step’ or ‘toe in the technology pond’ for some administrators.  The original discussion post is as follows:

I have chosen to take a closer look at the integration of technology in instruction.  Much like Tomlinson (1999) described as some instructional strategies being applied shallowly, I often feel that my integration of technology is falling short because it lacks depth.  I found a great article online at entitled “Infusing Technology into the Balanced Literacy Classroom” (Shettel & Bower, 2013) that considers how technology is being used in classrooms, particularly at three levels: technology as a novelty, technology as a necessity, and technology as natural.

Shettel & Bower (2014) begin by recognizing the changes in the world of education over the last 20 years – from No Child Left Behind to Common Core State Standards implementation – that would have put the role of technology (alongside great teaching) in a lesser spotlight.  However, they recognize the importance of 21st century skills and how “Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge [TPACK model] are all interrelated with the effectiveness of the classroom teacher” (Shettel & Bower, 2013, p. 4). So, one of the first guidelines I would suggest is for teachers to look at their technological proficiency on a continuum that may include one or a combination of the following (Shettel & Bower, 2013):

  1. Technology as a Novelty
  • Using your SMART or interactive whiteboard to replace the overhead
  • Games as a reward
  • Reliance on school division/district for PD
  • Lots of teacher control
  • “…it is a first step, a starting platform for learning a new tool or device” (p. 5)


  1. Technology as a Necessity
  • Less traditional and more technological tools
  • Focus is on the tool, not so much the content; tools are explicitly taught
  • Students may be the “TechSperts” (p. 6)


  1. Technology as Natural
  • “…the teacher understands that it is always the learning that must come first, and that the tools are just one possible way to achieve the learning goals” (p. 7)
  • Teacher is a learner alongside digital natives
  • Part of formative instruction and assessment

Considering the different levels on the technology proficiency continuum, I would recommend the following online resources:

Novelty – check out the article 12 Easy Ways to Use Technology in the Classroom, Even for Technophobic Teachers (Haynes, 2014) that gives suggestions of places to possibly start, if you’re a beginner.

Necessity – find out ways to advance student achievement through technology at  There are a bunch of ideas for Ed Tech professional development.

Natural – Shettel & Bower (2013) evolved “Bring Your Own Device” to “Bring Your Own Tool/Technology”, an excellent DI acknowledgement that everyone can contribute to creatively, “whether it be a new iPad or a pack of favorite colored pens” (p. 7).  However, if you’d like to learn more about Bring Your Own Device to enhance learning in your school or division, this website has a ton of great PDFs and links from getting started and planning to implementing BYOD:

Technology can allow teachers to differentiate in a variety of ways.  It provides another way to communicate with others and build relationships (ex. online platforms such as Twitter or Edmodo).  It can provide access to cultural perspectives from around the world (ex. ePals).  Technology can help us differentiate content by enabling instant access to visual, audio, and textual matter at different levels (ex.  Creativity and process are supported through explicit instruction around end exploration of a variety of tools other than pencil and paper tasks to go about learning (ex.  Products are innumerable, with online publishing tools such as Prezi or Animoto.  In a tiered lesson, students could create different products based on their interests, readiness, or learning profile that are all still outcomes-based.  The potential for differentiation using technology is tremendous.  I am still discovering ways to move between technology novelty, necessity, and naturalness to support the learning of divers students.


Haynes, K. (2014).  12 Easy Ways to Use Technology in the Classroom, Even for Technophobic Teachers [Website Article].  Retrieved from

K-12 Blueprint Canada. (2014).  Bring Your Own Device Toolkit [Webpage].  Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2010). Differentiating instruction: Strategies for differentiating instruction. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Shettel, J.W. and Bower, K. (2013).  Infusing Technology into the Balanced Literacy Classroom.  In e-Journal of Balanced Literacy Instruction 1(2), 3 – 11.  Retrieved from

Tomlinson, C. (1999). The differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.



2 thoughts on “Technology, Leadership, and Differentiation: #LeadershipDay2014

  1. Thanks for reading our article! Best of luck for a great new school year!

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