Fundamental Elements of Digital K-12 Science Instructional Materials

Digital instructional materials start to make more sense for K-12 schools as states and districts align science education practices with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and prepare students for 21st century science and engineering jobs.

In an effort to orient families, teachers, administrators and curriculum designers to the work, I’ve gathered some evaluation  tools for instructional materials from NGSS and laid out a vision of an ideal digital K-12 science curriculum that would include all of the five NGSS Innovations while addressing International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards for coaches supporting teachers.

Ideally, my vision would serve as a model for digital science instruction. Instead of the current slide show plus lecture state of my presentation, I would begin with a phenomenon (e.g., the gender gap in math and science occupations), offering a range of entry points across modalities (e.g., video, graphic representation, mathematic, kinesthetic) to allow people to connect the topic to their own lives, and then provide appropriate supports for people to show what they know through multiple modes of expression, including online tools (e.g., polls, message boards, asynchronous video chat).

As it is, it is a starting point for stakeholders to hear what a middle school science teacher would need in an ideal 21st century science class, and an opportunity to preview evaluation tools used by school districts to adopt new curriculum.

To participate in this practice, family members, teachers, administrators and curriculum designers would:

  1. Read Box 11-1 on page 278 of “Chapter 11: Equity and Diversity.” How do you understand equity in education? Share with a partner.
  2. Review the NGSS Lesson Screening Tool.
  3. With equity and diversity in mind, use the “less” and “more” columns of each of the NGSS Innovations to brainstorm ways that digital technology tools could help to engage and support students.

Example:
Innovation 1: Making Sense of Phenomena and Designing Solutions to Problems

Less: Focus on delivering disciplinary core ideas to students, neatly organized by related content topics; making sense of phenomena and designing solutions to problems are used occasionally as engagement strategies, but are not a central part of student learning.”

More: Engaging all students with phenomena and problems that are meaningful and relevant; that have intentional access points and supports for all students; and that can be explained or solved through the application of targeted grade-appropriate SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs.”

Brainstorm: Each unit of study can be presented through an engaging real-world phenomenon that encompasses the SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs. Students will engage with the phenomenon through multiple modalities including online research and digital modeling along with hands-on activities and kinesthetic learning. Student will have the opportunity to show what they know through multiple modes of expression including speaking, reading and writing, diagramming, mathematical representations and programming. Students will also have opportunities to share their learning with students in their own as well as have opportunities to share their ideas and make scientific arguments with authentic audiences.

Materials:

Slides: “Fundamental elements of digital K-12 science instructional materials”

NGSS Lesson Screening Tool

NRC Framework Ch. 11: Equity and Diversity in Science and Engineering Education

Five NGSS Innovations


References

Khazan, O. (2018) The more gender equality, the fewer women in STEM. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/02/the-more-gender-equality-the-fewer-women-in-stem/553592/

National Research Council. 2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/13165.

Next Generation Science Standards. “Evaluating Instructional Materials.” Retrieved from http://www.nextgenscience.org/evaluating-instructional-materials/evaluating-instructional-materials

Troubleshooting in Primary Grades

Before introducing my students to computers for the first time for small group rotations I fear that all of the devices will act up all at once causing me to leave my group to help those at the technology station. After reading ISTE Coaching Standard 3e “Troubleshoot basic software, hardware, and connectivity problems common in digital learning environments.” I wanted to know what are ways primary students can troubleshoot technology on their own? By answering this question I am hoping to solve the problem of disrupted groups and frustrated students.

In my own classroom, most troubleshooting problems comes from students who click on an icon multiple times without waiting for the computer to load. This causes extreme frustration for the students and takes away from their learning. By teaching students basic troubleshooting skills, along with basic computer skills can help students work through their technology issues on their own. Leslie from Kinderworks developed 10 skills that can help Kindergarteners become successful when using technology. She listed the following by basic, medium, and advanced skill levels. I believe a great first step to helping students troubleshoot technology is by first teaching them basic skills when handling and operating devices.

In my own experience the most troubleshooting issues from from students minimizing a window and over clicking on an icon/button. With this list I think we can ease the frustrating part of operating technology devices in a primary grade.

BASIC COMPUTER INTRODUCTIONS KINDERGARTNERS NEED:

  • The names for the parts of a computer
  • How to exit from a window
  • How to move a mouse accurately
  • How to hold the mouse still when clicking
  • How to click, double click and drag
  • How to press a key lightly so only one letter/digit is entered
  • How to log in/log off
  • How to turn on/off the computer and monitor safely
  • How to double click a shortcut icon

MEDIUM SKILLS KINDERGARTNERS NEED:

  • How to identify that multiple internet windows are open at the same time (or tabs) and exit out of one or all.
  • How to use the backspace enter key and space bar
  • How to manipulate sound level through headphones
  • How to open/use a folder {not multiple… just one level of clicking}
  • How to use a scrolling button or the scroll bar on the screen
  • How to navigate websites using their schema of previous sites

MORE ADVANCED SKILLS KINDERGARTNERS NEED:

  • How to type basic things (name, login information, a phonetically spelled sentence) using a keyboard
  • How to use the task bar to switch between open windows

Basic Skills are Taught Now What

Learning the basic skills of computer handling and operation doesn’t mean the frustration will suddenly disappear when students interact with technology. In my own Kindergarten class I have seen students get stuck and instantly shut down and believe that they can’t do it. Along with teaching students these basic skills, we need to teach our students (especially Kinders) to have perseverance. For these students to know that its okay not to get it right on the first try and to stick with it even through they might be upset. Every year I teach my students to take three deep breaths, try again, ask a friend, and then ask the teacher.

Other Tips:

Another great idea for troubleshooting in the classroom is to publish a troubleshooting guide/poster. This can be used by students as a reference for when they get stuck on their device. With a guide students can try solving their problem before rushing to the teacher for help.

 

Engaging the Community: Using Technology in Primary Literacy Group

Introduction and Reflection

 

For this quarter’s final project for my Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University, we were asked to engage the digital community by preparing a presentation for a digital education conference.  We have submitted our proposal for the NCCE conference in Seattle in February 2019. While we haven’t yet heard if our proposal has been accepted, the process of coming up with an idea and working through the process of putting together a presentation that we feel will meet the needs of K-2 educators has been very valuable. Perhaps the most powerful learning that I gained from this project was having the opportunity to work with one of my classmates.  In my own classroom I am always talking about collaboration and how multiple brains working together bring more to our creative work and that we can often learn more from our peers than from the “teacher”. I am so glad that my peer and I took advantage of this opportunity. While I have more years of experience in education, I am moving into a grade level this coming year that I don’t have a lot of experience with, while my partner has been teaching this grade for most of her teaching career.  She also did her teaching training at a time when technology was prevalent in the classroom and most likely addressed in university education programs, where I began teaching using a overhead projector! We both brought different experiences and skill sets to our work together and I feel this allowed for our presentation to be better suited for a range of learners. Collaborating on a project like this felt more “real life” and finding the time to collaborate both synchronously and asynchronously as well as meshing our academic work was an experience and skill that reminded me that these are the experiences and skills we should be “teaching” our students in the classroom if we are, indeed, preparing them for future lives in the “real world”.

 

Professional Development that Meets Teacher Needs

 

Our presentation is planned for 50 minutes.  We chose to do a session rather than a workshop because we felt that most of our audience would have some background in primary classrooms and with using technology.  Educators coming to our presentation will be actively engaged in the learning by completing a poll and also by visiting and exploring some of the digital resources we plan to share.  During our presentation we plan to meet content knowledge needs by providing teachers reasons for including technology in the primary classroom, strategies and tips for implementing technology, and resources of which digital tools we recommend.  Teacher needs are addressed because we hope to provide teachers with information and ideas that can take back to their classroom and implement immediately. Teachers find value in professional development that prepares them to make immediate changes in their teaching that don’t require a ton of planning and time.  Collaborative participation is promoted by giving time during our presentation for the attendees to talk about which (if any) of the resources we share that they have used in their classroom and also by giving us suggestions of digital tools they have used that aren’t included in our list.

 

Presentation Slides

Here is a link to our tentative Slides presentation:

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1mMqqrFsnZSt0WU5qacTs4AQ1cJKaHGcNIGq3vVw9nec/edit?usp=sharing

 

Accessibility

Accessibility for all learners is important so that all content can meet their needs. For our presentation we wanted to make sure we had multiple forms for our learners to obtain information. Our main source of sharing our presentation will be projecting to a screen. For projecting our slides, we have picked larger fonts and colors that offer contrast for better viewing. In addition, we will offer hard copies of all materials discussed during our session. Finally, we created an overview video including our slides that is presented with Closed Captions for learners who need that support.

 

Video

Here a link to an overview of our presentation:

https://youtu.be/mID8P9vlif8

 

Standards

For this quarter’s work on Digital Learning Environments we focused on ISTE Standard for Coaching #3. Each week we focused on a couple indicators of this standard and this culminating project reflected our understanding of all seven indicators.

 

ISTE Standards for Coaches

  1. Digital Age Learning Environments Technology coaches create and support effective digital age learning environments to maximize the learning of all students.

a) Model effective classroom management and collaborative learning strategies to maximize teacher and student use of digital tools and resources and access to technology-rich learning environments.

b) Maintain and manage a variety of digital tools and resources for teacher and student use in technology-rich learning environments.

c) Coach teachers in and model use of online and blended learning, digital content, and collaborative learning networks to support and extend student learning as well as expand opportunities and choices for online professional development for teachers and administrators.

d) Select, evaluate and facilitate the use of adaptive and assistive technologies to support student learning.

e) Troubleshoot basic software, hardware and connectivity problems common in digital learning environments.

f) Collaborate with teachers and administrators to select and evaluate digital tools and resources that enhance teaching and learning and are compatible with the school technology infrastructure.

g) Use digital communication and collaboration tools to communicate locally and globally with students, parents, peers and the larger community.

Our presentation meets all 7 indicators of ISTE Standard 3 for Coaches as described below:

 

a.) We will share information about multiple ways to structure students’ use of digital tools and well as many management tips, both for the classroom environment and the technology.

b) We will provide suggestions for variety of digital tools for the primary classroom.  We will briefly explore a few during the presentation as well as include links for attendees to try out some resources we have shared after the presentation is over.

c) We will provide a lot of links to resources in our presentation. 50 minutes isn’t a lot of time, but we have a lot of information to share and want attendees to continue the learning after the session.

d) We have created a closed caption screencast providing an overview of our Slides presentation as well as been intentional with our choice of  font and graphics.

e) We have included a slide on technology management and also a slide of how to have volunteers and support staff assist when students encounter technology difficulty.

f) We chose to do this project and create this presentation as a team. We also want our presentation to be a collaborative session. We will stop and ask the audience to share anything they might want to add or share their experiences with the topic we are discussing.

g) Our presentation materials (slides and screencast) will be shared on our blogs, available on the NCCE conference website (if we are selected to present), and we will encourage attendees to share any pieces of our presentation with their colleagues once they return home. We will also share our contact information with attendees for follow-up or clarifying questions.

 

Resources

 

ISTE.org. (2017) ISTE Standards for Coaches. (Retrieved on 2018, August 22) from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

Technology in K-2 Differentiated Literacy Groups

Professional Development for Technology Use

Meeting the needs of all students is something teachers are doing daily in their profession. With technology meeting those needs with differentiation is a great way for students to reach their goals through personalized learning and student choice. Integrating technology into the classroom is an effective way to connect with students of all learning styles. Technology transforms the learning experience. Students have access to an incredible amount of new opportunities. From learning how to code to learning how to better collaborate across teams and with their instructors–technology empowers students to be more creative and be more connected. New tech has super-charged how we learn today. This professional development allows for teachers to see how using technology for literacy can boost student learning and is an easy way to add something new to the classroom.

Conference Presentation:

With our focus of getting teachers involved in implementing technology for literacy groups we submitted a proposal to the 2019 NCCE (Northwest Council for Computer Education). This professional development is set for a 50 minute session with engaging features to excite teachers who might be new or have little experience implementing technology for student growth in their classroom. Below is our presentation that has many resources for all teachers to try in their classroom. We hope that by sharing our resource teachers and others in education will begin to implement technology or even change the way they are currently using technology to meet the needs of all students.

Link to presentation

Video: 

Below is an overview of our 50 minute presentation. In this overview we discuss the importance of our professional developed for not only students but for teachers as well.

Link to Youtube Video

Meeting the Needs of Teachers

When developing our presentation we used the article Effective Teacher  Professional Development were they reviewed multiple studies to develop a list of what effective professional development includes. They first started by defining “effective professional development as structured professional learning that results in changes in teacher practices and improvements in student learning outcomes.”

Using this methodology, they found that effective professional development incorporates most, if not all, of the following elements:

  • Is content focused: PD that focuses on teaching strategies associated with specific curriculum content supports teacher learning within teachers’ classroom contexts. This element includes an intentional focus on discipline-specific curriculum development and pedagogies in areas such as mathematics, science, or literacy.
  • Incorporates active learning:  Active learning engages teachers directly in designing and trying out teaching strategies, providing them an opportunity to engage in the same style of learning they are designing for their students. Such PD uses authentic artifacts, interactive activities, and other strategies to provide deeply embedded, highly contextualized professional learning. This approach moves away from traditional learning models and environments that are lecture based and have no direct connection to teachers’ classrooms and students.
  • Supports collaboration: High-quality PD creates space for teachers to share ideas and collaborate in their learning, often in job-embedded contexts. By working collaboratively, teachers can create communities that positively change the culture and instruction of their entire grade level, department, school and/or district.
  • Uses models of effective practice:  Curricular models and modeling of instruction provide teachers with a clear vision of what best practices look like. Teachers may view models that include lesson plans, unit plans, sample student work, observations of peer teachers, and video or written cases of teaching.
  • Provides coaching and expert support: Coaching and expert support involve the sharing of expertise about content and evidence-based practices, focused directly on teachers’ individual needs.
  • Offers feedback and reflection: High-quality professional learning frequently provides built-in time for teachers to think about, receive input on, and make changes to their practice by facilitating reflection and soliciting feedback. Feedback and reflection both help teachers to thoughtfully move toward the expert visions of practice.
  • Is of sustained duration: Effective PD provides teachers with adequate time to learn, practice, implement, and reflect upon new strategies that facilitate changes in their practice.

Accessibility:
Accessibility for all learners is important so that all content can met their needs. For our presentation we wanted to make sure we had multiple forms for our learners to obtain information. Our main source of sharing our presentation will be by projecting in on a screen. For projecting our slides, we have picked larger fonts and colors that offer contrast for better viewing. In addition, we will offer print outs that include all extra resources we offer during our session. Finally, we created an overview video including our slides that is presented with Closed Captions for learners who need extra support.

Standards:

ISTE Standards for Coaches

  1. Digital Age Learning Environments Technology coaches create and support effective digital age learning environments to maximize the learning of all students.
  2. Model effective classroom management and collaborative learning strategies to maximize teacher and student use of digital tools and resources and access to technology-rich learning environments.
  3. Maintain and manage a variety of digital tools and resources for teacher and student use in technology-rich learning environments.
  4. Coach teachers in and model use of online and blended learning, digital content, and collaborative learning networks to support and extend student learning as well as expand opportunities and choices for online professional development for teachers and administrators.
  5. Select, evaluate and facilitate the use of adaptive and assistive technologies to support student learning.
  6. Troubleshoot basic software, hardware and connectivity problems common in digital learning environments.
  7. Collaborate with teachers and administrators to select and evaluate digital tools and resources that enhance teaching and learning and are compatible with the school technology infrastructure.
  8. Use digital communication and collaboration tools to communicate locally and globally with students, parents, peers and the larger community.

Our presentation meets all 7 indicators of ISTE Standard 3 for Coaches as described below:

a.)We will share information about multiple ways to structure students’ use of digital tools and well as many management tips, both for the classroom environment and the technology.

  1. b) We will provide suggestions for variety of digital tools for the primary classroom.  We will briefly explore a few during the presentation as well as include links for attendees to try out some resources we have shared after the presentation is over.
  2. c) We will provide a lot of links to resources in our presentation. 50 minutes isn’t a lot of time, but we have a lot of information to share and want attendees to continue the learning after the session.
  3. d) We have created a closed caption screencast providing an overview of our Slides presentation as well as been intentional with our choice of  font and graphics.
  4. e) We have included a slide on technology management and also a slide of how to have volunteers and support staff assist when students encounter technology difficulty.
  5. f) We chose to do this project and create this presentation as a team. We also want our presentation to be a collaborative session. We will stop and ask the audience to share anything they might want to add or share their experiences with the topic we are discussing.
  6. g) Our presentation materials (slides and screencast) will be shared on our blogs, available on the NCCE conference website (if we are selected to present), and we will encourage attendees to share any pieces of our presentation with their colleagues once they return home. We will also share our contact information with attendees for follow-up or clarifying questions.

 

Sources:

Darling-Hammond, L., Hyler, M. E., & Gardner, M. (2017, June 05). Effective Teacher Professional Development (Rep.). Retrieved August 23, 2018, from Learning Policy Institute website: https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/product/effective-teacher-professional-development-report
Iste.org. (2017). ISTE Standards For Coaches. [online] Available at: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches [Accessed 20 Aug. 2018].

Developing Professional Development as Part of the Community Engagement Project.

The community engagement project challenges students to create a professional development session to be presented at a conference of the student’s choosing.  As part of building effective digital age environments, as prescribed by the ISTE Standards for Coaches #3, I chose to create an interactive session that focused on active learning and digital collaboration tools to improve current practices in nutrition education. Technology in nutrition education currently has limited uses but impactful potential. Despite the fact that nutrition information is plentiful in the digital world, the approach of dietitians and nutritionists has been to increase presence through blogs, social media, and videos (such as those on YouTube), while the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the representative organization for all dietitians, set their efforts to instill a code of ethics and provide information on privacy in the digital workplace.  These efforts may help mitigate nutrition misinformation but are often one-sided or engage only limited populations. For example, blogs may allow comments but do not allow for active engagement with the blog topics nor takes into account implementation on a local level. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter allow for nutritionists’ voices to be heard but rarely offer collaborative engagement between other experts, or communities. The solution is relatively simple as the digital tools mentioned offered plenty room for continued collaboration among participants at any level, (local or global).

The Academy itself recognizes the potential of technology in nutrition and has published a practice paper on nutrition informatics.  Nutrition informatics is a relatively new field in dietetics that addresses technology’s role in health practices.  The Academy discusses the potential pros and cons for each of the various practice fields in dietetics (clinical, food services, education/research, community, consultation/business) and technology’s potential for growth in each of those areas. In education specifically, the Academy recognizes use in distance learning, student progress tracking, speciality testing for licensing and certification, and professional course development.  However, it does not mention need for collaboration or engaging various audiences requiring nutrition education.

In order to bridge this gap and address the ISTE Coaching Standard, the topic for this professional development proposal focuses on building better nutrition education through digital collaboration tools.   The goal of this session is to explore benefits of active learning through technology aides (EdTech) and implement tools into existing lesson plans with the following objectives in mind:

  • a) Understand and/or review importance of active learning (evidence-based practice)
  • b) Become familiarized with collaborative edtech tools
  • c) Engage with edtech tool selection criteria and best practices
  • d) Explore ways to incorporate digital tools in lesson plan scenarios.

Professional Development Session Elements

In this one-hour session, participants will be invited to explore the main topic through both face-to-face and online collaboration, as the entire group navigates through a website developed specifically for the presentation. Since all of major content is available to them online, there is no need for note-taking, allowing participants to remain engaged throughout the session. Elements of the session involve: a pre-session technology self-assessment, an online group discussion via Padlet, think pair share elements, and lastly self-reflection elements submitted during and after the session.  More details on these elements are provided below.

Length. The Academy hosts local sub-organizations in each state. I chose to develop this professional development session for local dietitians and nutrition educators with the opportunity to present at the local education conference held annually.  The requirements of this local organization state that all educational sessions must be a minimum length of one hour. This is to meet the CEU (continuing education unit) minimum for registering dietitians. Considering that through the DEL program we have taken entire classes dedicated to active learning and digital tools, the length will limit the depth of information presented.  However, the ability to continually collaborate with both participants and presenter will allow for continued resource sharing after the session has ended.

Active, engaged learning with collaborative participation. Participants will be encouraged to participate and collaborate before, during, and after the session for a full engagement experience. The audience will be asked to review certain elements of the presentation website available here intermittently as they discuss key elements with the participants next to them. See figure 1.1 for lesson plan details.

Building Better Nutrition Education Through Digital Collaboration Tools
Objectives

Session Goal: Introduce ways to incorporate digital collaboration tools into existing nutrition education lesson plans.

Learning Objectives: At the end of the session participants will:

  • a) Understand and/or review importance of active learning (evidence-based practice)
  • b) Become familiarized with collaborative edtech tools
  • c) Engage with edtech tool selection criteria and best practices
  • d) Explore ways to incorporate digital tools in lesson plan scenarios
Performance Tasks

  • Participants will complete self-assessment prior to the session
  • Participants will demonstrate understanding of active learning by submitting informal Google Form Quiz in session
  • Participants will engage in collaborative edtech tools by submitting responses during the session
  • Participants will create their own digital tool need by complete case scenario
  • They will submit self-reflection via flipgrid post session
Plan Outline

  • Session Introduction (5 mins)
    • Prompt and Participation: Padlet Q & A- Describe a time you attended a great education session, what made that session great?
    • Review of self-assessment (completed prior to session)
  • Importance of active learning- evidence-based practice (5-10 mins)
    • Review of evidence: Google form quiz (embedded in site)
    • How can digital tools help? (5-10 mins)
  • Choosing the right digital tool (10 mins)
    • Triple E Framework rubric
    • Criteria for choosing the right digital tool
  • Tips on incorporating tools into existing lesson plan (10 mins)
    • Video Tutorial (take home message/resource)
  • Active practice (10 mins)
    • Case scenarios-flipgrid response
    • Flipgrid self-reflection
  • Questions (5 mins)

Total session length: 60 mins.

Figure 1.1 “Building Better Nutrition Education through Digital Tools” Session Lesson Plan.

Before the presentation, the participants will be invited to a google form self-assessment poll addressing comfort and knowledge with technology tools as well as their current use of technology tools in practice. During the presentation, the audience will be prompted to participate in “think, pair, share” elements, as well as, respond to collaboration tools prompts on padlet, google forms, and embedded websites.  After the presentation, participants will be encouraged to summarize their learning by submitting a flipgrid video.  

Content knowledge needs. The session content begins with establishing the importance of active learning as evidence-based practice to meet objectives a) and b). Just as motivational interviewing and patient-centered practice is desirable in nutrition, active learning invoking 21st century skills is evidence-based and an education standard. The content will then shift into teacher-focused how-tos for digital tools including how digital tools can help, how to select the right digital tool, and how to incorporate that tool into an existing lesson plan to address objectives c) and d). My assumption is that participants who are not comfortable with technology may be fearful or lack of motivation to explore various tools.  Group collaboration, modelling and gentle encouragement through case studies may help mitigate these fears.

Teachers’ needs. While the majority of the session focuses on introductory content to active learning and digital tools, teacher’s needs in digital tool management can be addressed through coach/presenter modeling. Simple statements such as, “I created this flipgrid video to serve as a model for students.” or “This google form was hyperlinked to gauge students’ understanding so far,” can serve as a basis to explore class management and digital tool management within the limited time. The website itself offer a section on FAQs, exploring questions and misconceptions about active learning and digital tools. Even with all of these resources, the audience will be introduced to technology coaching and may choose to consult a coach at their current institution.

In addition to modeling, three tutorial videos are available on the website to help teachers begin creating their own active learning lesson plans using the backwards design model. Each of the tutorials features closed captioned created through TechSmith Relay for accessibility.  The Google Site was also chosen because content is made automatically accessible to viewers, all the website creator has to do is include the appropriate heading styles and use alt text for pictures, figures, and graphs.

Lessons Learned through the Development Process.

One of the major challenges to developing this project was understanding the needs of the target audience.  Because nutrition informatics is relatively new, technology use has not be standardized in the profession, therefore estimating the previous knowledge and use of digital tools by the audience was difficult. My assumption is that technology use and attitudes about technology will be varied. The website attempts to breakdown information to a semi-basic level.  The only assumption I made was that the audience has good background in standard nutrition education practices. I also chose to develop the Technology Self-Assessment for the audience to complete prior to the session as a way to gain some insight into current technology use and comfort so that I may better tailor the session to that particular audience’s needs.

I realized as I was developing the lesson plan for this session that I only have time to do a brief introduction to these very important topics. If I were to create a more comprehensive professional development, I could expand the content into three one-hour sessions including 1) introduction and theory to collaborative learning which would address the importance of digital tools in nutrition education and establish need for active learning, 2) selecting, evaluating, and curating tech tools allowing educators to become familiarized with available tools based on individual need, and 3) lesson plan development integrating collaboration tools, a “how-to” session where participants create their own plan to implement. I had not anticipated that length was going to be a barrier, however, if the audience truly has limited digital familiarity and comfort, perhaps beginning with an introduction to these topics is sufficient.

One positive lesson that I’ve learned is that trying new things, such as creating a Google Site, can be very rewarding.  I have never experimented with Google Sites prior to this project and I am quite happy with the final website, though the perfectionist in me wants to continue tweaking and editing content. I originally was aiming to create slides for this presentation but realized that I am attempting to convince a possibly skeptical audience on the benefits of digital tools so using the same old tool would not allow me to do the scope of modelling I desire.  

I must admit that before this project, I had a hard time placing myself into the role of a “tech coach” because I would continually see each concept through the lens of an educator and how to apply the concepts to my own teaching.  It has been difficult for me to take a step back and realize that I am teaching but just in a different context. Creating the step-by-step tutorials was the turning point where I envisioned the audience modeling their lesson plans to the example I had given.  I hope I have the opportunity to present this session at the educational conference and bring the ideals of active learning and digital tools to professionals working in various education settings.

Troubleshooting and global collaboration in digital age STEM learning environments

To develop positive, productive and collaborative digital age STEM learning environments, educators can help students develop troubleshooting skills and provide opportunities for them to share their ideas with their peers and with communities outside of the classroom. Creative problem solving can help students with everyday tasks in the tech-enhanced classroom, and will also foster a sense of self-reliance that will help them engage confidently in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) practice of obtaining evaluating and communicating information.

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards call for coaches to create and support effective digital age learning environments to maximize the learning of all students. Coaches can support educators and students to “troubleshoot basic software, hardware, and connectivity problems common in digital learning environments” (ISTE standard 3e for coaches) first by fostering creativity and a growth mindset in classrooms. If teachers praise the process of student learning over the product, students will feel more comfortable trying new things and gain greater metacognitive awareness and ownership over their learning.

Grubbs (2015) adds humor to the development of growth mindset and resilience to failure by encouraging students to “laugh” at and find humor in failures during learning. “This skill is not only relevant, but arguably a pre

STEM educators can relate the process of troubleshooting to how the iterative processes of science and engineering (web site and lesson plan from Berkeley) can lead help scientists solve problems and make to new discoveries (video from Academy of Sciences).

 

 

g.) use digital communication and collaboration tools to communicate locally and globally with students, parents, peers, and the larger community.

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS or “Next Gen  Computational thinking In the high school performance expectation for Engineering Design students “use a computer simulation to model the impact of proposed solutions to a complex real-world problem with numerous criteria and constraints on interactions within and between systems relevant to the problem.” In the high school Next Generation Science Standard for Earth and Human activity, students “create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among the management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.”

Link to my post about computational thinking in the science classroom

What do you think?

 


Resources

Grubbs, M. g. (2015). Laughing at failure: Troubleshooting paper structures. Children’s Technology & Engineering, 19(4), 8-10.

Using literature to teach students that taking risks, making mistakes, and persevering are key to success in today’s digital world

The Importance of Troubleshooting

 

Those of us who have ever used technology, especially those of us who rely on technology heavily in our daily lives, can recall a time (or 20 times) when the technology just didn’t work. Perhaps we knew the reason and could quickly troubleshoot the issue, perhaps we knew the issue but didn’t know how to fix the problem, or perhaps we didn’t understand why the technology wasn’t working.  All of these situations are frustrating, some more than others. Many of our students are attending schools that utilize digital learning environments and teachers are working hard to teach students how to use different devices and programs and also teaching students how to be respectful and safe digital citizens. But often how to troubleshoot the technology when things aren’t working correctly isn’t taught. We just stop using the technology, or call the Help Desk, or wait to try again later.  But if our students are depending on technology in their daily academic and personal lives, they should be equipped with some skills to problem solve technology “issues”.

ISTE Standards for Coaching 3e is “Troubleshoot basic software, hardware, and connectivity problems common in digital learning environments.”  While technology coaches are not IT specialists, it is important that they can troubleshoot basic problems. However, I think a goal of technology coaches (and all teachers who use technology in their classroom) should be to teach students how to troubleshoot basic technology problems.  Having technology not work as you had expected is frustrating and often a response is just to quit or give up. But, like with all aspects of school (and life), we are trying to teach our students that accepting obstacles, learning from mistakes, and figuring out how to persevere and problem solve are critical skills that will serve them throughout their lives in many situations.

 

How to Help Students Learn to Take Risks, Make Mistakes and Learn from Those Mistakes

How do we teach our students to take risks when there is an “easier” option?  Make mistakes without feeling like a “failure”? And to continue to problem solve and work hard even when feeling frustrated.  In the Brookings Institute blog, Kate Mills and Helyn Kim have written about “Teaching Problem Solving: Let Students get ‘stuck’ and ‘unstuck’ ”.   My favorite sentence in this post is: “Helping my students grow to be people who will be successful outside of the classroom is equally as important as teaching the curriculum.” Sometimes we, as teachers, can lost sight of that goal. I also enjoyed reading about how this teacher “normalizes trouble” in her classroom in hopes that her students learn to accept challenge and failure as opportunities for growth.  Another key point I took from reading this post was the importance of making sure students know that the teacher is not there to solve their problems, but there to support students as they solve their own problems.

“In the real world, students encounter problems that are complex, not well defined, and lack a clear solution and approach. They need to be able to identify and apply different strategies to solve these problems. However, problem solving skills do not necessarily develop naturally; they need to be explicitly taught in a way that can be transferred across multiple settings and contexts. (Mills & Kim, 2017)”.  I feel that one of the ways that these problem solving skills can be explicitly taught is through children’s literature. Reading books that show examples of characters struggling with problems, “failing”, and then persevering aloud to students and then having class discussions, as well as independent reflection time afterwards, could really help our youngest students gain the understanding of these mindsets that will be important to the success of their digital learning experiences.

 

 

Literature Recommendations

Grit, perseverance, growth mindset, and learning to fail are all “buzz words” in classrooms today. And for good reason.  As educators, parents, employers, and member of society we know (or are learning) that these characteristics, values, and attitudes are linked to success in school, career, and life.  We also recognize that often these “skills” are not explicitly taught. One of the reasons is that it is hard to “teach” these values and attitudes. However, literature allows readers to connect to the characters as an “outsider”. And often when we are outside a situation we can more easily see what is happening and learn from the situation. For this reason, teaching social-emotional skills and mindsets through literature is very effective with students. Below are some examples for books to use for primary students. I referenced Good Reads for suggestions, but many of these titles are ones I have used in my own classroom. These are just 10 books, but there are numerous books out there at every reading level and interest area that can be used to teach students skills such as risk-taking, perseverance, and acceptance of failure.

By Andrea Beaty

 

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires  

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

What Do you Do with a Problem by Kobi Yamada

Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg

The Dot by Peter Reynolds

A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams

Journey by Aaron Becker

Brave Irene by William Steig

Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back up Again) by Dan Santat

 

Sources:

 

Goodreads.com website. (Retrieved on 2018, August 10) from: https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/perseverance

 

Goodreads.com website. (Retrieved on 2018, August 18) from: https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/kids-problem-solving

 

ISTE.org. (2017) ISTE Standards for Coaches. (Retrieved on 2018, August 18) from: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

 

Kim, H & Mills, K. (2017) “Teaching Problem Solving: Let Kids Get Stuck and Unstuck”. Brookings Institute Blog. (Retrieved on 2018, August 10) from: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/education-plus-development/2017/10/31/teaching-problem-solving-let-students-get-stuck-and-unstuck/

 

Remind App for Parent-Teacher Communication

A key component in the success of our students is recruiting parents as allies in the learning process. For my exploration of ISTE Coaching Standard 3G, I wanted to learn more about the most effective digital tools for communication with students and parents. The standard asks teachers to “Use digital communication and collaboration tools to communicate locally and globally with students, parents, peers, and the larger community” (Iste.org, 2017).

An important starting point is to consider the needs of parents. The Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning polled parents and principals in 2016 to compare the communication preferences of both parties. Highlights from the study can be found below in infographic format. What stood out to me was the disconnect that existed between principals and parents. Some of this disconnect likely trickles down into the classroom as well. Two significant methods of communication that principals believed to be effective (personal phone calls and Facebook) were viewed much less favorably by parents. Parents indicated a preference for email and text message communication.

Source: School-to-Home Communications: Most effective tools for parent communications & engagement; Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning; 2016. Link.

I kept these preferences in mind as I sought out digital communication resources. In exploring Common Sense Media (a fantastic resource for teachers to use when exploring new tech tools), I found a curated list of communication tools. Common Sense Media begins their list of communication tools with a rationale for digital communication:

  • Digital communication is an easy way to keep parents informed about what is going on in class so that they can facilitate productive discussions with their children.
  • Digital communication tools allow for mass communication which saves time when compared to individual phone calls or notes.
  • Frequent digital communication increases student productivity. When teachers and parents present a united front, there is increased accountability for students. (Knutson, 2016)

Of the six tools recommended by Common Sense Media, I chose to focus on one that I felt would meet my needs as a high school teacher as well as parents’ desire to communicate via text message: Remind.

Remind is a digital communication tool that allows teachers to communicate with students and parents by sending out whole-class, group, or single messages. The great part about Remind is that you can send messages on your phone with the app while never revealing your personal phone number to parents or students. Likewise, students can send you messages and you see only their name, not their number.

Remind is an ideal communication tool because you can send messages to the entire class, a select group, or an individual student or parent. Messages can even be translated in order to facilitate communication with parents whose primary language isn’t English. I like the flexibility to communicate in these different ways within a single app. In addition to whole-class reminders, I can use the app to send resources or feedback to a group working on a project. You can even create a group message between a parent, student, and yourself. This would be ideal for detention reminders since everyone is in the loop.

I’m a believer in communicating the positives with parents and not reaching out only when there is a problem. However, it can be very time consuming to make individual phone calls and a teacher’s time is already limited. I love that I will be able to take and send a quick snapshot of a student’s work using Remind. Within the app, you have the ability to send photos, PDFs, and voice clips.

Creating an account with Remind was quick and easy. I set up two classes for the upcoming fall term. Each class has a unique URL which students and parents can navigate to in order to sign-up. Parents and students can also join by texting my class code to a Remind phone number. You also have the option to add people yourself via a phone number or email. If you log-on to the Remind website, you can generate a printable PDF that can be shared on the first day of school or Back to School night.

One concern I had with using Remind was getting messages in the middle of the night or on weekends. Using the Office Hours feature, I was able to select the days and times I can be contacted. Students and parents who send a message outside of those hours get an alert warning them that the message may not be viewed until office hours begin.

Another feature of Remind (which I hope to play around with more once school begins) is the option to integrate files from Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. If you use Quizlet, you can also integrate a link to a quiz within your Remind message.

I am looking forward to using Remind as a digital communication tool with my students and parents this fall!

 

 

Sources:

Iste.org. (2017). ISTE Standards For Coaches. [online] Available at: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches [Accessed 19 Aug. 2018].

Knutson, J. (2016). 6 Tech Tools That Boost Teacher-Parent Communication. Retrieved from https://www.commonsense.org/education/blog/6-tech-tools-that-boost-teacher-parent-communication

School-to-Home Communications: Most effective tools for parent communications & engagement [Infographic]. (2016). Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning. Retrieved from http://tomorrow.org/speakup/speakup-2016-school-to-home-communications-september-2017.html

Twitter as a Tool for Personalized Professional Development

Introduction

Professional Development (PD)  has changed drastically in the relatively short amount of time that I have been a teacher. PD no longer has to constitute a one-size-fits-all lecture model. Thanks to technology, teachers are empowered to take control of their learning. One of the most popular tools for teachers to communicate and collaborate in this fashion is Twitter.

“Teacher Twitter,” as some call the community, has become a valuable place to share resources and experiences. Teaching can often be a career that happens within the silo of your classroom. Twitter allows those walls to be broken down and for collaboration to occur on a global scale.

I’m not alone in my fondness for Twitter for teachers. According to MC Desrosiers, “Virtual communities make it easier for educators to engage in immediate, specific, and focused conversations with their peers” (Logan, n.d.). Not only does Twitter facilitate this focused conversation, it has allowed a much broader take on who your peers are.

In a 2014 study of 755 K-16 teachers, teachers reported their motivations for using Twitter as the immediate access to content, the personalized nature of the site, and the potential for building a positive network (Carpenter & Krutka). Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to professional development (as assigned by school administration), Twitter allows you to interact with educators and resources that you find helpful. You might participate in a targeted chat or follow a hashtag that is of interest to you. Whether you choose to follow coworkers, authors, ed tech companies, principals, or teachers across the globe, the perspectives you see populating your feed are entirely self-selected. If someone is getting too political or no longer sharing resources you find helpful, simply unfollow and move on.

Workshop Presentation

Because of my belief in the power of Twitter to help teachers grow and become better educators, I chose to create a workshop presentation for teachers who were not yet members of the Twitter community. I submitted a proposal for the 2019 NCCE (Northwest Council for Computer Education). While I was initially focused on helping complete Twitter newbies join Twitter, I shifted the focus of my presentation to also accommodate teachers who had a Twitter but weren’t using it to the full extent possible. I am sharing my presentation here with the hope that it be useful for technology coaches and leaders hoping to harness the power of Twitter in their school or district. An editable link will be provided so that you may edit and use the presentation however you see fit.

My presentation includes a rationale for using Twitter for PD, a step-by-step guide to setting up a Twitter, components of collaboration via real-time hashtags, and a brief overview of the way teachers can tailor Twitter to suit their needs (including Lists, Likes, Polls, and Chats).

Since the nature of my project shifted, what was originally meant to be a 10-minute Ignite Session grew. If I were to present this at the NCCE conference, I would bypass the tutorial aspect and assume that audience members had a basic understanding of Twitter. If I were to use this presentation as a PD offering at my school, I would allow for 30 minutes in order to ensure that all participants could set up an account and get started. The benefit of sharing a link to your resource is that teachers can refer back to it and review anything they missed.

Meeting ISTE Coaching Standard 3

Twitter is a powerful way to connect, communicate, and collaborate with educators at your school site, district, county, state, and country. Twitter makes it easy to connect with educators across the globe if you choose. I cannot think of a better way to satisfy ISTE Coaching Standard 3 which asks technology coaches to “create and support effective digital age learning environments to maximize the learning of all students” (Iste.org, 2017). More specifically, Twitter allows teachers to meet substandard G: “Use digital communication and collaboration tools to communicate locally and globally with students, parents, peers, and the larger community” (Iste.org, 2017).

Meeting the Needs of Teachers

Technology coaches and leaders are wise to spend time teaching fellow teachers about the benefits of Twitter and how it can provide personalized PD. Unlike many PD sessions which offer a single strategy or tool, a session on Twitter enables teachers to access an ongoing resource that can be used again and again for ideas, collaboration, and resources.

When creating my presentation, I considered the article, 5 Things Teachers Want from PD, which I discovered through Liz Ebersole’s blog.

  • Relevant: Many teachers use social media in their personal life, but many haven’t made the jump to “teacher Twitter.” Because it’s such a familiar platform, adoption is natural. Through the use of hashtags and chats, Twitter has the ability to create a highly personalized experience for teachers.
  • Interactive: Teachers at a PD-session want the opportunity to practice the content then and there. Utilizing a document camera, coaches and leaders can walk newbies through the process of creating a Twitter account and getting started. My presentation also uses hashtags generated specifically for the presentation which allows for immediate practice and connection between participants.
  • Delivered by someone who understands their experience: As someone who is currently in the classroom, I know how valuable a teacher’s time is. There is a desperate need for PD that can be quickly and easily accessed. Twitter is the perfect tool for that. The presentation is also intentionally short and to-the-point to honor teachers’ time.
  • Sustained over time: Due to the social media element, Twitter is a constantly updating stream of information and ideas. It’s not a once and done strategy, but rather a tool that can be tapped as needed for ideas, inspiration, and collaboration. For this reason, it is very sustainable.
  • Trust teachers like professionals: This self-explanatory point is often neglected in the current PD setting. The beauty of Twitter is that you can curate lists of people and resources which result in PD that is done on your own terms.

Note on Accessibility

This quarter we also focused on accessibility and how educators can make sure their content can meet the needs of all learners. In order to demonstrate accessibility with my presentation, I’ve made the content available in a variety of ways. In addition to the presentation being projected on to the screen, the content is available online via a bit.ly link. This allows participants to focus on the content and not note-taking. It also enables me to link to additional resources. Multiple printouts of the presentation are brought to the presentation to support participants with vision issues. Additionally, the video I have made of my presentation is available with Closed Captions for those who may have hearing issues.

Links

Sources

Carpenter, J., & Krutka, D. (2014). How and Why Educators Use Twitter: A Survey of the Field. Journal Of Research On Technology In Education, 46(4), 414-434. doi: 10.1080/15391523.2014.925701

Iste.org. (2017). ISTE Standards For Coaches. [online] Available at: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches [Accessed 17 Aug. 2018].

Logan, L. 5 ways tech has changed professional development. Retrieved from https://www.amplify.com/viewpoints/5-ways-tech-has-changed-professional-development

The Connection between Digital Competence and Problem-Solving

The word “troubleshooting” most often invokes images involving a conversation with the IT department, a progression of actions guided by the technician and performed by the user, and ending with a resolution in which the user’s original knowledge of technology has not been augmented. Unfortunately this is a all too common scenario. The user defaults all troubleshooting responsibility to a third party because of unfamiliarity or knowledge deficit of technology. This is not limited to just consumers and companies, there is a concern that students also do not troubleshoot well. According to the ISTE coaching standard, coaches should help teachers and students “troubleshoot basic software, hardware, and connectivity problems common in digital learning environments,” (ISTE, 2017). While calling for IT or passing responsibility onto another party, like a teacher for example, is generally practiced, learning to troubleshoot is a beneficial 21st century skill because it helps develop digital competence.

Why is digital competence important?

Like all 21st century skills, digital competence is a highly-sought skill in the ever-evolving workforce. An e-magazine, Training Industry, wrote an industry-perspective article on digital competence and highlights the need for competence in the workforce from the top of the organization chart down.  The author believes that the tech world today emcompasses “VUCA”, or volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. The role of those working in tech today should be to navigate this VUCA world seamlessly and one of the ways to do this is to reinforce digital competence, (Newhouse, 2017).  The industry definition of digital competence expands to include not only knowledge of technology but also involves understanding digital environments, effectively creating and consuming digital information, communicating and collaborating with diverse stakeholders, innovating rapidly, critically thinking/problem solving, and maintaining security, (Newhouse, 2017). This definition was devised from new European Union definitions and involves five major facets summarized in figure 1.1 below.

Infographic on the 5 major facets of digital competence
Figure 1.1 Facets of Digital Competence

What role does “digital competence” play in helping students problem-solve and troubleshoot online/technology issues?

One issue that arises is the general assumption that since students grew up with technology, or are considered digital natives, that they automatically build digital knowledge or that students know how to use technology well, (Hatlevik, et. al, 2015).  However, in order to use technology well, students need to build digital competence and literacy. According to researchers Hatlevik, Gudmundsdottik, and Loi, building digital competence is complex and involves various factors as summarized in figure 1.2 below.

Infographic on the key elements for developing digital competence
Figure 1.2 Developing Digital Competence

The researchers recognize that these facets are essential to culviating a deep understanding of technology while promoting critical reflection and creativity of digital skills.  These qualities in turn develop problem-solving skills in both independent and collaborative settings, (Hatelvik,et. al., 2015).

Other than knowledge deficits involving how to perform troubleshooting tasks, researchers suggest that when demanding conditions, such as a completing an assignment,  becomes difficult, it may hurt self-regulation and autonomy, (Koole, et.al, 2012). These difficulties can include cognitive, motivational, implementational, or a combinations of these factors.  While this theory is debated, meta-analyses indicate that low intrinsic value activities (such as homework) may lower complex problem solving abilities such as those required by troubleshooting, (Koole, et al. 2012).  Along with motivational issues, students may resolve themselves to believing that there is only one correct path or resolution to a specific problem in which the educator is the gatekeeper of the solution. Rather than seeking the solution for themselves, students prefer to go straight to the source which develops a learned helplessness, (Miller, 2015).

How can students develop digital competence?

Digital competence is a very complex concept that spans several social, motivational, personal, cultural, and technical understandings, therefore, there is no straightforward way for developing digital competence.  However, educators play a big role in establishing foundations for competence that may lead to better problem-solving and troubleshooting in two major ways:

  1. Allowing for self-directed learning. A consensus exists in the fact that students need to be reflective of their own learning, (Miller, 2015 and Plaza de la Hoz, et. al., 2015).  The role of the educator then shifts to provide resources including digital tools that allow students to experiment by active participation and engagement.
  2. Change in class culture. The attitudes and beliefs of the educator also reflects importance of digital competence in students. If the educator places low importance in digital competence, the students learn not to value or develop these important skills.  The educator can establish new beliefs, resources, and structures to promote a culture of answer-seeking through appropriate digital tools and tool use. Lastely, students must build self-efficacy through trial and error in a safe environment.

While researchers are investigating efficient methods for developing competences, all sources agree that in order for students to be successful in the 21st century, educators must open up the path to new technologies, new pedagogies, and new attitudes that help build digital competency, (Miller, 2015, and Plaza de la Hoz, et. al., 2015).  

Resources

Hatlevik, O.E., Gudmundsdottik, G.B., Loi, M. (2015). Digital diversity among among upper secondary students: A multilevel analysis of the relationship between cultural capital, self-efficacy, strategic use of information, and digital competence. Computers & Education. 81: 245-353. Available from: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5W5P9bQJ6q0RFNib3A5Vm9wWWM/view

ISTE, (2017). ISTE standards for coaches. Available from:

https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

Koole, S.L., Jostmann, N.B., Baumann, N. (2012). Do demanding conditions help or hurt regulation? Available from: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5W5P9bQJ6q0M0QzalRBa0FfTXM/view

Miller, A. (2015, May 11). Avoiding learning helpness. Available from: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/avoiding-learned-helplessness-andrew-miller

Newhouse, B. (2017). Closing the digital competence gap. Available from: https://trainingindustry.com/magazine/issue/closing-the-digital-competence-gap/

Plaza de la Hoz, J., Mediavilla, D.M., Garcia-Gutierrez, J. (2015). How do teachers develop digital competence in their students? Appropriations, problematics, and perspectives. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301914474_How_do_teachers_develop_Digital_Competence_in_their_students_Appropriations_problematics_and_perspectives

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