Category Archives: Content Knowledge and Professional Growth

“How’m I Doing?”: How to Tell if Peer Coaching is Working and if You’re Doing it Right

A Seemingly Simple Question I’m the kind of person who likes feedback. I like to know if I’m headed in the right direction and if I’m doing the right things to get there. The late Ed Koch, former Mayor of New York, used to ask people, “How’m I doing?” and it quickly became a sort-of … Continue reading "“How’m I Doing?”: How to Tell if Peer Coaching is Working and if You’re Doing it Right"

Collegial Relationships and Instructional Coaching: Module 2

Introduction to Module 2 and My Question

This week I was thinking about developing professional relationships when in a new role. I wanted to reflect on that process and find out what was normal. At the same time I wanted to consider ISTE 1 d for coaches, how coaches advocate for change, that is the standard behind our module. So in my research for my M.Ed. in Digital Education Leadership Program at SPU, I decided to look for some sources outside of the world of education where coaching has been around and has been popular for some time. I will try to share best practices for building collegial relationships and some things that stood out to me in particular as useful from what I found in the business world and a connection between instructional technology coaching and literacy coaching. 

Building Collegial Relationships

 

How do we build collegial relationships? I find myself wondering about that, probably in part because I am building collegial relationships across schools, in a new district all at the same time. It’s common practice for coaches to only go into classes after they have been invited, probably to avoid any feeling of evaluative practice being associated with them. So here I am waiting for an invitation. How do instructional technology coaches develop relationships across multiple school buildings? It is something that takes time as I’ve read multiple times in the book Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration (Foltos, 2013),  and in other resources I’ve used for my past two blog posts. I came across an article at Mindtools about building great relationships at work. I don’t want to summarize the entire article here, but you can go and read it if you would like, but I do think much of it applies to new coaches and anyone who has many interpersonal interactions at work. Instead I want to talk about parts of the article that stood out to me as an instructional technology coach. The article does link Mindfulness to building great relationships at work. That seems to be a hot term lately in education, and for good reason. I wrote about  mindfulness in my mission and vision as a digital education leader earlier in my program. Being mindful seems to draw us out of ourselves, that reflection leads us to think more about others and their needs and concerns, not just focusing on our own. It makes sense that practicing mindfulness in regard to your words and actions would lead to better work relationships. A couple other ideas stood out to me from this article, one was identifying your relationship needs along with focusing on your EI and listening actively and being positive  (Mindtools, n.d.).

It seems important to know what you need from others and what they need from you, especially in the position of a coach (Mindtools, n.d.). Part of a coaches role is helping teachers to figure out what they can do to grow their practice, through reflection. To me that seems like another way to say, understand what others need from you. As an instructional technology coach I also need to know what I need from others, or what I can learn from them. There is so much to learn, it’s important to keep that in mind in order to take advantage of the many opportunities I have to learn from others. In addition, I want to be sure to voice what I have learned or am learning from them, to emphasize the peer to peer relationship we have. Continue reading Collegial Relationships and Instructional Coaching: Module 2

Screencasting in the Classroom: Using Video for School Based PD with Staff and Students

Community Engagement Project

For the final project in EDTC 6104 – Digital Learning Environments I’m reflecting on my Community Engagement Project. Using screencasting in the classroom for instruction with students or PD with staff members. I attempted to identify a learning need for a community of educators and design a workshop and presentation to distribute the content through a presentation at a local conference. I initially had a difficult time thinking of an area where I was comfortable and capable of providing PD or exposure to a specific topic for a group of K-12 educators. Eventually I settled on the topic of screencasting. I decided to apply to present this project at a local technology conference, NCCE. When I was thinking about the length I knew it would be between 30 and 60 minutes based on the topic and what I had to say luckily the conference application helped, since there was a choice for a 50 minute spot or a 2 hour spot. I went for 50 minutes.

Engaged and Active Learning

A focus of our class was active and engaged learning in a digital environment. It was a challenge to incorporate into PD especially since I am used to sit-and-get style of PD. I have done a lot of thinking and reflecting on how to adapt and update PD to a more engaging style, but putting it into practice has proved to be difficult. One way I’ve attempted to engage learners is to provide freedom, and that is a great draw of video, you make videos that fit the purpose according what is needed in your class or by your staff. I hope participants will be engaged because they are able to apply this learning to their individual classrooms and plan videos for their students or staff. Another idea was to incorporate flipped learning content into the session. I decided that trying to get participants to record their own screencast before coming to the PD would hopefully help spark an interest and facilitate buy-in from participants. I also decided to try to gather the recorded videos together along with a description to create a library of screencast and video resources that would hopefully benefit teachers for use in their classrooms or job. To get participants involved in the session I attempted to have them script and record a screencast toward the end of our time. In planning for this, I have some concerns because I’ve heard conference wifi can be unreliable at times and video of course requires more bandwidth.

I really hope that the idea of a library of screencast videos would serve as a springboard for teachers recording more videos, or using videos linked through this Google site in their own classrooms. I will be interested to get feedback and track the use over time through some sort of analytics. As I was thinking about adding one more website to teachers taxed brains, I became concerned that mine would not stand out. I don’t have any answers, and I realized I have no way to remind anyone that it exists. I’m hoping that if my training is valuable and the videos recorded by others are shared this will become a valuable site for the teachers that visit. Who knows, maybe it can be used by my school district in some way. Right now, as you can see below it is just beginning as a basic Google site with four different pages focused on gathering and sharing screencast videos and my presentation.

The main page from the screencast collective website.

Content Knowledge Needs

During this quarter we focused on the ISTE Coaching Standards, and specifically standard 3. We covered the standard extensively and because of the time we put in reflecting and applying standard 3, I felt that my project meets many of the indicators for standard 3. I had difficulty explaiThis is the draft website showing my presentation resources. ning other content knowledge standards that are me by using screencasting for student learning and staff PD because the application is so broad. However, I can reflect on how I have used screencasts and instructional videos in my classroom in the past and share the content knowledge I have incorporated and what standards those videos could address for students or staff. I was looking back at some of my instructional videos tied to 4th grade math standards and I found that instructional videos for two chapters on fractions covered nearly all of the common core state standards for fractions for 4th grade. Instructional videso do differ from screencasts in my experience in recording however, and I have not yet made such a clear connection to standards in my own screencasts. I find that I often use screencasts to allow for more time to focus on standards within a lesson or in class because they help explain how to use a tool or how to navigate within a tool that will be used often in class.

Teachers Needs

One benefit of choosing to focus on screencasting and video is that it can be used for a variety of purposes. The skill of recording screencasts can be focused on student needs or the needs of teachers. I was able to record videos that I used for both purposes which I felt could be beneficial to share with other teachers. Teacher needs are vast, and we are stretched in many different directions. Recording a video can be one way to alleviate some of the pressures felt by teachers because it allows some basic needs and directions to be explained outside of the instructional block, or frees the teacher to focus attention on complex standards or deeper thinking.

The shared screencasts page from the screencast collective website.

Collaborative Participation

In past classes and in our class on on Digital Learning Environments we’ve been studying about engagement and professional development and best practices around engagement. So, naturally I want to make the professional development I’m providing as engaging as possible to those in attendance. From past investigations I should know how to do that but I found that knowledge very difficult to put into practice! I found that there were outside factors that limited my ability to provide the type of collaborative participation I wanted. Our class often discussed the constraints of the wireless network at large conferences, so when leading a PD session that is focused on videos posted online, naturally audience participation in the form of making their own videos is limited. Honestly, because of those limits I find myself more understanding of the typical forms of PD we experience as teachers. That being said, I don’t want my desire for transformation of PD to end here. I hope that in my upcoming classes and in my new job this year I will be able to continue working to transform the type of PD teachers experience. It is great to hear about things that are working across the country from our readings, as well as reading and hearing from classmates about their experiences in providing meaningful and differentiated PD opportunities. I still have a lot left to learn, in fact I’ll never be finished learning as all teachers know, but I feel that I’m on a great path that will hopefully benefit others along the way.

Resources

Building Technology Infrastructure for Learning. (2017, June). U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from https://tech.ed.gov/files/2017/07/2017-Infrastructure-Guide.pdf

Googling to the Max

Tell any student you’re going to teach them how to use Google and they will tune you out immediately. Everyone knows how to “Google” [insert a student’s exaggerated eye roll here]. They might have a point, “Googling” has become so synonymous with basic web searching that it has become a verb:

I am here to argue that “googling” is not as intuitive as our students (or society) might think. At least, not highly effective searching. I have been teaching colleagues and students some helpful tips for the last several years and I am also excited to see how in awe they are of these few simple tricks that are not commonly known. If you were to do a basic search of “Google Search Tips” you will find a plethora of articles and posts, but these are a few of my favorites:

Download (PDF, 317KB)

Try to model some of these treasures with your students and they may have a new appreciation for your superb “Googling” skills. I must note that while I have long been using the term “Googling to the Max” for this presentation, it seems there are several others that use this title, as well. I created the … Read More

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Module 1: Blended Learning in PD

This quarter we will consider how to best create and support digital learning environments through the lens of a technology coach. In module 1 we are focusing on performance indicators a & c under ISTE Standard 3 for Coaches. Those two indicators ask how collaboration and classroom management can be used effectively to maximize the use of digital tools and resources in technology-rich learning environments by teachers and students, (ISTE, 2011). Indicator 3c asks coaches to “coach teachers in and model the use of 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,” (ISTE, 2011). The part that stands out to me most as I transition into my new role is indicator 3c. I decided to continue my investigation into best practices in professional development, work that I started in my final post last quarter that can be read here (link). In that post I talked broadly about professional development (PD) and about how it could be improved to best serve teachers who integrate  technology into teaching. Here I will continue that work by focusing on how technology coaches can support teachers to through the PD.  Today my question deals specifically with blended learning, and asks how it can be incorporated into professional development for teachers so that they can begin to use it in their classroom. 

My reading notes are below:

Blended Learning in the Classroom

As I was reading about how to best incorporate the blended learning model into a classroom I read that the most effective way is to have technology integration that is perfectly matched to a curriculum. Karen Johnson writes that for Pamela Baack to commit to blended learning the school’s choice to use Zearn allowed all activities to be focused on the same goals, (Johnson, 2016, June 14). I think this is an ideal approach but in my experience it would be rare for teachers to have that option. Instead as technology coaches I think part of our work is to show, and maybe talk about, how it is an ongoing process to find a blended learning tool that works well within a classroom. That work is likely never finished.

In my research a lot of what I read about personalization of learning in a classroom through blended learning applies to adult learning as well. I often read about practices that are used with students being applied to PD. Two articles by the same author gave me a basic plan for how I might demonstrate blended learning to teachers within a PD session and they left me with many other questions to investigate.

Ideas for Blended Learning in PD

The first idea from the EdSurge article by Stepan Mekhitarian is to incorporate some blended learning into your demonstration or use of technology within the PD session. He does write that it shouldn’t just included for the sake of having it in there, it should be thoughtfully integrated and tied to the overall instructional focus and goal of the PD session. In other words, pick a tool “to further advance learning and progress toward the objective” (Mekhitarian, 2016, November 19). The author says this might look like using Google Docs to collaborate during a PD on questioning. Or collect responses from participants and use them in the activity. These both sound like fine ways to demonstrate integration of technology but they seem to be low on the ladder in SAMR. I would think they are at the Substitution level and maybe collecting survey responses instantaneously might land in the Augmentation or Modification stage. I still wonder what a more powerful demonstration of blended learning might look like for teachers.

The next suggestion is to co-plan and co-lead professional development with teachers to build capacity in those teachers as school leaders and instructional experts. This is an area where I see a lot of potential growth for my previous district  and I’m interested to know where my new district is at with this point. I see great potential in this area because many teachers have a wide range of technology skills and many no doubt have powerful and innovative applications of technology that they are using in their classroom however, in order to build this practice in teachers I think that there would need to be a more consistent focus on encouraging those teachers to present. In my previous district there were times where teachers were asked to share a PD because of an area of strength they showed, but the PD provided was sporadic and often seemed disconnected from the larger vision of the district or the plan of individual schools. I don’t yet know all that goes into planning PD for an entire district, nor do I know how much flexibility there is in sight based PD throughout the year but I hope to find that there will be an opportunity to co-plan and co-lead PD with teachers who are harnessing the power of tech to improve instructional outcomes.

The final idea suggested in the EdSurge article from Stepan Mekhitarian is to offer a place for optional workshops where teachers who use blended learning resources can gather to discuss and compare resources as well as continue to learn about resources that were introduced in a PD session.

In the second article Mekhitarian suggests some similar ways of incorporating blended learning models into PD for teachers. He adds a more explicit call for peer observation, which I think would benefit teachers in multiple ways including building a peer group around blended learning. Both articles have good points but I also would have liked a more clear example for many of his ideas. Hopefully as I work to provide PD for teachers I am able to record some ways that I demonstrate using blended learning and I can add those back to this post. In the end I think a clear vision and purpose for PD from administration will support teachers. This quote from Ellen Dorr resonated with me, “teachers are going to create strong learning environments for their students when they are involved in similar environments themselves–and it’s up to you to support them, administrators” (Dorr, 2015). Now I will have a role in that work.

Resources

Dorr, E. (2015, November 4). How Administrators Can Design the Best Learning Experiences for Teachers – EdSurge News. Retrieved July 5, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2015-11-04-how-administrators-can-design-the-best-learning-experiences-for-teachers

ISTE Standards For Coaches. (2011). Retrieved July 1, 2017, from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

Johnson, K. (2016, June 14). 6 Steps to Make Math Personal—Tech Makes It Possible, Teachers Make It Happen – EdSurge News. Retrieved July 7, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-06-14-6-steps-to-make-math-personal-tech-makes-it-possible-teachers-make-it-happen

Mekhitarian, S. (2016, November 19). Understanding Blended Learning Through Innovative Professional Development – EdSurge News. Retrieved July 7, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-11-19-understanding-blended-learning-through-innovative-professional-development

Strauss, V. (2015, June 15–500). Blended learning: The great new thing or the great new hype? Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/06/21/blended-learning-the-great-new-thing-or-the-great-new-hype/

ISTE 4: Teachers Who Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Ethical Use – Can We Try Different?

The Standard

ISTE for Teachers Standard 4 states that “teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices” (ISTE 2008). To me that seemed like quite a charge. It’s a huge responsibility for teachers, but it is one that is essential in the 21st century. Initially I was planning on investigating how primary teachers demonstrate to their students that they are ethical users of technology and I wondered how that positively impacted students? When I started researching and thinking about how teachers could be empowered to be responsible and ethical users of technology, I began to realize the vast quest that this standard entails. Like many of our modules in the Digital Education Leadership Program at Seattle Pacific University, I think that is the point of our assignment and our research. We are working toward a M.Ed. but we are also embodying the charge of the school of education at SPU, part of the mission is “to equip educators for service and leadership in schools and communities by developing their professional competence and character, to make a positive impact on learning.” I think that part of the reason we are focusing on standards that are very broad is to prepare us for conversations we will have with teachers and other stakeholders in the future as we become technology leaders in our schools and districts.

Try Different

Maybe we can’t just try harder, maybe we need to try something different?

Technology PD and Teachers

Recently I found myself in a PD for Code.org this week and while listening to the presentation and participating in the PD, I was thinking about the ethical use of technology by teachers and how it relates to how we teach digital citizenship to our students. I had a realization and thought that made sense to me. I don’t think that districts can expect teachers to be examples of ethical users of technology unless they are willing to invest in some kind of PD to encourage teachers to be aware of the lapses, blind spots and disconnects in the ethical use of technology. As users of technology, and teachers we are all over the place in our use and struggle to grasp content in any technology PD. Therefore, I think that slowing down and building in a focus on ethical use to every PD would aid in the process of teachers demonstrating this ethical use to students in the classroom. Are there standards that explain how to demonstrate ethical use in an elementary school? What does this instruction look like in primary versus intermediate grades? I mostly found resources for teaching digital citizenship to students, as expected. There is definitely room for improvement there in my own classroom as well as in my school. Using an LMS as a safe environment that mimics social media is one strategy (Hertz, M.B., 2011). Engaging videos like Follow the Digital Trail with Pause & Think are great for primary students. I guess in my research I came to realize that while teaching digital citizenship is necessary, I struggled to find how we can encourage and empower all teachers to teach it. They have to know that it matters! I think certain groups in every school could help to transmit that message with some slight modifications to common practice.

The Current System, Slightly Modified

Teachers who are motivated and fluent users of technology can be examples for students. It seems that most districts, based on my experience, as well as the experience of colleagues I’ve talked to in this program, expect librarians to be the main instructors responsible with informing students about the expectations for digital citizenship. Therefore, librarians would be the ones who receive PD related to digital citizenship from technology coaches or coordinators. In my building we have a technology team but most of the professional development is actually done by the administrator or the coaches and leadership team members. What if districts invested in these teams and encouraged them to demonstrate ethical use of technology to the rest of the staff? I imagine that doing so might help it to trickle down to students. In my building this seems like it would be a good start. Or, could a technology team at a building level provide the necessary PD yearly to encourage ethical use from teachers? I think it is possible but it would take a district level commitment that I have yet to see or hear about from others. Additionally I think that districts could continue to empower a larger number of students to be ethical users of technology by offering optional technology classes taught by a district level technology employee or a motivated teacher in order to focus on ethical use and integration of technology into learning.

This week I’m also reflecting on my own use of technology. What is my use like at school and at home? How are the two related? Where can I improve to be a better example? What are the primary reasons that I even use technology? I’ll continue to think about those questions and make it a goal to build in new habits when I identify a lapse or blind spot.

My notes from readings:

Other Questions and Conclusion

Is video PD a reliable way to help teachers remain current on ethical use of technology? Thinking about my role as a technology leader in my school I realize that my example in the ethical use of technology matters. I also think that administrators can influence a teacher’s ethical use of technology by becoming an example and referring to ethical use. Teachers are definitely busy, it is a challenge to fit in anything extra, but building in new habits can be a good investment for our own ethical use and examples for students. I think that teams in each school building could start off by being the example for how to do this to the general classroom teachers. Again, as I have said in past posts, I’m really just scratching the surface for ISTE 4. 

A Promising Resource

One resource that I came across really seemed say a lot that resonated with what I know and have learned about technology through my own use and through PD was about preparing teachers for technology integration. I don’t know that it is entirely relevant to this post on ethical use and how teacher promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility, but it is a resource I will likely return to later. The article by Jacobson, Clifford and Friesen makes me excited to see how new teachers will be trained to integrate technology into their teaching, and perhaps with an increased focus in the university, these new teachers will be prime examples of digital citizenship for their students. However, in the meantime this paragraph might fit where we are currently at, and hopefully it motivates reluctant adopters to give it a try:

“Learning and teaching with technology is hard, it can be overwhelming, and the field is always changing. The way in which preservice teachers reacted to the ICT Program of Studies and building web pages is much like the reaction of many class room teachers and faculty members when they grapple with how to integrate technology and the curriculum. It is also the way that experienced technology users venture into an area that is unfamiliar to them. Because the field is changing so quickly, everyone is in some sense a beginner. And everyone has exactly the same starting place where they are, at the moment. While where you are will change with experience and the acquisition of skills and knowledge, there will always be new skills, new knowledge, and new starting places for us all (Jacobson, Clifford, & Friesen, 2002).

I think this is an attitude we should all strive to have in our approach to technology, ethical use and the integration of technology into our classrooms.

Resources:

Follow the Digital Trail. (n.d.). [Clip]. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/videos/follow-the-digital-trail

Hertz, M. B. (2011, October 12). Teaching digital citizenship in the elementary classroom [Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/digital-citizenship-mary-beth-hertz

Jacobson, M., Clifford, P., & Friesen, S. (2002). Preparing teachers for technology integration: Creating a culture of inquiry in the context of use. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 2(3). Retrieved from http://www.citejournal.org/volume-2/issue-3-02/current-practice/preparing-teachers-for-technology-integration-creating-a-culture-of-inquiry-in-the-context-of-use/

Ohler, J. (2012). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital edge. Education Digest, 77(8), 14–17. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.spu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=f5h&AN=83515505&site=ehost-live

Ribble, M., & Northern Miller, T. (2013). Educational leadership in an online world: Connecting students to technology responsibly, safely, and ethically. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(1), 137–145. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1011379.pdf

Seattle Pacific University School of Education. (2017). Retrieved from http://spu.edu/academics/school-of-education/about/four-commitments/conceptual-framework

Simsek, E., & Simsek, A. (2013). New literacies for digital citizenship. Contemporary Education Technology, 4(2), 126–137. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED542213.pdf

Venosdale, K. (2012). Try Different [Digital Print]. Retrieved from https://flic.kr/p/bcXwrr 

Deeper Learning and Formative Assessment Module 2 EDTC 6103

Deeper Learning for All

This module asks how a teacher can best design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments from ISTE Standards for Teachers #2. I am becoming more and more passionate about the idea of making learning relevant for students through the use of digital tools. I’ve always had a desire to make learning relevant for students, (Why do I teach right?), but in my exploration of technology integration over the past 5 years or so and more acutely since I started my M.Ed. in Digital Education Leadership I’ve felt an urgency to make learning relevant through the use of technology.

Everyday I see the negative effects of students who are not totally engaged in learning. No matter how much I think that the learning matters to them, and in spite of my desire to communicate the authentic connection that many standards in fact do have to students lives, still they are unable to fully connect to their learning. I am convinced that technology can empower teachers to help students make authentic connections with their learning. Additionally, I am convinced that through careful planning, intentional integration, a refusal to settle and a focused desire to make learning meaningful teachers can make changes to the learning environment that will positively impact their students. I’ve seen too many videos and read too many articles related to personalized learning, challenge based learning, design thinking and project based learning to think that these approaches do not positively impact students. So today and during this module my desire was to find out how can I go about beginning the process of transforming my classroom or at the very least one subject into a more powerful and more authentic learning environment for students.

I wondered, how can teachers begin to transition from dispensers of knowledge to co-constructors of knowledge with students while moving toward empowering students to discover their own knowledge through personalized learning, connected learning or other authentic learning experiences? What are some initial steps that can be taken by teachers to move toward a learning environment that engages students in investigating their own interests related to content standards? Really these questions are focused toward my own practice. How can I move toward breaking away from traditional teaching in order to harness the power of “deeper learning approaches [that] are more effective than traditional lecture-style models of teaching,” (Adams Becker, Freeman, Giesinger Hall, Cummings, & Yuhnke, 2016).

I knew this was a lofty question, but I decided to give it a try. After investigating for the limited amount of time that I had, I have a few ideas. My thinking is definitely still in process, but I’m starting to piece it together. Maybe the most exciting advancement is that the more co-workers I talk to about the prospect of starting a project related to deeper learning, the more I’m finding are interested in the same thing!

The Ostensible First Step for me

Changing the environment

The traditional classroom environment is boring. I’m no interior designer, but even I am not inspired when I step into a traditional classroom. I believe that a classroom probably shouldn’t look like it did when I went to elementary school close to 30 years ago. I know that not all of us can work in newly remodeled schools, but what can we do to change the environment nonetheless? I want to begin changing my classroom environment. I think that the video on Flexible Classrooms that I found from Edutopia offers some good insight and suggestions for teachers.

According to Lisa Molinaro, the principal of Woodbrook Elementary School, the first thing that needs to happen for Albemarle teachers to successfully create a flexible classroom is: “The teacher must have a vision for his or her room. The teacher must be willing to say, I’m going to throw out some of this stuff. I don’t need this traditional schooling equipment,” (Flexible Classrooms: Providing the learning environment that kids need, 2015). Some ideas that I have to try for my room are, increase the types of seating that I have, as well as add flexible book shelves that can be moved to create work spaces, nooks, or in order to open up the room.

“We’re really looking at how we support kids working collaboratively,” Fisher says. “And we can’t do it if we’re isolated in rows and every kid is an island,” (Flexible Classrooms: Providing the learning environment that kids need, 2015). With collaborative learning in mind, I will develop a vision for my own classroom. 

Possible Next Steps

As I change my learning environment, I can begin to focus on modifying my instruction as well. Of course I’m constantly changing my instruction, but a drastic change that would enable deeper learning seems daunting to me. Honestly, I couldn’t find a lot of information on what to do next. I do have some ideas based on the resources I found and investigated but it is simply my own interpretation of what would work best in my school, my classroom and for my students. From what I have read thus far on deeper learning, that is the best way to start.

I have slowly, over the past two years, often unknowingly, integrated concepts of personalized learning into my math instruction but I still struggle to make math meaningful for my students, especially those who feel that they are not good at math. I know a couple areas of focus persist that are seemingly unrelated to deeper learning. I want to continue to ensure that my students develop a growth mindset and model that for them. Also I want to encourage students to make real world connections to the math we are learning. Finally, I want to begin to design a project based learning assignment for the end of the year that will use the variety of math concepts we have studied during the year.

I read in many resources about the importance of knowing your student population when deciding about what technology will work for them or, which learning style is best for students. I think that age matters. What works for middle elementary students? That is something I will continue to investigate.

Also one definite next step came from sharing my ideas with other teachers. I found that many of the instructional coaches at my school are very excited to delve into deeper learning. That gives me some support in taking on this work in my school and in my classroom.

Integrating Assessment into Deeper Learning

During this module I was reminded that a plethora of formative assessment tools that are moderately easy to use do exists. I chose to focus on Socrative, but in my investigation and through talking to classmates I was reminded of a few other relatively easy to use resources. Some ideas I want to keep in mind for formative assessment are Plickers, Google Forms, Seesaw, Recap and a few more. I did find a video by Richard Byrne that most closely resembled my idea of a simple formative assessment. In the video from his blog Richard explains how to use a feature that was added to Socrative sometime around 2013. He suggests that you can take a quiz and add possible answers students would enter in order to create a self-grading quiz, (Byrne, 2013).

Here are the answers I attempted to account for…

That is exactly the type of thing I was looking for! I wondered if that same quiz could integrate a reflection or short answer question. I found that it was possible to combine a self grading quiz with a reflection question, or so I thought until I saw the grading form. As you can see in my attached spreadsheet that shows the results, it didn’t work perfectly on my first try. According to Socrative, none of my students got any answers correct, but when I went back to check there were 12 out of 17 who had correct answers, about 71%. I know I must have done something wrong, but I was hoping it would be so easy that I’d get it right the first time. Still in spite of this setback, I do think that Socrative is a great formative assessment resource, and the self-correction tool is one I will learn how to use correctly. I also am really happy that I’m not limited to just multiple choice or questions that will not facilitate deeper learning. I’m glad that reflection can be demonstrated through the same tool.

This post is another of mine that doesn’t end with a “solution” that is as clear as I would like but there is evidence that the difficult work is worth beginning. One idea that keeps coming back to me and pushing my to change my thinking is this quote from the Horizon Report: “deeper learning occurs when students are provided with greater flexibility and choice so that their passions can guide them,” (Adams Becker et al., 2016). I will work to use my classroom environment, technology and formative assessment to enable and encourage deeper learning. 

Resources:

Adams Becker, S., Freeman, A., Giesinger Hall, C., Cummings, M., & Yuhnke, B. (2016). NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2016 K-12 Edition. The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from http://cdn.nmc.org/media/2016-nmc-cosn-horizon-report-k12-EN.pdf

Basye, D. (2016 10–23). Personalized vs. differentiated vs. individualized learning. ISTE. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=124&category=In-the-classroom&article=Personalized-vs-differentiated-vs-individualized-learning&utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=EdTekHub

Byrne, R. (2013, April 19). Video – How to use the new features of socrative [Blog]. Retrieved from http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2013/04/video-how-to-use-new-features-of.html#.WP2D4FMrLUp

Flexible classrooms: Providing the learning environment that kids need. (2015, August 4). [Video Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/practice/flexible-classrooms-providing-learning-environment-kids-need

Free online resources engage elementary kids. (2012, June 13). [Video Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/tech-to-learn-free-online-resources-video

Roc, M. (2014). Connected Learning Harnessing the Information Age to Make Learning More Powerful (pp. 1–11). Alliance for Excellent Education. Retrieved from http://all4ed.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/ConnectedLearning.pdf

Module 1 EDTC 6103 Video Integration into Google Classroom

During the Spring quarter in the Digital Education Leadership M.Ed. program at SPU we are investigating the ISTE Standards for Teachers. Our first module asked us to reflect on and investigate ISTE Standard 1. The standard led to the question; how can teachers use their knowledge of content, teaching, learning and technology to advance student learning, creativity and innovation in face-to-face and virtual environments? This question connected with a topic related to one of my posts from last quarter.

I thought it would be fitting to investigate how a teacher can use their knowledge of subject matter and technology to facilitate student learning using Google Classroom through video or screencasting.

Again I’m thinking about how well chosen video can aid instruction, provide direction even encourage reflection by students. In addition to video, I wonder if screencasts done by a teacher would lead to some of the same outcomes?  Finally I wonder how a teacher’s use of technology might lead a student to reflect on their learning using the same technology, or through commenting on a video? Can student learning be advanced through these methods?

From my research it is easy to find advice on what tools to use to make screencasts or videos, or statements that say that instructional time is increased but data on student learning is harder to find. The idea that in a 1:1 classroom teachers could save instructional time by having students watch screencasts or instructional videos at home or at another time in order to avoid explaining procedures and directions does make sense to me based on my experience in an elementary classroom. However, it might take even more planning in a school without 1:1 devices. I don’t work in a 1:1 school, however through BYOD and computer or iPad carts it could be possible to move our 3:1 ratio up to 1:1 on certain days or at certain times.

These are my notes from module 1

So how does using a screencast or video in Google Classroom relate to instruction? One piece of advice that is often repeated by an instructional coach at my school is that the lesson is just an invitation. That is good advice, it is always good to remember more teacher talk does not necessarily lead to increased learning. With that in mind I think that using a screencast or a short video to give instructions or possibly a series of directions could in fact benefit a student’s understanding. Even creating a lesson recap, which I will talk about a bit later, would support the idea that students don’t have to be with me at all times in a lesson to further their conceptual understanding of concepts. Suppose an ELL is able to go back to and replay directions as needed? Wouldn’t that give them additional time and chances to process the language which might lead to an increased understanding? Obviously other scaffolds are needed, but repeated exposure is a start.

More reading notes

Related to my use of Google Classroom, I am specifically interested in cataloging video within the stream. I have begun using classroom in one subject area in my day in an intermediate elementary classroom, but I’m finding that the stream is becoming difficult to navigate for students. I came across a post by Alice Keeler that might help to solve my problem. In her blog post she suggests creating an additional class to use purely as a video resource. The class can be called a video library so that students know exactly what they will find in that stream. There she suggests posting videos for instructions that are about 30 seconds in length and linking them to assignments in the other class. 30 seconds! That seems tough, but it makes sense because she adds, even in a 1 minute video it can be tough to find that one spot. If I’m talking about ELL students again how much more difficult would understanding become for them within a longer video. She also suggests creating a playlist of videos to explain a larger concept, or a set of directions with each video being under a minute long. A couple takeaways for me are to create shorter videos for instructions but also to create shorter videos to explain content. Another related support for navigating the classroom stream is the ctrl + f function. In trying to find a way to search the stream I found that there is not really a way to do that yet apart from ctrl + f. This is a topic that could be taught to students and recorded in a screencast to help them navigate more efficiently. The Google product forums are a great place to look for advice related to the use of Google Classroom.

Another idea for using video or screencasts to introduce new concepts or recap previous lessons. This approach can help you flip your classroom which allows for an increased amount of rigorous or collaborative work to be accomplished during class (Fiorentino & Orfanidis, 2017). I think of teachers in my school who are asking students to complete complicated multi-step projects over an extended period of time, similar to what we read about during this module challenge based learning (CBL), project based learning (PBL) or design thinking processes, they could begin to integrate Google Classroom as a way to post directions through video, text or screencast to allow students to focus on difficult or collaborative tasks while at school, instead of taking time to read or listen to directions. Directions could even be shared in advance and watched for homework.

In my school I think that many teachers are inspiring student creativity in many different ways. I’ve seen teachers engaging students in a poetry unit that culminates with a poetry slam where students present their own original poems to a wide audience of parents, staff and community members. I’ve also see a unit about Greece culminate with Greek days, where students try to replicate the ancient Greek culture and engage in some of the oldest olympic events as a grade level tracking their performance and comparing results as a class. Finally I’ve seen students in my school take their learning around simple machines in science and culminate the unit by building Rube Goldberg machines using a combination of simple machines. Many of these projects would definitely fit into the CBL, PBL or design thinking processes. I wonder if any of these teachers have used these processes to complete these projects? If not, would any of those frameworks improve their projects?  Maybe some professional development focused in those three areas would allow teachers to get even more out of the amazing projects they have created. Perhaps focused integration of technology would lead to increased student learning or understanding. In the very least teaching students about how they can use video to record and improve upon their design processes would begin to use some of the 21st century skills that they will need to be successful in the workforce. It is even possible that if teachers use Google Classroom to present their projects it could increase efficiency and lead to greater outcomes for students.

Teachers can make videos or screencasts to support content instruction, minimize whole class directions, or to encourage reflection during and after instruction or throughout the process of PBL, CBL or design thinking processes. Students could also make videos or screencasts as a way to demonstrate learning, especially after a unit. These videos and screencasts will likely lead to increased understanding by students. I am still looking for definitive evidence to support the idea that reflection through technology would advance student learning but it seems like something I could investigate in my own classroom through the use of commenting within Google Classroom, or video reflection. Instruction that is implemented through Google Classroom frees up the teacher to work with struggling learners or to check in with students for an extended period of time as they explore a concept in class. Finally through media students can access the content of the classroom from anywhere at any time which would allow for more collaboration or exploration in the classroom leading to increased learning outcomes.

All of this leads me to believe that a logical course of action for my classroom is still to encourage students to find academic content on YouTube. Then I will post those videos within my Google Classroom stream that is specifically dedicated to video and link those assignments in my original classroom. Then continue to create my own content related videos or screencasts. I will also use videos and screencasts to teach students how to use the Classroom stream more efficiently and as a recap to lessons that are taught in class. Eventually I would even be interested in creating a flipped classroom if only in one subject as a starter in my elementary classroom. I see all of those concepts as supports that will aid in student understanding. Ultimately I think all of those supports will lead students to become more creative in their demonstration of learning as they see how I use video in new ways. Finally, I will encourage students to reflect through comments or through their own videos that they will in turn post in our Google Classroom stream which will lead to the collaborative construction of knowledge.

Resources

Brown, P. (2016, February 17). 7 ways to spark collaboration and imagination in your classroom [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-02-17-7-ways-to-spark-collaboration-and-imagination-in-your-classroom

Fiorentino, J., & Orfanidis, D. (2017, March 14). New G suite apps to boost your effectiveness. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/new-g-suite-apps-boost-effectiveness-jacqueline-fiorentino-danielle-orfanidis

Harmon, E. (2016, November 1). Searching within the classroom stream [Public]. Retrieved from https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/google-education/pK3Y5HItlMs;context-place=topicsearchin/google-education/searching$20within$20the$20stream

International Society for Technology in Education. (n.d.). ISTE Standards for Teachers. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-teachers

Juliani, A. (2013, January 23). 10 commandments of innovative teaching. Retrieved from http://ajjuliani.com/10-commandments-innovative-teaching/

Keeler, A. (2016, August 29). Google classroom: Video playlists in a video library [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://alicekeeler.com/2016/08/29/google-classroom-video-playlists/

Individual Project: The Literary Essay as an Online Review

My individual project is the last blog post of this quarter in the Seattle Pacific University Digital Education Leadership M.Ed. program. In this post I will reflect on the process of backward planning using the understanding by design (UbD) format and reflect on what facets of understanding my students may display at the end my set of lessons. Most of what I write will be speculative since I am currently in the middle of teaching this unit and have not yet gotten to the focus lessons highlighted in the unit plan.

The UbD lesson format is time consuming when considering planning an entire unit, or even lessons in a unit. I find the work to be valuable based on how I anticipate my teaching will go when I deliver the lessons however, I found that adapting the curriculum to align with the UbD format is more time consuming that my typical planning. However, I do not want to discount the fact that planning is a process that is accelerated with additional practice, especially when adopting a new format or teaching a new unit. For me this unit is completely new, and I haven’t practiced the UbD format since my undergraduate degree, so the format could in fact be one that I begin to use again with additional practice. Also, I anticipate if I was planning one lesson in place of part of a unit it would require slightly less time. This project did offer me an excellent way to integrate digital citizenship instruction into a unit that otherwise has very little technology integration by asking students to publish final essays in a blog format and asking them to respond to each other’s work via online comments. I anticipate that both of those modifications will provide additional engagement for students in a unit that they appear to enjoy even without technology integration.
The six facets of understanding are a description from Wiggins and McTighe (2005) about what it means for students to truly understand. I will attempt to reflect on how my students will understand this content and unit based on the UbD formatting of the lessons. At the end of this unit I anticipate that my students will be able to demonstrate all of the facets of understanding because of the highly engaging content and the level of differentiation that can happen when each students is writing about a book they have chosen to read.

Students will be able to explain content and in explaining themes within a text, or character traits shared across texts, they will apply that knowledge to life and to real people which will allow them to interpret the actions of individuals.

Additionally after this unit students will become more empathetic because they will understand characters and people are multidimensional, they are not just one way. This understanding will allow students to see the big picture within a text, to understand the theme, or grasp what the author is trying to teach throughout the text. Finally students will relate the learning back to their own lives. They will wonder how they themselves are like characters in their books, or they will realize that they cannot fully understand a theme or character because they themselves do not have the life experiences necessary to understand in the way that others would.

Then in coming to that understanding I hope again that students would feel empathy and seek out different perspectives or feedback on their own thinking in order to better help them understand people and life.

The Literary Essay as an Online Review by James Bettis

Link to new window: https://jamesbettis.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/IndividualProject-JamesBettis-1.pdf 

Module 4: Computational Thinker and Mindful Teacher


Once again in investigating computational thinking and ISTE standard for students number 5, I was surprised at just how many different directions I could have gone in the search for answers on computational thinking. I was hoping to find some ways to integrate computational thinking into my classroom practice in order to build on the curriculum I already use. I was also hoping to discover how computational thinking might facilitate problem solving. I think that I came up with a partial answer to those questions at best. I found that first it was important to identify just what computational thinking entails in order to figure out how to integrate computational thinking into a curriculum or to find how computational thinking facilitates problem solving. I think that if teachers first have a basis for understanding what computational thinking is, then computational thinking will become a part of the classroom environment and be adapted into instruction for many K-12 teachers. It was reassuring to me to read that the description of computational thinking (CT) is still in flux, even after an article written by Jeanette Wing was published in 2006, since I was unfamiliar with the term computational thinking at the start of this module (Barr, Conery & Harrison 2011, p. 20). In a subsequent reading I found a basic definition for CT from Grover and Pea (2013) to include the following elements:

  • Abstractions and pattern generalizations (including models and simulation)
  • Systematic processing of information
  • Symbol systems and representations
  • Algorithmic notions of flow of control
  • Structured problem decomposition (modularizing)
  • Iterative, recursive and parallel thinking
  • Conditional logic
  • Efficiency and performance constraints
  • Debugging and systematic error detection

I did find that often those who are suggesting connections to CT for elementary or other K-12 teachers say that there a many connections between CT and curriculum we already use but most examples seem to be limited to math, or upper grade instruction. Some disciplines were completely left out, a colleague wondered, how does CT connect to the humanities? I’m not sure if he was able to ever answer that question. I think that maybe in the humanities, just as in elementary education we are in fact only scratching the surface for how we can integrate computational thinking into our practice. For me personally, having some concrete definitions in math did help me to understand how I could make those explicit connections, however I found myself thinking that I certainly have room for improvement within my practice. There were some chance happenings that I would like to build upon like my use of the word algorithm in describing the standard way of solving a multiplication or a division problem at the end of each respective unit. However, I wondered what does the word algorithm mean to students? Maggie Johnson (2016) says it well when she says “what is often missing in current examples of computational thinking is the explicit connection between what students are learning and its application in computing.” My investigation into ISTE 5 showed that I too am missing an explicit way to connect ISTE 5 and computational thinking to the curriculum I am already teaching. In my reading however, I did find that there are connections to be made. I think my goal regarding CT is to continue to build on those connections, make them specific to students and hope that another quote from Maggie Johnson (2013) rings true in my teaching “when something that students have used to solve an instance of a problem can automatically solve all instances of the that problem, it’s quite a powerful moment for them even if they don’t do the coding themselves.” I hope to be a bridge to students connecting their current learning to CT and in being that bridge I expect to see an increase in understanding that Maggie Johnson references in regard to the CT concept of translating a problem solving technique into an algorithm that is proven to be always true and a connection to ISTE 5d. 

Here is a charge that I would like to remember from Maggie Johnson that summarizes why we should teach computational thinking.

If we can make these explicit connections for students, they will see how the devices and apps that they use everyday are powered by algorithms and programs. They will learn the importance of data in making decisions. They will learn skills that will prepare them for a workforce that will be doing vastly different tasks than the workforce of today. (Johnson, 2016)

 

Resources:

Barr, D., Conery, L., & Harrison, J.  (2011). “Computational thinking: A digital age skill for everyone.” Learning & Leading with Technology, 38(6), 20-23.

Grover, S., Pea, R. (2013). “Computational thinking in K-12: A review of the state of the field.” Educational Researcher, 42(1), 38-42. DOI 10.3102/0013189X12463051

Johnson, M. (2016, August 03). Computational thinking for all students. [Blog]. Retrieved from https://blog.google/topics/education/computational-thinking-for-all-students_3/