When planning curriculum and gathering instructional materials teachers are always looking for ways to differentiate for the diverse learners in their classrooms. As teachers we do this on a daily basis and we do it so often that most of the time we hardly realize we are doing it. It’s just a strategy we use in order to provide all our students the best opportunities for success. But what about when it’s the teachers who are the learners? Is the learning being differentiated for us? Teachers are just as diverse as our students when it comes to what we require as learners if the learning is to be beneficial and effective.
As I look most closely at ISTE Coaching Standard 4 (Professional Development and Program Evaluation), specifically Performance Indicator B (Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.) I wanted to look more closely at how our knowledge of adult learning might impact our planning on professional learning experiences.
5 Ways to Differentiate Professional Learning
Differentiation by grade level
What works in a 4th or 5th grade class isn’t going to necessarily apply to a Kindergarten class. I have been in some very successful professional learning sessions where information is presented whole group and then teachers are divided up by grade levels (or grade level bands…K/1, 2/3, 4/5). This type of differentiation is most applicable to elementary schools.
Differentiation by subject area
This type of differentiation would apply more to middle and high school teachers. The professional learning experience could either be something that applies to most all teachers, for example: a training on Google Classroom, and there is a whole group session at the beginning and then subject area teams split off to discuss further how this particular learning could best apply to their subject area. Another way this type of differentiation could work is just by having teachers of different subject areas be focusing on completely different types of learning experiences based on the needs of their department.
Differentiation by experience
Technology professional development is an example of an area where different learners have different experiences with the tools and programs and also have different comfort levels. Some many want help learning how to print or add bookmarks and others may be ready to create screencasts or help students create blogs.
Differentiation by interest
Teachers are unique individuals and each bring a a part of themselves into their classrooms. Soe might have interest in incorporating yoga into their classrooms, some might add music to the curriculum, and others might enjoy cooking. And many teachers get ideas for how to enrich their curriculum from other teachers sharing their strategies and providing training.
Plan for Differentiation Before, During, and After
I found a blog post by Jen Cirillo on the ASCD website about differentiating instruction in professional learning and she mentions some steps to take before, during, and after the learning experience. Here are some of her suggestions:
Before the Experience:
Know your audience
Plan with flexibility
Think about what they need to know as practitioners (Cirillo, 2015)
During the Experience:
Model different ways of teaching
Remember that how you learn best isn’t always the way everyone else learns
Transparent facilitation anc check-ins
Consider the whole learner
Formative assessments (Cirillo, 2015)
After the Experience:
Ongoing learning and differentiation through: coaching/mentoring in the classroom, online learning, access to resources, or reflection logs (Cirillo, 2015).
This quarter my cohort for my Digital Education Leadership program is being asked to look closely at ISTE Standards for Coaches #4 which relates to Professional Learning and Program Evaluation. Within that standard performance indicator B looks at technology rich professional learning: “Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment (ISTE, 2017).” I wanted to explore the topic of asynchronous online teacher professional learning because I think the options and opportunities that are available in our digital world can have a tremendous impacts on teaching and student learning.
What’s a PLN?
A PLN is a Professional Learning Network. Different from traditional in-person one-size-fits-all professional learning experiences, a professional learning network (PLN) allows teachers to personalize their learning based on their experience, needs, and interests. A PLN allows teachers to take advantage of the tremendous network on teachers online who are willing to share, learn, and build community through a digital platform.
Jeff Knutson has a article on the Common Sense Media website called, “ From PLN to Practice: Tips from 5 Educators on Personalizing your Professional Learning” (Knutson, 2017). I found this interview and the suggestions and different perspectives these educators provided very helpful. When asked to define a PLN one educator (Lisa Dabbs) answered, “In traditional PD it’s often the case that an educator has no choice over the topic or the type of content shared. A PLN is more like a modern, 21st-century teacher’s lounge. A place where ideas can be shared, exchanged, talked about, and transformed. Ideally, a safe place where questions can be presented without judgment. A PLN is a place where an educator at any level can direct and guide their own learning. They can be their own seeker of knowledge.” (Knutson, 2017). This response really resonated with me and I like how she mentioned the lack of judgement and the power of choice in a PLN. Creating a safe learning environment and providing choice in learning activities are two of my goals for my own classroom, so it makes sense that those factors are key in adult learning. Another interview question that was asked was how to get started with a PLN. Some suggestions were “start small”, find a PLN mentor, and “take it at your own speed”. And the final, and I believe most important, question that Knutson asked his panel was how to put what is being learning through a PLN into practice. Because the best professional learning isn’t going to have a lot of value to you unless it is put into practice. My favorite quote here is “take a chance”. It can be scary to try new things in our classroom because, like many of our students, we are afraid to fail. And failing as a teacher can often be a public fail. But what a great way for us to model to our students our own learning and risk-taking.
The ISTE standards for Educators outline how educators can help model, support and teach digital citizenship for students. They are, as we’d hope, responsible use standards that focus on the things we do want teachers to do with technology. It uses words like “positive, socially responsible contributions”, “establish a learning culture”, “mentor students”, and “model and promote management of identity”. (See the graphic below for the full text of the Educator Standards.)
I am in full agreement that teachers need to be part of educating students about digital citizenship. In many districts it’s been a task turned over to librarians. For a long time libraries were where technology was happening and often the only place students had access to technology. However, in an age of 1:1 one devices, teachers are now in a better position to be able to address issues in the moment, spy out and use those teachable moments to teach students or reinforce digital responsibility, and they are there when the technology is being used. Librarians are still amazing resources for digital citizenship and digital and media literacy instruction. But what if we could take the task of teaching students those skills off the librarians plates and instead have them teach teachers those same skills?
I’ve been searching for a few months to try and find some resources to teach teachers about digital citizenship. I don’t mean how to teach them to teach their students, I’m talking about teaching teachers the things they need to know to keep themselves safe, protect their own digital reputations and become ethical consumers of digital information. I’m not sure its the same as just picking it up by osmosis as they are teaching students. It seems unfair but teachers, like a lot of public figures, are more in the spotlight than many other professions such as an accountant or a scientist. They work with children. There is a higher standard expected of teachers, especially in their interactions with students and parents. It’s not even enough to keep your professional and private lives separate online when everything is so searchable. So, I’d like to find some ways that I can help teachers understand their own professional responsibility when it comes to issues of social media, copyright, account privacy and other issues that could affect them and their professional reputations.
Let’s take the ISTE for Educator Standards and see what teachers might need to know in order to be able to model and teach the standards and protect their digital reputations:
Standards 3a & 3d
These two standards are about positive relationships online and managing one’s digital footprint. We want teachers using social media. It’s hard to stay relevant and connected without a social media presence anymore, but we do need teachers to know how to keep their presence appropriate and manage their digital reputation. One interesting resource I discovered was Childnet International. Their Social-Media-Guide-teachers-and-support-staff has some good advice about things like when it’s appropriate or not to “friend” students on social media, setting privacy settings on social media accounts and managing your professional reputation. Their online safety calendar 2017-2018 has links to video and print resources for teachers and checklists to help teachers manage their digital footprint and their social media sites. Their INSET Training also discusses issues of reporting and monitoring student behaviors. There are lots of good resources here that I will spend more time learning about and finding ways to incorporate into training for teachers.
There is also the issue of training teachers to take a closer look at the privacy policies of websites that they ask their students to sign up for. We have a responsibility to watch out for the welfare of our student’s data when they are too young to do it themselves. Becoming more familiar with what to look for in online agreements is essential. The document from the government: Protecting Student Privacy While Using Online Educational Services: Requirements and Best Practices seems like a good place to start to learn more about protecting students.
Standards 3b & 3c
The areas of being critical consumers of online content and the ethics of intellectual property rights have more in common with good practices for students but it’s incredibly tempting to “borrow” things from the internet for that lesson coming up in 15 minutes. Teachers need good instruction on copyright and fair use. Many districts are also helping teachers understand and define intellectual property rights in regards to teachers creation of content that they want to sell online. We may need some more open conversations with teachers about what belongs to the district and what belongs to teachers.
Training for teachers is beginning to take more shape in my mind. Using these resource I can hopefully get a good start on it anyway.
ISTE | Standards For Educators. (2017). Iste.org. Retrieved 20 February 2018, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-educators
Protecting Student Privacy While Using Online Educational Services: Requirements and Best Practices. (2014). Washington DC. Retrieved from https://tech.ed.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Student-Privacy-and-Online-Educational-Services-February-2014.pdf
School Pack for Online Safety Awareness. (2017). Childnet. Retrieved 20 February 2018, from http://www.childnet.com/resources/school-pack-for-online-safety-awareness
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→
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.
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 explaining 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.
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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 allteachers 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.
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
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).
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.