Category Archives: Digital Tools

EDTC 6105: Visionary Leadership and Peer Coaching

Beginning my second year of Grad School has me shifting from learning about digital education as a teacher and into the role of coaching supporting other educators. This year I’ll be exploring more of the ISTE coaching standards, beginning with Standard 1: Visionary Leadership. B. Contribute to the planning, development, communication, implementation, and evaluation of technology-infused strategic plans at the district and school levels. For my first post I’ll be exploring how coaches can successfully inspire and assist peers with planning, implementing, and evaluating technology integration.

What is a coach?

When I hear the word “coach”, I immediately envision my dad.  My dad has played and coached sports since before I was born. Having limited coaching experience myself, my memories are as a spectator and what I’ve observed over the years.  As I thought more deeply about the label “coach”, I realised there are a lot of parallels between what I saw in my dad and what I’ve seen in education.

Take basketball for example.  My dad would spend hours watching teams play at various levels, always with a notebook in hand.  He’d write down plays, ideas, and enjoyed talking to our family about what he looked forward to sharing with his team. He started each season hoping to help his players develop new skills and be better athletes both on and off the court by the end of the season. During practice he’d explain, model, select players to carry them out, and modify based on the outcome.  Nothing was ever set in stone.  He guided them, but never did things for them. A coach can’t run on the court to help a player when they get nervous and players learn to work together, communicate, and actively be in the moment if they want to win. No matter the outcome of each game, there was always discussion about what went well, what they can try to improve before the next game, and praise about what the players achieved, not praise of the coach.

I feel these strategies also apply to peer coaching in education. Gaining insight into coaching through Les Foltos’ book, Peer Coaching, I’m beginning to see coaching as an extension of working with students. We want to inspire others to challenge what they know and continuously explore new skills.  We also want teachers to have a toolkit of resources that they can recommend to students so that students can explore which tools help them succeed. So what qualities are needed to establish a positive coaching relationship? After looking at sources from multiple countries, a few key principles keep re-surfacing.

  • Willingness
  • Personal Relationship
  • Trust and Support vs Judgement
  • Understanding of the Education System
  • Time
  • Reciprocal Communication

Willingness

In peer coaching, both educators need to be willing participants. In addition, they need to feel supported by others (colleagues, administrators, district). Both educators also need to see the value in collaboration and establish a realistic goal that they are trying to achieve to increase student achievement. The teacher needs to be willing to take risks, explore, and understand that the partnership is fluid .

Personal Relationship

If the participants do not already know each other on a personal or professional level, then the next step is to take time and understand the needs of the teacher and the students.  Les Foltos recommends that coaches spend the first meeting getting to know the teacher and allowing the teacher’s needs to guide the direction of their time together. What is also implied with establishing a relationship is that the coach’s role begins as a listener, not someone offering advice. As a listener, coach’s can paraphrase their understanding of the teacher’s needs and begin to understand the teacher’s perceptions and experiences with technology before discussing integration.

Trust and Support vs Judgement

Teachers need to feel they can trust their coach as a friend, not someone who’s coming into their classroom to judge them.  Establishing trust takes time. For the partnership to be effective, the coach needs to enter without power, judgement, or evaluative mindset.  The coach should appear knowledgeable but not assume the role as expert, creating a hierarchy in the relationship. Trust is also important for when challenges arise in order for the partnership to remain intact.

Understanding of the Education System

I’m sure most teachers can relate, but when I think of Professional Development trainings that were a waste of time, a few reasons immediately come to mind: 1. mandatory attendance, 2. the presenter has no idea what my student population is, 3. the presenter knows nothing about the resources available in our district, 4. this has nothing to do with my content area.  The worst trainings combine all four!  

For example, I teach ELL offering language support during reading and writing.  A few years ago, our district adopted a new Math curriculum with mandatory trainings for all certificated staff.  So I sat there for three days, frustrated at my use of time. I quickly learned all the teachers who teach Math were also frustrated and do not see how this curriculum would work in their classroom, it added fuel to the fire and a mob mentality.  Our speaker promoted using the curriculum on computers and tablets during the lessons on a regular basis and talked about great tech features.  The problem was we did not have a computer lab and averaged 1 device to 5 students.  His lack of knowledge about our district led to a group of educators leaving the training frustrated rather than excited to try what he’d presented.

Point being, coaches need to do some research, and ask questions to better understand the building they’re serving and the teacher needs. Even within the same building, peer coaches need to look at the specific grade level and content area they wish to support. Coaches need to see the teacher’s classroom environment before offering any recommendations. In regards to technology, what already exists in the building or district, who else might be available to observe in action, and what options are available to help the teacher successfully integrate technology in the classroom? What concerns does the teacher have about technology integration?

Time

Time is a big factor for teachers.  It feels like there is never enough!  In a peer coaching partnership, both participants need to establish a timeline for the long-term as well as protocols to follow with each meeting in order to respect each other’s time.  In addition, realistic goals and timelines need to be discussed and adjusted as needed.  This ties back to willing participants.  If teachers feel pressured or that something will be lost versus something will be enhanced they will begin to resist, and coaches have to work much harder to bring them back on board. Meetings should typically have an agenda, protocol, allow time for the teacher to feel their time is validated and end with an action plan.  This ties into communication.

Reciprocal Communication

With time being valuable, to respect all involved, communication preferences should also be discussed in the early stages of collaboration. Today there are so many ways for teachers to collaborate beyond the classroom.  Once communication methods are in place, these can be used as reminders for upcoming collaboration.  For example, if email is the chosen form of communication outside of scheduled in-person meetings, then the emails should serve as reminders for both participants responsibilities for how to come prepared. This may also require communication with other staff in the building, administration, or outside. Teachers need to feel they can reach their coach and receive feedback in a timely manner.  

Connection to Technology Integration

Technology can be daunting for teachers.  There are so many unknowns, and for teachers who are used to be in control, adding digital devices into the classroom can create anxiety.  So how can peer coaches then use the above guiding principles to support their colleagues? Coaches need to do research after each meeting so explore what tools are available that could meet the teacher’s needs to enhance student achievement.  With that, coaches need to share technology as an approach to help students meet grade level standards and develop 21st century skills.  This needs to be done carefully to avoid teachers feeling pressured to add more to their day.

Conclusion

In conclusion, like sports, peer coaches need to recognise that teachers come in with a wide range of abilities and strengths.  The coach needs to support teachers in recognising their long term goal and create opportunities for them to work towards successfully meeting that goal.  The coach’s role should guide the teacher to independence and self-discovery for what works best for them and their students, while providing access, not direct instruction.  Although this is simply the tip of the iceberg, I feel it’s a starting point for me as I look into peer coaching opportunities within my own building this year.

Cited by Queensland Government

References

Brown, L. (2014, February 28). The Importance of Trust. Retrieved October 14, 2017, from http://teachforall.org/en/network-learning/importance-trust

Cavanagh, M., Grant, A., & Kemp, T. (2015). Evidence-Based Coaching Volume 1 : Theory, Research and Practice from the Behavioural Sciences. Australian Academic Press.

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

“Role of Coaching in an Educational Setting.” Queensland Government, Department of Education and Training, 29 Jan. 2015, from education.qld.gov.au/staff/development/performance/resources/readings/role-coaching-educational-settings.pdf

Community Engagement Project – EDTC 6104

Increasing Family Engagement Through Digital Portfolios

This summer I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone.  In my own building, I worked as the Site Coordinator for summer school, my first time truly managing other staff and being in charge of a building.  With my Masters program through SPU, I’ve submitted my first proposal to a conference.  While this has been daunting, I have enjoyed both challenges.  Having taught ELL for seven years, I’ve taught summer school, both initiated and led before and after school programs, and attended workshops, but have never sought out a leadership role.  This summer has shifted my own perception of what I’m capable of and how I can contribute to others.

Trying New Strategies to Engage ELL Families

One of my greatest challenges as an educator and coach has been communication with families.  Working in schools where the majority of the parents are not native English speakers, communication is often limited, lost in translation, and we frequently rely on students to be the translator to get messages through to families. Based on my own experience in Title 1 schools in two different states, ELL families are less likely to initiate communication with teachers and less likely to use email as a frequent communication tool. Numerous studies agree that in general, low-income and/or ethnic/racial minority families are less likely to participate in school events and certain aspects of the children’s education. (Dong-shin Shin and Wendy Seger 2016). Many of these same families have limited access to technology and less exposure to 21st century skills.  Therefore, I feel it is important for teachers to not only introduce 21st century skills to students, but also help coach their families in how to use technology as a communication tool, professionally, and share their funds of knowledge.

What do we know about family involvement in Title 1 schools?

The most extensive research comes from the Hoover-Demspey and Sandler study known as the HDS Model.  Their findings claim parent involvement is based on these key factors:

The Parent Institute, 2012

This chart supports evidence that parents who do not speak English or were not educated in the American education system are more likely to find it difficult to participate at the school site. Furthermore, these families may have varying cultural views on what parent involvement entails based on their own cultural experiences. Particularly in low-income/immigrant families, parents may be limited in time by constraints related to their occupation, caring for other family members, or cultural commitments. So how can I connect families to what’s happening in the classroom when they are unable to attend our events? How do we support our illiterate parents?

This past year I’ve been searching for digital tools that help connect with families and offer translation.  Partially motivated by several great digital programs students have used for projects without a common way to share their work with families. I was fortunate enough to attend the International TESOL Convention to learn more about what other teachers are doing around the world and what I might be able to apply in my own building. These challenges inspired my quest for a better system to increase parent engagement, empower students, while still meeting performance standards.

My search led me to discovering digital portfolios.  With the intention of supporting students and increasing family engagement, the platform I am most eager to explore at this time is Seesaw.  

Digital Portfolios – Empower Students and Engage Families

My Proposal

Searching for conferences to submit proposals to was a foreign concept to me.  After looking at larger conferences, I decided to do some google searching of my own and happened upon the WAESOL (Washington Association for the Education of Speakers of Other Languages) website.  I was so excited to see that they were accepting proposals for their 2017 conference to be held this upcoming October.  My greatest challenge was the deadline to apply, in July.  I had anticipated having all summer to explore apps, compare, and learn.

The 2017 WAESOL Conference will take place in October in Des Moines, WA.  My proposal was for a Teacher Demonstration session which is 45 minutes.  Knowing the conference targets ELL teachers, I feel I have a fair understanding of the participants who attend these workshops. Also, knowing the state standards we all address, I felt I could really streamline how digital portfolios can support teachers, students, and families.

How can I encourage others to buy in to using digital portfolios?

When thinking about how to get others excited, I thought back to various workshops I attended at the TESOL convention.  How did speakers get and maintain my attention? Beyond teachers wanting to learn about the topic, I want them to understand I am like them.  I am currently teaching, at times overwhelmed feeling I can’t take on anything else, yet wanting to serve our population and advocate for the ELL families in our state.

With attendees coming from around the state, we share the same teaching standards, evaluation systems, language barriers, gaps in formal education, as well as successes and challenges.  Rather than simply digitizing portfolios, this platform allows us to record students speaking and reading which is critical in their language development.  Students can monitor their own progress as well as have some control over the work they choose to publish.  Parents will have the opportunity to become involved digitally without needing to come to the school.  

In lieu of adding to the work day, digital portfolios can create a classroom system where students become more actively involved in their published work with the awareness of an authentic audience. Attendees will be able to make connections between digital tools and what they are already doing in the classroom. How can I achieve this in just 45 minutes?

Below is a mini-version of my slide presentation.  Starting with questions to gauge the audience, I might modify the direction of the workshop.  My intent is to truly highlight strengths of Seesaw and how it aligns well to tools and standards already utilised in K-12 classrooms. Again, by addressing the standards met and how teachers can use digital portfolios as evidence of their own professional growth, it is simply modifying how teachers capture the work already taking place.

After sharing how Seesaw can work for students, teachers, and parents, attendees will have the opportunity to explore Seesaw or another platform on a personal or shared device. Attendees will log in to a mock class as a student and be asked to upload photos, record audio, and take notes.  The audio and note-taking questions will align with teacher background which in turn will give me a better understanding of the who’s in attendance. If teachers prefer another platform, I’d like to hear about it and why it works for them.

Why Seesaw?  

So Why Seesaw?  Yes, there are other great platforms out there, however at this time, I am choosing to implement and promote Seesaw.  As mentioned in previous posts, many of our ELL students come from high poverty families without internet access, consistent working phones, first generation to have formal education.  Seesaw does not require an app like some other platforms. At this time, Seesaw allows teachers to assess reading, writing, and speaking, which all ELL teachers do anyway, now they can simply store data in one location. Seesaw offers voice messaging, which most platforms do not.

For example, we’ll look at one of my students from Guatemala.  He speaks Spanish. Great! We have Spanish support in my building so easy solution is send home all information in Spanish.  However, neither of his parents had more than 4 years of school.  His mother struggles to read in Spanish and his dad works long hours.  Who will translate? His mom does however have a phone and they frequently go to a coffee shop where she can access free wi-fi to chat with family back home.  How can I utilize this knowledge to support the family?  His mother can use the QR code to access Seesaw and look up his published work while she’s at the coffee shop and leave him voice messages.  

How else can Seesaw help?  Parents can give access to other family members.  We have many students who go to outside agencies for after school tutoring.  Those agencies then contact us wanting progress reports.  To eliminate this step, we could simply give the access to Seesaw and they can log in on their own to see how the students are performing as well as give feedback.  It’s another way to show students we all work as a team to support their academic growth and language development.

How does Seesaw support teachers in the classroom?  In my limited experience (one month) Seesaw has great support for teachers using the platform.  Through frequent email updates, I’ve learned about free webinars, updates to the system, Facebook groups to join that are grade level or content specific, and have joined a new group of educators who vary in experience. This is one of the driving reasons why I feel I can recommend Seesaw to others.  I may not know the answer to a question, but I feel I now have a support network I can quickly turn to and be directed to the person who has the answer.

Resources

The Parent Institute (2012) Why is parent involvement important? Retrieved from https://www.parent-institute.com/pdf-samples/h-d-and-s-model.pdf

Park, S. S., & Holloway, S. D. (2012, November 30). No Parent Left Behind: Predicting Parental Involvement in Adolescents’ Education within a Sociodemographically Diverse Population. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1012012

Shin, D., & Seger, W. (2016, January 13). Web 2.0 Technologies and Parent Involvement of ELL Students: An Ecological Perspective. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1100691

Empowering Computational Thinkers with Troubleshooting Tips for Technology – EDTC 6014 Module 3

As I continue my Masters in Digital Education Leadership through Seattle Pacific University, I continue to challenge my understanding of teaching, technology, and how to successfully integrate technology in a high poverty school. Part of my task this week was to continue looking at ISTE Coaching Standard 3e and 3g. Which led me to ask two questions:

  1. What strategies do schools use to troubleshoot and resolve tech-related issues?
  2. What does a tech toolkit look like for teachers and students?

Tech-Integration and the Digital Divide

Encouraged by my professors, I began looking for teacher resources offered by local school districts. There are so many resources out there for digital citizenship, but beyond that, how to school districts support teachers and students?  I struck out finding support on my own district’s website. According to research, I am not alone in lacking professional development and resources for digital learning. The digital divide extends beyond student access and also reaches professional development offered to teachers in high poverty schools versus the more affluent schools. A study conducted by Education Week Research Center in 2015, found that technology integration training has not increased since 2009 for 4th grade teachers surveyed (Herold, 2017).  The graph below provides visual representation of what I believe is also accurate for my region. Teaching 4th grade for the past three years, the only tech training I’ve received has been for mandatory testing, not integration of skills in the classroom.

Ed Week Graphic

Training Teachers to Support Students with Technology

My quest led me to a neighbouring district’s site, Renton School District . In contrast to the Back to School PD offered in my district (nothing tech related), they have a day to support teachers with tech integration and opportunities for teachers to share and learn from each other.

Searching for resources under “Digital Learning”, I was able to find two tabs that truly support teachers: “Digital Learning Best Practices” and “DLC Support for Schools”. In particular, under best practices, the first two points.

  • Provide Supports and Foster Independence (Encourage students to support each other)
  • Ask Supporting Questions ( Use open-ended questions to guide problem solving)

These points stood out to me as they connected with an article we read this week on Avoiding “Learned Helplessness”. As educators, we need to take advantage of teachable moments, allow students to support each other, fail, and learn from their experiences. How do we do this?  Ask open-ended questions!  Encourage students to think, reflect, and articulate their understanding.  Most importantly, encourage students to problem solve before simply doing it for them.  Having questions easily visible in the room to support learners can alleviate students sense of helplessness. If we want students to be “Computational Thinkers”, then we need to model problem-solving, perseverance, collaboration, predicting and analysing, identifying patterns, and synthesizing what we’ve learned.

Modeling Troubleshooting For Students

I was inspired by a former SPU grad, Annie Tremonte, and her infographic “Student Guide to Troubleshooting Technology”. However, Annie’s work targets middle school learners, and I want a toolkit for elementary classrooms. This led me to seek out resources for tech integration in  grades 3-5.  One such resource, Tech Happens…What To Do When You Have Technical Difficulties? offers a great self-help poster for 5th grade students. This tool supports learners with troubleshooting before seeking help from the teacher.  In particular, this teacher created a tool that students could use at home, since they’re part of a 1:1 iPad school, where students take the devices home.

This poster is great, but how else can students be taught to troubleshoot?  My building is not 1:1, which means when we have devices, we’ll be using a rotation model.  The last thing a teacher wants during rotation is to be working intensively with a small group, and see other students just sitting there helplessly.  How else can I support students working at a station with devices?

Wanting to foster Computational Thinking, I’ve developed a student friendly poster with “I Can” statements.  To help students overcome helplessness, I want them to try problem solving on their own or with their peers before seeking my support.

Computational Thinker Graphic

In addition to the poster, I want to provide tools with common tech problems and solutions.  How could this be done?  Susan Clark, a computer teacher for K-8 students in Illinois, created a PowerPoint with useful tips for her students (available for free on Teachers Pay Teachers).  Her rationale, “I made this Power Point because I kept getting the same questions from students about problems they were having with their computers”. These slides are a great tool that I’d like to build upon.  More than just having a PowerPoint, I’d like to create troubleshooting tips on index cards on a ring.  The index cards would include images of common problems with solutions for students to attempt to solve first independently before seeking peer support.

Preparing for the New School Year

Now that I have some ideas for how to support students in their troubleshooting, I’d like to conclude with some tips on classroom management. Again, without any professional development being offered this summer at the district level, I need to be prepared for integrating my new devices in the new school year.  Although slightly dated, Education World published Managing Technology: Tips from the Experts. The first tip that truly stood out to me was the index card idea.  Having laminated cards with common questions answered (ideally with some bilingual support for my student population), will put ownership on the student and lessen repetitive questions, much like Susan Clark’s philosophy. The article mentions 33 tips, mostly geared towards a computer lab set-up, but there are several tips that I can easily adapt into my classroom. I’ve compiled a list of 10 tips that I can modify and adapt for my needs this Fall.  

Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned about troubleshooting is to continue expanding my network of educators. Understanding there will always be situations arising that I know nothing about, I want to build up a support tech team from outside my district.  My initial list include my colleagues in this program and the professors we’ve had along the way.  Although I may not be attending any technology professional development this Summer, I feel I now have a few strategies in place to help me get started. My new toolkit includes: tech savvy colleagues, posters, classroom management plan when using devices, and work on creating laminated troubleshooting cards.

References

Digital Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved August 06, 2017, from https://www.rentonschools.us/Page/309

Herold, B. (2017, June 16). Poor Students Face Digital Divide in How Teachers Learn to Use Tech. Retrieved August 06, 2017, from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2017/06/14/poor-students-face-digital-divide-in-teacher-technology-training.html?r=1707448939&intc=EW-TC17-TOC

Miller, A. (2015, May 11). Avoiding “Learned Helplessness”. Retrieved August 06, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/avoiding-learned-helplessness-andrew-miller

Nording, C. (2016, August 06). Tech Happens…What to do when you have technical difficulties? Retrieved August 06, 2017, from http://www.ourelementarylives.com/2016/08/tech-happenswhat-to-do-when-you-have.html

Starr, L. (2004). Managing Technology: Tips from the Experts. Retrieved August 06, 2017, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech116.shtml

Tremonte, A. (2015, March 16). ISTE Student 6: Guiding Students to Troubleshoot More Autonomously. Retrieved from http://annietremonte.com/tag/troubleshooting/

Selecting Digital Tools that Fit our Needs – EDTC 6104 Module 2

This week we continued to explore ISTE Coaching Standard 3. In particular, looking at how digital tools are selected and evaluated, followed by maintenance and management of technology-rich learning environments. So how do we evaluate, select, and manage digital tools and resources for teachers and students that meet accessibility guidelines and fit within our institution’s technology infrastructure?

Immediately my mind reflects on several experiences from this past year.  For the first time, I’ve really begun to advocate not just for my students, but for my school and community.  This has led to lots of unanswered questions, but also led to me slowly unpack the hierarchy for decision making in my district and begin to understand who I need to connect with to make a positive impact. Although teachers may have good intentions with adding technology in the classroom, without proper planning, collaboration, and support, it’s difficult to execute any program effectively.

Accessibility

Although accessibility generally applies to providing access to students with disabilities, I also see accessibility pertaining to access and the digital divide. During the International TESOL Convention this Spring, I attended a workshop on Speak Agent, a new program that targets academic vocabulary for ELL students. What I initially appreciated about this product, was that it was designed by former ELL teachers. I was so excited to see a resource designed by people who understand my student population! As they walked through their program, a question arose about video options. Why don’t they have videos for students to watch?  Their response reminded me of a sad reality, the digital divide.  The speaker responded us that they wanted all students to be able to access content on their site, regardless of bandwidth, citing too many communities still lack high speed internet. Working in a school with old computers without built-in cameras, this served as a reminder that not all public school children have access to the same programs in schools due to devices or internet speed.  

Stepping out of the classroom, we have a huge discrepancy nationally between access in rural vs urban communities.  Living in the city, I can recommend to families to take advantage of the library for free wi-fi or computer access.  Rural families may not have that option. The US Dept of Commerce found that only 52% of rural adults without a high school diploma use the internet. This is great contrast to national average of 75% (US Dept of Commerce, 2016). In 2016, the first national survey looking at low-income connectivity found that 41% of immigrant hispanic families solely rely on mobile phone internet access, with an additional 10% not even having that (Rideout & Katz, 2016).

Selecting Digital Tools

Therefore, as educators, we must be intentional with the tools we select, time allocation, and student needs. So as a teacher who is trying to add more devices and tools to my classroom, where do I even begin?  Luckily, one of our readings this week helps guide me to get started.  In Molly Zielezinski’s article,

What 7 Factors Should Educators Consider When Choosing Digital Tools for Underserved Students? she highlights what every educator should consider before jumping in (see below).

Coming from a district with over 90 schools serving 53,000 students, I understand it’s hard to find a set list of digital tools that will work for all classrooms. So in addition to the 7 factors above, how can I become more involved in decisions made in my building or at the district level?

Earlier this Spring, I was asked for advice on Summer School curriculum for reading.  Last year my school opted into a reading intervention program that was great for small group, but did not fit our student needs and became more of a hinderance than a valuable resource. This year, I wanted to ensure my team that we would not make the same mistake. One day after school I received an email from my principal about a 60 day free-trial to an online reading program.  Sounds great, right?  The timeline would fit and we wouldn’t have to spend anything!  However, within minutes of playing around as mock students, we found flaws in the loading speed, and a few other glitches.  Rather than spend more time looking into it, we quickly dismissed the program and continued to look for other options. There are so many digital tools out there, it can seem overwhelming.  Most have free trials to get you hooked.  But no one wants to spend hours/weeks on various trials before selecting a tool for their classroom.  So how can we screen the tools to find what we need?

Evaluation Rubrics

We use rubrics to assess students so why wouldn’t we use rubrics to assess digital tools? Just like my students who sometime struggle to name what they are doing, yet can point it out on a rubric, I feel I need rubrics to help me identify what tools can/can’t do to weigh out the pros and cons. As a teacher new to EdTech, I struggle to think of all the vocabulary that express my needs.  Fortunately rubrics do exist! In 2015,  A Comprehensive Evaluation Rubric for Assessing Instructional Apps published a comprehensive rubric that can definitely eliminate time spent wondering about whether or not to adopt new programs. The rubric includes 24 dimensions broken into 3 domains: Instruction, Design, and Engagement. The entire set of rubrics is daunting for one teacher to use, however, for a team deciding on tools to invest in, these rubrics offer a clear vetting process. Individual teachers can use the rubrics to pinpoint specific factors. For example, three areas that I often question are feedback to teacher, media integration and cultural sensitivity.  These are included on the rubric as:

What’s Next?

As I begin to prepare for the upcoming school year, adding technology into my instruction is what I’m most excited about.  That being said, we’re adopting a new reading/writing curriculum which I have yet to preview.  Understanding that all lessons need to be intentional, this means I have a lot of collaboration ahead of me.  First I need to know which grade levels I’ll be supporting, meet with the Gen. Ed teachers and administrators to clearly define my role. Now instead of trying to justify based on my own experience, I have a toolkit to share. I look forward to using the 7 factors and rubrics to vet tools with my colleagues as we plan for the year ahead.

Resources

Lee, C-Y. & Cherner, T. S. (2015). A comprehensive evaluation rubric for assessing instructional apps. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 14, 21-53. Retrieved from http://www.jite.org/documents/Vol14/JITEV14ResearchP021-053Yuan0700.pdf

The State of the Urban/Rural Digital Divide. (2016, August 10). Retrieved July 23, 2017, from https://www.commerce.gov/news/blog/2016/08/state-urbanrural-digital-divide

Rideout, V. J. & Katz, V.S. (2016). Opportunity for all? Technology and learning in lower-income families. A report of the Families and Media Project. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.

Zielezinski, M. B. (2016, July 10). What 7 Factors Should Educators Consider When Choosing Digital Tools for Underserved Students? – EdSurge News. Retrieved July 23, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-06-25-what-7-factors-should-educators-consider-when-choosing-digital-tools-for-underserved-students

Accessibility & Adaptability – Text-to-Speech – EDTC 6104 – Module 4

Thought Question:

How can I choose digital tools that are assistive and adaptive technologies but still support student learning?

Ensuring that the digital tools we choose to share with our students are ADA acceptable and keep equity and accessibility in mind, I am curious about what assistive truly means.  As 13% of students are working with a learning disability and no two student has the same diagnosis, therefore, one tool may help one but not the next (NCES).  If we also take a look at the Gates Foundation, “Teachers Know Best” study and the essential finding for me come from the fact that both “teachers and students see technology as a useful in instruction.” Which I think is an essential basis for our conversation.  If educators and students did not state that digital tools helped education then there would be no point.  And as we try to bridge gaps in learning with digital tools it is important to think outside of the standard U.S. Public School student to the ones who make up our fringe groups of students and even beyond to our global populations.

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 9.02.33 AM

When I think of “assistive and adaptive” for middle school language arts/ss the big names in online digital tools, come to mind like Turnitin and Newsela but I wanted to explore a realm I am not as familiar.  So I reached out to my really good friend who is a Pre-K – Kindergarten Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) in the Issaquah School District.  She also has her own business where she can continue her work with individual patients throughout the Summer.  She predominantly works with nonverbal students and those kiddos who are severely impacted by autism.  When I prompted her about her favorite “digital tools” she first asked what I meant by digital tools.  That language/moniker, especially for an SLP is a bit clunky, but then I remembered I once opened her Ipad and was shocked by some educational apps she had for her very young audience.  So I asked her what are her favorite Apps, she replied quickly with her short list:

  • Bitsboard,
  • Speak for Yourself,
  • Little Bee Speech Articulation,
  • Boardmaker Online,
  • Epic, Toca
  • Board Games.  

After perusing through the provided list, I want to share some more information about Speak For Yourself.” If you click the link you will see the Apple Itunes store and that price tag gave me a bit of sticker shock, but after learning about what it does and what population it helps I understand it a bit better.  I read most of what it does from the blog “Speak for Yourself (SfY) is an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) application that was created by speech-language pathologists.  This AAC app turns the iPad into a communication device. It gives a voice to adults and children who are not able to speak or are limited in their ability to express themselves verbally.  Speak for Yourself is being used by thousands of individuals around the world with autism, cerebral palsy, apraxia, and genetic syndromes. Additionally, it is also being used in preschool classrooms to promote word-finding, visual language support, and verbal speech development.”  I think that this YouTube video also helped me understand where this application could be assistive and adaptable to people who are in the most need and young age.  As I contemplated how this tool could be used in other learning environments, I began to think about mute students or those dealing with traumatic situations who may not be able to always verbalize their feelings.  But I also thought about collaborating globally at young ages with students who do not speak English.  Students could potentially use the “Speak for Yourself” (SfY) pictures to speech tool, and then the group on the other side of the world could understand and send it back.  

This conversation and following brainstorming session, fostered by my involvement with the Digital Education Leadership and has pushed my thought process for tools that help with “assistive and adaptable” technology. Although I am not sure, I would have the capability or purchasing power to have gotten the funds from my previous district for the (SfY) app due to its $300.00 price tag I can see how it would be useful to a large population of Educators and students.  From there my exploration of more text-to-speech digital tools started to peak my interest.  Last quarter when I was feeling under particular pressure to balance work, life and school I utilized my Apple Iphone’s “VoiceOver” function to read several of the required web pages and .pdf to me while I drove to and from work.  When my commute was sometimes over an hour in the afternoon it was a great use of time.  I am also an auditory learner and remember things a lot better when they are told to me verbally than if I just see it visually.

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 3.48.22 PMNow the Apple “VoiceOver” is not accessible or equitable to everyone because not every student obviously has an iPhone or any Apple products.  Therefore, other text-to-speech tools include Google Chrome’s “Snap&Read” which came highly recommended by a fellow cohort member and if your school is already Google (GAFE) schools and have Chromebooks in the school this extension might be the best feature out there.  Now, for the other big name in software/hardware and who sometimes mandates schools exclusively use their products, Microsoft has some innovative learning tools – for OneNote was named Top Dyslexia app for 2016, if you use the link and check out the page they have a live tester at the bottom of the page which is this new Immersive Reader which reads the script aloud. All of these tools are accessible online and it just depends on what tools the student has access to from school and at home.  

 

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (2014). Teachers Know Best What Educators Want from Digital Instructional Tools. Retrieved July 21, 2017, from http://k12education.gatesfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Teachers-Know-Best_0.pdf

ISTE (2011). “ISTE Standards for Coaches.” International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches ISTE Connects (2017).

LLC, S. F. (2017, June 24). Speak for Yourself on the App Store. Retrieved July 21, 2017, from https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/speak-for-yourself/id482508198?mt=8

NCES – National Center For Education Statistics (Updated, May, 2017). “Children and Youth with Disabilities.” The Condition of Education.  Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cgg.asp Perez, Luis and Kendra Grant (June 8, 2015)

Speak for Yourself. (2014). Retrieved July 21, 2017, from


EDTC 6104 Module 1 – Personalizing Professional Development to Support Technology Integration

As we begin our Summer quarter looking at ISTE Coaching Standard 3, I can’t help but connect to our last assignment of looking at Professional Development.  Just like my intent to find more personalized PD, this week I’m looking for inspiration in classroom design, functionality, and management. Perhaps it’s because I’m no longer a new teacher, but I rarely have the opportunity to tour other buildings and classrooms now.  Diving into the unknown with a new classroom and adding digital devices this upcoming Fall, I wish I could have toured other sites to see classroom configurations, in particular schools that have successfully implemented blended learning.

Traditional Classrooms

Immediately, my mind is filled with images of traditional classroom, perfect rows of desks, all facing the front.  Technology typically desktops, secluded, facing walls. But does this environment promote collaboration?  

How can teachers explore alternative classroom configurations to promote collaboration amongst students?  In particular, how can we promote student-led collaboration? This image with the empty chairs serves as a reminder of classrooms where the teacher dictates and students are expected to sit quietly in their seats, waiting to be called upon.

You mention adding more devices to support personalized learning and people fear a scenario like a call centre, filled with dividers, headsets, and limited face-to-face interaction.  So how do we find balance?How can we create a classroom environment that promotes digital learning and collaboration, while maintaining effective classroom management?

I found a great article from 2 years ago that really speaks to my vision for this upcoming year, How to Kick Off Blended Learning (Hint: It’s Not Just About Tech). As I begin planning for a blended learning classroom, this article reminded me of how important procedures are to the success of any rotation model. Perhaps the most poignant point made is to begin the year with foundational skills and routines before introducing technology.  It’s so easy to get excited to launch a new program, but to avoid daily challenges, we need to remember to establish clear expectations and teach strategies for self-regulation.  The last thing a teacher wants during small group stations is to be summoned to troubleshoot tech issues. So how can teachers add technology and find the training/coaching support they need to make the transition?

How Does Research Drive Professional Development?

Education Week Research Center surveyed around 700 K-12 teachers regarding technology in the classroom.  They discovered that teachers are eager to embrace technology in the classrooms but feel cautious due to lack of devices, professional development on integration, and lack buy-in due to whose presenting. Recently I ran into other ELL teachers at a Summer Training and when I mentioned my program in Digital Education they immediately assumed I’m trying to leave students to work independently on computers, which is a common misconception about the potential of technology in the classroom.  One teacher was quick to question how just reading books online is really helping children develop English language acquisition. Ed Week’s research also supported these common assumptions that we are simply digitizing existing skills such as reading, writing, math facts.  

However, there are so many ways to promote student production and creativity through technology development. Sanina’s article offers further support to teachers by creating a 21 lesson plan for teachers to not only introduce procedures and classroom expectations, but delves into troubleshooting. Beyond procedures and tech, we’re reminded to be intentional about our grouping of students.  The intent is to have one group working collaboratively independent of teacher support, so if all the low students are grouped together this becomes problematic.

This begs the question, how do we move beyond common assumptions about technology and student accountability for learning?  Teachers want more personalized PD.  Offering tech devices, just like new curriculum, without teacher-led PD leads to frustration.  Teachers spend hours each year attending PD either district mandated or self-elected.  In my personal experience, the worst PDs make you quickly realize you’re getting a sales pitch and it creates an “us versus them” vibe.  My thoughts turn to “How does this apply to me?” or “Do they realize what type of school I work in?”

Classroom configuration that promotes collaboration and small groups

Many recent studies have asked teachers what they want.  As we shift to personalize learning for students in the classroom, we need to also shift to personalize professional development to increase active participation from teachers.  Teachers need confidence to move away from being the authoritarian in the classroom and have opportunities to learn from teachers who work in similar environments.  

Make Professional Development Meaningful

For example, having someone from a private school with 1:1 devices try to sell me on the benefits of technology may not be successful, do to my environment of working in a Title 1 school that still lacks a computer lab.  However, having someone come in and model how blended learning can work with shared devices, using student anecdotes relatable to urban diverse populations, will at least peak my interest.

In conclusion, if we want to encourage teachers to use digital devices and promote collaboration, we need districts to offer trainings applicable to their demographics and building needs.  This requires planning between administration, coaches, and teacher input. In future, I’d like to see more options on how to support teachers in the classroom and less PD on curriculum implementation or testing.  I want to be able to develop strategies to support all learners in my classroom and continue to learn about technological advances that can differentiate student production.

This leaves me wanting release time to visit other classrooms and learn from those who have had success creating a blended learning environment. Imagine if every teacher could be identified for a strength that others seek out to learn from. In contrast to dreading annual observations, teachers could become leaders within their community and model their strengths for others.

References

Dorr, E. (2016, December 12). How Administrators Can Design the Best Learning Experiences for Teachers – EdSurge News. Retrieved July 09, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2015-11-04-how-administrators-can-design-the-best-learning-experiences-for-teachers

Johnson, K. (2016, July 10). 5 Things Teachers Want from PD, and How Coaching and Collaboration Can Deliver Them-If Implementation Improves – EdSurge News. Retrieved July 09, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-06-28-5-things-teachers-want-from-pd-and-how-coaching-and-collaboration-can-deliver-them-if-implementation-improves?utm_content=bufferfa66c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Rebora, A. (2017, February 08). Teachers Still Struggling to Use Tech to Transform Instruction, Survey Finds. Retrieved July 10, 2017, from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/06/09/teachers-still-struggling-to-use-tech-to.html?tkn=SUNF3xA1W22FFtjNlbjUg5JOX4Y8vP7i4W5T&intc=es

Sanina, E. (2016, July 10). How to Kick Off Blended Learning (Hint: It’s Not Just About Tech) – EdSurge News. Retrieved July 10, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2015-09-28-how-to-kick-off-blended-learning-hint-it-s-not-just-about-tech

EDTC 6103 Module 5 – Professional Growth and Leadership

Engaging in Professional Growth and Leadership

Being an ELL teacher can feel isolating at times. I can’t count the times I’ve been excited about PD days only to look through available workshops and feel none of them really apply to my needs or objectives. We are a minority group of educators.  Our students come from diverse backgrounds, with the majority in the United States attending urban high poverty schools. As specialists, it’s rare to have more than one ELL teacher per building.  So how can we collaborate?

For our final blogpost this quarter, we’ve been asked to reflect on ISTE Teaching Standard #5.  The timing for this seems in sync with end of year reflections at school as well as multiple articles that are advocating for schools to revamp their delivery of professional development.  Looking closely at ISTE Standard 5a, this prompted me to question “How can teachers actively participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning?

With technology rapidly changing the way we teach, it’s no surprise that it’s also changing the way we communicate professionally. Take for example, Miriam Clifford’s post “20 Tips for Creating a Professional Learning Network”. Clifford highlights the advantages of joining PLNs (Professional Learning Networks).  The post written in 2013, shares great examples on how to join and use technology to our advantage as tool to connect and share with others.  Prior to starting this Masters Program at SPU, I would have felt lost in the jargon used in this article and simply moved on to other resources that seemed more relevant or consistent with what I experience in my district.

With these changes however, a PLN can now also refer to Personalized Learning Networks.  Moving beyond localized collaboration in my building and district, Personalized Learning Networks prompt me to expand globally.  Beginning to look more into PLNs, I began to question, how has my understanding of professional development and collaboration changed in the past 5 years?

Five years ago, I’d say 90% of the PD I attended took place in a library, possibly with a video to watch, and time for round table discussions. Lots of poster making, sharing out, but all contributors were physically present in the room.  Then 4 years ago I participated in my first MOOC.  I remember the excitement of connecting with ELL teachers in other states and countries.  We would email responses back and forth. Presently at the building level, we still remain primarily in the library. At the district level, it’s hard to get together in person due to the sheer size of our district, distance people have to commute, method of transportation, varying school hours, and personal lives. Our district has thousands of talented educators, yet I feel limited in my knowledge of how any of them successfully integrate technology in the classroom.

Personalizing Professional Development

This year has been transformational for me in numerous ways.  I cannot overlook the power of networking and global connections.  I had considered blogging before, but didn’t know where or how to start.  This program has helped to take a leap with blogging, using Google HangOut and Twitter.  Reading Mike Patterson’s post “Tips for Transforming Educational Technology through Professional Development and Training” , I realised the problem of inadequate training and understanding is preventing amazing collaboration from occurring in my district.  He sites that 60% of teachers surveyed feel inadequate about implementing technology in the classroom.  Reading this statistic reinforces my realization that my district needs to model how to use technology and this can begin with how they deliver professional development. We need to move beyond the library and offer basic training in how to implement so many of the great strategies in Clifford’s post: Meetups, practice using online communities, tools already available through the district as well as tools popular with experts in our district.

This led to me questioning, how much input do teachers have in the delivery and content of professional development in my district?  After posing this question to several other educators in my building, the general consensus is “not much”.  So how can we change this?  Desiree Alexander recommends surveying staff with a needs assessment, similar to how we evaluate the needs of our students.  In her post, “From Blah to Aha!  Your Guide for Personalizing Professional Development”, Alexander discusses how personalized PDs can showcase educators strengths and interests.

How can schools offer personalized PD? Through technology there are so many options now available for delivery.  For example, MOOCs, webinars, Google HangOuts, creating online videos that teachers can interact with at various times, using folders like Google Drive to store PD resources.  With free online tools, I’m hopeful that my district will begin to offer a range of PD formats in future.  The slides below are examples of how personalized PD can begin with a simple survey.

Finding Learning Communities

Local Communities are perhaps the easiest to define.  It’s the grade level team, content, extra-curricular, region, or even district.  Local communities traditionally met in-person.  So how do we move beyond local and expand our community network globally?  

As I reflect on my global community partners, I’ve used Edmodo, Twitter, Facebook, Schoology, Google+, Podcasts, and joined memberships for online publications. As the only ELL teacher in my region teaching a specific curriculum, it can be daunting at times.  However, with my expanded community of educators, I feel like part of a Tribe with common goals, one of which is support student learning with access to technology.  Every week I feel I have something to contribute to my colleagues, whether it’s something I’ve witnessed first hand in the classroom, or I’ve accessed through social media or video.  Learning online helps reduce my stress and previous notions that I don’t have time for professional development.

Personal Impact from Educational Technology

Now instead of only listening to music while walking my dog, I also listen to EdTech podcasts. When I couldn’t bring an expert to my classroom, we used Google HangOut to allow my students to meet with him virtually, motivated by my new found confidence gained from this year. I find myself scrolling through my Twitter feed in the evening looking for inspirational classroom ideas. I have a new found confidence in promoting alternatives to learning, even if they’re not acted upon at this time.  I know there are great things happening out there and feel like I’m beginning to tap into a new way to both educate and learn. Perhaps the best part of this journey is that I no longer feel alone.  

Resources:

Alexander, D. (2017, May 19). ​From Blah to Aha! Your Guide for Personalizing Professional Development – EdSurge News. Retrieved May 28, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2017-05-19-from-blah-to-aha-your-guide-for-personalizing-professional-development

Clifford, M. (2013). 20 tips for creating a professional learning network. Retrieved fromhttp://gettingsmart.com/2013/01/20-tips-for-creating-a-professional-learning-network/

Currie, B. (2015, September 24). What New Teachers Need to Know About PD. Retrieved May 28, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/new-teachers-need-to-know-pd-brad-currie

EdTech K-12 Magazine. (2016, April 26). Tips for Transforming Educational Technology through Professional Development and Training. Retrieved from http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2016/04/tips-transforming-educational-technology-through-professional-development-and

Zakhareuski, A. (2016, August 22). 10 Modern Ways to Use Technology in ESL Instruction. Retrieved May 28, 2017, from http://busyteacher.org/13732-using-technology-esl-instruction-10-modern-ways.html

EDTC 6103 – How do we promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility?

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This week we were asked to look at ISTE Teaching Standard 4, “Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices.  

Encouraged by Jason Ohler’s article on Digital Citizenship, I set out to see how I could support my school to be more proactive rather than reactive to internet safety. Ohler made several points that resonated with me. His explanation of “character education” allowed me to reflect on my current school, previous school, personal education, and stories I’ve heard from friends.  We can’t wait for our students to navigate the digital world and ask questions, we need to provide guidance to our students as well as their families. In a world that inundates us with media, we need to guide our students through intentional thought processes rather than let them develop their own moral compass over time.  We need to create opportunities for digital education and invest in ethical inventory resources not just tech resources.

Immediately several questions came to mind about my own school district.

  • How does my district support teachers and students to be responsible digital citizens?
  • What training and education is provided for staff and parents?
  • What curriculum / resources are commonly used in the district and at what grade levels?
  • Who are the decision makers?

I first contacted someone from our district IT department who serves schools in my region. Then I reached out to my librarian, who is only at our school part time. I posed these four questions (see above).  The responses were similar on each question.  Our district is so large and digital devices vary greatly both in brand and quantity depending on the school.  With 99 schools, we do not have a unified approach other than librarians infusing some Common Sense Media lessons into their library time. Some schools have been able to fund Technology Instructors in K-5 schools who teach Digital Citizenship, but it varies depending on the school. Our decision makers appear to be our school board, staff at the district level, and admin.  In regards to technology and digital citizenship, it appears that our community, families, and students have little to no input. We do have links on our district website, but only in English.

Finding Resources

My biggest challenge is finding online resources available in other languages.  Common Sense Media has Spanish option, but how do schools such as mine support the other families in understanding internet usage and digital citizenship? We have ¼ of our families that need translation support.  My quest led me to Michael Gorman’s blog, sharing 10 resources for teaching Digital Citizenship.  Gorman provided great resources, with an abundance from Common Sense Media, yet most only appeared to be offered in English.  I can only imagine showing a video to the families at my school and having to pause constantly to allow translation to be shared in 6 or more languages.  There has to be something more efficient!

The one resource Gorman shared that truly came through for me was from Australia. Navigating a few quick clicks I discovered  The Parent’s Guide to Online Safety. The Australian Government provides online safety for parents in 15 different languages.  Although the guide provides contacts in Australia, the bulk of the information applies to strategies to support families with issues such as cyberbullying, sexting, inappropriate content, unwanted contact, social networking, and having children who spend too much time online.  If resources exist like this in other languages in the US, I’ve had a hard time finding them.  Which leads me to believe a lot of the families I serve would also struggle with finding this information.

Supporting Families in Digital Education

Technology is constantly changing, students catch on to trends, explore new websites and share apps way before we catch on.  According to David Andrade’s article earlier this month, more than 75% of teens now own cell phones and more than 90% communicate online.  These facts alone are reason to ensure parents are aware of support systems that exist, parental controls, ways to report abuse, etc.  Take for example a story from Connecticut three years ago.  A new social media app, YikYak, allowed users to post messages anonymously.  Anyone active on the site within a mile and half radius could see the message.  A high school in Westport, CT. became inundated with hateful speech, citing racist, Islamophobic, sexist, and homophobic comments.  By the end of the first day, most of the students with access to cell phones had downloaded the app.  The school staff were in shock.  It is because of the unknown that we need to explicitly teach Digital Citizenship.  We need to be able to educate parents on how to monitor what their children are doing and provide tools for them to have meaningful conversations at home.

With 6,000 ELL students, and nearly 14,000 students from non-English speaking homes, we should provide similar resources to Australia’s Online Safety Guide in the 8 languages we offer translation for.  These should be on our website accessible for families, students, and staff.  At present, schools in my district tend to approach most incidents on a case by case basis. A large percentage of our families do not have internet at home and many parents may be unaware what their children are exposed to.  This does not prevent their children from being protected from cyber bullying, exposure to inappropriate content, or understanding the consequences of sharing on social media.

Reflection

I want to continue advocating for our ELL families and in this particular case, that means helping develop resources that are shared in the top 8 languages.  Having these resources available on our district website accessible for parents and staff is the first step.  Sharing these resources with parents and staff will be the next step.  How can we truly expect parents to model expected behaviour without giving clear expectations, support, and guidelines?  With 55,000 students in our district, I think we can do better.  As educators it’s time we model responsible internet use and promote digital education for families in addition to students.

Resources

  • Andrade, D. (2017, May 15). Teaching Students Digital Civility Goes Hand-in-Hand with Tech Rollouts. Retrieved May 22, 2017, from http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2017/05/teaching-students-digital-civility-goes-hand-hand-tech-rollouts
  • Ernst, A., & Harmoush, V. (2014, June 20). Teaching digital citizenship in a ‘yakking’ world. Retrieved May 22, 2017, from http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/articles/2014/6/20/teaching-digitalcitizenshipinaayyakkingaworld.html
  •  Gorman, M. (2017, February 27). 10 Digital Citizenship Resources – Web in the Classroom Part 3. Retrieved May 22, 2017, from https://www.k12blueprint.com/blog/michael-gorman/10-digital-citizenship-resources-web-classroom-part-3
  • Ohler, J. (2012). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital age. Education Digest. 77(8). pp. 14-17. Digital Citizenship Means Character Education for the Digital Age

EDTC 6103 Designing Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments

This week’s assignment excited me, looking at formative assessment tools.  This year I am part of a team from my school, that is participating in a district wide training on how to strengthen formative assessments in our building.  I’ve been feeling the progress is slow, and although it’s a two year project, I feel I haven’t really gained any new insight this year.  However, with this task of looking closely at ISTE Teacher Standard 2, I felt compelled to find tools that will help my team. This led to my quest:

How can I support a grade level team with formative assessment tools?  What tools are user friendly, allow teachers to collaborate, share resources, and provide direction for reteaching?  Better yet, which of these are free?

Initially I perused several articles, and noticed 3 resources in particular that were mentioned: Kahoots, Socrative, and Plickers. Inspired by an article from Edutopia, .  The article, 5 Fantastic, Fast, Formative Assessment Tools, mentions Socrative, Kahoots, Plickers, and Zaption (which can now be replaced by EdPuzzle, another resource I’ve been wanting to test out). In the audio, Richard Byrne, a teacher from Maine, discusses strengths found in the various resources.

Another resource that had a wealth of information comes from a NWEA blogpost. This post shares 55 digital tools and apps recommended for Formative Assessments.  Again, mentioning the tools above, but also introducing GoFormative, which I’d love to try when I have access to devices again.

So how do these resources compare?  Looking closely at ISTE Standard 2.a and 2.d, I want to adapt our current practices to incorporate digital tools for assessment and help inform student learning and our teaching. I’m also looking for tools that do not require student email logins and are free to educators. 

Plickers

I’ll begin with Plickers.  Plickers stood out to me for three reasons. First,  it uses a code, in place of English words, which I think is beneficial for ELL students and anonymity in general. Second, a teacher in my building recently started using Plickers and I know I can see it in action.  And lastly, since are computers are all tied up with testing for the next 6 weeks, Plickers seems like a great non-device formative assessment tool! Plickers is great for schools who do not have easy access to devices (like my school).  With the simplicity of my cell phone, a document camera, and one computer, I can pose questions on the screen and students hold up their individual card to share their response.  My phone then scans their cards giving me instant feedback.  This is great for teachers who want a quick response. Within a minute, I can have all students answers and the ability to keep their data for later.  Students do not need to write, are not able to read their peers responses, and these responses can immediately inform teachers on where to go next.  Data is stored in reports that can be downloaded into an Excel document.  Two drawbacks are that the program only allows multiple choice or true false options and there is not a shared databank of content for teachers to pull from.

Kahoot

Moving on to Kahoot, this is a fun way to excite students about quick checks.  Similar to Plickers, it only allows multiple choice or true false options.  It also exports data into Excel in a user friendly format. Where Plickers lacks shared resources, Kahoot lets you access a large databank of resources.  In order to use Kahoot teachers will need a document camera to display the questions and multiple devices for student access.  Students input their own name which requires teacher monitoring to enable teachers to use data later on.  It gamifies formative assessment by rewarding points based on correct response and response time.  Having tested this with my students, they absolutely loved it!  This is a great tool for quick checks, review before a test, or even pre-assessment.

Go Formative

Having just touched the surface on how to use Go Formative, this tool seems to most versatile for a free platform. Teachers can upload content in a variety of ways, and also allow students to answer using multiple choice, short answer, true/false, or draw their response.  Their reports are comparable to Plickers and Kahoot.  

Wishful Thinking

The one resource I’d love to push for my grade level team however is MasteryConnect. Sadly, this program has limited free access, but has the tools I am looking for in regards to team planning, collaboration, and reteaching. Looking at the review on EdSurge, I felt this is something my school lacks and is similar to a successful tool we used at my previous school several years ago.  I also like how Socrative can be linked to MasteryConnect, but again, Socrative is not free for teachers either.

In conclusion, I feel I have several resources I’d like to take to my team and discuss how we can simplify our teaching by utilizing tools that allow instant grading and excel to compare data.  My goal is to not reinvent the wheel, but find ways to work smarter, not harder.

Resources –

Edutopia. (2014). Tech2Learn: Success Stories of Technology Integration in the Classroom. Retrieved from www.edutopia.org. (includes… https://www.edutopia.org/blog/blended-learning-working-one-ipad

Johnson, K. (2016). Resources to Help You Choose the Digital Tools Your Classroom Needs. Retrieved from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-03-15-resources-to-help-you-choose-the-digital-tools-your-classroom-needs

Davis, V.(2015, January 15). 5 Fantastic, Fast, Formative Assessment Tools. Retrieved April 23, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/5-fast-formative-assessment-tools-vicki-davis

Take Three! 55 Digital Tools and Apps for Formative Assessment Success. (2016, June 07). Retrieved April 23, 2017, from https://www.nwea.org/blog/2016/take-three-55-digital-tools-and-apps-for-formative-assessment-success/

Zdonek, P. (2016, September 26). Putting the FORM in Formative Assessment. Retrieved April 23, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/putting-form-in-formative-assessment-pauline-zdonek

MasteryConnect (Product Reviews on EdSurge). (n.d.). Retrieved April 23, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/product-reviews/masteryconnect

EDTC 6103 Module 2 – ISTE Teaching Standard 2 Design & Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences & Assessments

ISTE

In my exploration of ISTE Teaching Standard 2 this week, I am looking to explore the different digital tools that are out there for formative and summative assessments.  It is important to find something that will not take more time for grading and allow for real-time feedback for the students. The article from Edutopia’s Teaching for Meaningful Learning about how assessments matter is summarized well with this one line “for assessments to serve the critical functions, they must be grounded in a conception of learning as developmental and in a belief that all students will learn from experience and feedback, rather than being constrained by innate ability. It is also important to Module_2_-_ISTE_Teaching_Standard_2_Design__Dev_Digital_Learning_Exp__Assessments.pngremember that the most effective performance assessments are part of a related set of practices that include the integration of assessment and instruction, systematic use of iterative cycles of reflection and action, and ongoing opportunity for students to improve their work” (Barron & Darling Hammond, 2007). Establishing that assessments matter is not really the argument but sometimes I require a reminder why we spend so much time on them.  Then I took a look at a recent online piece which was done by McGraw-Hill Education the giant textbook and curriculum publisher. It is one part of a series about assessment implementation and in this section “Assessment Optimization #4: Analyze Results and Use them to Inform” McGraw-Hill staff writes that the “insights gleaned from assessments can be used at three levels: by the digital assessment program itself, by the instructor, and by the administrator. With each use, the adjustments made will address the needs of a wider student population — from the individual learner to the class, to the entire school or district” (2017). Purposeful and insightful assessments can help personalize learning and adapt exams for each student’s abilities and needs.  It also informs teachers and administrators.  McGraw-Hill is pushing their assessment solution tool Engrade but I thought instead I would explore a tool that my district is pushing to its staff to use, Formative.  Formative is a digital web-based machine that allows teachers/instructors to create assessments be it formative or summative.  I think it can be a lot like Kahoot but a bit more official and useful for teachers.

Click to view slideshow.

Formative lets teachers create assessments, deliver them to students, receive results, and provide individualized feedback in real-time. Teachers can use the platform to create new assessments for their students from scratch, or they can upload pre-existing documents and transform them into paperless assignments. Accounts are free for teachers and students.  Teachers can set up new accounts through a link on the company website. Then they can enroll students in one of two ways: 1) Give students a class code and asking them to self-enroll through the company website or 2) Fill out a spreadsheet with student roster information and email the spreadsheet to a company representative. Students can use any Internet-connected device to complete their assignments, and their responses are immediately sent to the teacher. Teachers can grade assignments manually or automatically and then send students individualized feedback. The Teacher Dashboard also provides real-time analytics that teachers can use to track student growth across standards.

Lastly, my favorite tool to use for ELA summative writing assessments is Turnitin.com.  This tool use has helped me truly prepare my students for the next step in education.  I  cannot think of a legitimate higher education institution that does not implement a machine like this to help ward off plagiarism.  If we do not start the students using it early on then we are doing them a disservice.  So It prevents plagiarism and engages students with its ease of use and instant feedback.   Originality Check like everything else in today’s digital culture, plagiarism is moving online. Turnitin’s Originality Check helps instructors check students’ work for improper citation or potential plagiarism by comparing it against the world’s most accurate text comparison database. GradeMark allows for paperless grading.  GradeMark saves instructors time and provides richer feedback to students by enabling editorial highlights, custom comments, and QuickMark editing marks directly on the student papers.  In the image below you can see a couple of screens that I use to grade my students work.  It also keeps all my student’s work from the past year in one place.  I do not lug around large piles of paper every break I just pack my laptop and that is all I need.  Plus, when I finish a paper I can instantly email that student and let them know that they can take a look at their grade.  This gives them real-time feedback and more time to consider redoing the assignment for a better grade.  I love the fact that I can create my own rubrics with the district’s curriculum but then use Turnitin.com’s Rubric Manager and put it into the system.  It is saved so I can update it and then use it later.  

Click to view slideshow.

 

Barron, Dr. Brigid, and Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond. “Teaching for Meaningful Learning: A Review of Research on Inquiry-Based and Cooperative Learning.” TeachING for Meaningful Learning A Review of Research. Edutopia, 2007. Web. 12 Apr. 2017. Retrieved From http://www.edutopia.org/pdfs/edutopia-teaching-for-meaningful-learning.pdf

Education, McGraw-Hill. “[Series] Assessment Optimization #4: Analyze Results and Use Them to Inform.” Medium. Inspired Ideas, 29 Mar. 2017. Web. 14 Apr. 2017.