This quarter as part of Seattle Pacific University’s EDTC 6103 Teaching, Learning, and Assessment 2 course, I investigated the question: “How can I support technology integration in my school and assist teachers in using technology to engage, explore, create, and communicate in their classrooms?”
My goal is to find information and resources on strategies to support teachers on integrating technology into their classrooms. Currently my school is incorporating more technology and has asked if I will take the position of technology lead to assist teachers who may be struggling with the new technology and need guidance on how to integrate technology into their classrooms. Through research, my focus for this investigation was to cover the following ISTE Coaching Standard:
2E: Coach teachers in and model design and implementation of technology-enhanced learning experiences using differentiation, including adjusting content, process, product and learning environment based on student readiness levels, learning styles, interests and personal goals.
2h:Coach teachers in and model effective use of technology tools and resources to systematically collect and analyze student achievement data, interpret results, and communicate findings to improve instructional practice and maximize student learning.
Models for Integrating Technology
The TPACK Model
The SAMR Model
Barriers You May Face
While researching about digital integration in schools I found a chapter written by Michael Phillips that makes aware of two types of barriers teachers have been having when integrating technology within their schools.
The Extrinsic Barriers to Effective Integration
Lack of access to computers and software
Insufficient time to plan instruction
Inadequate technical and administrative support
The Personal Barriers to Effective Integration
Beliefs about teaching
Beliefs about computers
Established classroom practices
The Think, Feel, Care Protocol
When integrating technology it is easy to focus solely on your own thinking, but Beth Holland introduces a new “protocol” that will help allow technology supporters to look at the situation from the receivers point of view. This protocol is called the “Think, Feel, Care Protocol” and incorporates the following questions:
Think: How does this person understand their position in the school and their role within it?
Feel: What is this person’s emotional response to the change/technology/idea and how it affects their position?
Care: What are this person’s values, priorities, or motivations? What is important to this person?
This strategy helps others consider the “different and diverse perspectives held by the various people who interact within a particular system.” (Harvard, 2015)
“The goal of this routine is to help others understand that the variety of people who participate in a system think, feel, and care differently about things based on their positions in the system. ” (Harvard, 2015)
Some questions you may need to reflect on before attempting to assist teachers who may be reluctant to implement technology:
1.”What is the greater purpose of the technology? ” (Holland, 2018)
In other words where would technology fit within their instruction. Many teachers may feel they are to busy to implement technology into every lesson, but may be more open to using technology as a response tool for assessments or a communication tool for parents.
2. What are the teacher’s concerns? (Holland, 2018)
This questions refers back to the “Think, Feel, Care Protocol” I mentioned earlier. It is important to figure out what it is that is causing the teacher to feel uneasy with integrating technology in their classroom. This could be a multutitude of reason including,
They may not feel they have the time for technology.
They may not know how to use technology effectively.
They may feel overwhelmed with the use of technology.
3. How can the teacher make a gradual shift to technology? (Holland, 2018)
Keep in mind that when implementing technology we should encourage a gradual shift to others who are more reluctant. More often then not it is better to begin with one or two new programs or uses of technology in the classroom and be patient to see if and when the teacher is ready to implement more.
“Leadership is a choice, it is not a rank. I know many people at the senior levels of organizations who are absolutely not leaders. They are authorities and we do what they say because they have authority over us but we would not follow them and I know many people who are at the bottoms of organizations who have no authority and they are absolute leaders. This is because they have chosen to look after the person to the left of them and they have chosen to look after the person to the right of them. This is what a leader is.”
As I move into learning more about the ISTE Coaching Standards, the question I posed for Standard 2 is: How can Technology Coaches support teacher implementation of technology and help the school community accept this technology as a way to support student needs and prepare students with 21st Century skills?
Technology Coaches have a very unique role. We are at a time in education where there is fast paced change, exciting new discoveries, a plethora of choices and a growing ability to implement new ideas, structures and strategies from digital education into our classrooms and school communities. Yet, it is also a time of great uncertainty for many – teachers, students, administration, families, school community members – in what the best practices are for involving digital education within the school day. In order to have positive movement around digital education practices and implementation, it is essential for technology coaches to not dismiss the fear and uncertainty around technology use and screen time for students. This connects to Simon Sinek’s quote above ~ remembering to look to the left and look to the right and where the people around you are coming from. The ISTE Coaching Standard 2: Teaching, Learning, and Assessments – Technology coaches assist teachers in using technology effectively for assessing student learning, differentiating instruction, and providing rigorous, relevant and engaging learning experiences for all students – I would say if we start strong with teacher implementation, it will better extend positively to the school community, parents and other stakeholders for our students.
Technology coaches help bridge the gap from where we are to where we need to be. The ISTE Standards·C describe the skills and knowledge they need to support their peers in becoming digital age educators.
A go-to resource for me around many educational topics is Cult of Pedagogy. Her article, How to Plan Outstanding Tech Training for Teachers, is packed with suggestions for leading teacher tech trainings and are spot on for demystifying digital education and bringing your educational community together – starting with teaching educators how to move these ideas forward within their classrooms. Here are the key ideas she breaks down for us:
Tip #1 – GET TO KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE:
“Just like knowing our students helps us teach them more effectively, knowing the skill levels, interests, and needs of the teachers will help you better customize training for them. So do whatever you can to get to know who you’re training beforehand. “
Tip #2 – TIP 2: FORCE MULTIPLY
“A force multiplier is something that, when added to and used by a combat force, significantly increases the strength of that force and enhances the probability of a successful mission. In other words, something you add to something else that vastly increases the first thing’s capabilities. When planning a professional development session using technology, there are three ways you can add force multipliers so the impact of the training is increased exponentially.“
TIP 3: MAKE IT HANDS-ON
“When it comes to technology-based training, letting teachers get their hands on the tools just makes sense. Craig Badura explains it this way: “I guess my biggest piece of advice that I could offer after six years of being an integration specialist is that we need to saturate our teachers with multiple learning opportunities. I try to make anything I create for teachers—my trainings, my sessions—I try to make whatever I create relevant to them so that they can really walk away with that and use it tomorrow. Or that they might say, ‘That really wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.’ So I think the sit-and-get form of PD is really useless now with teachers, so we need to start offering them different things that they can do.”
TIP #4 – TREAT IT JUST LIKE TEACHING:
“For some reason, professional development rarely gets the same treatment we give to classroom instruction. Even though the students are adults, they will still benefit from good quality instruction. So when you’re planning a tech training, consider how you can implement these good teaching principles: Differentiate and do formative assessments.“
TIP #5: STAY CONNECTED
“Face-to-face time is limited in any kind of training, so it’s helpful to leave something with teachers that will allow them to keep learning after your session is over. This should include the trainer’s contact information, along with links to any other resources that were shared during the training. Turner does this with a shared document: “I have a document that they can all see, that they can share, and that they can add on to for later on. And when they do that, they’re able to come back to it and to be able to have that as a resource for themselves. And I say hey, here it is, and if you don’t remember, here’s my information.”
There is another blog post from Cult of Pedagogy, 10 Ways to Truly Lead in Your Classroom, about how to lead within your own classroom that I think applies heavily to how to be a strong technology coach.
1. Lead with imperfection.Try things you’re not good at, right in front of them. Demonstrate a spirit of experimentation. Speak of your mistakes without judgment.
2. Lead with assertiveness.Show them how a self-assured person says no. Show what it looks like to set firm limits, without apology and without hostility.
3. Lead with relationships.Let them hear you laugh with other teachers, prioritize loved ones, and speak respectfully of your significant other. Let them see what healthy relationships look like.
4. Lead with language.Use the right words to describe concepts. Avoid dumbing things down. Savor a good word when it presents itself.
5. Lead with self-control.When a student makes you angry, think of how you tell students to handle their own anger. Then do that.
6. Lead with manners.Say please and thank you. Avoid cutting people off mid-sentence. Have sensitive conversations in private. Respect other people’s time.
7. Lead with quality.Take a few extra minutes to get something right. Do what you say you’re going to do. Proofread.
8. Lead with humor.Laugh. Be silly. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Avoid mocking or ridiculing your students. Mock yourself instead.
9. Lead with enthusiasm.Share your obsessions. Geek out on the things students think are uncool. Show them that it’s possible to fall in love with a forest, a perfect pizza crust, the moment when a song changes key.
10. Lead with humility.When you don’t know something, say so. Allow for the possibility that you might occasionally be wrong. Check your ego. Apologize.
Though this post is geared toward how to be a leader for students, I think it absolutely applies to leadership as a Technology Coach for teachers and for bringing the school community into the fold, as well.
The article, Overcoming the Obstacles to Leadership, hits on many key aspects of best practices for moving into leadership roles and how to build and continue leadership once you start. The one that hit home the most for me is working side by side with teachers. Again, I would extend this to families and the school community as a whole. Relationships are at the heart of being trusted as a leader: moving into the unknown together, being revolutionary together, maintaining a growth mindset together, building trust together, navigating the ever changing educational landscape together. With this at the forefront, there is opportunity for everyone to build a foundation that feels safe, comfortable and innovative. Once trust and a working relationship is established, purposeful and relevant PD and/or PLC groups can be established. A model that shows great promise is the Teacher Learning and Leadership Program discussed is the article, Teachers, Learners, Leaders.
“Part of the beauty of this professional learning structure is that it represents a successful joining of the education policy arm and teachers’ unions. The program meshes education research, education policy, and teaching practice and is a prime example of how researchers, policymakers, and practicing teachers can work together instead of pursuing conflicting agendas.”
This video goes into depth about TLLP and the huge potential is has for teachers becoming leaders.
It is an exciting time in digital education and with this comes great successes yet growing pains, as well. As technology coaches become better equipped to handle the uncertainties and frustrations teachers may have around implementing technology and digital education in the classroom, then we will move forward. Knowing the wide range of opinions out there is key, knowing the pace at which to support teachers is key, building trust with each other and the technology is key.
How many times did the technological ‘Founding Fathers’ have to fail in order to create something our world could not live without? When I think about it, all of our founding fathers in American history, focused on citizenship at a deep level, they created, they failed, they redesigned, and they worked at the idea again and again until something bigger than themselves was created to impact society. In a sense, the Founding Fathers facilitated the creation of something beyond the imagination of many. If we want to continue to support, mold, and grow great thinkers and designers, the education system must get past the easy learning and start facilitating learning that requires risk-taking for the good of the unique, meaningful, and dynamic learning product.
Larry Ferlazzo (2016, September 24) talks about failure through his experience and the examples of peers in Response: ‘Freedom to Fail’ Creates a Positive Learning Environment. In the article, Amber Chandler (2016) discusses her learning opportunity for students that made failure an acceptable product of learning. Chandler intentionally graded students on risk-taking. She upped the rigor of the learning by asking students to reflect on the learning process.
I find that the reflection of learning is often the most important part of the path towards mastery because it allows students to make connections through other perspectives. We do not reflect enough in my opinion. “The most amazing conversations occurred around our reflection process because students were complementing one another on risk-taking–an under-appreciated mindset. Until we recognize that academic risk-taking is, for the most part, discouraged, and intentionally normalize it, we will continue to create safe, but stymied students”. Chandler recalls her students’ experience with the reflection of the risk-taking process while creating a safe space for her students to fail. In my opinion, if students are comfortable with failure and take time to reflect and connect to the learning process they will grow into confident learners who can anticipate the next steps needed to be successful on the next try.
Okay, teachers, I can already hear your feedback. “This is great Liz, very ‘eyes on the learning prize’ of you to suggest that we make space for failure in our classroom, but how do we do this within our current realities”? I think the answer has been in front of us the whole time. Yes, we want our students to use the most cutting edge technology to learn and they can still do this every day in preparation for life outside of our classrooms, but in all honesty, we can design our e-learning environments around an educational foundation to maximize the deep learning we want to see in our future leaders and change makers.
Check out E-Learning with Bloom’s Taxonomy! Jason Johnson does a thorough job of explaining Bloom’s through the cognitive learning perspective to encourage and support educators as they facilitate the learning of students within the analyzing, evaluating, and creating higher levels of thinking. Johnson pushes the educator to own that students need to ‘understand’ before they ‘create’. When the creation does not work they often will need to go back to the understand phase of learning to apply the knowledge to the failure of the project and then try again with a healthy dose of new learning.
A short video explains the application of e-learning, regardless of learning and content management systems.
It is important that our learners are comfortable and confident as they take ownership of learning, especially within the 21st-century digital world. The intent of the e-learning should be to “establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency”(ISTE Standard for Educators 3). The intent of all learning can be in more than just the application of facts on a test or in a paper, but the analyzation and evaluation that leads to dynamic and meaningful creations. For the Founding Fathers of our country and the Digital Revolution, failure was part of learning. Educators can facilitate a risk-taking environment for students if they are brave enough to focus on the learning rather than the imparting of facts delivered as the ‘sage on the stage’ who takes the easy way out.
Chandler, A. (2016). The Flexible ELA Classroom: Practical Tools for Differentiated Instruction in Grades 4-8. Routledge.
This week as part of Seattle Pacific University’s EDTC 6103 Teaching, Learning, and Assessment 2 class, we were asked to investigate the following ISTE Educator Standards:
ISTE 3-Citizen: Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world.
ISTE 6- Facilitator:Educators facilitate learning with technology to support student achievement of the ISTE Standards for Students.
While researching these standards I decided to focus my attention on Culturally Responsive Teaching and learn how to transform my mindset to be more responsive in the classroom. This blog post will serve as a way for me to demonstrate my learning and share the research I have found on how to become a responsive teacher as well as address the following standard indicators within my program:
3b: Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency.
6d: Model and nurture creativity and creative expression to communicate ideas, knowledge or connections.
How is it different than multiculturalism?
Many people (myself included) have confused Cultural Responsive Teaching with multiculturalism. While multiculturalism is important element to bring into the classroom, here are the main differences between the two:
Zaretta Hammond explains that the purpose of Culturally Responsive Teaching is, “to help traditionally marginalized and under-served students become empowered, independent learners. ” She also suggests beginning with the responsive part of the pedagogy and try “building rapport, getting to know students as people.” To do this you must “first humanize your interactions with diverse students who are struggling or feel like school is a hostile place.” (Hammond, 2018)
Where to begin?
One place to begin is to look at your current classroom structure. Zaretta Hammond has created an observation guide with thought provoking questions to help scaffold you in the right direction.
Another way to begin is to consider how you are already incorporating this pedagogy into your teaching already? Geneva Gay has created a leveled chart to help you determine where you are first starting out:
No culturally or linguistically relevant materials were included in my class.
Level 1: Contributions Approach
Heroes, holidays, historical events, & discrete cultural elements are incorporated into class lessons.
I linguistically code switch to establish rapport.
I linguistically code switch, as needed, to facilitate understanding.
I include major figures, contributors, or historical events from cultures other than the dominant culture into the lesson.
I include cultural or artistic works (literature, music, visual and performing arts/artists) from cultures other than the dominant culture into the lesson.
I include research contributions from cultures other than the dominant cultures into my lessons.
Level 2: Additive Approach
Multicultural content, concepts, themes are incorporated to the lesson from multi-cultural students’ perspectives.
I include resources and texts that (e.g., reading, film, etc.) present multicultural perspectives in the lesson.
I include lectures/discussions that present multi-cultural perspectives my lessons.
I teach a unit that presents multi-cultural perspectives into my curricula.
Level 3: Transformation Approach
The structure of the curriculum enables students to view concepts, issues, events & themes from the perspectives of diverse ethnic, racial, & cultural groups.
I provide resources and instruction that enables students to view concepts, issues, themes and problems from several multi-cultural perspectives.
I provide resources and instruction that enables students to view class concepts being studied from multiple perspectives, frames of references from various groups and various individuals within those groups.
I infuse multiple perspectives, frames of references, and content from various groups and perspectives to extend students’ understandings of the nature, development, and complexity of the society in which they live.
I introduce the “canons” of my discipline and augment them to reflect the complex synthesis and interaction of the diverse racial/ethnic/religious/cultural elements that comprise our society.
Level 4: Social Action Approach
Students make decisions on important social issues & take action to help solve them.
My teaching encourages students to identify existing social problems or issues from multi-cultural perspectives.
My lessons and assignments encourage students to gather pertinent data from multicultural perspectives on existing social problems or issues.
My teaching encourages students to clarify their values and make decisions about existing social problems using multi-cultural perspectives.
My teaching encourages students to take reflective actions to help resolve social problems.
Is there a Framework?
Yes! Zaretta Hammond created a framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching:
Through my research I learned about what Cultural Responsive Teaching is, how it differs from multiculturalism, and ways I can begin recognizing how responsive I am in the classroom. I also found many great resources and strategies to try in the classroom such as:
“Building Authentic Relationships”
” Using the brain’s memory systems for deeper learning” ( Connecting new content through music, movement, and visuals strengthens the neural pathways for comprehension )
” Acknowledging diverse students’ stress response from everyday micro-aggressions”
” Using ritual, recitation, repetition, and rhythm as content processing power tools. “
” Creating a community of learners by building on students’ values of collaboration and connection”
My question for the ISTE 3-Citizen:Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world and ISTE 6- Facilitator: Educators facilitate learning with technology to support student achievement of the ISTE Standards for Students touches on the importance of a growth mindset throughout education, no matter what your age, in order to be comfortable with the unknown and to be brave enough to wonder and patient enough to learn more. This blog post is based on my question: What is a sequence of teaching steps we can take as educators to facilitate a growth mindset for students that connects to digital platforms, the learning environment and student citizenship online and offline?
If you are unsure of what growth mindset is or even if you think you know, watch this video of Carol Dweck speaking about it:
and/or read below:
Over 30 years ago, Carol Dweck and her colleagues became interested in students’ attitudes about failure. They noticed that some students rebounded while other students seemed devastated by even the smallest setbacks. After studying the behavior of thousands of children, Dr. Dweck coined the terms fixed mindset and growth mindsetto describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. When students believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger. Therefore they put in extra time and effort, and that leads to higher achievement. (https://www.mindsetworks.com/science/)
There is so much out there about growth mindset and at times, with such an overabundance of talk about growth mindset, it can start to feel like an idea that has grown into a fade and has become misused, misunderstood and thrown around too loosely (blog post for another day around that!). Yet, at the core of this idea, it can’t be emphasized enough that if students are truly able to understand what it means to have a growth mindset and what this can mean for them as lifelong learners – wow – The possibilities are endless. This is why I am focusing on the steps it takes to achieve a growth mindset – it is not a quick and easy bandaid or a silver bullet for success. It takes time, mindfulness, thoughtful sequencing to get students to understand and believe in it.
When looking at this infographic:
I see the infographic as the sequence of steps needed to develop a safe and secure understanding of growth mindset from a young age and the sequence takes time and a slow integration with many small steps that turn into larger steps. It is not enough to say, learning should be challenging, you will fail that is how you learn, isn’t making mistakes great so that you can learn why. These are great beliefs for students to eventually understand but getting them there needs to be gentle. It doesn’t feel great to make mistakes or ‘fail’ (though I do not believe that the word fail is accurate for growth mindset), it feels vulnerable and scary, especially when others seem to understand more than you or are better at something more quickly. Looking at this image and after speaking with my critical friend, Kelli Carlson, this week, I realize that the most important part of growth mindset is starting exactly where this graphic does – with the brain. Here is an idea for a flushing out this sequence of steps inspired by this infographic to better promote, celebrate and inspire a growth mindset in ourselves and our students.
Our Amazing Brain – …intelligence can be developed
First thing, start talking with students about how the brain learns and gets stronger. How the brain grows. How connections and neurons get stronger with practice and perseverance. Go into the science of how the brain works. Find resources that make this interesting and relevant for your students.
Once students understand more about how the brain works and grows, they are more ready to face challenges and see them less as obstacles to growth and more as the way to grow. Presenting challenges in a thoughtful way that increases perseverance and where successes are meaningful and can be understood through the process of getting there is key to a growth mindset. If the challenge is immediately frustrating, maybe it would be better to start with activities that can show growth more immediately. As students get more comfortable with this, then activities can increase with the time it takes to be successful with new learning. Throughout this whole process, teaching the vocabulary that goes along with growth mindset is key – this gives students a voice in what the process feels like and phrases to help propel them in order to keep moving forward.
After some experience with persevering through challenges (and maybe even throughout them depending on your students) have them pinpoint what the obstacles were in their learning. Having students share where they struggled, what held them back and what they did to move through the challenge is so powerful. Learning how to be aware of when you start backtracking into a fixed mindset is key to realizing which mindset you will decide to listen to. I think this step and the previous step may go hand in hand pretty quickly.
Resources/Ideas – hands on tangible obstacles to manipulate to demonstrate what it means to persevere through, problem solve solutions and continue on. Students could explicitly track obstacles as they arise and celebrate how many they persevere through (digital support could be really helpful with this!) Watch this inspiring video which shows students who are very aware of the obstacles and challenges they are facing and proud to share with each other!
Effort – …See effort as the path to mastery
“A growth mindset isn’t just about effort. Perhaps the most common misconception is simply equating the growth mindset with effort. Certainly, effort is key for students’ achievement, but it’s not the only thing. Students need to try new strategies and seek input from others when they’re stuck. They need this repertoire of approaches—not just sheer effort—to learn and improve. We also need to remember that effort is a means to an end to the goal of learning and improving. Too often nowadays, praise is given to students who are putting forth effort, but not learning, in order to make them feel good in the moment: “Great effort! You tried your best!” It’s good that the students tried, but it’s not good that they’re not learning. The growth-mindset approach helps children feel good in the short and long terms, by helping them thrive on challenges and setbacks on their way to learning. When they’re stuck, teachers can appreciate their work so far, but add: “Let’s talk about what you’ve tried, and what you can try next.” Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’ (2015)
This is where the pieces from the previous steps in this sequence will support not accidentally turning effort into a reason to stop and be the end result – A ‘I tried so I’m done now’ mentality.
Criticism – …learn from others
The word criticism immediately makes me cringe and maybe it is meant to?! I prefer to think of this stage as feedback or ‘feedforward’ as I have heard it called. The goal for this step is for students to start feeling safe to welcome in conversation from others who disagree with them, feel they should change something, or have something to teach them. I know in the younger grades, we often focus mostly on positive peer and adult feedback. If students are only used to getting positive returns from their work, then as they move through education and the ‘gloves come off’, they can quickly spiral into not knowing how to defend their work, talk through their process, justify their strategies, or be unwilling to learn from peers and not know how to be comfortable with constructive criticism – which is crucial as you get older whether it is in the workplace, in relationships and beyond!
…which leads us directly into….
Success of others – …find lessons and inspiration in the success of others
Whew, this is a big one. If the previous targets have been met successfully, this is a beautiful ending. It is hard to truly feel comfortable with the success of others sometimes. Especially if you feel as though you can’t be successful because you aren’t smart enough, can’t do it, just don’t have the talent or natural ability. I like the approach of thinking of this step as finding lessons and inspirations of others to apply to your own endeavors. What a powerful feeling to bravely embrace.
Resources/Ideas: Looking at inspirational figures who have persevered and become leaders, focusing on the strategies others have used to be successful from their failures, help students become more aware of who they admire and are inspired by (often times outside their immediate world) and then translate this into their day-to-day interactions with people they engage with regularly.
With each of these steps, digital education has many resources to support each stage. A few in particular that I will be looking more closely at is YouCubed for challenging math support and Sown to Grow which supports students with goal setting, reflection and coaching. Cult of Pedagogy has an interesting blog post about it. I have come away from deeper research into growth mindset realizing that digital platforms are plentiful for supporting this if, as always, they are incorporated thoughtfully. The digital citizenship piece blends nicely with the criticism/feedback and success of others stages while during the challenges, obstacles and effort stages students could track their growth using digital portfolios and look back at where they first started. I think of a Kindergartner or 1st grader filming themselves doing a read aloud and then again months later and how they could see the difference. Or doing math problems on a whiteboard and then again after they have learned new material. Though this tracking of growth would be incredible for all ages – children and adults. Here is an article that addresses using tech to develop a growth mindset that I will be looking more closely at, as well.
Having said all of this, a growth mindset at all times is a tall order. Is it an attainable one? Carol Dweck says, “Let’s acknowledge that (1) we’re all a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets,(2) we will probably always be, and (3) if we want to move closer to a growth mindset in our thoughts and practices, we need to stay in touch with our fixed-mindset thoughts and deeds. If we “ban” the fixed mindset, we will surely create false growth-mindsets. (By the way, I also fear that if we use mindset measures for accountability, we will create false growth mindsets on an unprecedented scale.) But if we watch carefully for our fixed-mindset triggers, we can begin the true journey to a growth mindset.”
How many of us have looked at a lesson after one of those days in the classroom only to wonder why it was so difficult to get the students to engage in the learning?
I can think of several lessons that I thought would be engaging and exciting for my learners and felt the let down at the end of a long day. My students did not share in my enthusiasm for the content or the learning and I did not understand why. As I take a deeper look at what motivates learners, I wish I could jump back in time and redesign those lessons for my students in different ways.
If we are going to be learner-centered we need to design the learning and analysis of learning through the experience of each learner. This experience should be rich with the reflection that leads to self-motivation and discovery by the student. As I interact with ISTE Educator standard 5 (Designer) and 6 (Analyst) I found myself wondering
“How can I use assessments as a tool that honors and communicates the next steps and plans for the “authentic learning activities” (ISTE Educator 5b) for the learner, while using “technology to design and implement a variety of formative and summative assessments that accommodate learner needs, provide timely feedback to students and inform instruction” (ISTE Educator 7b)?
In my quest to empower learners to engage and collaborate with learning, I continue to feel a pull towards using video to support content delivery and student reflection of learning. Vialogues allows for the teacher to upload videos from YouTube and post guiding questions within the video. This could be used to evaluate the content or a reflective conversation between the learner and facilitator about the learning that is occurring. Van der Kleij, Adie, & Cumming, (2016) evaluated the feedback about learning and found that when questions were intentionally designed “the students’ stops were more focussed on reviewing the teachers’ feedback with commentary on the content they need to learn, strategies for improvement, and the teacher’s style of feedback” (pp.1099). This drives home the importance of learning first and tools second for our digital generation learners. We cannot post a video and think that we are creating cutting edge classrooms because we are ‘using’ technology. The learning experiences continue to only be as rich as the feedback and formative assessments we use to drive the next steps of learning driving students towards mastery of learning objectives. Students can also benefit from watching video posts from their peers to deepen learning. Jeffrey Young (2018) found that “Students report that being able to watch videos of their peers makes them feel more connected to their fellow learners”. Using video allows students to interact with each other in an approachable way. The quiet student in the back can now interact as much as the eager collaborator.
It would be interesting to pair the use of video engagement and questioning with formative assessment tools like those found on GoFormative. This web-based tool allows students and teachers to interact in real-time learning that will propel learning to the next level. GoFormative can be used to assess content and students reflection of learning. Results can be exported into a spreadsheet that can be used to track assessment data. Students are able to reflect on the learning to move the focus from compliance based responses to metacognitive connection to learning that allows for application past the unit test or semester final. This short video from Common Sense Education found on the GoFormative site gives some tips on how to push assessment past the multiple choice question.
By coupling the interaction of learning and reflection within videos with real-time assessments students can grow within a learning system that is centered around their own pace and growth. A word to the wise, compliance learning does not go away with personalization driven by a tech-savvy tool. Educators need to have a clear vision and path towards learning goals that will motivate and encourage students along the way. When a teacher couples clear learning objectives with learning that is designed and assessed for unique learning perspectives and understanding in mind the sky is truly the limit.
The two ISTE standards we focused on the last two weeks in our DEL EDTC 6103 graduate class were ISTE Standard 5 – Designer – Educators design authentic, learner-driven activities and environments that recognize and accommodate learner variability and ISTE Standard 7 – Analyst – Educators understand and use data to drive their instruction and support students in achieving their learning goals. After digging deeper into the Standards, the question I came away with was – How can I track student growth and have it available for families while also having the students drive the reflection and next steps piece to be active in their learning, growth and progress? There are two tools that stood out to me to try out and one article in particular that got me thinking more about the importance of student voice and perspective when designing authentic, learner-driven activities.
“When actively engaged in the feedback process, students request feedback, question to clarify feedback, negotiate feedback, reflect on feedback and also provide feedback to themselves, their peers or the teacher. Teachers likewise ask questions, and receive and reflect on feedback from the student and adjust their feedback accordingly. For optimal engagement in feedback processes, both teachers and students need to self-regulate as active agents (Kleij, F. V., Adie, L., & Cumming, J. (2016).
When designing authentic, learner-driven activities, it is extremely important to include adequate time to converse with students about their work and their own self-assessment and then time for them to go back to their work or move on from it depending on the outcome from the joint feedback. In early elementary, there is a tendency for feedback conversations to be teacher driven. Learning how to be a facilitator in the conversation rather than the majority voice would help students become more aware of and in charge of their growth and in turn more committed to their progress. I believe if you start this practice in early elementary, then the internal drive and perseverance when challenged will be stronger as they go into middle and high school.
One digital tool that addresses these standards is Branching Minds. I read about this tool in the article, The Growing Diversity in Today’s Classroom. Throughout ISTE Standard 5 (Designer) and 7 (Analyst) there are opportunities for personalized learning to be at the forefront. The video below is very informative for understanding what Branching Minds designed to do:
A key element from Branching Minds that connects the two ISTE standards is that this program takes a wide range of data and clearly shows where the student is challenged and where they excel and then matches specific learning programs/tools that support the learning style of that student which makes the learning more personalized. The programs/tools suggested are free to use though there are some that are ones to purchase but an educator has the option to hide the suggested that cost more. It also is designed to be a tool that can be shared with families and other staff that may interact regularly with the student which helps to get the whole child perspective when collecting data.
Improve effectiveness of implementation, reduce burden of documentation.
Understand whole learner’s strengths and challenges: academic, cognitive, social emotional and behavioral
Increase collaboration amongst all stakeholders (teachers, family and student)
Scaffold the use of matched evidence-based interventions, best practices of RTI/MTSS and effective differentiation
Cut meeting and prep time in half!
Meet student intervention goals more frequently/quickly
Connect all the dots easily and visually
(Branching Minds 2019)
From there, you could incorporate another digital tool like Seesaw to post activities that facilitate multiple modes of student engagement (video, drawing, voice recording, writing, etc) that match the learning style of the students. Seesaw is also a platform where you could record student and teacher feedback sessions so everyone (parents, students and teachers) could look back and review where they are at and see growth as the year progresses.
As educators, we are always looking for ways to improve our understanding of all of our students. Is Branching Minds a more thorough and straight forward path to curating student information to better personalize education for all students? I can’t be sure until I have tried it first hand but learning about it has opened my mind to thinking more about how to implement assessment and data meaningfully while also connecting this assessment and data to designing more student-driven activities and with supports that make sense for the student. As educators think about how to best fit together the puzzle pieces of effective digital tools, the data that Branching Minds is focusing on bringing together makes a lot of sense and could help educators to work ‘smarter not harder’ considering we are all already working so hard every day. Now, to try out the free demo at some point to get a more hands on experience since it is not a district paid for platform…too often the downside of finding exciting new tech is the time, energy and money it takes to see if it is in fact one of the puzzle pieces in my 5,000+++ piece educator puzzle!
While taking Seattle Pacific University’s EDTC 6103 Teaching, Learning, and Assessment 2 class, we are asked to investigate the following ISTE Educator Standards:
Designer: Educators design authentic, learner-driven activities and environments that recognize and accommodate learner variability.
Analyst:Educators understand and use data to drive their instruction and support students in achieving their learning goals.
While first researching these standards I was curious about technologies role on supporting personalized learning in the classroom. I had a brief idea of what personalized learning was and set out to find out more on how to integrate personalized learning into my classroom with the support of technology.
5a. Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
5b. Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
7a. Provide alternative ways for students to demonstrate competency and reflect on their learning using technology.
One Size Does NOT Fit All
Personalized learning differs from the traditional models of teaching in that it is “specifically tailored to students strengths, needs, and interests while ensuring the highest standards possible”. (Grant, 2019) Instead of teaching every student the same, you are looking to see what each student needs in order to grow. This may also mean that students are learning at different paces and ability levels in order to ensure each student is getting what they need in order to succeed.
For example, if you look at the images below you will see three individuals trying to watch a baseball game. On the left you see that each individual was given the same amount of boxes, this can also be equivalent to a teacher giving the same instruction to all students. There may be those who succeed within the lesson similar to the taller individual, but there also may be those who struggle to understand similar to the individual on the right struggling to see.
Similar to the right side of the picture above, in a personalized learning model students are given access to “tools and feedback that motivate them to capitalize on their unique skills and potential” (Grant, 2019) to be successful. Personalized learning empowers students to take a stand in their education and make it meaningful to their lives and interests. By personalizing students education you are preparing them for the 21st century world we live in.
What does this look like?
In Peggy Grant’s book, “Personalized Learning: A Guide for Engaging Students with Technology” she provides the following characteristics to a successful personalized learning initiative:
How is this different than Individualization?
When I first began researching personalized learning I was quite confused on how this was different than individualization. Luckily for me Peggy Grant provided the following chart to help me better understand:
Implementing Digital Tools and Resources
Digital tools encourage student-centered learning by giving students:
More control over learning methodologies that fit their best learning style (Grant, 2019)
A sense of ownership when choosing how they learn best (Grant, 2019)
Accountability for how they choose to learn (Grant, 2019)
“Digital tools also helps students demonstrate 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity through the creation, consumption, manipulation, and sharing of digital content.” (Grant, 2019)
Literacy Resources-“Ebooks, blogs, and discussion boards help students learn as they use their preferred learning styles and interests, as well as
introduce them to multiple texts on similar topics.” (Grant, 2019)
Web Tools- “Podcasts, wikis, and media editors, allow students to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways. Using these tools not only helps students develop important
technology skills, but also provides ways for students to share their work and benefit from the motivation of an authentic audience.” (Grant, 2019)
Digital Information Resources- “Provide students with immediate answers. Instant access to encylopedia sits, podcats, expert websites and blogs, as well as to social media sites, ensure that students are able to interact effectively with content and experts. “(Grant, 2019)
Learning Management Systems- “Help teachers organize instruction and communicate with students and parents to support personalization by providing a platform for accessing content and keeping records of students’ progress. ” (Grant, 2019)
While taking Seattle Pacific University’s EDTC 6103 Teaching, Learning, and Assessment 2 class, we are asked to investigate the following ISTE Educator Standards:
Learner: Educators continually improve their practice by learning from and with others and exploring proven and promising practices that leverage technology to improve student learning.
Leader: Educators seek out opportunities for leadership to support student empowerment and success and to improve teaching and learning.
While researching these standards I saw an opportunity to connect what I am learning within my MEd program to a struggle I have been experiencing within my school. In our school we are actively searching for ways to enhance and develop engaging professional development opportunities for both new and experienced teachers. I have attended a few professional development conferences and workshops before, but one that I always felt I learned the most from was an Edcamp Unconference I attended with a few of my cohort members. This blog post will serve as way for me to introduce the Edcamp Model to my school as well as address the following standard indicators within my program:
1b. Pursue professional interests by creating and actively participating in local and global learning networks.
2a. Shape, advance and accelerate a shared vision for empowered learning with technology by engaging with education stakeholders.
What is an Edcamp?
For those of you who have never heard of an Edcamp Unconference before, you are not alone. Before joining my Med program I also had no experience with this type of professional development model. In one article on professional development I found the word “Unconference” defined as ” Voluntary, informal learning experiences that reject traditional conference structures such as a predetermined slate of speakers and sessions.” (Carpenter, 2016)
This definition fit well with my experience for when you first enter the unconference there are no pre-planned sessions or speakers rather there is a place for you and others to write about what you want to take away from this experience and learn from one another. Once everyone wrote down their ideas we worked as a group to determine which concepts could be merged into one session, and the order the sessions would take place. In my experience there were 3 different time slots with 3 different sessions happening at the same time. As a participant you would then select which sessions you would like to attend and the best part was if you chose one session, but then felt the conversation wasn’t what you expected, they allowed you to simply walk out and join another session! The experience itself felt catered on what you wanted to learn and what was going to help you grow as a leader within your school.
In a New York Times article written by Katherine Schulten, she defines the Edcamp Model as a place where “Teachers teach themselves”.(Schulten, 2018) In every session during an Edcamp you see educators working together to share resources, advice, and personal experiences with one another. The collaboration is unlike any other and till this day I use the resources that were shared in each session. What I also liked was that you also had access to sessions you did not attend and the leader of that session would write about what was discussed, the topics covered, and any resources shared within that session. At the end of the session we grouped back up and each shared something we learned or took away from the experience. It shocked me that this Model involves no fees and is solely based on the participants interests. The experience as a whole is unlike any other; you gain knowledge on a variety of concepts and only need to bring a laptop to access the information shared!
Edcamp founder Kristen Swanson explains, “Since Edcamps are free by design, they draw people together for face-to-face interactions. These types of interactions help teachers to build relationships with colleagues facing similar challenges in similar systems. This makes the learning opportunity uniquely different from traditional ‘sit and get’ workshops or widely dispersed online professional development programs.” (Getting Smart, 2012)
Impact on Student Learning
Kriten Swanson states that, ““Edcamps strive to provide space for teachers to learn from each other. They give everyone a voice and a forum to explore new ideas and strategies”. (Getting Smart, 2012) The impact on teacher learning is clear, but how does this type of professional development impact student learning?
In a book written by the Edcamp Foundation, the authors describe the success of an Edcamp as having influenced a “change in teacher practice and classroom learning.” (Edcamp Model, 2014) They then pose this question to anyone who has attended an Edcamp Unconference before: “Has an Edcamp session significantly impacted your practice?” (Edcamp Model, 2014) Here are a couple of real responses from Educators on how Edcamps impacted their classroom and their students learning:
Craig Yen: During his Edcamp experience Craig learned about global collaboration and resources such as Mystery Skype and Global Read Aloud. He began implementing these resources into his 5th grade classroom. He explains that these resources allowed his students to think more about “geographical terms “in order to successfully answer questions they were given through Mystery Skype, such as ” Are you Landlocked?” (Edcamp Model, 2014)
Sean Wheeler– Before attending Edcamp Sean was planning a “deign-centered unit” for his high school students. One of the sessions that was agreed upon during his Edcamp was “Human-Centered Design”. Through that session Sean gathered information and resources to help plan a beneficial unit for his learners. (Edcamp Model, 2014)
Through these examples it is clear to see the correlation between what teachers learn from Edcamp Unconferences to how this knowledge is then presented into their classroom and ultimately impacting the students learning.
During the first quarter of the Digital Education Leadership (DEL) Program, we were asked to have a Twitter account. I was not looking forward to this. I resisted this. I replayed in my mind all the negative Twitter experiences I had heard about from the news and from friends. I had decided long ago, I would never be involved with Twitter. I continued to resist it throughout the first quarter. Then, after engaging with it more during the second quarter of the DEL program, I realized that I had it all wrong. What you experience with Twitter depends on how you choose to use it. I found that because I am using it to connect in a professional way around digital education and technology, I am learning a lot from the folks I am connected with on Twitter. I am being inspired by other educators. I am exposed to and learning about Ed Tech on a regular basis. I am sharing my own thinking. I am learning from others thinking and experiences. I am more ready and willing to be open and available to new tech. I am converted and I will continue to be. The librarian at my school invited me to a Ed Tech PD through our school district a few weeks ago and presented about Twitter. I feel like I finally understand how Twitter can be solid support for ISTE Standard 1 – Learner: Educators continually improve their practice by learning from and with others and exploring proven and promising practices that leverage technology to improve student learning andISTE Standard 2 – Leader: Educators seek out opportunities for leadership to support student empowerment and success and to improve teaching and learning.
What I really admire about the perspective she shared is that if used purposefully, you can be both a learner and a leader through Twitter – you will bounce between these roles regularly, as it should be. To lead well, you should be in the learning phase often. This seems especially true with educational technology since there is so much out there to be keep up with and be aware of.
After learning through a resource like Twitter, having a place to curate the many resources we learn about is an important way to maintain all the learning. I have started to use Wakelet to keep track of the ideas and tools that I am compiling throughout the DEL program, from fellow cohort members, from PD trainings and conversations with colleagues and friends. I have heard about other curation tools but for me, this one has been the most user friendly, so far. Also, you can follow other users and learn from the resources they have collected and begin creating a network of connections. This provides an opportunity to teach others about the resources that are working well for you while simultaneously giving you the ability to learn from others about what they feel are worthwhile enough to be saving in their Wakelet. I could see this tool being a way to have far reaching collaboration locally and globally. It makes me think of the ‘Wood Wide Web’ and network of mycorrhizal fungi. I always take comfort in the idea of connecting how we mimic our natural world. If done so thoughtfully, it could result in something almost as magical as mentioned in the video below…and how we could be more aware of what is hurting the positive way that digital education could be used within our education system.
All of this has led me to thinking more about the Triple E Framework and staying on top of pushing myself as a Learner and a Leader within digital education and having a tool to monitor what I am finding and what I am seeking to find. Having a checklist or template to review regularly to make sure I am not getting so comfortable with what I know that I lose out on staying up-to-date on new digital tools, methods, and ideas while maintaining an innovative mindset versus what is safe and familiar. I would like to eventually combine a rubric like the Triple E Framework…
…to an accountability tool/app such as Wunderlist or Goals On Track. I like the idea of setting a goal of seeking out X number of new digital education tools, readings or connections per month combined with a way of tracking what is discovered and determining through the Triple Framework E what is worth saving for possible implementation (you could add it to your Wakelet!) or scrap it if it is not worthwhile – which is an important part of learning when it comes to how much is out there to wade through…knowing how to best sift through the bad to get to the good.
Ultimately, to best achieve ISTE Standards 1 and 2, there needs to be a desire to both wonder about and know about what is out there. To be ready ask questions while being open to answering questions. For myself, using Twitter as an educational and professional learning and sharing tool, Wakelet as a way to track findings while connecting with other educators/professionals and a goal setting/accountability app to track personal commitment to engaging regularly seems like a solid way to start engaging as a learner and leader consistently.