If You Say Tomayto and I Say Tomahto then Why are We Debating Potayto? The Importance of Communication and Collaboration to Successful Peer Coaching.

Teaching is a hard job in the best of times.  Add in a pandemic that requires the ability to teach in-person, remotely, or some combination there-of, and more questions than answers will surely arise.  Teachers need help and support and hopefully this is where peer coaches can come into play, but where do coaches even begin to …

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Is Coaching Remotely Necessary in the Era of Remote Learning?

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” —Mahatma Gandhi “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” —Mother Teresa “Educators often say that education is frustratingly isolating. And if you talk with them about collaboration, you quickly learn that they know it …

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Evaluating Efficacy of Remote Learning Content and Tools

This past spring our lives as we knew them were turned upside down. The greatest things that came out of this scary and life altering pandemic, were the innovations and truly caring hearts that came to the forefront of our communities. As an educator, I was so incredibly thankful to still have the ability to collect a paycheck and have that stressor relieved – however, my job still changed quite a bit. And while it was not all negative, it was still an incredible change to push a 100% in-person model online. Education leaders and educational tech companies and organizations got to work immediately, creating resources and support for teachers who were switching to a remote model at the drop of the hat. It warmed my heart to see all the love and collaboration that was flowing through the education communities to help one another get through this quick change!  With all of these quickly produced and released resources flooding into teachers’ emails, the question was brought up in my teams collaborative planning meetings of which resources were best and which we should be focusing our time on. What a great question! I was reminded of this conversation recently when I am once again planning for going back to school in a fully remote model. How do we test the efficacy and effectiveness of not only resources, but also digital tools?  How can coaches partner with educators to reflect on digital learning content and tools to enhance remote learning? ISTE Coaching Standard 3 Collaborator While searching for ways that educators have been able to reflect and analyze on digital learning content and tools, I came across an article “6 Ways Administrators Can Prove the Efficacy of Digital Tools”  written by Eric Sheninger, a digital leadership expert at the International Center for Leadership in Education.  Sheninger goes through a list of 6 ways to prove digital tool efficacy. He states that the way to start off is to take a look at pedagogy and then move onto the research behind tools and content. You can then look at the reason why you are choosing to use those resources and finish with a reflection. My favorite pieces of this post are the reflection that can be posed to educators to help them think through the effectiveness of the tools/content that they are using: Did my students learn? How do I know if my students learned? How do others know if my students learned? What can be done to improve? What point of view have I not considered? With the wonderful insight from some of my Digital Education Leadership cohort members, we were able to extend these questions to help give educators more information on continuing with digital learning content or tools Did my students learn? Which students learned? Are there a certain grouping of students that were able to access this content or tool with more success than a separate grouping of students? How can you differentiate this so that all students have the same access to the content or tool? How do I know if my students learned? What formative assessment strategies will be used in order for you, as the educator, to determine if students have learned? What success criteria will be in place? How do others know if my students learned? How will a student know they were successful? How will this learning be easily communicated with parents? How will administration see that students are aware of their learning with this digital content or tool? What can be done to improve? Is more scaffolding necessary? Is this content within my students zone of proximal understanding? If not, how can I ensure students will be able to stretch to understand this content?  What point of view have I not considered?  Is this digital content or tool culturally responsive? What trauma informed practices are available to be integrated with this content or tool to ensure students who have higher ACES (adverse childhood experiences) will have similar learning to students who have less ACES? How will our ELL (English Language Learners) students access this content or tool? How will a student with a 504 plan or receiving specially designed instruction access this content or tool?  All of these questions will help a coach work through the process of evaluating digital content or tools to ensure that they are effective. Through a different approach, educators could rate their digital content or tool by using a rubric. Here is one example provided by ISTE: No matter what method you choose to reflect upon digital content or tools, the most important piece is that you are taking the time to actually reflect.  How do you reflect on digital learning content or tools? What are some other pieces of teaching that you feel coaches can help educators reflect on? Comment below! References ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (n.d.). ISTE. Retrieved August 1, 2020, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches Klein, A. (2019, November 18). Digital Learning Tools Are Everywhere, But Gauging Effectiveness Remains Elusive, Survey Shows. Education Week. https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2019/09/18/digital-learning-tools-are-everywhere-but-gauging.htmlSheninger, E. (2020, May 6). 6 Ways Administrators Can Prove the Efficacy of Digital Tools. Technology Solutions That Drive Education. https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2017/11/6-ways-administrators-can-prove-efficacy-digital-tools

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Personalized Support Through Professional Growth Plans

Goal setting is an incredibly important strategy that we teach our students throughout their educational careers. We start small and create scaffolds to help our students learn how to work through a goal while demonstrating reflective thinking pra…

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Reimagining A “Classroom” – A Global Collaborative Project

What is a Global Collaborative Project?

A global collaborative project is a project that students work together on, either during the process, or share between different communities to come up with a final product. 

In “5 Ways to Inspire St…

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Open Education Resources in Action

Introductory Section In a previous blog entitled Open Sourcing Education, I explored the topic, or “what”, of Open Education Resources (OERs) while this post looks more at the application, or “how”, of OERs.  OERs have an intriguing history that is mostly tied to the evolution of the internet with some influences from other open sourcing …

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Open Sourcing Education

Introductory Section One of the earliest definitions for Open Education Resource (OER) comes from the UNESCO 2002 Forum on Open Courseware: “teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation, and redistribution by …

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Tools for Analyzing Formative Assessments

Have you ever considered the amount of time it takes to hand out, collect, grade, and analyze formative assessments and then use results to meaningfully plan for daily math lessons? I know this is one of those pieces of teaching that I don’t exactly look forward to. It is exhausting to plan time for exit tickets and then grade them DAILY in order to have information to help guide your next day of instruction. I have been pondering this task for a while now, and it has led me to questioning my methods of formative assessment surrounding math.  Using ISTE Educator Standard 5: Design, and ISTE Educator Standard 7: Analyst, I came up with a guiding question to help lead me on my quest for a digital tool that can help me design, and analyze my students’ formative assessments in a meaningful way, with a quicker pace.  “What digital tools can I use to quickly assess math understanding while also allowing for self-assessment?” Let’s lead with the standards: While searching, I found 3 great tools that all serve slightly different purposes.  Edulastic  Edulastic is a great tool that helps give a more formal formative (or summative) assessment. My favorite part of this tool is that it has an abundance of pre-made assessments that are matched to curriculum and standards. My district uses Eureka for math curriculum, and there are pre-loaded tests for every topic, mid-module assessments, and end of module assessments for every grade and every module. Also, the majority of assessments are graded by themselves (the more extended problems have a small piece that need to be graded by the teacher). This tool is wonderful! It even creates color-coded pie charts representing the students who were below standard, near standard, and met standard.  While Edulastic is amazing for more formal assessing matters, it wasn’t necessarily what I was looking for when searching for a tool to help with the day-to-day exit ticket matter… my search continues! Flubaroo  The next tool I wanted to learn more about was Flubaroo. This is a free extension that you add to Chrome. You can create self graded tests made on Google Forms and help formatting for assessments as well. I have had great success with Flubaroo on creating templates for my students, along with creating student info sheets that have been taken by parents on Google Forms and then reformatted to a Google Doc in a more user-friendly model. Flubaroo is a fantastic tool, and I know that the practical uses for education are abundant.  To use Flubaroo, you must have all students (or whomever your users are) complete their Google Form prior to submitting a template and using the Google Sheet data. Looking for more great info on Flubaroo? Here is a how-to link for all things Flubaroo: here. While this may not be a con for your usage, I am looking for a tool that immediately gives me feedback.  I continued to search for a tool that could give me immediate formative assessment data and it led me next to Socrative.  Socrative Socrative has a free version and a pro-version. I focused on the free version. On the non-paid version there are 4 main features: Quiz, Space Race, Exit Ticket, and Quick Question.  Using “Quiz” you can either create a new quiz or import a quiz using a shared code that another user has created. These can be organized by folder, and can be as long as you please.  On “Space Race” you can use a quiz, with altered settings, to use on space race. Here is a great video that shows you the steps to launch a space race and then also shows you the student display. Here’s the video: Next, “Exit Ticket”, which to my knowledge is a pre-formatted set of 3 questions. The first asking how well you understood the material in that day’s lesson. The second asking what you learned, and enabling a short answer response ability. And the last question, “Please answer the teacher’s question”.  The last option, “Quick Question”. Here you can set up a multiple choice, true/false, or short answer response for students. For the free version, it shows you results immediately, however you cannot change the options on the tool (you would have to display it for the students using a different tool, or writing the question and answer on the board).  I am most interested in Socrative for my daily formative assessment tool. I can see myself using the quick question tool throughout the lesson (even outside of a math lesson) to gauge a quick understanding, while using the exit ticket function for students to self assess. I would use that last question opportunity to add a problem to the board for students to solve and respond using Socrative. This would help me to immediately have them give me a rating of understanding for the lesson, a short answer for them to explain in words what they felt they learned about that day, and also an immediate response to a problem.  While Socrative may not be useful for teachers who would like a more in-depth, self grading quiz, or an assessment that has been pre-loaded and matched to standards, it is perfect for a quick check-in with students.  I would love to hear what you use for your formative assessments and quick student assessments! Comment below! References AMLE – Association for Middle Level Education. (n.d.). 8 Digital Formative Assessment Tools to Improve Motivation. Retrieved from https://www.amle.org/BrowsebyTopic/WhatsNew/WNDet/TabId/270/ArtMID/888/ArticleID/675/8-Digital-Formative-Assessment-Tools-to-Improve-Motivation.aspx Davis, V. (2017, May 8). Fantastic, Fast Formative Assessment Tools. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/5-fast-formative-assessment-tools-vicki-davis Flubaroo Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2020, from http://www.flubaroo.com/flubaroo-user-guide Free Formative Assessment Tools for Teachers. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2020, from https://edulastic.com/teachers/ K-12. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2020, from https://socrative.com/k-12/ Top Tech Tools for Formative Assessment. (2020, January 30). Retrieved from https://www.commonsense.org/education/top-picks/top-tech-tools-for-formative-assessment

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Technology Standards and Tools for Teachers

Learning Standards for Teachers? One of the more unique aspects of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards is the creation of not just teaching standards, but instructional standards that apply to teachers themselves.  My initial reaction when I first heard this was probably similar to many educators: why? I have enough on …

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Pivoting from In-Person to Virtual PD

Live and In-person to Virtual, Remote, & Online Learning Every year as part of my job as a learning designer, I help to design, host, and train teachers that will be running professional development training over the coming year.  We do this training in person over the course of a long weekend. So what happens …

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