Category Archives: Professional Development and Program Evaluation

The Coach – Administrator Connection: Module 5

Connecting and Collaborating with Administrators as an Instructional Technology Coach

This week in my final blog post of the quarter for my class on Educational Technology Leadership my question has led me to investigate how an instructional technology coach can partner with administrators to support and extend the learning that is happening through coaching. I have an interest in asking this question because I think that in my coaching role increased engagement and collaboration with administrators would benefit my coaching practice and the teachers and students at my schools. As I’ve written about before however, based on the literature I’ve read I am also in a unique position being in multiple schools. In addition to being in multiple schools, the fact that I’m in the middle of my first year as a coach also probably helps to explain why I may feel a slight disconnect to administrators in my building. So my questions, what does an engaged administrator do to support a coach in their building? And how can I help to engage administrators to make the most of my coaching role in their schools? Those questions will likely make sense to my peers who have been reading my previous posts this quarter because they are in a similar vein to my other posts. I was excited to investigate what an engaged administrator might look like from a coaching role, and brainstorm what I might be able to do to help further engage the administrators I work with. I also want to add that my past experience as a teacher in a school with an administrator who collaborated and met with her coaches regularly, did in fact give me an idea about some of the things an engaged administrator might do with coaches.

As I was looking for resources to guide my investigation I found a blog post written by Elena Aguilar titled “10 Ways for Administrators to Support Coaches,” which made my search fairly easy.

Some of the takeaways for me from this post are:

  • Align on a coaching model

That is one of the things I have been wondering about during this year. What do principals expect of me as a coach? What is their idea of the coaching model I am following? Aguilar suggests that coaches and administrators discuss these questions and more, then she adds, “Discussing these with a coach can lead to more cohesion and clarity as well as surface any large discrepancies” Aguilar (2014). In my monthly meetings with administrators I would like to get a better sense of what type of coaching model would best benefit their school.

  • Learn Together

Our team has often talked about what learning is happening at elementary leadership meetings but as of now we are not included. I think knowing that learning would help us support each other. The point of Elena Aguilar, (2014) though is, principals can ask questions of coaches to learn about instructional best practices and I think if principals were doing that collegiality between administrators and coaches would grow as well. Maybe another approach is inviting administrators to our professional development. Maybe asking them to come to NCCE is an opportunity to build trust, and mutual support for one another.   

  • Support Your Coaches Learning

This point encourages administrators to invest in a coaches learning and growth through PD. The author suggests that learning to instruct adults is often the most difficult thing for coaches to learn, so investing in that growth will in turn help coaches and teachers. As I provide PD for schools this year I’m going to ask for explicit feedback about how to improve my work. I was able to give my first whole staff PD last Friday, and now I think my next step is to solicit feedback form the principal and assistant principal.

  • Offer Leadership Guidance

Aguilar says, “coaches are leaders who need leadership development” (2014),  and that is definitely how I feel. Certain staff members, but not all, do seem to look to me as a leader. Often, I’m asked about the plans of the district. A lot of that depends on my coaching relationship with that staff member. Guidance from a leader is definitely something I am looking for in my position and in each of my schools. Again, I think this often comes up in whole staff PD settings so asking administrators who sit in for those trainings about how I handle staff questions is a good next step for me.

  • Appreciate your Coaches

This point is about recognizing the contribution that a coach makes to your school. I understand that I’m still working on my contributions, but I admit it would be nice if an administrator knew what I was doing. In my monthly meetings with administrators we do get to talk about what I‘m doing in the school, but usually I’m leading that part of the conversation. I am hopeful though that sometime later in the year, they hear about my work from a teacher and mention it to me in one of our meetings. That’s recognition for me!

It also seems that as I am given the opportunity to speak in front of a staff more often and if I continue to ask for feedback from administrators they will certainly see some of the work I am doing. As an instructional coach in a handful of schools my role might be unique or at least of less focus in the literature I have read but many of the same concepts still apply. One overarching theme this quarter has been building relationships and I recognize that just as I am doing that with teachers, I am still definitely doing that with administrators. I’m hoping that the reading I’ve done for this post will keep me moving in the direction of strengthening relationships with administrators and in turn will allow me to experience greater buy-in and participation in coaching in each of my schools. 

Resources

Aguilar, E. (2014, October 9). 10 Ways for Administrators to Support Coaches. Retrieved December 10, 2017, from http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/coaching_teachers/2014/10/10_ways_for_administrators_to_.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-FB

Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching : Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin.

Walpert-Gawron, H. (2016, June). How to Be a Change Agent:The Many Roles of an Instructional Coach. Educational Leadership, 73. Retrieved December 11, 2017, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/jun16/vol73/num09/The-Many-Roles-of-an-Instructional-Coach.aspx

Module 2: Collaboration Across Districts in Technology Selection

Collaboration Across Districts in Technology Selection

ISTE Standard 3 for Coaches

This week for my reflection on ISTE Coaching Standard 3 we were using this question to frame our investigation: 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? I decided to focus on part of that question with my own investigative question. I asked: What is an effective process to evaluate, manage and select digital tools that solicits feedback and buy-in from teachers and administrators? This week I didn’t choose to focus on accessibility guidelines because when I read the standard it wasn’t something that initially stood out to me. Over the two weeks I’ve seen what my colleagues are going to investigate and I think I will come back to accessibility in another post, hopefully in the near future. Also I know that one project I will be working on this year is working to help make sure all websites of my new district are ADA compliant. That will be new learning for me and I’m excited to put what I learn into thoughts in a future post.

This week I decided to focus on the structure of technology adoption and approval of apps, software, websites, add ons and other forms of instructional technology that affect teachers and students. I’ve only worked in one district so I have limited experience, but it sounds like in talking with colleagues and some informal surveys my previous district was ahead of many others in their processes for approval of technology use. The one thing I always thought about was that the process you were supposed to follow and the website to check for approval was difficult to get to and not known by everyone. That is part of the reason that I wanted to write about this topic. So that led me to insert the idea of buy-in into my question. I was not really shocked to learn that “nationwide 51% of teachers select up to half of the education technology they use” (Johnson, 2016). I was never sure was our district technology portion of the website under advertised or if teachers just weren’t interested in whether or not the district supported a tool and if it was ethical to use with students. Is it something that they saw as important? Additionally, how many administrators were asking teachers about the technology tools they used with students and whether or not they were approved by the district, protected student privacy, made an impact on student learning? Those are some questions that are still lingering for me even as I try to record my leaning around this standard and topic.

Making an Improvement

So what could districts do to streamline this process? What could they do to include more administrators and teachers and spread the word about approved and supported technology tools within a district? One idea I like is to have a building technology team. It could be incorporated into the leadership team but if an administrator made sure that the team occasionally revisited approved technology and communicated that with staff members perhaps there would be more widespread use of those tools. Of course, administrators would either have to be given new information from the technology department or remember to review that information themselves. I think building it into a method of communication that already exists within the district infrastructure would make the most sense and be the least burdensome to all.  

Many of my other ideas come from two resources that I came across. The first resource is my professor for this class Ellen Dorr, she has worked with the technology team in her district to develop an impressive process and system of evaluations and surveys that lead to a recommendation from the school district along with a designated level of support that the district will provide for that tool.

Denver Public Schools also has a website, called The Academic Technology Menu, with a layout that seems easy to navigate for teachers and other staff members. I’ve included a screenshot of the main page below:

The main reason I thought to include the DPS resource is because it seems easy to navigate for teachers. Speed is key, the website has clickable headings that expand and lead to related web pages. If you click on a category like Math, you can even sort resources based on many different categories.

If you clicked on a main page heading like Curriculum & Content Solutions: Career and Technical Education you can even sort the results in useful ways such as by approval status, grade level, cost and type of technology. Those are some features that seems to make this website very friendly for teachers. I would think that the district worked hard to develop it in this way so resources would be easy to access.

One additional feature that I saw from Ellen and from DPS was a flowchart that explained the steps of the approval process. The unique feature that Ellen talked about and that I saw from DPS comes in the final section of the flowchart, where results are listed there are more than two options. As you can see there are tools that are not allowed, tools allowed with cautions, tools allowed and tools that are supported. The biggest clarification this gives, in my opinion, is that you can clearly see if a district will support a specific tool with PD or if it will not. Since some of my previous posts have been focused on what is next for Professional Development, I think that the mention of a tool being supported with PD or not is important for buy-in from teachers.

The last resource that I found to be relevant to my question of how to get the district, administrators and teachers on the same page with technology adoption and implementation was an article that isn’t actually about technology. The title itself is provocative, Listening to Teachers: How School Districts Can Adopt Meaningful Change. The article chronicles how a district in rural New Hampshire first listened to teachers then fully committed to professional development across the entire district to support and sustain the change that they wanted to see. The key takeaways for me were that administrators and teachers were able to attend the same professional development sessions in order to learn together. Then administrators were able to function in two roles simultaneously, they could coach teachers as well as evaluating them as they normally would. It doesn’t sound like it was an easy process for them but I think it would be valuable to have an administrator function as a coach (thereby non-evaluative) and separately as an administrator normally would. One other interesting point that was made is because administrators were so familiar with the problem based learning program they had implemented, they could collect student data that helped them to know if students were getting to where they wanted them to be. Additionally, they had identified behaviors they might see in students who were participating in a well run problem based learning classroom. I imagine that all of this learning could be equally powerful if a district focused on the 21st Century Skills or any number of outcomes that technology could help students and teachers to achieve.

Conclusion

If the ideal is that districts, administrators and teachers are all working collaboratively to identify and use technology tools in the most effective way possible in order to support student learning then I think that there is still work to do to achieve that goal. Having a clear process that is accessible to all teachers within a district is one important step. That process could be communicated in new staff trainings, reviewed at the start of each school year or made known to building level leadership teams to spread the process across the district. A flowchart for teachers to be able to see the steps of the process is helpful so they know whether or not to request an application or tool, and what will happen when they do. A district website that clearly displays approved and not approved tools is necessary so teachers know where to look for tools. Collecting feedback via survey or through another method is a key way to find out if a tool really is aiding student achievement. Student feedback is important as well, providing them surveys or another way to give their own feedback would help buy-in across districts. Finally, I think if a district is committed to a tool or resource then professional development should be required for all staff including administrators. Cohesion will be more far reaching if everyone understands key terminology, learning targets, processes for evaluating learning with technology like the SAMR model or knows the ins and outs of technology tools that have been adopted and supported by each district. These are some ideas that I think would allow all levels of a school district to work toward the common goal of integrating technology tools in a way that has a positive impact on student learning.

Resources

DPS: ATM Approval Process. (n.d.). Retrieved July 23, 2017, from https://atm.dpsk12.org/process.aspx

DPS : Academic Technology Solutions Menu. (n.d.). Retrieved July 23, 2017, from https://atm.dpsk12.org/

Johnson, K. (2016, March 15). Resources to Help You Choose the Digital Tools Your Classroom Needs – EdSurge News. Retrieved July 13, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-03-15-resources-to-help-you-choose-the-digital-tools-your-classroom-needs

Schwartz, K. (n.d.). Listening to Teachers: How School Districts Can Adopt Meaningful Change. Retrieved July 12, 2017, from https://appserver-ec711ff6.c.pantheon-dmz.internal/mindshift/2015/08/11/listening-to-teachers-how-school-districts-can-adopt-meaningful-change/

Module 1: Blended Learning in PD

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

My reading notes are below:

Blended Learning in the Classroom

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

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

Ideas for Blended Learning in PD

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

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

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

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

Resources

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

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

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

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

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

Module 5: Designing Meaningful PD for Teachers – What’s Out There?

Designing Meaningful PD for Teachers – What’s Out There? by James Bettis

From my interpretation of the standards,  ISTE 5 is about how teachers model lifelong learning and engage in learning to benefit their school or community through the use of digital tools. I wanted  to find what districts might do to craft the best PD that they can for teachers who are at all different levels of comfort and proficiency with technology. Additionally if districts develop a successful model for tech PD I think that would give teachers some of the tools they need to lead in their individual schools. When I write about technology I’m referring to technology for professional daily use as well as integrating technology into the learning environment. The reason I want to focus on both professional use and technology integration is because I’ve noticed that the questions I field in my current position deal with both use and instructional integration and I think that a varied approach will serve the most teachers.

First, it is important to acknowledge that there are different levels of learners, and from there I think that districts need to build in means for teachers a varying levels to receive quality professional development. I also think it is important for districts to help buildings to organize their own technology PD in innovative ways. I have a few ideas about what has worked for my building, or some teachers in my building but overall I’m hoping to suggest an approach that might work to help teachers receive high quality and meaningful PD to aid technology integration.

Through the years I’ve attended a number of professional development classes taught by different instructors. From those experiences I’ve tried to distill down what makes for a fulfilling experience in a tech PD. I’ll admit that I’m somewhat confused. Thinking back I know I have been to some great sessions and some that felt less than great. I know that often the learning just has to makes sense for the learner, still I think there has to be some kind of formula or guideline. What makes it click? One experience I’ll highlight worked for me. I went a training on Vodcasting, which is recording a short video for students to use. I’ve always been drawn to video so I had a particular interest in the topic. It was a great combination of something that felt relevant to me and something I could foresee helping my students. In that sense, I think it fit the perfect time scenario. Also it was just beyond my realm of comfort. In order to do the homework required of the class, I had to learn to use iMovie, which I don’t find intuitive at all. That class pushed me, but today 7 years later, I find that I’m still using some skills from that class in my classroom to create math videos. That seems like a relatively successful PD and it doesn’t even fit all of the guidelines that I read about this week. So I can imagine that if PD opportunities were redesigned with best practices in mind to serve the most teachers possible with sustained focus, many more would be meaningful for more teachers.

As a side note, one of my colleagues in the DEL program posted a great overview of what she has been doing in her district, and it is a wonderful meaningful approach for teachers. I would like to link it later with her permission.

Based on my reading I have some good ideas about what could be meaningful for teacher going forward but I wonder how we are affected by past PD experiences? Changing perceptions will take time. No doubt providing a meaningful set of professional development classes for teachers is a struggle districts will continue to have. I hope that through new ideas and strategies all professional development will become more meaningful for more teachers rather than just a signature to say that you have attended, because you had to pick a class, or you had to be there for some other reason. I’m excited that part of my new position will be providing PD regarding technology, I’m excited to learn more about the process and to attempt to provide meaningful and engaging PD.

The ideas below are some of the things that I think might lead to a meaningful transformation in professional development. Of course this is really just scratching the surface in terms of resources that are available. However, I thought I would include them because I found them to be innovative or essential or both and I think they could help to further differentiate the PD that is offered.

Interesting approaches to PD that I came across in my reading:

  • Leveraging Twitter as a district to host chats, showcase work and provide a space PLC just like Twitter is great at doing within district (Raths, 2015)
  • Allowing microcredentials as a way to demonstrate competency (Raths, 2015)
    • If you want to learn more about microcredentials, I came across them when writing a post on ISTE 2 where I learned about Deeper Learning
  • Establishing and maintaining a district repository of tools, videos, screencasts and other resources related to technology PD
  • Establishing a strong team of technology coaches to journey with and guide teachers
  • Provide enough PD for sustained learning (50 hours!) (Crawford, 2014)

To me these are just some of the ways to start changing the PD model from within a school district. Ideally it would be great to see a state get involved in this process to encourage districts to begin to change the way we do PD. I’m excited to have a chance to do this in my district and to support teachers as they continue their journey to meaningful technology integration. If you would like to read more in depth about any of the ideas I’ve presented here, I found a great resource from EdSurge that is cited below. It really seems to be a an amazing guide to how some districts are retooling professional development.

Reflection

This quarter I feel that I have grown quite a lot in my understanding of the ISTE standards for teachers. From the start I had a hard time shifting my focus from students to teachers. At the start I don’t feel that I understood the standards for teacher well. Now through our investigation and blog posts this quarter I feel that I have a much better understanding of these standards and I understand how the connect and link to the student standards. Knowing my own predisposition for rigidity and how I resort to the standard practice I think that my growth in ISTE #1 is the most significant. I also feel that it is an area where I can continue to grow as long as I push my own thinking and remind myself of the myriad of ways there are to learn and to demonstrate learning. Another area for growth for me is in regard to ISTE Standard 5 and Coaching Standard 2. As a technology coach I feel much more prepared to lead other teachers as they strive to use technology in a meaningful way with students, to facilitate assessing students in a formative way and to connect with other teachers across the globe. Through the investigations I have completed during this last quarter and from reading the investigations my colleagues have posted, I feel infinitely more prepared to respond to the needs of teachers. I can’t wait to draw upon the resources and tools I have come across in this course as I assist teacher with the integration of technology into their classes.

Resources

20 Tips for Creating a Professional Learning Network – Getting Smart by Miriam Clifford. (2013, January 17). Retrieved June 4, 2017, from http://www.gettingsmart.com/2013/01/20-tips-for-creating-a-professional-learning-network/

A Blueprint for Personalized Professional Development by Teachers, for Teachers – EdSurge News. (2014, October 22). Retrieved June 5, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2014-10-22-a-blueprint-for-personalized-professional-development-by-teachers-for-teachers

A Guide To Crafting The Perfect Next Gen PD Model – EdSurge News. (2015, February 14). Retrieved June 6, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2015-02-14-a-guide-to-crafting-the-perfect-next-gen-pd-model

A Guide to Proficiency-Based Professional Development – EdSurge News. (2015, February 22). Retrieved June 7, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2015-02-22-a-guide-to-proficiency-based-professional-development

Crawford, A. (2014, December 5). A Farewell to Pointless PD – EdSurge News. Retrieved June 7, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2014-12-05-opinion-a-farewell-to-pointless-pd

From Pre-Fab to Personalized: How Districts Are Retooling Professional Development – EdSurge Guides. (2015, January 22). Retrieved June 5, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/research/guides/from-pre-fab-to-personalized-how-districts-are-retooling-professional-development

Patterson, M. (2016, April 54). Tips for Transforming Educational Technology through Professional Development and Training [Text]. Retrieved June 4, 2017, from https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2016/04/tips-transforming-educational-technology-through-professional-development-and

Raths, D., & 02/04/15. (n.d.). 5 Tech Tools That Help Personalize PD -. Retrieved June 7, 2017, from https://thejournal.com/articles/2015/02/04/5-tech-tools-that-help-personalize-pd.aspx

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

The Standard

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

Try Different

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

Technology PD and Teachers

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

The Current System, Slightly Modified

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

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

My notes from readings:

Other Questions and Conclusion

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

A Promising Resource

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

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

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

Resources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Infographics as Visual Literacy

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Well, it has been 349 days since my last blog post! Where have I been you ask? Great question. My last post found me completing my graduate degree in Digital Education Leadership at Seattle Pacific University while closing out yet another school year as a middle school language arts teacher. I was also nine months pregnant and counting, awaiting the arrival of my son. Amazingly, I made it to just four days before the end of the school year before Parker was born. That day, June 10th, happened to also be the same day as my graduation from Seattle Pacific. My esteemed program director, along with my devoted cohort, threw me my very own make-up graduation a few months later. Who says you can’t do it all?

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During this hiatus spent caring for my son, I have been fortunate enough to explore some great opportunities that I am eager to share about on my blog. I’d like to start back in August, when I lead three training sessions in various passion areas of mine (student blogging, infographics and genius hour) for teachers in my school district. Today, I’ll focus on infographics.

Infographics

In my own classroom, the use of infographics has been a valuable tool to teach not only visual literacy, but graphic design. Our society is a visual one and students need to be prepared to not only interpret the meaning of visuals presented to them but to present their own visual stories back to others. Many already do this in some capacity on sites like Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat. Of course, creating an infographic does go beyond taking a selfie, requiring students to think critically.

What is an infographic?

I tell my students that infographics are a way to convey information to an audience in a simple, engaging way. I tell them that it is a way of storytelling. I tell them that it counters the notion, often seen in writing, that longer is better. I tell them that synthesis is truly the challenge with visuals and that the key to an infographic is to end with a deceptively simple looking finished product.

How do you use them in your teaching?

Most students a haven’t heard the term infographic. They are, however, familiar with similar images in nonfiction books from their childhood. Students are often surprised by how much they can “read” from a visual image, as well as how quickly they can identify the relationships present, such as in flowcharts and cycles, etc. I often begin by showing students some examples and asking them to identify key elements. This is an important first step to pave the way for students to create their own.

Breaking down an infographic with students…

  • How do you read this image? From left to right?
  • How does the organization of information/text structure help an author and a reader establish important themes?
  • What do you see first? Why?
  • What stands out to you at second glance? Why?
  • Where does your eye travel?
  • What relationship is shown in this infographic? How do you know? What choices did the designer make to ensure this was clear, even from afar? How does this help you to read this information?
  • How is color used? What is bright and what is dull in color? Why do you think the creator chose to do this?

Students are amazed to realize that these decisions are not haphazard, but purposefully and thoughtfully designed by the author.

"Bringing the Farm to School: Growing Healthy Children & Communities" by USDA is licensed under CC by 2.0.

“Bringing the Farm to School: Growing Healthy Children & Communities” by USDA is licensed under CC by 2.0.

For example, consider the infographic above. A quick “read” yields some clear key points of infographic creation. Thematic imagery is used to convey the larger message (farm-to table practices are present in some U.S. schools). At first glance, it is clear that numbers and statistics are a big focus. Color and font size draw attention to these statistics. It quickly becomes clear that this infographic is designed to highlight the successes of current farm-to-table eating in schools, rather than challenges. Upon more detailed inspection, one may notice that the sizes of the grocery bags decrease to coincide with the percentages represented on them. While this is far from a complex infographic, it is successful in presenting synthesized information about the topic. It is  also clear that graphic design elements are purposeful and on message. I encourage teachers to survey students for a topic of interest before choosing an infographic to study as a class. This will only create further engagement and interest with students.

How do you make an infographic and not just a poster?

  • Try to get out of the habit of “go find and stick up” (In other words, your images are not stickers.)
  • The viewer should be able to understand relationships presented at first glance. Similarly, the larger message should be able to cross language barriers.
  • Your overall imagery should be thematic or symbolic.
  • The information you present should not just be content, but it should be an analysis or synthesis of this information.
  • Does your infographic…tell a story? persuade? present an argument?
  • You should consider the overall text structure (compare and contrast, sequence, cause and effect, etc.)

What tools do you use to create infographic?

screen-shot-2017-04-26-at-10-23-53-amThere are many, many online tools available that can make this process easy and fun for students. Some examples are listed below. Please note that some of these tools have both free and paid versions with varying customization options. Be warned that “go find and stick up” is tempting with these tools. Additionally, by no means is a fancy tool necessary to create such a visual image. A simple tool like Google Slides, Powerpoint or even a pen and paper can work just as well!

 

Students Examples from Literary Projects

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EDTC 6106 – 5 Components of Professional Development with Techology

During the final week of this quarter, we are summing up what are the main aspects of professional development utilizing technology.  Coaching Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation: Design, develop and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment. (ISTE, 2014)

  • Triggering Event Initial Question: What does the ideal technology-rich learning program look like?
  • My Triggering Question: What are top five specific areas that will contribute to a rich professional learning program?

Throughout the last few weeks, we have been delving into different aspects of professional development and educational technology and I’ve come to learn a lot of about what is essential in creating effective ones.  The following are five areas that I believe are important in accomplishing that goal.

Set a Vision with Stakeholders

From the conclusion page from the Office of Educational Technology it states:

“Set a vision for the use of technology to enable learning such that leaders bring all stakeholder groups to the table, including students, educators, families, technology professionals, community groups, cultural institutions, and other interested parties”. (Office of Educational Technology, 2017)

Just this last weekend I was involved in a technology vision summit for my school district where we did just what the above quote is talking about.  Teachers, administrators, parents, students, business partner, and community groups all came together for a six hour period and we created “A Day in the Life” sketches of how students would be utilizing technology.  It was an incredibly rewarding and eye-opening experience witnessing this diverse group of people coming together to create a shared vision of technology for our students.

I believe that effective professional development first starts at a district level where all stakeholders are given a voice to what they wish to see in schools and from there a plan can be put into place in schools.  This will help to increase buy-in from all parties and will enable continued support from teachers, parents, schools, etc.

Establish Learning Goals and Select Technology Around That

Calcasieu Parish Public Schools have learned that one way of creating effective professional development is to only select technology that supports their learning goals instead of the other way around.  By selecting technology around goals schools will be able to increase student achievement and a clear plan can be put into place.  The alternative is to pick technology and force the curriculum into it which may or may not support the building goals. (Hunter, 2016)

Provide Continued Training and Support

“Rowan-Salisbury relies heavily on “job-embedded” professional development delivered by instructional technology specialists in each school, who provide training and support specifically tailored to the needs of individual teachers…”  (Hunter, 2016)

Another school district, Rowan-Salisbury in North Carolina talks about how creating job-embedded professional development can support teachers.  They advocate providing professional development during the school day as well as providing continuing support for technology that is implemented.

In my experience talking with teachers, they feel that new technology is introduced but there is often little to no follow-up and they don’t feel supported enough to keep using it or would like to take it further.  Continued training seems to be a key aspect for them to be more effective in their teaching practices.

Provide Assessments

Without assessments, it’s hard to determine if progress is being made.  The Office of Educational Technology states that an integrated assessment system should be put in place to provide data and feedback to stakeholders in a way that is timely and actionable.  With this data, schools can make decisions about whether student growth is happening and can change professional development accordingly.  A mobile-first mindset for this is emphasized so that feedback can be widely accessible.  (Office of Educational Technology, 2017)

Create Strong and Trusting Relationships

An evaluative report named Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State, listed “Strong and trusting relationships among professionals provide for collaborative systems” as one of the recommendations for future practices (Bishop, 2016).  Although this could be applied to any type of professional development, I feel that creating trusting relationships is sometimes overlooked and if we want teachers to collaborate with each other to deepen their learning, then fostering a positive environment is essential.

Conclusion

Although there are many more important aspects of an effective technology-rich professional development session, these are the five that stood out to me initially.  In the future, I hopefully will be able to put all that I’ve learned over this quarter into practice while designing professional development as it’s an area I am especially excited about.


Bishop, D, Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R, & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State – Project Evaluation Report. Seattle Pacific University: Seattle, WA.

Hunter, J. (2016, June 22). Technology Starts with Professional Development and Training. Retrieved March 14, 2017, from http://www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2016/06/technology-starts-professional-development-and-training

ISTE Standards for Coaches. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

Office of Educational Technology. (2017). Conclusion. Retrieved March 15, 2017, from https://tech.ed.gov/netp/conclusion/

EDTC-6106 How Can Principals Advocate for Technology Initiatives & PD?

This week we are discussing the role of administrators in professional development with a specific focus on technology. Coaching Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation: Design, develop and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment. (ISTE, 2014)

  • Triggering Event Initial Question: What role should administrators play in professional learning programs and how do we advocate for their involvement and adequate professional learning support for technology-based learning initiatives?
  • My Triggering Question: How and in what ways can principles advocate for learning support in professional development as well as technology-based learning initiatives?

From my own experience working in schools I realized that principals had to seek out and advocate for professional development and learning initiatives. However, before starting this program I paid little attention to how technology was being advocated for or shaped in my building. Through my research for this module, I have discovered that principals have a variety of ways that they can further initiatives in their building and district and it’s up to individuals to decide how and in what way they want to advocate for technology.

What and How Should Principals Advocate?

Funding

According to the article, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Tech Leading Principals, there are seven habits that principals can do to help lead tech in their building. The article has some great examples, but habit five specifically talks about advocating for funding for initiatives. (Demsky, 2012)

Often, it’s hard to find funding for technology initiatives or professional development and principals have to be creative in looking for funding or re-allocating the uses for it.  Adequate funding is an important building block for progress and once that is resolved technology leadership can be explored further.

I’ve also included a YouTube video below if you wish to know more about funding and educational technology in general.

Strategic Planning

The Department of Education talks about that there needs to be clear planning meeting the state, district, university and school levels regarding technology and how to support learning.  Principals are a part of this equation and should be a part of the conversation to help bring about change.  Conferences are a great way to get started at this broader level. (Department of Education, 2015)

Conferences

  • Attend Conferences & Training – Become a leader in the state technology associations or attend conferences to become more knowledgeable and able to advocate more effectively in their individual school, district, or state.
  • Present Sessions – Alternatively, principals can present sessions at a conference or training which will help to further their knowledge in a deeper way. (Corwin, 2011)

I believe if principals are up to date on best practices and the latest in technology development in schools, then they will be able to provide more effective professional development programs for teachers. Additionally, by advocating for the best support, integration will be that much more influential in creating change in classrooms making a lasting impact for students.


References:

Santiago. (2016, November 30). Funding Issues with Educational Technology. Retrieved March 01, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKghgpNtyhY

Corwin. (2011). The Principal as Technology Leader. Retrieved from https://us.corwin.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/41065_Grady_Leading_the_Technology_Powered_School___cH1.pdf

Demsky, J. (2012, June 7). 7 Habits of Highly Effective Tech-leading Principals. Retrieved from https://thejournal.com/Articles/2012/06/07/7-habits-of-highly-effective-tech-leading-principals.aspx?Page=5

Department of Education. (2015). Leadership. Retrieved February 26, 2017, from https://tech.ed.gov/netp/leadership/

ISTE Standards for Coaches. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

EDTC-6106 Flipped Learning and Professional Development

This week’s learning model again is structured around ISTE Coaching Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation: Design, develop and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment. (ISTE, 2014)

  • Triggering Event Initial Question: What digital age best practices should be addressed in professional development and how should this be accomplished?
  • My Triggering Question:
    What are the some of the best practices for implementing flipped learning into professional development for teachers and what are the possible roadblocks to this?

My Observations:

With professional development I have noticed that often teachers are wondering why they are there and are struggling to stay engaged with the material.  Sometimes it’s even the first time they have seen certain concepts and have little time to process information during the session.  For me personally, the idea of having information digitally delivered to me before a PD session is especially appealing since I would have time to digest the information before hand and perhaps even interact with the material. The question is: How should this be accomplished?

Benefits/Best Practices

  • Personalized Digital Content/Differentiation – Edsurge, talks about creating personalized content for teachers after they have gotten to know teachers through coaching.  This can include lots of a digital content such as docs, pinterest, twitter chats, or videos. (Daniels, 2014)
  • Videos –  An article titled, Flip Your PD for Extra Flexibility & Support, proposes the idea that video works best for flipped PD.  This could be in the form of everything from instructional videos to how-to guides and should be brief in length.  The linked article has some create resources for creating videos off of screens as well. (Carey, 2014)
  • Digital Badges! – By creating the opportunity for teachers to earn digital badges you can gamify your flipped P.E. and motivate them to collect them.  I especially like the idea I found on Shake Up Learning, that talks about not only displaying their badges digitally, but also putting up on their physical classroom door so their professional achievements could be seen by students and others in the building as well. (Bell, 2015)
  • On-going PD – Flipped professional development should also be something that is embedded in the school and happens regularly.  By creating a model where teachers are supported on a continual basis they can complete their individual goals more consistently.
  • Teacher Engagement – see video

You also might enjoy watching this video on how one school flipped their PD and helped engagement.

Roadblocks/Disadvantages

One roadblock for creating flipped professional development is just finding the resources and content that are ready-made.  According to Global Partnership for Education, a good resource to take advantage of might be open content or crowdsourcing services.  Creation by the school district or leader may be what is needed however, if nothing else can be found already created. (Burns, 2016)

Additionally, it is sometimes a challenge to get teachers motivated to complete their portion of the PD that happens before the in-person sessions.  One idea to fix this was to create an assessment for participants to complete once they made it to the training to hold them accountable for the material beforehand.


References:

C. (2013, April 22). Retrieved February 12, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ox4i9yVQUUI

Daniels. (2016, July 10). The Flip Side of Professional Development (EdSurge News). Retrieved February 12, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2014-04-18-the-flip-side-of-professional-development

Flipping teacher professional development. (2016, May). Retrieved February 10, 2017, from http://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/flipping-teacher-professional-development

H. (2015, November 17). Take PD to the Next Level with Badges – Gamify Professional Learning. Retrieved February 11, 2017, from http://www.shakeuplearning.com/blog/take-pd-to-the-next-level-with-badges/

ISTE Standards for Coaches. (2014). Retrieved January 29, 2017, from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

 

EDTC-6106 Modeling Adult Learning Principles in Professional Development

For this learning module I am looking at ISTE Coaching Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation: Design, develop and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment. (ISTE, 2014)

  • Triggering Event Initial Question: What role do adult learning principles play in planning educational technology professional development?
  • My Triggering Question: What are effective ways of modeling adult learning principles (such as goal-oriented and practical) in an educational technology professional development session.

Below, you will find a handy infographic that summaries Malcolm Knowles’s theory of adult learning.

The Adult Learning Theory Infographic
Find more education infographics on e-Learning Infographics

Knowles theory of adult learning contains 5 assumptions about how they learn and 4 principles that can be especially applied to professional development.  Professional development sessions can often be frustrating for teachers as it sometimes doesn’t take into account their needs or how they learn.

I have been thinking about how I can use Knowles’s theory to model and create more effective professional development (PD) sessions for educators.  During my research, I found this article which gives specific examples that leaders can do to design professional development using his four principles. (“CTQ”, 2015).  I like how it gives practical advice for how to model Knowles’s principles in a way that is easy to understand.  An example of this is from the first principle – adults must be involved in the planning of their learning.  The article discusses creating a focus group of teachers who can meet before the session who can help to vote and sculpt what their PD will look like.

What about educational technology specifically? The U.S. Department of Education’s website discusses how to support teachers using technology in their classrooms.  One thing that really stood out to me reading this was to encourage teachers to collaborate with each other as a form of professional development.  There is the more traditional format of PD which involves more direct instruction, but enabling teachers to learn from each other and create authentic learning experiences (on an online platform) for their students seems like an excellent alternative.   I believe that this will increase their motivation to learn which is one of Knowles’s characteristics of adult learners. (Teaching, 2015)

There are many other examples of incorporating technology into PD using adult learning principles at the Department of Education’s website and is an excellent resource for more info.  In general, we should be moving towards more PD utilizing Knowles’s theory of adult learning if we want teachers to become engaged and motivated to incorporate their PD learning into their classrooms.


References:

CTQ. (2015). Retrieved January 29, 2017, from http://www.teachingquality.org/content/blogs/liz-prather/professional-development-and-adult-learning-theory

ISTE Standards for Coaches. (2014). Retrieved January 29, 2017, from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

Teaching. (2015). Retrieved January 29, 2017, from https://tech.ed.gov/netp/teaching/

The Adult Learning Theory – Andragogy – Infographic. (2014, August 16). Retrieved January 29, 2017, from http://elearninginfographics.com/adult-learning-theory-andragogy-infographic/?utm_campaign=elearningindustry.com&utm_source=%2Fthe-adult-learning-theory-andragogy-of-malcolm-knowles&utm_medium=link