Category Archives: reflection

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 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.


Follow the Digital Trail. (n.d.). [Clip]. Retrieved from

Hertz, M. B. (2011, October 12). Teaching digital citizenship in the elementary classroom [Blog]. Retrieved from

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

Ohler, J. (2012). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital edge. Education Digest, 77(8), 14–17. Retrieved from

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

Seattle Pacific University School of Education. (2017). Retrieved from

Simsek, E., & Simsek, A. (2013). New literacies for digital citizenship. Contemporary Education Technology, 4(2), 126–137. Retrieved from

Venosdale, K. (2012). Try Different [Digital Print]. Retrieved from 

Better Metacognition Through Reflection

As teachers we use every tool in our toolbox to facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity (ISTE Teacher Standard 1) . We often model innovative thinking for our students, we strive to foster creativity by giving students choices and encouraging them to follow their passions and we create real world opportunities for them to collaborate and problems solve with others.

The one area of the standard that I think is often neglected is 1c: Promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning and creative process. Reflection is an easy thing to run out of time for. It’s usually something that we plan for at the end of the lesson in the form of an exit ticket or a quick quiz or short essay question. Most of the time it’s used as formative assessment to see whether the students understood what we thought we taught them. It can help guide our lesson planning for the next day, which is valuable, but I would argue that those types of activities are not true reflection.

Reflection is a metacognitive process. In an article called Defining Reflection: Another Look at John Dewey and Reflective Thinking  the author (Rogers 2002) distilled it down to four important criteria:

  1. Reflection is a meaning-making process that moves a learner from one experience into the next with deeper understanding of its relationships with and connections to other experiences and ideas. It is the thread that makes continuity of learning possible, and ensures the progress of the individual and, ultimately, society. It is a means to essentially moral ends.
  2. Reflection is a systematic, rigorous, disciplined way of thinking, with it’s roots in scientific inquiry.
  3. Reflection needs to happen in community, in interaction with others.
  4. Reflection requires attitudes that value the personal and intellectual growth of oneself and others.

To me it’s not just about what you learned but how you learned it, what strategies you learned to do that thinking, what you learned about how you learn as a student, and thinking ahead to where you might use that type of thinking in other contexts.  Formative assessment is essential but often only touches on surface learning. Metacognition (thinking about your thinking) can be a useful tool for developing in students the ability to think deeply, develop and apply strategies to their learning, and encourage the transfer of learning skills and content to other disciplines as well as. There is too much information for anyone to know so it’s important we teach our students the metacognitive strategies that will allow them to learn in any situation, and become more independent, self directed learners.

In John Hattie’s (2009) Visible Learning he developed a list of teaching and learning strategies that he listed by effect size. If you look at even the top 20 on his list you’ll see at least 6 that I believe are related in some way to the reflective process of thinking.  

Cognitive task analysis, conceptual change programs, and concept mapping are all tools that help students visualize their learning and think more deeply about how they learn. Self-reporting grades allows students to measure themselves against criteria and expectations and analyze their own effort and understanding in the learning process. Gathering feedback from peers and teachers and asking their own questions can help them celebrate their successes and also learn to set goals for themselves to make improvements. All of these create a sense of agency for students. They have ownership and buy in to the learning process because they are they know and can articulate the effort and strategies they put into learning.

As a classroom teacher I used a number of different paper and pencil processes to help students track their own data, set goals and to give feedback. Most were unwieldy, were prone to being “lost” and were a paper management nightmare. I wish I had found a product like SowntoGrow earlier.  I heard about at a recent EdSurge event in Issaquah. I liked it and had shared it with the teachers I work with. One teacher took me up on it and took a look. She loves it and has been using it with her students.

The tool allows a teacher to create activities and assign them to students. You can set success criteria based  on completion or set mastery levels and you can set “learning cycles”, which is basically the time frame of the activity. What I like is the student view. Students first rate how they are feeling about the activity with various sad, neutral and smiley faces. This will make it accessible for even younger users. They get feedback with some quotes to help encourage them. Then they set goals based on the score they want to achieve. The teacher would need to do some pre teaching to help students learn to set goals. When the activity is completed the student can go back in and add their score and again rate how they are feeling and then there is space to reflect on what they learned and what they might do differently next time if they want to improve. The teacher then gets a dashboard where they can see all the students reflections and give them feedback.

What I’ve seen happen with tools like discussions in Canvas is that even quieter students will be willing to reflect, sometimes in some very profound ways, even if they won’t raise a hand or speak up in class. Online is a safe place for some kids and they know only the teacher will see their thinking. This tool also supports the growth mindset we want to reinforce with our students. They get to celebrate and get feedback on their goals and they have a place to refer back to in order to see their progress over time.

It feels like a tool that, in many ways addresses all four of the criteria for what defines reflection. It allows a student to set, measure and track goals and gives them a journal-like space to think and write about what they did well, what they could do to improve and what their they learned. Teachers could provide prompts at first to encourage students to think deeply about their learning process. There is a certain amount of structure to the Sown to Grow reflection process that can help students think about the stages of their learning and to see growth and change happen over time. The community piece currently only happens with feedback from teachers but additional tools like online discussions could be woven into parts of the reflective process to develop the larger community piece. Finally, the process of reflection that also supports growth mindset thinking will help foster a sense of “I haven’t learned it..yet” in students that, along with the other pieces of this tool like pre and post data tracking and self reporting of attitudes towards learning, will support a positive attitude toward learning as a process, not an endpoint.

Reflection needs to be a part of a teacher’s process as well. Last year I built reflection into the final session of the class I teach. Each participant presents an IGNITE session to the class as their final reflection the year. An IGNITE is presentation of 5 minutes using only 20 slides to tell your story. It’s a chance to think about how their thinking has changed over the course of the year as part of our cohort of learners. Last year’s presentations were amazing and very thoughtful. I’m looking forward to hearing this year’s final projects next week.


Waack, S. (2014, March). Hattie effect size list – 195 Influences Related To Achievement . Retrieved April 11, 2017, from

Rogers, C. (2002). Defining Reflection: Another Look at John Dewey and Reflective Thinking. Teachers College Record, 104(4), 842-866. Retrieved April 10, 2017, from


Peer Coaching: The Vision vs. The Reality


Aspects of Successful Coaching

All quarter we have been exploring what make a successful coach. Sometimes this seemed like a really broad question. There are certainly a plethora of small aspects that can contribute to a successful coaching plan and relationship. I do know that there were some major ones that resonated with me.

Building a relationship. Relationships are so vital in many different situations. In coaching work, they serve as a beginning foundation that supports the weight of your collaboration, communication and future goals and results. Building a relationship involves respect, trust, common understanding and a willingness to learn, and even fail. The relationship should feel friendly, supported, personalized, flexible, private and manageable. As Les Foltos writes in our invaluable peer coaching resource this quarter “Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration,” “Successful coaches build capacity not dependence” (Foltos 2013). In other words a coach’s job is to facilitate learning. We are not there to “be the experts” or support learned helplessness. We are there to provide support and resources and pose probing questions that can help further the learning and exploration.

A Willing Peer. A successful coaching relationship involves two willing parties. Willingness to learn is at the forefront of success. A growth mindset is important for everyone involved. The coach, the peer and even admin should be involved in the coaching plan and the final goals and outcomes in mind. A good coach will create an environment that encourages (manageable) risk taking and assure their partner that it is okay to fail.

Communication Skills. In the past few months, I have become very aware of the communication skills that are most successful in a coaching relationship. Active listening helps promote a relationship. A coach needs to be intentional about removing any distractions from the environment. This has been eye opening for me. There were so many times I believed I was being an active listener, but when I actually learned what that looked like I can tell you most of the time I was not. Your mind should be clear. The conversation becomes priority. Your body language and facial expressions should reflect genuine interest and support. This is not a time for the coach to jump in and immediately insert their thoughts and solutions about the topic presented. As Foltos writes, “If you are really good at listening, you let the speaker finish and then pause and reflect briefly before speaking” (Foltos 2013). Other tools like paraphrasing, probing questions and clarifying questions have immensely improved my communication skills as a coach.

The Real Thing:

It was one thing to find a willing partner and collaboratively create a good coaching plan, but I found it was quite another to see that the plan was actually implemented. Going into it, my partner and I had laid out a basic schedule of days to meet and set some pretty simple norms that drove our meetings. Five trainings, four unheard of sporadic snow days, three days of conferences, and one family craft night later the reality began to look a lot different than the intended plan. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad to be exposed to a real life picture of flexibility and adjustment. I feel better prepared for the reality. However, our progress and timeline was greatly adjusted.

Our goals

Our general goal was to help facilitate a healthy core within our kindergarten instruction while promoting first grade readiness for iReady testing the following year. This connected to an overall school goal of maintaining a minimum of 70% of all students at benchmark and at grade level. We chose to focus on implementing better formative assessment strategies to strengthen knowledge of student learning and understanding, while adjusting future instruction. We also chose to focus on specific activities that were already being done in the classroom by improving them with 21st century skills like collaborative work and creative opportunities.

We started by exploring the app Plickers. Together, we learned the ins and outs, created class accounts and prepared materials. Plickers looks a lot different when you use it with kindergarten. It is a lot more adapted and scaled down. A specific intro lesson is a must. Our plan was for my peer to observe me teach an introduction to Plickers lesson to a group of kindergarteners, and she would do the same with her class. We would follow that up with more real application of Plickers within existing learning activities. Scheduling became our biggest obstacle. Because we both hold classroom roles, the only opportune time for us to observe each other would be when we had opposite art blocks. She would come in and observe the lesson on a Thursday and then we would meet and plan for her to teach it the following Monday when I could observe her. We had this layout planned several times, but were thwarted by crazy weather and lack of time.

Next Steps

As I am writing this, our school district has gone into a premature winter break due to our fourth snow day. The biggest thought on my mind is “What comes next?” We intend to continue our coaching work when we return to school in January. Our next step will be observing and implementing an introduction to Plickers lesson. Then, we will look at activities and lessons already being taught where Plickers will naturally fit and benefit the kids and teacher. When that is completed, we will select a specific learning activity that is already being done in the classroom to assess using a Learning Activity Checklist, most likely focusing on just one area. We will modify that lesson and teach it with the improved changes. After the modified activity, we will reflect on the process and create a way to successfully measure student outcome. Phew! That seems like a lot left to do. However, I think once we finally get into a rhythm, that is hopefully not interrupted by anymore weather, the flow of our plan will start to feel natural.

Closing thoughts

Though we were faced will a real world display of obstacles, I feel very confident about what work was completed. The timeline certainly looks different now, but our goals and outcomes still remain the same. This experience definitely reiterated the importance of communication and flexibility to me. This quarter has really taken my knowledge to the next level. It felt good to take all of our knowledge and skills we have been gathering for the past year and start to apply them in a hands on real-life situation. I look forward to our work in the near future!


Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration.

Peer Coaching: Lessons from Business Leaders

Lessons From Business Leaders: What can educators learn from the private sector about a sustainable peer coaching model? Throughout these past three months I’ve been exploring and practicing the peer coaching model. My professor, Les Foltos, literally wrote the book on the topic. His book, Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration ( is a […]

From dipping a toe in, to full on cannonball: A reflection of my learning

I refer to “dipping” my toe in the water above, because to me this is what my first few days of this spring quarter felt like. As usual, I was a little unsure of my actions and slightly doubtful of my skills and abilities. But, just like a lake that hasn’t quite had the chance to warm up yet in the beginning of the summer, I was willing to test out the waters with the knowledge that I would soon be flopping in with the full intention of submersion.If there is one huge takeaway that I could pull from the large group of “positives” I have encountered since beginning my journey into the DEL program at SPU, it would be that I have learned to acknowledge being uncomfortable, accept it and roll with it. It is such a liberating feeling at the end of a project that I began feeling slightly overwhelmed, to look at the product I created and say to myself “Hmm, that wasn’t so bad.”

A couple of months ago, I came in with two quarters of new knowledge and I was excited for more. My strengths were that I was willing to try anything, and that I was always open to suggestions, collaboration and help. As a cohort, we continued to follow a format of learning that we were familiar with. We investigated ISTE standards, developed our own triggering question, searched for a resource to help answer the question, shared the resource amongst our peers and finally developed a resolution. This is the area where I sense the most personal growth. When we submitted triggering questions during the previous quarter, I lacked confidence and I was worried about what I produced and whether it was what my professors and peers for looking for. I ended this quarter feeling more confident posing triggering questions that really applied to what I was doing professionally and learning educationally. I could honestly research a resource and implement it the next day in the classroom, and there were a few instances where I did. My technological talents grew immensely by producing module resolutions through different resources. I searched for different and new ways to showcase my knowledge. At first it felt like I was taking on way too much, but in the end I was always happy with what I had created.

Right away, I can identify the area where I intend on improving in the quarters to come. I need to be better at managing my resources. So far, I have not attempted to save, organize or import the articles and readings we are using into one accessible source. I have created many accounts in order to produce resolutions, but I haven’t had the time to record that information (i.e. logins, passwords, etc.) or save and collect my finish products. I intend to find a good resource to begin storing articles. I know that my peers have mentioned some in the past, but I haven’t come away with any. I also need to create some sort of spreadsheet to keeps logins straight, and create a file of finished resolution products.I look forward to having all of these things easily at my disposal someday soon!
ISTE coaching standard two emphasizes that coaches will help assist teachers effectively create student learning experiences using technology. This includes engagement, differentiation and assessment. Keeping this in mind, I intend to empower my peers and colleagues the best way that I know how at this point, through advocacy and promotion. I intend to advocate the resources I am discovering, and those that my peers are discovering, to my colleagues. I will constantly promote the importance of what we are doing. Most importantly, I will model this. I will jump at any chance I have to share my learning with others. For some people that is all they need. When they see something that seems scary modeled to them in real time, it suddenly seems very realistic and possible. Overall, I will continue to build my knowledge, take advantage of any and all opportunities to learn, grow and model and I will keep adding valuable tools and resources to my ever growing digital “tool belt.” I can’t wait to see what that looks like.

The Makings of a Successful Professional Development Program

This quarter in the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University I am focused on the fourth standard of the ISTE Coaching Standards, Professional Development and Program Evaluation:

Technology coaches conduct needs assessments, develop technology-related professional learning programs, and evaluate the impact on instructional practice and student learning.

Over the last several weeks, my classmates and I have learned how to implement a successful professional development program and I have identified the following elements as being most useful when evaluating a professional development program:

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 3.33.07 PM

Sadly, professional development is generally “something that is ‘done’ to teachers” (Pilar, 2014). Teachers need opportunities to explore their own interests and venture into those topics at a personalized level that works for their individual learning styles. In a study conducted by the Center for Professional Education, it was found that “90% of teachers reported participating in some form of professional development, and they also reported that it was not helpful in their practice. Thus, professional development is happening, but it is not effective” (Blattner, 2015). Imagine a place where teachers drive their learning by expressing their interests, learning at their own pace, implementing their discoveries and reflecting on their current and future practices. … Read More

Achieving Better Instruction through Reflection

“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” –John Dewey With each concept I teach, I evaluate the students understanding through their programming code, the required comments explaining the code, and the coding structure. I also know what they understand by listening to the questions that they ask. Formative assessment… Continue Reading Achieving Better Instruction through Reflection

What Does “Redefinition” Look Like?

Most educators are becoming familiar with the SAMR Model, a framework designed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura to “help educators infuse technology into teaching and learning” (Shrock). While there are four equally important aspects to the SAMR Model, this post is going to look at R = Redefinition.

What exactly is the “Redefinition” of the SAMR Model? And how can we implement it into our classrooms? Let’s take a look!

Drag your cursor to 1:46 to see these teachers practice redefinition:

How is this “Redefinition”? Ask yourself these questions:

Could the teachers have played back the golf ball bouncing in slow motion without the technology?

Could the teachers have watched the movement of the ball at varying speeds if this lesson had been taught without the technology?

Have they (or how could they) share this work and their findings with a larger audience? How could this work benefit others? …When unpacking science standards? …In other contexts?

How did this work transform the lesson?


Miller, M. (2014, April 3). 10 ways to reach SAMR’s redefinition level [Blog post]. Retrieved from

NGSS. (n.d.). NGSS: science and engineering practices [Video file]. Retrieved from

Schrock, K. (n.d.). Resources to support the SAMR … Read More

Individualized Professional Development through Mentorship

Last semester I began my exploration of the ISTE Coaching Standards through the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University. This semester I continue that inquiry, while paying particular attention to the fourth standard, Professional Development and Program Evaluation. This standard, more so than any other, delves deep into the topic and addresses several areas of importance:

Technology coaches conduct needs assessments, develop technology-related professional learning programs, and evaluate the impact on instructional practice and student learning:

a. Conduct needs assessments to inform the content and delivery of technology-related professional learning programs that result in a positive impact on student learning
b. Design, develop, and implement technology-rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment learning experiences using a variety of research-based, learner-centered instructional strategies and assessment tools to address the diverse needs and interests of all students
c. Coach teachers in and model engagement of students in local and global interdisciplinary units in which technology helps students assume professional roles, research real-world problems, collaborate with others, and produce products that are meaningful and useful to a wide audience
d. Coach teachers in and model design
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Reflections of a Peer Coach

Peer Coach Straightening

While the entire Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University is designed to be a hands-on experience which embeds learning opportunities into students’ current workplace, this course, in particular, provided students with a meaningful opportunity to practice our newfound skills in a professional environment. Under the tutelage of Dr. David Wicks, Associate Professor and Chair of the Digital Education Leadership program and Dr. Les Foltos, Director of Educational Innovation at Peer-Ed and author of Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration, students were trained as peer coaches and we worked with a collaborating teacher from our respective schools. I chronicled that learned and the skills I obtained in posts throughout the quarter and now, as this course comes to a close, I’m reflecting on the work that was done and thinking about how to sustain my skills as a peer coach in the future.

The importance of peer coaching practice in schools became evident to me very quickly into the quarter. Teachers that are supported create students that are successful. Well-renowned researchers of teaching methods and staff development, Bruce Joyce and Beverly Showers, have found that teachers that have been coached generally demonstrate the following:

  • Practiced
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