Category Archives: technology

EDTC 6105: Visionary Leadership and Peer Coaching

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

What is a coach?

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

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

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

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

Willingness

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

Personal Relationship

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

Trust and Support vs Judgement

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

Understanding of the Education System

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

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

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

Time

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

Reciprocal Communication

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

Connection to Technology Integration

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

Conclusion

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

Cited by Queensland Government

References

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

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

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

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

Education Peer Coaching in the Digital Age – EDTC 6105

This quarter in my studies in Digital Education Leadership at Seattle Pacific University, I am studying the practice of peer coaching. Throughout this quarter we will explore the ISTE coaching standards and specifically standard 1: Visionary Leadership.
Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 11.42.09 AMWhile I received peer coaching as a new educator and continually distribute peer coaching as I continue in my career, it is interesting to see how experts define the process.

What is peer coaching?

In the Digital Promise piece created by the Center to Support Excellence in Teaching at Stanford, it states three of the most widely held definitions of peer coaching. “Some define coaching as a tool to develop teachers’ ability to identify how helpful an instructional strategy is in supporting student learning (Russo, 2004). Others describe teacher coaching as a mechanism to achieve fidelity of implementation of novel teaching practices (Devine, Meyers, & Houssemand, 2013). Salavert (2015) describes coaching as an “apprentice-based approach to support professional and personal development towards achieving set goals” (p. 2). Sutton et al. (2011) add that a coach “works collaboratively with a teacher” (p. 15).” But as we attempt to drill down a definition I appreciate something simple like “Coaching can… give educators the knowledge and skills they need to grow professionally and, in turn, serve the diverse needs of their students” (Digital Promise, 2017).  We as educators and professionals need to always keep the student in mind.  I intend to focus heavily on this element in my explanation of what is essential to peer coaching especially as it connects with edtech development.

What is essential in a peer coaching relationship?

Coaches can take several different approaches to the relationship they create when they enter into a peer coaching arrangement.  As we can see in the image there are four “common forms of coaching” and although I believe that the coactive approach is what I want to focus in on for my purposes this quarter.  It “entails the coach taking more a holistic approach by striving to help the client feel fulfilled and balanced” (Digital Promise, 2017, pg 6).  If the teacher who has entered into this relationship does not feel like their life is balanced and their schedule can handle a peer coaching relationship – how will they be able to learn anything from the situation?  Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 11.56.29 AM

Of course, there is also more to the arrangement but I want to keep those elements at the forefront to the rest of the setup of peer coaching.  As Les Foltos establishes in Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration that there are the four C’s to keep in mind when it comes to student success; Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity.  As a peer coach to a professional educator though I will need to keep in mind other themes.

Participation

A coaching relationship needs to consist of willing participants, who are open to building trust with one another (Foltos, 2013).  This trust is the root of a working relationship that encourages boldness and growth.

Benchmarks

It is essential to set goals and norms collaboratively. While it can begin with a school or district goal, it can also stem from goals set by the coaching partnership (Foltos, 2013).

Respect & Kindness

Setting a practice of respect and kindness is a separate consideration from participation. It is crucial to address time as a factor and be sensitive to both sides in a coaching relationship, and recognizing certification hours and/or compensation for work being done outside of the school day can adequately value the process.

What does it mean for a “coach” to implement a comprehensive use of technology to support a digital-age education for all students?

This year I have a new role outside of public education, and I am working with teachers in different states, different countries, and with decades of more experience than I have. But as I have read more and more research there is a clear divide between how teachers feel about using technology in their daily lives and how students think. In a recent presentation, I heard a stat that blew my mind “92% of teenagers are online every single day, and 24% are constantly and continually connected to the internet (Pew Research 2017).  With that being the case some of our educators are not only out of touch but with the continued exponential growth of data the divide is growing larger each day instead of each year or decade.  I know that each generation has felt this divide due to age and what is now as the “digital native” but I think something different is happening as I watch education professionals almost ward against technology instead of embracing it.

In a recent survey we did internally at Edmodo, we asked teachers who were active users last year to tell us why they did not come back.  We had about 11% of those who answered the survey (~400) tell us they went back to paper and pencil or paper and email instead of using an LMS.  When asked why they made this decision they said it is just “easier for them” and when I read that I can see those teachers who back away from technology.  Those teachers though are doing a disservice to our students and not meeting them where they are.  They can even create a sense of anxiety when they do not use technology because they are less accessible for the student.

Coactive Learner-Centered Peer Coaching

At first, when I started listening to the recorded panel discussion it was just for work, but then I realized that what they were talking about correlates with our peer coaching discussion.  As I look to the future and see the creation of plans which are really for the benefit for the administration and policymakers I want to address meeting the students where they are and what it means for a “comprehensive digital-age education for students.”

I believe that the peer coaches need to meet the peer or student where they are in their learning, time of day, and the mode of communication that works best for them.  The coach is a guide and cannot do the work for the person but must have a light nurturing touch when it comes to coaching.  Experienced peer coaches understand that one way to show respect to their peers is to learn with and from them.  It is very similar to teaching “the coach needs to show respect to get respect” (Foltos, 2013, chapter 1). I had used this phrase in teaching on several occasions when students were out of line or acting out, and they did not like my response.  “Well you have to show respect to get respect, ” and they would roll their eyes because they were teenagers but it works the same with peer professionals. 

As in the panel discussion put on by Higher EdSurge, it demonstrates that coaching on a one-on-one basis is vital at all levels of education and professional development.  If we can suspend the idea that we are teachers and not students I think that several of these ideas correlate with our reading.

Regarding student success especially a digital-age student what does that mean? Success is hard to measure – and even more so because it depends on who you are asking and they will give you different metrics to measure that success against. But for the panel discussion, it was college completion and how colleges are trying to help with success. Less than ½ of college students today finish their bachelor’s degree in four years. Minority and low-income students are graduated at the campus average.  

An example of how one company is trying to improve student success through coaching  Dwight Smith (Assistant Director of Programs at Beyond12).  He explains the experiences Beyond 12 provides and the intentional use of the word “Coaches.”  These people wear so many hats and interact with students in unique ways.  The word coach is a catch-all for all that they do for the students.  Beyond 12 does not see their work as a replacement to traditional advising in college but more of a compliment.  Encourage students to take advantage of that is available at the colleges they attend.  Coaches are recent college graduates, and the majority of them are first in the family to attend college.  Coaching comes from a place of understanding where the students are coming from and what they are going through. Near-peer model or virtual coaching – texting. Facebook, Snapchat, online and not necessarily in person. Beyond 12 believes in the “Co-active coaching model, students are creative and resourceful on the whole.” Guide them in curriculum, activities, and support in social-emotional issues, and the coaches try to balance. Continually communicate the college completion is one step in the process and is not the finish line. It is an important step in the process, but it is not the end of the line for their life.

Then Charles Thornburgh (CEO at Civitas) a big data analytics company, we are an outcomes company that secondary success for the economy by 2025.  Right now in the U.S., just 60% of students complete their bachelor’s degree and take on average six years to get there. For two-year college programs, only about a third of students achieve their certificate or associate degree within three years. The numbers are even more troubling when placed alongside rising tuition costs, which prevent many students from adding extra semesters to finish their program.

Some institutions are thinking about how to change that through tech-augmented academic advising. That can take some forms: from early-alert systems that flag students in need of extra support, to predictive analytics, to online (and increasingly self-service) degree-planning services.  But technology alone doesn’t help students get through the hardest parts of college: people do. In this meetup, EdSurge will ask experts about the shifting role of advisors, as well as how, when or even if technology should be used to intervene with students.

Finally, something in the K-12 arena needs to change, and I think that starts with providing this same type of human-to-human and tech-augmented peer coaching.  We do not want to lose any more teachers due to burn out.  We need to show them how technology can not only help their lives become more comfortable but will inevitably create produce students who will be much more successful in their future endeavors outside of college and university.

Reading and Resources

Ehsanipour, T., & Gomez Zaccarelli, F. (2017, July). Exploring Coaching for Powerful Technology Use in Education (Center to Support Excellence in Teaching – Stanford University, Ed.). Retrieved October, 13, from http://digitalpromise.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Dynamic-Learning-Project-Paper-Final.pdf

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

Higher EdSurge: Panel Discussion Coaches, Computers & College Completion: Can Tech Get More Students to a Degree? (2017, September 27). Retrieved September 29, 2017, from https://www.facebook.com/higheredsurge/videos/vb.372280739820732/469617456753726/?type=2&theaterhttps://www.facebook.com/higheredsurge/


Community Engagement Project – EDTC 6104

Growing your PLN through Twitter

PLN

This summer I made a huge life choice by leaving teaching and entering the educational technology industry to continue my work with SPU School of Ed and the Digital Educational Leadership program.  I moved from Seattle to San Francisco and started working for Edmodo as the Community Growth Manager.  I believe that a piece of that is due to my time on social media and growing my professional learning network. The way I used social media made me thrive and build my support base to believe in what I was doing in the classroom and for my career.  As George Siemens states “a central tenet of most learning theories is that learning occurs inside a person. Even social constructivist views, which hold that learning is a socially enacted process, promotes the principality of the individual (and her/his physical presence – i.e. brain-based) in learning” (2005). Educators need to figure out how to utilize the tools that we have available in place on the world wide web and by doing so we can harness the global collaborative power of teachers around the world.  Teachers can use Twitter to connect with new educators, communicate what really happens on the job, create a public professional persona to help students know what it means to have self-awareness and positive online self-management.  During April, 2017 I created and ran a Global Collaborative Project that used Twitter in the classroom.  I appreciated this video to help spur my students inspiration by Ted Ed – What makes a poem … a poem? – Melissa Kovacs

Workshop Title and Description

Presentation Session “Growing your PLN with Twitter” – Educators are using Twitter to grow their professional learning network, sharing resources, and building the global educational community. I am one of the PSESD Washington Teacher Leaders for Twitter this year, and I want to share how this program and the use of

Twitter has made me a better more informed teacher. Twitter can be a way to create a strong professional social media platform for yourself to help promote what you are doing in your classroom every day.  I think this topic is important because teachers spend so much of their time alone.  We have our classrooms and our students but when it comes to honest peer-to-peer contact it takes so much time and investment.  Some teachers don’t ever make those important connections with their colleagues in their building and Twitter or other Social Learning Networks are crucial for creating new conversations with people outside of your building.

In 2015, Denise Scavitto wrote an article Teachers: Embrace Twitter for Professional Development and I appreciate the way she explains the reason behind using Twitter to grow a PLN.  “For me, Twitter is a way of consuming information targeted to my interests. Using a hashtag like #sschat connects me to topics that will interest and intrigue Social Studies teachers – from all walks of life – and all because I know what to look for. Twitter isn’t overwhelming anymore – it’s incredible. I’ve connected myself to an extensive personal learning network of educators, entrepreneurs, and innovators through a little bird – and found it the best professional development I’ve never paid for” (Edudemic).  

Learning Objective Event

My objective is to create a presentation for my session on teachers using Twitter to grow their PLN. There are 600 educators are registered for the conference total.  I am not sure if anyone has signed up for my session yet, but I am hoping to talk to around 30 teachers specifically about my topic. The conference I am CCS Powerful Learning Conference in Issaquah, WA on August 16th, 2017. I already submitted a small proposal and got it accepted in November.  I have a handout but may need to complete a couple more. The venue is the CCS Powerful Learning Conference at Issaquah High School in my old district.  I was inspired to submit a request because I went to the conference last year and I wanted to show growth by speaking at the next year’s conference.

Length

My presentation should be one hour and fifteen minutes long. That is the required length. I think it would be essential to provide blended content. I could probably make it a lot longer but this will help me limit and edit my work.  I also submitted a proposal to NCCE for their 50-minute session.  I think I can cut a lot of my material out if I could accomplish a true flipped or blended learning environment. 

Workshop/Online Elements

Common Misconceptions & FAQ

  1. The first one is that 140 characters are not enough to have a productive conversations.  But my counter to that one is imagine you are in a meeting with 20 of your closest friends in your department or staff.  How much content do you add in that 45 to 60 minute meeting?  With the addition of pictures it opens a whole other place for content. The 140 characters also limits people from venting, blabbing, and allows for constraint when we know sometimes educational meetings can run long.
  2. If you don’t have a lot of followers then there isn’t any point.  But I disagree because it is more important about how you use the platform.  To gain followers you must use the platform on a consistent basis.  
  3. Hashtags are just trendy things for young people and are not professional enough to take serious. I think that if it is for “young people” then that in itself is a reason to give it a try.  It keeps you current and it also allows you to connect with your students.  If teachers are not constantly learning then they are taking steps backwards.
  4. Twitter for communication and collaboration come with the the idea that it is only for some politicians and weird bots who spam up your feed. But I think that is another way to show to students, parents, and admin that it does not always have to be ran that way.  It can be “boring” as my students said when they found and read my twitter feed.  I said it isn’t boring to me it is what I am interested in and what I like to talk about.  

Gates Foundation (Ed.). (2014). Teachers Know Best What Educators Want from Digital Instructional Tools. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from http://www.teachersknowbest.org/survey-results/1

Morris, K. (2017, May 11). Step 2: Using Twitter to Build Your PLN. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from https://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/pln-challenge-3-using-twitter-to-build-your-pln/

Scavitto, D. (2015, April 17). Teachers: Embrace Twitter for Professional Development. Retrieved July 14, 2017, from http://www.edudemic.com/teachers-embrace-twitter-professional-development/

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved August 13, 2017, from http://www.itdl.org/journal/jan_05/article01.htm


Community Engagement Project – EDTC 6104

Increasing Family Engagement Through Digital Portfolios

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

Trying New Strategies to Engage ELL Families

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

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

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

The Parent Institute, 2012

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

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

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

Digital Portfolios – Empower Students and Engage Families

My Proposal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Seesaw?  

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

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

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

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

Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tech-Integration and the Digital Divide

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

Ed Week Graphic

Training Teachers to Support Students with Technology

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

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

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

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

Modeling Troubleshooting For Students

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

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

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

Computational Thinker Graphic

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

Preparing for the New School Year

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

Text-to-Speech Adventure: Making Technology Work for You (Module 2, ISTE-CS 3b, 3d, 3f)

To continue exploring ISTE Coaching Standard (CS) 3: Digital age learning environments, this week we are looking at three of its indicators:
CS 3b – “maintain and manage a variety of digital tools and resources for teacher and student use in technology-rich learning environments.”
CS 3d – “select, evaluate, and facilitate the use of adaptive and assistive technologies to support student learning.”
CS 3f – “collaborate with teachers and administrators to select and evaluate digital tools and resources that enhance teaching and learning and are compatible with the school technology infrastructure.”
These indicators spoke very directly to some recent tools I’ve been trying to learn to use for myself, and the experience has lent itself wonderfully to the creation of my investigation question:

How can I evaluate, select, and manage text-to-speech (TTS) tools and resources for teachers and students that are compatible with my institution’s technology infrastructure?

Why This Question?

I have always found course texts difficult to read. When I was interviewed for admittance to SPU they asked me something to the effect of “what is something you think you might struggle with in the program?” Or maybe they asked if I had any fears about the program, or if I expected any particular challenges. The gist of my answer was: I know I struggle to keep up with course reading materials and I expect there will be a lot of required reading. And it’s not that I can’t do a lot of reading, because I can…when I’m reading novels. When I’m not in school I like to go on the occasional “reading binge” and read a handful to a dozen books consecutively. But learning by reading? It’s never been something that’s come easily, and the thought of it feels heavy.

So when I started this quarter and saw that I needed to read an entire book on the history of American education for one of my classes, I went “I gotta find a way to get my computer to read this to me.” I tried to figure out how to do that, but I got so lost in the forest of technology I scrapped my efforts. Or maybe I didn’t even get into the forest – I got stuck trying to make it through the bordering brier patch. (One of the main reasons this has been so difficult is because my ebook is a protected text and displayed as images instead of text. I’ll get into this more later.) So I committed to reading the book without any assistance, and after 9 hours reading the first two chapters, my brain was fried.

By the time week three came around I said it one more time: “I have got to figure out how to get my computer to read this to me.” So there (re)began my adventure of trying to get my computer to read me my textbook. It sounds like an easy task, but it has been anything but. I won’t describe the whole process of how I came to the information below, but I will say that all of this has been new information to me.

Important note: It seems pretty typical that you need to download a voice pack along with whatever TTS software. I didn’t know that and spent a good deal of time going “…Really?! How is this the only voice option?”

Selecting and Evaluating TTS Technologies

TTS technologies benefit many populations of learners with a range of needs, such as those who are blind, dyslexic (The Regents of the University of Michigan), learning English (Carroll, 2014), or simply anyone that has any reason to want to listen to writing, and the needs of the user will play a role in how you assess a TTS tool. One of the obvious features to assess when selecting a reader is how it sounds. Of course that counts for a lot and could ultimately be the deciding factor in whether or not you like a given reader, but there are other factors that come into consideration too. Some other things that matter to me are whether or not you can read from a chosen place in the document and if you can pause. The Kurzweil Blog Team wrote a nice article called The Many Facets of Text-to-Speech which lists things to consider when selecting a reader for yourself or for others. Their list includes: accuracy of TTS, variety of available voices, and options for highlighting the text as it’s read.

Two of the suggestions I really like from Kurzweil’s blog are: before recommending a reader, make sure you can listen to it for 10 minutes; and when using a reader, test out different voices for different content areas – you might find that one voice doesn’t fit all.

ttsreader.com

My number one favorite tool so far has been the TTSReader X In-Page Text to Speech. This is a free, super easy to use Chrome extension that reads the text on a webpage. Of all the free readers I looked at, this one definitely has the best voice (I like the UK Female). And that comparison almost doesn’t say enough; plain and simple, I think it sounds pretty darn good. It’s also really smooth to use: highlight the text, right click, select “Play Selection.” Then from the extension button (which is next to the address bar) you can pause, rewind, and otherwise control the reading. Once it starts reading the selection, you can even leave the page if you would like.

Here’s a quick video to demonstrate how the reader sounds. With Ryan’s permission, I am using and excerpt from Ryan’s Blog, The Worst of All Possible Worlds – ISTE Coaching Standard 3 and the Dystopian Future of Education? (2017). It’s a great post on the future of education with technology – I recommend giving it a read!

In addition, they also have a website ttsreader.com, which is the same tool but on a website. It’s a little more ergonomic than the extension tool if you are copy+pasting a chunk of text. The website works in Chrome and Safari (you can go to the website in other browsers, but it won’t work properly or fully). This Chrome app, TTSReader – Unlimited Text-To-Speech, will enhance the functionality of the website, making it so that the website remembers your voice settings, the last thing you entered into the text box, and where you left off listening.

TTS in Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat

Microsoft Office actually has a built in TTS tool called “Speak” – here’s how to access it, and here’s how to get to Speech Properties to change the reading speed. This TTS doesn’t sound nearly as good as ttsreader.com, but I’d guess that you can download other voices – Microsoft Anna is the only voice available in my settings – I just haven’t investigated that yet. To make it read you highlight what you want to read and click the Speak icon. Click it again to make it stop. There seems to be no way to pause and resume.

Here’s a quick video to demonstrate how Microsoft Anna sounds. Again, I’m using an excerpt from Ryan’s post.

Similarly, Adobe Acrobat has a built in reader called Read Out Loud – here’s how to access it. Mine currently only reads in the Microsoft Anna voice. I see that there are other voice options, but none of them seem to work. Again, I’m guessing you can download a voice pack. On PDFs that I create, I can click a paragraph and the reader will read that paragraph, but for other PDFs (like articles downloaded from journals that I can access through my university library) it will only start from the top of the document or page. There are hot keys to control pausing. Despite having settings for changing the reading speed under Edit > Preferences > Reading, the speed seems to actually and only be controlled from Speech Properties in the control panel (i.e., the same way you change the speed of Speak, which I linked above).

Since I tend to want greater control in where the reader starts from, and I read a lot of journal articles that only want to start reading from the top of the page, it was good to learn that you can actually open PDFs in Word. (Select the file, right click, select Open With > Word.)

JAWS

JAWS seems to be the screen reader and it was suggested to me more than once. (Screen readers seem to be a special class of TTS with extra capabilities for controlling your computer via audio and the keyboard.) But trying to use JAWS was a bit like trying to pilot an aircraft after only playing Pilotwings on Nintendo 64. I really would need to put in some time to figure out how to use it.

Also, JAWS is $900. However, you can download a free 40 minute trial (here), and restarting your computer renews the trial. There is a separate voice pack to download (here), and yes, the voice pack works during the trial.

Voice Dream

I want to quickly mention one last TTS reader. At the recommendation of my program director, Dr. Wicks, I bought the Apple app Voice Dream for my iPhone. In spite of having a hard time changing the reading speed, I’m very happy with it and it was well worth the $15. I have regularly wished that Siri would read PDFs, but it never occurred to me to look for an app to do that. (Of course there’s an app for that!)

It sounds great. It shows how long it will take to read any given document. I can adjust how far it rewinds/fast-forwards. I can load a variety of text-based documents into it, including webpages. I even have it linked to my Google Drive which makes it super easy to access the documents I want. I recommend it.

Reading My Class Textbook

So with this information in mind, what did I do to read my protected ebook and why is this so challenging? The major challenge here is learning to use screen readers (e.g., JAWS). If your protected ebooks are like mine, then screen readers are basically your only way into TTS technology.

My school uses ProQuest: Ebook Central for its ebooks. On this website, the pages are displayed as images, and in order to turn on accessibility mode*, which displays the pages as text, I need to use a screen reader. If I download an ebook, the only program that will open the file is Adobe Digital Editions. There is no built-in TTS feature in Digital Editions (like there is with Adobe Acrobat), but this blog post from Adobe (Kirkpatrick, 2012) suggests that they have improved the accessibility of protected texts and it lists screen readers that are compatible with their software.

(*Accessibility mode is not available on mobile devices.)

But recall the JAWS/Pilotwings analogy… Not knowing how to use a screen reader made all of this very difficult. While discussing this, my friend immediately asked me: “Did you Google it?” Yes, multiple times. The information surely exists, but finding what I needed, while not knowing the right key words to use, was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Two days ago I finally figured out how to turn on accessibility mode on the website, and in my silent apartment, next to my fiancé, I had visions of fireworks, parades, and confetti falling from the ceiling for about the next hour.

In the weeks prior, while I figured out how to use a screen reader, I used up my copy+paste allotment for my textbook by copying a page at a time from Digital Editions into ttsreader.com. (Publishers set copy+paste limits on ebooks, and I assume Digital Editions keeps track of how much you’ve copied because it’ll cut you off.)

Tying All This Back to CS3

That was a lot, so let me restate my investigation question.

How can I evaluate, select, and manage TTS tools and resources for teachers and students that are compatible with my institution’s technology infrastructure?

Knowing about these programs and features is the first step in being able to make recommendations for teachers and students; I’ve learned a lot and there’s a lot to learn. I also feel a heightened sense of awareness about the importance of making course materials available in a timely manner so that students have time to use them in ways that support their learning (thank you, DEL program, for consistently posting all course materials for us at the start of each quarter!).

Now that I have my feet wet about some (overstatement) of the realities of trying to evaluate, select, and use this technology, I am more prepared to think about how math teachers can make the materials they create TTS friendly. For example, how would a reader speak through an equation or graph? How do images and diagrams get read out loud? I don’t yet know the answers to these questions, but I know to ask them. I also see that the occasional math equation I put in my posts, like this d = x_{2} - x_{1} (which reads d equals x-sub-2 minus x-sub-1), simply gets skipped over by tssreader.com. The same is true of all the equations on Paul’s Notes (a very popular website for additional math notes). This has pretty big implications for choosing the format of instructor-provided notes. To give a different example, when I have tssreader.com read Dr. Lambers Multivariable Calculus notes, it reads much of the math text, albeit not 100% accurately (e.g., x^2 and x_{2}, that is, x-squared and x-sub-2, are both read out loud as “x-two”). Add in the difficulties of finding/using/paying for readers that are compatible with a school’s technology infrastructure and you’re looking at a lot of hurdles to use TTS technology with a math textbook. Again, I don’t have answers, but these will all be things to keep in mind as I start my math program in August.

Making Technology Work for You

One thing I have really taken away from all this is a better understanding of the phrase “make technology work for you.” This TTS technology is like a revelation. Where has it been all my life and why have I never tried using it to read? I mean…through the thicket of technology…that’s where it’s been. I’m definitely a little TTS-crazed at the moment and I’m having fun exploring when it best aids me. I also know at least a handful of people who would love to know how to use TTS technology and I’m guessing that a lot of students would benefit from TTS if they knew how to use the technology effectively and efficiently.

My one tip for any first time user who thinks TTS could benefit them is: Give it a chance. It took me a few tries to settle into a rhythm using TTS, and initially it was distracting to hear the words out loud. But after I got used to it, it became incredibly helpful. So give yourself a chance to find that rhythm.


Resources

Carroll, Jason. (2014). Digital supports for English language learners. Retrieved from https://www.texthelp.com/en-us/company/education-blog/december-2014/digital-supports-for-english-language-learners/

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

Kirkpatrick, A. (2012). Adobe accessibility: Digital Editions 2.0 available. Retrieved from http://blogs.adobe.com/accessibility/2012/09/digital-editions-2-0.html

Kurzweil Blog Team. (n.d.) The many facets of text-to-speech [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.kurzweiledu.com/blog/2016/05-11-2016.html

The Regents of the University of Michigan. (n.d.) 10 helpful text-to-speech readers for back to school. Retrieved from http://dyslexiahelp.umich.edu/tools/software-assistive-technology/text-to-speech-readers

 

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

Thought Question:

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

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

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 9.02.33 AM

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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


Rethinking an Ideal Learning Environment – EDTC 6104 – Module 1

This quarter in my graduate work in Digital Education Leadership at Seattle Pacific University, I am exploring Digital Learning Environments by focusing on the exploration of ISTE Coaching Standard 3, which charges technology coaches to create and support an efficient digital age learning environment to maximize the learning of all students. To explore this standard, I read some original pieces on in the intersection of pedagogy and technology in educational practice. I then used these as a jumping off point to explore my initial thoughts on my own ideal digital learning environment.  As my research started and I began to read the Edsurge article by Ellen Dorr Designing Professional Learning Experiences I stopped for a second and thought about how I have heard or thought these same things myself throughout my teaching career.  

Click to view slideshow.

Professional Development (PD) is a necessary evil and must happen but the way it is structured in most PNW districts is backwards and not helpful.  Most of the time I take notes at a PD and then those notes never get looked at again.  So for my first resource I would like to share that I am not the only one with these feelings, at the most recent ISTE conference Mary Jo Madda of Edsurge went around and asked attendees what EdTech words they are sick of hearing (http://bit.ly/2tQAtzU) and it coincides nicely with what I am trying to explain regarding PD.  As Martin Cisneros states “It’s not necessarily a software, but it’s a term of professional development. We need to leave the phrase “professional development” to the side and really start thinking what we want our students to do. We’re always going to be lifelong learners, so let’s leave the “development” behind because we developed enough—let’s start learning.” Other words are personalized learning, blended learning, lifelong learner, and others like dongle which are overused, and we might want to start putting them to bed.  As the public schools are continuing to fail in their current state, I want to introduce my next resource as for how I wish one day our schools could be designed.  We need to reimagine what professional development looks like just as we have started the journey to reimagine what the next generation of high schools will look like. My thoughts are that one day our teachers will go to collaborative spaces inside the school like  “Makers Space” for professionals.  I do not want teachers to have to sit down in a stuffy library getting another photocopied pdf from the internet.  I want them to get up, get out of the building, and explore what the possibilities are out there for their students and themselves.  

Therefore my second resource stems from the fact that we need to stop for a second and think about how we are examining education as a whole, and so I would like to share is the XQ Super School Project (https://xqsuperschool.org/abouttheproject) that is reimagining high school.  “Imagine students in a school that makes design thinking, futuristic technology and high-school instruction mean the same thing. Design-Lab will put students in a mode of continuous inquiry as they design the world in which they want to live, and discover their places in it.”

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Design-Lab High School understands the global challenges facing its students, but sees absolutely no limit to the solutions students can design to meet those challenges. With design thinking baked into its DNA, this Super School will be a school based on a research-and-development framework that continually learns, builds and improves, while encouraging its students to do the same. Whether working on prototypes, podcasts or virtual museum exhibits, an academically rigorous loop of learning will prepare its students (including many first-generation college-goers) for the challenges ahead.  As Anthony Rebora found in this Edweek article “Teachers Still Struggling to Use Tech to Transform Instruction” from June 2016, 700 classroom teachers and school-based instructional specialists were surveyed, and they have a similar feeling about the current status of professional development. Teachers want stronger PLC’s; they want coaches and more opportunities for observations. I think a school like the Design-Lab could bring real life experiments to professional development sessions.  When the point of this is to think about classroom management and particularly for me, I wanted to concentrate on the participate presence, but I believe that if we create a unique creative space or environment for learning, then it will not be as much of an issue.  If we could then use some LMS to live stream whatever creative design is happening in the classroom, then teachers and students can hop on via the internet and watch whatever interests them from home.  Basically, in the end, I feel that what we are doing now is not working and we have to start looking on a larger scale for change especially when it comes to developing our teacher’s creativity and interest. 

 

Madda, M. J. (2017, July 05). Tired Edtech Trends That Teachers Wish Would Retire: From the Floor of ISTE 2017 – EdSurge News. Retrieved July 06, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2017-07-04-tired-edtech-trends-that-teachers-wish-would-retire-from-the-floor-of-iste-2017?utm_content=buffer69865&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

XQ: The Super School Project. (2017). Retrieved July 02, 2017, from https://xqsuperschool.org/abouttheproject


Growing your Professional Learning Networking – EDTC 6103 – Module 5

How can I participate in local and global learning communities to explore creative applications of technology to improve student learning?

Educators must be more than info experts; we must be collaborators in learning, seeking new knowledge & constantly aquiring new skills alongside our students.(National Education Technology Plan 2010)

The word networking to me as a public school educator is such a foreign concept.  An idea meant for young entrepreneurs and marketers. Even more for those who are just graduating from college in a more mainstream industry like computer science or business administration to get their names out there and have their faces seen by the “right people” because it is all about who you know and creating connections.  But as I have learned through the Digital Educational Leadership Program at SPU teachers need to get into the mindset of networking for their own benefit. I used to ask myself why/what would I need to network for because I already have a job? Or why/how would networking help me or my classroom become a better place to learn?  Networking is not just for getting a job it is also about helping new teachers coup with challenges, finding allies outside your own school, and just having someone to talk to outside of your own business bubble.  The U.S. Department of Education stated a similar sentiment in the 2010 report “online communities of practice support teachers’ learning, enabling them to ‘collaborate with their peers and leverage world-class experts to improve student learning’ and ‘extend the reach of specialized and exceptional educators”’(p. 42 – 44).

 

As Getting Smart states in their post “20 Tips for Creating a Professional Learning Network,”  Networking is essential for all professionals and  “a prime form of 21st-century learning.”  Education is becoming one massive global collaborative project where our end goal is to help the student the best way we can.  As many start their first teaching job, I was given a class roster and told to “teach” with a textbook in hand.  This was at the beginning of the Common Core movement, and SBAC was in the looming future.  Of course, we had standardized tests to guide what the students should be able to accomplish by the end of their 9th and 11th-grade year but not many more expectations other than that.  I needed help, and although my mentor was incredible, it was difficult for me to comprehend filling up 55 minutes with materials all by myself.  TeacherspayTeachers became my first ally, but that got expensive and not sustainable.  Then after a couple of years and realizing I will never know it all in teaching, I reached out to other sources. Getting Smart explains it well “as educators, we aim to be connected to advance our craft.  On another level, we hope to teach students to use networks to prepare for them for a changing job market” (2013).

timthumbI have focused mostly on Twitter for growing my Professional Learning Network (PLN), specifically working with PSESD and Corelaborate organizing and participating in Twitter chats about education for the past couple years.  I also attended the recent EdCampPSWA “Unconference” at Annie Wright to help grow my PLN, and although I have not attended a large educational conference before I feel like it would be a useful adventure.  But the reality is that since I have started growing my own PLN I have certainly felt less alone, and I know that my feelings as an educator are actually validated across the country.  Teaching can be such an isolating job because we live in our classrooms and I see 150 middle school students daily but days can go by without me interacting adults on an authentic level.  

It is important to remember all public school teachers feel isolated at some point in their careers. In Rebecca Alber’s article, she explains, “Six Ways to Avoid Feeling Isolated in the Classroom” and she specifically says “Unlike our friends and family working in the private sector, we teachers spend 98 percent of our time, not with peers, but with children and in our classrooms. So it’s easy to forget to reach out and have adult conversations during our workdays” (2012).  Her six options are all about person-to-person suggestions and I am always thinking about more online/technology ways to connect with other educators but she does mention Daniel Gilbert’s research on happiness, a Harvard psychology professor. He puts it this way: “We are by far the most social species on Earth,” explains Gilbert. “If I wanted to predict your happiness, and I could know only one thing about you, I wouldn’t want to know your gender, religion, health, or income. I’d want to know about your social network — about your friends and family and the strength of the bonds with them” (Albers, 2012)  And as the U.S. Department of Education reiterates “collaboration is an effective approach for strengthening educators’ practices and improving the systemic capacity of districts and schools—and, ultimately, improving student learning” (2010).  Without the outside collaborating I do on a daily/weekly basis online and with my SPU cohort outside of my school, I would feel lost.  One small fish in a gigantic pond with a little foothold on how to bridge these gaps and inspire my students to do better and more.

 

Resources:

Alber, R. (2012, January 09). Six Ways to Avoid Feeling Isolated in the Classroom. Retrieved May 24, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/avoid-teacher-isolation-stay-connected-rebecca-alber

Clifford, M. (2013). 20 tips for creating a professional learning network. Retrieved May 28, 2017 from http://gettingsmart.com/2013/01/20-tips-for-creating-a-professional-learning-network/

U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology. Connect and inspire: online communities of practice in education. Retrieved May 30, 2017 from https://cdn.tc-library.org/Edlab/0143_OCOP-Main-report.pdf

 


Digital citizenship clicker questions in math, and Mendeley (Module 4, ISTE-TS 4 digital citizenship)

This week we are looking at ISTE-TS 4: Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility – “teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices.” In past blog posts I have discussed ways in which digital citizenship is or can be particularly relevant to a college math class (see my Mission StatementDigital Readiness Project, and Backwards Design Project). One of the most pertinent tie-ins is the ethical use of digital tools to help students do their math homework. Another major thought I’ve had is that if you want to teach digital culture in relevant way, integrating online spaces for collaboration into the structure of the course helps.

So for this module, I was hoping to find an example of a lesson plan or some thoughts on how to digital citizenship in a math class; an example of a teaching doing Indicator 4a – “advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate documentation of sources” – in the context of math. My investigation questions were:

When teaching digital citizenship in a college math class, what can implementation look like/how can you implement it? Can I find any example lesson plans?

Clicker Questions on Ethics

I didn’t find what I was looking for in the context of a math class, but I did find a great blog post by Derek Bruff (2010), Ethical or Not? Clicker Questions about Academic Integrity. In this post, Derek shares the clicker questions he asked his writing students (which were written by himself and a colleague, Maggie Bowers) and talks about the students’ responses/the discussion around these questions. The post is very insightful and offers a glimpse into the classroom during the lesson. (For day two of Derek’s lesson with more clicker questions, check out his other blog here. For a description of clicker questions, check out his guest blog post on Busynessgirl’s blog here.)

Since I didn’t find anything like this for math, and his questions did stimulate an engaged discussion around ethics, I thought I would try using his questions to inspire my own. I’m just brainstorming here and would call this a draft. But it’s a start! A few of his questions would be relevant to a math class, so I did include them below – 4, 5, and 6.

  1. You are stumped by a homework problem, so you…
    1. use Wolfram Alpha to look up the solution. Ethical or unethical?
    2. get help from someone. They write out a solution and it makes sense to you, so you rewrite the solution and turn it in. Ethical or unethical?
  2. You are working with a friend on a homework assignment. The two of you collaborate to write a solution on a white board. Both of you rewrite the same solution for your homework. Ethical or unethical?
  3. A friend of yours took this course last quarter and gives you…
    1. their homework from the class so you can check your work. Ethical or unethical?
    2. their old exams from the class so you can study for your exams. Ethical or unethical?
  4. The student next to you drops his test and you accidentally see the answers. This leads you to change one of your answers. Ethical or unethical? (Bruff and Bowers, 2009)
  5. You get a B- on an exam. You would really like a B, so you ask your professor after class for a few extra points on a particular exam question, even though you know your answer probably doesn’t deserve a higher score. Ethical or unethical? (Bruff and Bowers, 2009)
  6. You find a copy of the instructor’s solutions manual to one of your textbooks online. You use it to check your homework before turning your homework in. Ethical or unethical? (Bruff and Bowers, 2009)

Imagining that I were to use these questions, as part of this discussion I think it would be important to clearly define plagiarism in the context of a math class.

Now let’s abruptly switch gears…


Mendeley for Citation Generation and Management

On a different note, I found a free tool that is helpful for generating citations and references within Word: Mendeley. Citing our sources is important for students and teachers alike. In regards to ISTE-T4, Mendeley could aid teachers in doing Indicator 4a (i.e. modeling good citation practices) by making it a little easier to cite your sources – particularly if you are citing the same things more than once.

Mendeley is a free citation management tool. It has extensions for Word and most Internet browsers. In Word, it assists you in doing in-text citations, and will generate and update a references list. Online, it detects citation information so that you can add a citation to Mendeley while browsing, and whatever information it doesn’t detect, you can add. Here is a quick demonstration. (Looks like I need to figure out some better OBS Studio settings to make the image clearer!)

There is a WordPress plugin…but I couldn’t figure out how to use it. Nevertheless, if you’re in Word, this is a great tool and I can’t believe I only just started using it!


References

Bruff, D. (2010). Ethical or not? Clicker questions about academic integrity [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://derekbruff.org/?p=799

ISTE: International Society for Technology in Education. (2017). ISTE standards for teachers (2008). Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-teachers

Mendeley. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.mendeley.com/