Incorporating Active Learning into Professional Learning Experiences

I have always been a fan of any professional learning experiences in which I return with something practical that enabled me to immediately implement something to improve student learning and achievement in my classroom. On the flip side, my least favorite professional learning experiences have been ones that were not relatable and left me wondering… “now what”. So here we go, let’s talk about active learning and end off with some extras that can be used directly in a professional learning experience! (or classroom if you so please).   But first, the WHY:  This quarter I have been focusing on learning more about ISTE Coaching Standard 5: Professional Learning Facilitator. This module we were asked to specifically focus on performance indicator “B”. Here it is:  This indicator is focusing on two key components of successful PD… active learning and meaningful feedback. While I believe both are incredibly vital to the success of PD, I felt that active learning was the horse before the cart. Hopefully, if we get staff to be engaged in an experience through active learning, we can then focus on the aftermath with meaningful feedback. This brought me to my question for the week:  “What are some active learning activities professional learning facilitators can implement in professional learning experiences?”  What is active learning?  While some may have not heard the term “active learning” before, educators have been putting this method into practice for ages. Essentially, active learning is getting students (or in our case, educators) actively engaged in their learning through not only thinking about what they are learning, but also why they are learning it.   Active learning in the classroom  For a long time educators have known that if we do not have student engagement in class, that we are not going to have our students retain as much of the information we are teaching them. Active learning is a wonderful way to get those kiddos engaged, and help to increase in lesson success. There are many different approaches to active learning in the classroom, however, the one I am going to focus on here is broken into three primary cognitive processes.   Mayer suggests that these three processes are:  1. Selecting relevant materials to attend to 2. Mentally organizing attended material into meaningful representations 3. Integrating these representations with prior knowledge  Some student based activities that incorporate these primary cognitive processes include:   Active learning using body movement HERE  Active learning activities with technology HERE  (this also is an awesome read on active learning if you have some extra time! Keep in mind it is written by a company selling a program that helps aid educators in increasing active learning in their classroom)  Active learning with adults  “Active learning methods ask students to fully participate in their learning by thinking, discussing, investigating, and creating.”  Cornell University has a short read on active learning that can be found here. They give a great list of research proven pros of active learning in a classroom setting. But active learning is not only applicable with children in a classroom! Adults can also participate in active learning and reap its benefits. Here are some of the most relatable pros to adult learning and professional learning experiences that I found:   “Creates personal connections to the material for students, which increases their motivation to learn” While many professional learning experiences are mandatory, there are still ways to make educators motivated to use the strategies and information that they gain from them. By creating a connection from the concepts to the educators, we can increase the likelihood that they retain, and implement their newfound knowledge.   “Build self-esteem through conversations with other students” There have definitely been times that I have been unwilling or nervous to implement a new strategy or standard in my classroom if I wasn’t confident in my ability to work with students on it. By working together with colleagues on new strategies, we can increase self-esteem and assure educators that they can try new things with their students!  “Creates a sense of community in the classroom through increased student-student and instructor-student interaction” This may seem only applicable to a classroom setting, but let’s broaden our thinking here. I have been to multiple professional development sessions that during the experience, I was able to interact actively with the facilitators along with my peers. This helped me to not only understand what I was supposed to be learning about, but it also gave me the community feeling that we were all in it together. There are still facilitators that I feel comfortable reaching out to in order to ask questions and deepen my knowledge on the content they presented. Wouldn’t it be great to feel you were always in a community with experts on what you were trying to implement?   Why does it matter?  Edgar Dale coined the idea of the “Cone of Learning” in the 1960s. He spoke to the process of knowledge retention and the different ways in which knowledge can be taught. Take a peek at the graphic below to see his thoughts represented visually.  On the left, we see percentages of knowledge retained based on the type of learning (on the right). The learning activity is placed in the triangle that correlates to the type of learning. We can see that the least effective learning activity is verbal receiving: reading and hearing words. The next category is visual receiving: watching a movie, looking at an exhibit, watching a demonstration, seeing it done on location. Next, we jump to 70% retention with receiving/participating: participating in a discussion, and giving a talk. And finally, the most effective strategy is doing: doing a dramatic presentation, simulating the real experience, and doing the real thing. We can see through this graphic that we must be moving away from the more traditional teaching methods of hearing and seeing, and focus on having students talking and doing.   Active learning focuses on the receiving/participating and doing “nature of involvements”. But let’s get into the “doing” ourselves, and see some examples!   Extras  Ready for some ideas for your next professional learning experience?   Here are two variations on a similar activity that you may already be familiar with:  Think/Pair/Share – An oldie but a goodie! Participants are given a topic and they think to themselves any information related to the topic. They can write this down, or keep the info in their heads. They then pair up and compare thinking.  Tell/Help/Check – Participants are in partners and are given a question or topic. The first participant gives all information that they have knowledge on surrounding that topic. The second participant then adds any information that they think is related, but not shared by the first participant. Finally, the participants share to a large group and continue the pattern of only sharing new information.  Here is an amazing graphic with short “brain blasts” that encourage active learning independently. (Okay, there are a few that peers can participate in)  And if you still haven’t found any that you are interested in trying, here is another resource that is geared towards increasing active learning with adults! Some fun ones include; The One-Minute Paper, Chain Notes, Mystery Quotations, Idea Speedating, Quescussion, and Empathy Mapping. Check it out!  What other activities have you done that were crowd-pleasers? Comment below!  Resources  Active Learning. (n.d.). Center for Teaching Innovation. Retrieved February 10, 2021, from https://teaching.cornell.edu/teaching-resources/engaging-students/active-learning  Active Learning. (2020, October 14). Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning. https://stearnscenter.gmu.edu/knowledge-center/student-engagement-classroom-managment/active-learning/  Dunnick Karge, B., Phillips, K. M., Jessee, T., & McCabe, M. (2011). Effective Strategies For Engaging Adult Learners. Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 8(12), 53–56. https://doi.org/10.19030/tlc.v8i12.6621  Kosturko, L. (2015, October 14). Professional Development: Technology’s Key to Success. Getting Smart. https://www.gettingsmart.com/2015/10/professional-development-technologys-key-to-success/  Lynch, J. (2017, June 22). What does research say about active learning? Pearson. https://www.pearsoned.com/research-active-learning-students/  Mayer, Richard E. Applying the Science of Learning. Pearson/Allyn & Bacon, 2011.  What is Active Learning? (n.d.). Smart Sparrow. Retrieved February 10, 2021, from https://www.smartsparrow.com/what-is-active-learning/  Whenham, T. (2020, April 2). 15 active learning activities to energize your next college class. Nureva. https://www.nureva.com/blog/education/15-active-learning-activities-to-energize-your-next-college-class 

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Using Adult Learning Theories to Plan for Professional Development

As I get deeper into this quarter, we are taking a deeper look at ISTE Coaching Standard 5:   ISTE Standard 5: Professional Learning Facilitator 5a. Design professional learning based on needs assessments and frameworks for working with adults to support their cultural, social-emotional and learning needs.  My last study focus was on important aspects of designing professional developments. This module, I am looking at adult learning frameworks to specificially design professional development for adult learners. This leads into the question of which frameworks we should be using, along with how to implement them to achieve a positive learning experience in the professional development we plan.  Let’s jump right in with my current research question:  How can professional learning facilitators utilize adult learning framework to ensure positive learning experiences during professional development?  To start this off, we need to take a look at adult learning in general.   Helen Colman does a great job in her article by stating “adult learning theories are based on the premise that adults learn differently than children”. When I was first hearing about adult learning theories my opinions were split. One part of me felt that a brain is a brain and if there is one way to learn that is beneficial for children that it will be perhaps not as beneficial for adults, but it will still get the job done. But as I continued to learn about these theories I came to understand that yes, while some ways children learn can be similar to the ways adults learn, that we have to take into consideration that adults have a base of knowledge and experience that is vastly different than a child. Consider the beginning of an effective lesson with a child… we know that activating prior knowledge can be one of the best ways to have children connect with a lesson. This can be similar for adults, however, the way in which you do this, and which pieces of prior knowledge you are pulling from will be different.   This leads us right into what the different adult learning theories are. There are many different great resources that list a number of different theories and go into detail on each. Some include 10-12 theories, and some focus on a smaller number and combine a few. The resources that I am pulling from mention 6 main theories: andragogy, transformational learning, experiential learning, self-directed learning, project based learning, and action learning.   Here is a fantastic chart that Helen Colman created that gives brief descriptions of the 6 theories, along with the characteristics that are best suited for each theory. Keep in mind, her information is written with the goal to inform the general public of adult learning theories and how a specific platform can achieve the different theories. While not geared specifically for education, it is still quite insightful as an overview.  These 6 theories are also not in separate boxes from one another. A learner does not have to fit into just one. This brings me to a list of tips on how to enhance adult learning, also highlighted by Colman. She really did a great job framing the adult learning theories and helping readers to understand how to incorporate them into professional development!  1. Build a blended learning solution   Some adults are more in-sync with learning when they are attending face-to-face workshops. Some are enable to engage in a higher level when they are at a conference, and some still can dive into information in an online course more successfully than when others are present. Building a blended learning solution allows for more people to be successful  2. Link learning to expected results   With students, success criteria can help to hone in on expected learning. For adults, linking the learning to the result we expect of them can also help to encourage the path towards success.   3. Formalize your informal learning  While the setting of a professional development may not seem formal in nature, by adding a piece of formality to it, it can help increase the experience. Providing a means to document or reflect on professional development or learning can formalize an experience and create purpose.  4. Build communities for practice  Allowing adults to have an opportunity to collaborate while learning can help to target training opportunities. While large scale trainings and learning opportunities are sometimes beneficial, a targeted approach for smaller groups or communities to learn strategies or content that is specific to their position can have a longer lasting result.  5. Chunk your content  By breaking your content into smaller chunks, learners are able to take pieces of learning at their own speed. This also enables learners to have time to reflect on each topic before starting a new one.   6. Incorporate microlearning  Different than breaking learning into smaller chunks, microlearning enables an adult learner to specifically target 1 strategy or skill that is completable in a matter of minutes.   7. Enable personal learning paths  Encourage self-directed learning! While this is not always an option, allowing adult learners to have voice and choice will absolutely lead to more positive experiences. If a full self-directed learning opportunity is not available, allowing for a chosen learning path can be a great way to still enable choice in learning experiences.   8. Align learning to needs, not wants   Similar to planning lessons for students, you define the end result and the need that is present. From there, you can include the wants… or choices of staff. This will prioritize the need for learning, while also allowing for the voice within the learning experience.   To wrap it all up, each adult learner is unique and has different learning styles. By incorporating some of the adult learning theories into professional development plans and learning opportunities, you can help to ensure positive experiences. Here is one last graphic that helps to sum up some great tips to keep in mind while planning a professional development experience.   Which tip resonates with you? How do you encourage positive learning experiences with staff?  Resources:  Colman, H. (2020, April 29). 6 Adult Learning Theories and How to Put Them into Practice. 6 Adult Learning Theories and How to Put Them Into Practice. https://www.ispringsolutions.com/blog/adult-learning-theories  Davis, V. (2015, April 15). 8 Top Tips for Highly Effective PD. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/blog/top-tips-highly-effective-pd-vicki-davis  ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (n.d.). ISTE. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches  Kearsley, G. (2010). Andragogy (M.Knowles). The theory Into practice database. Retrieved from http://tip.psychology.org  Knowles, M. (1975). Self-Directed Learning. Chicago: Follet.  Kosturko, L. (2015, October 14). Professional Development: Technology’s Key to Success. Getting Smart. https://www.gettingsmart.com/2015/10/professional-development-technologys-key-to-success/  Pappas, C. (2020, April 15). The Adult Learning Theory – Andragogy – of Malcolm Knowles. ELearning Industry. https://elearningindustry.com/the-adult-learning-theory-andragogy-of-malcolm-knowles 

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Developing into a Professional Learning Facilitator

The new year rang in a new focus of study in my graduate program. We are beginning to learn about needs assessments and program evaluations related to our current positions. As a fifth-grade general education teacher, I have found myself considering the different possibilities to focus my attention on. To start this phased approach of reflection upon a current need or program, we are diving into professional development and taking on the role of a professional learning facilitator. Our current essential standard of study is ISTE Standard 5.  5: Professional Learning Facilitator A. Design professional learning based on needs assessments and frameworks for working with adults to support their cultural, social-emotional and learning needs B. Build the capacity of educators, leaders and instructional teams to put the ISTE Standards into practice by facilitating active learning and providing meaningful feedback C. Evaluate the impact of professional learning and continually make improvements in order to meet the schoolwide visions for using technology for high-impact teaching and learning  The first step towards becoming an effective professional learning facilitator is to focus on effective professional learning. What are the best practices in educational technology professional development?   This led me to thinking back on some of my personal experiences and opportunities with professional development. When racking my past opportunities, one specific conference and session stuck out to me as the most inspirational and impactful learning experience; a Minecraft for Education session at NCCE (Northwest Counsil for Computer Education) Conference 2018. I sat, in awe, at two primary teachers who travel with their students around the United States to teach educators about the powerful learning that can take place with Minecraft for Education. While I thoroughly enjoyed every single session I attended during the 3 day conference, this one has stuck with me and I continually find myself dreaming of having the chance to implement Minecraft for Education with my students. Don’t get me wrong, the content was superb… but there were more aspects to this professional development that helped It remain impactful. The entire time I was fully engaged; we collaborated with peers, had the opportunity to talk to the students about their experiences, and had prompts to help us with questioning to have a deeper understanding of the program. The presenters also made the content feel immediately accessible by showing multiple ways to adapt and implement for different subjects, grade levels, and levels of knowledge of the program. I left motivated, informed, and ready to start the learning with my students (if that were to be possible… our technology was not compatible at that time). This session was focused, kept me engaged through collaboration and activities, offered expert support and adaptability, and gave us time to reflect and brainstorm lesson ideas of our own.   It was quite easy for me to think of a great professional development, but I came to realize that I could not think of the worst or least impactful professional development I have attended… which through more reflection makes sense. I can’t remember poor examples because I did not retain the information! However, I can think of a few general feelings I have had during professional developments that did not work for me. Having learning that is not adaptable for my position or my students, not having time to collaborate and work through my new knowledge with peers, and not having the opportunity to plan based on the content I just learned.  While these are instances of my own experiences, I wanted to find what research says about planning effective and impactful professional development surrounding educational technology.  What are the main components of planning impactful professional development that utilizes educational technology?  I began my research with an report published by the Learning Policy Institute titled, “Effective Teacher Professional Development”. Authors Darling-Hammond, Hyler and Gardner highlight the main components of effective professional development after completing a review of 35 studies. They begin by stating “we define effective professional development as structured professional learning that results in changes in teacher practices and improvements in student learning outcomes”.   The 7 key elements consisted of:    specific content focus  incorporation of active learning  supportive of collaboration  use of models of effective practice  provides coaching and expert support  offers feedback and reflection  is of a sustained duration  After finding this first source, I saved the info (read their full report here) and continued searching. This brought me to an article written by Vicki Davis, “8 Top Tips for Professional Development”. Davis hits the nail on the head when she states “It’s not enough to teach the right things to your teachers – you have to teach your teachers in the right way.” This could not be more true! Find her full article here.  Davis states her tips for effective PD in these 8 statements:  Use what you are teaching  Develop something that you’ll use right away  Use the lesson and receive feedback  Improve and level up with another lesson  Local responsibility and buy-in  Long-term focus  Good timing  Empower peer collaboration  We can see some of the parallels between Hammond, Hyler and Gardner’s key components with Davis’ tips in one more take on planning impactful professional development:  Janelle Cox took a different approach to the important factors that go into a professional learning experience. Instead of looking at the pieces of the learning experience, she speaks to the skills that a teacher needs to have to be a modern and successful teacher.   Her 15 professional development skills for modern teachers include: adaptability, confidence, communication, being a team player, continuous learning, imagination, leadership, organization, innovation, commitment, ability to manage online reputation, ability to engage, understanding of technology, knowing when to unplug, and having the ability to empower. Read more in depth in her article here.  While this may feel off-topic, it is related to professional learning in a different manner than learning a program, or curriculum. It is the way in which teachers should strive to learn and grow. If our professional development can incorporate the components of effective PD from our first authors, while drawing on the tips derived from Davis, and holding ourselves to developing the skills from Cox, I believe you will have the tools necessary to plan and implement an impactful professional learning experience.   What are other tips, tricks or elements of effective and lasting PD that you have found to help you? What have you tried that was successful during a learning experience you facilitated? Comment below!  References:  Cox, J. (2020, May 14). 15 Professional Development Skills for Modern Teachers. TeachHUB. https://www.teachhub.com/professional-development/2019/11/15-professional-development-skills-for-modern-teachers/  Darling-Hammond, L., Hyler, M. E., Gardner, M. (2017). Effective Teacher Professional Development. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute.  Davis, V. (2015, April 15). 8 Top Tips for Highly Effective PD. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/blog/top-tips-highly-effective-pd-vicki-davis 

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Partnerships to Incorporate 21st Century Learning Skills into the Classroom

I can’t remember a time in my life when school wasn’t something that I was involved in. I went from watching my older sister go to school when I was just a youngin’ and yearning to participate. Then the day came when I began preschool and eventually headed off to elementary school. I always loved going to school! I remember going into middle school and the excitement of having more responsibility and the opportunity to learn in multiple classes, and that only grew as I went into high school. Then came college and as a true education junky, I was called to be a teacher… bringing me right back to the beginning. While my love for continual learning was a constant in my life, so was my questioning. Throughout my educational career I always wondered the one question that most other students can resonate with… “how am I going to use this in the real world?”. Sometimes this question came a little snarkier than others, but often I genuinely was interested in how I would possibly use my experiences in The Oregon Trail simulation once I grew up. Fast forward a decade or two and I am finally finding out some significance to more than the question of how the content I was learning would help me in the future… but to why the methods of how I learned the content would help me in the future.   Nicole Krueger writes in her article, Preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet, “The massive shifts technology and globalization that are expected to transform the workplace have already begun. In many industries and countries, some of the most in-demand jobs didn’t even exist five or 10 years ago – and the pace of change will only accelerate.” So why should we be teaching the exact same things now as we did years and years ago… if it isn’t getting our students ready for jobs that will be in high demand when they are older?   Krueger also references an incredibly insightful TedTalk by Aspen Meineke, on how it’s educators responsibility to spark the imagination of their students. You can watch it here.  Both Meineke and Krueger speak to the importance of HOW content is taught and not only WHAT content is taught. But how can we focus on the how instead of the what? Here is where collaboration and 21st century learning skills come into play.   21st Century Learning Skills:   The Ed Glossary defines 21st century skills as: “a broad set of knowledge, skills, work habits, and character traits that are believed—by educators, school reformers, college professors, employers, and others—to be critically important to success in today’s world, particularly in collegiate programs and contemporary careers and workplaces.” Instead of just teaching our students the “what” content such as mathematics, ELA, science, social studies and other tradition subjects, we need to start infusing our classrooms with these “hows” of learning.   First off, educators cannot remain in a bubble and hope to be launched into the future. Peer coaching and collaboration are key for teachers to get practice with these skills first hand, and to also share their knowledge with peers. This brings me to my research question for this module:   “How can coaches help their learning partners to understand and incorporate 21st century learning skills into their teaching?”  As a newbie to the term “21st century learning skills”, I started my research by searching for examples of what some of these special skills were. This led me to a wealth of knowledge from the group “Battelle for Kids”. They have created a fantastic model that represents 21st century skills.   Each of these overarching aspects to the overall 21st century skills came with a list of skills that fall below them:   Learning and Innovation Skills:  These skills help students to become more fluent at adapting to complex situations and environments. They include:  Creativity and Innovation  Critical Thinking and Problem Solving  Communication  Collaboration  Information, Media, and Technology Skills: These skills assist in the ability of citizens to adapt in a world of constant information, technological, and contribution changes. These “functional and critical thinking skills” include:  Information Literacy  Media Literacy  ICT (Information, Communications, and Technology) Literacy  Life and Career Skills: These skills will help students to work effectively in their future careers. They include social emotional skills along with contextual knowledge. They are:  Flexibility and Adaptability  Initiative and Self-Direction  Social and Cross-Cultural Skills  Productivity and Accountability  You can find more depth information regarding this model here.   While this list gives an incredible insight to some of the skills that can help students be more adaptable and future-ready, it does not all need to be done at once. As Foltos states in his book “Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration”, start small and start positive.   So how can coaches help their learning partners focus on the how of teaching instead of the what? Begin incorporating activities that encourage the acquisition of one of the 4 C’s. Encourage educators to become familiar with the ISTE student standards to help promote the “Information, Media, and Technology Skills”  branch. Become versed in the SEL teachings that encourage the skills that fall under “Life and Career Skills”.   What do you do in your coaching/classroom to promote 21st century skills? What do you do in your own practice to stay fresh with these skills? Comment below!  Resources  21st Century Skills Definition. (2016, August 25). The Glossary of Education Reform. https://www.edglossary.org/21st-century-skills/  Aspen Meineke. (2020, January 9). Help Students Find Their Spark [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCkfprNWV7M&feature=youtu.be  ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (n.d.). ISTE. Retrieved November 5, 2020, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches  Krueger, N. (2019, November 22). Preparing students for jobs that don’t exist. ISTE. https://www.iste.org/explore/ISTE-blog/Preparing-students-for-jobs-that-don%27t-exist  Partnership for 21st Century Learning. (2019). Battelle for Kids. https://www.battelleforkids.org/networks/p21 

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Integrating Technology through the lens of a Learning Designer

In the last research module of this quarter, “Co-Planning 21st Century Learning Activities”, I decided to focus on the idea of integrating technology through a learning designer lens. As I read through my weekly reading of Les Foltos’ book “Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration”, I learned more about the Learning Design Matrix and how coaches had inadvertently achieved the fourth quadrant of integrating technology just by focusing on the other three quadrants. This prompted me to question how coaches can help their learning partners to work through other ways to integrate technology in their classes, purposefully.   What is technology integration?  As I began my research on technology integration, I came across an article “What is Successful Technology Integration” that cited a great definition written by the International Society for Technology in Education of what technology integration is: “Effective integration of technology is achieved when students are able to select technology tools to help them obtain information in a timely manner, analyze and synthesize the information, and present it professionally.”   But how can begin to integrate technology into our classrooms? And how will we reflect on our integration? Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura has created a reflection model intended exactly for this purpose.   This model, named “SAMR” (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) represents the different levels that technology can be integrated into a lesson. This model shows the lowest level of enhancement being substitution and reaches a level of transformation in which technology has breached redefinition of a learning activity.   Here is another model for how educators can begin to understand the necessary knowledge to begin integrating technology. This model known as the TPACK framework (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) shows the need to have technological knowledge, content knowledge, and pedagogical knowledge before you can reach a level of understanding needed for integration of the three.   Designing learning based on technology integration  Now that we have looked at technology integration and some frameworks that help us to reflect on the basic levels of integration, we can look at designing learning based with technology integration.   Throughout my current Graduate program, I have learned about the Six “A”s of Project Design. I believe that a great start to designing learning through a technology integration lens could be to take-a-peek at how technology can help to achieve Steinberg’s the Six “A”s.   Here is a printable version of the Six “A”s along with a Project Examination Tool: HERE.   Let’s go through the different key aspects of the Six “A”s to see how technology can be integrated to achieve the criteria. (Each figure is found from https://newtechnetwork.org/resources/six-pbl-project-design/ and gives prompting questions to guide in the reflection of that aspect of project design).   Thinking of a project you have used or are planning, how can technology help to increase the authenticity of the problem or question? How can students become in the know about the authenticity? Can students reach out to others to see if this is a topic that others in the world value? How can students use technology to create or produce something that is personally valuable or socially valuable?  How can technology substitute or augment the type of engagement or application that students are participating in with this project? Can technology assist in the activation of higher order thinking skills? Can students use technology to assist in relating the content to a separate discipline or subject?  How can technology bring learning outside of the general classroom atmosphere? How can students use technology to assist in their personal organization of information and resources? How can technology help students to develop social emotional skills such as collaboration, problem solving, communication, etc.?   What technology is available to push students into the real-world? How can students interact with technology to reach into the world and push their learning to what is happening around the community or the world? How can technology help students to demonstrate what they are learning?  How can technology help in the gathering of students with experts in the fields surrounding the project? What technology is available to help link students with adults to collaborate on design and assessment?   What technology allows students to self-assess? How can technology be used for students to access and understand clear project criteria? What technology is available for students to present and be assessed both inside and outside the classroom?  There is currently a world of opportunities for technology integration in the classroom… and with each day that passes the number of options grows and grows.   In “Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration”, Les Foltos states, “I remember listening to nationally recognized leaders in the early 1990s telling us that technology was like a steamroller headed down the street, aimed right at educators. Educators had two choices: jump on the steamroller or become part of the pavement. Apparently, they overlooked a third option; educators could step aside. And they did.” It is time for us to choose the option of jumping on the steamroller.   How do you integrate technology into your classroom? What learning design framework have you found useful in the journey of becoming a “techy” classroom?  Resources  ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (n.d.-b). ISTE. Retrieved November 5, 2020, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches  Larson, A. (2016, August 31). The Six “A”s of PBL Project Design. New Tech Network. https://newtechnetwork.org/resources/six-pbl-project-design/  Miller, A. (2011, September 26). Game-Based Learning Units for the Everyday Teacher. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/blog/video-game-model-unit-andrew-miller  Puentedura, R. R. (2014, December 11). SAMR and TPCK: A Hands-On Approach to Classroom Practice [Workshop]. 21C Learning Conference, Wan Chai, Hong Kong.  What Is Successful Technology Integration? (2007, November 6). Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-guide-description 

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Creating Positive Coaching Relationships Based on Collaborating and Communicating

Have you ever heard of the book, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten”? It is a book full of essays on life written by Robert Fulghum. It mentions a few short statements of things you learn in kindergarten that…

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Encouraging Risk-Taking Through Trusting Relationships

This fall kicked off with a new course in my grad program that is focused on the ISTE coaching standards along with a project that is centered on utilizing some of the coaching standards we have been learning about in a practical way in my school building. Moving into the role of a coach has had me thinking about how a coach starts off the process of mentoring and what strategies can help start a peer mentoring relationship be successful.   The 1st ISTE coaching standard is titled “Change Agent”. You can read it below:  I started off by reading a book in coursework titled “Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration” written by Les Foltos. Foltos speaks to the lack of collaboration in the modern-day educational system due to an outdated model that relates schools to a production-line in which students are the products. However, we know that this thinking needs to change. For this to happen, we need to emphasize students working to possess the “Four Cs”: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. We must first start to change the process of planning with educators at the forefront.  Foltos also talks about the power of peer coaching and how through a mentorship, educators can start to reflect on their practices and can move together towards increasing students’ ability to poses the Four Cs. But how do we do this? How can we ask other educators to be raw in their self-reflections and then require them to take the uncomfortable step to make a change? This led me to my research question for this module:   How can a coach create a relationship that encourages risk-taking with their learning partners?  When I began researching this topic, I thought to myself how would I feel if someone came into my classroom and wanted me to change the way that I did something… especially if I didn’t know them very well. And I immediately was irritated at the idea. I would feel that they were criticizing me and would not appreciate it. However, if this was a trusted person, with whom I have a relationship with, I wouldn’t mind at all! This helped me to realize that if I am going to be in a position that is asking educators to make a change in their teaching, that I need to first have a relationship with them.   I found a great article titled Peer Coaching Drives Change, you can read it here. In it, Sterman speaks to the importance of peer coaching to help influence change in a school. She mentions that peer coaching is one of the greatest ways to improve climate and culture in a school, while also giving educators the opportunity to reflect on their teaching and improve student learning. The part that resonated with me the most in this article was how Sterman acknowledges that change is challenging. She writes “change is incredibly difficult, no matter how necessary the transformation or how noble the aspiration”. I could not agree with this more! Sterman then goes on to speak to the idea that “change moves at the speed of trust”. If an educator does not trust the peer coach they are working with, they are not going to be as likely to go through the trouble to make a change in their teaching strategies.   Below you will see “The Building Blocks of Trust”  This image helps to illustrate the ways in which a coach can create a trusting relationship with their mentee. Without having compassion, communication and commitment… you will not be able to build a relationship in which you can focus on collaboration or ability. To me, the most important aspect of a trusting relationship is for your peer to feel cared about, that they can speak honestly, and that you are making a commitment to continue working with them.   Compassion:  In “How Great Coaches Ask, Listen, and Empathize” (read it here) author Ed Batista focuses on how a relationship can begin to form the compassion piece of the puzzle by the coach asking questions that help them to understand the entire story, actively listening to their mentee, and then empathizing and relating to their mentee. These three steps help a coach to show their peer that they are fully engaged and care.   Communication:  Foltos speaks about the importance of norms and creating a space at the beginning of the peer coaching relationship that allows both members to discuss how they will communicate. Norms help both sides to vocalize the expectations that they have for the relationship. Setting communication norms (how you will communicate, how often, about what, etc) establishes a purpose for conversations and ensures that both members are respecting one another’s understanding of the relationship.  Commitment:  Committing to the peer coaching model is also incredibly vital for success. It is quite challenging to achieve a trusting relationship if both members are not committed to the process and the purpose behind the coaching.   A little goes a long way:  Here are a few ways that you can start the process off strong with a new mentee in a peer coaching relationship  Setting up reoccurring meetings (2 times a month, 2 times a week, etc.)  Creating norms for communication (how frequent is appropriate to send messages, will you answer your emails only between a certain set of hours, etc.)  Following through with previously agreed upon items (creating next steps for both members to have ready for the next meeting)  Being present during meetings (no phones, no distractions, active listening)  What ways do you focus on building trusting relationships?  References:  Batista, E. (2015, February 18). How Great Coaches, Ask, Listen, and Empathize. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2015/02/how-great-coaches-ask-listen-and-empathize   Les Foltos. (2013). Peer Coaching : Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Corwin.  Sterman, C. (2018). Peer Coaching Drives Change. NAESP. https://www.naesp.org/principal-supplement-septemberoctober-2018-champion-creatively-alive-children/peer-coaching-drives-c 

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Personalized Support Through Professional Growth Plans

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

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Culturally Responsive Teaching With Social Emotional Learning

This summer I will be focusing on the 3rd Standard of the ISTE Coaching standard sets. This standard is a large one! Coaching relationships, partnering with educators in digital learning content and evaluating, and also personalizing and modeling coaching is all part of this standard focused on collaboration. Here is the full standard: ISTE Coaching Standard 3 Collaborator I chose to start off by researching more about cultural relevance. My school has been completing targeted professional development to help work on the climate and culture of our district. Much of this training is surrounding social emotional learning (SEL). I have greatly enjoyed learning more about the neuroscience behind why SEL is important, along with learning more strategies that I am eager to try out this upcoming year. One piece that I would love to prioritize with my SEL teaching is the huge amount of overlap between social emotional learning and culturally responsive teaching and learning. Due to this, I chose to focus my research and learning on this guiding question:  How is culturally responsive teaching and learning linked with social emotional learning, and what can educators do to focus on this connection to begin the school year? I chose this question because with the school closures at the end of the year, educators worldwide have become more and more aware of all of the potential traumas that students will be coming back to school having experienced. Whether it be civil rights related, health related, or food-insecurity related, our students will be in need of focused SEL instruction. However, the more research I did on this topic, the more I came to understand that we cannot be fully engaging our students in that instruction if we are not also paying attention to culturally responsive teaching.  The first article that I spent time delving into was titled “Making SEL Culturally Competent”. Authors Seider and Graves speak to the importance of students not only learning about strategies such as growth mindset to help increase resilience, but also to gain critical consciousness as a way to demonstrate higher levels of resiliency in historically marginalized youth. They go on to offer a framework focused on “the Three I’s”; interpersonal, institutional, and internalized in nature. The last two aspects of culturally responsive teaching highlighted in this article are to “Look for real-world change” and “challenge injustices”.  The Three I’s: In a 9th grade classroom, students learn about the differences between interpersonal, institutional, and internalized “isms” (for example, teaching about microaggressions) and then they collaborate to identify forms of potential oppression in their schools/neighborhoods/communities. Look For Real World Change: By having students connect their learning to actual injustices that are being faced, they can have a sense of social justice and come to learn that they have the power to make real change. For example, a class learning about colonization in the Americas extended their learning to current day by writing letters about their thoughts on Puerto Rico and their relationship with the US.  Challenge Injustice: Students learn about injustices and the power that they have to be able to address and fix injustices. A class of high schoolers worked together to challenge outdated policies in their student handbook that they felt were not fair. They brainstormed, they put together new proposals, and they worked through potential implementation issues.  While having students understand the great potential for resiliency and determination when shifting your mindset to one focused on growth, it is still vital for students to also understand critical consciousness.   So what should we do now? Early Childhood:  Increase the diversity of books that you have in your classroom. We Need Diverse Books is a fantastic resource for educators (and parents) to learn more about adding diverse books into schools. You can find some great articles from them here. Also, here is an amazing instagram account @diversereads created by a teacher who posts some amazing book ideas for all ages Increase the amount of opportunities students can “see themselves” in your classroom. Whether this is by increasing the diversity of music you play, the languages in which you welcome the class, or the types of designs or posters you have in your room. The key is to have student be able to relate to your class There is a great article from edutopia titled “Culturally Responsive Teaching in Early Childhood Education” that has some awesome ideas! K-12: Become aware of cultural differences in greeting and interaction, teach these differences along with acknowledging the merit and correctness of them, along with ones that are are considered appropriate in your classroom Survey students/families on their traditions and educate yourself about those traditions Dr. Anne Snyder and Claire Cook speak to the importance of not only teaching one social skill or strategy as the only “correct” method while working through SEL instruction. They bring up the idea that educators often model a strong handshake and eye contact as the correct way to say hello or greet someone. While this is a great way to greet some students, other students may have cultural differences that this method contradicts. Read more about their thinking in their article, “Culturally Responsive Social and Emotional Learning”. Intermediate:  Teach students that questioning policies that seem to not include, or put-down, certain groups of students is alright. Make sure to create a safe place for students to do this Encourage students to search for things to empower them and demonstrate their power to create positive change Allow for time and space for students to share about themselves in class (culture projects, family presentations, etc.) What do you do in your classrooms to encourage students to gain critical consciousness? What culturally responsive teaching and learning have you witnessed or tried? I would love to hear in the comments! References Armstrong, A. (2020, June 25). Culturally Responsive Teaching in Early Childhood Education. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/culturally-responsive-teaching-early-childhood-education B, C. (2019, November 16). The 2020 Ultimate List of Diverse Children’s Books. Here Wee Read. http://hereweeread.com/2019/11/the-2020-ultimate-list-of-diverse-childrens-books.html ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (2020). ISTE. https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches Seider, S. (2020, January 9). Making SEL Culturally Competent. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/making-sel-culturally-competent Snyder, A., & Cook, C. (2018, November 9). Culturally Responsive Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Medium. https://medium.com/inspired-ideas-prek-12/culturally-responsive-social-and-emotional-learning-be7fb6e3d58d

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Student Ownership With Rubrics

My most recent area of focus has been on learning about ISTE Educator Standard 6 – Facilitator. I have always been eager to find ways to encourage students to take ownership of their learning. It is so important for students to understand that their education, quite honestly, is in their hands. And while educators are there to help support, and guide, students self-motivation and determination can help boost them to an entirely new level of success. So when I was reading through “Facilitator” I was excited to see the focus on not only that concept, but also about challenging students to use creativity and innovation to solve problems and communicate knowledge.  Thinking of this standard, I was hoping to find a way for students to incorporate all of these things into one routine or process. This led me to my guiding question.  What digital tools can allow students to self-assess and track mastery of the ISTE Student Standards? In previous inquiries, I have looked into students having the ability to use their own creative process to demonstrate their understanding of concepts. My original goal was to try and find a platform that would enable students to have a visual checklist of sorts that showed the ISTE Student Standards with criteria to represent mastery. I then would utilize it for students to self-assess their skill level for each standard and have the opportunity to “check off” the standards that they have met, while being self-aware of the standards that they still needed to focus on.  After searching for a while, I didn’t find a specific platform that would allow for this process. However, it wasn’t necessarily the platform that I was after, but the process of self-assessing and coming up with a unique experience for students to demonstrate their competencies. I figured that the best way for students to do this, was to use rubrics.  “How Do Rubrics Help?“ “Rubrics are great for students: they let students know what is expected of them, and demystify grades by clearly stating, in age-appropriate vocabulary, the expectations for a project. They also help students see that learning is about gaining specific skills (both in academic subjects and in problem-solving and life skills), and they give students the opportunity to do self-assessment to reflect on the learning process.” Edutopia defines a rubric as “multidimensional sets of scoring guidelines that can be used to provide consistency in evaluating student work”. A rubric gives a set of criteria to match a skill set to a level of understanding. Rubrics can be not only used for teachers to grade students, but for students to better understand success criteria.  In today’s education world, students have more and more opportunity to demonstrate their understanding through endless mediums. While rubrics have been around for a long time as a way for teachers to grade students’ understanding or demonstration of skills, they don’t have to stay in the hands of the teachers. Using rubrics for students to self-assess, or allowing students to create a rubric for themselves can be an empowering way for students to not only take ownership of their learning, but also for them to deepen their conceptual understanding of topics.  #1: iRubric Student login Pros: Students have 3 options for rubrics… to build a new rubric from an idea, to edit an existing rubric, or to make a copy of an existing rubric and repurpose. Cons: The process to create an account has a lot of information to enter including first and last name, their state and zip code, and two challenge questions that you have to enter personal information for. I was able to create a generic account using “Studentonetwo” and other random information, however I would be uncomfortable having my students use this site and enter all that information in.  Teacher login Pros: You are able to search pre-existing rubrics made from other educators. For example, I found many ISTE standard rubrics that have already been created for immediate use!  I could see myself using iRubric to create a rubric for students and have them self assess on paper. However, I am looking for something that would enable students to display their “toolbox of skills” in an easy layout to immediately identify ones they have mastered versus ones to work on. iRubric is slightly challenging to navigate and I would be uncomfortable having my students create their own rubrics using it.  #2: Rubistar Without logging in, you can search for pre-made rubrics. However, I didn’t find rubrics specifically for ISTE standards when I was searching. The feature for creating a new rubric also continued to have an error code pop-up. While you may have luck searching the database, it might not be worth it due to the exorbitant amount of ads.  #3: Teach-nology Of the first three rubric creators I found, teach-nology allowed for me to create a rubric without having to create an account. While it was fairly basic and not entirely editable, it was easy to entire criteria in, and quite fast! A drawback for student usage would be the amount of ads. There are MANY ads. But for a teacher to create a rubric for students to use, this is a great place to start.  #4: Google Classroom Rubric Creator If you implement a Google Classroom, their rubric creator is an easy way to create a new rubric, reuse a previously created rubric, or import a template from Google Sheets, for a posted assignment. While this is extremely convenient and works effortlessly within the Google platform, it does not allow for students to work through the process of creating a rubric for their assignment, which was my main intention.  Mindset Shift As I researched ways for my students to display their mastered skills, I didn’t necessarily find an exact solution. I did find some great rubric resources for my students to be able to use to create rubrics and work through the process of thinking about their learning. But looking back to the original standard, 6c states “Create learning opportunities that challenge students to use a design process and computational thinking to innovate and solve problems.” So while I have found some great rubric creators, and I plan to use them at the beginning of the process to help demonstrate and scaffold, I am comfortable with students choosing the method in which they want to create their rubrics.  How do you help promote student ownership in your classrooms? I’d love to hear from you! References Create or reuse a rubric for an assignment – Computer – Classroom Help. (n.d.). Retrieved May 24, 2020, from https://support.google.com/edu/classroom/answer/9335069 Lane, M. (2018, May 14). 10 Data Tracking Apps You Can Use In Your Class Tomorrow. Retrieved May 20, 2020, from https://www.gpb.org/blogs/education-matters/2016/12/13/10-data-tracking-apps-you-can-use-your-class-tomorrow Murray, J. (n.d.). Technology in the Classroom Tools to Create Rubrics. Retrieved May 20, 2020, from https://www.teachhub.com/technology-classroom-tools-create-rubrics Person. (2008, July 15). How Do Rubrics Help? Retrieved May 20, 2020, from https://www.edutopia.org/assessment-guide-rubrics Rubric Maker – Where to Create Free Rubrics Online. (2018, April 30). Retrieved from https://www.pbisrewards.com/blog/free-online-rubric-maker/ Schrock, K. (n.d.). Assessment and Rubrics. Retrieved May 20, 2020, from https://www.schrockguide.net/assessment-and-rubrics.html

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