Evaluating the Impact of Educational Technology

For the last couple of weeks, we have focused on ISTE Standard 5c: evaluate the impact of professional learning and continually make improvements in order […]

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Feedback and Professional Learning

Feedback – a word that can bring up a whirlwind of emotions at its mention. It’s in our human nature to want to know how […]

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My Introduction to Adult Learning

When you’re a teacher one of the most important factors to consider in the practice is your learners. What is best for them? How can […]

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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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Going to the Basics – Program Evaluation

As I am preparing myself to create and implement my first program evaluation, one of the first steps I have taken is to search into […]

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Working With Teachers

In this module of my graduate course we have been focusing on the roles communication and collaboration skills play in successful coaching. Looking at this […]

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Tools for Analyzing Formative Assessments

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

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Using Virtual Realities to Individualize Learning

It’s the year 2020. As a child, I imagined this year being full of technological wonders such as flying cars and Star Trek level space […]

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Module 5 Reflection: Professional Growth and Leadership

Reflection Overview Each year my school district asks graduating seniors to reflect on three questions: who am I, where am I going, and how will I get there?  Since I graduated from the district in which I am now employed, I too have been asked to answer these questions both as a student and as […]

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