While last semester of SPU’s Digital Education Leadership master’s program focused on ISTE standards for students, this semester has examined ISTE standards for teachers. So far, we have looked at standard one, to facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity, and standard two, to design and develop digital age learning and assessments. Naturally, these two standards fit together as the first asks educators to consider the learning experience and the other focuses on the assessment process. This connection allowed me to fully rethink how I teach an area of instruction, from its inception to its conclusion. Subsequently, I choose to focus on how to redefine the writing process using digital tools. The questions that I chose to explore for each standard, listed below, gave me a starting point. However, as you will read in the reflection, my research lead me to various conclusions.
Standard 1 Question: How can I revamp the standard essay writing process to foster creativity and utilize technology tools?
Standard 2 Question: What digital tools or digital experiences are available that allow students to collaborate on the writing process, specifically those that can easily be monitored and assessed by the teacher?
Digital Tools to Redefine the Writing Process
My first considerations when looking for quality digital tools are to find those which are easy to use and are simple to implement immediately, with little set-up or training necessary. I also tend to choose tools that are cloud-based so they can be used on any device, or those which are compatible with Chromebooks as I am at a Google-school. With that said, the following tools meet these qualifications and address the two parts of the writing process that I personally don’t always teach effectively, brainstorming and publishing.
I recently asked students to create a timeline of pertinent events from their life as a way to brainstorm for a narrative essay. In the past, I had students create this timeline on paper but figured that there was likely a more engaging and valuable option for completing this task–I was right! In looking for digital timeline tools, I found a lot of different options, but found that HSTRY and Read Write Think Timeline seemed the most appropriate for education. Both allow students to incorporate media and offer various organizational ideas, totally revamping the traditional timeline.
Additionally, my master’s program has turned me on to mind-maps as a way to organize ideas. We use Coggle to reflect on each module, which is great as it incorporates pictures, media, and is very visually appealing. Below is the Coggle mind map I made based on ISTE standard one as an example.
I also recently equipped my Google Docs with the Mindmeister add on. This is another great tool that allows students to create a mind map out of an outline. What I like about this is that it would be a good way to teach the outlining process, which I know I sometimes overlook! Below is a Google Doc displaying a sample, based on a few points we covered regarding ISTE standard 2.
Additionally, I explored tools for creating citations and bibliographies withing Google Documents. The best tool I found was the Paperpile extension, which allows for users to easily embed both parenthetical citations and a works cited section. I also tried out EasyBib, which was equally easy-to-use but was a bit more limited on what all it offered.
Reconsidering Assessments to Increase Educational Value & Relevance
My Collaborative Project
The big project for my master’s program this semester is a global collaborative project. These types of projects ask that educators “flatten their classroom walls” to collaborate with individuals outside of the classroom. I have been exploring various global projects and have found some really awesome ideas out there, such as. However, I have also learned that the last month of the school year is not the time to start this type of project as it requires a lot of planning! In consideration of time restraints, I am trying out a mini-collaborative project this year, where I will have my ninth grade English class work through the writing process with a sixth grade language arts class within my district. Specifically, these students will work together to edit each other’s papers and I will collaborate with the other teacher on strategies for teaching narrative writing. While I’d love to try some “bigger” projects in the future, starting small is a good way to step into this cool idea to take make learning more relevant, valuable, and collaborative.