Flipping Out

The Flipped Classroom is not a new idea; however, it is new for me.  As a High School ELA teacher, and not a lecturer by nature, this format seemed challenging before I began to read about how other teachers are … Continue reading

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Chasing Rabbits on VoiceThread

We’ve all had it happen – a class discussion gets thrown way off schedule by a “rabbit trail” – an unexpected path for a conversation that leads somewhere other than we wanted (or even needed) the conversation to go. This is obviously a problem in live, in-person courses. However, I don’t think it is necessarily…

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How can online discussion forums inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world?

Besides being a Spanish language teacher, for the last three years I have hosted and co-coached a VEX Robotics team. Every time I learn a new ISTE standard, I think of how VEX Robotics exemplifies that standard. ISTE Standard for Educators 3 addresses how “Educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in […]

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Tech Tools & Digital Citizenship

Do the most commonly recommended k-12 student learning focused technology tools include built in capabilities that promote responsible digital use and citizenship? “The crisis caused by COVID-19 has facilitated the creation of alternative and varied environments to search for information, consume content, and create and share content, as well as

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The Mind’s Playground

  I would consider myself a creative person, at least in my head. I can conjure up some great stuff in

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Can a hybrid approach to teaching and learning organically foster digital citizenship?

As has been noted by many educators at this point in the pandemic, it seems likely that the massive shifts to online teaching/learning that have taken place in the last year have permanently altered attitudes towards, and usage of, educational technology.  Though most teachers, students, and families will be eager to return to the physical …

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Lost in content

Today social media increasingly prosperous. Whether it is business operations or personal interests, it has used widely used. People can freely share their thoughts or creations on these platforms through images, videos, and text. As an educator, we also adopt this model and think about how can its encourage student learning. ‘Everyone also knows social […]

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10 Things I’d Do As a Digital Learning Coach

My Big Takeaways From DEL As my Masters in Digital Education Leadership program comes to a close, I have spent a significant amount of time reflecting on what I’ve learned and how much I’ve grown. Coaching is a dynamic job requiring one to be knowledgeable, flexible, and relatable. It’s hard to narrow down the essential elements of being a Digital Learning Coach because they have many roles and responsibilities. Below are my 10 big takeaways from my time in the DEL program; lessons that I know will impact my future as an educator. 1. Relationships are Key  Coaches won’t make an impact if they don’t first develop a trusting relationship with the teacher. So start slow. Get to know each other, ask questions, listen, and smile often. Have chocolate handy and remember that teaching is personal. Educators pour so much of their soul into their craft that being vulnerable is hard. So as a coach take the time to develop trust and think carefully about how you can encourage, empower, and support the teachers you work with.  2. Coaching Roles  Coaches have more roles to be than just “the expert”. In fact, my master’s program continually highlighted how much I didn’t know. Coaches don’t have to be an expert, but they should be skilled communicators who are experienced at lesson design, best practices, and tech integration and are able to interweave all of these components when helping teachers design curriculum and assessment (Mraz et al., 2016). Coaches should be able to facilitate professional learning or one-on-one meetings when working through a coaching cycle. They spend a large amount of time collaborating with teachers helping them plan, implement, and evaluate activities (Foltos, 2013). But I think most importantly, coaches are change agents. They help teachers reflect on and improve their practice and encourage them to try new things.  3. Communication Skills Needed While most coaches are effective communicators there are certain skills that take intentionality and practice, such as setting norms, active listening, paraphrasing, and asking probing questions. One big take away for me was recognizing that I need to spend a lot more time asking questions and listening than talking. A coach’s goal should be to help teachers build capacity to make their own instructional decisions. If coaches acted as the expert with all the answers, teachers would shy away from sharing their thoughts and would become over-dependent on the coach to come up with solutions.  4. Technology Should Not Be the Focus  The focus should be on pedagogy, content, and student learning. After the learning activity is created THEN the teacher and/or students can help choose the technology that will best help them accomplish the task. “Too often, teachers still plan their lessons around technology instead of putting learning first” (Foltos, 2013, p. 136). Annie Tremonte, a digital learning coach in Renton, Washington uses this analogy when working with teachers to highlight how we can become overly focused on technology: “No one ever said ‘Wow, Elmer’s glue is amazing. How can I design a whole lesson just around Elmer’s glue?’ Yet oftentimes we start with the technology we want to use and try to build a lesson around that. Why?” Coaches can help teachers focus first on student learning, and then choose the technology that helps students achieve those goals. 5. Be a Life-Long Learner Coaches need to work hard to stay current with innovative practices. They continually take the time to research, contribute to online professional learning communities (PLCs), curate resources for teachers, and tinker with new technology.  6. Twitter!  I didn’t realize what I had been missing out on. Twitter is a fantastic source for educators to follow emerging technologies and best practices. You can curate resources and network with other teachers around the world. Twitter is also a great way to advertise the cool things that teachers are doing at your school. Learn more about how to use Twitter as a PLC in Cory Cumming’s blog.  7. How to Rock PD Teachers want professional learning that is relevant, interactive, teacher-led, and sustained over time (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2014). During my graduate studies I learned more about adult learning theories and discovered different ways to make professional learning engaging and personalized. I can’t to host an EdCamp, organize inquiry-based PD, or try out some microcredentials myself.  8. Technology Procurement  Acquiring new technologies is exciting, but should be done thoughtfully and responsibly. There are a lot of items to consider when shopping for new tech (check out my blog post to read more). Take the time to research, involve various stakeholders in the discussion, consider student demographics, and pilot new tech. You won’t regret it.  9. Equity Matters  One of my goals as a teacher or Technology Coach is to fight for every student’s right to an equitable learning experience. During my graduate studies, I became aware of the digital divide in our nation and in the world at large. As the divide grows, it feeds new forms of digital discrimination. Think of the advantage some students will have if only the wealthy school districts can purchase one-to-one devices and state-of-the-art tech. But it is not just owning devices that will fix the problem. As digital education leaders, we need to push curriculum developers to design tools and content that fit the needs of all diverse learners. 10. It Takes a Village Resources Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (2014, December). Teachers Know Best: Teachers’ Views on Professional Development. Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5W5P9bQJ6q0SUlzb19fX0lpaXM/view Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching : Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Corwin. Mraz,  M., Salas, S., Mercado, L., & Dikotla, M. (2016). Teaching Better, Together: Literacy Coaching as Collaborative Professional Development. English Teaching Forum, Vol. 54 n4, p24-31. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1123196 

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Tech and Formative Assessment in Co-Taught Classrooms

Formative assessment is an essential part of effective instruction in many classrooms. It occurs when teachers and students use assessments to make decisions about lessons and student learning. This can be an important for a whole class and to differentiate instruction for individual students or groups. This is important because,

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