Workshop Proposal: Giving Quiet Students a Voice with Social Tools

Rationale

Every classroom has them.  Students with great ideas who are just too shy to speak out, while a few dominate the conversation.  Give those students a voice in your classroom with technology tools that let them be heard.  In this workshop, on giving quiet students a voice with digital tools, you will learn about and how to use several different types of forums, polls and interactive assignment tools to increase participation and get those students into class discussions.  Use these tools as pre-cursors to classroom discussions to spark the flow of ideas and empower all students in your class!  This workshop also addresses tips for selecting, evaluating, and managing digital tools so you can feel confident that you are using the best tool for the task!  

This workshop seeks to address the following essential questions:

  1. How can I encourage quiet students to engage in class discussions and activities?
  2. How can I balance class discussions and activities so that more students are participating?
  3. How can I select, evaluate, and manage digital tools?

Workshop Structure

This workshop is best suited for a 90 minute session to allow time for collaboration and for individuals to experiment with the tools. It could easily be shortened, by only covering the presentation (or parts of the presentation), or lengthened, by giving more work time afterwards.  An approximate breakdown of the session is as follows:

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 1.56.26 PM

One point to highlight about this workshop is it’s collaborative learning element.  Creating a collaborative space is essential to experimenting with and troubleshooting digital tools.  As the workshop facilitator, I intend to keep the presentation short to allow time for participants to explore tools in teams and to provide opportunities for trial and error so they are more confident to use the digital tools on their own.  If possible, it would be beneficial to incorporate a flipped learning element where the participants could come prepared with a lesson or learning activity they would like to apply their new learning to.  To foster a collaborative environment, I have created activities on Padlet and Answer Garden which asks participants to reflect on their teaching and share digital tools and ideas relating to the topic.  Additionally, the presentation includes a think-pair-share activity to promote collaborative relationships during the workshop.

Presentation Materials

During the workshop I will share the giving quiet students a voice presentation, included below.  Participants will need computers, tablets, or phones with internet access so they can actively participate with the presentation.  I will need access to a projector, with either a laptop hookup or a designated computer attached that I can use to access the presentation.  If the technology does not come through, the workshop could easily be adapted to focus on discussing the essential questions and planning lessons or brainstorming ways to incorporate digital tools that promote engagement in discussion.

Content Knowledge Needs

The digital tools covered in this workshop can be used in just about any learning environment, regardless of age range or subject. That being the case, the specific student learning standards addressed may vary by task or subject.  However, this workshop topic most holistically addresses Common Core State Standards in English/language arts relating to speaking and listening. By twelfth grade, students are expected to prepare for, participate in, respond to, and evaluate discussions.  Taking advantage of digital tools that increase student engagement directly addresses this standard.

This workshop is also intended to address standards six and seven of the newly released 2016 ISTE Standards for Students.  Standard six requires that students communicate clearly and express themselves creativity through appropriate digital media.  Standard seven asks that students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning through collaboration.  As already noted, the digital tools featured in this workshop encourage wide participation in discussions and learning opportunities.

Teacher Needs Addressed

This workshop addresses several accessibility needs, including:

  • Rather than having the presentation simply displayed on a screen at the front of the room, participants will also have access to the presentation from their personal devices by using Pear Deck.
  • Participants can access the presentation using a shortened link available on the introductory screen.  They may choose to access it this way if they would prefer it to Pear Deck.
  • Using Pear Deck I can share notes from the presentation with participants once it is finished.  This way, participants can access the information for later reference.
  • The introductory video includes closed captioning for participants with hearing disabilities.
  • The location of the workshop will be accessible to all, regardless of disabilities.  
  • The digital tools highlighted in the presentation were selected because they were all free, available on any device, and easy to use.  They are also all applicable to any subject or age range. They are all web based, so students would need internet access to access the tools at home.

Workshop Proposal

The main points of the workshop are addressed in this post.  The full workshop proposal is included below.

Empowering Teachers to Create Effective Learning Environments

Overview

In my studies for my digital education leadership master’s program, I have frequently been reminded that effective teaching strategies are not dependent on the learners or the environment.  Specifically, many great teaching ideas I come across for my ninth grade classroom are just as relevant to a group of teachers learning about technology.  This realization has been especially apparent I as have been studying ISTE Coaching Standard 3 (Performance indicators e and g), outlined below.

ISTE Coaching Standard 3 – Digital age learning environments: Technology coaches create and support effective digital age learning environments to maximize the learning of all students.
E – Troubleshoot basic software, hardware, and connectivity problems common in digital learning environments
G – Use digital communication and collaboration tools to communicate locally and globally with students, parents, peers, and the larger community

These performance indicators call for technology coaches to help educators create effective digital learning environments.  To do so, classroom teachers must feel confident enough with digital tools that they can use them independently in their classrooms.  I initially responded to this standard as I normally do, thinking the solution was as simple as just showing teachers some cool digital tools and assuming that alone would be enough for them join the digital learning bandwagon.  With this in mind, I started my research by exploring the question: how can digital video, audio, and social media be used in professional development (PD) in hopes of modeling these platforms so educators can use them comfortably on their own?  However, I soon realized that the second part of this question, getting teachers to use digital tools comfortably on their own, was the essential point to address.

To create such an environment, technology coaches must first consider the end objective, to help educators feel motivated and empowered to embrace educational technology.  Coaches must also consider their learners who are teachers that may or may not embrace technology. With this in mind, coaches can work to create PD opportunities using the effective teaching methods educators rely on in their classrooms. If successful, coaches can empower teachers to confidently explore and implement digital learning tools independently.

Teachers as Students

Teaching teachers is scary.  Anyone who has had the opportunity to lead professional development for educators likely knows this to be true–if you disagree, please tell me your secrets!  Many educators, myself included, can’t help but judge “teachers of teachers” on their presentation methods, learning activities, and management strategies. How can we not when our own careers revolve around creating killer lessons and learning opportunities?  If we assume that most teachers get hung up on the delivery of professional development, it becomes clear that teachers of teachers must consider effective teaching practices used in the classroom when creating PD. When teachers are students, they expect to be engaged and leave motivated.  To help foster this, some questions to consider when before developing PD opportunities might include:

9d20aa0c-8bcc-43d2-bcde-36ee17361f4c (3)

Know your Learners

Professional development opportunities require a lot of forethought in order to be successful.  In the planning stage, it is vital to think think about the unique needs of your learners.  In any given PD session, the learners are not simply educators, but rather a diverse group of people with varying learning preferences and needs. Some may require accommodations to access the material, some may have significantly more prior knowledge of the content than others, some may be unmotivated to learn, and so on.  When providing PD, I have noticed a few common trends in participants which appear to hold some back from embracing new learning.  Below, I outline these trends and provide possible suggestions to address each.  While applicable to any learning environment, the trends and suggestions specifically consider learners participating in technology PD.

67baed45-85dd-459a-aa1a-bfa572abd800

Combatting the “Curse of Knowledge”

Technology coaches, among others who lead PD for teachers, are typically current or former teachers who have demonstrated exceptional confidence with using digital tools effectively for learning. These coaches, who often have a wealth of resources to share and enthusiasm to boot, also commonly share one potential fatal flaw, the curse of knowledge.  “The curse of knowledge”, as described by Christopher Reddy in Edutopia’s article “The Teacher Curse No One Wants to Talk About”, is the phenomena that occurs in educators when they have such a strong base of content knowledge that they overlook the difficult and time consuming process it takes to acquire this knowledge.  Reddy explains that educators, “do not remember what it is like to not know what they are trying to teach” and therefore “cannot relive the difficult and lengthy process that learning [the] content originally took” (2015).  In creating technology PD, coaches must consider how the curse of knowledge might be negatively impacting the participants. Does the coach meet the learners at their level and build them up, or is the learning process overwhelming the learners? To address the curse of knowledge, Reddy offers several thinking points which are outlined in the Coggle mind map below.  While these points relate to teaching in a K-12 classroom, they are applicable to any learning situation. 


 

Future Questions

  1. For this module I had intended look at methods to empower educators to use video, audio, and social media in the classroom by using these tools in professional development.  In my research, I came across several resources (included below) on the topic.  I ended up shifting my focus a bit and would like to look back at my guiding question and address it more fully in the future.
  2. I ended up reflecting professional development as a whole rather than just on technology PD.  I think that most of my resolution is relevant to technology PD, but wonder what other points technology coaches should consider when creating PD opportunities.  

Resources

Arora, D. (2014, June 25). How to Use Social Media for Professional Development. Retrieved August 18, 2016, from http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/how-use-social-media-professional-development

Davis, M. (2013, February 26). Social Media for Teachers: Guides, Resources, and Ideas. Retrieved August 18, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/social-media-resources-educators-matt-davis

How to Encourage and Model Global Citizenship in the Classroom. (2016, July 19). Retrieved August 18, 2016, from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/global_learning/2016/07/how_to_encourage_and_model_global_citizenship_in_the_classroom.html

Raths, D. (2015, June 17). 6 Ways Videoconferencing Is Expanding the Classroom — THE Journal. Retrieved August 18, 2016, from https://thejournal.com/articles/2015/06/17/6-ways-videoconferencing-is-expanding-the-classroom.aspx

Reddy, C. (2015, December 18). The Teacher Curse No One Wants to Talk About. Retrieved August 18, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/the-curse-of-knowledge-chris-reddy

Frameworks for Selecting, Evaluating, and Managing Digital Tools

Overview

The Association for Educational Communications and Technologies defines educational technology as “[…] the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources (Januszewski et al. 2008).  While mostly straightforward, this definition begs the question of what processes and resources are deemed “appropriate”, who determines them as such, and what is the process for doing so?  The “who” seems easy enough–according to ISTE coaching standard 3 it is the role of the technology coach to “select, evaluate, and facilitate the use of adaptive and assistive technologies to support student learning”.  Additionally, coaches should create collaborative spaces for teachers and administrators to select and evaluate digital tools and resources (2016). So, if it is the role of the technology coach to facilitate tool selection, how is this done?  

The “how” was much more tricky to answer. I know that technology coaches in my district share digital tools amongst one another and with staff, but I don’t know that there is much of a process besides, “I found this cool, maybe you would too?”  I’m sure many educators have come up with mental checklists for what they do and don’t want in a tool, but I have never been in a scenario where that was openly discussed.  In considering this, I choose to explore the question “What frameworks and tools are available to educators to select and evaluate digital tools?”  My ultimate intention is to start a conversation within my district on our process for selecting and evaluating tools.  To support this, I have compiled some of the main points I have come across in hopes of creating a foundation to start this conversation.

Selecting

In the rapidly growing atmosphere of digital learning, it can be extremely difficult to know where to begin when looking for a digital tool.  As is outlined in my Coggle mind map, one great place to start may be a website, such as the EdSurge Product Index or Common Sense Education.  These sites offer reviews of digital tools by educators and allow users to sort the tools based on subject, standard, platform, and cost, among several other factors.  With or without a specific tool in mind, a few ideas to consider are to…

  • Start with the end in mind.  What standards are you hoping to address?  What do you want the learners to produce?  Does the tool help you reach the intended outcome for the lesson or activity?
  • Ensure all learners have access to the technology. Do all students have access to devices?  What tools work well on those devices?  Will students need access to the internet at school?  At home?
  • Check your district’s technology policies.  What tools are aligned with your districts’ policies?  Does your district already subscribe to tools perform the given task?  Are there restrictions on which tools you can use?
  • Keep in mind learners that need accommodations and modifications. What digital tools will help you better address students who need accommodations and modifications?  Will the tool be valuable for these learners, or will it present new challenges?
  • Make a Checklist. While you may have heard about a really cool tool on social media or from a colleague, don’t forget that you need to choose one that works for you.  It is all too easy to try to force use of a tool because it is exciting, only to realize later that it was not appropriate for the task at hand.  It may be useful to make a checklist of the first factors you need to consider when looking for digital tools to help maintain focus.

My “checklist” is included below, which is from my recent blog post on selecting and evaluating digital tools.

cf70c935-183d-47a1-9c7b-aa37699d2a0c (2)

Evaluating

In addition to helping you find great digital tools, sites like the EdSurge Product Index or Common Sense Education provide extensive ratings and reviews and have therefore done a lot of the evaluating for you.  If their rating system is compatible with yours, you may be ready to experiment with the tool.  For a more individualized tool evaluation system, LearnTrials, an educational technology management system, is an AWESOME resource.   This site allows users to create a library of the digital tools, approve or deny tools for use, write reviews and ratings, explore new tools, and collaborate with other educators.  I see this as a great fit in my district as it could create a platform for teachers to keep the tools they use organized and share them with one another.

Another possibility for evaluating digital tools is to use a rubric or checklist. One of the best rubrics I have come across is the one below, based off of the SAMR model and created by Andover Public Schools Digital Learning Office.  I don’t know how realistic it is to assume that individual teachers would consult a rubric each time they looked at a new tool, but it could provide a good frame of reference.  Rather, a rubric may be more appropriate for a committee to use when making a group decision on whether or not a adopt a new tool.

Future Questions

  1. I am eager to learn more about the tool selection process in my district.  Has a rubric or evaluation process already been put into place?  Who is involved in the tool selection process for the major tools we use, such as our online gradebook or our learning management systems.  How often do these tools come under review?
  2. How can I compile my findings on evaluating digital tools into a resource for educators that is easy-to-use?  Would a rubric be sufficent?  Would simply sharing online resources be enough?  Is it better to give a few options for tool selection and evaluation, or stick with one framework?

Resources

ISTE Standards for Coaches. (n.d.). Retrieved August 03, 2016, from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

Januszewski, A., & Molenda, M. (2008). Educational technology: A definition with commentary. New York, NY: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Johnson, K. (2016, March 15). Resources to Help You Choose the Digital Tools Your Classroom Needs (EdSurge News). Retrieved August 03, 2016, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-03-15-resources-to-help-you-choose-the-digital-tools-your-classroom-needs

Teachers Know Best: What educators want from digital instructional tools. (2014). Retrieved August 3, 2016, from http://k12education.gatesfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Teachers-Know-Best_0.pdf

Technology Integration Rubrics – Andover Public Schools Digital Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved August 03, 2016, from https://sites.google.com/a/k12.andoverma.us/aps-digital-learning/technology-integration-rubrics

Zielezinski, M. B. (2016, June 25). What 7 Factors Should Educators Consider When Choosing Digital Tools for Underserved Students? (EdSurge News). Retrieved August 03, 2016, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-06-25-what-7-factors-should-educators-consider-when-choosing-digital-tools-for-underserved-students

Selecting and Evaluating Digital Tools

Overview

When selecting digital tools to use in the classroom I often run into the same few issues:

  1. I get caught up exploring a tool I think is “cool” and lose sight of the objective, often trying to force use of a tool that isn’t the best for the task at hand.
  2. When I realize a tool isn’t appropriate for the task, often after exploring it for a long time, I have to start the process over, wasting valuable planning time.
  3. Looking for a tool in the first place can be daunting, there are so many great ones out there!

In order to help myself, and hopefully my colleagues, break this cycle, I have recently been exploring methods for making the process of tool selection more effective.  One great place to locate and review digital tools is Common Sense Media’s Education site (formerly Graphite).  This site offers both site and educator reviews of just about every digital tool relating to education that is out there.  The reviews can be categorized by subject, standard, or by top picks.  Since finding this site, my tool selection process has been greatly streamlined, yet my issues have not bene solved entirely.  To  aid in the tool selection process, I have put together the infographic below which briefly describes the four main points I consider when selecting and evaluating digital tools to use in a learning environment. While not all factors need to be met with every tool, keeping each in mind will help determine what tool is best for the task at hand!

cf70c935-183d-47a1-9c7b-aa37699d2a0c (2)

Review of a Digital Tool

Overview

Using the criteria outlined in the four points to consider, I chose to review the new Google Sites.  I choose this tool because it just became available in my district I think there would be a lot of use for it, both for educators and for students.  The new Google Sites allows users to create websites directly from their Google Drives and easily edit and embed content.  I am very excited about this tool and have started switching over my old class website to a new Google Site.  I intend on having students make their own sites for future projects too. Specifically, in the past I have had students create a theme poster project at the end of our short stories unit.  After sharing and turning them in, they ultimately make their way to the recycling bin.  If students share this information on Sites, they can easily share with others in, and out, of the classroom and archive their work when finished.  They can also include various media, collaborate more easily, and still maintain focus on aesthetics.  Using the new sites can totally redefine this project!

To get started, just go to your Google Drive, click “New” and then “Site” and prompted directions will walk you through the rest.  On the site ControlAltAchieve, contributor Eric Curtis includes a detailed article, titled “The Totally New Google Sites“, that walks users through the process of getting started!

Review

  • Appropriateness: Sites is easy to use! It allows users to seamlessly embed content, such as slideshows, videos, documents, images, and much more.  Sites is probably the easiest-to-use website creation platform I have come across–it is easy to navigate through the tools, simple to quickly edit and update, and made for collaboration! It would be appropriate for any grade or level of expertise. I see this tool working for a variety of tasks, enabling users to redefine how they share and present information.
  • Cost: Google Apps for Education is free but the business version has a fee per user. Like most Google tools, the new Google Sites is being rolled out in stages so it may not be available to you just yet.
  • Platform: As this tool allows users to create websites, they are viewable from any device that gets internet. Sites allows users to view their site from a computer screen, tablet, or phone, to make sure it looks great on any device!
  • Management Abilities: Users can choose who views their site (just their network or the entire web) and who collaborates with them on it.  Those viewing the site can subscribe, allowing them to recieve email updates when changes are made to the site.

Resources

Browse All Reviews and Ratings. (n.d.). Retrieved July 29, 2016, from https://www.commonsense.org/education/reviews/all

Curtis, E. (2016, June 13). Control Alt Achieve: The Totally New Google Sites. Retrieved July 29, 2016, from http://www.controlaltachieve.com/2016/06/new-google-sites.html

SAMR Model – Technology Is Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved July 29, 2016, from https://sites.google.com/a/msad60.org/technology-is-learning/samr-model