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!

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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

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 an educator. I find that, while a bit lofty, they offer a holistic yet simple means for reflection.  So, for my spring quarter for the Digital Education Leadership (DEL) program, I chose to ponder who I am, where I am going, and how I will get there in regards to being an effective instructor and leader in regards to digital education.

To accompany this reflection, I chose to create a mind map as I could not think of a better tool to comprehensively represent what I have learned and to logically connect ideas.  I decided to try out Mindmeister, rather than Coggle, so I could still gain experience with a new digital tool.  I actually really liked this platform because it allows users to add images and videos easily with the free membership.  It was also a bit more user-friendly with it’s simple tool bar and I find the finished product more attractive. An added plus is that it is cloud based and easy to use with students!

Who am I?

Four years ago, I began teaching in a high school with three computer labs 2,000 students.  They were exactly the same as they had been when I graduated four years prior. The rooms were often booked weeks in advance and it was difficult to get consecutive days in a row.  If I was lucky enough to reserve a room, the desktop computers took several minutes to startup and shutdown and, paired with a slow applications, it felt like more class time was wasted then used for learning.  At the time, students saved their work through complicated networks and most assignments had to assume that no technology was available, greatly limiting possibilities.  The end of that year however saw a drastic shift when teachers started receiving Chromebooks and technology training crept into the staff meetings previously dedicated to lock down procedures and evaluation processes.

The following fall was met with greater enthusiasm for digital learning as teachers began discovering new tools and sharing their successes.  As Chromebook carts started showing up in classrooms, students also advocated for the value of technology by demonstrating how they used it to redefine their learning. Seeing how quickly and drastically technology was changing the classroom environment, I realized it was imperative to become a digitally competent teacher myself.  I eagerly attended workshops and trainings offered by my district and tried out tools in my classroom at any chance I got.  This ultimately led to me becoming a technology leader my district.  

With the rapid increase in technology, there has been a high demand for professional development relating to technology.  Because of this, my district has adapted our trainings into online modules which educators can complete at any time for clock hours.  Our tech mentor committee shares ideas through monthly meetings and daily communications in our Google Plus community.  We attend trainings, such as the National Council for Computer Education, and host professional learning opportunities like Edcamp.  Every teacher now has a Chromebook, is able to use their Google Drive, and all students are issues Chromebooks. Boy, have we come a long way!

Going into teaching, I expected my focus would lie on English curriculum and instruction–the notion of being a technology leader did not cross my mind.  Yet, I did not foresee that technology instruction would become so integral to every subject, nor could I have predicted how quickly it would redefine teaching.  My choice to refocus was partially pragmatic, but more so I have learned the field of digital education is full of innovative and enthusiastic educators and endless possibilities.  This is what led me to join the DEL program at SPU, where I have now completed a year of study more valuable than I could have anticipated.

Where am I Going?

Having already found myself in a technology leadership role in my district, I started the DEL program eager to quickly learn how to advance that role.  Instead, and rightfully so, the program started out by having our cohort discuss ethical and moral issues relating to educational technology and online behavior. We then explored the ISTE student and teacher standards before more recently looking into the coaching standards.  This pre-teaching was completely necessary to help me build my foundation as a digital citizen, and a vital step before looking at what it means to be a digital education leader.  With that said, I was very excited when we began discussing coaching standards so I could begin addressing some of the questions I have.  The questions I have are outlined below and the “how will I get there” section details what I will do to begin trying to answer them.  

  • How can the professional development in my district differentiate to meet the needs of various educators, across grade levels, subject areas, and varying degrees of technology abilities?
  • How can we motivate those that are hesitant technology users to “buy in” more?  In other words, what can we do to make sure educators are not feeling isolated or left behind in terms of digital education?
  • How can we create a more comprehensive “hub” for students to access digital tools?  Currently, teachers use various digital platforms which can be very complicated for students.
  • How can I prepare myself as a technology leader so I can effectively work with educators who teach different subjects or grade levels that those that I have experience with?

How Will I get There?

The steps that I will take to reach my goals are as follows:

  1. I will continue to familiarize myself with the ISTE teacher, student, and coaching standards.
  2. I intend to explore the questions outlined in the “where am I going” in the upcoming courses of the DEL program.
  3. I would like to attend NCCE again next year along with one or two other conventions or workshops that involve educators beyond just my district. 
  4. At the EdCamp my district is hosting this summer, I intend on hosting a session on global collaborative projects to begin a discussion about them in  my district and to gather ideas and interested teachers to collaborate with.  Next year, I will conduct another global collaborative project that is indeed more global.  I will also have students revise on all writing assignments and try to arrange that they share their writing with students from several other classrooms.
  5. I will adapt a few projects so they rely more heavily on digital tools.  I will provide opportunities for students to use these tools, with some choice on what they use, and share their work with others.  I think that this will help staff see the value in embracing digital education–students are great advocates!

Resources

20 Tips for Creating a Professional Learning Network – Getting Smart by Miriam Clifford. (2013). Retrieved June 09, 2016, from http://gettingsmart.com/2013/01/20-tips-for-creating-a-professional-learning-network/

Building to Accomplished Practice. (2014). Retrieved June 09, 2016, from http://www.nbpts.org/atlas

Raths, D. (n.d.). 5 Tech Tools That Help Personalize PD. (Vol. 42). The Journal. Retrieved June 9, 2016, from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.spu.edu/ehost/detail/detail?sid=8e10a270-5ecc-4527-bea9-b003e0ce98b1@sessionmgr120&vid=0&hid=110&bdata=JkF1dGhUeXBlPWlwJnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ==#db=eft&AN=100567184

ISTE Standards for Coaches. (n.d.). Retrieved June 09, 2016, from http://www.iste.org/standards/ISTE-standards/standards-for-coaches

Standards for Teachers. (n.d.). Retrieved June 09, 2016, from http://www.iste.org/standards/ISTE-standards/standards-for-teachers

Why digital PD needs an urgent overhaul. (2016). Retrieved June 09, 2016, from http://www.eschoolnews.com/2016/05/31/professional-development-should-make-teachers-feel-urgent/?ps=phil_biggs@lkstevens.wednet.edu-001a000001AdGJZ-003a000001TPvVE

ISTE Teaching Standard 4 Reflection


References:

K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum | Common Sense Media. (n.d.). Retrieved May 27, 2016, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/digital-citizenship

SAMR Model – Technology Is Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved May 25, 2016, from https://sites.google.com/a/msad60.org/technology-is-learning/samr-model

Standards for Teachers. (n.d.). Retrieved May 25, 2016, from http://www.iste.org/standards/ISTE-standards/standards-for-teachers

Evaluations and Communication in Digital Education

Overview

The end of the school year often meets me with mixed emotions.  As hard as it to say goodbye to students, it is exciting to imagine what their futures will bring.  While I thirst for the summer off, I dread the lack of routine and separation from the school environment. Other educators may have differing end-of-year emotions, but one commonality is that, for all of us, it is a time for reflection, goal setting, and final evaluations.

In my first years of teaching, my reflections were varying forms of “do everything differently next year, get better”.  My goal was to get at least average scores in my evaluations to eliminate any proof of my shortcomings as an educator.  I do not say this to mean that I felt like a failure as a teacher, but rather that there was so much more I should, and could, be doing.  While these thoughts and feelings have not gone away–nor would I necessarily want them to–I no longer feel as if I am totally swimming in the deep end.  So, for the end of this year, and for my exploration for Module 3 of my Digital Ed. Leadership program, I decided to look a bit more deeply into the evaluation process and communication practices in my district.  My intention is to gain a better understanding for myself, so I can more effectively reflect and set growth goals, and to share what I have learned to gain input from others.

Evaluating a “Digitally Distinguished” Educator

On the ISTE site, contributor Helen Crompton offers an in-depth explanation into ISTE standard for teachers three, relating to modeling digital age work and learning.  She explains that, “Students need to learn how to effectively and appropriately use digital tools, and it is the teacher’s job to model what that looks like” (2014).  I understand that the increase in available digital tools and devices has happened so quickly, majorly redefining teaching, and I’m sure that it has been difficult to stay updated on the best practices for evaluating teachers. However, if indeed it is the “teacher’s job” to model responsible and appropriate use of technology, than surely this is an area they are being evaluated on.

My search to understand how teachers in my district are evaluated on technology use started with our evaluation rubric, based on the Danielson Framework.  After scouring the rubric for any keywords relating to “digital” or “technology” I found only a few vague statements.  The first mention, under the “designing coherent instruction” section, seems to tag technology on as an afterthought–it is not consistently mentioned throughout, but only mentioned, in parenthesis, in the “distinguished category”. The second two mentions, both under the “Fostering and managing a safe, positive learning environment” section, are more consistent with the expectations but both have basically the same verbiage regarding “effective technology use”. The first expectation seems to revolve around the actual use of technology–are teachers using the tools available to them? The second expectation seems to have more to do with how technology is used–are teachers using the tools wisely? The concern for me is that there are so many areas to assess within “effective technology use”, which are more clearly outlined in the ISTE student and teacher standards.  Is our evaluation rubric in need of an overhaul?  Or at least a supplement so it is reflective of current teacher expectations.

In looking for a more comprehensive teacher evaluation relating to technology, I came across this rubric, created by a media and technology coordinator from Minnesota, that uses the Danielson framework (maybe mixed with ISTE or other standards??) to create a more specific technology evaluation for classroom teachers. While this may not be a perfect fit for my district, it makes it clear that there are many more, specific areas, we should be evaluating teachers in regards to technology competency and use.

Communication Practices in a Digital World

My district has been a Google school for several years and, at this point, most teachers and administrators are effective users of Gmail, the Drive, and Google Calendar.  These tools offer effective ways to communicate, share documents and resources, and stay informed on important dates and scheduled meetings.  I am truly impressed with the competencies of my district as a whole in using these tools.  With that said, other Google tools, such as Google+ and Hangouts are used by very few, and I would like to see them utilized.  For example, Google+ communities could create great place for staff and students to share resources–right now one of the few communities, frequently used though, is made up of technology mentors.  I also think that Hangouts could be a great way to organize meetings between staff and with parents and students.

The middle, mid high, and high schools in my district also all maintain Twitter and Facebook pages, which is a great way to reach out to parents and students, and the community. A lot of cool information is shared on these sites too, including sports victories, academic successes, upcoming events, etc.  The setback to these sites is that many students are convinced that the schools are trying to “spy” on their social media, and therefore refuse to “friend” the sites.  Additionally, there has been some issue with parents and community members inappropriately vocalizing complaints through our social media platforms. While the sites are ultimately beneficial, making sure they are used effectively can be a challenging struggle.

It is easy to locate and dissect the shortcomings within any educational system when looking for them through the lens of a critic.  It is even easier to notice potential deficiencies when the focus is on educational technology, an area that is not only constantly changing, but rather doing backflips and cartwheels.  With that said, I maintain an appreciation for my district–while there are indeed areas in need of improvement, we definitely have a lot of forward momentum and dedicated educators willing to do what’s best for students and our community.

Further Questions

  1. It seems like the evaluation process has gotten a lot more time-consuming since we started using the Danielson framework for assessing teachers. How much more of a time commitment would be necessary to effectively assess teachers in this area?
  2. How can we keep the evaluation process simple, while still looking for specific areas of technology proficiency?
  3. We have studied the ISTE teacher standards–how are these actually applied to the classroom? Are they more of a suggestion for technology savvy teachers to consider, or do some districts use the standards to assess teachers?

References

Crompton, H. (2014, July 24). Know the ISTE Standards•T 3: Model digital age learning. Retrieved May 13, 2016, from https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=109

Johnson, D., & N. M. (n.d.). Rubric for Effective Teacher Technology Use. Retrieved May 07, 2016, from http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/journals/ed_lead/el201303_johnson_rubric.pdf

Redefining the Writing Process through Digital Instruction, Collaborative Projects and Assessments

Reflection Overview

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 QuestionWhat 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.

Brainstorming Tools

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

Over the past few years, my district has begun assessing students through “performance tasks” in the core subjects such as math, science, history, English, and Health/PE.  These tasks require all students to take common assessments, typically involving a lot of writing, over the year. Teachers then gather data on these assessments to provide to the district.  The data is meant to inform instruction, identify areas of need, and hypothesize about how students may perform on state-mandated tests.  There are definitely benefits to these tasks, such as that they do provide valuable data on our students, compiled by our teachers rather than a hired scorer who-knows-where.  Creating these tasks also provides time for departments to align instruction and norm grading.  However, I believe there are a few ways that these tasks can be redesigned so they are more valuable instructional tools and more meaningful to students.
 
Our performance tasks are meant to be served “cold”, by which I mean that students do not get to prepare for them at all–besides general class instruction throughout the year–and they are not allowed to receive help from the teacher during the process.  These guidelines make sense, as they are similar to what is required for a state-mandated test.  The issue however is that, at least in English classes, these tasks have replaced various essays or big writing assignments we have done in the past, in which students received a lot more instruction.  I cannot see the value in taking out instruction to get a general idea of how a student MIGHT do on a state test.  It is also difficult to watch some students get hung up on a simple formality, which makes them unable to complete the task at all.  Additionally, since these tasks must be competed in class, it is very difficult to account for absent students.
Another area to reconsider is in what is how the writing process is taught through these performance tasks.  As an English teacher, I argue that the most important part of writing is the revising and publishing.  ANYTHING someone writes, from an email to a novel, should be read over, often several times, for accuracy.  Then, when the finished work is turned in, it should be published and received in a way that encourages others to read it, or for it to have some valuable purpose.  For these tasks, students jump right into writing the paper, very rarely read their work over, and then immediately forget about them when they are finished.  It is really hard to “sell” something when it’s hard to find much value in it myself.
 
A final potential issue with these performance tasks lies around the necessity to norm writing expectations beyond just their department. As it is, teachers only discuss how to score these performance tasks with their own subject-area departments.  This means that writing expectations may be inconsistent among each group.  Incidentally, this leads students to be confused when they are getting high scores for writing in math or science, and much lower scores in their English class.   

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.

Digital Citizenships: Lessons and Reflection

The digital citizenship curriculum is not only extremely important, but also incredibly relevant to the learning environment.  It is important because, with the rapid increase of social media and digital tools, we are constantly “connected” both in the classroom and at home.  The digital world allows for deeper opportunities for learning, communicating, collaborating, and creating, but the stakes are high if used inappropriately. It is vital that we address respectful, responsible, and safe online behavior so that we can fully take advantage of the increase in available technology.  The digital citizenship curriculum is also very relevant because teaching students about empathy, respect, safety/protection,  ethics and morals are important lessons for any environment. Ultimately, teaching about digital citizenship strengthens our online world, but also greatly benefits our physical spaces.

This year I’ve had the opportunity to use curriculum from Common Sense Media to teach my ninth grade students about digital citizenship and to ultimately become a digitally certified instructor.  Using this curriculum, and their affiliated sites like Digital Bytes and Graphite, I taught a variety of lessons and worked with staff to implement this instruction into the school.

To start the year, my entire school dedicated a day to digital citizenship instruction, where we taught the Scope & Sequence lessons to all students.  These lessons covered a variety of topics (shown in the image below).  What I particularly appreciated was that each lesson offered modifications for teachers depending on technology availability and included lesson extensions or additional resources to make it easy to continue the learning.  The lessons are also “scripted” enough so anyone can use them, but they are also open enough to be easy to personalize.

Digital Citizenship Topics 

Common_Sense

To continue this instruction, I recently introduced students to Common Sense Media’s Digital Bytes site.  This is a self-guided site which allows students to interact with others on the various topics and to explore essential questions relating to digital citizenship.  As the questions were very relevant to students’ lives, they were very engaged with this site and it was not at all difficult to keep them on task!  Included below is an assignment I had students complete as they navigated Digital Bytes, so I could record the responses which they also posted to the site.

Digital Bytes Assignment – Sample of Student Work

After exploring Digital Bytes, students worked to create symbols that represent aspects of digital citizenship (Thanks Ann Hayes Bell for the idea!!). This lesson was great for my English classroom as it built off of our prior learning about symbolism in literature.  Our plan is to use the symbols to create a bulletin or poster to display across the school at the start of next year.

Digital Citizenship Symbols Assignment

Moving forward, I definitely plan on continuing to embed digital citizenship instruction into my classroom.  As stated previously, the discussion topics and issues are so relevant to students’ lives and can easily apply to the core subject curriculum.   I’m eager to see how students use their learning about digital citizenship to shape their digital lives!

References:

Curious what Digital Bytes is all about? (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from http://digitalbytes.commonsensemedia.org/

Hayes Bell, A. (n.d.). Communicate. Collaborate. Create. Retrieved March 15, 2016, from http://annhayesbell.org/

InCtrl. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from http://www.teachinctrl.org/

K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum | Common Sense Media. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/digital-citizenship

Analyzing Argument in Advertisements: A Lesson Using the ASSURE Method

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 2.53.51 PM

Overview:

The ASSURE Model, detailed in the infographic below, is an excellent tool to help teachers develop an appropriate and effective learning environment for their students.

untitled-infographic

Using this model, I developed a lesson plan on analyzing argument in advertisements.  What was great about this project was that it not only fulfilled a school assignment for my SPU Digital Ed. Leadership master’s program, but I was actually teaching it to my students at the same time.  This made it very relevant to my teaching and I was able to fine tune the lesson through trial and error.  Additionally,  the lesson combines Common Core State Standards in English/Language Arts with ISTE Standards 1 and 2.  While this lesson is intended to be taught in a ninth grade English classroom, it could easily be adapted for a different age group or subject area.

The complete Advertisement Analysis Project Lesson can be found by following the link or it is embedded below.

Reflection:

I found the ASSURE model very useful for creating specific, thoughtful, and thorough lesson plans.  I really liked that it asks you to consider modifications and adjustments so you feel prepared in case anything goes contrary to the plan.  It is especially important to consider this when dealing with technology as it seems like, in navigating digital learning, there is a lot that may not go as planned.  Overall, I appreciated the process but I do think that this model might be a bit too extensive for a day-to-day lesson.  It is very appropriate when planning units, particularly those that heavily rely on digital tools.  With that said, the greatest pleasure I had in teaching this lesson was in the level of student engagement and therefore the quality of the finished projects.  I believe this was in large part due to having to think through each lesson component and possible outcome really helped me address any issues quickly and efficiently.

References:

ASSURE. (n.d.). Retrieved March 03, 2016, from http://www.instructionaldesign.org/models/assure.html

ISTE Standards for Students. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2016, from http://www.iste.org/standards/ISTE-standards/standards-for-students

Media Literacy. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2016, from http://www.teachinctrl.org/lessons/mediabetweenlines.php

Back to Basics: Organizing and managing our online world

As my SPU Digital Education Leadership master’s program has delved deeper into exploring the ISTE student standards, I have felt inspired to both rethink how I deliver the ninth grade English curriculum to my students and how I work with other educators to effectively implement digital tools in the classroom.  This being said, I have noticed that a lot of what I’m learning about makes me feel torn in two directions.  On one hand, I am eager to share the “newest and best” tool or teaching philosophy I hear about with my staff, or to try it out in my classroom.  On the other hand, I’m constantly reminded of how tiresome it can be to “stay on top” of what’s happening in digital education.

In considering this imbalance, I have started to realize that the availability of digital tools often surpasses the support systems in place for students and educators to feel confident using them.  This being the case, I wanted to take a minute to slow and form a more practical method for approaching digital education.

To approach this issue, I have asked myself what are the most basic technology skills necessary for one to feel confident maneuvering in an online world?  My district is invested in Google Apps and we are almost fully 1:1 with Chromebooks so, in answering this question I realized that my staff and students would benefit from resources on using the basic functions of Google tools and Chromebooks.  This lead me to develop two resources, which I plan on sharing with my school and which I have included below.

This first chart shares some tips for organizing the Google Drive.  I choose to create this resource because, in working with students and staff alike, I realized that this was something that had previously not been addressed.  Also, many were hesitant to switch to using their Google Drive from desktop files and I wanted to share some easy to follow steps for making the switch.

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This second resource shares tips for working offline with Chromebooks.  This had been an big concern in our district when we started going 1:1 as many realized that access to internet can greatly limit the way we use educational technology.

offline-with-chromebooks

Additionally, I recently attended the Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE) where I learned about a really cool tool called Graphite by Common Sense Media. In a session titled “Identifying Quality Apps, Websites, and Games for Learning”, Cindy Etherton, of Salem-Keizer Public Schools, explained the same dilemma I have outlined above: that many educators and students feel overwhelmed by the vast pool of digital tools available.  She then shared the benefits of Graphite, which include digital tool ratings and a resource that helps teachers select appropriate tools for specific tasks.

Moving forward, I hope to continue finding practical ways to help students and educators feel more confident using digital tools.  With a strong support system in place, I think we will see many more learning experiences being enhanced and redefined through technology.

If you want to learn more about more specific topics I have been learning about in my master’s program through SPU, check out my blog post titled ISTE: Critical Thinking and Research!

ISTE: Critical Thinking and Reserach

In my masters program I have recently had the opportunity to form inquiry questions based on ISTE Standards three and four, relating to critical thinking and research.  These questions have helped guide my learning and have lead me to several instructional models and digital tools that I plan on incorporating in my classroom.  Below, I have included the questions, along with my Coggle mind maps, to share what I have learned.

ISTE Standard 3 Question: How can I support students in developing their own learning through research while ensuring that they are staying focused to the task at hand. In other words, is there a framework or “roadmap” to keep students on the path to discovering answers to a question without them getting distracted by the volume and scale of available resources.

ISTE Standard 4 Question: How can I modernize my current English 9 curriculum to incorporate digital tools that foster critical thinking skills necessary in the 21st century? What tools are available and how can I smoothly integrate them into my current instruction?

 

Creating Innovative Digital Learners

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What’s Going On?

Now that second quarter of the Digital Education Leadership Program at Seattle Pacific University has taken off, we have jumped into unlocking the ISTE student and teacher standards while analyzing and discussing various frameworks for integrating technology into the classroom. Specifically, we have looked at ISTE Standard 1, which focuses on creativity and innovation, and Standard 2, which lays out objectives for communicating and collaborating in a digital classroom.  While studying each standard, we have used the SAMR and TPACK models as pedagogical frameworks for educational technology immersion.

Through these explorations, I have developed two questions that have guided my research and learning, which were inspired by the two ISTE standards we’ve studied.

  1. How can an educator best offer a variety of technology based creative platforms (Piktochart, TouchCast, Google Slides/Draw, PowToons, etc.) in one assignment or project and still make sure that the end result meets the same standards and objectives?
  2. When assigning a collaborative project, how can I ensure that my students are indeed collaborating–equally participating in completing the task? What tools are available to ensure, enhance, and monitor student participation in collaborative projects?

The class readings, my research, and the resources shared by my classmates have provided a huge scope of information to address these questions.   Below, I elaborate on a few of the most notable points I have come across in my learning on how to create digitally enhanced instruction that is both innovative and meaningful.

The SAMR Model

The SAMR model for integrating technology into teaching (infographic below), developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, breaks down how educational technology is used into four categories: substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition.  This provides a scale for how technology is incorporated into a classroom, starting with substituting a digital tool to complete a traditional, non digital task, and ending with redefining learning through technology. This model does not suggest that the “enhancement” stage, including substitution and augmentation, is subpar.  In fact, sites like TurnItIn and Google Classroom along with digital tools, like free online graphing calculators, have greatly improved a student’s access to resources and a teacher’s ability to effectively manage the classroom.  However, the transformation stage, including modification and redefinition, calls for educators to incorporate digital tools that totally redefine learning, which is both incredibly exciting and a bit terrifying.  A few of these “transformational” tools that I have personally tried out are listed in the “redefining learning” section below.

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**A great resource for introducing educators to the SAMR model is available here through Common Sense Media.

Redefining Learning

In Teaching in a Digital Age, author A.W. Bates’ immediately makes the point that, “As more instructors have become involved in online learning, they have realized that much that has traditionally been done in class can be done equally well or better online” (n.d., p.1.7).  This directly relates to the SAMR model in that it draws attention to the less than obvious fact that technological tools are inherently redefining learning.  Bates’ explanation extends the SAMR model a bit however by elaborating on how digital tools have redefined both how a teacher informs instruction and how a student synthesizes their learning through using creative, collaborative, and innovative digital tools.

On the educators side, Bates explains two emerging frameworks for teaching, the flipped classroom and blended learning models.  In the flipped classroom, the educator records the lecture, which the students watch on their own time and then class is dedicated to discussing or further exploring the topics that arise.  Bended learning is a bit less clearly defined but involves a hybrid of digitized and traditional learning methods.  For example, in a blended classroom a teacher may use online sites to organize and share resources or manage the flow of student work, but the instruction may be provided in a more traditional format. While both of these frameworks appear to be in the “enhancement stage” according to the SAMR model, it is clear that, education at a core, is inherently changing.  It won’t be long, as Bates suggests, before the digital classroom looks very different from the traditional learning environment most of us are familiar with (n.d., p.1.7).

Along with the pedagogical changes to learning and education, technology is altering the tasks, tools, and experiences available to students in the classroom.  This is where ISTE Standards one and two come into play, as there are now so many tools that completely change how a student creates, innovates, and communicates both individually and collaboratively.  Below, I have included an infographic which categorizes some of the tools I have come across that transform and redefine student learning and relate to these two standards.  I choose tools that I have personally used and that are easily accessible to students in my district (we have 1:1 Chromebooks) but, as these tools are constantly being created or adapted, this is just a starting point.

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Future Explorations

  • When applying the SAMR model to technology instruction, is it best for an educator to begin with the first step, substitution, and work up to redefinition, or is it better to aim directly for redefinition from the start?
  • How can we continue to balance “tried and true” traditional teaching methods with new methods that seem to completely redefine learning with technology?

References

Bates, A. W. (n.d.). Fundamental change in education. In Teaching in a digital age (1). Retrieved from http://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/part/
chapter-1-fundamental-change-in-education/

Puentedura, Ruben (2014). SAMR, Learning, and Assessment. Retrieved from http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/archives/2014/11/28/SAMRLearningAssessment.pdf