Developing a Peer Coaching Toolbox

toolbox-1582313_960_720

One major “ah ha” moment I have had during my master’s program research in digital education leadership is that good teaching is good teaching.  By this I mean that many of the best practices we use in our K-12 classrooms are equally effective when creating professional development for teachers. This quarter, my cohort has had the chance to look deeper at peer coaching and I recently had a similar “ah ha” moment; good coaching is good coaching.  Specifically, efficient coaching strategies for educators are, at their core, very similar to those used in other fields of work. I have used this perspective most recently as I have conducted research for my module 4 triggering question:

What are a few essential resources to add to my “peer coaching toolbox” that will help create valuable conversations while ensuring I don’t come across as critical?

Asking “what makes a great peer coach” without limiting my search to only educational coaching led me to countless resources, some gems and some that were easy to pass by.  As my intention is to create a “toolbox” of peer coaching resources, my resolution to my research was to synthesize some of the best information I came across into a document (shared in the “resolution” section). While sifting through resources, I attempted to really focus on the second part of my question, “[to choose tools that] create conversations that don’t come across as critical”. What follows is only the start to my peer coaching toolbox and I intend to build on it as I learn and gain more experience.

Resolution

Peer Coaching Toolbox

Overview of Resources

Since most of my peer coaching toolbox is made up of resources created and shared by others, rather than simply created by me, I didn’t think that a quick link in the “references” section gave due credit.  Below I include a brief overview of the resources I used to create my comprehensive toolbox.

  • EDTC 6103 Course Materials: this quarter it has been a bit difficult finding resources that top those provided by my professors, David Wicks and Les Foltos.  All that they have provided is already part of my toolbox, but for the sake of this module resolution I tried to narrow down to just a few resources that I found most valuable in general.  Some which I included are the learning activity checklist and tips on listening and asking probing questions.
  • Peer Coaching Resources: this resource was a gem and exactly what I was looking for to help address my question!  This was actually created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services and, as far as I can tell, is for nurses, specifically those working in nursing homes.  That being so, I still found that just about all of these resources are equally relevant to peer coaching for teachers, or most professions.  I liked that they included several ready-to-use resources and among my favorites were ones on setting goals, establishing a clear plan for peer coaching, active listening, and activities for reflection and seeking feedback.  While not included in my toolbox, I really appreciated that they included a document that lists common peer coaching roadblocks along with solutions.  This is something I would like to develop later on!
  • How Google is Making Work Better: This episode of the podcast The Hidden Brain talks with Laszlo Bock about how his research on a successful workplace, outlined in his book Work Rules has been applied at Google.  In this episode, Bock and host Shankar Vedantam discuss leading theories on what creates an effective work environment.  
  • What Makes a Good Sports/Fitness Coach: when I looked at how to be an inspiring coach, I came across many resources for sports/fitness coaches.  While I didn’t come across many tangible items to add to my toolbox, I did appreciate that many of these resources seemed to focus on encouragement, positivity, and the attitude of the coach, which seemed a vital point to consider when selecting other resources.

Future Questions or Inquiries

  • What resources am I missing? Is there an element of peer coaching that is totally neglected?
  • I started this module intending to look at questioning strategies for peer coaches.  I ended up straying from that topic though because I feel like that’s already been done by many of my classmates and there are some good materials in our course documents.  In the future, this is something I would like to revisit.  
  • I want to look a bit further into how to include feedback and reflections into peer coaching opportunities.

References

Goldburg, A. (2016). SPECIAL: What makes a GOOD COACH? Retrieved November 27, 2016, from https://www.competitivedge.com/special-what-makes-good-coach

How Google’s Laszlo Bock Is Making Work Better. (2016, June 7). Retrieved November 27, 2016, from http://www.npr.org/2016/06/07/480976042/how-googles-laszlo-bock-is-making-work-better

Peer Coaching Resources. (2015, August). Retrieved November 20, 2016, from http://www.alliantquality.org/sites/default/files/Peer_Coach_Resource_508_FNL.pdf

Quinn, E. (2016, April 5). 9 Qualities of a Great Sports Fitness Coach. Retrieved November 22, 2016, from https://www.verywell.com/what-makes-a-good-coach-3120792

Reeder, E. (2011, March 4). Retrieved November 20, 2016, from http://pimarsc.pbworks.com/w/page/37053775/LessonActivityChecklist

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

Creating Innovative Digital Learners

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 3.41.52 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 9.28.08 PM

**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.

bportfolio-post-1 (2)

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