Professional Development and Program Evaluation Toolbox

ISTE Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation

Performance Indicator B: Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.

Triggering Question

What are the essentials of a technology rich professional development learning program?


As I reach my final blog post for my EDTC 6106 class on professional development and program evaluation I find myself reflecting on how eager I was when I first started my master’s program in digital education leadership.  At that time, I was so excited to start learning about what it meant to be an effective coach, to learn “tricks” and “tips” that would make me excel as a school leader.  I definitely did fill my “coaching toolbox” but I am now struck by the realization that what I’m really eager for is to gain experience as a coach, to learn through trials, reflections, successes, and failures.  I feel ready to take on the role as a coach and instructional leader in my district and am confident that I feel this way because of the foundation this program has laid for me.  So, for this final blog post I wanted to synthesize my learning relating to how to create a technology rich professional learning program to complete a more comprehensive bank of “musts” as an instructional leader.  My resolution, outlined below in my “12 “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for Creating a Technology Rich Professional Learning Program” was developed by studying some excellent resources, included in the “references” section, as well as through the discussions with and feedback from my professors and classmates in my master’s cohort. My professional development toolbox is filling up and I’m eager to try it out!

Future Inquiries: Shoutouts to Awesome Resources

I have come across a few awesome resource this semester that I wanted to reflect on but haven’t found a place to do so.  Since this post is a synthesis of my learning I choose to include some commentary on these resources below in hopes that I will revisit them in the future.

Five Models of Teacher-Centered Professional Development – I LOVE this resource and want to try out each of the models for PD, each are underutilized and could be excellent tips for collaborative learning.

53 Ways to Check for Understanding – this document offers some excellent ideas for formative assessments, a vital, and sadly often missing, component of professional development.

Future Ready Schools: Empowering Educators through Professional Learning toolkit – I’m so glad that my classmate Liz turned me onto this resource!  This will be the first place I look for valuable information on planning, implementing, and evaluating professional development.

Hate PD? Try Voluntary Piloting – this is a post from Cult of Pedagogy, my favorite educational blog, and discusses piloting as an alternative to traditional professional development–I’d love to explore piloting further!

How to Plan Outstanding Tech. PD for Your Teachers – this is another post from Cult of Pedagogy and is almost exactly what I would have liked my blog post to be, had it not already been done.  In this post, blogger Jennifer Gonzalez discusses several tips and strategies for making excellent professional development.

Questionnaire Design Tip Sheet – This resource, provided by Harvard University and suggested by one of my professors, has some great ideas for creating effective survey questions.  As feedback is so vital in creating powerful professional development, I would like to spend more time looking at question design in the future.

References

Burns, M. (2014, November 26). Five Models of Teacher-Centered Professional Development. Retrieved March 9, 2017, from http://www.globalpartnership.org/blog/five-models-teacher-centered-professional-development

Hertz, M. B. (2011, June 16). The Dos and Don’ts of Tech Integration PD. Retrieved March 9, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/technology-integration-teacher-development-mary-beth-hertz

Piper, J. (n.d.). 5 Don’ts for Teacher Professional Development. Retrieved March 8, 2017, from http://www.teachhub.com/5-donts-teacher-professional-development

Vilson, J. (2012, November 07). Three Dos and Don’ts of Transformative Teacher Leadership. Retrieved March 9, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/dos-and-donts-teacher-leadership-jose-vilson

Soliciting and Providing Feedback through Peer Coaching Experiences

Overview

Imagine peering into the engine of a running vehicle.  It is likely that you visualize several parts, working together harmoniously so the car runs smoothly.  It is less likely that you think about how many trials and errors, restarts and near quits it took for the vehicle to get to the point where it ran at all, let alone well.  Observing extremely effective peer coaching may look the same–it just seems to work.  However, unless I’m missing the secret key to coaching, this is very far from true.  In fact, the one “key” idea I have learned is that becoming a great peer coach and implementing a peer coaching plan is extremely difficult.

In building anything great, the process needs to be altered, refined, expanded, and sometimes thrown out.  In prior blog posts for the quarter I have shared some peer coaching strategies I’ve found effective as well as reflected on my successes and areas of improvement.  For my final reflection, I wanted to look at how to continue to grow a powerful peer coaching system, specifically by looking at when feedback is and is not appropriate, how and when to solicit feedback, and what to do with it once gathered.  I chose to include my final reflection on my recent “real world” peer coaching experiences along with this post to provide a reference point and to keep me thinking about how to continue growing as a peer coach.

Feedback vs. Evaluation

The infographic below represents the difference between feedback and evaluations, which I created by synthesizing some of the most relevant information from various resources, listed in my “references” section. I thought that it was important to distinguish between these two terms before looking further at the place for feedback and evaluation in peer coaching opportunities. I am glad I did so as it actually appears that feedback is much more effective at encouraging growth, and is therefore more appropriate in peer coaching.  Evaluations, while useful in determining areas of growth, are best suited for conversations between administrators and individual teachers. Examples of how feedback can be used in peer coaching, with resources, are included further on.

Feedback in Peer Coaching

In our cohorts Google Hangout several weeks ago, one of my professors, David Wicks, made a quick side comment about how a coach must be careful with how feedback and evaluation are used in peer coaching.  This was a sticky comment, it got my brain spinning, and it gave me a good framework for my research. I chose to spend the remainder of my peer coaching course exploring the question, “How can a peer coach effectively self-assess and gather feedback from others in order to grow as a coach and ensure that the feedback is accurate?” While I never directly asked David why he said this, my initial inquiries helped lead me to two possible reasons:

  1. Evaluations have no place in peer coaching.  From here on, I will only talk about feedback.
  2. One must be very intentional in seeking feedback and consider how feedback is solicited, how the questions are worded, what is done with the feedback once received, and who gets to review it.

To help further focus my exploration, I appreciated that my classmate, Liz Ebersole, asked me the following question:  “Would you use this type of evaluation/feedback to plan PD for coaches or to collect data to advocate for adopting a peer coaching practice at the school/district level? What do you hope to learn from the feedback and how will you share it and who with?”

Using David’s comment and Liz’s question, I created the following infographic to display a rough idea of how feedback can be used in peer coaching and included a few resources that might help start the process.

Reflection on My Peer Coaching Experiences

This quarter I had the opportunity to practice peer coaching by working with a teacher at my school.  While there were a few hiccups in the process, this experience was so valuable for me because I was able to debrief and share ideas with my master’s program cohort.  An overview of what I learned during this process, along with the work that my colleague and I produced, is included in the document below.

Future Inquiries

  • In my peer coaching experience, I worked with a colleague who is also a close personal friend.  This presented unique challenges and made parts of the process easier.  What additional tools and strategies might a coach want to use when working with someone they are less familiar with?
  • One topic that myself and others in my cohort explored this quarter was that other professional fields, outside of education, offer great insights into how to be an effective coach.  I would like to explore this further in the future.
  • In this blog post I touched on providing feedback in peer coaching.  I would like to look at this deeper too and gain some “field experience” to help explore this further.

Resources

Baehr, M. (n.d.). 4.1.2 Distinctions Between Assessment and Evaluation. Retrieved December 08, 2016, from http://www.pcrest3.com/fgb/efgb4/4/4_1_2.htm

Rehman, S. (n.d.). Effective Feedback. Retrieved December 8, 2016, from http://phoenixmed.arizona.edu/sites/default/files/content/facdev/rehman-512014.pdf

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.

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.

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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

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

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