Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Reflection and Takeaways - Technology Course 1 (Preliminary Admin Credential)

I started the Preliminary Admin Services Credential Program at my local county Office of Education last month, and it has definitely proven to be thought-provoking.  Most recently, this last weekend was one of the embedded "Technology" courses that is aligned with the content courses but ties in specific technological tools that will help with the course goals.

While I do consider myself fairly techy, and was familiar with the majority of the tools presented on Saturday, I still had some great takeaways and some new things I learned.

I'll start with some miscellaneous takeaways:
  • Incognito mode in Google Chrome simply gives you a "clean" Google search.  This means your search history is not affecting the results that Google gives you.  It DOES NOT "hide" what you are doing from anyone.  Ctrl-Shift-N is the shortcut to go incognito
  • When you are searching for stuff on the internet in front of students or an audience, push the FREEZE button or cover the projector so you make sure the results are appropriate before showcasing.
  • Great resource - and
  • Digital Literacy in the K-12 Classroom - amazing document that aligns Digital Literacy skills with the CCSS and breaks it down by where students should be at each grade level.  Also, check out CUSD's Educational Technology website with CCSS Digital Resources sectioned by grade level.
  • How to find free wi-fi?  Go to Yelp and type in the school's address and "wi-fi".  You will get a list of places that have free wi-fi within walking distance of the school (or any address!)
Tech Tools Presented & Topics Discussed:

  • Prezi is all about creating presentations that tell a story
  • Use their templates - which "path" will help tell the story you are trying to tell?
  • Prezi & images - when you bring in a citation for an image, you must take off the http:// part or it will automatically change it from text into the image
  • Prezi & YouTube videos - you can embed YouTube videos in your presentations (since they link back to the original source).  You can't download the video, edit or chop it, and then reupload it to YouTube as your own.
  1. When you are trying to communicate your vision, make sure that what you use (i.e. a video) does not contradict your message.  The example we were given was a video about how tech has changed.  The video was created in 2006.  It was being shown in 2008. [Here is the 2014 "Did you know" video]
  2. When new technology is introduced, for it to be successful, there must be:
    1. Trainings (initial exposure and practice)
    2. Support (follow-up) 
    3. Expectations (I'll be coming in a few weeks to see how you are using it)
    4. Modeling by Administration (using it in their meetings)
  3. Site leaders have a HUGE impact on how well technology is implemented.  We must STOP saying "The district said we had to do this..." We ARE a part of the district team.  Everyone must be on board (especially the admin) even if you don't agree with the decision
  4. Books to read: Good to Great Go, Put Your Strengths to Work
Professional development and speaking
  • "If you want to be a good speaker, watch good speakers"
  • Sometimes there is greater fear in presenting to teachers (peers) than students.  This may come from the fear of being judged or the fear that someone in the room knows more than you.  Teachers and Admin must let go of trying to be the master of knowledge in the room, especially when it comes to tech.  We must be okay with bringing other people up to show the awesome things they are doing in the classroom.
  • Resources on Presenting:
Fair Use / Educational Copyright
  • In our classrooms, we can use any picture we want on powerpoints, documents, etc... However, the moment it is posted online, you must consider copyright!
  • Discovery Education - if your district has bought a license, your students can use their images.  Within Discovery, they give you (under "details") the citation that you MUST put under the picture in any of your presentations or documents
  • Google Images (I never knew this!)
    • Once you search for images, go to "search tools" --> "Usage Rights" to filter images appropriately.  Here are the four categories (as you go down, the categories include all the images in the previous category as well) and a brief description of what they mean:
      • "Labeled for reuse with modification" - this is usually a very small number of pictures.  This means you can edit it in photoshop, and you can use it on your website to sell things or make money
      • "Labeled for reuse" - Anyone can use it, but you cannot photoshop it
      • "Labeled for noncommercial reuse with modification" - Anyone can use it and can edit it in photoshop as long as it isn't then use to make money
      • "Labeled for noncommercial reuse" - Anyone can use it, but you cannot edit it or use it to make money
    • **You still must cite images even if they are labeled for reuse!  That labeling does not mean they are "free" to use without giving credit!
    • To get the citation from Google Images, you must click on "view image" so all you see on the screen is the image.  Then, you get the URL from the omnibox (address bar).
  • If they are your photos, you don't have to cite them
  • If they are your photos of your students, you must make sure they have given you permission and that is on file.  If you aren't sure, you can blur/black out faces OR take photos from the back of the room so you can't see faces.
Facebook for school sites
  • Claim your school and district facebook, twitter, instagram, etc pages even if you aren't planning on using them right now.  You don't want someone to come in and claim your school's name before you do
  • Be careful of leaving these sites open for comments; if so, you need to monitor them closely
  • *Embed facebook and twitter feeds on your school's website so it automatically updates
  • This can be very community building!
  • Don't NOT use this technology because it "could be potentially bad".  Think about the good that could happen!
Ted Talks, Ted-Ed, RSA Animate

  • RSA Animate - Takes Ted Talks and animates them to make them more understandable
Other Tech Tools Covered in the session:

  • Twitter for school sites and professional learning
  • Blogs / Blog Readers (Feedly)
  • Google Forms

Sunday, October 12, 2014

DLC Goal - Student-led "Genius Bar" (POST IN PROGRESS)

One of the goals I have for this year is to get a student-led "Genius-Bar" type program started up.  The initial goal is to have "students helping students", especially with the brand new roll-out of the 1:1 laptops.  However, from some of my reading, I can see more potential for students helping teachers as well!

I'll be adding more notes and comments to this post as I sort through all the info, but I wanted to at least start with links to some places with great information!

Some great resources can be found at Generation YES:  Huge thanks to Kourtney Bostain for sending me a resource from them on Google Plus that just got me exploring more!

Some other resources I've found:
Some ideas from chatting with Nichole Carter, who has started a "Tech Gurus" student tech support group at her school.  (See her Pinterest board of resources here)
  •  I attempted to get this off the ground last year by getting kids to come in on their own time or as an after school club. I couldn't get ANY takers. This year I am running it through my advisory class, and boy has it taken off like there is no tomorrow.
  • What sort of Training do/should the Tech Gurus have?
    • (Ideal) - have them come in over the summer to give more 1 on 1 training
    • Digital Citizenship - all students have to go through trainings on this, but this can be led by Tech Gurus if they are trained first
    • Care & Maintenance; Responsibility with Device
    • Managing Apps, Setting up GDrive, etc
  • What do the Tech Gurus do throughout the year?
    • Tech Help - Genius Bar during advisory (partner rotation) in the library.  Both students and teachers can come in.
    • Tutorials - They make tutorials on different apps/programs the students might use.  They also help with training modules for parents (even running parent training night this year instead of teachers running it).  Things such as how to access wifi at home, how to use the iPad, how to set up accounts, etc).  Tutorials can also be done through a "speed dating" night where tech guru is set up at a table with a small group and shows them something in 5 minutes or less.  Bell rings and groups rotate.
    • Projects - Tech Gurus make presentations, movies, Aurasma, etc for different events such as Back To School night, Board Meeting, Rotary Club, etc.
  • Other notes:
    • She got them t-shirts and badges as an identifying feature so people recognize them and know they can ask for help
    • Helpful to have people on the team that speak the different languages needed at the school site.

I will continue to add to this post as I gather more ideas and resources and put a plan together for it.  Please comment and add your resources and suggestions!

DLC Goal - Weekly Tech Trainings for Teachers (POST IN PROGRESS)

I want to develop some sort of "Tech Thursday" or something where there is a once a week, after school, quick hands-on tech workshop for teachers. I'm imagining it would start with me, but ideally it would eventually be organized by me but led by teachers (teaching them to fish...). I sent out a request for ideas on Google+, so I'm going to summarize the resources here for ease of access in the future. (Special thanks to Michelle Roberts, Mark Emmons, and Nichole Carter for their thoughts and resources)

  • From Michelle:
    • Reference "Best Practices in Adult Learning Theory" to help guide your planning of the workshops.
    • Reference "Best Practices for Technology Training
    • Give some "pre-homework", like a short video tutorial for teachers to watch before coming.  This could motivate them to come - if they just see a "small slice" of a certain piece of technology and want to learn more about it.
    • Workshop NOT focused on Direct Instruction, but more on Guided Practice.  If workshop is 30 minutes, max 10 minutes instruction and rest of time to practice.
    • Places for free resources and tutorials:
    • Motivation - raffle at each training. People, especially teachers, LOVE the chance to win free stuff!
  • From Mark 
    • Characterize the sessions within a problem-solution framework. 1:1 coaching sessions can focus on the pedagogical constraints and actual implementation
    • Teacher-led sessions on application of technology/strategies set up ala edcamp, breaking down sessions topically for 1-1.5 hours each. Staff choose from 30+ sessions in a working environment.  (This is an idea I am hoping to use for some PD this fall; we will see with the amount of manpower/facilitators we have available)
  • From Nichole:
    • "I noticed that when you first roll out a 1:1 program the teachers are always overwhelmed, it takes a little less than a semester for some of the staff to come to the point where they are ready and able to learn more. Beyond that, it's voluntary so what do you consider a valuable piece of time. If I offer a after school workshop and I have at least 5-10 attend out of a staff of 40, I feel like it was a good use of my time. Regardless I post all the materials up for the staff to attend to later for their convenience if they had a meeting or were out sick and wanted to attend but couldn't."
    • Survey the staff and hear what needs they have.

  • I was able to GHO with Nichole tonight and got a lot of great ideas.  You can check out her Google Site with all her resources here.
    • She does a "Tech Thursday" each week, which is a 30 minute after school hands-on workshop for teachers.  She advertises the workshop and tells teachers what topic will be covered on Monday of that week.  Sometime between Tuesday and Thursday, she sends out a "Cheat Sheet" guide of what will be covered for teachers to preview (or to have if they aren't able to attend).  All of these cheat sheets are kept archived on her Google Site for teachers to access in the future.  During the session, she has a collaborative notes document (which isn't being used fully as of yet, but there is hope) for participants to share ideas and take notes.  The ideas for her Tech Thursdays come from two places.  First, at the beginning of the year, she did a "Gripe Jar" activity that she got from Jennie Magiera, where teachers wrote down all their gripes about technology.  She said a lot of ideas for what teachers needed came from that.  Second, she makes sure to listen and hear what teachers are encountering as they are teaching that might be useful as a Tech Thursday.
    • One hurdle she is working to overcome with teachers is the thought that "Sharing is NOT boasting".  Getting teachers to want to share what they are doing in their classes, and even "training" other teachers on how to do what they are doing, is a very scary thought for many.  
    • Over the summer, she sets up times at teachers' houses to do a "Wine and Apps", where they come together to enjoy wine and appetizers, but also explore different apps or features of the iPad (that is what they are 1-to-1 with).  The first summer, this was about once a week, but it could be even just a few specific dates throughout the summer and work well.  It helps to foster community among the staff and develop a culture of voluntary PD and collaboration.

I will continue to add to this post as I gather more ideas and resources and put a plan together for it.  Please comment and add your resources and suggestions!

Coaching Reflections - Take 1

I am really enjoying my new position.  The beginning of the year was a little crazy but now that it's been 2 weeks since the laptop roll-out, a routine is finally beginning to settle in.

My daily schedule varies greatly from day to day, but from week to week there is consistency.  I meet with each of my 10 fellows once a week during their prep (or lunch/ after school for the 3 that teach 6/5ths).  That is my "frame" for the week, and everything else fills in around those meetings.  In those open gaps I could be:
  • Planning for and then reflecting on meetings with fellows
    • I keep a "Journal" for each of the meetings where I plan a rough agenda, we take notes on what we talk about, and then the fellow reflects on what they've learned.  There is also a place to jot down things I need to do before the next meeting (whether it be finding out more info on how to use a tool, checking into something, etc).  After I meet with them, I leave their Google Doc open on my office computer until I have the chance to debrief in my head and then make plans for the following week.  I also like to respond back to their reflection to continue the conversation.  You can see the journal template I'm using here (it is constantly being edited as I figure out what is best for my workflow and fellow needs)
  • Meeting with non-fellow teachers during their preps helping them with some aspect of technology. 
    • Right now, I am using a weekly updated Doodle poll for teachers to select a meeting time.  I have it set so only one teacher can choose each time slot, and then I add it to my calendar manually.  I have looked at Appointment Slots through Google Calendar, but wasn't happy with a few quirks and problems that kept coming up so I am not using it for now. I would like to revisit it again later.
    • Most of the questions right now pertain to Haiku, which is our district's LMS.  I have helped teachers set up their classes, add their rosters, learn about how to add content blocks, using the quizzing tool, etc.   I am already brainstorming for how to make this more efficient next year.  We do have some video tutorials made that walk the teachers through how to do a lot of the setup, but by the time I had figured things out for this year (since it was all new to me), a lot of them had already tried things and were all at different points of completion and some had tried on their own without looking at the tutorials and had messed a lot of stuff up.  My goal is that by Year 3, they won't need me for Haiku stuff (Mission: To Develop Technologically Self-Sufficient Teachers), so I need to keep that in mind with how I organize and support the teachers next year.
  • Going into my fellows classrooms and either observing, co-teaching, or modeling a lesson
    •  Up to this point, I have just done observing and "supporting" (I wouldn't call it co-teaching yet).  This next week I will be actually modeling a lesson for using Diigo as an online annotation tool for an English class and showing students how to share the annotated URL with their teacher.  I will do that in 1st period, and then my fellow will do it for her students the next period.  In another class, my fellow will be having her students do their first Google form and I am just going to be in there to support and make sure everything goes well and to answer any questions along the way as she is using the data to guide her class time.
  • Doing research and playing around with different tools 
    • I have my never-ending list of stuff I want to look at, evaluate, or learn... when I get the chance!  
  • Creating tutorials (written and screencasts) for different things teachers need 
    • Most of the tutorials I've made so far have been for something on setting up AERIES (their gradebook) or Haiku (their LMS).  This week I am hoping to get one out about annotating with Diigo and with Adobe Reader XI (pre-installed on all student laptops).  I have a never-ending list, but I try to get at least one done a week depending on my schedule.
  • Supporting students with tech problems or questions
    • I go into the library every day during their break (12 minutes) and help our IT guy with any issues that students bring in.  We are in the process of developing a student tech help team, but this is working for now.
Things I've learned:
  • There are different hurdles for every teacher to get over as they progress on their journey of integrating technology.  It is important to start wherever the teacher is at and build from there.  For example, some teachers need to start with learning how to add content to Haiku, manage a class calendar, and make their workflow efficient.  Other teachers are good with that and are ready to start learning how to integrate Google Apps in their classroom.  Still others are already familiar with Google Apps and are ready to dig in deeper, learn about Add-ons and Formulas to streamline their workflow within Google Apps, and then explore other tools that will help their students to engage with the material more effectively and make parts of the teacher job more efficient.
  • Reflecting is not an easy thing for teachers who aren't used to it.  Most of the week 1-2 reflections were a description of what we talked about.  So, for the end of week 2 and starting this next week, I added prompts to the reflection box to help the teachers start thinking a little more.  I'm hoping this will help them to go beyond the "what" and think more about the "why".  If you have any ideas or suggestions for reflection prompts, please comment and let me know.
    • How will what you learned today affect you as a teacher, both in and out of the classroom?
    • Will the technology we looked at today help you or your students be more efficient or effective as a teacher?  If so, how?  If not, why?
Things I've worked on with my fellows so far:
  • Basic Tech 
    • Creating Email Signatures (and understanding the "settings" and "options" features)
    • Forwarding email from our Google Apps account to our Outlook account so they only have to check mail in one place
    • Managing your email inbox (deleting items, putting items in folders, etc)
    • Hyperlinking Text 
    • Purpose: Help get teachers more comfortable with the tech they use on a day to day basis.
  • Google Apps
    • Creating Google Forms for students to complete for the warmup or (for math) to complete after they do their practice problems to give feedback on which ones they need more help on. 
    • Purpose: Gives teacher better feedback of student learning; students held more accountable for their responses, helps teacher to guide and structure class time more effectively and efficiently.
    • Embedding Google Calendars on Haiku.  Teachers can embed/link the calendars ONCE on Haiku, and then just go to their Google Calendar page and update any and all class calendars in one location
    • Purpose: Efficiency!!
    • Google slides for student presentations.  Students share presentation with members in their group and the teacher, and then collaboratively work on the presentation.  We had each student responsible for one slide of the presentation to keep everyone accountable. The teacher was able to add comments to the slides as the students were working on them to give them feedback. Students presented and the teacher scored the presentations using a Google form rubric she created.  Then, using sum formulas, she was easily able to add up the student's scores and calculate it as a percentage that would go in the gradebook.  I showed her how to input the formula once and then drag the right corner of the box down to copy the formula into all boxes.  We also used the "find and replace" tool for the student peer evaluation rubrics.  They selected a group for "1st place", "2nd place" and "3rd place" and then we coded it to replace the "1st place" with 3 points, "2nd place" with 2 points, and "3rd place" with 1 point so the teacher could easily add up the points that each group earned. 
    • Purpose: This whole workflow was awesome.  Student collaboration, immediate teacher feedback, and then such an efficient workflow for the scoring and grading part of it.
    • Collaborative Google Drive folders to share answer keys and resources across a PLC.
    • Purpose: Collaboration! Efficiency!!
  • Other
    • Setting up quizzing through Haiku.  Haiku can automatically grade the quiz and will give the student his/her scores right away.  You can also set it up to be "practice" instead of "exam" and the student will receive feedback after each question.  You can set time limits on how long students have and open the quiz during a certain time window for each class period.
    • Purpose: Gives teacher and student great feedback on their learning/understanding. Saves teacher time with some basic grading.  
    • Khan Academy for enrichment practice (math).  Once students are a part of a class, the teacher can go to the appropriate "mission", which has the skills pretty well organized for that course.  Then, under "Skills Progress", the teacher can see which students have not yet attempted a certain exercise, who has attempted and struggled, who has attempted and done well, etc.  Then, with one click the teacher can "recommend" the students in certain categories to practice that exercise.
    • Purpose: Gives teacher and student great feedback about their learning.  A more game-based way for students to practice basic skills.
    • Creating video answer keys for math homework problems and posting on Haiku.
    • Purpose: Students can watch the videos anywhere, anytime, and at their own pace.  Teacher does not have to spend class time going over all the homework problems that different students may need. 
Keeping Track of Teacher Progress
  • I decided to make a spreadsheet of different tools I want teachers to be comfortable with by the end of the year.  Most of them are the things on Haiku and Google Drive, but they also go into different programs that can be used for student collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.  I am coding the teachers on a scale of 1-4 (see below) for each of the different areas.  It gives me a lot of information - reminders of where they are and what we've covered, ideas for where to go next, and long term goals for the future.  We are starting for the most part with things that teachers already know they want to try, but to a certain extent some of them "don't know what they don't know", so I wanted to have a place to keep track of ideas of things to introduce to them that would have an impact on their students.  Although my list is "by tool", my focus is more on what we want to see in the classroom (learning outcomes) and then looking at my "possibilities" and seeing which one will make the best fit.
1=introduced or modeled
2=worked on with coach guiding
3=worked on individually

I am also setting up some long-term goals for this year, which right now include starting up a student-run "Genius Bar" and having weekly tech trainings offered for teachers.  I'm going to write about my ideas and resources I've been given for those in different posts...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


WSQ - It stands for "Watch-Summarize-Question" and it's the idea/method/thing I came up with way back in January 2012 when I was brainstorming to find a way to hold my students accountable for actually watching the video lessons and coming to class ready with questions and to apply their knowledge.  I've always pronounced it "Wisk", like the kitchen gadget you mix pancake batter up with.  I think I may be adding something to it to make it a little more phonetic...

Jon Bergmann had a great blog post a while back called "How changing one word in the flipped class changes everything" .  Students can't just be told to go home and "watch" a video - they need to go home and "interact" with the video.

So, I'm thinking that

Watch-Summarize-Question (WSQ)

should now be

Watch (interact) - Summarize - Question (WiSQ)

Ok, maybe I don't need to go back and change every single time I've written the acronym WSQ and change it to WiSQ, but it is a good thing to think about.  When I talk to students about "watching" a video, my definition of it for them includes being engaged and interactive with the video.  I use the acronym "Be F.I.T. and Check your T.E.C.H." (modified from my FITCH with some ideas from Lisa Light), which stands for:

Be FIT when watching videos for education, not entertainment
Have a Focused, serious attitude
Be Involved in the process
Take away distractions, check your T.E.C.H.
(Tabs closed, Electronic devices put away, Cell phones- don't answer them, Headphones in)
(acronym developed collaboratively with Mrs. Lisa Light)

Being involved in the process means taking notes, pausing/rewinding (although yes, I know, you don't actually "rewind" a digital video, but the phrase still makes sense, at least to my students), answering questions posed, trying problems when asked, thinking of their own questions and confusion and jotting them down, etc.

I was in a Google Hangout for a MOOC through UCI that Chris Long is facilitating where we talked with Jon Bergmann a little bit about this.  You can see the Hangout on Air here.

Writing this post makes me a little nostalgic for having my own classroom and working with my students in developing the skills to effectively learning from video lessons - and being a part of the exciting, dynamic, engaging in class discussions and activities that resulted from that.  I'm hoping that I will be able to help some of the teachers at my new site to begin adopting a flipped learning mindset and utilize the tools and strategies I developed for my own classroom find success in theirs.  Only time will tell...

Monday, September 15, 2014

If I was going 1-to-1 next week...

I came home from work today with a craving.  (Well, besides the craving to sleep since I'm running on about 3 hours today after a long, hot night with no air conditioning that including a 1 1/2 hour snuggle session with a toddler who was thirsty at midnight...)

I was craving to blog.  To reflect. To process.

It's been hard not having my own classroom and stories to share and reflect on.  But, I know that blogging and reflecting is such a valuable tool to an educator that I am committed to keeping it up.  Sometimes I just don't know what to blog about anymore.

Next week we are deploying 1-to-1 devices (laptops) to our high school students.  My job will then be to really start working with the teachers on how to actually use them in the classroom.  As I was reminded today, it's not really a choice - the community has put a lot of resources into getting these devices into the hands of students.  They need to be used.  More than that, though, is the fact that this technology can truly transform the teaching and learning that goes on in the classroom.  These laptops are a tool that can help foster an environment of greater communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity - all those 21st century skills we want our students developing.

What comes to mind now is this:  If I was still in the classroom, and my students were getting laptops next week, how would that change what I did in my classroom?  I think by answering this question for myself, that will help me in coaching my fellows to come to their own answers...

First off, I think it would allow a lot of things with my flipped classroom to run more smoothly.  Students would all have a device where the videos could be downloaded or transferred via flash drive if they didn't have internet access at home.  Students wouldn't have to watch the video on their phone and type the WSQ responses into the Google Form using their awesome texting skills.  While having 1-to-1 devices would not solve the "I didn't watch the video" issue, it would allow me to not have to focus on making sure the students had devices, monitoring the checking out and in of those devices, making sure the old old old school desktops were working and updated, etc.

Even in my Course 1 class that I did the "in-class flip" with, students wouldn't have to watch the videos on tiny iPods, and I could always have them in partners instead of sometimes having them share in groups of 3.  I could have them do follow-up assignments on the computer (Google Forms, activity/game math practice sites, Khan Academy, etc).  A lot of the activities they did in class where they were finding data points, identifying patterns, graphing lines, etc - those could be done on a Google Doc where their work is "collected" by me instead of forever being lost in their workbook, never to really be looked at by a teacher.  They could actually do some creation and publishing quite easily with Google Docs and Desmos!

Student blogging would be much more manageable if the students had laptops with them in class.  They could create their own material (picture or video) and upload it right there in class.  They could type their blog post, do their research, publish and turn it in all in class - not having to wait until they got home.  In addition, students could make their videos using screencasting or their webcam - while not as simple as an iPad app like ShowMe or Educreations, it would save automatically to their computer and we wouldn't have to worry about the sslloowwnneessss of uploading the video from their phone via wi-fi.  They could also use other programs for creation, such as Thinglink, AdobeVoice, TouchCast, that add a little more interactivity and creativity.

Going along with that, even in a traditional classroom when students do more "problems" at home, technology could help in making the time more efficient in going over those problems.  From students submitting a Google Form at the beginning of class (or even the night before) marking the ones they need gone over, to having students create videos explaining the problems they did understand and posting them on a class website for students to access later - the sky is the limit.  Imagine you have 35 students - there could be so much differentiation here!  The top students and middle students could create video answer explanations for the tough homework problems and the lower students could receive some sort of remediation or reteaching on the material.  That could rotate and some days the top students work with the lower students in creating the video answer key, teaching them the concept while going through that.  I think the big thing here is that there is an archive of problems for the students to go back and access at any time, and they are in student friendly language.  To begin, the teacher could create these video answer keys and have them posted, and as the year goes on, student interest might even naturally be piqued and students could ask to be the ones to make the videos for their classmates.

WSQ chats could include a much more collaborative aspect with a live Google doc for each class period.  Students could have a spot where they share what they are discovering with their group, key points, or even questions that they still need answered.  While students submit their questions to me on the WSQ the night before, I could easily copy-paste those questions to the Google Doc (possibly with names) so discussions could be sparked and students could collaborate better with a need in mind.

When students are completing an inquiry or discovery activity, they could submit their results/thoughts/responses to me live on a Google Form, Doc, Spreadsheet, Drawing, etc - whatever suits the need.  This holds them accountable, gives me immediate feedback and guidance, allows them to share their findings with others, and sparks conversations.

Quick Quiz - Using Google Forms (or in the case of my school, Haiku LMS has a great assessment/quizzing feature), the beginning (or end) of class could be a quick quiz on the material to see how students are doing.  No paper, could grade it automatically, look for patterns, etc.

Today in class, I... Why waste paper having the students tell me what they plans are and what they accomplished on a piece of paper that I never look at?  Create a Google Form and have them fill it out at the beginning and end of class (or just the end... or just the beginning...).  Then the data is there constantly for teacher/student reflection and feedback, and it only takes a couple seconds to click through the form.

Templates for blog posts, activities, etc - With Google Classroom (or even the Doctopus script, although I've never used it), you can push copies of documents out to students where they each get their own editable copy.  You can set up a template for how you want an assignment completed, and you can see how they are progressing on it live and give them feedback/comments throughout the process.  Ideally, this means when the final product is turned in, it is complete and high quality because the feedback has been taken into consideration.

Brainstorming and idea shareout with Padlet or Today's meet.  Live Collaboration in a way where all students really can participate at once and get their ideas out.

Collaborative Notetaking - there are some units where there are key ideas that are much more than just numbers and formulas.  How awesome would it be to have that on a live Google Doc and then even go a step further and have students take different parts of the notes to add pictures or videos to describe even further?  All in one place where all students can access, rather than written on a side whiteboard and hoping that all students got it copied down while trying to listen, learn, and write all together?

Apps and programs that are much more useful with 1-to-1 devices:

  • Desmos - I would use for everything to do with graphs.  From graphing piecewise functions, transforming (shifting, reflecting, stretching/shrinking) functions, comparing and contrasting functions... the possibilities are endless.  This is the same for Geogebra, which I still haven't played around with enough to understand.
  • Kahoot - I blogged extensively about my short time with Kahoot once I discovered it near the end of the year.  I found ways to make it meaningful when done both as individuals and in small groups.  This is a great opener and provides some great data and feedback to the teacher.
  • Aurasma - The walls of the class could come alive - there's so much more than meets the eye.  From more structured activities where there are pictures of problems around the room and scanning the "Aura" would lead to a video explaining the problem, to pictures of mathematicians that lead to a video about who they are and what they discovered (and how it relates to this class!) - there's so much you can do with this app!  Students could make the videos and show their understanding of the material in a dynamic way that could not normally be "displayed" on a classroom wall.
  • Khan Academy - The self-paced, personalized setup of the "missions" allows students to work at their level and find success no matter how high or low their skills are.  I could see myself using this as a set activity once a week (example: first 15 minutes on Fridays is Khan Academy missions) or as an activity that students work on once they complete the day's work.  There is some extrinsic motivation / competition aspect to the missions, and it helps build those math foundational skills that a lot of our students have continued to sweep under the rug year after year.
Wow... I think the list could go on, but that is enough for tonight.  It's 5pm and I'm hoping bedtime is coming soon. 

There is just so much potential for the classroom to change from:

Teacher Centered to Student Centered - Class time focused on students discussing, working together, collaborating, and sharing - in an environment where they can still be held accountable for their work and the teacher can monitor their progress the entire way!  Direct instruction does not need to be delivered to all 30-40 students at once - it can be offloaded to the individual learning space, whether that be at home or even just within partners in class so students can work at their own pace and feel free to ask questions without fear of standing out in front of their peers.

Passive Learning to Active Learning - Class time has students actively involved in applying their knowledge, analyzing problems and discussing what they find, creating their own work and publishing it for the world to see.  Students don't just have to sit their and ingest information!  When there is a time for direct, whole-group instruction, you can involve the whole class by having a collaborative notes document, a Padlet or Today's Meet, or other way to keep them actively engaged with the material.

Lower Order Thinking to Higher Order Thinking - Students need to be able to articulate their knowledge, defend their answers, and understand the connections among the concepts.  There are so many ways that technology can aid in that happening.  I think a lot of times activities are designed that can definitely be great HOT activities, but they end up being great HOT activities for 3-5 students and a time to space out for the rest of the class.  Technology can help in involving all students and holding all students accountable for their work.

Whew... This is longer than I had planned but it feels so good to blog!

A few things to end on...

Technology is awesome.  There is so much cool stuff you can do with it.  

BUT - When it comes down to it we must consider:

1. Does it make my class more effective?  Are my students able to learn better and deeper because of the technology? 
2. Does it make my class more efficient? Is less time and paper wasted?
3. Does it allow my students to collaborate in a way that wasn't possible without the tech?
4. Does it allow my students to create and share their work in a way that wasn't possible without the tech?
5. Does it help to facilitate critical thinking in all students, even at the most basic level of holding them all accountable for deep thinking and processing of the material?
6.  Where does what we are doing fall on the SAMR model?  While Substitution (replacing something paper/pencil with tech; no functional change) and Augmentation (direct substitute, but improved functionality) are a great place to start, how can we move towards classroom transformation with Modification (task is redesigned because of what the tech can help do) and Redefinition (new tasks created that were inconceivable without technology)?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Touchcast "Flipped Classroom Workflow"

It was great to work with Touchcast in putting together a "Flipped Classroom Workflow" based on my WSQ strategy.  You can check out their newsletter with my workflow here.  Touchcast is a great app to create interactive videos - I only wish I would have come across them sooner!  I would highly suggest checking them out.

You can also see the Touchcast below. (Original link here)

*Big Thanks to my former student Eric who helped me modify the embed code to stop it from autoplaying. You are awesome!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Coaching Training Brain Dump - Day 2

See my Day 1 Notes here.

Day 2 of our training started off with a great activity/icebreaker for full-day trainings.  Our trainer had everyone write down 3 facts about themselves:

  • One fact that is true of pretty much everybody in the room
  • One fact that is true of several others in the room, but definitely not all
  • One fact that you think is fully unique.
Throughout the day, it was used as a "brain break" but also a great way to get to know the people on our team.  Everyone would stand up.  If a fact was read that wasn't true about you, then you would sit down.  After the third fact was read, there was usually only one person standing.  However, it was interesting when there were still 2-3 people left after all three facts.  The person who wrote it then gave a little more detail on their third fact so we could get to know them better.

Overall Notes to Remember:
  • How people see you will influence how they react to you
  • Change management is NOT:
    • "I've got it figured out and I'm here to implement"
    • "I already know where people need to go and I just need to get them there" 
  • Coaching is a DANCE - It's give and take
  • As a coach, it's important to continually reflect and ask myself: "Did I spend most of my day in Expert Mode, Collaborative Mode, or Cognitive Mode?"
  • As a coach, it's important to reflect on the levels of concern my fellows are at.  If they are all stuck at level 2, am I really doing my job of moving them forward?
  • Book to check out - Mentoring Matters
    • Sentence Starters and Coaches Sentence Frames 
  • One of the challenges of coaching is accepting what you given
    • Our bias is to try to change their mind
    • You can't argue with it because it's what they said
    • We should try to take whatever is said and find whatever is positive in what is said, and then say that back (positive presuppositions) 

  • Developed in 1965; outlines four stages/phases in the sequence of group development
  • When groups come together, there is some sort of life cycle or pattern
  • Step 1 - Forming
    • "Who we are and what we do has not been decided yet"
  • Step 2 - Storming
    • Checking the boundaries, exploring the expectations, set the stage for what is going to be normal.
    • "What are the limitations of this relationship", "I'm not sure what to expect from each other"
    • A lot of people don't want to do this phase and try to go around this phase.  However, this is the phase where we build the relationship.  It requires authentic testing of the perimeter that leads to bonding.
    • This is NOT a stage we should avoid.  We should embrace it.  The more you avoid it, the more it will prolong it.
    • Every storming moment is one to establish the coaching relationship.
    • "What you accept is what you should expect"
  • Step 3 - Norming
    • Norms are:
      • observable behaviors over time that we come to expect
      • time-based.  Something could be normal "right now" but may not be normal forever.
      • not written down.  Norms exist whether they are written or not.
      • the expectations you accept over time.  Once they are established, we become a change agent.
  • Step 4 - Performing
    • The gaps are understood and relatively predictable
    • The group knows what to do when dysfunction emerges.

Innovation Framework - SAMR
  • Four levels:
    • Substitution
    • Augmentation
    • Modification
    • Redefinition
  • SAMR helps to classify lessons as a certain level
  • Important because: if you are coaching change, you need some way to describe the process.
  • Baseline --> Next Step --> End Zone 
Tools in Coaching Toolbox
  • Paraphrasing
    • Why paraphrase?  Trying to find the thing in the negative that is a positive
    • When absolutes are given, don't accept it at face value - it's probably not directed at that one thing
    • Acknowledge and clarify - affirms that you are listening
      • Ask for permission when paraphrasing
      • "It sounds to me like you said this... Do I have that right?"
    • Organize their thinking for them
      • "It sounds like you have 3 priorities... 1,2,3"
      • Don't always go and rephrase what they said.  Instead, say, "I  heard you say _____, can I say ____" 
      • Always ask their permission because you are projecting onto them what you are thinking
    • Shift the level of abstraction (level up or level down)
      • Shifting your statement to a more broader abstraction or a more narrow focus - so you can fully understand what they are trying to say
      • Examples:
        • How’d the lesson go?
          • I don’t know, the kids don’t seem engaged
            • 'It sounds like some of the kids aren’t as engaged as you want
        • The district keeps rolling out all this software
          • It sounds like this particular rollout was unexpected
  • Inquiring / Questioning
    • Purpose: To ask questions that don't set up a dichotomy (either/or)
      • Example: Was that a good lesson? (Yes or No)
      • Example: Were all your students engaged? (Yes or No)
    • Yes or No questions limit reflection
    • Examples of inquiry-provoking questions:
      • How did you see students responding during the technology phase?
      • What are your thoughts around how this lesson fits into what you think of as the norm?
      • What are some thoughts you have about next time?
  • Probing
    • When you hear absolutes, the next best thing is to probe it
    • Press them to define their own terms
      • "What did you mean by _____? " 
    • Don't challenge it, just try to understand it.  "Accept it, and Probe it"
    • When they are using language that makes it seem they are compelled (or forced) to do something, then probe to understand better
      • CBAM Level 2 Personal Concern
      • "Must - Should - Have to"
        • "We have to use this new template"
          • "What do you mean you have to?"
            • "They said we have to use this"
              • "Who are they"
  • The Third Point
    • When you are coaching, establish something outside the two of you to talk about.
    • "I'm here to talk about..."  (the lesson, the app, the strategy, etc)
      • (I'm NOT here to judge you or evaluate your teaching)
    • Helps keep everyone's affective filter low' helps to avoid making it personal
    • Be the COACH, not the expert
    • Refer to a source outside yourself
      • Authority outside the room
        • "Michael Grinder says..."
      • Anchor to a text or document
        • "Based on the standards..."
        • "Based on the textbook..."
      • Anecdotal evidence (slippery)
        • "I saw a teacher who did..."
        • *Only use if they have invited examples; can sound like a judgment or comparison
      • Notes from pre-meeting, observation form, etc
        • "If we refer to the form we wrote..."
      • Student response 
        • "What did you notice about how the students responded to the iPads?"
  • A protocol is just a predictable set of topics with some sort of time attached to it
  • This is important for office hours - have some sort of form for them to fill out.  Top three concerns, what you've done, what you want to do. 
Adult Motivation
  • What motivates adults to learn and be coached?  What makes them easier or harder to work with?
    • Past Experience
    • Beliefs - Growth Mindset
  • Self-efficacy - the belief that you can do what's next because of what you just did
    • Anchor it in what they just did - that will build their self-efficacy
    • "Because you were able to _______, you will be able to _______"
    • *One of our goals is to raise efficacy 
  • Note: Patronizing will both them as much as it will both you.  Don't do it/say it if you can't defend it.  Don't just flatter people in the efforts to raise their self-efficacy.
    • It's not patronization if it's evidence-based  "I saw _____, so I know you will be able to _______." 
  • Attribution:
    • Internal/External
    • Unstable/Stable
    • If you attribute your success too often to unstable/external, you will have low self-efficacy. 
    • Our job is to drive the conversation to EFFORT (internal/unstable).  Get them to attribute their success to their own effort!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Coaching Training Brain Dump - Day 1

See my day 2 notes here.

Although this isn't really my first day on the new job (we've had some meetings, trainings, etc), it was the "official" first day back so all the Digital Learning Coaches, District TOSAs, and related Directors/Coordinators got together for a training led by Steve Regur, who works with Educators Cooperative.  So much great information, so much to think through, I figured blogging about it would help me to process and put it all together in one place.  While this is a lot of notes and a few bits of reflection, I figured it would still be of interest to some as it is such great information!  So, here we go!

(For those of you who don't know, I have taken a position out of the classroom at a new district as a Digital Learning Coach.  Funny thing, one of the tasks today was how we would define our position to different people based on who they were.  Since most of you who read this are in education at some level, I will define it as "I am a teacher who is out of the classroom whose goal is to work with and coach other teachers in effectively integrating technology into their curriculum".  While I don't know exactly what my day to day looks like yet and I'm learning more every day, that will be enough for now.)

Random Notes and Good Thoughts

  • The most important thing we do for a living is listen, not talk
  • Change happens one conversation at a time
  • Coaching is a dynamic process - not a static one
  • Quote from another DLC: "A leader is supporting learning, growing, and reflecting; a manager is making sure it gets done efficiently and effectively.  You can be both." 

Key Ideas:

  1. Communication Styles - General Overview
    1. Everyone we work with has a framework they operate under so we need different answers for different people.  We must consider how they will view our answer through their lens.  We  need to be able to take the same piece of information and reframe it in multiple ways for the different people we interact with.  Example: Describing our job will be different for someone in education, a random person we meet in the grocery store, a family member, etc.
    2. As a coach, we must be able to change our framework.  We must continue to improve our communication styles every day and up-level the people we are communicating with.  The way we move forward is through communication.
    3. As a coach, I am not just "training" (giving information).  I am helping and supporting other adults so they can think more deeply, reflect more fully, all while providing insight.
    4. When we coach, we lead with a certain communication style.  The people we coach respond to different styles and we must learn to adjust.
    5. In any team, it is important to have people from all four communication styles.  (As a note, our team of DLCs is very well rounded - 4 blues, 2 greens, 5 reds, and 4 yellows)
  2. Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument - HBDI
    1. We did an activity where we picked 10 adjectives that best describe us at work from a list of about 40.  Then, from those 10 we had to narrow it to our top 5.  That put us in a general category of our communication style, which comes from the HBDI linked above.  My final 5 adjectives were: "Gets things done", "is reliable", "organized", "timely", and "plans".  That put me in the "Green" section.
    2. A few notes of each of the selves:
      1. Blue - Rational Self (Logical, Analytical, Fact-Based, Quantitative)
        1. These people care about "at the end of the day, what's going to happen? What's the bottom line?  What numbers indicate that we have an outcome?"
        2. They don't just want to get to the point, they want to get to an outcome that is logical, rational, and evidence-based.  They want brief, clear, and precise information.
        3. Wants the graph more than the narrative.  Wants case studies with evidence, not with narratives.  Talks in bullet points, not paragraphs.  Doesn't want "fluff" or illogical flow.
        4. Usually analyzing while you are talking and trying to project ahead to where you are going.
        5. Question about Coaching they need answered - What is the point of this coaching?  What outcomes will I see?
      2. Green - Safekeeping Self (Organized, Sequential, Planned, Detailed)
        1. These people don't just think in bullet points, they think in numbers.  If it comes first, it must be more important.  They like planning and checklists... and crossing things off checklists
        2. They try to take care of the situation by taking care of that which can be controlled.  They try to anticipate and control anything possible.
        3. Question about Coaching they need answered - How is the coaching going to unfold?  What steps are we going to take? 
      3. Red - Feeling Self (Interpersonal, Feeling-based, Kinesthetic, Emotional)
        1. These people want the human perspective.  "What does this look like from the kids' point of view?  From a parent's point of view?"  They like anecdotes and want names
        2. They need to feel enthusiasm and expects empathy/consideration of their needs.  They want their feelings to be respected and for everyone to have equal consideration
        3. Question about Coaching they need answered - Who?  (Not sure if this meant "Who will I be working with?  Who will be impacted?)
      4. Yellow - Experimental Self (Holistic, Intuitive, Integrating, Synthesizing)
        1. These people like frameworks, diagrams, and thought bubbles.  They tend towards fragments of thoughts rather than bulleted lists.
        2. They want to take risks.  They see failure as where the learning is
        3. They want the big picture and want to konw how it all connects.
        4. Question about Coaching they need answered -  Why? (Not sure if this meant "Why are we doing this? Why are we using this model/protocol?)
    3. Coaching - General Notes
      1. We are coming alongside our fellows as a collaborative partner
      2. Depending on the culture of the school, coaching will be received differently.  Question to consider - Am I stepping into a template that already exists, or am I creating a new template?
      3. Coaching is not just about the coach, or the knowledge set of the coach.  Even if you are the most "armed" coach with all the tools available to you... It doesn't matter at the end of the day.  Coaching is culturally and relationship-driven.  It's not just "you're smart and you're a good teacher, go out there and make it happen."  This assumes that all schools and teachers will embrace you in the same way, which is just not true.
      4. When starting to coach, it is important to focus on: Building relationships, building trust, personal connections, and customizing the experience for each of your fellows.
      5. My assumptions of why people do what they do sets up my expectations for them, which is a bias I must overcome.
    4. Models of Coaching
      1. These three modes are interconnected and flow in and out of each other.
      2. Expert Coach
        1. I've been there, I've done that. Explicit. "Let me Show you"
        2. Strengths - gets the job done, efficient, credibility, people are used to direct instruction, certain tasks (procedural knowledge) calls for it, leads to unification for large-scale implementation of ideas.
        3. Limitations - "My way or the highway", can squash creative freedom or innovative approaches, instantly forgotten if they don't have time to practice, lends to a one-size fits all where one best way is assumed, potential lack of buy-in, could lead to learned helplessness where fellow does not want to do anything until coach is there to guide them.
      3. Collaborative Coach
        1. Shared decision making. Both coach and fellow are coming in with some level of experience and expertise.  Focus on shared outcomes and co-developing/creating
        2. Strengths - Sense of shared ownership, exploration, possibility for risk taking, fellow can provide better context to their classroom.
        3. Limitations - Time (requires conversation), can become dependent on the co-teaching approach
      4. Cognitive Coach
        1. Discovery approach. Inquiry-based.  Mediating Questions - Don't tell you want to think, just help you think.  Rarely makes suggestions (even the questions are whitewashed of implication)
        2. Strengths - Empowering to fellow, growing & learning, forces them to think & see something, takes away some of the risk factor as there is not always a "right answer", building capacity of fellow to individually refine their practice.
        3. Limitations - Some tasks don't call for this type of coaching, could lead to resentment that "the coach isn't doing anything", can be frustrating because it doesn't guarantee progress, lends itself to a lot of listening which can be difficult, must be very purposeful in our language choice which requires patience and pre-planning, sometimes hard to get people to become introspective and honest with themselves.
      5.  We were asked to separate into the type of coaching we thought we "defaulted" to.  90% of the people went to "Collaborative", and most of the rest went to "Cognitive".  One of the new DLCs went to "Expert" and I stood in the middle between "Expert" and "Cognitive".  I almost felt like it was a trick question, and maybe I just don't know because I've never really "coached" before, but I don't feel like I have a default right now.  The way it was set up seemed like "Collaborative" was the absolute best, but it was emphasized multiple times that you need all three in certain instances.  I feel like it totally depends on who I am working with, where they are at, and what they need.  I have no problem stepping into any of the three roles depending on the situation, and I'm not going to "default" to a role without knowing the context.  It was really good to think through the strengths and limitations of each type of coaching and consider when each type would be beneficial.  A few of the other DLCs said that they start with the Cognitive approach to help see where their fellow is, and then that will lead to transitioning to the Expert approach if needed, and eventually to the Collaborative approach.
    5. Change Management
      1. Dealing with Concerns:
        1. Reframe concerns as indicators of next steps.
        2. Instead of avoiding pushback, we embrace it - so we can capture it and address it 
      2. As a note on the value of reflection... these stages and notes below didn't really click until I'm now sitting down and sifting through them.  I was a little overwhelmed by this point in the day and it was just a lot of information for me.  However, as I now sit down and think through my journey as a flipped class educator, I can definitely see how I progress through the stages and considered the questions listed below.  How exciting that I will be able to walk through these stages alongside my fellows and celebrate their successes and growth with them!
      3. Concerns-Based Adoption Model  and Seven Stages of Concern
        1. Start at Stage 0 and move forward from there
        2. Stage 0 Awareness - I am not concerned about it
          1. How to move forward: establish a context, make it concrete, make it relevant, access their communication style
          2. They might ask: Why is this so important? Yes I signed up, but what's the big deal?  I need to find out: What are they driven by? 
        3. Stage 1 Informational - I would like to know more about it
          1. How to move forward: provide background, provide access to articles or research, provide access to people who have implemented, set up Q/A sessions 
          2. Important - be the curator.  Don't bombard them with 19 articles - give them ONE, or even just the ONE paragraph.  If you overload them early, you are training them to not pay attention to you
          3. Important - This needs to be didactic (back and forth) *New word of the day*  It's not just push-push-push information; it needs to be push and pull
        4. Stage 2 Personal - How will using it affect me?
          1. How to move forward: access the personal story, clarify where they are now and where they need to be, think about the details of their day to day
          2. Consider what they are doing now, and then what they will be doing once they've transitioned
          3. Ask them what they are already good at.  Sentence frame sample: "Because you did _________, you'll be able to do ____________" 
        5. Stage 3 Management - I seem to spending all my time getting materials ready
          1. How to move forward: focus on efficiency, focus on time and cost/benefit, provide access to examples, provide resources, help desk
          2. These people say, "I know about it, I kind of know what it means to me, but I don't seem to have the resources"
          3. A lot of people plateau here.  Some either understate their needs, or they accomplish one thing and they think they are done (example of "yay my kids rotate through an ipad station so I have a blended learning environment, I'm done!")
          4. Coaching role: Don't run the race for them, but remove some of the hurdles that are in their way
        6. Stage 4 Consequence - How is my use affecting learners? How can I refine it to have more impact? 
          1. This is something you want to get towards sooner rather than later
          2. Leads to action research - quantify and reflect
          3. How to move forward: You must define what "good looks like" , identify data and indicators of success, relate stories to impact and outcomes, focus on what will be better
        7. Stage 5 Collaboration - How can I relate what I am doing to what others are doing?
          1. How to move forward: Connect to others within and outside of the organization, express the idea of building their leadership, think about opportunities to showcase or make public the work, celebrate successes loudly
          2. Important: You must move through the other stages first before coming to this point. 
        8. Stage 6 Refocusing - I have some ideas about something that would work even better
          1. "How do I move from Good to Great"
          2. Ideas: Going to conferences, Blogging/Tweeting about it
    6. My Coaching "To-Do" List
      1. Look at the applications of my fellows and read their thoughts.  Consider the following: What are they expecting from coaching?  How close is their vision to my vision?
      2. Think about the first meeting.  Starting our conversations at "Stage 0" and working through the questions sequentially
      3. Get to know my fellows and their communication styles.  Strive to understand them better and where they are coming from / what their needs are.  Continually improve in reframing what I am saying to better suit the communication styles of the fellows I am working with.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

What I learned about flipping from trying to fix our car...

We got a new car last November.  Well, new to us meaning a 2007 Toyota Highlander, with room enough for Grayson's carseat and some leg and breathing room.  The battery, which hadn't been replaced in 7 years, died about a month ago as I was attempting to meet up with a friend for lunch and we got a replacement (thank you AAA).  Then, last Monday, the fateful "battery" light came on our dash.  I looked it up and this is what I was told on multiple sites (but this one is from

Charging System Warning LightThe charging system, or battery, warning light, is one of the most critical warning lights on any vehicle. Whenever this light goes on, it means that the vehicle is running solely on battery power and will only be able to drive a very limited distance before it runs out of electrical power and dies.

Awesome.  That's exactly what you want to hear the night before you go back to work full time after having the summer off, when you have a 15 month old at home that you can do absolutely no work unless he is asleep.  Just perfect...

The diagnosis was that we needed a new alternator, and in the efforts to save some money and make my very handy dad proud of us being able to figure this thing out, we decided to buy the alternator and repair it ourselves.

This process started on Tuesday.  And we still don't have it fixed.  (Don't worry, we have another car I can drive to work.  My husband and son just have no way to leave the house while I'm gone all day...)

By last night, we (when I say "we", I actually mean my amazing husband, with my loving encouragement, support, and "how's it going" followed by "how much longer") had gotten the old alternator out and the new one in.  But the darn serpentine belt just would not get back on.  We had all the right tools (breaker bar, wrenches, etc), but we couldn't get enough slack to get it around.

It was about 8pm last night when I gave up trying to work on unpacking and intermittently "got my hands dirty" and tried to help my husband either get the belt back around or put pressure on the breaker bar to release the tension.  As my frustrations increased and it turned to 10:30pm with no success, I felt like this was a perfect analogy to why even Flipping 101 is so valuable...

The teacher needs to be there when the students are doing the "hardest" work - when they are actually applying, analyzing, and evaluating the information.  They DON'T need to be there (as much or if at all) during information dissemination or basic knowledge transfer.

We watched several YouTube videos, read a few websites, and with my limited car knowledge (i.e. NONE) I am now confident that I could explain to anyone where the alternator is, what it looks like, the pattern of the serpentine belt, the ridge/smooth edges of the belt and how they line up with the ridge/smooth parts, what a breaker bar is, how there are different sizes of wrenches and two ends to them.  Yeah... I learned a lot of basic factual information all on my own.

Once we actually started to apply the information we learned, we thought it would be pretty easy.  After all, the videos made it seem pretty easy.  Obviously, it wasn't that easy.  We needed the teacher physically present.  We needed someone live who could troubleshoot our issues and tell us what we were doing wrong/differently from the instructions.  We needed someone to "spot us" and guide us to not miss something we didn't realize was important. (P.S. If you aren't following Paula Torres' blog, you need to.  One of her recent posts on being the "spotter" for her students was "spot" on ;).)

So... think about how this applies in the classroom.

How often do we give the "information" during class time and then send students home expecting they can apply it themselves with no support?  They have the basic facts, vocabulary, and even some written/verbal/visual examples, all given to them by the "expert" who makes it seem so easy?  And, when students go home, they look at it, try their best, but just seem stuck.  They get frustrated, just want to cry and give up, and feel hopeless, like they are so stupid they can't figure out what seems to be "so easy" to other people? [cue our feelings from the last 48-72 hours...]

How much better is it, even to begin with Flip 101, and give students that basic information before they come to class [or even, for the anti-homework people out there, asynchronously during class time on student devices where they can receive support and help "just in time" for when they need it and are ready to ask question or apply it], when all they have to do is digest it, think through it, take notes, and write their questions down... Then, they come to class and are able to get their questions answered (that they now know they have, since they had time to process the material).  They are able to apply their knowledge of the basic facts and information and struggle through the material WITH help right next to them to "spot" them and help them when needed.  The students don't get to the point of utter frustration and giving up hope because there is support all around them!

I just told my husband this analogy (as he heads back downstairs for another try).  Hopefully it makes sense... and hopefully the "Grayson-mobile" can make its way out of the garage shortly.
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