Sunday, March 1, 2015

OCMC Learning and Reflection

I had the privilege of attending the Orange County Mathematics Council 2015 Symposium last Monday, and it was an evening full of great learning.  My only disappointment was that this was the first of these events I had attended - I really wish I would have known about them while I was in the classroom!

The Symposium is an evening with a keynote and 2 breakout sessions.  Here are a few of my thoughts and reflections:

Keynote: Chris Shore
You can see his slide deck linked here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

  • The only way our students will get better is if we get better.
  • The 4 1/2 principles of quality math instruction, which include:
    • Standards - focus on limited number of topics
    • Concepts - teach students to understand, not mimic
    • Substance - higher order thinking
    • Accountability - hold all students accountable for knowledge and performance
    • Rapport - reach before teach
  • The real 21st century skills: "Teach students to THINK and COMMUNICATE their thinking"
    • In the 20th century, we taught students to obtain and retain.  This is no longer important, since the information can be obtained from basically anywhere. 
  • Chris talked about many groups of ideas that have been referred to as 21st century skills, including:
    • 6 Shifts (Engage NY)
      • Focus, Coherence, Fluency, Deep Understanding, Application, Dual Intensity
      • The last four used to be referred to as "rigor', now they are separated
      • Dual intensity refers to focusing on both skills/practice AND application/understanding with dual intensity
    • 4 C's (EdLeader 21)
      • Communication, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Creativity
      • These should redefine learning and school
      • 60% of dialogue in class should be student to student
    • 4 Claims (SmarterBalanced / PARCC)
      • Concepts & Procedures, Critical Thinking, Communicate Reasoning, Construct Model
    • 8 Mathematical Practices (CCSS) 
      • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
      • Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
      • Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
      • Model with mathematics
      • Use appropriate tools strategically.
      • Attend to precision.
      • Look for and make use of structure.
      • Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning
      • The 8 Practices are for the students, not the teachers
      • These 8 Practices are the content standards!
      • Resources for teaching the 8 mathematical practices

  • As we looked at all of these, they all came back to students being able to THINK and COMMUNICATE their thinking.
  • What is a Problem?
    • An exercise is something that you know how to do and have the ability to do
    • A crisis is something you don't know how to do and don't have the ability to do
    • A problem is something that you don't know how to do but have the ability to do so... this is where we want our students working!
  • We must have dual objectives in our teaching.  30% of teaching should be notes-oriented (what they should know) and 70% should be task-oriented (what they should do).  Every day we should have both pieces.
    • Yes, we still need some "drill and kill".  But that's 30%.
  • Tasks are problems that are used to teach both content and practices.
  • There are a lot of great quotes on his slide deck from "The New Classroom"
    • In a nutshell, the CCSS expect that, instead of knowing the answer, students must now be able to create the answer, make claims and produce evidence from text to support their claims.
    • Instead of working mathematics problems, students must be able to apply mathematics concepts to real-world situations and write about their thinking in moving to a solution.
    • This change requires a different style of instruction than what many have come to call “sit and get.” 
    • That means that, in most cases, teachers will have to encourage much more student work and student discourse and engage in far less teacher talk.
 Cat Nolan - Give your students purpose to conquer Common Core
  •  She doesn't have quizzes and tests, she has "games" and "practices".  Remember, not all practices are fun, you will sweat and be sore, but it will prepare you for the game
  • Making ONE problem connect with the kids is better than 40 practice problems
  • We aren't here to be managers are homework.  We are there to teach life skills, critical thinking skills, and concepts. 
  • Strategies for "common core-izing" traditional problems
    • Explain your thinking
    • Easy number type question?  Let's use that to solve this.
    • Turn into a statement and analyze
    • Turn into a story
    • Error analysis - where did they go wrong?  Why was it wrong?  How would you do it correctly?

Nanette Johnson - Fostering Perseverance with Interesting Math Problems
  • We did a few different math problems (see slides for other examples), but the one below is my favorite.  Think about the level of thinking required to complete the problem below vs. doing 40 factoring problems!




Other great resources I came across:

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Random Group Generator + Doctopus = Collaborative Group-Making Gold!

I have been using Doctopus with several of my fellows and other teachers at my site all year as an effective way to push out documents to students.  Google Classroom was not open at the beginning of the year at my district, so I worked to become a "Doctopus Expert".  I put together this step-by-step guide and then a more simplified "visual guide" (personalized for one of my fellows).

With Classroom now open, I am still sticking with Doctopus for several reasons:

  • File Organization - I love that the files are organized in student folders but also assignment folders
  • Teacher Access and Control at all stages - Teacher has access to the document from the time it is pushed out, not from when the student begins working on it
  • Goobric - Easy to navigate between assignments, and now you can leave voice comments!
  • Data and Statistics in terms of word count, student revisions, comments, etc, and... 
  • The ability to push out documents to collaborative groups, not just to individual students.

My one complaint with Doctopus group-making is there is not a way to select how many groups you want or how many students you want in each group.  Then, I was listening to an ISTE Webinar Archive today and the presenter linked to a Random Group Generator [see the original template here].  I decided to check it out... and I think it may just be a pretty awesome discovery!

I added on to the original Random Group Generator document using two formulas:

=concat(  
Used to join together "Group 1. ___" with the group number assigned by the generator.  The "1. " portion refers to the class period the student is in.

=vlookup(
Used to get the group numbers for the students in the correct roster order, as the number generator puts them in order by group number, not alphabetical.

The goal is that you can copy-paste (paste values only) the last column straight into your Doctopus "Group" column and you will be able to easily create groups of all sizes!

You can view and make a copy of my 6-period Random Group Generator with formulas here.

Please let me know if you catch any errors or mistakes as I have just put this together and will be trialing it out this week.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Reflections on Coaching - Take 5 (Back after a long break)

It's been a crazy start to the year and I got out of the habit of blogging about coaching for a while, but (hopefully) I'm back!

I have seen some amazing ideas, lessons, and growth among the teachers I am working with in the last several weeks and that is very exciting.   It ranges from learning how to use Google Docs and Slides to create presentation material for students to helping teachers launch and begin using Doctopus to push out assignments to students... and everything in between!

Two key "learnings" from the last several weeks:

- "Explore - Flip - Apply" is a great technique.  I've known that, but now I'm really experiencing it.  I am trying to encourage discovery and inquiry in the math classes as much as possible (where it fits), and using this technique really allows for that student concept development and exploration time as well as providing them with the follow-up support they need.  For example, students can explore properties of logarithmic graphs compared to exponential graphs, how the graph changes based on the base, and what different numbers put into the equation do the graph.  They can use Desmos as a tool for some of this as well as their prior knowledge of function transformations.  They explore and come to conclusions as they notice patterns and discuss with their classmates.  That night, they have some graphs to try on their own.  The teacher can make a short video explaining one or two the graphs in a more straightforward way to solidify the conclusions most of the class came to by the end of the period.  Then, they can come back the next day and apply that knowledge further.

- There are so many different ways to have students collaborate, and chunking a lesson really really really makes a difference.  I've even suggested having a timer that goes off every 5-7 minutes to remind the teacher to "shut up and let the kids talk".   We've done very structured collaboration like having A/B partners where each time one partner has the role of talking, to having A/B partners where they are both talking and working together, to having pods of 3 where the students turn and talk with their partners.  Those are all in the "think-pair-share" model, but it's really a great place to start.  We have tried having collaboration time before the teacher explains a problem, after the teacher explains a problem, or after a problem with a focus on a new/similar problem.  We are learning different levels of scaffolding, modeling, and support that different levels of students need.

Coaching Documents and Reflections:

I'm really glad I put all the work in over break to update my different coaching documents.  While I am still tweaking and playing with them, they lay a great foundation.  One of the documents is a very detailed lesson planning guide with probing questions.  I've found that it is a great tool more for me as the coach, not necessarily to have my fellows work through.  As I continue to grow, most of the prompts will become second nature to me and I'll be able to go through the process seamlessly.  However, while I'm still learning, it is really valuable to have such a structured guide to go through.

One of my colleagues showed me a Pre-Brief and De-Brief reflection form on a Google Form and I'm thinking that may be better to have my fellows submit via a consistent form rather than always trying to find the right place in the journal.  I need to figure it out and put something together, but I think that is a good direction to head.  This means we would just have one document with our meeting notes, I would have the lesson plan document that is mainly for me, and then all of their reflections would be submitted to a Google Form.  I could even make one Google Form where the first page has them select what type of reflection it is (pre-brief, de-brief, etc) and then it goes to a certain page of questions based on that answer.  Hmm... gotta think through it.

I also want to find a better way for the fellows to keep track of the different things they have accomplished throughout the year.  I created a "Tech Tools Inventory" for them to add to, but another one of my colleagues showed a Portfolio-type thing he created on our Haiku LMS where for each lesson they would create a content block with text, images, etc to share what they did.  It really looked well put together and something they could be proud of at the end of the year.  At this point, I don't think I'll do it this year because it's just one more thing and too many changes is not good.  However, I want to seriously consider doing something like that for next year.  I like all the structure I've put in place through Google Drive, but I want to find a way to seamlessly incorporate Haiku as well.

Effective Learning Norms - I had some great collaboration with another DLC about effective learning norms and how they can be tied in with the Continuum of Self-Reflection from the book Building Teachers' Capacity for Success.  I need to study more to wrap my head around all of it but I am very excited for the potential.  One of the hard things about this position is that all of our "students" don't move forward at a similar pace.  There are different levels throughout the year.  There are basic tech proficiencies, such as learning Haiku, Google Drive, specific tools, etc.  Then, there is the level where we are using the tools in our classroom to enhance/improve teaching and learning.  Lastly, there is the level where we aren't necessarily focused on tech integration (the teacher is self-sufficient in terms of tech), but on bigger ideas of improving teaching and learning through the lens of effective learning norms.  Even within those three levels, there is a wide variation among stages throughout those levels.  And... with regards to certain things they may be more ahead than with others.  I'm not sure how much sense that makes as I am still really trying to understand, but it's an area of focus for me.

~~

I'm so grateful for the ability to share and collaborate with colleagues, including all of you :).  As I continue to grow in my self-reflection, I hope to continue to grow in my capacity as a coach to truly empower, encourage, support, and inspire all the teachers I work with to continually work on enhancing and improving the teaching and learning going on in their classrooms... with or without technology :)  Although, I think technology really does help!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

OC CUE Tech Fest 2015 Presentations: Digital Annotation Tools + Digital Formative Assessment Tools

Please check out my OC CUE Tech Fest Presentation Slides and reflections below.




I had a great time presenting Diigo, Thinglink, and Videonot.es at OC Cue Tech Fest 2015.  While I probably needed two sessions, we were able to do a very quick overview of the powerful use of these tools in helping students dissect complex text of all types.  I feel like it was important to consider the tools for all types of complex text (text, images, and videos), and hopefully build excitement to continue to explore the tools past the session and start using them in the near future.

This was the first time I've formally presented on these tools, so it was far from perfect.  I went through and made an outline for future presentations in terms of time needed to go over the different parts.  You can see that here.  I also made a handout to give to participants as they come in with instructions on logging into the different accounts since verbal instructions were not the easiest..  You can see that here.

I also added a few things to the future presentation plan that I didn't have today, such as completed student examples to begin with, time built in for the padlet reflection (had walls ready but absolutely no time today), and separate instructions for laptops and tablets.

There are a lot of links to resources throughout the presentation, so please check them out.





Socrative and InfuseLearning were also fun!  We were able to look at ALL the features of Socrative, including Quick Quiz, Pre-Planned Quiz (teacher paced & student paced), Space Race, and Exit Ticket.  We then had about 10 minutes to explore InfuseLearning, so we looked at the features that were different than Socrative, looking at the Draw Response, Infuse Draw (I pushed out a picture and had them do a draw response), and Infuse Link.  I'm glad I figured out that the teacher has to be on Firefox for it to work (I was freaking out a bit earlier in the week when it wouldn't work on Chrome).

If I had another 15 minutes in the session, I would have liked the teachers to then log in as "teachers" and play around with creating quiz questions.  We also could have played with the "sort in order" and more options with the "Infuse Draw".  It also would have been nice to download and show the results documents from both Socrative and Infuse Learning.

Thank you to everyone who attended my sessions!  Please let me know what questions you have as you begin exploring these tools in your classrooms.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Brief Book Reviews for anyone who is (or interested in being) an Instructional Coach

Over the last several weeks since I finished "officially" going through the ISTE Coaching Academy Series, I read four very excellent books on coaching (tech coaching, instructional coaching, just working with adults/peers in general).  I would highly recommend the following:

Differentiated Coaching (Jane Kise)

The first half of this book focuses on "Staff Development that Changes Classroom Practices", and emphasized focusing on what teachers believe, what teachers need during change, what problems do teachers want to solve, and how can teachers collaborate?  Jane says, "The art of staff development is helping teachers understand where their strengths and beliefs lock them into practices that limit their freedom to help students succeed.  It isn't freedom for teachers to what they please, but freedom for them to entertain possibilities and stay open to new avenues for professional growth."

Some staff development topics covered:

  • things that teachers need during staff development
  • the pros and cons of the different methods of staff development delivery
Very important reminder: a great PD will not change teachers' attitudes and beliefs... it's the teachers experiencing successful implementation (themselves... not just seeing it work in other teachers' classrooms) that will make changes!

Collaboration:

  • Three levels: superficial, segmented, and (the goal) instructional collaboration
  • what collaboration is
  • what it isn't
  • benefits of collaboration
  • things that get in the way of "instructional collaboration"
  • criteria to help build successful "instructional collaboration"

By the end of Part 1, Jane has detailed her six elements of effective staff development, which are:
  1. A deep understanding of teachers' strengths and beliefs.  (We must know why we're holding tightly to the ways we teach, otherwise we won't know how we need to change)
  2. Concrete evidence that influences beliefs and shows that change will be worth the effort (teachers must see that change will result in improved student achievement)
  3. Communication and assistance (coaching) in ways that meet each teacher's learning style and needs (different types of support are needed for different learners.  And support is DEFINITELY needed when teachers are changing their core practices)
  4. A focus on problems that concern the teachers (not adding another burden to them but helping them solve a problem they currently have)
  5. Deep, Level III Collaboration (Instructional Collaboration)
  6. A common framework for unbiased discussion of education (not about discussing who is right or wrong… it's about understanding which students different practices and policies will reach)

In Part 2, Jane jumps into Personality Type as the common framework for discussing classroom practices.  She uses the MDBI tool of Judging/Perceiving, Introversion/Extraversion, Sensing/Intuition, and Thinking/Feeling.  (As a note, I am either ISTJ or ISFJ).   What was so helpful with this is she went over coaching implications for each of the 8 choices.  She made the connection to education by saying that our educational beliefs are tightly bound to our personalities and how we take in information and make decisions.  Tying in to Part 1, Jane talked about the "ideal staff development day" for teachers with each of the different personality types, as well as the concerns and questions teachers of each type may have regarding changes.

Then she jumps into Differentiated Coaching.  There are four criteria she states for successful coaching:
  1. Committed to the process (both coach and coachee)
  2. Trust
  3. Clear goals (agreed upon mutually)
  4. Agree on "what does success mean"

According to Jane, there are four different coaching styles:
- Coach as useful resource
- Coach as encouraging sage
- Coach as collegial mentor
- Coach as expert

She outlines ways to work with all sixteen of the different personality type combinations, what they will be looking for in a coach, and how to support them in a way that meets their needs.  Each of the four different coaching styles are useful depending on the personality type of the "coachee"

She has a plethora of great resources on her website as well.  This book provided me a framework and context to approach the teachers I am working with in terms of their personality type, which greatly affects their beliefs about education, teaching, and learning.


Mentoring Matters (Lipton & Wellman)
This book is more geared toward people who are mentoring new teachers (like BTSA mentors in California), but it still had a great amount of information and resources for anyone who is working peer-peer.

  • A mentor must balance between: offering support, creating challenge, and facilitating a professional vision.
  • There is a continuum of interaction between consulting (expert coaching), collaboration, and what the authors just call "coaching", but I generally refer to as "cognitive coaching".   They go over the intentions, actions, cues, and potential issues for each of the three places on the continuum.
  • The authors provide a template for planning & problem solving conversations as well as reflecting conversations.
  • There was a whole section on verbal tools for a coach, such as pausing, paraphrasing, inquiring, probing, and extending.  (most of this stuff I was introduced to in the training with Steve Regur in September).
This book is a great "coaching toolkit" reference point, especially in regards to conversation templates and verbal tools. 


Coaching Classroom Instruction (Marzano)

This book is an amazing resource that I know I will be opening up time and again.  It starts with some of the research and theory behind coaching, along with some different models of coaching. Marzano then uses his 41 elements from the Art and Science of Teaching Model, broken down into segments of "routine events", "events addressing content", and "events enacted on the spot".  
He provides a 0 to 4 scale (Not Using - Beginning - Developing - Applying - Innovating)  and explicitly details how to help teachers move from level 0 to level 4.
  • 0 to 1 - Learn about research, theory, and strategies associated with the element.  Strategies can be from this book or coach/teacher developed
  • 1 to 2 - Correctly execute strategies
  • 2 to 3 - Monitor student responses to the strategy
  • 3 to 4 - Integrate several strategies to make a macro-strategy and/or adapting strategy for different student needs.
So, for all 41 elements he provides:

  • research to back the element
  • strategies to help apply the element
  • actions to correctly execute the element
  • desired student responses for each element
  • how to merge multiple strategies together
  • how to provide extra support or scaffolding for each element
  • how to provide extension or challenge for each element.
I feel like this book was incredibly practical and offered resources that would have taken me forever to find.  Even simply the research behind the 41 elements is huge!  I can see this being used in a practical way with my teachers when we are trying new strategies in class to have specific actions, desired outcomes, scaffolding/extension ideas, etc.


Building Teachers' Capacity for Success (Hall & Simeral)
*Note: I only read Part 1 and Part 2.  Part 3 was about the administrator's role in helping build teacher capacity for success.  I know it will be great, but decided to set it aside for the time being while I am focusing on my coaching strategies.
  • For a coach and administrator, there are common responsibilities, distinct responsibilities, and overlapping responsibilities.  It is very important that these are clear!
  • Effective Coaches:
    • Are highly self-reflective
    • Are able to build and maintain trustworthy relationships
    • Are skilled in recognizing others' strengths, abilities, and beliefs
    • Are servant leaders
    • Are patient
    • Consider "the bus question" (if you got hit by a bus and were incapacitated for a length of time, are your teachers better off for working with you?  Has your coaching helped develop meaningful change?)
  • The coaching continuum refers to the teacher's ability to self-reflect and analyze their practice.  The four stages of self-reflection are:
    • - Unaware (Coach's goal is to create awareness of the need for change and foster a desire to learn)
    • - Conscious (Coach's goal is to motivate and show how to apply pedagogical knowledge consistently)
    • - Action (Coach's goal is to build on experience and help strengthen expertise)
    • - Refinement (Coach's goal is to encourage long-term growth and continued reflection)

For each of the stages, the authors talk about in detail:

  • the teacher's reflective tendencies
  • related classroom characteristics
  • my role as a coach
  • coaching strategies that foster reflective growth.
This book provided another framework in which to view the teachers I am working with in terms of where they are with self-reflection of the teaching and learning that is happening in their classroom.  I could identify clearly with several of the stages with the teachers I am working with and it helped me to understand a little more why they might be the way they are and some strategies to help move them forward.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Flipping with Kirch: Designing a Flipped Learning Environment - Webinar Archive

I had a great time presenting with Sophia.org on Tuesday for a webinar about the shifts in a flipped classroom and how to design a flipped learning environment.  For those of you who weren't able to attend, you can find the archive here.

For your reference the slides (including reflection and planning prompts), can be found here.


If you have any follow-up questions or need any resources I referred to in the presentation, please comment on this post.  There are a lot of resources linked on this document here.

Links from presentation:

Reflection questions from throughout presentation:
  • Which of the three Flipped Learning Shifts intrigues or excites you the most & why?
    • Student-Centered
    • Active Learning
    • Higher Order Thinking
  • Why is allowing time for inquiry, exploration, or hypothesizing before direct instruction important?
    • What might this look like in your class?
  • What Video Tip(s) resonate with you the most?  Why?
  • How do you organize your content and expectations for your students?
  • How do you hold your students accountable for watching and engaging with the video?
  • How do your videos give your students structured processing time?
  • How do you gather feedback from your students before they enter the group learning space?
  • What activities could your students participate in to discuss and review what they learned from the video?
  • How will you spend the “practice and apply” portion of your class time?
  • How will you formatively assess your students in a variety of ways?
  • How will you facilitate students creatively showing their understanding?
  • Why is the “design of a teacher” so important for those implementing flipped learning?
  • What is the best use of your face to face time?
  • How can you make your group learning space more student-centered & get students more actively involved in their learning?
  • What lower-level thinking activities can be moved outside of class?
  • What do you want students to be able to do MORE of in class? (HOT)
  • How will you leverage the use of technology to help support you fulfilling your answers?







Monday, January 5, 2015

Upcoming Webinars and Conference Presentations

January

Webinar with Sophia.org "Flipping with Kirch".  
Tuesday, January 13 
4-5pm PST 
Free Registration here.

OCCue Tech Fest
Saturday, January 31
Serra Catholic School, Rancho Santa Margarita
  • Formative Assessments on the Fly
  • Digital Annotations with Diigo, Thinglink, and Videonot.es
March

CUE 2015
Thursday, March 19
Palm Springs, CA
  • WSQing your Way to FlipClass Success

June

ISTE 2015
June 28th - July 1st (Sun - Wed)
Philadelphia, PA
  • WSQing your Way to FlipClass Success
  • Flipping Your Class: From Start To Finish (Workshop)
  • Come Learn and Play: Create your first Touchcast today (BYOD)
  • Many Ways to Flipped Success (Panel)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Top 11 Key Takeaways and Lessons from the ISTE Coaching Academy:

The  ISTE Coaching Academy Series has been one of the best uses of my time over the last couple of months.  I have a stack of more books and resources to continue to learn from that I only found because of what was referenced in the course.  Yay for reading and learning time!

I wanted to take some time to actually look back at the last six course reflection posts and pull together some very practical applications and changes that have been made (or will be made as I start back next week) in my coaching practices.  If my thoughts refer to a specific article, resource, or course, I've put those in parentheses after the comment.





http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/
en/0/09/Plat_11.png
Top 11 Key Takeaways and Lessons from the ISTE Coaching Academy:

  • A reminder of how truly important the job of a Digital Learning Coach is.  It is needed, it is necessary, it is important.  We have a huge role in transforming what professional development looks like on our campuses.  Teachers need training, but more than that they need the practice time and the follow-up support if true transformation is going to happen. Effective professional development is "PD that actually changes the way teachers teach". (ISTE Coaching Whitepaper)
  • Characteristics of a Good Coach (Course 1). It has been very helpful to find articles and descriptions of what makes a good coach.  No matter what position you are in, you want to know what it is that would make you do well in your position.  Have key attributes clearly explained (as well as why) has given me some encouragement (with the attributes I have already) as well as ideas for growth (with the attributes I need to continue to build).  One of the key attributes I always want to focus on, with both my fellows and staff in general, is "Providing a safe, risk-taking environment that is non-threatening, non-judgmental, and accepting". 
  • Clarification and development of the coaching cycle (Course 1).  I was able to develop a more clear Coaching Cycle Journal template that will help both me and my fellows to stay focused in our journey.  I am definitely a person that likes organization, so being able to finally wrap my head around this and put together an organized, descriptive flow chart makes me feel like I have a much clearer picture of where I am going.  One of the hard things about starting this position was feeling like there wasn't a clear road map.  I had to figure out a lot of things on my own through reaching out to others and researching online.  They helped me get started, but now I have the tools to pave my own path and see the road more clearly.
  • Coaching Norms (Course 1).  Norms is not a new topic, but honestly it was not one that I addressed with my fellows at the beginning of the year.  I think I was just overwhelmed with all this other stuff and in one of our trainings we learned about the "forming, storming, norming, performing" stages of group development (Tuckman Model).  That made me think to NOT develop norms at the beginning and just go through the forming and storming phases.  Now, I feel like it is important we define the norms.  Probably a little late, but better late than never, right?
  • The purpose of using technology (Course 2).  Does the tool improve, deepen, or enhance student learning?  If not, then why are we using it?  I really thought through a lot during this course about not just having technology be an add-on, but something that really impacts the learning environment.  It is now a question on the pre-brief section of our Coaching Cycle Journal so we actually consider it each and every time.
  • Effective Learning Norms (Course 3 and Course 5).  We had to go through the process that I am going to (hopefully) work through with my fellows throughout this semester.  What are the traits of effective learning?  What skills do students need to develop to be successful in college and career that can be emphasized and practiced within the context of your curriculum?  What type of activities must we develop to help meet those expectations?  All of this led me to really analyzing the four areas on the "Learning Activity Checklist" developed by Les Foltos and thinking through how I am going to use it with my fellows.  My plan is to not just present that to them, but to start conversations about what skills and competencies they are looking for their students to develop, how to relate those to the school's goals as well as college/career readiness.  As necessary and as we move through it, we can start referring to the four areas on the Learning Activity Checklist and using those to probe our thinking and help us find ways to improve the lessons.
  • Course 3 Six Key Takeaways... Rather than re-phrasing, I'm just going to copy paste them here:
    • Focus on the classroom and learning. Rethink the roles of student and teacher. Teacher must be coach/collaborator, not the dispenser of knowledge.
    • Look beyond "were they engaged" and focus on "did the technology help us meet the learning objectives?" and "did the students deepen their understanding because of the technology?"
    • Use technology to continually gather formative assessment data that then drives instruction and changes the way you approach the next day in class!
    • Technology is not a magic bullet that is always going to enhance student learning/achievement - it all depends on how it is being used!
    • Technology is not a goal in itself, it's a tool to help us achieve and support our goals.
    • We must adequately train the teachers to use the technology. This is not just familiarity with equipment but also seeing how it can be used effectively and then practicing how it can be used effectively!
  • Communication Skills (Course 3 and Course 5). This was a huge section for me that was repeated throughout the next several courses. I heard about it before I started coaching but it really didn't mean much to me at that point because I had no experience and no context. Now I feel like I can really begin intentionally building and developing the communication skills of active listening, paraphrasing, clarifying, and probing. I did a lot of research of sample probing questions and am hoping to really grow in that area this semester.
  • Lesson Improvement Process (Course 4). I basically redesigned my entire Coaching Cycle based on this course and what I learned from it. There was a focus on designing the learning task... and I found five amazing resources (specifically for math) that are going to be huge in the curriculum development we are working on with the transition to Common Core.
  • Key Attributes of Effective School Professional Development (Course 6). This really made me think "bigger picture" and "school culture" and what impact I can have on the culture of the school I am at. I set some key goals for helping improve professional development at my site (within my control) for next semester.
  • Problem Analysis to Coaching Roadblocks (Course 6). It helped that the sample we worked through was basically the problem I had to work through a few weeks ago. I can definitely see this process being used with future roadblocks.

Great resources I found throughout my time:

    Books on my To-Read List 
    (I haven't read them so can't summarize or vouch for them yet...)

    Bought and ready for my reading:

    Coaching Conversations: Transforming Your School One Conversation at a Time Paperback – March 30, 2010

    Differentiated Coaching: A Framework for Helping Teachers Change Paperback – February 1, 2006

    Using Technology with Classroom Instruction That Works, 2nd Edition Paperback – August 6, 2012

    Mentoring Matters: A Practical Guide To Learning Focused Relationships Paperback – July 30, 2003

    Building Teachers' Capacity for Success: A Collaborative Approach for Coaches and School Leaders Paperback – December 31, 2008

    Coaching Classroom Instruction (Classroom Strategies)Perfect Paperback – August 22, 2012


    On my Amazon List:


    Have any to add? Please comment below.
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