Saturday, September 12, 2015

My Life as a Digital Learning Coach - Week 2 Reflections (Year 2)

See all my posts on Coaching on my Coaching Page

Time flies when you're having fun, right?

I'll start with the highlight of my week.  I was coming into work on Thursday and ran into a fellow on my way into my office.  She asked me if there was any way she could digitally collect student responses using something like "clickers" to some multiple choice questions so she could easily calculate the percentage of students who had gotten it right.  My response - why, of course!  We had about 15 minutes until class started so I asked if she wanted me to set something up for her to try during 2nd period, and she was all for it.  We used Socrative's quick question feature, which basically requires no setup.  She projected the questions on her document camera and students just saw answer choices A,B,C,D,E on their screen.

It was a coincidence that I actually had 2nd period free on Thursday, so I was able to visit her class to provide support.  We didn't get to do much prebrief or talk pedagogy or any of that, so I was interested to see how she was going to facilitate it.  It ends up that Eric Mazur came and spoke at the school several years back and she learned about his Peer Instruction strategy.  It was so awesome to see another teacher model the Peer Instruction strategy, and it was made so much more effective by the use of Socrative.

Here's what she did:
1. Put the question up on the screen, asked students to respond.
2. She looked at the data as it was coming in to see if she had a high enough percentage of students getting it right (60%-ish) to do the next step.
3. Students were NOT told what the answer was (one of the benefits of not projecting the Socrative Teacher Screen and one of the downsides of using Kahoot like I did in my classroom several years back), but had to find someone that had a different answer than them to try to convince of their own answer. 
4. After about 2-3 minutes, the teacher re-asked the quick question on Socrative to see if there were different results.

At this point, she may show the Socrative results on the screen (if the majority of students now got it right).  She may ask some more probing questions, have them do some more discussion, do a little focused instruction, and then re-ask.  She really had so many options based on the student data she was gathering.

Halfway through 2nd period, I had her download the Socrative teacher app so she could walk around the room and be seeing results coming in live rather than having to look at her teacher screen. 

We got to very briefly debrief the activity before she did it again for three more classes.  Before tech, she would have had the students hold up their answers on whiteboards.  She would have had to try to calculate a rough percentage in her head, and students could easily "cheat" and see what their classmates were putting on their board.  Or, she might have just given all of them the problems in a packet and given them time to work through them individually and then time to ask each other questions or address them as a whole class.  However, with the tech, she was able to do so much more with the data and facilitate a much more rich, engaging, student-centered learning environment.  As my colleague Andrew has said, the tech allowed her to Capture, Sort, Assess, and Discuss student thinking.  Loved it!

We get to meet as a DLC team once a week on Wednesday mornings.  One hour of that time each week is structured for a "round table" discussion where we can bring whatever we need to talk about to each other.  We use Slack as a communication tool throughout the week, which has been hugely helpful in keeping us connected and asking a lot of questions throughout the week.  Then, the things that we still want to discuss in person can be brought to the round table.  This week was our first round table and it was really valuable.  We were able to share about how we are organizing stuff for our fellows, what our first meetings are looking like, and other issues or best practices we have come across in the last week.  I'm really looking forward to this time every week.

One of the biggest tools we are all learning more about is Google Classroom.  Our district had it blocked at the beginning of last year so I never really started exploring it.  I learned Doctopus and became a huge Doctopus fan.  While Doctopus still has some features that GC doesn't [yet!], such as the ability to push out collaborative documents and the easy rubric grading right there, I am really going over to the GC side of things.  The tweak for collaborative documents (only have one group member open the template, share it with the rest of the group members) is not that difficult.  As I've played with it more and more from both a teacher side and student side, I can really see GC being the "Kool-Aid" that teachers will drink to get them a little more hooked on tech in a positive, purposeful, effective way. 

I did a training on Wednesday afternoon on using our Epson Interactive Whiteboard.  The teachers have had them for years, but never really learned how to use them.  I was somewhat familiar with it, but I definitely had to brush up on my skills.  It was lovely to find out 30 minutes before my training that the toolbar installed on most teacher's computers can't be downloaded anymore - you have to get an updated version which looks a lot different.  The new toolbar has a lot of better features and is a little easier to manipulate, but I didn't have the time to play much before the training :)

Anyways, with anything like this, I did my best and the 14 teachers that showed up learned more about the whiteboard, got hands-on practice (I had 3 classrooms available to use), and then at the end I showed them the new version they could download.  When I went home that night, I made a 7 minute screencast on all the new features and then followed up with teachers the next two days on calibrating their projector and getting them started.  

So, interactive projectors used to be all the hype, and I know why a lot of teachers don't use them (the pen does take some getting used to).  However, even the simple fact of being able to highlight over text and then save images of what is on the projector to post on Haiku for future reference really does add value to it as a tool.  I hope to see more teachers using it for the times in class when they are going over instructions or delivering some focused instruction.

Last but not least, one of my favorite new tools is  I always call it "Go Formative", but it's really just "Formative".  They just released (today) their updated Summary view on their live results page.  Still some quirks and stuff but overall a tool I'm very excited about in terms of capturing student thinking and student data in a way that can make a difference in teaching and learning.  If you haven't checked it out, do it now! :)

Until next week... I'm on a 2 week roll now ;)

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