Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tech Toolbelt - Is it holding you up or weighing you down?

As the year went on, I started to develop a "Tech Toolbelt" for teachers of different subject areas. I found it helpful for me when working with them as a point of reference, and a way for technology to not be as overwhelming to teachers because they only need a few good tools in their toolbelt to start off with. I have only shown this to a few teachers directly; I mainly use it as a point of reference for myself as we begin our conversations.

Please note: just because there are "#" tools in the "Math Toolbelt" doesn't mean every math teacher needs all "#" tools.  They are just tools that I have found to be effectively used in that subject area.  There is a lot of overlap between subject areas as well.  I'd rather have a teacher have 2-3 tools in their toolbelt that they use really effectively and efficiently, than a bunch of tools that they don't use well.  (This is one of the reasons this document is just a point of reference for me to have in conversations and not a document I share with teachers openly).

 In addition, if your tech toolbelt gets too full because you are just trying every latest thing you hear about, your pants might just fall down!  (meaning the belt isn't doing your pants any good in holding them up, instead it's just weighing them down!)  Technology should be used to improve and enhance the teaching and learning in your classroom, not just used to "being using tech".  Teachers can reflect on the 4 E's when considering any of the tools in this list.

 At CUE2015, Jon Corippo said that it's hard to introduce students to new tech & new content at the same time. He suggested that we introduce students to new tech with something they are already familiar with. I came up with a list of ideas (definitely not fully finished, so please add any suggestions you have!) of ways that teachers could introduce new tech to students in non-content specific ways so they could get familiar with the tool. That way when they use the tool with content, they can focus on learning the material and not on figuring out the tool.

 This document is a work in progress (see below or access on Google Drive here). I'd love any ideas of things for the "beginning of year" or tools I'm missing that you think are crucial.


Slack: Awesome Group Communication Tool

My supervisor introduced Slack to our team near the end of the year and asked us to try it out to see if we liked it as our main communication tool for next year.  Within just a couple of days, I was hooked.

What I love:
  1. Threaded conversations through hashtags, which allows you to follow conversations with specific topics so it doesn't keep derailing.  We have conversations for #google, #haiku, #general, #random, #fridayflurry (to share out great stories from the week), and more.
  2. Ability to direct message people within the group.  This keeps everything all in one place - group conversations, individual conversations, etc.  You don't have an email there, a text there, and another message there.  It's all together!

How it could be improved:
  1. Voice comments.  I would love to use this instead of Voxer for a lot of things, but I love the ability to "talk" my message.  Currently on Slack, you can do text, pictures, and links.  I came across an article that said voice was coming soon but haven't seen anything yet.  There are premium versions, so maybe it's in there, or still in development.
  2. More administrator control.  I would LOVE to use this with my student tech team.  It would be a perfect way for communication, especially with the different hashtags for different needs. However, as the teacher, I would need administrator access to view the direct message conversations to ensure that everything is staying school appropriate.  That is not a feature available, and so I am not able to use this with my student team.  I am still on the lookout for a better communication platform that will allow students to easily communicate with each other besides sending out mass emails as the only option

If you haven't checked out Slack yet, head over to slack.com and give it a try!  There are freemium options, but I'm happy with the free version :)

P.S. Slack did not ask me to write this. I just love the tool so much I wanted to share!

Coaching: How to continue to support teachers in a multi-year process

This post is Part 5 of my year-end series on Coaching
Many people have asked me, “What happens to the teachers after you work with them for a year?”  A year is a long time, but at the same time, it’s a very short time.  Different teachers progress at different rates, because they come in with different skill sets and mindsets.  There are a few fellows who are just flying and I’m so excited to see them continue to soar “on their own” (knowing that I’m just a text/email away if they want to collaborate and reflect on anything).  There are others who are begging to have a second year of full-on weekly coaching. 
Because our goal is to reach more teachers, very few teachers get chosen as “second year fellows”.  We knew that we needed to have a structure in place that would continue to support them in their growth and learning. 
Goals & Monthly Meetings:
For next year, I will be meeting with each of my Year 1 fellows once a month to check in with them, collaborate, and reflect.   Each of them set between 2-4 specific goals for themselves during our final month together that will help keep them focused and give me specific items to check in with them on and to provide support in.
The goals that have been set are:
  •  Use laptops more effectively and more often (at least once per week per course) to get more feedback from students, not just as a replacement for a powerpoint or notes.  (Tools like Peardeck, Desmos/Padlet, Google Form)
  • Next year, I will use Google Docs at least once to have students provide immediate feedback to one another on an FRQ (not waiting for an “autopsy” for the assignment).  This will provide students with immediate feedback on their writing, rather than have the students waiting on my grading of their writing.  It will open a dialogue as a class to discuss concerns about the responses.
  • Create instructional videos using the document camera for modeling annotation, going over rubrics / expectations, MLA format, essay structure, etc so students are able to go back and review them at any point and able to learn it asynchronously.
  • Utilize Socratic Seminar at least once per unit (near end if only used once) before a final test.  Use Google Docs for students to annotate and make notes/questions ahead of time.  Time period: 3 days per seminar (2 days for prep & 1 day for discussion)
  • Utilize Doctopus as a document management system to push out Google Docs (text sections, journal entries, essays) to students.  This is an efficient way to manage and hold students accountable for their work.
  • Student presentations connected with novel/play units on connecting literary analysis with quotations.  Student use Google Docs for annotation (collaborative) and then Google Slides or Drawings to present their information to the class.
  • Develop a clear and consistent structure for students to be able to access the instructional content and units throughout the year.  The main tool for this will be Haiku, on which I plan to provide the schedules, learning objectives, lesson content, resource material, and access to daily assignments (and links to assignments) for each unit. Reorganize the Haiku page so that each unit of instruction is fully accessible in order by each course. Each unit should have its own page with tabs for homework, extra resources, activities, links to lessons (office mix, etc).
  • Use a google sheet to record daily/weekly homework points so as to eliminate extra paper and to allow students to see their cumulative homework points via a link to view the google sheet.  I plan to use student numbers in the google sheet to protect privacy.  Students will be able to access homework records via a link on Haiku.
  • Use Google Docs/ Doctopus to push out a Unit Assessment/Reflection Form for students to answer questions regarding learning objectives before/during/after we are working with each content unit.
  • Daily Warm Up Using Google Forms to establish a daily expectation for students’ engagement, use of laptops, feedback or input regarding content, and my sanity!
  • Use OneNote to have a virtual space for ALL my curriculum units.  This will create 1 location documenting my Units of study; I would like to share with my grade level.
  • Have students self­assess more of their work. I want to embed more time to practice writing, but not overwhelm myself w/ grading. I want them comfortable w/ the rubrics, so they can assess themselves. At beginning of the year, use rubrics (Response to Lit, Argumentative) with past papers.
  • Haiku wikiproject for student work.  Page created by lit circle (students will create when access the first time) as a  “class” wikiproject; new wikiproject for each quarter.  Their first assignment is students doing an introductory block w/ picture,about me, etc. There will be subpages for each project/assignment under the lit circle master page
  • Bring more activities that involve deeper thinking, collaboration, 21st century skills into teaching and learning.  Tools like Desmos or possibly Geogebra for exploration / conceptualization as well as activities I find on teacher blogs.
  • Become more efficient and create formative assessments that are auto­graded by using tools such as Haiku Quizzes, Socrative, GoFormative, and Peardeck.  Utilize these throughout class to drive and adjust instruction.
  • Go Formative and/or Socrative: To gauge mastery and points of struggle,then to use that information to pair students up in collaboration to meet each learner’s needs.  Remember collaboration instructions: “Don’t hold their pencil”  ,  “Don’t tell them the answer ­ ask them questions”,  WHOEVER IS DOING THE THINKING IS DOING THE LEARNING 
  •  Google Form Survey to be used to obtain feedback from the students about the class. In addition, the format may open communication lines with students that may need to talk to a trusted adult.
  •  I want to explore more online assessment, such as Kahoot, Socrative, and Haiku assessments with listening examples.  This would open up up entirely new ways of making sure students understand the musical environment we are studying.

Sharing & Learning Events
In addition to the monthly meetings, we are going to try and have 2-3 “events” for them to come together and continue to share and learn, possibly “EdCamp” or "TeachMeet" style.  We haven’t figured that all out, but it’s on the table.
Lastly, I started something called “Fellow Meetups” where once a month all fellows are invited to an after school, “meet at an outdoor coffee shop”, informal chat / share / learn with other fellows.  A Coach (this year, it was myself) facilitates the conversation and helps to ensure that everyone gets a chance to share and reflect.  Sometimes it was just “sit around and chat” whereas other times we had a little more structure with specific questions to reflect and share on.  We had fairly good success with it this year and are excited to spread it to involve more of the other coach’s fellows.  (Because I was the organizer, 90% of the attendees were my fellows.)  “Former” fellows will be invited to these meetups so they can continue to connect and collaborate with others.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Why Use Technology? The 4 E's

This post is Part 4 of my year-end series on Coaching

I have started to frame a lot of the conversations I have with teachers regarding technology use in the classroom around the 4 E’s: Effective, Efficient, Engaging, and Enjoyable.  When we are considering a lesson and looking to improve or enhance it with technology, we want it to go back to one of those 4 E’s.  Sometimes a tool will serve more than one purpose from the 4 E’s.  I would argue that even if it serves one of the four purposes, it is worth considering to improve or enhance the teaching and learning occurring in your classroom.

Let me explain with a few probing questions…
Effective – Will using this tool make teaching or learning more effective?  Will students learn the material better / deeper because of this tool? Will this tool allow teachers to provide more timely and effective feedback to students – or allow students to provide more timely and effective feedback to teachers?
Efficient – Will this tool make processes in the classroom more efficient, freeing up time for more active learning, higher-order thinking, collaborative, or creative activities?  Will this tool help manage a teacher’s workflow so they are more focused on teaching and learning and less focused on organizing stuff?
Engaging – Will this tool engage students in their learning in a new or deeper way? Will this tool allow students to be more actively involved in their learning? Will this tool allow for greater collaboration among students?
Enjoyable – Will this tool make learning the content more fun for students?  Will they enjoy being in class and participating in the activity?  While learning activities (and tech tools) should not be chosen for the sole reason that they are enjoyable, I think that it is fine to select a tool that will just make things more enjoyable for students and/or teacher.
Let me give you a few examples of my favorite tools:
Why use Desmos in a math classroom?  I feel like it makes teaching more effective because the teacher can demonstrate and model in a much clearer, more interactive way.  It makes learning more effective because students have visual representations of what they are learning and are able to manipulate graphs in ways that allow them to build conceptual understanding.  I feel like it is engaging because, although on a computer, it is “hands on” and pretty cool to see what you can do to the graphs.  From my experience, it’s also enjoyable for students and they have fun exploring with Desmos.
Why use Google Docs/Slides/Drawings?  It’s definitely more effective – the teacher can provide feedback at any point through the writing process, and students can collaborate, comment, question, and share ideas with each other by clicking a button.  It’s much more efficient for teachers to have all the student work in a digital folder where they can access it anywhere instead of lugging around papers.  Using Doctopus in conjuction with Google Docs makes things even more efficient for teacher workflow, allowing them to focus their time on providing feedback to students rather than organizing files.  I also believe it is more engaging for students because of the collaborative possibilities, the tools available at their fingerprints (like the research toolbar), and the creative ways they can display their understanding through Google Drawings.
I could go on and on, but two examples will suffice for today.
What do you think of the 4 E's?  Is there something else you use that is similar?

FlipCon15 Learning & Reflection

There were a lot of amazing sessions at FlipCon this year.  So many, in fact, that I have a ton of virtual archive watching to do in the next few weeks.  They all seemed to overlap with each other!  ;

I was able to attend three sessions (besides the two I presented).  I attended two great sessions that had direct applications to the math classroom.  The other one was on students generating the content for the class.  I am really excited to bring some of these ideas to the teachers I am working with.  Several of them will also apply to non-math classrooms as well.

 Leveraging The Flipped Classroom to Increase Writing and Discourse in Mathematics

Ideas Shared:
  1. "Backs to Front" - students partner up, one facing the front screen and the other with their back to the screen.  The teacher projects a list of 4-5 vocabulary words or concepts on the screen.  The goal is for the person with their back to the screen to correctly identify what the word or phrase is.  You can do this in a couple different ways.  The person facing front could just be allowed to use words, could use hand motions, words and hand motions, or with drawings.  Another option instead of having just words / phrases on the screen would be to have pictures.  The person facing front has to describe the drawing for the guesser to draw themselves.  You can have the drawing visible (so the person facing front can adjust directions accordingly) or have the drawing hidden (so the person facing front has no idea what is being drawn and if it is correct).   Whatever way you do it, it's important for the person with their back facing the front to give feedback to the person facing the front and tell them what they could have said to make them understand it better.
  2. Handling homework questions - Since most of the teachers I work with spend quite a lot of time going over homework questions, there were some great suggestions here.  Instead of asking the question, "Which ones did you not understand?" or "What would you like me to go over?", ask the question, "Do you feel comfortable enough with the problem to explain it in class to your group".  You could gather this information via a Google Form before class (even if they do it the first minute of class it would work), or you could make a frequency chart with sticky notes or "x's" on the whiteboard.
  3. Thinking and Questioning Prompts- Tara shared a handout she has for question frames and starters.  I had gathered a bunch from online but this is so much more concise and (I think) easier for students to understand.  I'm very excited to share this with my math teachers, especially since I am actually leading some of the ELD training at my district for the math content area this fall!
  4. Number talks - I've seen number talks modeled multiple times at different workshops and have come to the realization that they are valuable at all grade levels, not just elementary.  In addition to number sense and strategies, they are very good for working memory (how much information a student can hold in their head at a time).  One strategy I had never heard before with number talks is that after a student holds their thumb in front of their chest for having a solution, they are asked to think of another way - and they would hold up TWO fingers if they had TWO strategies, and THREE fingers once they had a THIRD, etc.  This keeps everyone thinking and working during the number talk time, and it helps kids to undrestand that there are multiple ways to represent problems and not just "one right way".
  5. Zach shared about his Pre-Calc blogging, which he does a combination of reflective blogging (what was difficult about it? What did you gain from it?) mixed with specific prompts.  I am hoping to get a couple teachers on board with having their students blog, even if it is just through a Haiku wikiproject or something more "closed".  He even shared his blog scoring rubric for Pre-Cal and Calc!
  6. Vocabulary Tic-Tac-Toe - put 9 words  on a Tic-Tac-Toe board.  The students choose any Tic-Tac-Toe direction (horizontal, vertical, diagonal) to use all three words in a sentence that relates them to each other. 

The Inquiry-Based Flipped Classroom

There is a website called gifsmos.com that allows you to make Desmos graphs into GIFs!  This is so cool!

Zach shared a sampleweekly plan for his "inquiry-based" flipped classroom.  This is the practical stuff that teachers need in order to see how it could be implemented in their classroom!!!

Flipping Content Creation

I think the most interesting thing about this session (besides it was facilitated by my awesome roomie!) was that it wasn't just about student created videos - it was about student created content… the students actually create the content that is used in the class!
A few key notes (see her slides as well for more details on the process)
  • The biggest difference between project/presentation and Student Generated Content (SGC) is the AUDIENCE
  • When creating rubrics, have a "4" for the perfect score, but then add a column for a "5" for pushing it to the next limit / challenging students beyond

Sunday, July 19, 2015

FlipCon15 Family Reunion

I just got back from FlipCon15 in Michigan (after taking a few extra days to visit family before coming home) and the biggest thing I am struck by is how my #flipclass colleagues are not just "colleagues" or even simply "friends", but truly "family".  As I sat in the Flint airport getting ready to fly back on Thursday, I had a similar feeling to that when I said goodbye to my husband and 2 year old for the week... it's hard to say goodbye to those who you are so close to and who truly understand you!

How did this happen?  How do people who I only see once or twice a year become the ones who truly are my second family?

I started reading other teachers' blogs when I started teaching in 2007.  I (for some reason) was always afraid to comment on them or to join in the conversations.  I enjoyed gleaning some ideas but also staying somewhat far away from the action.  I attempted to start a blog myself, but didn't really know what to write about (now I realize I was trying to start a blog to write for others, instead of simply writing for myself)...

Fast forward 4 years to when I started flipping my class.  I hit a point after a couple of months where I was committed to it - and I needed / wanted to document my journey so I could look back and effectively evaluate the shift in teaching I was exploring.  I'm really not sure when I finally decided to hop on Twitter - I had an account but had tweeted once in 2-3 years.  I do remember tweeting out my first blog post called "My Favorite WSQ" and having Jon Bergmann retweet it.  My husband got woken up early that day with shrieks of excitement!  I can only laugh at that now...

Through the #flipclass chat, Twitter and Blogging in general, I was able to meet so many people who were trying out similar shifts in their classroom.  We were able to share ideas, struggles and successes, and build a community.  I was able to go to ISTE2012 in San Diego with a few other teachers from my district, and I was so excited to meet some of these "famous" people that I had met on Twitter over the last 5-6 months.  To say I was starstruck would be putting it lightly.  However, meeting these rockstars in person developed those connections and relationships further.  We weren't just "tweeps" who knew each other online - we were becoming friends. The "Cheesebucket Posse" was formed.

I joined in FlipCon12 virtually and connected with several other teachers through the Twitter backchannel.  It was a few weeks later that I was at home alone (the husband was out on a guys' camping trip) and started chatting with Cheryl, Andrew, and Karl on Twitter and GHO.  Little did I know that that week was the foundation for the most supportive group of teachers I would ever meet.  As the school year started and I encountered some tough situations with nasty people online, they were there to support me, encourage me, and speak up for me when I had no words.  As I stepped out of the blogging world for a while in dealing with the joys of being pregnant, I remained connected to the community through their friendship.

The "circle" has continued to expand, and it was so exciting planning for FlipCon14 in person (Post 1, 2, 3, 4).  It was my first "real" presentation (I had done webinars, workshops at my site, and a few other much smaller things), so I was nervous about that.  However, the excitement that stemmed from anticipating finally meeting so many more of my #flipclass PLN overpowered any nervousness that existed.  It was a whirlwind, exciting time connecting with people face to face and solidifying relationships that had been formed online.

After FlipCon14 I took my new position out of the classroom and stepped away from the #flipclass chat (mainly due to the timing of it - it's hard to cook dinner for a one year old and participate in a twitter chat at the same time).   However, I found other ways to stay connected through random Twitter conversations, Voxer groups, and sporadic blogging.  There was no way I was missing out on FlipCon15 and another chance to connect in person with my #flipclass friends.

As the day drew closer to fly out to Michigan, I'll be honest that I wasn't quite feeling it. I worked an extra week the first week of summer, flew out to ISTE2015 and was away from my husband and Grayson for a week, and was only home for a week before knowing I'd have to leave again.  I was excited to see everyone, but kind of feeling blah about spending so much time away from my "real" family.   There is something strange that happens when I see my #flipclass friends in person though... it's like all of that goes to the wayside and I'm just so excited to be there.

FlipCon15 was a whirlwind... from arriving late on Sunday night and going to the "boys" side of the dorm, only to have someone open up "my" room and then say, "Hey, I know you, I follow you on Twitter!" to having someone walk me back from the parking lot who had absolutely no idea who I was or anything about my experience with #flipclass (I'll admit, that's kind of nice sometimes...).

I tried to sleep in Monday and adjust to the time change but it was not to be. I got up and went to help out with the Boot Camp sessions that were going on.  Monday night we got to drift down the river (thankfully the rain passed us by!).  It was great to have conversations with people who I hadn't really talked to much before.  The conference itself flew by - I got to present twice (WSQ chats, Formative Assessment) and attend some great sessions.  I'll blog about my takeaways in another post :)

Wednesday night several of us that were still around went out to dinner and then to Starbucks to hang out.  Did you know that it's still light outside in Michigan at 9:30pm?  It was so weird.  It was Wednesday night as I was preparing to say goodbye (or "see you later") to my #flipclass friends that I realized we are so much more than friends.  These people are my second family.  They somehow understand me, constantly encourage and challenge me, and are just fabulous people to be around.

FlipCon is so much different than the other conferences (ISTE and CUE) I've attended.  It being a smaller conference obviously helps - but it's also about the people.  Attending "virtually" is great for the learning and online connections you can make.  But, once you make those connections in person, it's just different. It's more than "my online Twitter friends".  It's family.  A lot of people don't understand it - how can you spend so much time and money to connect and share with these people you just met online?  It's because they have become my family, and FlipCon is a chance for a once-a-year family reunion.

I didn't take that many pics (I left that up to others and then saved their pics), but here are a few from my camera...
Meals in the MSU Cafeteria... who knew they could be so good? ;)
Friends on the Bus - Ken & Lindsay
Friends on the Boat - Kate & Ken
Dedication. 5:30 am "before" the insanity workout with Lindsay - Roomies Rock!
We know Brian Bennett... do you?
I roped two of them into it... this is the "after" with Delia.

The best articles & resources I've found this week (weekly)

I'm trying something new where I'm having Diigo post my bookmarks from the week as a way to share my favorite articles and blogs from the last week.  The comments below each link are things I highlighted in the actual article.
  • tags: blog
    • Build a conference session so that it prefaces and provokes work that will be ongoing and online.
    • I don’t expect an NCTM conference to provide in-depth professional development, but act more like a booster shot for my own learning.
  • tags: blog
    • We as teachers are all trying, to the best of our ability, to have students reach the best of their ability.
    • Just because something works for you doesn’t mean it works for someone else. 
    • Just because something won’t work for you doesn’t mean it doesn‘t work for someone else.
    • Assume every teacher has the best of intentions
    • You can only do what you can do. If you see a good idea that may be out of your comfort zone, try it out. If it doesn’t work, see if you can change it to make it better or if it’s just not for you at this time. If you see someone say that what you are currently doing is “bad,” read it and reflect.  Maybe there is something you need to change, but maybe there isn’t.
    • You are all inspiring teachers. Let’s build on that by putting positivity out there (“This is something awesome that worked for me”) instead of negativity (“Doing this instead of that is bad!”).
    • Mold your Twitter and blog feed into something inspiring for you. If every time you read a tweet from ____, you roll your eyes, feel like a horrible teacher, or get defensive, stop following that person. If your eyes glaze over every time you see another post from ____ in your feed, unsubscribe.  (That’s not to say you should only follow people that teach exactly like you do.)
  • tags: blog
        1. When I meet someone new, I’m going to ask them some form of the question, “Is there anybody here that you want to meet?” And then help them meet that person or those people.
        1. When I meet someone new, I’m going to ask what is the focus of their role in education, and then I’m going to try to connect them with people who I think they might benefit from knowing.
  • tags: blog
  • tags: blog
    • I would not recommend STARTING to form a Professional Learning Network when attending a conference for the first time.  In order to have a connected experience at a conference, the connections need to be made before I ever set foot on site.
    • attending #Flipcon is like attending a family reunion. And while I want to form new connections with new attendees I have never connected with before, I am just so thrilled to see face to face the online folks who I've already "met" and who "get me" and understand me.
    • My connections have grown exponentially each year. Also, the connections I've made have encouraged me to not only attend conferences but also to present at them. I'm no longer a passive attendee, but an active participant. My confidence and comfort level has increased the more I've interacted.
  • "What do you want students to experience in your class? What are some projects you have started pulling together? How do you want students to be able to collaborate with you and with one another outside of class?"
    tags: blog
      • What do you want students to experience in your class?
      • What are some projects you have started pulling together?
      • How do you want students to be able to collaborate with you and with one another outside of class?
    • Instructional technologists should be experts on high quality instruction first. Technology will enhance instruction. That means it will help a great teacher create even better learning experiences for students, or will make it more obvious when a teacher is not engaging students in meaningful ways because they will be distracted by the bells and whistles of technology.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

FlipCon15 Session: Formative Assessments on the Fly RESOURCES

I had a great time finishing up #FlipCon15 by leading "Formative Assessments on the Fly".  Because this could be seen as more of a tool-based session, I really tried to make an emphasis on not getting excited about how "cool" or "fun" these tools seemed, but to always consider them in the light of "How could these tools give me a window into student thinking?" and "How would the data from these tools allow me to change or modify instruction to improve or deepen student understanding?"

I had a lot of links for participants to go to as they used each tool from the "student" perspective and I displayed the results of the "teacher" perspective on the screen.  I used two methods that I think worked well.  At the beginning I gave them a bit.ly to a OneTab set of tabs that they could then just open all of them up at the beginning.  In addition, I had bit.ly's for each of the tools they could go to as I instructed them to.  I made the bit.ly's very easy to get to (bit.ly/kirch1, bit.ly/kirch2, etc) and I think it worked well.

The tools I showed included asynchronous ones (students don't have to be in class, teacher doesn't have to "start" and "stop" it) like AnswerGarden, TodaysMeet, Padlet, and GoFormative, as well as synchronous ones like PollEverywhere, Socrative, and Kahoot.  We didn't get to do the student version of Kahoot because of time (I planned for this because most people have heard of Kahoot so I put it last).

Slides (with lots of links embedded)

  Resources and further learning (from pre-work)

Resources from the Padlet Wall

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

FlipCon15: Winning WSQ Chats RESOURCES

We had a great first session at FlipCon.  I facilitated a session called "Winning WSQ chats".  This session was less focused on the WSQ strategy (I briefly went over it for 10 minutes) and more on how the WSQ helps to prep students for discussion time in class - and what those discussion activities can look like. 

For each discussion activity, I discussed the purpose of the activity, when to use it, "teacher tips" and things I've learned, and then took ideas and questions from the participants for a couple of minutes.  You can see all the notes on the Slide Deck.

Session Description:
WSQ (Watch-Summarize-Question) is a strategy to help students engage with flipped learning videos. Its purpose is to help support students come to class ready to dive into deep discussions and high-level learning activities. The big question lies: What are those discussions and activities?
This session will explore different types of launching activities that the teacher can design for students that will really give them the opportunity to demonstrate TWIRLS (Thinking- Writing- Interacting- Reading- Listening- Speaking) in class.
Topics will include Peer Instruction with Digital Assessment Tools, Student-Created Work and Blogging, Inquiry / Discovery Activities, Hands-On Group Activities, and Traditional Group Discussions.

If you attended (or if you missed the session!), please check out the resources here:

Slide Deck - reference for descriptions, examples, links to student blog examples, etc.

Traditional Discussion visual
Hands-on / Kinesthetic visual
Inquiry / Discovery visual
Student-created work & blogging visual
Peer Instruction visual

More information on the WSQ strategy (only briefly touched on during session)
  1. Access my WSQing document here; this link will take you to page 12, where I start talking specifically about WSQ chats.  Please read through pages 12-15. If you are not familiar with the WSQ at all, please read through the entire document from the beginning.
  2. Watch my webinar archive “Designing a Flipped Learning Environment” here.
  3. Visit the links included on my “WSQing your Way to FlipClass Success” resource page here.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Coaching: Who should be a fellow?

This post is Part 3 of my year-end series on Coaching

One of the coolest things about my job as a Digital Learning Coach is that teachers actually apply to be fellows.  It’s about moving willing teachers from “Good” to “Great”, and is not something that is “forced” on them by administrators or evaluators.

With that being said, applying to be a fellow can be very scary for some teachers.  It’s not easy to open up your classroom and be transparent with your teaching.  It’s hard for teachers who aren’t used to having people in their classroom besides their yearly evaluation to see a coach as a non-evaluative person.  It’s also hard to open yourself up to moving out of your comfort zone and changing the dynamic of your classroom.

I try to summarize my role to teachers like this:

I am a collaborative, non-evaluatory, non-judgmental thought partner and collaborative colleague who strives to help you enhance and improve the teaching and learning in your classroom by finding effective, efficient, engaging, and enjoyable uses of technology.  As we work together, our processes are personalized to fit your needs and desires and our pace is individualized to challenge you appropriately.  My goal is to meet you where you are and offer you resources that uniquely respond to your particular needs.

If teachers are considering being fellows, here are some questions they should reflect on. I don’t send these out as a list of questions to them, but they do guide conversations I have with interested fellows.

One of the first questions teachers who are thinking about applying ask me is, “How much time will it take?”  The general answer to that question is “1 hour a week during your prep period”, which is used for coaching meetings where we will plan lessons that incorporate technology and prepare for implementation.  In addition to that, we ask them to reflect (which I will be incorporating within the coaching meeting this year), share with others (which should occur during department, PLC, or staff meetings), and participate in a few “big” after school events such as a beginning of year Kickoff (meet other fellows, make some connections) and end of the year Techstravaganza (event for fellows to share in a mini-conference style).  I try to emphasize that the one prep a week is being used to plan things that they would already be spending that time doing, but now you have someone to collaborate and share ideas with, and you have support in trying things you weren’t sure about before.

More important that being willing to commit to the “time commitment”, fellows need to commit to a mindset shift.  This goes along with the questions above.  They need to be open to learning new things, and to trying new things in their classes.  A fellow will not grow if every suggestion is answered with “That won’t work for my kids” or “I don’t have time for that in my class”.   They need to be open to the process of reflecting and thinking deeply about their practice – it’s not easy to open yourself up to things you aren’t sure about, but they must be open to making mistakes (in a supportive environment) and not always knowing the answers.  It’s okay if the students know more than you when you are trying out a new tool to help their learning!  Utilize the collective knowledge of the room to help everyone get better.  A fellow needs to have a flexible classroom approach where everything is not just set in stone the “way it’s always been done”.  If their mindset is not open to things they haven’t tried before or “changing it up”, it will be very hard to grow.  Being a fellow really is a professional learning opportunity, and I would argue that it is the best professional development opportunity a teacher could ever sign up for – and it’s free! 

Not all fellows begin with that “Open Mindset” described above, but develop it over the course of the year with the guidance of the coach.  I would say that is one of the hardest parts of being a coach – helping a teacher to shift their mindset so they are open to learning and trying new things, open to taking risks, and open to making mistakes and learning from them.  While it is one of the hardest parts, it's also one of the most rewarding to be a part of a teacher's journey as they grow and find success in trying new things!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

#ISTE2015 Posts Table of Contents

ISTE2015 is over and I'm back in California for a few more days before heading off to #FlipCon15.  This has been one of the best conferences I've been to, and I think it's because I purposefully did not pack my schedule, took time to connect with my PLN, and enjoyed learning and sharing rather than constantly feeling rushed from session to session. 

This post will be too long if I don't split it up, so please see the following posts for my reflections and thoughts:

My Sessions: 

Takeaways from sessions I attended
A few random things that won't get their own post:

  • Philly Cheesesteaks are actually pretty good.
  • Osmo is awesome and I'm really thinking that Grayson would love playing with it.
  • Kaizena seems to have some nice new features that I need to play around with more
  • My friend Kate Baker is amazing.  She has so many awesome ideas and I'm sad I had conflicts with her session "Stop Bleeding Red Ink".  She has great ideas on Peer Evaluation (blog post & podcast), Student blogging / sharing via Scribe City, and so much more.  If you don't follow her, you should. Now :)

PhillyFun - People and Places

And two fun pictures... we "conquered" the "Rocky Steps" AND got interviewed for the local news outside the Liberty Bell!


#ISTE2015 Takeaways: Professional Development: There's another way and Another

~~See all my posts from ISTE with lots of links and resources shared by others here~~

There are so many different ways to "run" professional development for teachers.  This Poster Session gave some great ideas.

See the slides here and a visual here.

The ones that I like the most include "lightning learning", which allows lots of teachers to share in almost like a "speed geeking" type session.  This is also one that I think could be done easily.

I'd like to see more of "PD in your PJs" and get teachers watching webinars and learning from those across the globe that are sharing.  I have learned so much from different webinars I've attended through ISTE, ASCD, EdWeb, etc - and so many of them are free!

The idea of a "summer innovation stipend" intrigues me.  Of course, there is a lot that goes in to finding the budget for that, but giving teachers time and incentive to explore something they are interested in and passionate about can lead to great growth.

All of the other ones are great as well, but those are the three that intrigue me the most.  Check them all out on  the slides here and the visual here.   There are more details of each type of PD on the pages here.

There are also some good ideas on teacher PD from another poster called "Effective PD for a Changing Culture" here.

~~See all my posts from ISTE with lots of links and resources shared by others here~~

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