The Impact of Global Collaboration

As I embarked on this final leg of winter term at Seattle Pacific University as part of my Masters in Digital Education Leadership, the ISTE Student standard that I decided to focus on was Global Collaborator.

“Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.”

ISTE student standard 7: Global Collaborator

I chose this standard because it is all about empowering students to collaborate with people both locally and globally in order to open their minds to new perspectives and enrich their learning. Some of the things that drew me to the standard were having students work in teams and not just with peers in their classroom but peers across the globe even. I also really liked the idea of having students use this to examine problems, explore multiple viewpoints, and take on various roles as they work together. Something that came to mind though when thinking about this was how little I actually see this done in classes in my district and even more specifically in math classes. This led me to wonder, How might educators in math classrooms utilize community experts to broaden student understanding? What considerations need to be made to ensure safe and responsible engagement with community members? I know when bringing in guests we need to make sure they have a background check done but does the same still apply when collaborating virtually? I’m specifically thinking about math because as a former math teacher I know that this is often a subject that students don’t always enjoy. So if as a teacher I can find a way to make the subject more relevant and engaging for students I’m all in.

Digging in and learning more

To start my exploration of this I looked at several different resources. I really wanted to see what was out there as far as resources that teachers could use to get started with global collaboration and any considerations that needed to be taken into account. One resource that I was immediately drawn to was on the Digital Promise website. Through the Digital Promise micro-credential program they have an entire page on their site dedicated to global collaboration projects. This was incredibly helpful in that it described in detail why global collaboration is important and steps to take for designing a project. The page itself is broken into 5 different sections; overview, details, research & resources, submission & evaluation, and issuing organization. However if you are not pursuing the micro-credential then you only need to look at the first 3 sections. The research and resources section was the most helpful for me, as it has links to research articles and links to project ideas and other resources. The biggest thing is how global collaboration helps build the skills in students that they need in order to compete in a 21st century society. Through collaboration projects students are able to learn how to problem-solve, communicate and practice empathy. After reading through the supporting information and resources from Digital Promise I started thinking about areas in my district where I have seen some of this work. While I couldn’t think of a lot of examples, one did come to mind. A math teacher at one of our middle schools did a project with her students around environmental impact. Students had to do research, create a presentation, and then had to present to local community members including the city council. While this stayed local it allowed students to have an authentic opportunity to work with and engage with local community members in order to learn more about themselves and their community. As I continued to explore the Digital Promise site I was led to another website and resource from worldsavvy.org. World Savvy has created a matrix that is focused on global competence. This was a great reminder of all of the different components that go into global collaboration. It is not just about the skills that students develop but also about the behaviors, values and attitudes that we help students see and develop as they collaborate.

Continuing to explore I really wanted to think about collaboration and its connection and relevance in a math classroom. While none of my research directly led me to something specific to math classrooms they all had various components in common that could be used in any classroom context. Global collaboration brings the world into the classroom and can open students eyes to the things happening around the world. Instead of telling our students that we are preparing them for when they go out into the real world, let’s tell it like it is, they are already in the real world and now we are just bringing that world front and center into the classroom. In any classroom and context we want students to be able to clearly communicate their thinking to their peers and global collaboration can help develop that skill in students. Katrina Schwartz in her article, 5 ways to inspire students through global collaboration talks about how when collaborating with peers from around the global students have to be able to problem solve so that others are able to “understand what they’re saying and if their writing is unclear, they’re more inclined to be more clear.” Schwartz also lists several other advantages to global collaboration such as sparking curiosity in students, helping students feel connected to the content through real world experience and helping students learn to be more open-minded and tolerant of differences.

My 3 Takeaways

Through all of this I began to see some themes continue to emerge in everything article and resource that I was encountering. The three things that stood out to me when it comes to global collaboration are the following; 

  • Empathy: As we have students begin to engage and collaborate with others we are helping them not only discover things about themselves but make discoveries about others as well. This allows students to open their minds to the individuality in others and helps build empathy toward other people. Students begin to value multiple perspectives and develop an openness to new ideas and ways of thinking. Inorder to truly collaborate with others we need to be empathetic so that we can really listen to what others have to say. Markham (2016) states that, “Empathy has the potential to open up students to deeper learning, drive clarity of thinking, and inspire engagement with the world—in other words, provide the emotional sustenance for outstanding human performance.” 
  • Start small: Students need time to practice and learn the skills that it takes to be good global collaborators. So educators should not be afraid to start small. Many resources suggest starting locally even starting with just connecting with another classroom in their building first. Develop the habits for good collaboration and then begin to branch out. 
  • Clear expectations and roles: In order to give all students a sense of involvement and responsibility it is important that they have roles and clear expectations. This could come in many forms, rubrics, planning documents, task cards, etc. Students should be given time to practice skills like brainstorming, decision making, and determining accountability says Curran (2014). The more educators can model this for students the better.

Continuing the Journey

As I continue to explore and learn more about global collaboration I am drawn to a few resources that may help educators get started in their classrooms. Some of the resources mentioned a website called PenPal Schools. This resource allows students to connect with students around the world while working on a collaborative project. Educators can search topics by student ag or subject and connect with other classes that are interested in that topic too. A great way to get started. Another resource that I would like to continue to explore is called Level Up Village (LUV), where their mission is “to globalize the classroom and facilitate seamless collaboration between students from around the world via pioneering Global STEAM enrichment courses.” While each course does cost money they are all aligned with the ISTE Standards and LUV provides support through online training for educators using their courses. There are so many more resources out there but these two stood out because of how thoughtful they seemed to be around connecting with what educators are already doing in their classes. I plan on taking some of these ideas back to the educators that I work with to see how we might incorporate some of this into their own classes. I am encouraged by how this can help students to be creative communicators and develop empathy. I plan on continuing to make the learning relevant, connect, and engaging while providing opportunities for students to collaborate and reflect on their learning experiences. I am excited to continue on this journey toward providing learning experiences for students that allow them to develop the “knowledge, skills, and dispositions individuals need to be successful in today’s interconnected world and to be fully engaged in and act on issues of global significance” (Digital Promise).

References

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My Journey to Understanding Computational Thinking

When I first started this module on the ISTE student standard: Computational Thinker I thought I had an idea of what I wanted to explore. From some of the initial reading that I did in preparation for this topic I thought I was going to spend this blog post talking about game based learning. My initial question was centered around this topic and I was really curious about how game based learning can be integrated into content areas like math and still fit within a teachers scope and sequence and current curriculum. We currently live in a society where students are constantly on devices and spend a lot of time playing video games. So how great would it be if classroom teachers were to take something like fortnite and integrate it into their curriculum. I also want to look into how this can help students better understand content and facilitate problem-solving while building conceptual understanding and skills. However as I continued to explore resources it became clearer to me that computational thinking is so much bigger than game based learning and that I needed to broaden my thinking. I was only looking at one small piece of how computational thinking may look in a classroom. However computational thinking is a process that involves different elements all working together for a common purpose.

Exploring Further and Changing Direction

So I began to explore different ideas and research on computational thinking. I also began to rethink my initial question of game based learning integration and began to think about how computational thinking might be integrated into all content areas. So instead of one narrow view I wanted to think about what support would be needed in order to help teachers build computational thinking into their scope and sequences. To begin looking into this I started looking for articles and research that could really point me to what computational thinking is and provided examples of how it could look in the classroom. What I came to find was that computational thinking is really similar to design thinking and that it’s a process. It’s not something that is scripted and it varies from classroom to classroom. However all of the resources agree that when we’re talking about computational thinking we’re talking about four distinct elements. The elements are decomposing or decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction and algorithmic thinking or design. When we start to incorporate all four of these elements into our teaching that’s when we really get at the heart of computational thinking.

Decomposition: Breaking down the problem into smaller bite size pieces. Picture of a banana split and all of the things that make a banana split, cherries, whipped cream, ice cream, bananas

Decomposition: Students need to be taught how to decompose problems they need to know how to break them down into simpler bite-size pieces and things that they can engage with.

Pattern Recognition: recognize and use patterns to make predictions and solve problems. Image of puzzle blocks that fit together.

Pattern Recognition: When it comes to pattern recognition we need to help students develop a sense of being able to recognize patterns and then make predictions based on those patterns that they see and verbalize that.

Abstraction: filtering out the unneeded details so that the problem is easier to understand. Image of coffee being filtered and an image of a cup of coffee.

Abstraction: This was a little harder for me to wrap my head around. Really it’s the idea of filtering out unneeded details. So how do we call those things out from the problem that aren’t needed or that are distracting from what it is we really want to get at. This is something that a lot of students don’t know how to do and so it’s important that we are helping students through that process and encouraging them and providing them with problems where they need to do that.

Algorithmic thinking: organizing the information needed into steps that can be used to solve the problem.

Algorithmic thinking: this is really about organizing all of the information and putting it into action. Using those ideas in order to come up with a plan that can be used over and over again. So I think about coding as a form of algorithmic design where I have to type my code in a particular way in order for it to work.

The cool thing that I found about computational thinking is that it doesn’t have to go in the same scripted order all of the time. Sometimes students might start with abstraction, sometimes they might start with the algorithmic design itself and other times they might start with decomposing the problem. It’s just a matter of where they start and then the steps that they take to work through it. 

The great thing about this is that there are already so many resources out there in order to help teachers think about computational thinking in their classroom. It doesn’t take anything really fancy in order to make this happen. As a matter of fact you don’t even really need technology but technology does make it easier and more exciting. One particular article that I read really highlighted ideas around having students decompose things like the American criminal justice system in order to find problems within it and then come up with solutions. Other examples were Analyzing data Trends in order to make predictions about earthquakes and fantasy football in the human body and Building Things based on all of that information but knowing what information maybe you need to strap and pull out. I also found that there are different websites that teachers can visit in order to look at example lesson plans or even take classes themselves on computational thinking. ISTE has an entire course on computational thinking that teachers can sign up for in order to learn more about this topic. Green Dot Public Schools has an entire website dedicated to computational thinking curriculum and includes lesson plans and projects a share for free for any teacher to access.

Key Takeaways

As I continue to think about this idea of computational thinking and how it can be embedded into content areas I’m really struck by the fact that there’s not one way that computational thinking has to look like. Some of my big takeaways are that it can take on many different forms. If I had to sum up my thinking into three big takeaways they would be the following.

  1. It’s not about technology, it’s about students learning. How can we build lessons that encourage students to think critically about what they’re doing in order to make connections, build understanding and break things apart in order to solve real-world problems.
  2. Computational thinking does not just mean coding. Computational thinking is really about the skills needed in order to code. Those skills are decomposition, abstraction, algorithmic thinking and pattern recognition.
  3. Computational thinking can be done in any classroom. Because it doesn’t look like one thing really any classroom can encourage and build up computational thinking in students. This can be done when students are making a collage or drawing something within the art class, it can be done in PE when thinking about a particular sport and being able to decompose it and break it apart into its simplest form. In language arts when looking at and pulling apart a text in order to analyze the meaning behind it, what the author was talking about and in recognizing patterns in the author speech when they’re writing. There’s so many ways that this can happen and look that it just really encourages me to think about how we might begin to see this in other classes.

Continuing the Journey

Since my thinking changed so much over the course of this module don’t feel like a truly have a full and complete answer to my question. I’m still looking for additional research and ideas in order to fully support the teachers that I work with in incorporating computational thinking into their classrooms. I’m encouraged by all of the research that I have found so far and know that there is so much more that I can learn and discover. I think one of the biggest things for me to remember is that as teachers we need to be intentional about how we do this. Because yes computational thinking can take the form of game-based learning however if we don’t incorporate the game intentionally then students may not see the actual learning behind it, they might just see the game. One particular article by Ryan Juraschka discussed how in order to effectively incorporate games into the classroom there needs to be a balance that is reached so that the game is both educational and fun for students. As teachers it’s our job to really think about the purpose behind what we’re doing and not just trust that when a game or a website tells us it builds computational thinking that it does. We need to do our own research and look into it for ourselves in order to see if it is really asking students to decompose a problem or look for patterns or encouraging them to use their algorithmic thinking. I know for myself I am going to continue to do my own research and my own learning in order to discover new ways in which this can be incorporated. I’m also going to continue to talk with the teachers that I work with and encourage them to look into this and find small ways to bring it into their lessons. As I continue this journey of discovery around computational thinking if you have lessons where you’ve built this up within your own classroom or you found great resources that have examples of what computational thinking can look like in the classroom I would love to see them. Please feel free to share them with me in the comments section below.

References

Bogardus Cortez, M. (2017, July 31). 3 Ways Game-Based Learning Can Boost Math Skills | EdTech Magazine. Retrieved February 22, 2020, from https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2017/07/3-ways-game-based-learning-can-boost-math-skills 

Computational Thinking Curriculum. (n.d.). Retrieved February 29, 2020, from http://ct.excelwa.org/ 

Google for Education: Computational Thinking. (n.d.). Retrieved February 29, 2020, from https://edu.google.com/resources/programs/exploring-computational-thinking/ 

ISTE Standards for Students. Retrieved from www.iste.org/standards/for-students

Juraschka, R. (2019, September 29). How Digital Game-Based Learning Improves Student Success. Prodigy Math Blog. https://www.prodigygame.com/blog/digital-game-based-learning/ 

Sheldon, E. (2017, March 30). Computational Thinking Across the Curriculum. Edutopia. Retrieved February 29, 2020, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/computational-thinking-across-the-curriculum-eli-sheldon 

Valenzuela, J. (2018, February 22). How to develop computational thinkers | ISTE. ISTE Blog. Retrieved February 29, 2020, from https://www.iste.org/explore/Computational-Thinking/How-to-develop-computational-thinkers 

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Supporting Innovative Thinking and the Design Process

When I began this module on the ISTE student standard Innovative designer I wasn’t sure where it was going to take me. The standard itself is all about designing something that allows for students to identify problems, create a process for solving and integrate perseverance and management skills and constraints all while working within an open-ended structure. When thinking about the standard I was specifically drawn to the first two indicators. These indicators state that students should be able to use the design process to generate ideas, test out their theories, be creators, and use the appropriate digital tool in order to solve authentic problems. I had more questions than I had answers when I began and I still feel like I’m not in a place where I have a completely fleshed out solution. One question I had was around how to really help teachers to incorporate a design process within their curricular area especially those areas that are seen as more traditional or skills and standards-based for example math or ELA. I wanted to think about how a more traditional class could build in a design process that allows for or helps teachers to see the connection between the design process and the standards that they are trying to teach or incorporate. My big question was how can I help emphasize the connection between the two in order to support teachers and students in seeing the relevance in the work and what connections can be made between the design process and the other content standards that teachers are trying to teach. I think what really intrigued me about this was that often times in classrooms there seems to be a tension between wanting to create and engage students in a project-based lesson or the design process but there’s always this tension of time. Not having enough time to get through a scope and sequence or the pacing guides or the standards thus there is that struggle of wanting to truly engage students but not feeling like they can because of additional outside pressures.

To begin trying to answer my question I really dug into some different resources that were provided through my graduate program and then I pulled additional resources that some of my cohort members shared or that I found through the readings that I started with. One of the first resources that I looked at was from The Institute of Design at Stanford. It was a great introduction to what the design process is and how that could look within a classroom. I think it really helped me to Think Through the different pieces that go along with the design process and think about how I could showcase those or describe them to teachers in order to help teachers feel more comfortable with the process. I really grabbed onto the empathize portion of the design process. I think it’s important for educators to remember that we’re designing for an audience and in order to do that we need to know who our audience is. We can do that through interviews, talking and communicating with each other. The Institute of Design at Stanford describes the emphasize process as one in which the designer is trying to solve problems for someone else not themselves and so in order to do that they need to understand why that problem is important to the audience that they’re trying to solve it for. I love how the Institute of Design at Stanford described it as needing “to learn to see things “with a fresh set of eyes,” and empathizing is what gives us those new eyes” (p.2). The other key components to the design process are define, ideate, prototype and test. I think it’s important to think about how all of those stages weave together and go from one to the other and it’s not until the final stage that maybe you need to circle back to the emphasize stage.

MrJanzen1984 [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

After I dug into what the design process is I started to think about what that means for classrooms and how I can support that work. I read an article from ISTE called Here’s how you teach innovative thinking and in it a book by Sharon Sakai-Miller called Innovation Age Learning was referenced. I decided to buy a copy of the book in order to dig deeper into what innovative thinking could look in the classroom. One of the things that stood out was this notion of thinking about the lesson in terms of what, so what, and now what. Sakai-Miller emphasized that it is important to ask ourselves these questions when designing a lesson so we can get at the heart and bigger purpose of the lesson. One of the questions I had though was around finding the relevance and connection between the design process and the standards that teachers are trying to cover. One of the things mentioned was the idea of a matrix that connects technology standards with content standards. This sounded exactly like what I needed so I began to think about what this might look like. Something that I thought about was how I might work with other facilitators in my district in order to take the scope and sequence and weave in the ISTE student standards. I think this could be done electronically and then shared out with teachers. This then might help teachers to see how their content standards and the ISTE standards can work together. From there I think it would be possible to look at a unit of study and backwards plan in order to build in the design process. Sakai-Miller (2016), talks about how important it is to not only state the content standards but also the technology standards because “unless those “invisible outcomes” are stated and valued, they will not be developed” (p.28). I am also thinking about how students might see the relevance between what they are learning, what they are doing and the ISTE standards. This is leading me to think about different ways of highlighting these connections. One thing I thought about would be for students to use some sort of blogging platform in order to begin each unit of study by reflecting. I’m thinking that teachers could have posted either electronically in their LMS or physically in their classroom the content and ISTE standards for the unit, the objectives, and then a driving question. Students might then take time at the beginning to think about and answer the driving question. Then throughout the unit students might use some sort of resource such as coggle to show the connections between what they are learning, the standards (both content and ISTE) and the driving question. I then think it would be great if at the end of the unit students circle backed to what they wrote at the start of the unit to see if their thoughts had changed and then to see what connections can be made from what they learned and current issues in the real world. Throughout all of this though it is important for the teacher to be modeling and doing this alongside the students. This leads to how I might be able to support teachers in this work and that is through modeling the process myself.

Another resource I found was from Edutopia called Supporting the Teacher Maker Movement. While this article was focused on what principals can do to support, it gave me some great ideas for how I might support. A few of the things that rose to the top were providing collaboration time, encouraging teachers to design around their interests, and creating a standards-based matrix. While these again focused on how a principal might support this, it got me thinking about how important it is for teachers to feel like they aren’t alone. I can support teachers by collaborating with them and helping them to think outside the box when it comes to designing around things that interest them. I also plan on working to create some sort of standards-based matrix that can be used in order for teachers to still keep track of the standards they need to teach but also incorporate the ISTE standards. 

So while I don’t feel like I have fully answered the question that I started with, I do think I have made progress. As I continue my work I plan on utilizing the questions of what, so what, and now what when designing lessons and activities. I also plan on working with other content facilitators to see how we might incorporate the ISTE standards into our current scope and sequences. I also plan on continuing to seek out additional resources on empowering teachers to be innovators and I plan on continuing to model this for teachers and students.

References

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Curating Learning for Teacher and Students

How can I support educators in allowing students to be curators of their own learning instead of just supplying students with the resources they “need” and putting a ceiling on student learning? This is the question I sought to answer when I began to dig deeper into ISTE Student Standard 3: Knowledge Constructor. I began to think about all the times that I have worked with teachers on this project or that one hoping to empower and engage learners, only to have the teacher provide students with a list of “here are the resources you can use”. Then when the teacher gets back the work they often complain about how every student’s work looks the same. Well duh, that’s because they all had the same resources. I really wanted to know what it was that lead teachers to just provide the resources to students instead of allowing students to go out and find their own. Was it because teachers are afraid to give students too much freedom, do they not want to give up too much control, do they just believe that students are incapable of doing the research themselves, is it time, and the list goes on. I’m sure there are a million reasons why but I really wanted to take time to figure out, whatever the reason, how I can I support them in possibly trying something new and allowing students to become the curators.

As I really began to dig into this work I started to think more internally about my own feelings and beliefs. I began to examine how some of the same things I was wondering about were things that I often do or think about educators. So I needed to reevaluate my own personal beliefs. Part of that was thinking about this work through a growth mindset. As I was in my head I realized that a lot of what I was thinking or saying internally were fixed in a mindset of what teachers are not doing. Instead I need to refocus on what they are doing and what they can do. If I want teachers to view their students through a growth mindset then I need to have one too. In an article by Keith Heggart, he talks about the idea of helping teachers develop a growth mindset for themselves so that they can help students develop a growth mindset. There are four key components that are addressed in the article around this work; modeling, creating space for new ideas, self-reflection, and formative feedback. All four of these are important for achieving a growth mindset in teachers. I need to model a growth mindset so that teachers see it in action and can start to believe it. I also need to be open to allowing space for new ideas and be okay with things not going right the first time. It’s alright to fail as long as we get back up and try again. From that failure often comes self reflection and being sure to provide time for that in order to learn from our mistakes. I need to also be open to formative feedback and embrace it. If I can model all of these then teachers might start to shift their own ways of thinking. So I believe it is important to incorporate these four components into my everyday practice.

So what does this have to do with allowing students to be curators of their own learning, well everything. In order to shift some of the control from the teacher to the students one must first have a growth mindset, otherwise they’ll always tell themselves that it’s not worth the risk. Once that shift has occurred it can open up the learning for everyone. So why curation, well that is simple, it’s about creativity and passion. Think of your favorite subject in school, why was it your favorite? You probably liked it because the teacher was passionate about it and that passion can be infectious. We want our students to be passionate about learning. That means we need them to be able to critically engage with the world that they live in so that they can be inspired by the things they discover. However if we don’t ever let them engage and discover how are they going to find their passion? This however does not mean just letting students loose. John Spencer says,

“we live in a world of instant information, where ideas go viral without much thought regarding accuracy and validity. It’s a place where content is cheap. Cheap to make. Cheap to share. Cheap to consume. The traditional gatekeepers are gone, which is great for students. They can create and share their work in ways that were previously unimaginable. But there’s a cost. The best stuff doesn’t always rise to the top and, if we’re not careful, we mistake the speed of consumption for the depth of knowledge. This is why we need students to learn the art of curation.”

– John Spencer, Getting Started with Content Curation in the Classroom

We need to teach the art of curation. So how I can help students become curators or constructors knowledge, well it goes back to modeling. It is important to model the process and not just assume that students or teachers know how to curate information. This is also something that takes time and should be given time. The more I can build this into my lessons and work the better students will get at it because they will have more time to engage in the process. One of Spencer’s steps to getting started with content curation is to begin earlier, “If you begin at the beginning of the year, they will slowly learn the art curation as the year progresses” (2017). I am inspired to try this in my own work. How can I start the year by using curation as a way to build community and relationships? I think one way is by creating opportunities for curation where the topics are not predetermined but are set by the students. This allows students to design a curated list based on their own personal interests. This can then be shared with others in the community as a means for everyone to learn about each other. One of the things for me to remember though is that in order to promote learning there needs to be an aspect of writing connected to the curation. According to Jennifer Gonzalez (2017), “the simplest way to do this is to require a written commentary with each item in the collection.” She goes on to describe this using the example of a museum collection. When visiting a museum, visitors see a description of the collection as a whole along with descriptions for each individual piece within the collection. So while students are creating their curated collection their needs to be a written component in order to increase learning. While this is one simple way to start the process I think by beginning the year this way it can help build trust and relationships among people. From this trust then comes an understanding that we are all in the work together and learning together. When we have trust and community we are more open to taking risks and trying new things even if that means we might fail. So I commit to continuing to build trust and relationships with those that I work with, fostering a growth mindset, and not just talking the talk but walking it as well. I plan on modeling this work and supporting so that we can all become better curators of knowledge.

Here is a video by John Spencer on why students (and I would argue everyone) should be content curators.

Additional ideas for ways to incorporate student curation can be found in the following resources: 

References

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Teacher Empowerment that Leads to Student Empowerment

As part of my assignment in my course this term I was asked to dig deeper into the ISTE Student Standards. For the first assignment we are specifically focusing on ISTE Student Standard 1: Empowered Learner. As I was reading over this standard and considering the question that was posed to us, “How can students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences?”, I began to think about how this applied to my current position as a digital learning coach. This got me thinking about what the best and most appropriate supports are for teachers in order to empower them as teachers so that they can best support and empower their students? To help me answer this question I began to look at different resources about empowerment in the classroom, specifically as it relates to technology.

As I began to research and find different resources to help me answer my question, I found myself not so much thinking about the technology but more about the community. In order to support and empower teachers I need to let them know that I am going along this journey with them and that I don’t have all the answers. It is important for me to model what I am encouraging them to do for themselves. My job as a coach is to be their support when they may not feel so confident in what they are doing, just like we support our students in this way when we ask them to try new things. I am still trying to determine exactly what this looks like but I am drawing from some of my past experience in order to support me. In the past I have been able to attend the Best Mentor Academy, these workshops have given me a toolkit for having coaching conversations with people that I work with. I believe that this work has opened my eyes to how important it is to truly listen to what someone is saying and not go into a conversation with a preset course in mind. I think this is important to empowering teachers, the more we can listen to their concerns and allow them to be vulnerable, the more likely they might be to try something new. It is all part of building a safe community within the coaching relationship and then the classroom. Helping teachers be vulnerable can help lead them to as Passeport (2016) says, “rediscovering the magic of learning.”

It is also important to reflect on our practice in order to improve. As educators we ask students to do this yet sometimes have a hard time doing it for ourselves. Just as the ISTE Student Standards ask students to reflect on their learning in order to improve, it is important that we as educators take time to do the same. So part of empowering teachers is supporting them in this reflection. Using coaching language that promotes reflective practice and a supportive culture for learning. This will lead to a culture of reflective practice that can be modeled in the classroom in order to empower students to be reflective. It’s like the saying from the movie Field of Dream “If you build it, they will come” only instead I see it as if we do it, they will too.

I also see this work as being circular. Much of the work to empower students starts outside the classroom. Just like students need to feel supported by their teachers, teachers need to feel supported by their leadership. Teachers need to feel that it is okay to try new things and sometimes get messy with the work. So in order for teachers to feel empowered to do this they need to see “that the classroom practices we expect from teachers are the ones school leaders practice in the various professional development meetings, “Tech Cafes,” email communications, webinars, and social media” (Passeporte, 2016). If we expect our students to take these risks then we need teachers to take these risks which means we need leadership to take these risks with us. So it all starts with leadership, which then impacts teachers so that they can empower their students. Once students are empowered that trickles out into the communities that we live in which then can get funneled back to leadership through different venues.

So while I may not have the exact answer for what the best and most appropriate supports are for teachers in order to empower them as teachers so that they can best support and empower their students. I do think I am at least heading in the right direction. Through constant support and encouragement I can help teachers not just stand on the sidelines as new technology emerges but actually jump in and take action and feel empowered to do so. My job is to help them navigate their way through setting “professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness” (ISTE, 2016). I am also tasked with continuing my own growth and learning as a coach so that I can model best practices when working with teachers.

References

ISTE Standards for Educators. Retrieved from www.iste.org/standards/for-educators

ISTE Standards for Students. Retrieved from www.iste.org/standards/for-students

Mecklenburger, J. A. (1986). “Emerging” technologies for education. Peabody Journal of Education, 64(1), 183-187

Passeport, F. (2016, June 13). 3 Way to Empowers Teachers and Transform Classrooms. Retrieved from https://www.commonsense.org/education/articles/3-ways-to-empower-teachers-and-transform-classrooms

Washington State Standards for Mentoring. Retrieved from https://www.k12.wa.us/educator-support/beginning-educator-support-team/washington-state-standards-mentoring

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Digital Readiness: One Districts Path for Preparing Students for a Digital World

For my Values, Ethics and Foundations course this term I had the opportunity to interview the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in my district about our districts digital readiness. The interview questions were based off of Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship. The interview was very informative and reminded me that as a district we are continually refining and adjusting our support based on student needs. As a district we are already do so much to prepare our students for a digital world that is constantly changing. Through my position as a digital learning coach I am able to support teachers and students with digital education connected to enhancing learning for students by making the learning relevant and allowing for more student voice. I appreciated how honest my CTO was with me. From the interview it is clear that while we are doing a lot to prepare students there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Integration was a key component of this interview and a word that kept coming up. It is so important to model for teachers what we want them to be doing in their classrooms and that includes integrating digital education. As my interviewee said during the interview,

“The more we practice that muscle of how we plan that way in pd teachers will be able to think about it with some foresight and put the plan in action in classrooms.”

Another piece that stood out from the interview was just how much digital education is not so much about the digital tool but more about the behaviors and values that we want students to exhibit. It’s about helping students express themselves in clear and consistent ways. No matter the platform (offline or online) it is still just about the behavior. Which is why my district does not have a digital code of conduct we just have a code of conduct, because “it’s just bullying. It’s still just about the behavior, the platform doesn’t matter.”

After my interview I am left still thinking about how I can continue to push on teachers and students to constantly think about how their behaviors and values align with their technology use. In the end we don’t know what new digital resources will be out there and how it will impact the world so I can only focus on how I support in the here and now. 

Below is a short two minute video that summarizes the interview. Enjoy!

Digital Readiness Project Summary Video

References

Ribble, M., & Miller, T. N. (2013). Educational leadership in an online world: Connecting students to technology responsibly, safely, and ethically. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(1), 137-145.

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Mission Statement

My mission as a digital learning coach is to partner with educators and students in order to provide them with the resources and skills necessary to successfully navigate a digital world that is constantly evolving.

As a digital learning coach, it is important that I am a model for educators and students that I work with. This means I am constantly evaluating what I am doing and I why I am doing it. I want to prepare those that I work with to successfully navigate their way through a digital world by knowing how to safely engage with technology and using technology in order to collaborate and interact in positive ways. Through my work I am continually striving to provide the necessary skills and know how for teachers and students when it comes to working with technology. “Educators and learners are in the midst of significant transformations in both the teaching and learning arenas” (Chapman, 2016, p.287). With this transformation it is my responsibility to support educators and students. Whether that support is through modeling instruction, co-planning lessons with a teacher, or supporting teachers and students in finding the appropriate tool in order to meet the needs of the lesson, my job is to listen and coach them through this transformation. I am continually seeking to work with educators in order to help them “utilize technology in ways that engage a broader variety of learners” (Chapman, 2016, p.288). I also believe it is important when working with educators to always keep the student at the forefront of what we do and why we are doing it. I continually ask myself how I can support educators in ensuring that we are equitably supporting our students, families, and our educators. I also work to positively collaborate and model that collaboration with others. How do I bring an uplifting and supportive energy to the work that I do and help others see that the way we interact with each other is important.  In order to support my mission, I have created three guiding principles that are aligned with the ISTE Standards for Coaches.

Guiding Principles: 

  1. Provide access to resources and tools to equitably support students and educators
  2. Be a model for educators and students around using digital technology safely
  3. Supporting digital collaboration

Principle 1: Provide access to resources and tools to equitably support students and educators

ISTE Coaching Standard 3b: Partner with educators to identify digital learning content that is culturally relevant, developmentally appropriate and aligned to content standards.

Providing access to tools and resources is more than just putting the resources in front of students and educators. This support comes in the form of helping educators evaluate what the right resources and tools are that will support student learning outcomes. It is being a thought partner with educators to determine when a tool is appropriate to use and then how to thoughtfully support students in the use of the tool. Through this work it is important to think about how technology can support culturally relevant teaching. When looking at new resources and tools I always strive to help educators think about how the resource will allow students to engage. Students should be able to incorporate their own culture, background knowledge, and identity into the work and if the resource or tool doesn’t allow for that then maybe it’s not the right fit. “Culture is a significant determinant in how we appropriate and assign relevance to learning technologies” (Chapman, 2016, p.290). If our students can’t see the relevance, then they are less apt to engage in the learning.

It is also important to consider how resources align to the standards that we are asking students to engage in. Through my work as a coach I often work with educators to think about what the standard is that they are trying to address, what they want students to be able to do, and what is the best resource for making student learning visible. It is important to make sure that students are given access to the resources that they need in order to complete the activities that they are being asked to do. Equity with resources comes in many forms and does not simply mean everyone has the same thing. It means asking questions and making sure that the resources that are provided fit the need. When resources and tools are used that not only align to standards, feet the student and educators needs and are also culturally relevant teachers and students both benefit.

Principle 2: Be a model for educators and students around using digital technology safely

ISTE Coaching Standard 7d: Empower educators, leaders and students to make informed decisions to protect their personal data and curate the digital profile they intend to reflect.

While digital safety is only one component of digital citizenship I think it is an important one to remember. In this day and age where more and more of what we do is online, it is extremely important to help educators and students make smart decisions when using technology. I do this every day through the interactions that I have with fellow educators and students. Through my work I am always modeling what I would expect educators and students to do. I encourage educators to think about their own online identity and whether that identity matches the one they have offline. I have spent time in classrooms where I have been able to work with students on this topic as well. It is my goal as a digital coach to make sure that educators and students are continually assessing what they create digitally and if it accurately reflects who they are. It is important that as more information is put online educators and students know how that information can be viewed, accessed and used. When working with educators it is important that I continue to model how we want students to engage when online. The more educators can see this modeled the more likely they are to start to embed it in their own teaching.

Through my work it is my goal to work with educators in order to embed digital citizenship and teach students how to use digital technology safely in their classrooms. As Ribble (2013) states, “As technology continues to become a more integral part of students’ lives, making sure that all members within school environments are well versed in appropriate use and digital citizenship will be imperative” (p.142). The work of making sure that members are versed in digital citizenship is where I focus much of my work. Through the work with teachers I am able to see the impact that it has on the work that they do with their students. I am able to work with educators so that they then become the model for students around how to safely use technology.

Principle 3: Supporting digital collaboration

ISTE Coaching Standard 7b: Partner with educators, leaders, students and families to foster a culture of respectful online interactions and a healthy balance in their use of technology.

Prensky (2013) states that while the need to discuss and evaluate perspectives isn’t changing, how we do that is, as more sophisticated technology comes out. With this new technology comes the need to help educators and students understand how to and when to use it. My goal is to work with educators in realizing that many of these digital tools can be powerful forms of positive collaboration. Not only can students collaborate with other students in their class, but they can collaborate with other students from around the world. With this greater collaboration though comes the need to teach students what acceptable online collaborative interactions look like. It is often easy to misinterpret someone’s words when dealing with online collaborations. I strive to work with educators to help them anticipate where and when some of these misunderstandings may occur. Then teachers can make intentional plans for how they are going to address these with students in order to help students learn from them.

As Rheingold (2014) said collaboration happens when people have shared goals and what they are striving to create would not be possible without one another’s shared resources and ideas. Digital collaboration lens itself to allowing students to creatively showcase their learning not only for themselves but to the people that they are working with and also their teacher. My goal is to help students understand how to best choose the words that they use when they collaborate, the resources or tools that they use for collaboration, and how that collaboration can be positively impactful.

“Technology in learning is no longer an option because technology is now a vital component of both work life and personal life”

Marshall Jones & Rebecca Bridges

Technology is continuing to evolve and change the environment that we are living and working within. My goal is to build up educators and students as leaders in this work so that we can all have a positive impact when it comes to a digital environment. I want educators and students to thoughtfully think about the resources and the tools that they are using, how they are using them and how they are using them with others for collaboration. “Technology in learning is no longer an option because technology is now a vital component of both work life and personal life” (Bridges & Jones, 2016, p.327). As a digital learning coach I am always working to be a model for students and teachers around balancing the use of technology in learning in order to navigate a digital world and in thinking intentionally about the resources and tools that are available to support this work.

References

Chapman, R. (2016). Diversity and Inclusion in the Learning Enterprise: Implications for Learning Technologies. in The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology, ed. Nicholas John Rushby and Daniel W. Surry (p.287-300). Malden, Mass.: Wiley Blackwell.

ISTE Standards for Coaches. (n.d.). Retrieved from  https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches

Jones, M. & Bridges, R. (2016), Equity, Access, and the Digital Divide in Learning Technologies: Historical Antecedents,Current Issues, and Future Trends,” in The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology, ed. Nicholas John Rushby and Daniel W. Surry (p. 327-347). Malden, Mass.: Wiley Blackwell.

Prensky, M. (2013). From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom. in From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom: Hopeful Essays for 21st Century Learning (p.201-215). Thousand Oaks, CA.: Corwin.

Rheingold, Howard (2014). Net smart: How to thrive online. MIT Press

Ribble, M., & Miller, T. N. (2013). Educational leadership in an online world: Connecting students to technology responsibly, safely, and ethically. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(1), 137-145.

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Edcamp Puget Sound Conference or Should I Say Unconference

On Saturday, November 2nd 2019 I had the opportunity to attend my first Puget Sound Edcamp. I wasn’t sure what to expect or even how this would relate to the current grad school course that I am in; Values, Ethics and Foundations in Digital Education. So I was pleasantly surprised when the entire day felt relevant to what I am currently studying and my work in schools. Unlike most traditional conferences, Edcamp is an unconference. That means the topics and sessions for the day are determined by the participants that day. It was so empowering to be able to write down topics that I was interested in and then be able to upvote other ideas that others had written down, all in real time. I spent the day talking with other educators about topics ranging from journaling in math, STEM activities in grades k-12, to Anti-racist and culturally responsive education.

While all of these topics are diverse looking back I feel like they all have something in common. In order for any of these things to happen it takes partnership. It takes students engaging in positive and safe ways both online and offline. It takes educators supporting and creating opportunities for students to make positive decisions and to contribute to the community in order to build relationships. Furthermore it takes coaches being present to encourage and support educators and students in all of this. When all of us work together great things can happen. Instead of just copying down math problems, coaches can support educators in finding resources that allow students to creatively show their math learning in their journal. The ISTE standards for Coaches (7b) specifically highlights how coaches can “partner with educators, leaders, students and families to foster a culture of respectful online interactions and a healthy balance in their use of technology.” It’s the balance that is so important. Coaches need to help educators and in turn students realize that not everything needs to be done online.

In the session on math journaling there was a lot of discussion around online resources but when it came down to it the math journal itself can be done on paper. Digital does not always mean better. The session on STEM also supported the idea of partnership and working together. Students need to have opportunities to engage with STEM activities in the classroom and to see it incorporated with core content instead of a stand alone idea. When STEM is embedded into learning it helps students understand how things are connected and to make some of those connections for themselves. It can also help students to engage in positive and safe behavior while using technology, which is part of the ISTE 2b Student Standards. The last session that I attended centered around Social Justice Equity in Schools and Anti-racist vs culturally responsive. This session left me thinking about how the words and actions that I use all stem from my own implicit bias or unconscious racism. One participant shared how they have changed the verbage they use when talking about student behavior. Instead of calling a students behaviour inappropriate they have shifted to calling it unexpected. I love this idea because it makes it more about setting clear expectations and communicating those expectations with students. Now I’m not labeling a student as being good or bad but instead talking about how their actions might have been unexpected. I also think this helps when thinking about how I have conversations with students and even educators. Am I expecting them to react in a certain way and how is my unconscious racism playing into that. ISTE Educator Standard 3a calls educators to “create experiences for learners to promote positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community.” However if as an educator I am not aware of my own implicit bias and unconscious racism then I don’t believe we can fully achieve this. My own awareness will enable me as an educator to help my students see their own implicit bias, thus allowing us to have conversations that open us up to empathy and building positive relationships and community.

All of these sessions allowed me to learn from others. It was great to hear and learn about what other educators are doing and experiencing in their districts. I was able to connect with people from neighboring districts to share ideas and continue to build my professional learning network. I am looking forward to the spring Edcamp and continuing to engage in this work.

References

“ISTE Standards for Coaches.” ISTE, www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches.

“ISTE Standards for Educators.” ISTE, www.iste.org/standards/for-educators.

“ISTE Standards for Students.” ISTE, www.iste.org/standards/for-students.

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Metacognition in the Classroom

As I begin my graduate program, my first course EDTC 6100: Digital Education Leadership Orientation gave me the opportunity to learn more about reflective assessment strategies and why teachers and schools might choose to use them. Reflective assessment strategies are great tools for teachers, schools, and really anyone to use even outside of education in order to really dive deeper into what they are thinking and learning. This idea of reflective assessment gives a more concrete name to and example of metacognition or thinking about what you’re thinking. According to Bond, Evans, and Ellis (2011), “Reflective assessment is a formative approach that emphasizes the joint participation of teachers and students in the assessment process” (p.32). So it’s not just about students doing the reflections but really about teachers and students reflecting about the lesson. It can take the form of students talking about what they learned, what they know, what they don’t know yet, and what they still hope to learn. Teachers can then take that reflective assessment and use it to determine what students learned and what students are still struggling with. Teachers can then adapt their lessons for the next day in order to reflect that knew knowledge and to help students progress and grow. 

Bond, Evans, and Ellis (2011) suggest three different types of reflective strategies that teachers and schools can use with their students. These assessment strategies are “I Learned” Statements, Clear and Unclear Windows, and The Week in Review. These three different strategies allow students an opportunity to explore what they have learned. It provides students time to digest the information, reflect, and communicate to themselves and their teacher how they are feeling about the lesson. Students are provided time to express what they have learned and in some cases what they have not learned yet. In taking time to explore their thinking students are becoming better communicators and are able to work on better expressing themselves. “Self-diagnosis is a valuable skill because it enables the learner as well as those entrusted to help the learner to know where to start” (Ellis, 2001).This can be important especially later in life when students may need to advocate for themselves. The reflective assessments are also a great opportunity for teachers to use the information gained from the student reflections in order to assess their own teaching and how they can adapt their instruction for their students. If students are still struggling with a concept the reflective assessment gives teachers knowledge of this thus allowing teachers to design additional tasks and/or lessons for students. 

While reflective assessments are beneficial for classroom use with students they can also be an important tool in teacher evaluations. Reflective assessments can be a form of data for teachers to use in order to collect and document student progress or growth over a given period of time. This data allows teachers to show evidence of student growth and of their work and support of students in making progress. According to (Danielson, 2011)

Assessment of student learning plays an important role in instruction; no longer does it signal the end of instruction; it is now recognized to be an integral part of instruction. While assessment of learning has always been and will continue to be an important aspect of teaching (it’s important for teachers to know whether students have learned what was intended), assessment for learning has increasingly come to play an important role in classroom practice. (p. 62)

With this collection of data teachers are thus able to impact their classroom practice and have the data to support that impact when it comes time for their evaluation. “Incorporation of formative data, collected through classroom-based reflective assessments, as a complement to standardized test results will broaden the information base, as well as increase the credibility of the evaluation process” (Bond, Evans, and Ellis., 2011).

Therefore when we allow for metacognition to occur within the classroom we are not only benefiting students and teachers, we are also benefiting the entire educational system as a whole. Students flourish because they are able to deeply think about and express or articulate what they are learning and what they are still unsure of. Teachers benefit because they get to know their students on a deeper level and what they know and what they are still unclear about. The school system benefits because they have more deeply invested students and teachers as a part of the educational process and they are all working together.

References:

Bond, J.B., Evans, L., & Ellis, A.K. (2011). Reflective assessment. Principal Leadership, 11(6), 32-34.

Danielson, C. (2011). The framework for teaching evaluation instrument. Princeton, NJ: The Danielson Group.

Ellis, A.K. (2001). Teaching, learning, & assessment together: The reflective classroom. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education, Inc.

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Welcome to my new bPortfolio.

Welcome to my new bPortfolio. This website will serve as a place for me to reflect on my learning as I pursue my Masters in Digital Education Leadership. I am excited to explore what learning in a digital world means to me and the teachers and students that I work with.

Posted in Change Agent, Collaborator, Connected Learner, Content Knowledge and Professional Growth, Data-Driven Decision-Maker, Digital Age Learning Environments, Digital Citizen Advocate, Digital Citizenship, Learning Designer, Professional Development and Program Evaluation, Professional Learning Facilitator, Teaching, Learning and Assessments, Visionary Leadership | Leave a comment