Public education: What is your opinion?

I have spent my entire life as either a student or as an educator. I like learning and helping others discover new concepts and ideas. Nothing excites me more than to see a person whether is it an child or an adult understand a new concept, make a discovery, or get excited about learning. (Yes, learning can be exciting!) It literally gives me goose bumps. These “goose bump” moments are not happening as often as I would like to happen. Why is that? Are learners (I include myself as a learner because an educator is ALWAYS a learner first) not working hard enough? Is the system failing our learners?

While I have do have my own opinion on the answers to these questions, I would like to hear other’s opinions.

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Tech Talk: Professional development via the bathroom stall

Weekly Tech Tip emails (see Supporting Technology Integration) are a great way to provide  technology integration support. But how many emails do teachers receive in a day? The answer is a lot. It is not always easy to sit down and truly digest the weekly tech tip. While some teachers are reading the tech tips, I knew others are not due to lack of time. Teachers need differentiation just like students. As a professional development provider, it is imperative that I provide multiple avenues for learning. Could I provide the teachers another avenue for reading the tech tip? I began to think about my training I have received from Lea Arnau, instructional coaching expert from Learning Forward. She once told us in a workshop about a coach who posted quick tips in the faculty restrooms. I designed a one-page flyer that  is posted in the faculty restrooms at each of my three buildings. Tech Talk is a summary of the weekly tech tips that a teacher can quickly read. My plan is to change out the Tech Talks twice a month. The response so far has been very positive. One fifth grade teacher developed her own lesson based on Issue 2 (Movie Making and Instruction). Students worked in pairs to develop iMovies based upon assigned section in the social studies text-book. Prior to making the movie, students developed a storyboard. Students will then show their movies to their classmates when they study that particular topic. When the teacher approached me about the project, she told me she developed the idea based upon the Tech Talk I had posted in the bathroom. Learning can happen in the bathroom stalls!

Visit www.dps61.org/techtalk to view all the issues of Tech Talk.

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Supporting technology integration

On a weekly basis the Instructional Technology Coaches (ICT) send out a tech tip. This year the Tech Tip was structured to support the 10 iPads at each school that teachers can check out. While working on my Master’s degree in Educational Technology over the summer, I created this plan as assignment for a class. I knew we needed to provide more support than just a one stop workshop in order for the iPads to be used.  I used a couple main concepts when designing the framework. 

1. Adult learning theory: There is a underlying principles when working with adult learners. The basic assumptions are adults learners are independent, wants efficiency, seeks new knowledge, needs interaction for optimal learning, and wants a facilitator.

2. On-going support:  Classroom teachers do not have the time to learn about technology integration in large amounts of time. However, the need is great for provide technology integration support. The support needs to be given out in small chucks over a long period of time.

3. Web-based: The main goal is to support the integration of the building check-out iPads. However, 10 iPads is not a lot. So it is important to focus upon applications that were web-based. This would allow teachers to take students to the computer lab and continue working on projects. 

4. Creation-based:  Creation-based/student-centered activities are used to develop high-order and critical thinking skills.

Based upon these concepts, I developed a framework utilizing our Tech Tips as the main vehicle.  Each month was themed around a creation-based/web-based application. 

Week 1(email): Short video tutorial (created by an ITC or found on YouTube) and instructions using the application were sent out via email. 

Week 2 (email): Tips on how to connect instruction and the application. A short formative survey via Google forms to assess if the tutorial was helpful and questions educators have.

 

Week 3 (face-to-face): ITCs held on-site support sessions at each building. The session is designed for teachers to ask questions and work with the ITC on develop lessons using the application. The formative survey data helps the ITC understand what is needed at the face-to-face meetings. These sessions have opened the door for the ITC to work with teachers in their classrooms. 

Week 4 (email): More tips on using the application instructional were sent. 

All resources can be found at www.dps61.org/techresources

My next blog post will discuss the topics by month and adjustments that have been made after one semester of school. 

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ESL and iPads, what should I do?

Kris Boomer and I presented at IETC conference in Springfield, IL this past week on how the K-8 is using the iPads to maximize learning for ELLs. This is still a work in progress. We have a a lot of work to do still (actually the work will never stop:). One of the biggest successes that has came out of using iPads is the student centered learning. Students are using Notability, Dropbox, images, and iMovie to develop and practice academic vocabulary. To learn more about this visit the my conference webpage. Please leave comments or suggestions on how you have used technology to enhance learning for ELLs. 

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ISTE, Now What?

Last week, I had the privilege to attend the International Society for Technology Education Conference in San Antonio, TX. I attended the conference with two of my colleagues, Libby Kirkland (@KirklandeduK8s) and Chrissie Edwards (@chrissie62573). We attended many great sessions and connected with other educators. I learned so much and wanted to try everything! However, I live in the real world. I have a family and finishing up my second masters degree. So trying everything is not really an option right now. But I wanted to start somewhere. Sitting in the terminal at San Antonio International Airport, I was browsing through the tweats on Twitter. I came across a tweat from Issac Pineda (@Kairosedtech) that helped me answer my lingering question, “Now what?”. Issac wrote a blog titled “Bringing ISTE 13 Home”.
http://blog.isaacpineda.com/2013/06/bringing-iste-13-home.html

In his blog, Issac posed 4 questions to ponder to take learning and turn into an action plan. Visit his blog to view these questions. Based on these questions, he also gives 3 suggestions on how to take my learning from ISTE 13 and put it into practice.

1. Blog about your most significant learning.

This inspired me to work on my own blog again. To be honest, my blog writing is more for my own reflection on my own professional practice and learning. However, if someone else gains from my blog that is a bonus. What was my significant learning? Actually it was not a new learning for me rather than a renewed or refreshed learning. The sessions that I gained the most learning were the sessions I was an active participant. Like many learners, I learn the best when I get to manipulate and test new concepts in a safe and supportive environment. However, how many professional development session tell teachers to allow students become active learners in the lesson, remove the “sage on the stage” and allow students to own their learning? Yet the professional development session is the exact opposite than the message begin delivered. So, I as work to develop a 2-day inservice for ESL teachers at one of my schools, I am keeping this renewed idea in the center of the session development. My session is going to take a more constructivist approach of learning. If research supports using the constructivist approach with students then that would also be true for teachers. After all, teachers are students first. I am student then a teacher. Are you a student then a teacher?

Later in week, I will post my thoughts on Issac’s second suggestion. Until then, keep learning and developing your PLN.

Molly

 

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Enjoying some fresh air after a great day of learning!

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BrainPop is a great resource. (Oh, I do like Moby also.)

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Twitter and Professional Learning

Twitter Teachers Newbies!

When you hear Twitter what do you think? People telling the world when they are going to the store, extremely hot weather, or the ridiculously high gas prices (I do agree with this by the way.) While many people do use Twitter for these purposes, did you know that Twitter is an excellent professional learning resource. Getting started with Twitter can be a confusing and daunting task for newbies, including myself. I have had a Twitter account for over  a year now. It wasn’t until about 4 months ago that I really began to utilize Twitter for my professional learning. However, I had to search and investigate how to use Twitter effectively. So here is a basic Twitter tutorial and links to helpful resources in the blogroll that I have used along to enhance my PL on Twitter.

1. Usernames: You create your own username when signing up for a Twitter account. When viewing a tweet you see username @ username (i.e. mollymiller76 @mollymiller76).

2. Hashtags: Hashtags are This is was probably the toughest thing for me to tackle since there are so many hashtags. The way I overcame this obstacle was searching a certain hashtag. The hashtag I started with is #edtech. Edudemic (www.edudemic.com) has a the 2012 A-Z List of Educational Twitter Hashtags. I have actually saved this as a screen.

3. Following: Find people to follow once you have searched by hashtag. I usually browse through a person’s tweets to see if they have posted anything that will interest me. Sean Junkins recently tweeted a link to 130 Perfect Twitter Accounts for Educators.  I am following many of these people. A lot of the information  I am posting about in this blog has come from tweets from these professionals. Start following others with similar interests. I started this by searching by hashtags.

4. Followers: These are people who follow your tweets. Do not feel obligated to follow others even if they are following you.

5. Personal and Professional Social Networking:  Separating your professional and personal life when using social networking. While, I do like to use social networking to stay in contact with family and friends, I don’t have to sort through personal tweets to find professional related tweets. To make my life a little easier, I use Twitter solely for professional reasons and Facebook for personal reasons. There are not right or wrong answers. Find what works for you.

6. Tweeting : Tweets can only be 140 characters which includes letter, numbers, characters, and spaces. Website links and hashtags are not included in 140 character limit. You can respond  to other people you are following tweets. You can also retweet other’s tweets. If you see RT at the beginning of tweet, that indicates a retweet. 

So, start using Twitter to enhance your professional learning. Don’t worry about how many people are following you. Use the links in my blogroll to help you get started! Follow me on Twitter if you are interested in educational technology (#edtech).

 

Tweet Away! 

@mollymiller76

 
 
 
 
 
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What an adventure! Blended learning can work!

My project with this class has come to an end, which is bittersweet. My two weeks with the class was rewarding and challenging. While I would love to continue to teach this class, part of my role as an instructional technology coach is to understand, create, and develop ways to effectively integrate technology, content, and pedagogy. The big question is, what did I learn? How am I going to communicate and help other teachers develop a blended learning environment?

1. Routines are a must. Students thrive on knowing what is coming next. When students understand the routines of the classroom, they focus their energies on learning. There is also no question on the expectations within the classroom.

2. Planning, planning, and planning. The entire unit was planned prior to starting.  I had a target or objective  (3.NF.1 & 2) that drove the planning. All materials (including flipcharts, video lessons, Edmodo quizzes, Edmodo logins, Educreation logins, performance assessments, worksheets) were completely developed and organized in folders in my Dropbox by lesson. Instead of focusing on my energies during the unit on what I would teach next, I was able  to focus on student progress. I could make adjustments for the entire group or individual students based on their performance.

3. It not just about the technology. While I love technology and so do students, the focus of any unit or lesson is not technology. The technology did not drive the unit rather the target or objective drove the technology. Meaning the technology had to fit the content and teaching strategies. For example, during the gaming activities at the Promethean board, students did not use the responders. While the responders are motivating for the students and provide instant feedback, it did not fit the purpose of that center. The purpose of this center was to allow students to explore and collaborate with peers about the content. Using responders would have given the center more of an assessment focus.

4. Problem-solve and be flexible. While I planned this unit completely (so I thought), I did run into issues that I did not anticipate. Starting this unit, I thought the students would be able to be completely independent on the iPads and the Promethean board after one session of practicing the stations. That did not work. Students were having trouble remembering how to log-in and navigate Edmodo. My solution was to create a one page document with step-by-step directions and snapshots on how to access the materials. Each student had this document taped in a page projector next to the iPad. By the end of the two weeks, students did need to use it anymore. Another issue that arose was at the Promethean center. Players were standing in front of the board and the spectator could not see. I used masking tape and placed three X’s at the back of the carpet for the spectators and three X’s on the side of the board for the players. We discussed the reason for the tape and why it was important. It really helped that center.

 I had to truly think differently from  how I have been taught as a student and how I had previously taught. Was it difficult at times? Yes, but change is difficult and that is okay.  My advice to teachers wanting to try a similar project is to start small like I did. Choose a week or two-week unit. Develop the plan and implement. Don’t give up when something goes wrong. Take a step back, really look at the problem, and develop a solution. If you are having trouble on a solution, ask a colleague for help.

I would love to hear about other blended learning experiences. Please feel free to share with me.

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