Saturday, July 18, 2015
Successful Online Learning (FREE). If you’re someone who is not comfortable with the concept of eLearning or the use of technology, then this course is designed just for you. You will have the opportunity to work through the most basic of basics: setting up and writing a blog, maneuvering through an online course discussion, and navigating Google Chrome. This course is slightly different than the others in the Learning on Demand series; there is a facilitator who provides you with feedback! The course is still self-directed, but you will have a mentor available to confirm that you are completing tasks correctly. This course will provide a solid foundation for working through any facilitated Five-Star Academy course. (8 PGPs) Course Series - Connected Educator Series Course Type - Learning On Demand (Self-Directed) Foundations of Data-Rich Decision Making. This introductory course is designed to familiarize participants with how data can be used to make decisions in education. It begins by providing participants with a solid understanding of data points used in schools today. Teachers, coaches, and administrators will explore ways to implement data and maximize their impact in their professional setting. (18 PGPs) Course Series - Connected Educator Series Course Type - Learning On Demand (Self-Directed) Defining the Digital Difference. This self-directed course is designed to provide participants with a very brief introduction to technology use in education. Content includes an introduction to SAMR, rationale for using technology in the classroom, and ways curriculum may change when technology is introduced. This five-module course requires approximately three hours to complete. (3 PGPs) Course Series - Connected Educator Series Course Type - Learning On Demand (Self-Directed) Introduction to Blended and Online Teaching (Facilitated). This course provides an in-depth exploration of the foundational aspects of using technology in the classroom. Participants will learn about the SAMR model, digital citizenship, curation, digital tools, and more. Individuals who complete the course will have a strong understanding of why educators must shift their mindset in order to reach students in the 21st Century. Course 1 in the Connected Educator series. Course Series - Connected Educator Series Course Type - Facilitated
Introduction to Blended and Online Teaching (iBOT) covered virtual strategies, tools, and best practices for K-12 educators. All content was delivered virtually and content was available asynchronously. Each participant spent up to five hours each week reading, discussing, and creating content specific to the course, and received 40 professional growth points (PGPs) for their efforts. iBOT was initially offered through a strategic partnership between the Indiana Department of Education's Office of eLearning and Five-Star Technology Solutions. The IDOE Office of eLearning purchased a seat for one teacher in every corporation in order to help increase the capacity for teaching digitally in every school system in the state of Indiana.
Friday, June 5, 2015
Digital Citizenship not only teaches students the etiquette involved in being a smart and effective participant in a digital world, but it empowers and equips students with essential life tools to help them navigate challenging digital based situations. I am a strong believer that until this becomes a natural and intrinsic process engrained for our students, Digital Citizenship should be taught. I use Mike Ribble’s Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship. These principles are carried out through-out each grade level in the hopes of delivering at least one foundational message that builds common language across our system. The lessons have been adapted for each level but have the same underlying theme. I rely heavily on lessons from Commonsense Media. Scenario teaching is a great way to do this...which applies the "rules" learned to real life situations. NSTeens.org (http://www.nsteens.org/) is a great scenario site for my middle school students to apply the lessons that they have learned, and it a format that is very engaging. Since the digital landscape is ever-changing..we need to be present and cognitive about ever-changing practices and "rules" that will help students deal with these challenges. These rules should be taught through a real-life scenario sequence so that our brains will learn more effectively. Real-life scenarios offer a particularly effective way to explore educational dilemmas because they support a more complex understanding of the situation. We need our students to critically think and be problem solvers..and so the "rules" are the foundation to derive the decision making from - but each scenario requires a higher order of thinking and decision making. Our world is not so black and white..so the rules cannot be that way either. All technology users need help deciding what to do with the information when they look at a new technology (or even one that they have (Ribble, 2008). We are constantly learning and relearning things about technology...so it makes sense to reflect on how you are using it and if you are using it in the correct way. Digital Citizenship is more than just a teaching tool; it is a way to prepare our students/technology users for a society full of technology. Society is the key word here. What do we value as a whole..a body of human beings interacting with each other? It is the practice of good ethical principles that bind us together collaboratively. If the use of technology is misused or abused we embark on a lawless society. Nothing we do is in isolation – other people are always involved in one way or another. So anything we do or say may impact on someone we have never even heard of. It is therefore important that we are very careful in what we do or say, for that very reason. This means being ethical in our relationships with others. Ethics should be considered as a set of principles by which to live; a code of conduct for our relationships with all whom we come in contact. Ethics encompasses social mores, usually expressed today as good manners; our behaviour towards our fellow humans and fellow creatures; and trust. The world operates on trust. "Globally, technology opens up the potential for unethical behavior in ways we've never had before," says Rushland Kidder, president of the Institute for Global Ethics and author of Moral Courage (Harper Collins, 2005). So we have to start somewhere and that starting point is teaching the importance of Digital Citizenship right alongside the Principles of Ethics and integrating it in everything that we do. Practice makes consistent behavior and these ethical practices will become ingrained in our lives and we won't even have to think about them as specific rules, but as our way of life. Ribble, M (2008) Learning and Leading with Technology. ISTE. December/January 2008-2009.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
I found an interesting article that contained some great hints on how to evaluate the credibility of sources on the internet. This is an important skill that students must learn if they want to curate resources that are proven and will benefit their learning. Below are some following tips that will assist. These points should be included in a scaffolded lesson with students before they are left on their own. "1. Is there any evidence that the author of the Web information has some authority in the field about which she or he is providing information? What are the author's qualifications, credentials and connections to the subject? 2. With what organization or institution is the author associated? Is there a link to the sponsoring organization, a contact number and/or address or e-mail contact? A link to an association does not necessarily mean that the organization approved the content. 3. Does the author have publications in peer reviewed (scholarly and professional) publications, on the Web or in hard copy? (If an author does not have peer reviewed articles published, this does not mean that she or he does not have credible information, only that there has been no professional "test" of the author's authority on that subject.) 4. Are there clues that the author/s are biased? For example, is he/she selling or promoting a product? Is the author taking a personal stand on a social/political issue or is the author being objective ? Bias is not necessarily "bad," but the connections should be clear. 5. Is the Web information current? If there are a number of out-of-date links that do not work or old news, what does this say about the credibility of the information? 6. Does the information have a complete list of works cited, which reference credible, authoritative sources? If the information is not backed up with sources, what is the author's relationship to the subject to be able to give an "expert" opinion? 7. Can the subject you are researching be fully covered with WWW sources or should print sources provide balance? Much scholarly research is still only available in traditional print form. It is safe to assume that if you have limited background in a topic and have a limited amount of time to do your research, you may not be able to get the most representative material on the subject. So be wary of making unsupportable conclusions based on a narrow range of sources. 8. On what kind of Web site does the information appear? The site can give you clues about the credibility of the source."(Montecino, 1988). After this important lesson, students need to know how to curate this information - so that they can use it later. A great way to introduce this segment to students is to Let students pick a topic and then choose one curation tool to collect various forms of information. Such tools can range from Pinterest, Paper.li, eduClipper, Searcheze, Storify, Scoopit (limited free version), Pinterest, MentorMob (formerly LessonPaths, Blendspace, and Learnist. Let students choose how they want to collect, display, and collate their information. It's important that they have ownership because then they will use these sources again and again. The way information is filed should be easily recognized and called upon in future years for future projects. If students collate and categorize the information they way to - they will be more apt to find this information again. Teachers could use LiveBinders to keep their topics categorized and easily accessible. You don't want to continuously re-invent the wheel, but LiveBinders lets you continuously add new information and continuously add more categories. Pearltrees is a place to collect, organize and share everything you like on the web. You can add everything you like and organize it naturally so as to enrich your collections and collaborate on your favorite topics. Pearltrees lets you lay out your web content into trees, which makes it an excellent tool for visual learners. Another great choice for me because we are using Ipads is Dipity. Dipity is a great timeline creation tool that allows you to incorporate text, images, and videos into each entry on a timeline. Dipity has a collaboration option and has multiple options for sharing your timelines publicly or privately. Montecino, Virginia. "Criteria to Evaluate the Credibility of WWW Resources." Education & Technology Resources, Aug. 1988. Web. 26 May 2015.
Friday, May 22, 2015
Authentic assessment is a term which has been coined to describe alternative assessment methods. These methods should authentically allow a student to demonstrate a student's ability to perform tasks, solve problems or express knowledge in ways which simulate situations which are found in real life (Hymes, 1991). Traditional assessments are usually tests taken with pencil and paper and can be easily graded in short periods of time. Authentic assessments require students to be effective performers with acquired knowledge (Wiggins, 1990). Traditional assessments require students to recall memorized facts at lower level thinking.Authentic learning requires higher order thinking. Authentic assessments are all about "what a student CAN DO" AND traditional assessments are all about "what a student CAN REMEMBER". Traditional assessments are set by the curriculum. Schools teach the knowledge and skills. In Authentic assessments schools facilitate the development of skills that enable students to perform real tasks. The assessment drives the curriculum. Traditional assessments are teacher driven whereas Authentic assessments are student centered. In middle school time is a constraint. Authentic assessments are all about a journey; a process where students learn and refine their skills as they work to solve a real-world problem or create a real-world product. This process takes time - time that is very limited in the traditional school setting. The question was posed as to if authentic assessments could be successful in all disciplines. I believe it could - if it was presented as a cross-curricular project. It would definitely change the look of what traditional school looks like and what the learning would look like. I couldn't count how many times students have asked me - how many pages do I need for an A? What exactly do you want? Students have been brainwashed through traditional assessments to try and guess what the teacher wants and getting away from the whole point of the project..to learn something they want to learn. Students needs opportunities to refine, reflect, fail, and succeed. This process takes time. Time to experiment, time to collaborate, time to develop mastery. The traditional school day does not really allow for this needed TIME! Perhaps it would be advantageous to establish a "Power Hour" within the structure of the traditional school day where groups of students could collaborate and work on real-world problems that they were interested in - guided by teachers in all of the disciplines. This facilitation could show students how all disciplines work together to solve problems and that history is intertwined with language arts, and health. It requires a broad spectrum of knowledge to problem-solve and that there are many solutions to existing problems. It takes knowledge and skill in a wide variety of subjects to be successful. I'm not saying that there isn't a place for traditional assessments, because there is a use for these along the journey. Authentic assessments combine the traditional academic content with the knowledge and skills needed to function appropriately in the real world. For some of us Authentic assessments is a real change in mindset. We grew up with paper and pencil, multiple choice and short essay, standardized testing, and college entrance; Authentic assessments are a new way of looking at things. It is a more progressive and purposeful way of learning; a more progressive and purposeful way of proving real learning. Authentic assessment also has the advantage of providing parents and community members with directly observable products and understandable evidence concerning their students' performance (Wiggins, 1990). Everyone benefits from Authentic Learning - the teacher, the learner, the community, the world. Hymes, D. L. (1991). The Changing Face of Testing and Assessment: Problems and Solutions. AASA Critical Issues Report. American Association of School Administrators, 1801 North Moore St., Arlington, VA 22209-9988. Wiggins, Grant (1990). The case for authentic assessment. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 2(2). Retrieved May 22, 2015 from http://PAREonline.net/getvn.asp?v=2&n=2 .
Sunday, May 17, 2015
During my doctoral studies I did a lot of research about gamification. Intrinsic motivation – which refers to a person’s internal drive to perform an action purely because of the enjoyment they get from it. It’s one of the key psychological theories for gamification designers. Online gaming is so popular because players interact with people who have the same interests and they share their knowledge with like-minded individuals. This correlates with Daniel Pinks three reasons for Intrinsic Motivation;Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. Gamers are self motivated, seek the freedom to participate, and are self-directed. The more they play they more the player achieve understanding and mastery of the game. Players do this by playing with others (collaboration) and acquisition of skill. Gamers playing share a common "Purpose" - acquiring self-actualization by achieving certain levels of the game to eventually win. Games and learning are inherently tied together. In fact, games can be optimal vehicles for learning. One of the reasons games (even educational ones) are so popular is that they combine the enjoyment of discovery with the natural desire to gain competency (Watson, 2014). In my PE classes students are often intrinsically motivated by the health benefits of working out, but also motivated extrinsically by building muscle to impress his friends. Things that people find interesting one day can slowly become mundane the next; doing something because one wants to can easily become doing it because one has to. In education, many students have low intrinsic motivation because there is no relevance to their future. I often hear students saying "why do I have to learn that - I will never use it". Motivational researchers have studied these questions and concluded that working on a task for intrinsic reasons in not only more enjoyable, but also relates positively to learning, achievement and perceptions of competence (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002). Some students are exhausted with their personal home life situations that they have no energy for academic enthusiasm. This is why the teacher/student relationship becomes to important. One first step is to listen to your students, get to know them, their interests, and their dreams. Learning to be satisfied with a job well done is an important part of growing up. If students are not getting that at home - this becomes an important role for teachers. While motivation is often a challenging task for teachers, the rewards of having students who are interested and eager to learn make the hard work worth the effort. By combining intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, teachers can help students learn the subject at hand as well as valuable life skills. Eccles, Jacquelynne S., and Allan Wigfield. "Motivational beliefs, values, and goals." Annual review of psychology 53.1 (2002): 109-132. Watson, Zach. "4 Real-World Examples That Explain Intrinsic Motivation." TechnologyAdvice. N.p., 28 Oct. 2014. Web. 17 May 2015.
Sunday, May 3, 2015
I am fortunate to have been using Ipads in my PE/Health curriculum for the past two years. We transitioned from a classroom book to Ipads during textbook adoption. My school is going 1:1 during the 2015-2016 school year and I feel a bit ahead of the game to have a two year head start on the process. My department was given a classroom set of Ipads to be shared with all students in our classes. Having to share has presented many problems, but it has also given us a opportunities to try tools out and see what works and what does not. With that being said I reviewed the Technology Integration Matrix Grade Level Index to see what my two years has afforded me. I have spent a lot of time researching apps and incorporating their use in my curriculum. Some projects have me at the ADAPTATION level, as I introduce new ways to use technology in their lessons, which then grows into the Infusion and Transformational Level. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a national organization advocating for 21st century readiness for every student, explains the outcomes of this transformation as fusing the traditional three R’s with four C’s: critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration (Blair, 2010). My goal is student engagement. I strive to have an interactive classroom. I want it to be very theoretically based and I know exactly what I want my students to learn. 1:1 will put technology in every student's hand. This will give my students daily access to technology and an endless bounty of free educational web 2.0 sites and apps. These tools empowers me to innovatively craft digital learning experiences that promote discovery and creation. My district has Technology Standards that are clearly spelled out for teachers and at what grade level those expectation should be met. These are driven by ISTE. Most of my lessons are project-based; inquiry based. Inquiry based projects are another way to get students to think rather than memorize. These group projects also help students build important skills such as communications, teamwork, critical thinking and problem solving. Technology can help with these projects and skills. Students can create things such as web sites, blogs, and multimedia presentations as part of their projects. They can use the web for research and as a resource. They can connect with students at other schools and do collaborative work with them. They also learn technology skills while doing these projects. My students are my teachers. Many students certainly know more than I do, and more readily adapt to the use of new technologies. I have had to work very hard to get to where I am today. Education has shifted from teacher-centered (the one who knows all the answers) to student-centered. Any answer is at a student's fingertips and technology can unlock the path to it. It becomes the great equalizer. It will be a life long journey to achieve Transformational levels in education...an exciting journey I might add. Digital tools enhance and add to student’s inherent creative skills. I believe that it is my job as a facilitator of learning to foster and nurture that growth. I want to provide real-world activities that promote collaboration and classroom problem solving, made easier through new technology. This can only be achieved through the sharing of knowledge, resources, and pedagogy. Teachers need time, opportunity, and resources to meet these goals. School systems need to provide the assistance that each teacher needs. Teacher learning needs to be differentiated, just as our own students do. We come from different places. I graduated with my first degree in 1976. A computer was some big mainframe thing on campus - now it's held in your hand, your watch, or positioned on your eyeglasses. The SAMR model maps out a path for us. Researchers have determined that technology integration typically moves through specific levels. The higher the level of an activity the greater the educational benefit (Oxnevad, 2013). Real success is found with the efficient use of digital tools - tools that are appropriate for the task. It is the path we can comfortably use to re-define the way that we learn. I have a Passion Topic project that culminates my health learning. It is a semester long project where students may choose any topic in the world they want to learn more about as long as it affects their health or the health of others. This encompasses just about any topic that you can think of. The rubric spells out levels of success, but students are empowered by their own inquiring and interests. Technology is a tool they utilize to get answers, make contacts, collaborate, and present. I would be very willing to share this project under the Transformational Index in its entirety. There is a lack of Physical Education/health projects as content. Blair, Nancye. "Educational Technology." : RSA3: Technology Integration For The New 21st Century Learner. N.p., 2012. Web. 03 May 2015. Oxnevad, Susan. "Using SAMR to Teach Above the Line - Getting Smart by Susan Oxnevad - 1:1 Program, Apple, Edchat, EdTech, SAMR, Technology." Web log post. Getting Smart Using SAMR to Teach Above the Line Comments. N.p., 04 July 2013. Web. 03 May 2015.
Saturday, April 25, 2015
How can learning really be measured? Grades are not the way to measure learning. Grades are subjective and should be replaced with meaningful narrative feedback that would help the student understand what learning outcomes have or have not been mastered. Feedback encourages learning and gives real meaning, suggestions, and guidelines to the student. A "grade" really tells us NOTHING! Learning should be shared, discussed and evaluated openly; these discussions should be accompanied by objective feedback that guides students to other possibilities and to reflection and self-evaluation (Mark Barnes, 2012). Grades also serve as an intellectual segregator. First off, they do not show "how smart" a student is, only how compatible they are with the current education system. Teachers need to recognize different types of learners and educate them accordingly. Feedback benefits the student (constructive criticism) and the teacher gets a better game plan on how to differentiate the instructor based on where the individual student is. I am in total favor of a Results Only Learning environment. This environment for learning offers autonomy and ignites a thirst for learning. It promotes collaboration and lets students "CHOOSE" the way they want to learn. No worries about a "No Zero" here, because students are engaged and invested in their own learning. Student achievement goal setting is a skill that is being used in our elementary schools in my district. Student academic progress is a significant component of evaluation. This could easily be carried over into my middle school. A results-only system makes learning a shared responsibility between teachers and students. This learning environment is student-centered and project-based. I do a project in Health called "Free to Learn". Students can choose anything they want to learn about as long as it affects their health or the health of others. Well that pretty much branches out to just about anything in this world. Students begin this project-based learning at the end of December and carry it over until their presentation in May. Guidelines are provided and my role as a teacher has changed from provider of information, to facilitator of whatever I can help with. I solicit parents, experts, and community members to assist in the learning process. I provide help where needed, so the responsibility is shared. Everyone involved provides narrative feedback to change and improve any activity, in order to demonstrate learning. Yearlong projects target learning outcomes more meaningfully than worksheets, homework, tests, and quizzes. It does require a lot of individualized work, but I learn even more than the students. Their topics are so wide and varied, that it requires a lot of connections that are way outside of my comfort zone. I get stretched right along beside them. A rubric is provided at the beginning, so that the expectations are clear and set. They match up with Standards and clearly define each level of proficiency. Unfortunately, my system still uses a letter grade system, but I correlate the rubric with feedback to an end grade. not the ideal way to do it, but until the system changes I still must conform to its unity. Real results correlate with real-meaning to a project that makes a difference to the individual, the community, or to the world. This is real 21st century learning. School should be about the learning, not the grade. It’s about mastering concepts, not being tested on them. It's about learning to fail and how to pick yourself up and try something else. It's not about giving up if at first you don't succeed! This is how you instill a love for learning!
Monday, February 16, 2015
People tend to neglect goal setting because it requires time and effort. What they fail to consider is that a little time and effort put in now saves an enormous amount of time, effort and frustration in the future. I must admit that I am one of those people. I have a tendency to create in my head, and throughout the process, things become a bit jumbled and lost up there. To improve my Time Management skills I need to prioritize the goal setting aspect of the process. If I take the time in the beginning to do this, it should save me time and effort later in the process. Mind Tools has two great articles on goal setting that gave me a blueprint writing objectives and action plans. You get so focused on the outcome that you forget to plan all of the steps that are needed along the way. By writing out the individual steps, and then crossing each one off as you complete it, you'll realize that you are making progress towards your ultimate goal. In the article "Action Plans: Small Scale Planning" they clarify the definition of a successful action plan. Action Plans are simple lists of all of the tasks that you need to finish to meet an objective. They differ from To-Do Lists in that they focus on the achievement of a single goal. "Action plans are useful, because they give you a framework for thinking about how you will complete a Project efficiently. They help you finish activities in a sensible order, and they help you ensure that you don't miss any key steps. Also, because you can see each task laid out, you can quickly decide which tasks you'll delegate or outsource, and which tasks you may able to ignore." I am currently planning a Tuff Mudder experience for the eighth grade Physical Education classes at my school. The SCHEMES* mnemonic gave me a method to check that my plan was comprehensive. It gave me a better incite into all of the areas in which I need to consider. I also downloaded the To Do List (file:///C:/Users/owner/Desktop/Pivot%20Points%20Curriculum/PrioritizedToDolist.pdf) to assist me in prioritizing the Urgent/Important list that Michael Hooker alluded to in the "Time Management" video. By following the SMART guidelines for goal setting I can see where my time will be better spent in the long run. By Including precise amounts, dates, and so on in my goals, I should be more ready to measure each degree of success. Without a way to measure my successes I could miss out on the celebration that comes with knowing I have actually achieved something. The feeling of accomplishing the "small steps" of the big plan of action will keep motivation high! So in the words that B.J. Fogg shares: I will be able to check off each success and celebrate with an "I am AWESOME!"