Module 5: Students as Creative Communicators and Contributors

My last blog post about the ISTE Standards for Students I had to choose to reflect on Standard 6 Creative Communicator or Standard 7 Global Collaborator. What a tough choice! Both standards are extremely important and given the time I would post about each, but with our quarter winding down ultimately I decided to focus on ISTE 6 Creative Communicator. The standard says “Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals” (ISTE, 2016). Within that standard there are four indicators. I chose to focus on indicator 6a with my research for this module. Indicator 6a says, “Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication” (ISTE, 2016). Continue reading “Module 5: Students as Creative Communicators and Contributors”

Module 4: Computational Thinker and Mindful Teacher


Once again in investigating computational thinking and ISTE standard for students number 5, I was surprised at just how many different directions I could have gone in the search for answers on computational thinking. I was hoping to find some ways to integrate computational thinking into my classroom practice in order to build on the curriculum I already use. I was also hoping to discover how computational thinking might facilitate problem solving. I think that I came up with a partial answer to those questions at best. I found that first it was important to identify just what computational thinking entails in order to figure out how to integrate computational thinking into a curriculum or to find how computational thinking facilitates problem solving. I think that if teachers first have a basis for understanding what computational thinking is, then computational thinking will become a part of the classroom environment and be adapted into instruction for many K-12 teachers. It was reassuring to me to read that the description of computational thinking (CT) is still in flux, even after an article written by Jeanette Wing was published in 2006, since I was unfamiliar with the term computational thinking at the start of this module (Barr, Conery & Harrison 2011, p. 20). In a subsequent reading I found a basic definition for CT from Grover and Pea (2013) to include the following elements:

  • Abstractions and pattern generalizations (including models and simulation)
  • Systematic processing of information
  • Symbol systems and representations
  • Algorithmic notions of flow of control
  • Structured problem decomposition (modularizing)
  • Iterative, recursive and parallel thinking
  • Conditional logic
  • Efficiency and performance constraints
  • Debugging and systematic error detection

Continue reading “Module 4: Computational Thinker and Mindful Teacher”

The Innovative Designer – Building a Tolerance for Ambiguity in Students

Background

I started off this module on ISTE 4 Innovative Designer wanting to discover some of the ways that coding, technology, makerspaces, or other innovation age technologies would allow students to demonstrate perseverance and increase their capacity to solve open-ended problems. In relation to those questions, I wondered how the above approaches to learning would help students to demonstrate understanding? I found that in order to begin to answer this question I might need to focus on just one technology. In my search for resources that included student voice to show understanding I found a piece that connects to the design process and closely resembled a makerspace. Continue reading “The Innovative Designer – Building a Tolerance for Ambiguity in Students”

Module 2: Teaching Content Curation to Empower Students

I have found that most if not all intermediate elementary students really lack the skills to check the credibility of sources derived from the internet. Typically students will type a search term into a search engine, like Google and are then faced with millions of results. Here is a great example of a type of natural disaster my students recently researched for a presentation when getting over 83 million results, it’s not surprising that students may feel overwhelmed. According to Kingsly & Tancock (2013) students “when faced with so many results to their first attempts at searching, can quickly become overwhelmed.” (p. 392) “They simply shut down and pursue whatever information is easiest to retrieve” (Kingsly & Tancock, 2013, p. 392). Of course, search results can be narrowed down in a number of ways, one being instructing students on how to best search for information that will pertain to them and their topic. Continue reading “Module 2: Teaching Content Curation to Empower Students”

Module 1: Empowering Students to Set and Achieve Learning Goals for Improved Outcomes

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) revamped and rereleased the student standards for technology in 2016. Throughout this quarter in my M.Ed. program will be reflecting on the 2016 standards, considering one standard at a time, carefully reviewing that particular standard and asking a question to guide our investigation in order to apply the learning in our current or future classrooms. For our first module we are investigating standard 1, the empowered learner. The standard says, “students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences.” (ISTE, 2016) Within that standard under 1a the ISTE student standards mention how students could incorporate technology in order to achieve learning goals and “reflect on the learning process itself to improve learning outcomes.” That led me to ask, how can students in middle elementary grades move from passive to active users of technology in order to track and evaluate their learning over the course of a week, month or school year? The question of how students can track and evaluate their learning is one that I have been struggling with for some time. I have long hoped for some technology tool that would allow students to track their learning and reflect on that learning all at once leading to them setting (and achieving) powerful learning goals. Much of our reading last quarter brought me back to this same idea because of the focus on metacognition and the role it can play in learning. There seemed to be a clear connection between goal setting and metacognition. You need metacognition to set meaningful goals. I thought that naturally technology would help to easily allow that goal setting to happen. However I also want to be sure that I’m not simply using technology for the novelty, it should be used in a powerful and transformational way, such that it empowers the learner and improves learning outcomes, exactly as it is written in the standard. (2016)

In my search for a technology tool to help with student goal setting I found a collection of 8 apps for goal tracking for teachers and students on the blog Avatargeneration. The apps that were on this website all seemed to be best suited for teachers themselves, or for teachers to use to monitor an entire class. Instead of allowing a class to share access among students allowing each student to set individual goals. Additionally most of the apps would require accounts to be created which is not always feasible in an elementary classroom. The app that was most appealing to me was Toodledo, however it still requires individual users to sign up using an email address. That would require me to get approval from my school district to use the app and would add another layer of difficulty for intermediate elementary age students to have to log in and then try to share goals with the teacher. So ultimately my resource seemed to be one that might benefit a teacher in goal setting or tracking a task or tasks, but I don’t think it would fit the need I envisioned for helping my students to set goals based on ISTE standard 1a. I’m not sure if the ideal app or web tool I’m looking for doesn’t exist or if I just don’t know where to find it. I also don’t know if there are no published academic articles that track goal setting through technology or if I simply could not find them. 

Ultimately because of how my district approves or denies the use of technology based on the privacy policy and a review of terms and conditions, it seems smart to look to see if any approved resources could already work to aid in student goal setting, tracking and reflecting on their goals. I think setting up a password protected blog, using an already approved blog resource, where they can track progress, or creating a form using student G Suite accounts, for them to fill out and submit every week, month, unit and at the end of a school year might be a way to help students use technology to reflect on the learning process. Another consideration is I want to be careful to encourage mindful goal setting instead of compliance without question. As Maurice Elias points out “the pressures of education today seem to be tilting the balance toward order and compliance, and this can have harmful long-term effects on both children and society.” (Elias, 2016). I have to be willing to dedicate sufficient time to goal setting with my students, as well as give them the time to use technology in class to be able to track and evaluate their learning often. It may take time to guide students toward autonomy in goal setting, but I think that the positive effect will be worth the effort. After this module I’m left with some new ideas to look in to for helping students to use technology to help students “achieve and demonstrate competency in their learning goals” but I’m left looking for a tool that is well designed to do that within a classroom setting. (ISTE, 2016) At the very least I have some ideas for moving forward so that my intermediate elementary students can begin to develop the necessary metacognition related to goal setting and evaluation of effort and learning that will serve them in school and life. 

Resources:

8 Apps for goal tracking for teachers and students [blog post]. (2014, August 8). Retrieved from http://www.avatargeneration.com/2014/08/8-apps-for-goal-tracking/

2016 ISTE Standards for Students, (2016). ISTE International Society for Technology in Education. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/for-students-2016

Elias, M. J. (2016, February 1). Student autonomy, compliance and intrinsic motivation [blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-autonomy-compliance-and-intrinsic-motivation-maurice-elias

Digital Readiness Project

The Digital Readiness of a Suburban Seattle Area Elementary School

I was able to interview my principal about the state of technology in our elementary school and more specifically how we are teaching digital citizenship. As a district we’ve had some training in regard to digital citizenship that was distributed to schools through teacher leaders. I led that training about two years ago. However, staff turnover, the adoption of new curriculum, plus school and district professional development in other areas have made it difficult to sustain, or even return to the progress that was initially made in our approach to digital citizenship after the first training. I see this interview with my administrator as a way to get us thinking about this need as a school. We can evaluate where we are currently and figure out the next steps moving forward in order to focus on the digital citizenship needs of our students. Here are the questions that I asked my administrator during the interview.

Digital Access

  1. Do all students in our school have equal access to technology? If so, how do we define equal access?
  • How does our school account for students who do not have access to technology at home?
  • Do staff and students use our BYOD network?

Digital Communication

2. Are students taught appropriate ways to communicate using technology?

  • Do you think that technology can allow for a deeper understanding in learning?
  • Have you seen any evidence of technology being used that way in classrooms?

Digital Literacy

3. Is teaching students to use different technology tools in the classroom something that is practiced in our school?

  • Is appropriate as well as inappropriate use taught and discussed?
  • Is technology use monitored in a similar way by teachers?

Digital Etiquette

Our district requires Staff and Students to follow an administrative procedure that makes up the responsible use procedure for technology in our district.

The RUP Covers: Rules, guidelines and personal recommendations for the acceptable use of technology within the district. Some topics covered include responsible use, digital citizenship, COPPA and terms and conditions of internet tools, responsible use by students staff and guests, network privacy, internet safety, use of social media personally and professionally, copyright and ownership of work as well as unacceptable use and preventative measures.

4. Are students and teachers aware of the administrative policy and the technology RUP that has been adopted by the school district?

5. What are some ways that teachers model appropriate use of technology?

  • Do they model appropriate use of social media? How so?

Digital Law

6. Do staff and students practice acceptable use of digital resources?

  • Do you think there are any issues with copyright violations or plagiarism?

Digital Security

7. Are students taught to protect their technology and their personal information when using technology?

The questions covered a broad range of topics. I’d like to focus in on a few and share some thoughts for what we can do moving forward. The answers to the first three questions show that there is a vast range in the amount of technology that students use in the classroom in our school as well as a range in how technology is used by teachers. After debriefing my interview with my administrator we decided that there are three areas of focus for our school going forward.

The first is improved digital access at school. Our school has a number of technology resources available. It is not a 1:1 school, however we do have a 3:1 ratio of students per device and our district is rolling out a BYOD network in order to allow students to use personal devices which will allow us to achieve closer to a 1:1 ratio in many classes. In order to improve access teachers need to be made aware of the capabilities of our network and the purpose of BYOD in improving access. Additionally my principal identified the need to develop a scope and sequence for technology instruction K-5 in our school. That way each classroom teacher and the librarian, who integrates technology instruction into her instruction across grade levels, would have some guidelines identifying what are the skills we are responsibly for teaching across grade levels to develop the digital literacy of students over their time in elementary school. We also discussed the idea of focusing on teaching appropriate use of social media in upper grades, or possibly incorporating social media into the classroom environment so students can understand the powerful way we can collaborate on a global scale through social media. This would also give students a firm foundation for using social media personally as they begin to create accounts, usually this seems to happen as early as upper elementary level for many students.

Another commitment our school will make to technology instruction is providing some guidelines for the entire staff on best practices for monitoring technology use in classrooms. This could be incorporated into the K-5 digital literacy scope and sequence as well as reviewed yearly to provide new staff members with a refresher on how to best monitor student use as well as how to incorporate technology into instruction. Additionally this would allow new staff members to connect with grade level partners who could support the integration of technology into instruction at the beginning of the year.

We also discussed the idea of our school leadership team developing a school wide presentation for teachers to show to students at the beginning of every school year that outlines the expectations for the use of technology during the school year. Creating this presentation would strengthen our commitment to instruction with technology across grade levels as well as help students to understand the appropriate use of technology at and away from school. I think that this presentation could even lead to further discussions around moral and ethical use which seems to be an area of need for many technology users, especially youth. Another idea we discussed was having our district technology leader provide some training at a PTA meeting each year to help parents understand how students may be using social media and some things that they can do to help guide their students to use social media responsibly.

These are the areas of focus for our school in regard to digital readiness and digital citizenship. From my discussions with my principal as well as my interaction with staff members as a technology teacher leader in my school these next steps seems to constitute a reasonable plan to support our staff and students in moving forward for the next 1-2 years. Then we would be able to consider and develop a more robust integration of digital citizenship into each classroom so that all students would leave our elementary school with a firm foundation in digital citizenship to help them to be engaged ethical technology users in the larger society.

Mission and Vision in Digital Education

Vision & Mission as a Digital Education Leader

As a digital education leader I will leverage technology for improved educational outcomes and a deeper understanding of content for both teachers and students. I will teach and advocate for the mindful use of technology. I will remind students and teachers of agency in relation to technology. I will remind staff and students that in our agency, we should consider disconnecting at times in order to develop our online as well as our offline selves, because both make up our whole self. Finally, I will remind students to consider broader moral and ethical concerns that are connected to their use of technology.

As a digital education leader, I am committed to being an accessible resource for other teachers and students. I will balance troubleshooting with instruction and professional development so that technology can be used in new ways to raise the standard of learning. I will be an available resource for teachers and someone who collaborates with them to strengthen instruction. My goal is to use technology to transform learning and I will encourage other educators to reflect on their practice to use technology to transform learning as well.

Another idea I would like to be mindful of is that I don’t oversimplify the use of technology. I recognize that using technology may not be intuitive for all educators and I will be a patient collaborator to help all staff to feel that they can use technology in a transformative way with their students, because incorporating technology into instruction will help educators to better connect with and motivate students. Teachers have much to consider, such as, desired outcomes, privacy, possible misuse and many other factors before adopting a new technology. Therefore, agency in consideration of technology is an important principle for my own integration of technology as well as in my mentorship of other teachers.

I want students to experience the transformative power of technology. I think that allowing open ended representation of final products, when possible, along with guided instruction in the use of technology will allow my students to redefine their learning and their production. Students are inundated with technology in their daily lives. Students need to understand the numerous way that they can leverage technology to augment their learning. Developing mindfulness plus moral and ethical thinking skills will cause students to pause before posting, copying and pasting or remixing ideas and putting them online. I want help students think critically about their use of technology. Using technology should be a choice not just an automatic action or a part of the background. I want students to be excited about using technology to extend their learning. I want them to creatively think of ways to incorporate technology into their learning. I will provide structure, understanding and time for reflection so that students realize the nuanced ways that technology affects their lives. I will also provide students with a grounding in what it means to be a digital citizen. As digital citizens students will use technology ethically and with increasing fluency for collaboration or communication locally as well as globally. (ISTE 5a-c).

Mindfulness and Distraction

As an educator who is teaching in a digital era, I see a need for students to raise the level of mindfulness and their awareness of distraction regarding their use of technology and social media in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom. Technology is pervasive. It is all too easy to be enveloped by the vastness of the internet. Therefore, mindfulness and distraction are concepts that should be taught to all students, starting at an early age, to help them prepare for and cope with what they experience in the online world. To me this is the groundwork that will lead to a more complete understanding of digital citizenship. It will begin to teach them about agency. It will allow students to better understand and connect with modeling and facilitating safe, healthy, legal and ethical uses of digital information and technologies (ISTE 5b).

Learning to Practice Agency, and Disconnecting

Using technology is a choice. We may feel pressure from society or from other factors to use technology increasingly because that is the general pattern around us, however, we still have human agency. With guidance from teachers and parents students can learn to resist the temptation to use technology at all times. Parents should be empowered to set limits on technology use for themselves as well as for their children. Agency plays a role in daily online decisions. Is posting this joke consistent with my moral and ethical values? Do I agree with the entirety of this article? Would my friend give me permission to post this picture? Did I give credit to this author or artist? Those are thoughts that should be in the forefront of our minds when we are choosing to post, blog, comment, repost or remix online media. Finally, there are moments in life where we have to unplug in order to be completely present. It is when we are disconnected, alone with our thoughts,in conversation with others, or sharing some activity with others that we will feel completely present. The following idea from Borgman resonates with me and I think that youth today should consider the message here as well and disconnect at times,

we have to give such occasions [times where we experience the nearness of divinity] a secure place and a regular time in our lives. Contemplation needs a cloister, a space where the splendor of the simple is secure from mindless distraction and busyness. (Borgman 2012, p. 9)

Borgman is saying that this won’t happen on it’s own, we need to make time to disconnect, in order to develop our whole selves. As Rheingold (2012) says, [sometimes one should] “throw some sand into the machinery that automatizes your attention.” (p. 50). Disconnecting relates back to mindfulness, being mindful requires reflection and metacognition. All of those practices will help lead to moral and ethical thinking.

Moral and Ethical Use of Technology

I will foster reflection and mindfulness and develop a sense of agency and encourage students to disconnect. Together those two concepts will surely help students develop into more well rounded citizens, however, moral and ethical use of technology is also necessary for learners in this digital age. Consider this quote from Carrie James in Disconnected: Youth, New Media, and the Ethics Gap:

The beliefs and values an individual holds–about honesty, respect, responsibility and what it means to be a good person–can provide an anchor, assuming these moral values are salient to his or her identity and are considered and invoked when a moral or an ethical situation arises. (James 2014, p. 120)

Accessibility, being always on, social media and constantly changing technologies provide a steady stream of ethical dilemmas that are always right at our fingertips noticed or not. Students would benefit from a moral anchor when experiencing a dilemma. Again James provides a framework for considering these dilemmas and provides a hope for how to begin to give young people the tools to navigating these murky waters.

On a practical level, thoughtful, ethically sensitive identities can be cultivated when dialogue about moral and ethical issues is a regular part of a young person’s life–when frequent support and incentives exist for grappling with and debating dilemmas in light of different moral beliefs, values, and interests. (James 2014, p. 113)

As educators we can make time to grapple with and debate these dilemmas. It is our job to help cultivate minds and to guide young people to consider differing beliefs. That has long been a focus, now we need to continue that work and extend it to technology and online lives. Ultimately I want my students to grow into genuinely ethical people in their online and offline lives.

Being genuinely ethical requires much soul-searching, conversing with informed peers, a willingness to admit that one has been wrong, and striving to do better the next time. These steps are far more difficult to execute than a simple delineation of what is ethical and what is not. (Davis & Gardner 2013, p. 172).

As a technology leader I am committed to starting this discussing with students and encouraging other educators to have similar discussions. We want what is best for our students understanding that media and technology is a part of their lives. Therefore, we must provide them with the necessary tools to develop the whole self in all areas of their lives, including their online lives. I look forward to a generation of mindful, deliberate moral and ethical young people.

Resources

Borgmann, A. “Contemplation in a Technological Era: Learning from Thomas Merton.” (Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith) Volume 64, Number 1, March 2012. Page 9.

Davis, K., & Gardner, H. (2013). The App Generation: How today’s youth navigate identity, intimacy and imagination in a digital world. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

ISTE Standards for Coaches. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

James, C. (2014). Disconnected: Youth, New Media, and the Ethics Gap. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Rheingold, H. (2012). Attention! Why and How to Control Your Mind’s Most Powerful Instrument. Net Smart (pp. 34-75). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

AAP Children’s Media Use Guidelines

I came across a post in our Google Community that led me to two articles discussing the new recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics for media use among children. As an educator and as a parent this information is very important to me. I feel the need to monitor my own children’s use of media as well as offer resources for the parents of my students so that they can choose to do the same. According to Middlebrook (October 21, 2016) “previously the academy [American Academy of Pediatrics, AAP] set a general screen time limit: no more than 2 hours in front of the TV for kids over age 2.” However in today’s media environment doctor’s realized that they needed to make some changes to those guidelines. The article goes on to say:

“It doesn’t make sense to make a blanket statement [of two hours] of screen time anymore,” said Dr. Yolanda Reid Chassiakos, lead author of the “Children and Adolescents and Digital Media Technical Report” and assistant professor at UCLA. “For some children, two hours may be too much. Middlebrook (2016, October 21 )

Now the recommendations are much more specific based on age of the child. Here are some of the new guidelines from the AAP based on the age of children.

For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing. For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them. For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health. Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms. Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline. AAP (2016, October 21)

As a parent and educator I appreciate the AAP weighing in and providing some concrete guidelines based on their expertise. In all honesty, seeing the recommendation to co-view media with my children and then discuss with or explain to them what they are viewing in order to connect it the world around them is an area of growth for me. One additional resource that could be very useful would be the website healthychildren.org. There you can find tools in English or Spanish to help calculate the time your children spend using media, or the tools to create a media plan for your family.

References

American Academy of Pediatrics announces new recommendations for children’s media use. (2016, October 21). Retrieved from https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Announces-New-Recommendations-for-Childrens-Media-Use.aspx

Family media plan. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/media/Pages/default.aspx#home

Middlebrook, Hailey. (2016, October 21). New screen time rules for kids, by doctors. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/21/health/screen-time-media-rules-children-aap/

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Here we go!

This blog will be a tool I use to reflect on and put the ISTE coaching standards into practice as I move through the Digital Education Leadership M.Ed. program at Seattle Pacific University. Check back throughout the next 7 quarters as I add evidence and grow in my understanding of what it means to be an educator who uses technology effectively in the classroom as well as a more competent coach to help others use technology more effectively in their own classrooms. Here we go!