Bridging the Gap: From Teachers to Technology Coaches

New Learning

This week I am writing my first blog post for a new quarter, one where we will explore what it means to be a servant leader following the model of a peer coach. Through the quarter my classmates and I will use those two frameworks to investigate the integration of technology into instruction. This quarter is different than those before because previously I’ve been reflecting on my own classroom, my instruction, my students or at times my organization. In contrast, this quarter I will reflect on my work as a technology coach as I work in classrooms around my school district in a variety of lessons and subjects. It is a new experience for me just as being a technology coach is new.

My Questions

I shouldn’t be surprised then that I’m looking for clarity. I guess it is fitting that my question leads me in two different directions during this module. On one hand I am curious to find out how technology coaches play a role in implementing strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations in schools and classrooms? Secondly, I want to know how can a coach aid in the change process while maintaining (or establishing) a positive relationship?

Advocating for Teachers and Change

Continue reading “Bridging the Gap: From Teachers to Technology Coaches”

Video Integration into Google Classroom

During the Spring quarter in the Digital Education Leadership M.Ed. program at SPU we are investigating the ISTE Standards for Teachers. Our first module asked us to reflect on and investigate ISTE Standard 1. The standard led to the question; how can teachers use their knowledge of content, teaching, learning and technology to advance student learning, creativity and innovation in face-to-face and virtual environments? This question connected with a topic related to one of my posts from last quarter.

I thought it would be fitting to investigate how a teacher can use their knowledge of subject matter and technology to facilitate student learning using Google Classroom through video or screencasting.

Again I’m thinking about how well chosen video can aid instruction, provide direction even encourage reflection by students. In addition to video, I wonder if screencasts done by a teacher would lead to some of the same outcomes?  Finally I wonder how a teacher’s use of technology might lead a student to reflect on their learning using the same technology, or through commenting on a video? Can student learning be advanced through these methods?

From my research it is easy to find advice on what tools to use to make screencasts or videos, or statements that say that instructional time is increased but data on student learning is harder to find. The idea that in a 1:1 classroom teachers could save instructional time by having students watch screencasts or instructional videos at home or at another time in order to avoid explaining procedures and directions does make sense to me based on my experience in an elementary classroom. However, it might take even more planning in a school without 1:1 devices. I don’t work in a 1:1 school, however through BYOD and computer or iPad carts it could be possible to move our 3:1 ratio up to 1:1 on certain days or at certain times.

These are my notes from module 1

So how does using a screencast or video in Google Classroom relate to instruction? One piece of advice that is often repeated by an instructional coach at my school is that the lesson is just an invitation. That is good advice, it is always good to remember more teacher talk does not necessarily lead to increased learning. With that in mind I think that using a screencast or a short video to give instructions or possibly a series of directions could in fact benefit a student’s understanding. Even creating a lesson recap, which I will talk about a bit later, would support the idea that students don’t have to be with me at all times in a lesson to further their conceptual understanding of concepts. Suppose an ELL is able to go back to and replay directions as needed? Wouldn’t that give them additional time and chances to process the language which might lead to an increased understanding? Obviously other scaffolds are needed, but repeated exposure is a start. Continue reading “Video Integration into Google Classroom”

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