Are You Leading by Learning?

Are You Leading by Learning?

It’s early Saturday morning, and I am at the stove, my back to my family.  My husband reads out the quote on the back of my t-shirt: “Inspire learners to lead.”   My 16 year old son, however, immediately sees the irony in the statement and flips the wording: “Inspire leaders to learn.”  He’s right. Are you leading by learning?

Turning It On Its Head

Many of the messages being generated in education are about what students and teachers should be doing, and so LITTLE focuses on what the leaders should be doing.  All too often, building and district leadership are the least trained in technology, personalized pathways, and new innovative practices that are spreading across more progressive classrooms.  Without leadership buy-in, innovation too often goes nowhere.

Many teachers are trying new things, some because they are too young to fear, and others because they are experienced enough to know what they can and cannot get away with.  Sadly, the masses are in the middle, worrying about whether they can try something new or recovering from an observation that did not reflect what was really going on in their classroom.  How can this happen?  Perhaps, the observer was not aware of what to look for.

ISTE Standards are a great place to start.  As an international body, the International Society for Technology in Education has a global reach as well as a global view.  Of course there are technology standards for students, but there are also technology standards for teachers, technology coaches, and administrators.  That’s right!  Standards for admins!

ISTE Standards for Administrators

“So, what are these well-hidden standards for administrators,” you ask.  Well, here they are in a nutshell:

  1. Visionary leadership: Educational Administrators inspire and lead development and implementation of a shared vision for comprehensive integration of technology to promote excellence and support transformation throughout the organization.
  2. Digital age learning culture: Educational Administrators create, promote, and sustain a dynamic, digital-age learning culture that provides a rigorous, relevant, and engaging education for all students.
  3. Excellence in professional practice: Educational Administrators promote an environment of professional learning and innovation that empowers educators to enhance student learning through the infusion of contemporary technologies and digital resources.
  4. Systemic improvement: Educational Administrators provide digital age leadership and management to continuously improve the organization through the effective use of information and technology resources.
  5. Digital citizenship: Educational Administrators model and facilitate understanding of social, ethical and legal issues and responsibilities related to an evolving digital culture.

ISTE A.3 Excellence in Professional Practice

Standard number 3, Excellence in professional practice is the one I am drawn to.  Here is how it breaks down:

a. Allocate time, resources, and access to ensure ongoing professional growth in technology fluency and integration
b. Facilitate and participate in learning communities that stimulate, nurture and support administrators, faculty, and staff in the study and use of technology
c. Promote and model effective communication and collaboration among stakeholders using digital age tools
d. Stay abreast of educational research and emerging trends regarding effective use of technology and encourage evaluation of new technologies for their potential to improve student learning

Wow!  How powerful!  I have to admit that I have come across a few admins that are succeeding in this standard and its indicators, but all too often, the admins are the last to know about innovation and technology fluency and integration.  Well, it’s not that difficult to stay abreast of the latest educational research.

Recommendations for Staying Abreast of Technology in Education

There are so many sources for technology information, and now it’s easier than ever to receive that information.  No longer do you have to seek out information; it comes right to your inbox, your Facebook page, your Twitter feed, and your Google page.  If you are an admin, and you don’t have one of those four technological connections, it is either time you let your students teach you, or it’s time for you to voluntarily remove yourself from education.  Being connected is a great way to understand and connect with your students and faculty.

Using your email to #connect with educators and #innovate. Email Resources

Many educational websites have newsletters and blogs you can subscribe to.  If you aren’t receiving at least two educational resource emails per week, here are some websites I recommend:

Using Facebook to #connect with educators and #innovate. Facebook Resources

Most people have a personal FB page, so why not let FB send you educational materials to help you become a better educator?  Here are some of my favorites:

Join Twitter to #connect with educators and #innovate. Twitter Resources

While I was not a Tweeter a year ago, I am now getting most of my best educational information through Twitter.  Twitter is not for wordy people or even full messages.  Instead, it is an opportunity to share links to great blogs, tidbits of wisdom, and periodically a funny comment.  When you create a Twitter account, do not leave your profile picture as an egg head.  Immediately add a saying, a meme, or a photo of yourself to your profile. Choose a few key people to follow.  I have given you a few recommendations below.  Choose whom you follow carefully, and don’t overdo it.  You don’t want to get overwhelmed.  Wade in slowly, and if you like it, jump in.

Using Google to #connect with educators to #innovate. Google Plus Communities and Collections

Google 9-square or 3x3.If you have a gmail account, you can create a Google Plus, G , account.  To do this, go to the 9-square in the top right hand corner.  See graphic at right.  Choose the red circle with G on it.  This will take you to your Google Plus account.  Set up your profile, and then go to the menu on the right and choose “Collections.”  Here, you can engage in dialog with educators, administrators, and innovation leaders around the world.  You will receive an email for each posting, and your post will go to every member in that community.  This can get overwhelming very quickly, so only choose one or two communities to join at first.  Click the JOIN button to become a MEMBER.  To leave a group, click the MEMBER button and choose LEAVE.

Here are some recommendations for administrators and educators looking to connect with and learn from innovative educators around the world:

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-6-23-31-pm  screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-6-22-54-pm  PBL Google plus community.  screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-6-22-21-pm

After joining a few Google Communities, check out the Google Collections.  These function more like Facebook business pages, so only the owner(s) can post, and you can reply.  It is still a great place for resources and getting connected.

As an admin, you have a unique power to make change.  Be the voice and catalyst for change.  If a teacher comes to you with ideas, research it, and support the teacher.  Without administrator and building leadership buy-in, most innovation falls to side.

Share Your Experience or Leave a Comment

If you have an opinion that you would like to share, please leave a comment below.  I’d love to get a discussion going.

Moving from Substitution to Modification in SAMR

Moving from Substitution to Modification in SAMR

Previously posted on Monday, May 23, 2016, on Digital Learning Cohorts – CCSD Ed Tech

Today, Señora Stewart’s Spanish I students at West Ashley High School worked on their family naming project on iPads. Without technology it is usually a written project; however, Señora Stewart and I worked to move it from the substitution level of SAMR to modification by including audio recordings, too.

The usual project was to create a poster of their imaginary family tree with photos of their imaginary family members and Spanish naming to go with each one.  For example, a student might choose a picture of Johnny Depp as her father, and his picture would be labeled “Mi padre es Johnny Depp.”  Without technology, this poster project usually takes two 45 minute periods.

As a member of the CCSD Digital Learning Cohort, Señora Stewart shares a cart of iPads with another cohort member.  Wanting to digitize this project, Señora Stewart decided to use the iPads.  Using either Keynote or Google Slides, the students were given requirements to create their family tree with the same titles and pictures AND a 2 descriptive sentences in Spanish.  At this point, the project is purely substitution/augmentation on the SAMR chart, so Señora Stewart and I worked to add something new to the project.

Because foreign language standards require heavy duty communication activities, we wanted to work in a verbal recording of the presentation.  To solve this request, we decided the students could insert their slides into iMovie and then record the words on the slide for each slide.  Now, we are at modification in the SAMR model.

On the day of the project launch, I met with 1/3 of the class in a quiet space to teach them how to use iMovie.  It took approximately 25 minutes to go over how to personalize  a Google Slide show, take and insert a screen shot, add an audio recording, lengthen or shorten the picture to match the recording, add transitions, and more.

Once the training was complete, that first group became the “iMovie Geniuses” for the class.  Upon returning to the class, each Genius took on two trainees and trained them on iMovie.  The students were not told to stand and teach, but some chose to.

In the end, Señora Stewart’s class doubled its skills assessed because it included both written and spoken Spanish.  This type of active assessment moves students from a fun exercise to one that is more challenging because it uses 21st century skills and incorporates the 4 Cs.  I am curious to see how class achievements will change as Señora Stewart becomes more confident and comfortable with the iPads and as she progresses in the Digital Learning Cohort in her district.  It is time to start collecting data from the students about their interest levels and their skill levels when it comes to Spanish.  There is no guarantee that student learning is improving using digital devices, and it is our job to analyze the data and share the results.
If you are interested in collaborating about World Language learning using digital devices, please do not hesitate to contact me directly or leave a comment below.
Grammar and Writing Differentiation

Grammar and Writing Differentiation

Previously posted in May of 2016 on Digital Learning Cohorts – CCSD Ed Tech

For differentiation in the ELA classroom, No Red Ink is a godsend.  Although it has always been available via the noredink.com website, many teachers learned of it through Edmodo as an app. However, it is migrating completely to its website on June 30, 2016.  See the company announcement below.

As you may have heard, NoRedInk will no longer integrate with Edmodo starting June 30, 2016. On that date, we will transition your account to the NoRedInk website. Your data and classes will travel with you, and the site will look and behave just as it always has. The only change is that you will begin logging in at noredink.com rather than through an Edmodo app.

On June 30, we will send instructions to this email address. If you’d like to use a different address, please launch the NoRedInk app and go to your settings page. You can learn more about the change here. Also feel free to reach out with questions.

Thanks for all that you do,
The NoRedInk Team

If you haven’t already been using No Red Ink, now is the time to go to their website and set up an account.   This app offers grammar practice with parts of speech, sentences, commas, parallel structure, MLA citations and more.  This app could take you from 3rd grade through college.

If diagramming sentences did not excite you, try No Red Ink on for size.  It just might surprise you.

Organizing Thoughts Through Voice

Organizing Thoughts Through Voice

Previously posted on April 7, 2016 on Digital Learning Cohorts – CCSD Ed Tech

As an English teacher, I saw my job as teaching people to think well and write well.  The thinking was not nearly as difficult as the writing portion, and after leaving the classroom to coach teachers on how to effectively integrate technology into the classroom, I realize that writing was just a byproduct of what my real job was: to teach people how to communicate effectively.  Writing was just one way to effectively communicate.

With technology becoming ubiquitous in our personal, professional, and now educational lives, we have so many opportunities to communicate; learning how to communicate effectively is becoming more important than ever with the organization of ideas and the quality of speech and text being the main focus.

If organization of ideas is one of the big three factors, why does written text take precedence over spoken word?  Perhaps it has been that way because writing is permanent and digital writing is searchable.  However, things have changed.  Now, video is streaming live through Facebook and it is searchable on YouTube.  Audio is also more prominent and is also searchable.  While writing used to be more permanent, it is now just as temporary as audio and video because most of it is saved digitally.  So then, why are we still focused on writing as the apex of communication?

Organizing ideas for verbal communication such as a speech or a podcast is just as challenging as the written word save the grammatical hangups.  For our more verbal students, organizing thoughts for speech might even be a stepping stone to better writing because the student will process the information in a way that is his strength.  Just as with scaffolding, this could scaffold for a hesitant writer.  Check out this slidedeck by Professor Tamika Taylor with instructions for how to prepare for a speech.

 

That’s where podcasting comes in.  Podcasting is much like a radio broadcast.  There are no images or written text. Everything is recorded in audio form.  Some great examples can be found in iTunes and on StoryCorps.Org  1100+ of which have been shared on NPR.org.  There are free audio apps available on all mobile devices from regular phones, to smartphones, to tablets.  Apple or Android – it doesn’t matter.

Apps and Websites
For Apple users, the Voice Record Pro App is free and powerful.  Among the many features it offers, it allows you to import and export from Google Drive, offers editing, and saves into multiple formats.  The age  label is 4+ which means it is easy enough for kindergarteners to use.

For Chromebook users, Vocaroo.com is a simple, web-based voice recorder that offers a simple record, pause, and stop dashboard.  The recording is saved on Vocaroo’s servers for 2-3 months and then is deleted.  It offers the user a link that can be copied and pasted to share with others.  I love this app for simple checking for understanding especially for the younger children who can speak more easily than write.  I have used this successfully with students as low as first grade.

The world is changing, and the good news is that it now offers us many new ways to interact and assess our students.  Check out podcasting for a new and different experience.

Up Next: Changing Tides – Take 1

Up Next: Changing Tides – Take 1

Previously posted on Thursday, February 4, 2016, on Digital Learning Cohorts – CCSD Ed Tech

How exciting are tides and currents?  Very exciting when you have an awesome 5th grade teacher and a set of Chromebooks.  Students in Keith Pridgen and Francine Brewer’s 5th grade science classes are researching tides and presenting their information in various formats.  They are working both independently and collaboratively to complete the task.

To prepare technically for the unit, all users installed the Screencastify extension from the Google Web Store.  This was done whole class and was completed within 5 minutes.  According to the Google Web Store, “Screencastify is a simple video screen capture software (aka. screencast recorder) for Chrome. It is able to record all screen activity inside a tab, including audio. Just press record and the content of your tab is recorded. So you can easily create a screencast for video tutorials, record presentations, etc. (Learn more here). Students were directed to explore the app and then were walked through some settings to make sure it will properly download and save into Google Drive. These settings will differ based on your school’s filter settings, whether you are a GAFE school, and whether students are using Google Drive.

 

The unit began with a rubric for their presentation which provided voice and choice: choose your group partners, choose additional information to share, and choose the format of the final presentation.  Instruction began with a brief overview of the most common terms the students needed to know.  Because the teachers were using this unit as a jigsaw in which students will learn from one another, they provided the students with questions to be answered.  The students completed their research independently and then collaborated to create the final presentation.

Students were given the options to present live with a slideshow (Slides), verbally through a recording (Vocaroo), or in YouTube fashion (Screencastify). Not surprisingly, this generation who cut their teeth on YouTube videos unanimously chose to do screen cast presentations.

 

Because the students worked at their own pace, each group progressed to different stages at different times.  A group of boys was ready to attempt the screencast using Screencastify.  They wanted to be the stars of the show, so they set up their Screencastify settings using the CAM tab with the built in microphone and the built in camera turned on.

After getting the webcam lined up properly, the boys started their first take few takes.  See the video below.

After watching the preview, the students came up with the idea to use a second Chromebook to run as a teleprompter, so they wouldn’t be looking at their paper while recording.  To complete this, the students were shown Google Docs and shared a file with one another.  The next step is to complete the teleprompter file and then practice and record again.