When we first began our 1:1 initiative at FDR, I had another blog. The posts are still relevant if you are starting your 1:1 journey! Check them out in this link!
Eat. Sleep. Create.
We have the technology, now what?
Our school has been on this technology journey for about 4 and half years now. We began with a 1:1 initiative, which is now a staple amongst our learning tools. We have provided hours upon hours of professional learning opportunities to prepare our educators with the framework and standards for best practices for integrating technology within the classroom. And our teachers are rock stars. They have had ample experience and practice swimming in the SAMR pool. SAMR is a method of seeing how technology might impact learning. Each letter represents where teaching and learning is on the the continuum of technology integration. Technology is integrated through substitution, augmentation, modification, and finally, redefinition. As you move along the continuum, technology is deeply integrated and is an assumed part of the learning process. Our teachers have moved through substitution, augmentation, modification, and yes, redefinition to impact learning while leveraging technology. Was it an easy or smooth journey? A big giant NO! It is not easy to see the positive implications of technology in the learning environment at first. Most of us, include students in this group, see our gadgets, apps, and software as forms of entertainment. It takes courage and a considerable mind-shift to realize that technology is a great tool that will change the way you deliver content and assess learning.
Educational leaders, such as administrators and instructional coaches provide support and a safe arena for practice and risk taking. Once you have the technology and you can see that teaching and learning are changing, how do you build upon that capacity? As educational leaders, we can look at the ISTE (International Society of Technology in Education) Standards for Education Leaders
Equity and Citizenship Advocate
Leaders use technology to increase equity, inclusion, and digital citizenship practices. Education leaders:
Leaders engage others in establishing a vision, strategic plan and ongoing evaluation cycle for transforming learning with technology. Education leaders:
Leaders create a culture where teachers and learners are empowered to use technology in innovative ways to enrich teaching and learning. Education leaders:
Leaders build teams and systems to implement, sustain and continually improve the use of technology to support learning. Education leaders:
Leaders model and promote continuous professional learning for themselves and others. Education leaders:
As I reflect on the ISTE Standards for Education Leaders, there are several characteristics that stand out for me. Education Leaders need to transform learning by empowering teachers and learners. Their focus needs to remain on learning, not the technology. Education Leaders lead by example by connecting and sharing learning. It seems like a tall order. If you are already integrating technology and empowering learners, what’s next?
At FDR, we have ventured into the Maker Movement. What’s the Maker Movement? Check out this article in Scholastic to get a more complete description. But I’ll share how the Maker Movement came to us, and how it is giving our students more choice, more independence, and it is more child-centered. We received an Innovation grant from the Verizon Foundation to create an Innovation Lab. It provided us with 3D printers, a laser cutter, 360 cameras, Spheros, VR Stations, a vinyl cutter, littleBits, a sound and video production studio, circuits, bunches of arts and craft supplies, and I’m sure I am forgetting something. We have all of this technology, equipment, and materials, but the Innovation space was not ready to house the maker “stuff”. It all sounds super cool and awesome, right? Except, we the adults, did not know how to use the “stuff”.
As the instructional coach and supervisor of the Innovation Lab I was suppose to know how to use all of this technology. Giant gulp! The actual Innovation Lab was not ready for primetime, so I had some time to learn (fingers crossed). I started an afterschool STEAM club, and put some items on a cart. We started small using the Spheros and littleBits. The students were completely engaged. It did not matter if I knew all of the technology. Whatever I brought out, the students tinkered with it and learned it. I had students figure out every stinking piece of technology that was presented to them. I learned from them! This was truly a child-centered experience. The students were empowered! I now have students who are experts with the 3D printer. They can design something in TinkerCad and then print it using our 3D printer. The laser cutter (totally intimidating to me), was another piece of technology that they just “figured out”. You name it, and they can figure it out. I have a student who is a master at the VR station. He created items in TinkerCad and then put them into VR. He later figured out how to use ANIMVR in the VR to animate drawings. I had to request that he write up directions easy enough for me to follow to replicate what he was doing. Of, course he did. This is the magic of the maker movement. As an educator, we are now facilitators of learning. We have definite areas of expertise, but we also can guide students in how they demonstrate their learning. What we can learn from students is how to use technology as a tool to share their learning. If we provide the supports and allow the learners to create, we are providing a more engaging learning environment. The trick is to get educators to follow the students. As educational leaders, we model that by following ISTE Standards. Encouraging educators to bring making into the classroom, allowing some time away from the testing focus, and modeling the mindset that learning is different now. If you can Google it, you probably don’t need to teach it. We need to help students ask questions and find multiple solutions! I love this video that shares the big idea of why we need to provide opportunities to ask questions, explore, make, and create!
The Maker Movement allows kids to tap into a very human quality, to create. It allows our kids to say, “I did this! I made this!” Eventually, our Innovation Lab opened and classes, teachers, students, and our after-school club began to use all of the “cool stuff” in the space. Listen to what some of our students and our principal had to say about the space.
There are less than 8 days left in the school year. It’s Friday afternoon, the kids are gone, and I am sitting amongst collected iPads and chargers. Every year at this time I am like, “That went by too fast!” As an Instructional Coach, manager of the Innovation Space and 1:1 Initiative, I feel that there was a lot accomplished this year. There are areas that still need development and tweaking. However, I am going to share the positive, because we need more of that!
As a district we have been focusing on being innovative. Innovative in our curriculum, our practice, our technology, and our learning communities. I am sure many districts are rethinking how they are delivering content and assessment in innovative ways. Here is what I can tell you from my personal experience, innovation requires everyone to be thinking about learning environments that are conducive to creating. The classroom is going to look different, learning will most definitely look different, and this all means PROFESSIONAL LEARNING SHOULD BE DIFFERENT! If we want our future learning to be different, today’s professional learning must be just as different.
Where do you begin? I think if you are truly interested in providing your students with a learning experience that is going to prepare them for a global economy, you need to facilitate the learning experiences with opportunities to seek problems and create solutions. We can’t expect our teachers to teach innovatively or creatively if we offer them professional development that is the same old same old, or mirrors the classroom of previous years. Today’s students need to be empowered and engaged. Learning is not passive and never has been. Your professional development has to be engaging and empowering. You need to provide PD that is interesting, relevant, leverages technology and addresses the different learners. It’s kind of what we expect teachers to do, as educational leaders, we are charged with the same task. I’ll share with you how the other instructional coaches in my district and myself have created engaging and empowering PD, that allows for teacher choice and voice. Is it perfect? Nope, but it’s a start!
In our district, we provide our teachers with an EdCamp style of PD. First, we send out a survey to gauge what interests our teachers. Next, we recruit volunteers who are ready to share their experiences with the desired session topics. Teachers can sign up and attend sessions by other teachers in our district. We limit the sessions to about 40 minutes and allow teachers to move to other sessions. Yes, they get to move around! Check out this sample of our sessions. We have had great feedback from our staff. We try to facilitate our PD sessions in this format most of the time. In addition, we have allowed teachers to visit professional learning opportunities outside the district. We have a group of teachers attending the Pittsburg Fab Network 2018, and ISTE 2018 in Chicago.
George Couros, author of “The Innovator’s Mindset; Empower Learning, Unleash Talent and Lead a Culture of Creativity” lists in his blog, The Principal of Change, some other factors to consider when developing PD.
- Invite students and parents to your professional learning days. (Need to add this!)
- Ensure staff leads sessions. (We do this!)
- Give staff time to NOT attend sessions and collaborate with colleagues. (Need more of this!)
- Look at the different environment to try them out. (We got this too!)
- Time for health and well-being! (More of this, please!)
Again, we have room to grow and improve, but we are on our way. Hopefully, you can apply some of these methods for professional learning in your planning and facilitation. I know I will be suggesting some more collaboration and well-being initiatives for next year’s PD. I welcome your questions, share them in the comments.
Eep-!! This blog is late! It’s the end of the school year and there are events every other day at my school and my kid’s schools. Throw in my dad having a heart attack, iPad collection, and today a softball tournament. Well it’s been busy, crazy, and I’m just sharing it ALL with you! I think I share a lot, because I am a teacher, or am I a teacher because I like to share a lot? Ugh, I can’t do the philosophical gymnastic routine for that concept, especially tonight! What I do know is most teachers I know like to share!
The world of education has always been about sharing. Sharing ideas, resources, programs, current events, and the news. Teachers love to share, they are naturals at it. It IS what they do, pretty much all day long. Many educators want to share more. Any time I put out a survey for professional development, the teachers request time to share with their colleagues.
Why is sharing so important? Why are teachers compelled to share? Is it an obligation? How does it ultimately help our students? How can we support sharing and adding to the greater body of knowledge?
Collaboration is key! Sharing ideas, procedures, and the practice and art of teaching, helps us as educators and ultimately our students.
Where and with whom do we share? If you’re a GAFE (Google Apps For Education) School, Google makes it possible. Google docs, sheets, forms, videos, and blogs are great places for sharing and collaboration. Google Plus Communities venture into the Social Media world. However, the community members have to be invited or approved. It’s a great way to share information in a monitored environment. At our middle school, our principal has created a Google Plus Community for our parents and teachers. Teachers, staff, and building administrators can post information to the community for the parents and guardians of our students. Events, assignments, activities, athletics, and daily pictures of classroom activities can be posted. Families are invited virtually into the building, thus creating a sense of community and improving relations. As an educator you can join educational communities to gather resources and share experiences.
Another great way to access resources and information about teaching is to follow other educators on Twitter. This allows for global collaboration and sharing. This past fall I facilitated a Professional Development (PD) at our school about using Twitter for Professional Learning and Professional Growth. Why Twitter? Well, it’s personalized. You can follow topics and tweets that are relevant to your content area, grade level, or interests, You can check the tweets at your convenience. You are not relegated to an assigned seat at a PD session in your district, it’s on your time, when you want it. Think of it as Professional Learning On Demand!
The Twitter PD was well received. Many of my colleagues signed up for Twitter that day. In fact, some had trouble verifying their accounts, because so many teachers were signing up with the same email ending. I was hopeful that my fellow educators were going to jump on and Tweet and share about their expertise, experience, and knowledge and maybe even their classes. We have rock star teachers, who do great stuff!!! Some did! We always have those early adopters who want to experiment and try things out. But, for most, they became stalkers at first, and then slowly began to tweet. Stalking is fine! As an educator you can gather a great deal of knowledge and access resources by stalking. But there is even more learning in sharing! There is even more value in adding to the body of knowledge! Why?
When we are contributing to the greater body of knowledge and accessing it as a resource, we become networked with other educators, sharers, and leaders. The networked teacher is learning forward. Adult learners need a variety of resources to be actively engaged. They need to demonstrate their voice and choice. Using social media allows them to be engaged, self-directed, and reflective about their learning and practice. The reflection is MAGIC! When do we, as educators really get to think and process how a particular lesson, activity, or day went? Maybe for five minutes in the car on the way home? It certainly is not enough. Sharing opens you up to feedback, comments, and others’ perspectives. This enriches the teaching practice. Think of it as a dance! Sure you can dance by yourself, but you can have more fun dancing with others.
Social Media can be intimidating if you are not use to it, or understand who can see your tweets. I think this may be the culprit for may educators not tweeting. I use my Twitter account primarily for education related topics. I don’t post my personal opinions, politics, or events from my vacations. I keep it focused on education. This helps me connect with other like minded educators. Educators have valid reasons for being concerned about social media, however keeping it focused on education will help you to self monitor your tweets.
So where do you begin? Besides checking out my Twitter PD Presentation, you can also follow the recommendations on Edudemic.com. They have a great Teacher’s Guide for Using Twitter. If you don’t know who to follow, try following other Educators. We Are Teachers has a great list for educators to follow.
Good luck, and I hope I see you in the Twitterverse!
Ugh! How do I introduce myself??? I guess the basics right? My name is Bernadette Hannah and I am a mother of two amazing girls, an educator, pit bull mommy, and lover of high heels! The last four years I have been managing a 1:1 initiative, integrating a STEAM mindset and supporting a maker space/innovation lab.
I am pretty nervous about starting this blog, but here it goes, because I have a bunch to share about educational leadership, technology, and education!
Currently, wearing these hats!
Pennsylvania Institute of Instructional Coaching Member
Pennsylvania Steam Leadership Council Member
Facilitates Professional Development for Bristol Township School District
Manager of 1:1 Initiative
Manager of Verizon Extension Grant
Mentors Student Tech Team (Tiger Techs)
Mentors Girls In Technology Group (G.I.T.)
Manages the FDR Innovation Lab
STEAM Teacher for 21st Century Grant
Educational Leadership Graduate Student (reason for this blog😱)
This is my 24th year in education. I teach in the district that I attended school as a student. It is filled with amazing, creative, and talented people. Many sections of our district are struggling financially. For many reasons, resources for our students are limited.
I am passionate about our students, public education, equality in education, equality in general, and platform wedges. I have taught as a full-time special education teacher, an elementary classroom teacher, a reading specialist, and an ELA teacher at the middle school level. My current education gig is an Instructional Coach at FDR Middle School for Bristol Township School District. In addition, I am earning my second masters in Educational Leadership.
Closing the Digital Divide
I was a part-time instructional coach until 4 years ago. Our district hit the grant lottery for technology! The grant required a full-time instructional coach and voila! Here I am! The grant was from Digital Promise and funded by the Verizon Foundation. The grant was intended to close the Digital Divide (watch this movie Without a Net to learn more). When we received the grant, our building did not have wifi, we did not use Google Apps, we had stand-alone desktops in computer labs, and classes still sat in rows.
The grant provided 1:1 devices for each middle school student with 5g of data each month. Students would have continuous access to the Internet, their teachers, and information. This was transformative. It was scary, daunting, and overwhelming, but it was so stinking exciting! Our kids would be on a level playing field with the surrounding affluent districts, states, the country, and yes THE WORLD.
So, it’s an awesome gift to have this technology granted to your school, but how do you get ready for it? How do you prepare for the culture change that is about to happen? I will delve into the dirty details of the process in future blogs! But, for right now the most important idea to grasp is…
YOU GET CONNECTED!
As an educational leader, you need to get connected to your teachers. Just like students, they have varying levels of expertise or knowledge in technology. They will need a differentiated plan for professional development and time-LOTS OF TIME to become comfortable with the technology. Educational leaders who want successful technology integration must assess the needs of their faculty and staff and provide the appropriate supports for learning technology. The technology is a tool to be leveraged. It should not drive the instruction, the learner drives the instruction. Know your learner, know your staff, and move from there!
As an educator, you need to be connected to your students. They are different from previous students, they live in the digital world, they communicate, relate, learn, and access the world through technology. Educators can’t be the “sage on the stage”. They need to understand their students of today. Facilitating learning and allowing students to discover, analyze, and synthesize information will encourage today’s learner. Directing students to find relevant problems and solutions will help them connect to learning and be prepared for our global economy.
Our students need to be meaningfully connected to technology to access information and demonstrate their learning. Providing students with a device to complete worksheets is a mere substitution. Technology needs to transform the learning process. A focus on collaboration, creativity, expression, and communication. Technology supports these processes, but cannot completely achieve these goals on its own. Our learning environments have to reflect the workplace of today. The technology is a catalyst for this type of learning and innovation.
😎The future is so bright😎
According to ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education), our students need to reflect the following attributes:
Integrating technology was seen as an enhancement to educational programs. Today, technology is a necessity. Educational leaders need to be able to devise and communicate a vision that empowers our teachers and students to access the digital world, technological resources, and tools. It is not just about learning, but innovating!
Here, at FDR Middle School we are constantly building capacity to adhere to our vision of innovation. Last year, we were awarded Verizon’s Innovative School of The Year. Verizon also awarded our school a Maker Space/Innovation Lab grant! So staying connected to our teachers, students, and the technological resources help keep the vision in focus!
My future blogs will share information about educational leadership, supporting teachers with meaningful professional development, starting and managing an innovation lab/maker space, and providing real leadership opportunities in technology for teachers and marginalized students.
Oh, and maybe something about shoes! 👠👠👠👠
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