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Observations? Comments? Additional feedback?
Yesterday, my co-ITS and I asked our staff to complete evaluation surveys on how they think we're doing as ITSs. In the name of transparency and continued learning, I am posting my results for all to see.
Maybe later, I'll expound on my thoughts regarding my results, but for now, it's too fresh and I'm curious to see what others think.
*Summary created with Advanced Summary by Awesome Table (a Google Forms Add-On).
Observations? Comments? Additional feedback?
Over the years, I have heard lots of different explanations for the difference between formative and summative assessments. The most basic definitions are these:
Formative assessment is an assessment FOR learning.
Summative assessment is an assessment OF learning.
In other words, when using formative assessments, the teacher is using that information to guide further instruction. What have students mastered and what do they still need to practice more? The confusion often lies in whether grades should be tied to formative assessment. My answer is definitely! Sometimes.
In my opinion, all learning activities should be used as formative assessments! As an educator, why would I NOT use the information I get from students as they participate in different activities to guide my future plans? But not all of those activities need to be calculated in the student's grade.
There are lots of digital assessment tools available now that make collecting that information and data far easier than it used to be. Here are some of my favorites:
Have you used any of these tools? Which are your favorites? What do you love that I didn't mention?
On Wednesday, I finished the second of my grad school classes in my EdD program. On Friday, I received my grade for my final assignment. Throughout this course, I was shocked at how quickly my professor returned assignments with valuable feedback. This was partly due to the fact that we had to take his feedback, use it to revise the assignment, and turn in the revised assignment along with the new assignment each week. On Wednesday as class ended, I was the somewhat proud author of a 20-minute PowerPoint-based instructional module on SAMR and a 56-page paper that was the instructional design document used to create said PowerPoint. However, this was only possible because my professor followed through on what he said he was going to do. Had he told us that we had to use our feedback for improvement but then never provided the feedback, we all would have struggled to meet expectations.
This has been on my mind a lot lately. Great ideas are only great if you follow through on the original idea all the way through the design phase: design, creation, implementation, feedback, repeat. If you fail on one of these steps, the idea has an increased possibility of failure.
The same is true with our classroom. How often as teachers do we say that we will get the test, paper, or project graded over the weekend so that we can maximize the relevance of feedback we give students, only to have life get in the way. Before we know it, a few weeks have gone by and we're rushing to return one set of assessments to students before giving them the next. In a case like this (which I was often guilty of), we let our students down. The blame is ours to bear when students don't care to revise and improve if the window has passed.
When choosing friends, mentors, and leaders, this is just as important. Choose those who do what they say they're going to when they say they're going to do it. Also, be that person. If you say that you'll find time to research a problem, make the time. If you tell someone that you'll arrange a time to meet with them to discuss a concern they have, check your calendar and make the appointment. If it's just that you're looking forward to seeing someone outside of school, make it happen. Be the person that others can count on to follow through on what you say. That's what our students of ALL ages need. Strong relationships in and out of the classroom make us better educators, but it takes effort and nourishment. Surround yourself with those who are also willing to do the work.
Have you ever studied on a train before? This was my first time and I have to say that I greatly enjoyed the experience! Working on a plane often leaves much to be desired, but on the train, we had room to spread out a bit, plugs for our laptops and phones, as well as bar car that we could easily get to as we sped through the French countryside on our way to Strasbourg.
Our week here in France is almost over and it has been everything I dreamed of. My biggest fear was that I had forgotten all of the French that I used to use daily while still in the classroom. While it is definitely a little dusty, I was very happy to find that it mostly all came back to me very quickly. Spending the week almost entirely in Paris has also been a wonderful experience that I can't wait to repeat. There is a café directly across from our appartment where I go to work on grad school work in the late afternoon before meeting Brad and Ryan again for dinner. I know how to get to our appartment from variety of directions now without the help of Google Maps. I've bought food at the supermarché and beauty needs at the pharmacie. I went to the poste and made a business phone call...all in French. Not a day has gone by where at least one person hasn't been surprised at how well I speak French (although some days, that person is me!).
What have I learned from this experience? That I need to come back and stay longer, bien sûr!
...and only 32 left to go.
My first course in my EdD program at the University of South Carolina is complete and I am happy to report that I am starting strong with continuing my post-bac goal of maintaining a 4.0.
This first course was a research seminar in educational technology. The projects and assignments focused on laying a foundation for what educational technology is and helping us begin to choose our capstone dissertation topic. It was an enjoyable course that ended with an annotated bibliography that I hope will serve me well in upcoming research seminars (this summer and this fall).
I have a week off for Spring Break and then the course begins, which is a course on instructional design and assessment. I am very much looking forward to it, although also slightly nervous about continuing to complete course work while on my "actual" Spring Break trip to Paris. The glories of the Internet mean that I won't miss any days of class work though - it will just require creative scheduling.
Off now to go read something just for the fun of it!
When I woke up on the morning of February 4, 2017, my mind was already racing with a thousand thoughts.
Would everyone show up to help that said they would?
Would anyone actually show up to the event?
Would people who are new to edcamp understand how it works?
Would those who did show up have a good time and share it with other people?
Also running through my head was my ever-growing to-do list of all the things that needed to be done before 8am when people might reasonably start arriving.
This was the morning of the 2nd EdCamp_Forsyth and I was very nervous. Our first event the year before had been a success and while I had been feeling good about how things were looking for this second event, morning-of butterflies were definitely floating around in my stomach.
But, once I got to school in the early morning darkness, I got started on my list and before I knew it, I was making the opening remarks. We had a great event and I'm happy to share our event board here:
We had participants from Forsyth, Gwinnett, Cobb, Floyd, Fulton, Dawson, and many others in the greater Atlanta area, with over 130 people! Sessions included everything Google you could thing of, ways of spicing up learning for learners of all ages, and all the big buzz words like personalized learning, differentiation, and digital citizenship.
The next thing I knew, it was all over and time to give away prizes, then people started heading home. We cleaned up and went on to our homes, exhausted but happy with the day's event.
What's next, you ask? A Google Camp for Forsyth Co educators on a district collaboration day! This is a new and exciting adventure that I hope will be just as successful! Once May 3 rolls around and my first semester of grad school is over, it will be time to think about what happens after that. New challenges are always waiting just around the corner! That's what makes life in education exciting, if you just know where to look and open yourself up to them!
Recently, I saw a Facebook post from a Social Studies colleague that bemoaned the idea that "everyone is supposed to worship Hamilton now." I'm paraphrasing and possibly taking the post out of context, but I believe that, in essence, his complaint was that here is a WILDLY popular musical in a historical setting and that as a result, it has no place in the classroom.
That made me think. I thought a lot about what I did while still in the classroom and especially about how I reacted when Les Misérables was released in theatres as a musical. Did I feel that way? I don't remember that - in fact, what I remember is changing my entire course design to include lessons and activities that revolved around the original work by Victor Hugo. But maybe that was too easy. So I've tried to think of other instances where I perhaps belittled something pertinent to my class just because it was popular with my students...and I can't.
I always felt more like Jay Meadows in his post on "Cult of Pedagogy." In his post from May 2016, he said that reasons he includes pop culture in his class include, "To better engage our students. To help them fall in love with the content we teach. To make learning even the most complex skills feel effortless. To hear them say, 'Wow. This class always feels so short.'"
Isn't that why we all do what we love? And if we don't love it and want DESPERATELY for our students to love it, then why are we still doing it?
Here I am...just two and half years after finishing my master's degree in Instructional Technology, I find myself starting another new adventure as I begin to pursue my educational doctorate. My husband and many of my colleagues think that I am crazy, but I also know that I have their full support as I begin this journey.
I have done all I could to expand my classroom beyond the four walls of the building through use of technology since I first began teaching. I did this through videos, online discussions with classrooms around the world, and instant messaging to provide students with a way to communicate their questions outside of traditional school hours. As my access to technology expanded over the years, so did my practice. Access to authentic resources is indispensable for a World Languages teacher, and technology provided these experiences even when my students were unable to travel to France. This also provided an ideal set of circumstances to demonstrate both responsible and professional uses of the same technologies that students already used socially and academically.
Throughout my master’s program, I focused on helping other teachers in my school use technology to promote student engagement and to encourage deeper thinking. Consequently, I was able to share the best practices I had developed in my classroom with other teachers. Through meeting with teachers, I have realized many of them feel that technology is a box to check on their observations or something that students use on a specific day, at a specific time, in the specific way that they prescribe. Opening their eyes to how technology can be integrated seamlessly into their daily classroom is a challenge that I enjoy.
When I accepted my current position, I thought I was leaving the classroom behind. Now, the whole school is my classroom. I try to educate teachers, administrators, and students about best practices and issues pertaining to technology use and integration. At the heart of my work is introducing technology tools that will improve the great work that teachers and students are already doing, rather than simply duplicating a process that will work exactly the same as without technology without providing an additional benefit. Technology is a tool to be used just like anything else, when it is the best and most appropriate tool to achieve the desired results. Helping others to see that has allowed me to clarify my own thinking and goals.
Good technology use does not create good teachers. Good teachers use technology to become better teachers and to help their students learn and do more. Best technology practices should not be separated from best instructional practices, as using technology to improve the educational experience should be included in an educator’s pedagogical toolkit. George Couros says in The Innovator’s Mindset that to “help our students thrive, we have to move past ‘the way we have always done it,’ and create better learning experiences for our students than we had for ourselves.” For me, this means changing the way that educators experience professional development.
Just as great educators differentiate and personalize the learning experience for students, so too should educators be granted options for differentiated and personalized professional development that meets their needs and respects their time. This may come through flipped training modules, blended learning sessions, online personal learning networks, or edcamp-style conferences. In all situations, technology is a tool that can be used to facilitate the best learning experience for each person. Combining educational technology with curriculum and instruction is a goal that I have not just for myself, for my school, or for my district, but for the world of education at large. No one asks how notebook paper can be integrated into schools, or why students need to learn how to use a calculator. My hope is that one day the same can be said of technology.
What interests you in the field of educational technology? How have your perceptions changed?
Cross-posted at my EdD ePortfolio.
Recently, I was talking to a teacher at my school who teaches the Teaching Pathway courses. In our conversation, she bemoaned the fact that no matter how much she encouraged them to use other presentation tools, they always and only use PowerPoint! When I asked her what other presentation tools she'd like to see them use, she admitted that she didn't know, she just wanted to see something new. Then I asked her what she uses when giving presentations, either to her students or to other teachers.
Aha! She wanted them to research other tools, but she only ever used presentations that had already been created in PowerPoint, sometimes provided to her by other teachers. So an idea was born! I promised to put together a hands-on workshop for her Teacher Pathway students to introduce them to new tools and explain the benefits of each. In the workshop, I plan to also talk about good presentation skills (what to do and what NOT to do), how to prepare for a presentation, and responsible image use and citation.
We are tentatively scheduled for late January....and another teacher has already approached me for late February for his class of special needs Econ students!
What else needs to be in such a presentation? What are your favorite presentation tools or extra?
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been looking at items that teachers created using our LMS to use with their class. The idea for the “lesson” was for teachers to stretch their thinking and their skills and to learn one new thing that they could do with the LMS to bring their class closer to a blended learning environment.
My last post featured one such activity - it was a great way for that teacher to expand his classroom beyond the four walls constrained by the time period of his class and be able to connect with students live (even if not in person). Over the next few weeks, I’ll be featuring more such activities, in the hope that sharing what teachers at my school are doing might inspire ideas that you can use!
On the other hand, I’ve seen other activities that were not as carefully designed. In my attempt to provide valuable feedback, I began compiling some ideas to consider before adding edtech to a lesson. Many of these are more pedagogical than technical because pedagogy should be the heart of any lesson, with games, technology, and assessment as follow-up or secondary details.
What other questions do you consider before adding edtech into your classroom?
Angela Burgess is all of things said above. If you want to know more, read what I think.