Sunday, February 3, 2019

Reflections on EdTech Leadership

    There are many resources out there for today’s EdTech Leader.  Someone you definitely want as part of your PLN is Matt Harris, a former ISTE board member.  Matt Harris’s vlog contains an abundance of helpful advice for both the instructional specialist and the Tech Director. He communicates thoughtfully about the need for a vision of what you want your school to look like in a few years. This sounds basic, but can you articulate your school’s EdTech vision? To take you anywhere from a cocktail party encounter to a longer conversation with a teacher or board member, he recommends that you spend time developing a 20 second, 2 minute, and 10 minute description of your EdTech philosophy within your school. He also encourages Technology Leaders to embrace dialogue and the “culture of we.” Your teachers must feel ownership of the vision or you won’t be successful. In another episode he shares helpful strategies for managing a wide variety of people in your department as well as dealing with a budget. He describes the art of vendor relationships, how there are better times of the year to buy, that everything is negotiable, and how imperative it is to get out there and talk to others who have purchased a product you are interested in and who can tell you about its limitations in a way a vendor probably will not.
    Over this past semester I have learned how much understanding the dynamics of change goes hand in hand with the Technology Leader role. In this regard, the book Shift: How to Change Things When Change is Hard will prove to be equally helpful to today’s Technology Leader or to anyone wanting more insight into the elements of change. The authors write about the limited mental energies of the “Rider” and the emotional energy of the ”Elephant.” Encouraging systemic change has to be the most challenging part of the tech leader’s job. The familiar is easier to turn to during busy, hectic periods for all of us. Appealing to the emotional elephant is necessary when achieving lasting change.
   With these ideas on leadership and change looming at the forefront right now, our instructional technology team is set to ask administrators to select one ISTE standard to focus on this semester. Last year our Technology Committee adopted the ISTE Standards for Students for our Technology Vision for Learning. We are attempting to align EdTech goals within our district to improve our chances for successful implementation and growth. Our next phase after this would be helping teachers select a goal next school year either individually or in teams. Just preparing for these goal setting sessions has generated a lot of dialogue among the tech specialists. One colleague suggested that we utilize a user friendly form and that we break the goal down into easy monthly steps that can be followed and checked off. We are wondering if it would be better to let Administrators choose their own ISTE standard to work on or if it would be better for them to have a team goal. In my next post I’ll report on how these goal setting conversations are going!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Growth Mindset & Professional Development

     Many thanks to the ISTE Ed Tech Coaches Network Blogging Buddies for providing true motivation and support to fellow ed tech coaches in the area of blogging! 

     This past February Cindy Crannell and I presented at the Illinois Computing Educators Conference (ICE) at the lovely Renaissance Convention Center in Schaumburg, IL.  We gave an overview of different types of Professional Development that our district and tech team have offered to teachers recently.  

     We described the self-paced Apple Teacher's badging afternoon. We also shared feedback about our Edcamp style session, which gave teachers a choice about topics they wished to discuss with each other. And we included information about our D90 tech cohort. With an eye to an even deeper form of PD, our administration has created a wonderful partnership with a local university, Dominican, and we have had three cohorts of teachers so far take an ed tech class together. 

     During our presentation when we mentioned mindset, and how encouraging teachers to be aware of their mindset right before a PD session proved to be especially conducive to learning, we felt our audience lean in--they were really listening! Here is a sketch note overview from Instructional Coach Jenny Lehotsy who illustrated the significance of growth mindset so well:

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     Our room was filled with teachers, ed tech coaches, administrators--all very supportive, friendly, and what a treat to have so many people share what they were doing in their schools as well. One teacher/coach, Arpan Chokshi, even mentioned us in his blog post the next week entitled Top 10 Takeaways from ICE 2018---what a thrill and an honor!

     I've been meaning to post our presentation here for a while, so without further ado, here it is. 

Do you have any favorite PD sessions that you would like to share? Please feel free to write about them in the comments below! Or tweet them out to @AClasky

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Final Reflection EDU 777 99

     Going through the steps of the Proposal Process has been helpful in my current role of Instructional Technology Specialist: Brainstorming, Assessing the Need, Research, Strategic Plan, and Pilot and Peer Review. I realize that for the purpose and time span of this class the pilot could not truly go in depth, but its important for me to remember that the information generated in the piloting and peer review phases are instrumental in the process of successful technology adoption. A positive aspect of the journey through the Proposal Process was discussing this idea with a variety of colleagues and also hearing their thoughts about what kinds of technology they would like our school to invest in. Yes, I am still excited at the thought of 3rd and 4th grade students having access to laptops for more advanced coding projects!

     Understanding the roles of Learning Specialist and Instructional Designer are key to being an effective Technology Specialist.  Reading and watching videos about learning theories, SAMR, learning styles and differentiation is always a good review. It was useful for me to consider models such as SAMR, TPAK, or ADDIE while planning professional development. And although the Socratic Seminar model was not new to me, I had never before looked at the elements of this model and thought about how technology could enhance certain aspects. It’s also stimulating when we are given choices as students to use any technology tool we want, I invariably learn about new tools like Adobe Spark and Emaze and how teachers and specialists are using them. I appreciate choice being modeled like this! 

Stay Frosty, Coders!

             Coding 774 has been a rich experience. First, I absolutely love how our instructor Pat Kelly (fond of saying, "Stay Frosty Coders!") introduces a new coding project with a short, explanatory video. Seeing an example of the end result of the program, and watching him code the start of the project, explaining pertinent loops, functions, etc.,  has been invaluable. It also was so helpful to have a good chunk of the code provided as a starting off point. In the case of Python it took the pressure off to have a generous portion of code already started in the editor when diving into a new project. I plan to use this technique going forward. 

              I’m also thrilled to have learned some beginning Python. I would like to continue learning how to code in Python. I might take a Khan Academy class on this topic. I would have liked it if we could have done a few projects in Swift, too! 

             Finally, I also am walking away with many more ideas about how to integrate coding into the curriculum. Scratch for Educators is a wonderful resource for ideas and support. I’m also happy to know that our class will be sharing coding experiences with the hashtag #domcode774 on Twitter.  There are countless, dynamic ways for students to creatively share what they have learned with coding. Looking ahead, so many teachers worked along side their class during Computer Science Week’s hour of code. It might be worthwhile to offer a forum to both kids and teachers who want to work on coding during lunch or after school periodically. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Midway Reflections: Learning Theories & Instructional Designs

     I welcome the opportunity to reflect at the mid-point journey through Dominican University’s EDU 777/LIS 734 Learning Theories and Instructional Designs. I was most looking forward to engaging in the process of the technology proposal. Since we are a small district, we don’t always have formal or elaborate structures in place for making large tech purchases. In an effort to solicit more input from faculty, we created the Technology Committee which meets monthly. But its been helpful thus far to experience a thoughtful process for technology adoption; brainstorming, conducting a needs assessment, and looking for current research regarding the proposal topic. I have encountered a number of people in my district who would love to see my hypothetical proposal, a cart of laptops for each K-4 building for coding purposes, come to fruition. I am still enthusiastic about my proposal! It has been a rich experience to take this course simultaneously with Coding for Educators
     It’s also been a good review to read through learning theories once again and consider them through the lens of technology integration. Being a knowledgeable instructional designer is at the core of successful technology integration. Some feel that in the future there will not be a technology specialist role, but rather instructional specialists will be adept at implementing technology where needed to enhance student growth and learning. 

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Adventures in Tech Integration: Coding in Kindergarten

     A big thank you to the ISTE Coaches Group, who have been encouraging Technology Integration Specialists not only to blog regularly, but also to read and comment on our fellow colleagues’ blogs. 

    Today I am writing about combining Sight Words and Coding in Kindergarten. Both of our Kindergarten teachers taught in 1st grade last year. They are familiar with Bee-bots and wanted to use them in their Kindergarten classrooms. Bee-bots are small, user friendly robots that can be programmed using arrow keys. We talked  about possibly using math problems with the Beebots, but decided to begin with sight words for this first session.

     Our ever helpful  building engineer cut display boards in half for us (yes, it takes a village!). I drew a grid on each board with a black marker and cut and pasted enlarged sight words on random squares. We also provided an audio option for those needing or wanting the challenge of only hearing the word and then finding it on the board. We linked a Chatter Pix, see sample below, to a QR code. This could be a fun buddy activity if you are paired with an older classroom and then the teacher would have a ChatterPix for each vocabulary or sight word made already.  

However, for this first time, we decided scanning QR codes with an iPad to hear the word was a bit much in conjunction with the coding steps. Later in the school year we can incorporate this for differentiation. At the start of the year, just  writing the sight words down on index cards for K students to select is fine. 

    After a brief whole class overview, students work in groups of four or five and take turns with jobs—one student selecting a word from the pile of cards, one finding the word on the board, another laying out the directional arrows next to board to get to the designated word, one who programs the robot to move, and if you do have five in a group, one can be the “fixer.” If the sequence isn’t working, then the fixer adjusts the steps and tries it again. If time permits, a whole class wrap-up is helpful for allowing children to share and synthesize what they have learned. Besides reinforcing sight words and learning the basics of coding, students are also learning how to work together. 

     In first grade last year teachers used the Bee-bots in social studies, navigating to places in the community using pictures of the post office, hospital, train station, etc. on the board as well as using prepositions like over, under, between, next to in the direction cards. There are many curricular possibilities. Go to Twitter and do a search for Bee-bot for further inspiration! I would love to hear what other Coding activities you do for primary students as well. Thanks so much for stopping by. 😁

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Final Reflection on Digital and Media Literacy Class

     Digital and Media Literacy been an invaluable course for me. Talented people whom I deeply respect urged me to skip formal tech classes, believing that issues in the ed tech world are changing constantly and anything can be learned online. But I have benefited immensely from the curation of timely materials, the feedback and professional guidance, and the discourse from my fellow students in the education field. It has felt quite luxurious to learn something one moment and apply it in a practical way the next, over and over. 

     I’m walking away feeling very motivated to argue for equal emphasis and attention to the newer digital literacies. I have a better understanding for the need to balance traditional ways of reading and writing in the primary grades with the new ways of doing these things digitally. I find myself more frequently paging through the assortment of tech standards out there and using them to build my lessons and Professional Development. I see the value to beginning a PD session with a discussion of an Essential Question and I will endeavor to provide multiple, reoccurring PD sessions which give teachers a chance to not only try out a new tech skill immediately but also a supported period of implementing it in the classroom and then coming back to share learning and student examples with colleagues. 

     I tried the Chatterbox app on a classmate’s recommendation and found that to be even more expressive than Chatterpix. My next tool to try must be Realtime Board! We would like to do more around student collaboration at my school, and this tool should work well with that aim. I was at the ICE Conference the other week, attending a Smartboard Amp presentation, and realized that Realtime Board could do many of the same things for free! I would also like to do an infographic project with the 3rd or 4th grade, it could really cover a host of digital literacy skills. Finally, I feel that Sploder would be a good extension activity for my coding club, I would just like to become a little more proficient at it myself, first!

     There are at least two things I would like to learn in the future. One is how to participate in the Maker Movement, including how to use a 3D printer. I should start by purchasing a MaKey MaKey kit since it was featured on the cover of the most recent government tech report no less! I also want to learn how to offer online PD sessions, which might be a good fit for some follow up tech PD sessions in my district. I think our class model is a good start—the succinct, friendly video, some resources posted below, and perhaps an interactive piece like EdPuzzle and/or a threaded discussion. Experimenting with this model with a tech specialist colleague could be a good next step!