Certification Program Redesign: Needs Assessment

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One of the biggest takeaways from my time in the Digital Education Leadership program through Seattle Pacific University is that teachers are students, too. When diving into effective mentoring and professional development, some of the most successful strategies are those that are also used in the classroom. Many back-to-school workshops remind teachers to get to know their students and provide differentiation in every learning experience. In other words, providing learners (adults included) with a pre-assessment (formal or informal) to determine where they are in order to reach where they need to be.

Edutopia has a great article and video that touches on the importance of assessment before learning even begins:

In an earlier post, I wrote about my journey in reviewing and redesigning a university’s Library Media Endorsement (LME) certification program. Here, I continue that work by drafting a Needs Assessment survey for potential students. As I mentioned in my last post, the program is not yet finalized, so I am omitting the name of the institution and it will henceforth be identified as “University.”

Before writing the Needs Assessment survey, I did a bit of background research, attempting to see how other schools have assessed their incoming … Read More

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Reflections of a Peer Coach

Peer Coach Straightening

While the entire Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University is designed to be a hands-on experience which embeds learning opportunities into students’ current workplace, this course, in particular, provided students with a meaningful opportunity to practice our newfound skills in a professional environment. Under the tutelage of Dr. David Wicks, Associate Professor and Chair of the Digital Education Leadership program and Dr. Les Foltos, Director of Educational Innovation at Peer-Ed and author of Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration, students were trained as peer coaches and we worked with a collaborating teacher from our respective schools. I chronicled that learned and the skills I obtained in posts throughout the quarter and now, as this course comes to a close, I’m reflecting on the work that was done and thinking about how to sustain my skills as a peer coach in the future.

The importance of peer coaching practice in schools became evident to me very quickly into the quarter. Teachers that are supported create students that are successful. Well-renowned researchers of teaching methods and staff development, Bruce Joyce and Beverly Showers, have found that teachers that have been coached generally demonstrate the following:

  • Practiced
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My Ideal Learning Environment

With all the challenges educators face, it can be easy to get lost in the frustrations and road blocks. While those barriers are very real and deserve attention, our hopes and aspirations also deserve consideration. Have you pictured your ideal learning environment lately? I have. And it’s reinvigorating me.

Ideal

My ideal learning environment is one where students:

  • Guide their own learning by asking questions and following curiosities.
  • Explore ideas that pique their interest, thereby formulating their own units of study.
  • Work collaboratively with others both inside and outside of the classroom in an effort to pursue those interests.
  • Are encouraged to move freely while still understanding the importance of coming back together and being respectful to others.
  • Trust their own instincts and grow into responsible “decision-making” and “self-reliant” learners (Saxena, 2013).
  • Have access to the world, in whatever form that makes sense in that time and place.
  • Learn from one another.

My ideal learning environment is one where teachers:

  • Feel comfortable in stepping down from the stage and allow students to see that they don’t know everything, but they are interested in learning alongside their students.
  • Have ample opportunities for asking questions and taking risks while feeling supported and
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Un-rollout to Fix Problems With Technology?

Photo Credit: Brad Flickinger
Photo Credit: Brad Flickinger

Since the rollout of a 1-to-1 laptop program in the fall of 2014 with a school I’m consulting with, there has been very little continuity between the classes. Both teachers and students are so focused on learning the technology that they get lost in the purpose of the device in front of them; to enhance what was already happening in the classroom. I thought by implementing Google Apps for Education, I could solve the problem. Bring all the teachers together. The platform isn’t the problem. The device isn’t the problem. The problem is the preparedness and speed in which the rollout took place. Teachers were given laptops to “play with” for a year before they were put in the hands of students. This experimental time didn’t come with robust professional development opportunities, dedicated mentorship sessions, or even a simple instruction manual. Teachers were expected, much like the students, to “figure it out.” Society claims that our students are “digital natives,” (my argument against that statement needs to be saved for another time) but if we hand over devices to all of the faculty without any support, we must expect them to be natives to the … Read More

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A Critical Look at GAFE

I met with one of my colleagues this week and mentioned my plans to formulate an action plan to implement Google Apps for Education (GAFE) at a school I’m working with. She listened intently, but then quietly said, “I don’t think it’s a great idea for students to only use one platform, isn’t that what happens when you jump on the Google Apps for Education bandwagon?” I left that conversation wondering: Is there a right answer? Don’t all choices come with challenges and successes? How does a school make implementation decisions with all of these things in mind?

As I move forward in my examination of GAFE,  a suite of productivity applications that Google offers free to schools, I am going to look at the pros and cons and how those nuances might play a role in the adoption of this learning tool. With that being said, this is not a review of GAFE, it’s not a comparative list between GAFE and Microsoft. It’s a question of whether or not this specific tool can meet the specific needs of my faculty and students. In his article, Computer Criticism vs. Technocentric Thinking, Seymour Papert argues that when evaluating a new … Read More

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Taking a Step Backward

Earlier this week I wrote of my desire to implement the use of Google Apps for Education (GAFE) in a school I’ve partnered with. As I feverishly typed out my goal of changing the school’s tech climate, I quickly found myself slamming on the brakes and furrowing my brow. I know that I desperately want to be a GAFE school, but I’m not able to article the reasons why. What challenges is the school currently facing that could be solved with the implementation of these tools? What is the pedagogical- and content-driven reasons behind my rationale? And most importantly, why GAFE?

gafe-e1433470938578While I’m still in the process of wrestling with those ideas, my (wildly supportive) classmates and professors gave me a great deal of thought-provoking feedback throughout the week. Annie Tremonte, one of my classmates suggested using this blog post as a platform to flush out my ideas and reflect on the feedback I was provided from others. This format is very foreign for me and I encourage you to continue to provide me your additional thoughts and reactions, allowing me to continue to grow my ideas in a very transparent way.

Reflections on the Feedback

“While focusing on Read More

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Answering the “Why” Before the “How”

Last semester I examined the ISTE Teacher Standards through the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University. This semester I will start my exploration of the ISTE Coaching Standards, paying particular attention to the third standard, Digital Age Learning Environments. As I analyze various resources in the coming weeks, I will be viewing them from the lens of how to formulate an action plan to implement Google Apps for Education (GAFE) in a school I’m consulting with. As it stands, the school I’m examining currently employs a rather disjointed collection of tools to complete any number of tasks; Blackboard for grading, Edmodo for posting assignments, Outlook email for submitting work, LibGuides for content curation, Padlet for collaborating, the list goes on.

Tech Balance

While all of these tools serve an excellent purpose, how are they working together to create a well-rounded, transformative experience for our students? Tech coach, Josiah Hodgett from the Shell Lake School District writes, “GAFE is a technology tool that can help you to both inform and instruct. Coming from a theory like TPACK [Technological, Pedagogical, Content Knowledge] – it’s time to look at the interplay of Tech – Pedagogy – Content and determine how they … Read More

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ISTE Teacher Standard 5: Create Individualized Opportunities for Professional Development

In my final week of exploring the ISTE Teacher Standards through the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University, I examine the fifth standard: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership. In an effort to move into a coaching and mentorship role, I reflected on the following question: “How can teachers continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources?”

Keep Educating Yourself (1)

I work at a private school where many of the teachers are not formal educators; they come to the school with a strong background in the school’s cultural and religious beliefs, but not in classroom teaching. I have noticed that many of them do not pursue professional development opportunities that could help them advance their skills in classroom management, assessment, or effective teaching. Blogger and widely respected technology integration specialist, Vicki Davis states, “Professional development is a vital part of improving your technique as a teacher. Learning best practices and practicing best practices are both important. You can make a school better by improving its teachers. Effective [professional development] can do that” (2015). With this in the forefront … Read More

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ISTE Teacher Standard 4: Roll Out a Successful 1:1 Program Through Phases

This week I explore the fourth ISTE Teacher Standard: Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility through the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University and I examine how I can implement the following question into my own practice: “How can teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices?”

My school recently revisited our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) after not having revised it in over two years. We found several discrepancies and have noted that several parents, while they signed the document, still had an array of questions about the one-to-one laptop program and what the laptops should (and shouldn’t) be used for both on and off campus. With this in mind, the school’s Tech Task Force debated the idea of requiring students and parents to attend an orientation in addition to just signing the AUP. I reviewed the policies and procedures of several other schools in an effort to find what works best for the majority. It seems, there is no majority. All schools approach this issue differently, with varying levels of success. What works for one school, doesn’t work for the … Read More

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ISTE 6: Are Basic Computer Skills Still Important?

Photo Credit: OpenClips via Pixabay
Photo Credit: OpenClips via Pixabay

The end of the quarter at Seattle Pacific University is quickly coming to a close, as is my adventure diving into the ISTE Student Standards. If this is your first time visiting my blog, I encourage you to check out my explorations of standards 1, 2, 3, and 4. This week, I will be digging into ISTE Student Standard 6, attempting to answer the question, “How can students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations?” You might notice that I have failed to include standard 5, this standard addresses Digital Citizenship issues. The students in the Digital Education Leadership program have examined this standard at length through our Group and Individual Projects, I invite you to check those out!

I recently attended an EdCamp (if you’re unfamiliar with the term, this video is a must) where I met with several librarians who were talking about the need for basic computer skill instruction. After much discussion and reflecting on the standard for this week, I was left asking myself the following question:

How can the library play a central role in facilitating a scope and sequence of computer Read More

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