Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ed Tech Teacher Summit Boston 2014

Sabba & I before our presentation
I had the pleasure to attend and present at the +EdTechTeacher Summit in Boston November 12-14. On the first day I co-presented with +Sabba Quidwai. The title of our session was iPads in the Elementary Classroom. It was a a full day hands on workshop. We covered many applications during the session, the most popular app, not only in our session, but during the entire conference was Book Creator. While this app cost $6.49, every presenter at the conference agreed it was well worth the money. If you have an iPad classroom you should check it out. There is a free version so that you can preview the app.
Even though we had a lot to cover I think one of the most beneficial parts of our session was when we broke up into groups and everyone was able to share what is working and not working in their own districts. There is something very powerful about being able to tell your own story.

Teachers from all over sharing their stories. 

During the session Sabba and I ran a back channel chat (we used Today's Meet) and we were able to connect with one teacher in particular who was very frustrated by what we were doing. He felt that he could not use the apps we were going over with his students because he did not know them well enough himself. I told him not worry about that. He and his students could learn together. There is no harm in doing that, no matter what the age of the students. I told him the teacher can also be the learner and the teacher is no longer the "sage on the stage" in a 1:1 classroom. It took him awhile to absorb everything, but he seemed to be more comfortable by the time the session was over at 3:30 pm. Thanks to Sabba for such a wonderful experience presenting! If you don't follow her on Twitter you should @askMsQ.

On the 2nd day +Jordan Garrett (@jg_jgarrett) and I presented Bringing PLCs to Life with Google +. This was my first time presenting in front of a large audience of educators that I didn't know. I tried not to think about that fact too much. Our presentation was about using Google + as a communication platform in our district. We chose Google + because we are a GAFE district, meaning all staff has access to Google + Communities. We chose this platform because it is searchable (through the use of keywords and hashtags) and archivable. We have 2 communities. The first one is called The Toolbox.
The Toolbox is a place where staff members can
1. share resources
2. post questions

The resources come in lots of forms:
1. links to favorite apps
2. tutorials
3. curricular ideas.

The posting of questions has taken some stress off of our tech department. Teachers are able to pose questions and get answers in a timely fashion instead of putting in help desk tickets to our tech department. The tech department has also posted tech alerts and tips in The Toolbox. We made The Toolbox private to our domain since there is paid subscription information in it. We also wanted teachers to feel safe to post questions to their colleagues instead of to the entire world.
The second community that we created is called The Fridge. Our superintendent, +Stan Fields , came up with that name. It is a digital repository to post students' finished products, just like you used to post student work on the refrigerator at home. Our students have created some outstanding projects over the last 3 years that we have been 100% 1:1. The projects would just die on their laptop or their teacher's laptop. We wanted our students to know that they have an audience, a wide ranging audience. We are slowing building up the number of projects stored there. Our students are doing great things and we want the world to know about it!

Friday, October 10, 2014

2 Guys Visit South Berwyn

The students and staff of +South Berwyn 100 will benefit greatly from having +Drew Minock and +Brad Waid come and train us on the use of +DAQRI Education 4D Studio. 4D Studio is an augmented reality platform that is far superior to those that are out there. I think it is better than Layer and Aurasma both!

Drew and Brad arrived in Berwyn on Thursday morning. We toured 1 elementary school and 1 middle school. We are well known for our site visits. +South Berwyn 100  has hosted over 600 people from 10 states over the last 3 years. They come to see our 1:1 program in action. Seeing is believing. We saw an iPad classroom, robotics club, Makey Makey, 6th grade language arts and math Macbook classes. Next we went to a planning meeting for our +iEngage Berwyn 2 day Ed Tech conference on May 8-9, 2015. It was great to have input from Brad and Drew. They have been to many national conferences. Brad and Drew along with +Kevin Honeycutt and JohnAntonetti will be featured at the conference. Brad's and Drew's input was invaluable. After that +Shannon Soger and I did the 2 Guys Show live with Brad and Drew. 

During the show we talked about what it takes to have an effective 1:1 program, the power of social media and planning an ed tech conference.  It was so much fun to talk about 2 of my favorite things, social media and the great things we are doing in our district. I love my job! It was so much fun doing the show. I hope you can find some time to watch it. 

On Friday Brad and Drew trained our staff on DAQRI 4D Studio augmented reality platform. Teachers were given release time to attend a half day session to learn how to use 4D Studio and begin to create triggers. We were able to work in our new district professional development room. It is an awesome space for teaching and learning. The first step was to have the team members apply for a free 4D Studio edu license.  Brad and Drew demonstrated many of the pre-made DAQRI products,  Anatomy 4D, Enchantium and Elements 4D. They had us hooked. We saw the power that augmented reality could have in our classrooms. Augmented reality is fun and it brings things into the classroom that we could not bring in on our own. Similar to the way Skype or Google Hangouts bring experts into your classroom. Elements 4D enables the user to interact with 36 naturally occurring elements. The user can see what chemicals like, mercury, look like on their own, or what the chemical reaction would be if any of the elements were combined. Using the app is sure to bring oohh's and aahh's to any classroom! Next we dove into 4D Studio. Drew and Brad showed us how to use all the bells and whistles that go with 4D Studio. You can find 4D video tutorials here. The best part was that teachers were given time to play and build triggers to use in their classrooms before they left. Teachers are working now to create projects with their students. Primarily lower elementary teachers are creating experiences for their students to use in class on the iOS devices and upper elementary and middle school teachers are having their students create their own experiences to share with classmates. We hope to have some triggers ready to publish soon. 

It was a great experience for everyone involved and we look forward to the return of Brad and Drew so that we can show them what teachers and students in our district have created. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

They Will Remember How You Made Them Feel

Today's Big Time Literacy Blog Challenge (#BTBC14) is supposed to be to tell a story about a memorable student.

I was a fourth grade classroom teacher for seven years. During that time I had approximately 190 students, plus all the students that came to me for science, reading and math when we had a departmental model. I can't say that I remember each and every one of them without looking at a class composite. They all gave me something. I never met a kid I didn't like (I never understand when teachers say they hate a kid - I've been very frustrated by my students, but I don't think I ever said I hated any of them). I hope I gave them something too. I am very lucky to teach in a district that hires many of its alumni and community members. I currently work with six former students. Two of them are currently in administrative roles. Not all of them are teachers. Two of them are in our custodial and maintenance department. I see most of them on a regular basis. Most of the time when I look at them I see the student that they were, but I am so proud of the adult they have become. I know it is not all because of me. They had great parents and came from great families with a strong support system in place. As a young teacher I always envied the my colleagues who had students come back to visit them. Usually that was from an exiting grade, either fifth or eighth grades in our district. I am so happy that I see some of my former students on a regular basis and they keep me updated on some of the others that they still talk to on a regular basis. I am honored to call them colleagues! When we have site visits I am always quick to point out to our visitors my former students and those staff members that are D100 alumni.

One of the proudest moments of my career was being recognized at our January Institute day by one of my former students +Bill Jacklin , who is now a PE teacher in our district. He gave a speech in front of the whole district about how +Jane Monaco and I impacted his life. He told a funny story about when he was a student. At the 8:30 mark in this video Bill starts his speech. You can see in the video that I am wiping away tears. I was so touched to be honored by Bill. +Zach Pros , the boy the man, on the far right in the picture above is also a former student. We were presented with flowers and a plaque.

I have this plaque hanging in my office to remind me that every day I have an impact on the lives of the children of South Berwyn, and that I should make all my interactions positive ones. Your students may not remember what you taught them, but they will remember how you made them feel. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

I bleed Cubbie blue

Since we have no vacation plans for this summer because we went to England for 12 days last summer I will blog about yesterday's topic - Which team do you cheer for? I am what we call here in Chicago a Die Hard Cub Fan. It is really a blessing and a curse. I remember as a kid, my mom would be folding clothes in front of the television when I would come home from school. She would be watching the Cubs' game. Cubs' games always started at 1:20 pm. She would throw a ball of socks at the television when they made a bad play. I don't remember going to my first game, like some people do. I do remember going to games as a kid. It was always a lot of fun. We usually went on a bus with a lot of friends from our town. I went to games with friends as a teenager. Bill Buckner was my favorite player in the 1970's. I met him at my little league banquet when I was about 9 or 10 years old.

I spent my 21st birthday at Wrigley Field with friends. We had a very good time sitting in the bleachers. I went on my first date with my husband to a Cub's game in June 1990. We got engaged at a Cub's game almost 1 year later, May of 1991.  The funny thing about that day was that I had had such a rotten day at school that I was crabby and picked a fight with him. We did not have cell phones and the plan was already in motion. Our friends were sitting in right-center field and we were in upper deck box seats. In the middle of the third inning they held up a huge banner that said. "MONA WILL YOU MARRY ME? MIKE" Of course I said yes. We went to a Cubs game the day after our wedding with some friends from out of town. We have been to Milwaukee, St. Louis, Phoenix, and Houston to see them play. We have also been to Spring Training several times. Now we make a trip to Wrigley Field a few times per season with our sons despite the fact that team has not won a World Series in 106 years (it's safe to say they won't win this year either). I love the Cubs!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

What makes a good 1:1 wireless device program

So the goal of the BigTime Literacy Blogger Challenge (#BTBC14) is to write everyday. This is truly a challenge for me. It is the 5th day of The Challenge and only my 2nd time writing. I have good intentions of writing on a daily basis. Being a mother of 2, who works 2 jobs is a challenge everyday. I have never seen myself as a strong writer. I was a strong speller but not very good with grammar when I was in school. But I'm thankful to +Michelle Brezek for The Challenge!

I was honored this past week to be asked to tell District 100's story of our 1:1 journey to a district in Springfield, Ohio. I spoke with them for about 55 minutes over the phone, but I could have gone on for at least another hour. I started the conversation with visionary leadership. Which is necessary for any successful 1:1 program. Ours started, in part, with a definable, measurable goal crafted by our Superintendent Dr.  +Stan Fields and endorsed by our school board. Berwyn South School District 100 will rank within the top 25% of districts in the State of Illinois as evidenced by state testing. It is posted all over the district and every staff member can tell you our vision statement. When we started the 1:1 program we also saw it as a chance to improve and redefine teaching and learning for all of our students. At about the same time we also implemented full day kindergarten, use of the co-teaching model for instruction, got rid or all of our desks and bought tables for more collaboration and group work, overhauled our lunch program, started a fitness based PE program in the middle schools using Fitnessgram, invested in eChalk as our LMS, hosted parent universities to get more parent involvement, just to name a few. 

The biggest change was bringing in the laptops for instruction. Infrastructure is huge when starting a 1:1 program. We had some growing pains, but due to the quick work of our tech department this was easily rectified. To me the second most important part of a successful 1:1 program is good professional development. In District 100 we have made a very conscious effort to have targeted, differentiated professional development sessions. We started at our spring 2012 institute day and have been doing it ever since. We went 100% 1:1 in fall of 2012. If you are interested here is a look at our District Professional Development Page.  Check out the Summer 2014 Brochure. There is a little something for everyone, reading, math, science, social studies, PE, tech, art, music. This year in our summer PD we have even gone farther by differentiating within the session as well. Some of our sessions this summer follow the flipped model so that all the attendees get the most out of their experience and the teacher leader(s) can facilitate the sessions better. On the call I also discussed how we rolled out the program. We started with 1 elementary teacher +Shannon Soger and a team at the middle school. Others who wanted to have 1:1 in their classrooms either had to meet with or write up a proposal telling their building principal why 1:1 would work in their classroom. Those who spoke the loudest were rewarded with computers in their classroom. These were just a few of the things I talked about on the conference call. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Taking on the Blogging Challenge

+Michelle Brezek of Big Time Literacy has challenged all the bloggers in my district to blog daily in the month of July. You can check out the details here. I think this is such a great idea. She did a professional development session yesterday. She helped 10 staff members create 7 new blogs for our district. We have such great stories to tell in South Berwyn. This is very exciting! Writing on a daily basis will be a challenge for me, but I love a good challenge.

For the Challenge, Michelle has provided some prompts in case we don't know what to write about. I missed yesterday's but I have already covered that topic in this blog. The prompt was, "Tell us what brings you to your new blog! ". Today's prompt is, "How long and in what capacities have you been in education? "

I started in 1990 as a reading and math Title 1 teacher. I provided small group instruction for those needing a boost in reading and math. This was a teaching assistant position. When I started there were not a lot of teaching jobs available in my area. The following year I was a teaching assistant in an intermediate cross categorical classroom. The students in this classroom had learning disabilities. I had finally finished paying my dues. My third year I was a first grade teacher. I took over for a teacher who was on medical leave. First grade was not really my strong suite. I was not that great with the younger students, but again I looked at it as a challenge and I needed a job. My fourth year I changed buildings and moved to fourth grade. I was finally in a grade that suited me perfectly! I believe every teacher has their perfect grade. I stayed in that position for 7 years. I really liked teaching fourth grade, but after having two children I felt it was time to leave the classroom and go into a support role. In 2000 I became the computer teacher. I should have started a blog then. If I knew then what I know now, right? I enjoyed that role immensely. I traveled between two buildings but that didn't seem to matter at all, in fact I really liked being a traveling teacher. As our district moved to the 1:1 model my position in the computer lab was no longer working. I saw the writing on the wall, soon my position would no longer exist. I moved into the role of instructional coach where I am now. It is the perfect blend of tech, kids and curriculum for me!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Making an iBook with 3rd graders

I am so excited to be blogging about the iBook, Berwyn City of Homes and Progress, published by a 3rd grade class that I worked with this year. It is very thrilling for them as a class and for us as a school district to have a student created iBook published. The teacher +Scott Lovero reached out to me via email to ask me if I would help his class create an iBook that told a little something about the history of our city, Berwyn, Illinois. I jumped at the chance to work with Scott because he is very dynamic. He does some very interesting projects with his students. We set up a time for me to observe his class. I quickly realized that I liked his teaching style and the way he interacted with his students. He has a very small class of 12 bilingual students. The purpose of the project was two fold. The first was for students to share their knowledge about the City of Berwyn, with Prep B, a class they have been blogging with from Australia. The second was to help teach Prep B a bit of Spanish. This partnership between the two classrooms was set up by the Marzano Research Laboratory. You can read the blog posts between the two classes here.

3L student working on the railroad chapter
After I observed the class and read the blog posts we were ready to go. The students brainstormed things that they would like to include in the iBook. We wrote them all on chart paper and then negotiated the list down to six topics. The final list looked like this: schools, the railroad, the government, homes (since it is in our city slogan), heroes, and parks. The students were put in pairs to work on the 6 chapters of the book. The students used the Internet and interviews with their teachers Mr. Lovero (an almost life long resident) and me (I've been going to school and working in town for 32 years) for their research. Much of the text is pretty straight forward and factual. The short chapter on the BNSF Railroad and how it played into the growth of Berwyn was the most difficult for these ESL students. I had to take that group back to a time with no television, cell phones or computers. I had to paint the picture of what it would be like to ride a horse into Chicago everyday for work and how that would differ from riding on a train. Once we had our copy ready we set about the task of putting the book together. Using the computer to do research and writing the text is substitution on the ladder of the SAMR model. The basic iBook acts as a substitute for a regular book. I showed the class the basics of typing their work and inserting pictures. Next we moved the project up to the next level on the SAMR ladder by creating the glossary with the English and Spanish definitions to words that students picked out from the text they had written. This is an example of augmentation. The pop up glossary is a functional improvement to the book, easily allowing students access to the definitions of the words in English and Spanish. We steered them towards choosing cognates (a word having the same linguistic derivation as another; from the same original word or root), basically a word that is pronounced very similarly in English and in Spanish. For instance, they chose, train/tren, residents/residentes just to name a few. Mr. Lovero's brother is Robert Lovero the mayor of our fine city, so he was able to make the introduction media. The Mayor did a great job speaking to the kids at Prep B. In the Introduction Video to the iBook Mayor Lovero talks about many of the characteristics that makes Berwyn unique and invites the students of Prep B to come visit someday. Including the video is an example of modification. It allows for significant redesign of the task. The iBook is now a multimedia, touch enabled book that combines text, pictures, a pop up glossary and video. All in one place, all accessible on an iPad, and now with Maverick OS X (10.9) available on a Macbook, as well. Finally after much editing, reviewing and rereading we were ready to share the book with our friends on the other side of the world. The combination of the digital format of the iBook and the real time blogging relationship of the 2 classrooms make the sharing of this iBook redefinition! We were able to bring the Honorable Robert J. Lovero to the kids of Prep B, at Aitken Creek Primary School in Australia.

This was the most challenging and rewarding part of the project for me. At the time, our district's iBooks account was not up and running. We were also debating what we wanted our iBooks Store to look like. We were sure we didn't want to just upload every student created book that was produced. I started to do some research and found Bookry. Their main focus is widgets for iBooks, but they also have a their own iBooks Store. I created an account, and uploaded 2 iBooks to the account. A test book was downloaded onto an iPad with no problems. One of my colleagues told me that it was too good to be true. Multimedia books take up a lot of bandwith. How is it possible that there is no fee for the service and no advertising on the site? I uploaded the Berwyn iBook and we found out. The site is very clitchy. A few helpers and I were unable to download the Berwyn iBook onto our iPads, no matter what we tried. At the time we were not upgraded to Maverick OS, so testing it on the laptop was not a possibility. Finally, our iBooks account was ready so I submitted the book. It took about two weeks for it to be reviewed and approved. It knew that it would be because all of the text was original, and the pictures and video were taken by Scott and his lovely wife +Lisa-Beth Lovero. The book still exists in Bookry iBooks store and in the Apple iBooks/iTunes store. It was shared with Prep B on the blog and they learned a lot about Berwyn, IL.

ISTE Standards for Students covered in this project:

1a. apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes.
1b. create original works as a means of personal or group expression.
2a. interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.
2c. develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures.
2d. contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems.
3b. locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.
5a. advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.

Common Core State Standards used:

Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension.

Develop the topic with facts, definitions and details.

With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboard skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others. 

Reviewing the pictures to be used in the iBook

Twitter - @rmbtowner_tech

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Moving out of your Comfort Zone - Inspiration from Pat Torrey

I had the pleasure of seeing Pat Torrey speak, at the NOW (National Ourteach von Willebrand) Conference. What he had to say to us directly relates to my job as an instructional coach. He talked about perceived risk vs actual risk. We had to do an exercise using mouse traps. Some people perceive mouse traps to be painful and dangerous. After all they were designed to kill mice, BUT if handled properly they pose no threat. Pat showed us how to set the trap properly.

I have to admit I have never set a mouse trap before, and there is a certain finesse to it. I was slow and steady, but I had too much tension on the hold down bar when I tried to set it, so I could not get the hammer to sit just right. It was the fear of it snapping on my fingers. I was actually sweating, and we had not even begun the actual exercise. My 17 y/o son was sitting next to me. He was very patient with me. I finally set the trap and laid it on the palm of my left hand. Our task was to put our other hand flat on top of the entire trap (much the way you keep your palm flat when you feed a horse). Then we were instructed to lift our hand straight up to release the trap without getting pinched. I consider myself a risk taker and I had my 17 y/o son watching me, so I quickly put my right palm flat on top of the trap. That was the easy part. Then I froze. I was afraid to lift my hand off the trap. This was definitely outside my comfort zone. I was afraid that the trap would close on my hand. OUCH! I quickly realized that I could not sit like this all day and would have to lift my hand up regardless of the consequences. It would only hurt for a short time, right? I took a deep breath and lifted my hand straight up as fast as I could. The trap popped off my hand and onto the table. I was unscathed! I let out a huge sigh of relief.

I see that some teachers perceive the risk of trying new ideas, apps and procedures with their devices as greater than the benefits that they will gain. They do only what they need to do to get by. Our perception of a situation rules how we proceed. Fear of what is around the corner, the unknown holds us back. We can't let that happen on a regular basis. Our comfort zone is where we operate from the majority of the time, but real growth can not take place unless we leave this zone. We must move into the growth zone every once in a while, in order for real change to occur in our teaching and in our lives. This move increases our stress level. I have to remember that when I work with teachers. This means I have to push a little bit. It also means that I have to make sure that I support the teachers enough to cut down on the amount of perceived risk. This can involve one or more of the following: supportive conversations, goal setting, pros and cons lists, screencasts, modeling and team teaching.

I had a few different emotions from the time I put my hand down on the trap till the time the trap flopped on the table. I embraced those feelings. I am a person who can safely work a mouse trap! I need to remind the teachers I work with to embrace those feelings that they have when they are in the growth zone. They should reflect on the experience as a whole, note how they felt and what it took to grow and change.

Before this exercise I used to think that people were either risk takers or not, but now I understand that is all about how you perceive risk. The risk taking is definitely situational.

Where have you held back because of fear? Are you willing to leave your comfort zone?

Friday, February 28, 2014

Life in 1st Grade - iPods - Making Use of What You Have

The months of December and January were spent in a 1st grade and 3rd grade classroom. I was in 1st grade in the morning and 3rd grade in the afternoon. The 1st grade classroom is a co-taught class with 2 young teachers who are very willing to be reflective and improve their teaching practice. They were ready for new ideas.

After meeting with the team we decided that they needed help with math centers, and they wanted to use their iPods more. They had approx 13 iPods sitting in a cart that they were not using. The iPods were 4th gen. iPod Touches, and could only be updated to iOS 6.1.5. I started by updating the iOS and investigating what apps would be compatible. I used APPitic. There are quite a few app review sites, but this has become my favorite. The site was especially useful because it tells you what device(s) will support the particular app. Next I double checked the iTunes description just to make sure. I picked a mix of free and paid apps. I loaded approx 8 apps onto the iPod Touches.
Next I suggested using QR codes because they wanted something that their students could do independently during math centers. I loaded a free QR code reader app. I grabbed a free QR code addition packet from Teacher Pay Teachers. It was created by one of my co-workers, Amanda Zanchelli (Learning to the Core blog). I was able to show the 1st grade team how easy it was, and how much the kiddos liked doing it. QR codes are great because you can give kids the ability to move around the room if you like. Next, I made a scavenger hunt of my own, and showed them how to do it. They picked it up right away, and the next time I came to the room the kids were working on a QR code math scavenger hunt made by their teachers.  I provided the teachers with some resources and off they went. I was so happy to see that. They have really expanded on the idea by making QR code Valentine's movies . They posted these on their class webpage and the kids are able to listen to them during center time using QR codes. The students really like listening to each other on the iPods! These teachers also shared their new found expertise with the rest of the members of the 1st grade team.
This link will provide you with more info on how to use QR codes in the classroom, this blog post will walk you through how to set up a QR code lesson for book trailers.

Using QR codes in math centers
QR Valentine messages from all 1st graders
The next thing they wanted to accomplish was something to improve their reading centers, and another way to utilize the iPod Touches. I suggested that we do a project that would be Above the Line. Thanks to Shannon Soger (iTeach Above the Line Blog) for the inspiration on this project. In the end students read books at their reading level, and shared them with their classmates on the iPod Touches. First, the teachers allowed the children to pick books on their level. We call those "just right books". They practiced reading their books at home and to a partner, so that they would know them well. Next each child used Photobooth to take a picture of their cover and all the pages. I taught them to go to Edit - Auto Flip New Items when taking pictures of the illustrations in the books. This way the pictures won't be backwards. Then they read their book into iMovie. They did not have to look at the camera because we dropped the pictures over the words in the form of a cutaway, in iMovie. Each student got to design their own introduction by choosing a background, writing their book title and their name and finally adding music. I exported to movies to the desktop, and then saved them on my flash drive. Next I put the movies into iTunes on my computer. Finally, I sync'ed the iTunes with the iPod Touches. Now the students can click on video on the iPod touches and listen to each other read their books. Click on this link to watch a screencast of the process. 
Taking pictures of our books
Recording our words in iMovie

Friday, January 31, 2014

My 10 Best Skills

I have been asked by my supervisor to list my 10 best work related skills. I've thought about this for a couple of weeks now. This is a very hard exercise for me because I just do what I do and I don't really reflect on my strengths very often. But I'm very hard on myself when it comes to my weaknesses.
I am not going to number these because they are in no particular order.

*Teaching myself new initiatives and applications

*Producing (school district accts & personal accts) and consuming (personal accts) information for/from social media and my PLN

*I am able to tell the Kind Truth (Lencioni)

*Configuring iPads from box to classroom on our local network, including buying apps and using a 3rd party management tool for distributing apps.

*Working with reluctant adopters and those stuck on one of the lower levels of the SAMR model in order to move them Above the Line.

*Presenting professional development sessions for my district

*Troubleshooting computer and network issues

*I'm the fun one!

*Most things Google and being the Google admin for the district

*I'm flexible and tolerant of all viewpoints

*Creating tip sheets and screencast tutorials to support students, teachers and staff

I know, that's 11! I guess I have more skills than I thought! Who knew?!

This exercise was inspired by Kevin Honeycutt and his video Launch Me Tips From The Road.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Working with Reluctant Adopters

It has been two months since I have written a post. I have been busy, with all the different hats that I wear in my district that, I kept putting off blogging. Today while I was cleaning out my inbox I came across this blog post by Richard M. Byrne @ Free Technology for Teachers , Three Responses to "But I Don't Have Time to Blog". The post is from July, by the way. Which is also a reminder that I need to get more organized.

Anyway, much has gone on since the beginning of November. For the month of November I worked in a middle school science room.  At first this was a challenge for me as a coach, because I don't consider myself a middle school person. I prefer upper elementary. The teacher that I am working with has been reluctant to adopt the technology provided by our district. She was doing the bare minimum as far as technology is concerned. She uses the dropbox that comes along with the LMS that our district uses. I was asked by the principal to coach her and support her in adopting more technology in her classroom. She has the qualities that are needed by a good science teacher. She has the passion, knowledge, and skill to teach it.

I started the month by just observing the class. One of the goals of the Instructional Coaches in our district is to get teachers teaching Above the Line. When I observe teachers I have a copy of Puentedura's SAMR model open on my computer. In one column I note the lesson that the teacher is teaching, and in the other column I make suggestions as to how the teacher can move up the ladder of the SAMR model. For some it is starting with substitution for others it is moving above the line to modification or redefinition. I love this tweet from my favorite Apple Education Trainer Dan Schmit @dschmit - "SAMR describes an evolution. Subst. is a massive first step for most. Don't denigrate it. Honor the effort and build on it." It reminds me that everyone has to start somewhere.
I like to ask all the teachers that I work with questions when we first get started. I ask, What are your professional goals?, What would you like to get out of this? and What do you expect from me? In this case one of the answers that I was able to focus on immediately was, "I would like to use Google Drive more." My mind immediately went to using Doctopus the Google Apps document sharing script. The teacher was doing very little even in the way of substitution so suggesting Doctopus was a bit of a stretch. I would consider Doctopus augmentation on the SAMR scale, meaning that it gives improvement to the task process that could not be accomplished with older technology at a fundamental level. After we discussed what Doctopus is and how it could be used in her classroom I asked her to just think about it overnight. When we met again I asked her if she was reflective in her teaching and open to taking some risks. She said yes. I feel that this is very important when I am working with teachers. My job is to support them as they move outside their comfort zone. This is one of the ways we grow as teachers. I also want them to be reflective about what they did so that they can identify where they have been and where they are going. I suggest that they keep a journal.

As we moved forward with the lesson I did a lot of modeling and team teaching. I introduced the lab to the students. I explained how it worked and how it would benefit them and their teacher. One huge benefit was that in the month of November we saved approximately 900 sheets of paper using Doctopus.  Another benefit was that the class was less teacher centered. It was difficult for me to not do a lot of the work for her. I just wanted to set up the spreadsheets in Google Drive, so that they would be done, but I knew that I could not do that because she would have to do it solo when I left.
At one point we noticed that some students were not filling in the answers on one of the shared documents. She and I discussed the possible reasons which included: kids not understanding the way the sharing script works, the fact that they needed to be more independent in finishing their work, or they did not understand the assignment. She came to the conclusion that it was because they were having a hard time being more independent, and remarked that she needed to be less of a control freak and let them make mistakes. I thought this was a very revealing and reflective statement on her part.
The first lab we did with the Doctopus script went well. There were a few hiccups because we both missed mistakes in the email addresses on the master roster. Correct email address are crucial to the process (I will give more information on the Doctopus process below). The first lab lasted about two weeks. We began a second lab. Because I had other district duties that I had to take care of I was not able to be around for two days during the second lab. She was forced to work with the children on her own. I was able to go to her classroom before school to make sure she had set up everything correctly and I answered all of her questions about troubleshooting problems that might arise. The lesson was a success. There were two children who could not access their documents, but that was because they forgot their log in information, not because of something she did. I was very excited that it went so well. I'm hopeful that in my absence she will continue to use Doctopus. I checked in with her via email just before Winter Break and she said things were going well in her classroom. I need to be more specific in my questioning in order to get the answers that I want.

As I look back on the experience I realized two things. While I was there I saw so many ways to integrate technology. I thought to myself, If this were my classroom I would change the entire routine. I knew I had to take baby steps. If I did not I would lose her trust and confidence. Also using Doctopus is augmentation and we totally skipped the substitution phase of the SAMR model. I did not read Dan Schmidt's tweet until the middle of November. I have to remember not to skip steps on the ladder. It is a sure way to set my mentees up for a fall. In this case it went ok, but I'm not sure that she is continuing to use what she learned now that I'm gone. Lesson learned - honor each phase in SAMR.

If you want to know more about Doctopus please visit the Google Site that I created for in-house professional development that I teach.
It covers Doctopus and Flubaroo, my two favorite Google apps scripts.