Tag Archives: reflection
It is lonely in here. And by in here I mean the Curriculum Office. I have one peer at the school in terms of K-12 curriculum work and next year I will lose her, so it will actually get lonelier. I have very few collaborative partners at school. I have a few technology integrators I work well with, but I am losing one of those next year too. Doing the kind of work I do can be isolating and without meaningful collaborators very difficult. I have over the past year and a half turned to Twitter to “reach out” and find like-minded people, but as I have discussed in earlier posts, there are not a lot of curriculum people out there on Twitter. I mean, really…where are they at? I have through Twitter met some wonderful people: some people who share fabulous things, and a few people who actually sometimes answer my questions. But it is sort of lonely on Twitter too. I must admit, I have failed to find collaborators in the Twittersphere as well.
I do my best work with others and collaboration is a key aspect of my professional life.
We are dealing with many complicated educational issues and I think the most pressing question is the ‘how’ we best move forward to integrate technology meaningfully into the curriculum and you have to be talking to people to figure this out. I have been so lucky to attend two great conferences this year Learning 2.011 and 21st Century Learning @Hong Kong), and I am so impressed with the thinking and strategies people have to integrate technology into the curriculum. I have been most taken by the TPACK model espoused by Punya Misra and Matthew Koehler. In this model the three critical areas of pedagogy, content, and technology are represented in such a way as to make clear the connection and interdependence of the three.
The intersection of the 3: the TPaCK is…as Mishra refers to, the “sweet spot”. The place where it all comes together and we see teaching and learning transformed and the learning process amplified through strong pedagogy, content expertise, and technology integration.
This is why we desperately need collaboration between the people in the building to represent these areas: the teachers, the technology integrators, and the curriculum experts. When you look at the TPACK website you notice something very important:
Help Needed : The section on Developing TPACK is in need of heavy development, and needs your help. If you know of any approaches to developing TPACK for pre- or in-service teachers, consider becoming an editor. TPACK.ORG needs you!
When I look at TPACK I immediately think, well of course this is so obvious. But really, what is obvious it not necessarily easy. Thus far TPACK is a theoretical framework that needs to be developed and implemented by leadership and teachers in schools. The only way I can see this happening in a meaningful way is through collaboration. There needs to be open communication and dialogue with all key players in this formula, but all too often it is the curriculum people with the curriculum people and the technology people with the technology people. The schools that will be able to do something really special are the schools that “get” TPACK and get to collaborating on the “how”. Until that happens, there might just be a lot of lonely people out there.
I am overwhelmed by blogs right now; the blogs I want to read in my Google Reader and Netvibes accounts, the blog posts I would like to write, the blog posts I am forced to write for a class I am enrolled in, and the blogs I need to evaluate from my students. I have to keep up with my school’s blog and my friend the other day thought we should start a blog together to put all of our collaborative professional work. Great idea but..more blogging. Really?
Right now blog is a FOUR letter word to me and you know what, it is to a lot of our students, because they too are overwhelmed with blogs. Last year I taught an 8th grade Humanities class. This year I am working with a 9th grade teacher for one class and I have one student in the 9th grade course I had in 8th grade. When we presented a current events blog assignment to the class she commented the best thing about HS was no one was having them blog. She said blogging was overrated, overused, and a waste of her time. I was shocked, yet somehow not surprised. Now in our defense, we have one blog assignment for the entire semester, the students will blog and comment a total of 8 times about current events connected to essential questions, I think it is a good use of blogging…but I totally get her point. Last year as an 8th grader she was blogging in so many classes. I, as her Humanities teacher, was the worst offenders. She is so over blogging. And so am I. This year, I have very purposefully decided not to have the students in my current class blog as much. I didn’t think I was using blogging as effectively as I should last year so I limited myself to one solid and relevant blogging assignment. I don’t keep a blog for this class to post work like I did last year, this year I have moved over to Google Sites for all of the class info and calendars. I have set up a discussion section there for short assignments to encourage conversation in a quick and easy way but using Google Groups. Just like my student, I didn’t want to blog for my class this year.
In fact, this past week I did a PD session with Dana Watts called, “Blogging is Not a Four Letter Word”, because frankly is it becoming one to teachers who are overwhelmed by the task of assessing blogs, students who are blogging in all of their 8 classes, and to parents who are just trying to sort out what all of this blogging is about. When we consider the issue of excessive blogging it really comes down to using blogging at the right times and in the right ways. Kids do not need to blog after every class. In fact they shouldn’t be. Blogging should be about deep reflection and give students the opportunity to connect the dots, come to an understanding, and support their thoughts and ideas with evidence. It should be about showcasing great work and ideas. However, I think a great deal of the blogging going on in schools is not about reflection on work or thoughts, I think for some blogging is becoming an online notebook and this is not what blogging is meant for, so of course, you get eye rolling when you ask them to blog. We need to be careful not to overdo the blogging and ruin the power of blogs have to promote student learning and reflection.
We found some great readings for our staff to remind people why we blog and it starts with an idea that has nothing to do with technology or a computer…reflection. This article from Educational Leadership on Reflection as a Habit of Mind by Art Costa and Bena Kallick was a great refresher to us all. As teachers we know how important reflection is, yet some how despite our best intentions over time we also let good practices slip. This reading was a timely reminder about the important practice of reflection. We coupled this reading with two other readings:
1. Wired for Reflection from Educational Leadership by Meridith Stewart
2. High Tech Reflection Strategies Make Learning Stick from Edutopia by Susie Boss
Both of these article use classroom studies to show how blogging is used effectively with students to enhance their learning and the focus is on the use of blogging to promote student reflection.
Blogging is like any good thing we find, however we have to be careful not to do it to death and ruin the fun (and in this case the relevance of the work). If students are rolling their eyes at the mention of blogging, you need to look at what you are asking them to blog, how often, and how pervasive the use of blogging is in your school or you are in danger of blog becoming a four letter word.
On an end note…the irony of this post is nobody forced me to write it, it is not on my “to do blog list”. I was in the midst of blogging for something I did not want to blog about and reflecting on the PD we conducted for our staff, and that here I was doing what I felt to be unnecessary blogging for the sake of blogging. I was fired up, and I needed to express this in a way and in a place that meant something to me. I have made my personal professional blog meaningful to myself (and I hope others) and that is ultimately what we want from our students. We want them passionate about blogging and the things they are blogging about. We want them to be fired up and reflective; to really have something to say rather than just writing what amounts to a written eye roll…yeah right, another blog, awesome, here you go, look I did it, was it enough? Whatever, it’s done.
This past summer when I attended the Curriculum Mapping Institute with Heidi Hayes Jacobs I was so impressed with the integration of technology into the presentations, I set a professional goal this year to Walk the Talk, meaning, I cannot exhort people to integrate technology and NOT use it in my presentations. I decided I need to identify key technology tools and rather than just tell people about them, use them, let them use them and see naturally how they might have a potential impact on their classrooms.
Well, let me tell you how what went:
1. I used Today’s Meet: For the most part, people got on and did what we asked them to do, but some…well let’s just say some thought they should replicate what kids would do with such a tool. Now, I have used this tool many times in my own class and my students have only used it to do what I asked them to do. So that was fail #1.
2. Google Docs: Seemed like a good idea at the time, but wow, getting 50+ people on 18+ documents in groups of 3 took a lot more time than I thought it would. We found out several good things though: some people have accounts that are set in German and some just flat out could not get on. In the end, most people were able to get on the document to process a reading and then share their reading with others who had a different reading, but holy unnerving as I watched my precious PD time slip away! Fail #2.
3. Over-planned and inflexible: Maybe you should be prepared throw out parts or slow other parts down mid-stream. What I really saw in the end was people needed time to explore with support and others around them to help them navigate and understand the potential of a tool. But no, I was determined to finish my presentation, and I must admit I think some of the message might have been lost in the rapid fire delivery of stuffing 35 mins. of planned discussion and presentation into 20 mins. The big take away was supposed to be about assessment and I am worried it might have been about why not to use Today’s Meet as an instructional strategy. Potential Fail #3.
Wow, it was hard, frustrating, and as I stated before, unnerving. I realize I am quite the control freak when it comes to planning a presentation. I am always planned down to the minute, you never get out late (or early for that matter), and the technology…well using it really made me nervous. I am generally quite calm for a presentation precisely because I am so prepared, but the technology, the learning curve of using the technology for staff, and the constant adjusting left me thinking on my feet more than I am used to in a professional development session. My co-presenter Dana Watts was cool as a cucumber, maybe that is why she is the Tech Integrator and I am the Curriculum Facilitator
Walking the talk…it is still my goal in presentations, but I have to plan for the disruption and potential drag on my time. I think under-planning is key, but time is so precious in schools for professional development it is hard to see doing less, but I know that having less and making sure it is powerful will have a greater impact down the road. Patience Grasshopper.
Here’s Kate from Flickr
The article from the New York Times by Matt Richtel makes some powerful points, however I cannot help but think we are not soliciting data on the right things.
On the New Blooms Taxonomy, the highest order is now creativity. How do we assess this and how often to we assess our students ability to apply creativity to their process/products?
I don’t know how we can expect technology to demonstrate an impact on student learning when the standardized tests we use remain the same, year after year. Essentially what happens is more and more is piled on the plates of teachers. You need to address standards and benchmarks, you need to now also address NETS as well as your subject. Additionally, we have school goals we would like to see addressed and documented, but at the end of the day, from an assessment perspective if you only assess the subject area standards and benchmarks, most teachers in a press for time, will not address the other subsidiary learning. And I very purposefully use the work subsidiary because unless we design instruments to assess it, unless our reporting systems also change and require us to report on student achievement in relation to their ability to evaluate information, most people won’t teach it. You teach what you make explicit to teach, if it is important, we as teachers should be reporting on it, we should be designing assessments for it, until that day comes, people will always have ammunition against the practice of technology integration. If you want to fight back, just like we tell our students, you need evidence. Perhaps this is the great failing of the technology movement, so much time spent on tools and applications when there also needs to be some of that enormous amount of brain power, time, energy, and money dedicated to designing assessments that produce evidence of student learning vis a vis 21st Century Skills.
Yup, that is me this year. For the first time ever, I am not in the classroom. I have actually been working toward this for several years. First the masters and leadership projects, then part-time release positions for few years where I experienced both worlds, curriculum work and teaching. This transition period was so important and I always wanted to do move out in this way. I never wanted to pop straight out of the classroom, I needed the push and pull of trying to do two jobs at once to help me see the benefit of doing just one job for a while. And right now I have the job of my current dreams. I am largely self-directed in order to support teachers in ways that are hopefully meaningful to them and to me. Right now the new job is all good. I have time to do professional reading that needs to be shared with teachers. I am spending time with the Common Core, Marzano, Jacobs, Reading Workshops, and a host of other professional related ideas and gurus (I know, a nightmare to some, but for me…wow!).
But…teaching. This would be my 17th year of teaching, but I am not teaching this year. So do I now say this is my 17th year in education? I am a teacher, who does not teach. I have a difficult time with this concept. I always used to think everyone should teach a class: principals, counselors, directors, everyone. I still feel that way, I really do, but I also see why that is so hard to pull off. It is like having two jobs, neither of which you can fully devote yourself to. I wish I had a class this year, just one. But what about my current job would I have to give up? What would my students be giving up because 80% of my time is to be dedicated to other duties? What I have given up for the time being is the classroom. Perhaps one day I will feel like I can manage the two, like when you first start teaching and you have three preps and you think you will never be able to manage it, but then after time you get better at it.
Yet, it still feels strange to be at school and not be with students. I see my former students around and I am overly excited to see them. They wonder what is wrong with me and they have no idea how much I miss the idea of them. I love the student-teacher banter, the witty back and forth. The questions, the challenges, and the dialogue about so much more than just school. I have always felt I am my most authentic me in the classroom. Totally comfortable, open, willing to share and learn at the same time. Something I am not always with adults. Students fulfill a need in me to be genuine, honest, and real. Not teaching I am sure for many who have chosen to not teach for a while leaves a noticeable void in their professional and personal lives.
I am curious how others have dealt with and are dealing with leaving the classroom. How did you get your teacher fix? Yes, I now get to work with adults in a somewhat “teaching” capacity, however, it is not the same. I am not sure they would really appreciate the witty repartee at my meetings (well, maybe they would). I have signed up to lead extra-curriculur activities, but really, I know it is not enough. It is struggle, one I don’t think will go away nor really should. The best thing is, the classroom is there and I know I can go back, however right now though I am torn, I want to be where I am. That too, is hard to admit, even though I miss teaching, I chose this. But the sacrifice is huge.
For this class I hope to engage in stimulating and enriching conversation. I want to hear about what other people are struggling with and are challenged by in terms of technology integration. I want to gain a greater understanding of what schools can do to support teachers with technology integration and I want to find ways to integrate technology into my work even though I am not in the classroom.
I also want to challenge perhaps too widely held beliefs. I take some issue with the Prensky article on Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants. I think he has a melting pot philosophy to keep it in historical terms. He expects everyone to adjust and lose parts of who they are in order to move forward as one unified nation of technology users. I think that is shortsighted and oversimplified. I’d like to stick to the more PC version of a tossed salad (also an oversimplification) to look at how those who are new and those who are in the “know” come together. Everyone has something to bring to the table, both new and old. It is not that anyone really has to become something different, but we do need to figure out how to work together to pull it off. I think the “immigrants” of the digital age have so much to offer the “natives”. Much more than the article acknowledges. The fact is recent research from many, many different sources demonstrates even when students of this “native” generation multitask they don’t do it well (see this Stanford article as reference).
From the article:
“People who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time, a group of Stanford researchers has found.”
Just because they think they can multitask well, because basically this is what we have told them, does that mean we should teach to their multitasking nature?? I think, like in all things. we need balance. We no doubt need new ways of doing things, but there are certain things we know and do well that need to be imparted to a generation that whips though a lot. Perhaps they need to slow down and EVALUATE information. How many of us feel our students do this well? I don’t think mine do. Who is going to teach this to them? Who is going to teach them strategies for gleaning information so they don’t multitask their way into a perpetual state of ignorance?
Another point I would like to make is I think we do a disservice if we allow ourselves to think of our generation (okay, my generation) as immigrants. It gives us excuses as to why we can’t (when really we chose not to) do something. I don’t think that is okay.
No doubt, we need new models of teaching and learning, but is that simply because they are multitaskers? No, in fact is it precisely because they are bombarded with information we need to teach and have them learn in new ways so they can handle all that is coming their way in the multiple information streams. It still is really about skills, I think the skills are different, but one thing teachers are good at teaching, immigrant or native is skills. We need to keep who we are, we need to honor who they are and recognize we both have things to learn from each other.
Technology is not new, I had my first website and webpages for my students in 1999. My first time out recruiting in 2001, I had an online job portfolio with lesson plans, photos of student work, etc. We have all been teaching for a very long time with technology, what I think is new, is how quickly it is coming at us and I think that is where the discomfort sets in. I am fairly comfortable, but I am overwhelmed at times thinking about how much is out there and how much I don’t know, or how much I want to do with my students (harder this year because I don’t have any) and don’t feel like I have the time to do. My comfort is situational, sometimes I am okay, sometimes I am freaking out. When I was in Shanghai last week I went to an iPad demonstration where they showed all of these really cool apps for ES and I freaked out. These kids will be in our classrooms in just a few years and I wonder are we ready and is there enough time to get ready? Though I am comfortable with technology, I have moments of fear and feeling overwhelmed by all that we struggling to come to terms with and do the best for our students that we can.
“The goal needs to shift from one of making a system that teaches children a curriculum more efficiently to one of making the system more effective by inspiring lifelong learning in students, so that they are able to have full and productive lives in a rapidly shifting economy.” Steve Denning from Single Best Idea for Reforming Education
Oh my god, I think I am part of the problem. There is so much writing and discourse around the idea schools have to change what schools do and what schools look like and that we need to re-envision schools and frankly, I am not sure I am up to the task. And I think that is saying a lot. I am a high-end technology user and an early adopter. If I see something new, a tool, a strategy I am often eager and excited to try it and integrate it into my class, yet…I am resistent to things that seem so different. I am often not sure I could make time, find room, or would be willing to explore at a level that would really make my teaching look very different. I think in the end, that range that I see is different, is maybe not that different? Flat classroom is an example of this. I am just not quite sold on the benefits vs. the time invested. I am not sure I could “work it out” to make it happen in my classroom and is it this hesitation that puts me smack dab in the middle of progress and transformation? I am not sure, but I think a lot of us are own worst enemies. I was chatting with a teacher the other day about the Flipped Classroom model and they remarked they had tried it, but they were not sure they liked it because they felt uncomfortable. There was something they were not getting from the process and experience and they were not sure they would try it again. After this conversation I really started thinking about the idea we/I get in the way of progress and really shifting the paradigm of what teaching is and what it could look like. I am adventurous in the classroom, but is it enough? I am adventurous in my eyes, but is that true? Are the places I stop myself from going exactly the places that would lead to an utter transformation in my practice and the experience of my students? Do I stop short of providing opportunities that would truly prepare my students for the future? I honestly don’t know how to make this sort of total transformation and shift or if I could. I definitely do not think I could do it alone or in a traditionally structured school. So the question then becomes of you really want to explore and push the boundaries of educational pedagogy, where do you go to do that? I mean, how revolutionary is the Flipped Classroom. You just take your lectures and have the kids listen them at home, why aren’t we questioning why we lecture so much? You are still the sage on the stage, you are just doing it online. I mean really how revolutionary is it? How revolutionary are we or are we just using bandaids to patch things up as we wait for the next generation of people we can really understand what we are talking about?
Georgio via Flickr
Frankly, I am not sure where I am at and I am really not sure if today is the day to be thinking about this, because if I consider and answer honestly I come back to an earlier post I had regarding if we are ready to lead the change that needs to happen. I cannot get away from the thought that we think we are ready, but the shift that is coming our way is so monumental, that we could not possibly be ready or get ready. In my position I think about getting people ready, but ready for what? I am not sure. I am overwhelmed about how to support people for something that we are not even sure what it will look like, we are all making best guesses and I worry that our guessed are not that great. I feel more prepared to teach, kids are easier and more responsive to change, adults are a lot tougher and harder to convince. I am challenged to find way to move forward in the right ways to have the greatest affect on teacher efficacy and student learning.
Marabuchi va Flickr
Well, first off, pardon any errors, I am doing this from my iPad and well, I make a lot of mistakes and I may not get them all. It is hard to move around and edit, though I must say, despite some limitations, I really am enjoying my iPad.
I have just wrapped CMI 2011, my first. It was an incredible experience, five days in all with the pre-session. Really it was quite long, not in a bad way, just in an I am fried kind of way and am I really going to remember it all when I get home? That said I am going to attempt to organize my thoughts according to the blog title, just as a way to break it all down.
- fantastic presenters. Every session was well prepared and did what presenters should do, model strong pedagogy. Anytime you can walk away with ideas of how to teach and present better to either students or a group of adults, it’s a huge bonus. I am totally inspired to go home and revise some presentations I have planned for the beginning of the year to reflect the strong presentation styles I saw at the conference.
- strong use and presentation of technology tools. Partially related to the above, I so appreciated the interactive use of tech in the presentations. I realize as a planner of staff development I am missing a key forum and opportunity to introduce new technology tools and strategies to teachers if I fail to step up my presentations and integrate exciting and useful tools into my professional development presentations. It’s the walk the talk issue. In sessions we used Today’s Meet a few times, I have used it extensively with my students and I think it is a very useful teaching tool, so why don’t I use it in staff presentations so I can share and model at the same time? I really never thought about it, it’s that simple.
- I am going home with plans! I have so many ideas about what we need to do and lots of ideas and resources on how to do it. I have a laundry list of people I need to speak to when we all get back to school. My notes are littered with…Dana would love this, I need to see if Greg would want to work on this together and I have to talk to Cindy, Barb, and David about this, and so on and so on. Seriously people need to hide ’cause I got plans and I am ready to roll.
- the fusion of technology and curriculum. Yes! They were so wedded together here. There was almost never any discussion about mapping and making it better with out the inclusion of how tech can strategically (key word) help take it to the next level. It was not about here are a bunch of cool tools, it was about how we can look at what we do and thoughtfully and purposefully use technology to improve how we teach, engage students, and prepare our students for a technologically rich future. All the while strongly grounded in talk about standards, goals, essential questions and big ideas. I swear it was like a techie curriculum girl had died and gone to heaven. It was inspiring and refreshing to see the two so intertwined. There cannot be one with out the other.
I just have to say it, I am over cutsie small towns for big long conferences. I live in New Delhi and I miss cosmopolitan cities, I want to go to Boston, or SF, or NYC, or Las Vegas (Vegas!!! okay, not so cosmopolitan, but just plain fun) for a conference. I am really excited about ISTE next year in San Diego. Yeah, it’s ISTE what is not to get excited about, but is also San Diego. No small town conferences or remote areas that require car rentals, b and b’s, or multiple plane flights next summer. I need a break. (now, of course for many I am sure this was a great relaxing place to come, I do not mean to diminish your love of the location, I of course speak only for myself.) I get it is probably cheaper to pull off a big conference in a smaller place, but again…I am just sayin’.
Where are the tech people? This was such an awesome conference for tech people, and of course some were there, but not enough. I have been to plenty of tech conferences and this was the best yet, except that there were not a lot of tech people to talk to about the cool things we were seeing and the awesome ideas for integration. The conference was well organized and presented…wow, you think they mapped out their big ideas and engaged us with critical questions on purpose? You want to see a strong conference, go to one organized by ‘curriculum’ people. I think some of the conferences and especially presenters I have seen at tech conferences could learn a lot by attending a top notch curriculum conference, especially one that understands and promotes the the idea the two can really only move forward together.
All in all, fantastic conference, awesome learning and I am so appreciative of the whole Curriculum 21 team for the work they are doing.