An Opportunity for Staff Development

I had an opportunity this past week to share some of my thinking with the faculty during a Monday afternoon meeting. I had been working on a presentation since I first returned from NECC 2007. I updated it to include the ISTE standards for students and teachers and some of the conversations we have been having as a district technology team about our next Technology Plan 2009-2012.

The timing of the session coincided with the publication of the Literacy 2.0 edition of Educational Leadership. We started the meeting by reading the Perspectives introduction to the article. I asked the faculty to use the prompts of, “What are you noting as you read?” and “What do you want to read more of?” I chose this as the group reading because it mentions bits of several of the articles in the issue and it also makes the point that our students need the literacies of reading and writing more than ever in our world of expanding literacies. After the reading I asked the faculty to turn and talk to each other.

We followed this introduction with a slideshow I had prepared with several breaks for more conversation. Listening to the conversations I heard many questions and explanations about various explorations teachers are doing with their studensts. In all I was pleased that the information I was sharing seemed to be welcomed and there were many teachers who were excited to talk about the topic.

The presentation I used is posted on slideshare.net.

Reflection on “Webcasting for Educators”

The focus of this session is introducing possible participants to the purpose and possibilities of their Women of the Web 2.0 (WOW2.0) webcast on edtechtalk.com. Through Cheryl Oakes I had the opportunity to met Jen Wagner, Vicki Davis and Sharon Peters at NECC07. It was interesting to hear from the hosts how it all started and to view the making of a show at NECC07. They and their successors on the show have since become well known as innovators who host noted guests and topics of interest.

This session gave me a lot of information about how the hosts came up with the idea of webcasting and what they actually do during the production of the show. Although I have listened to the show some Tuesday nights I learned more from the presentation about the archives and delicious links available online.

I know that when Cheryl Oakes first participated in the Webcast Academy she found the access to international educators and the broadened conversations revolutionized her professional practices. Since then she has assisted many others who have been interns in the academy as well as supporting the development of new shows and encouraging listeners to shows. One of my goals is to find the time to enroll in a Webcast Academy which is usually offered in the summer and the winter of each year. I would like to become comfortable with webcasting so that I could assist students and teachers who want to collaborate with others across geographic distances in this format.

As I consider learning to webcast I am fortunate to have local access to my colleagues Alice Barr, Cheryl Oakes and Bob Sprankle who have just begun sharing their “Seedlings Podcast at Bit by Bit” on EdTechtalk on a regular schedule. This has evolved from a regular podcast they have done for over a year. As the presenters say in their title, it’s about “expanding the conversation.”

Reflection on Jeff Utecht’s-Online Professional Development

Last year when Alice, Mike and I filled out the paperwork for credit for the K12online Conference we found that the criteria for credit for an online course had not been updated to reflect web2.0 tools for communication and collaboration. As the K-12 Instructional Technology Integrators we were offered the challenge of remedying that situation and we need to be among the voices that participate in that. As Jeff mentions in this session, in the last two (now three) years there have been tremendous changes in what we can do for professional learning online.

Having used some of the course develepent tools Jeff describes (blackboard, moodles) I have seen many courses that would certainly be fit with Marc Prensky’s line of “old things done in new ways”. This k12online conference is certainly a very different experience than lecture notes and assigments posted to a shared access point. Listening to Jeff I can describe the attributes of an experience like this conference, but it is harder to sit down and write criteria for what a courses would need to have to qualify for graduate credit through our school system.

Starting at NECC07 I began to expand my “personal learning network” to include some communities of learners who are asking some of the same questions I am in my work. Certainly one criteria for an online course should be the access to a community of learners with communication tools that might include written and video interaction with a selected network of colearners. Having the k12online conference posted for anytime learning balances the other collaboration tools l use to look at the most recent sites, thoughts and connections of those in my network. Just tonight I have used my twitter network, listened to and joined a chat at an edtechtalk webcast, and looked at some shared delicious accounts. Certainly there are I times I need to disconnect and pay attention to my family network and time off the computer, but connecting regularly to my online network has changed my practice dramatically in the last fifteen months.

Reflection on “Building a Yardstick for PD Success…”

I selected this session based on the title and my knowledge of Sharon Peters from the WOW2.0 webcasts. While I agreed with many of the initial points of this session, when Sharon talks about teachers being expected to demonstrate growth in their own profession I was really struck by how that isn’t the assumption for all in the teaching profession. In my technology integration role I too often feel that teachers see me as representing change at a rate they don’t want and perhaps an area where they feel a lack of competence that is threatening. Job security for me perhaps, but not the pervasive attitude toward lifelong learning that I would want.

I was also intrigued by the conversation about helping teachers to measure key indicators that lead to success for students. Some of Vince’s indicators (like “personal satisfaction”) can be hard to measure, but need to be able to analyzed by some form or numerical review. One thing we are doing that has led to change in this direction is the focus on action research by teachers in our professional development process. Using student work, over the course of the year teachers select a change they would like to make in their practice and then identify what student success might look like based on that change. Working in concert with others teachers review this research a few times during the year and submit their work as part of a 3 year portfolio. The conversations are one of the most powerful parts of the process in my experience. The capacity to self-reflect and consider change, and even more, the professional satisfaction of seeing increased success in our students are vital energizers in what can be a long and rewarding career in education.

Reflection on “The Collaborative ABC Project: Using Technology To Tell Stories”

I chose to view this session as I have worked on a couple of digital storytelling projects with classes, with groups of 4th graders in particular. We have used still photographs, podcasts, voicethreads and iMovie to expand ways students can express their stories, but I hadn’t really considered a collaborative storytelling venture using web 2.0 tools.

Not having explored shared editing, I don’t recall hearing about the online tool jumpcut prior to this session. While they said they had some problems with the tool, this is a whole new area to explore for me. Since I figured that this might be an area under development, a quick search indeed turned up more tools that are collaborative online editors: JayCut, eyespot, photobucket, and even more. As always it will take some time to review various sites and determine what might be the best tool to use for a project at the elementary or high school setting. While finding the time is always a challenge I can possibly put some high school enthusiasts on the task and have them confront my real life problem and offer solutions.

One thing that was interesting in the video by Bonnie and the podcast by Kevin was to hear their own progression from teachers who gathered in a shared physical space to learn about digital storytelling to teachers who encouraged others to collaborate using only blogs, wikis and video clips without traveling from their home sites. In my own way I have to be patient with teachers who are expanding writing at the elementary level to include reactions to photos students have taken, podcasts, and electronic drawing tools to express themselves. The web 2.0 aspect of adding collaboration is still new to most of them, we may start with working between classes in our own school until that becomes comfortable. Perhaps this coming year when I am at the high school two days a week we will find some as yet untried ways to have high school students (whose forays into the communication world are constant) to work with classes and teachers to expand on the options for working in new ways.

K12 Online Conference – Prof. Learning Networks Keynote by Derek Wenmoth

In this session Derek Wenmoth describes the work that he and others are doing at an ICT Professional Development research hub in New Zealand called c.o.r.e.. He and his colleagues are asking some of the questions we often ask in our district including, “How do we use technology in all its forms to impact on teaching and learning? ” and, “How can we insure that what we are doing with technology has educational value & what is educational value? Is it making a difference?” Wenmoth says that in order to answer these questions we need systematic ways to build self-reflection and mentoring so that we will have critical thought and data as we review these questions. Toward that goal c.o.r.e has developed an Educational Positioning System. In the broader context of a professional development series this tool allows teachers to create features on the landscape of a map that represent different areas including: teaching disposition, ICT practices, infrastructural impediments that sometimes limit what they can do, curriculum coverage, and then the learning outcomes. Each teacher then has a visual for reference and discussion about what professional development s/he might pursue. This is in a context of technology stages that go from ADDITION to INCORPORATION to INTEGRATION to ASSIMILATION. Moving through these stages requires classroom and attitudinal changes well-described in the session. The terminology that Wenmoth offers in this session and the availability of the EPS for teachers gives me an expansion of my own Professional Learning Network as a teacher educator who offers courses, conferences and topics for faculty meetings.

One more set of learning tools Wenmoth offers us is a series of questions that could be used for conversations and/or as a basis for self-reflection and critical thinking with teachers (Note: Wenmoth used the pronoun “you” and I changed it to “I” to be more personal for the responder):

1. What are the mirrors that I hold to my professional practice?
2. Who are the mentors I relate to on a regular basis?
3. What professional reading do I do?
4. What communities of practice to I belong to…online or face-to-face?
5. Do I have a blog where I record my ideas, thoughts & reflections?
6. What RSS feeds do I subscribe to to keep abreast of current thinking?
7. When did I last observe someone else’s classroom to observe and give feedback?
8. When did I last present in a workshop, to a staff meeting, or a conference?

Think about this list and act on the one most appropriate…”

The one that I would like to focus on is the first one, possibly combined with a couple of others. In order to examine the mirrors that I hold to my practice I would like to write more in my blog as a regular self-reflection. I would like to use more frequent survey tools so I am asking students and teachers what is working and what could be upgraded about my teaching practices. I would like to have my online community be more interactive as I read much more than I comment or contribute. Paying attention to this one item on Derek’s list could effect significant change in my practice.