My DLL Journey

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What a roller coaster ride the past 18 months has been!

med-dll

It was June of 2015.  I was teaching summer school.  I mentioned to a colleague that I wanted to go back to school, but didn’t know what I wanted or where I should go.  She had just finished her Masters through Lamar and immediately directed me to the new Digital Learning and Leading program that her professors introduced to her.  Being a technology teacher, I have become increasingly drawn to how technology affects us all.  How can we use these tools to become better teachers?  How can students use technology to deepen and further expand their learning?  I was 90% certain this was the program for me.

I applied and then called my mom, my Nana, and my sisters.  I told them of my choice.  They were just as excited as I was.  We all knew that it would take a toll on the time we spent together.  My Nana and I drive an hour and a half once a week to a training club with a few of our dogs.  Each week on the way to class I would read assigned articles, respond to discussion postings, and watch videos.  My Master’s degree was a part of my family’s lives as well.

The entire Masters experience has been an exhausting, but enlightening one.  I have spent countless nights and weekends reading, writing, and researching.  More so than I had done in the past 7 years (since my Bachelors).  The highs of completing projects and posts definitely outweigh the lows of being tired the next morning.

In the past 18 months, I devised an innovation plan, created numerous videos, wrote oodles of blog posts, developed an online course, and researched until my eyes crossed.  It may not look like a lot from the standpoint of my ePortfolio, but I feel like I’ve climbed a mountain.  My innovation plan was the first major assignment aside from setting up the ePortfolio.  The initial plan was not a success.  Lack of training, time, and effort all played a part in its failure.  What I’ve learned from that failure is gold.  I know how to plan better for the teachers at my school.  I know better what tools work for our students.  I know how to measure the success through usage, familiarity, and completed projects.

Disruptive Innovation in Technology | Leading Organizational Change | Assessing Digital Learning & Instruction | Digital Learning in Local & Global Contexts

The second major accomplishment of the program would be Creating a Significant Learning Environment.  Developing a lesson based with the end as my starting point was completely different.  I was able to stay focused on what I wanted my students to accomplish.  In reality, I was more focused on them than the goal.

Creating a Significant Learning Environment

Digital Citizenship was the course that was near and dear to my heart.  I couldn’t wait to start, and it did not disappoint.  Going through the 9 elements of digital citizenship as well as copyright and cyberbullying sparked a bigger fire in me than before.  Technology and the internet are growing bigger and faster than before.  Just like in the real world, our digital selves need a sense of right and wrong.  It is up to me to start to develop those senses in my students as soon as I can.

Digital Citizenship

The next course was to write with the intent of becoming published.  Me?  Published in an online world?  But I tried.  This course pushed me out of my comfort zone and into a place where I had to be confident and completely sure of myself.  Did I succeed?  No, but I’m not going to stop there.  I know what to do to make it better for next time.  You’ll notice that there is no link here.  That’s because part of becoming published with an online journal or blog is that it can’t be posted anywhere else.

Designing an online course for my students was next on the course list.  I’ve used online learning environments before, but I never had to create it from scratch.  A lot of time and energy goes into course designing and I’m not sure it was the best fit for me.  I can say that I’ve done it and add it to the educational resume.

Instructional Design in Online Learning

Another course that fanned the flame of learning: effective PL.  Teaching teachers.  PD will never be the same if I am leading it.  Teachers will have learning/training/development that is ongoing, supportive, active, and relevant.  Aside from the innovation plan, effective PL is one thing I want to implement and lead at my school in the coming months or at the beginning of the next school year.

Effective Professional Learning

Finally, we ended with the capstone course.  A synthesis of the past 18 months of learning.  It’s hard to sum up in one blog post what I’ve learned.  The ability to choose what I could do throughout the program was the most inspirational part of the journey.  Another aspect that I enjoyed throughout the course was the conversational tone I could use with assignments through blogging.

Capstone

My next goal is to apply as an instructional technologist within my school district.  I want to share with others what I’ve learned about leading with an innovative idea, digital citizenship, learning environments, and professional learning.  For now, I will continue doing what I’m doing, teaching elementary students technology applications and helping the teachers on my campus with their various technological needs.

What a journey the past 18 months has been!  And I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me!

 

 

Roller coaster. (2017). Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/en/roller-coaster-rollercoaster-156147/

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Final Thoughts on my Innovation Plan

In the first semester of the DLL program, we were tasked with creating an innovation project to implement on our campus.  I chose the 1-to-1 implementation of mobile devices in classrooms.  I knew this was not an innovative idea as far as new ideas go, but I knew it would be new to the teachers and students at my school.  Outside of the computer lab, teachers allow their students to use their classroom computers for 2 reasons: intervention, in the form of Istation for reading and Moby Max for math, and free time, which for students means game time.

That same semester our school district purchased an iPad cart for each elementary campus.  30 iPads for teachers to check out to use with their students!  This was the main reason I chose the 1-to-1 implementation as my innovation plan.  All of the posts for my original innovation plan can be found at Disruptive Innovation and Bringing About Change.

My original goal was for the iPads to be used in the classroom as a learning tool.  I wanted classroom teachers to use programs like Prezi and PowToon through the iPad as a different way to show their learning over a specific amount of time.  It was no surprise at all that the teachers used the iPads in the same manner as the classroom desktops.  At this point, I halfway gave up on the idea of any of the classroom teachers using the iPads for anything else.

However, at the beginning of this school year, our district delivered a cart of 30 ASUS tablets.  Fearing the same result as the iPads, I didn’t go into much detail when I showed the teachers how they worked at an after school staff meeting.  To my surprise, a 4th grade teacher approached me after the meeting and began asking questions.  She needed something for her 4th grade enrichment students to do during Tiger Time.  I told her that the tablets can be used for more than Istation and Moby Max.  This shocked her!  She was ready to hear more.  This was my real opportunity to start a small innovation.  And we did.  We started small.  We used a combination of the tablets and some of the computer lab computers.  Students used the Internet to research, word processing to type up and print summaries, and print pictures.  I know this isn’t high up on the SAMR model, but it’s a start.

Since I’ve found a renewed sense of inspiration in my plan, I plan on helping and assisting this 4th grade teacher and group through the end of the school year.  At the end of this school year, I’ll need to measure how successful or unsuccessful the innovation plan was.  The measurement strategy I developed at the beginning can be found here.  I’ll ask the 4th grade teacher that I inevitably teamed up with to complete a survey I created.  With some student and teacher learning, I think we can take the implementation and learning up a notch for next school year.

I’ve learned that no matter the incentive there are some teachers who are never going to change.  I can’t focus on them.  I have to focus on the teachers who want to change themselves, their classrooms, and their students.  I want to find something that will ignite a spark for technology that the teachers won’t want to extinguish!

In the future, I plan on choosing an innovation idea that is more focused.  More focus on the student learning, more focus on how to efficiently use the technology already on my campus, and more focus on preparing the teachers to use the technology in a way to enable students to learn to the best of their ability.

mobile-technology

Mobile Technology Image. (2017, February 12).  Retrieved from https://p4cdn4static.sharpschool.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_80688/Image/Departments/Instructional%20Technology/Images/Mobile-Technology.jpg

How to Create a Significant Learning Environment

I teach the elective class that ALL of the kids love.  I teach technology applications (basic computer science) to Kindergarten through 5th graders.  Computers allow students to use their imagination and play in a way that is crucial to learning.  They are able to create, innovate, and illustrate their passion.  By letting students create and explore within a set of parameters, a student’s imagination can produce a number of projects and presentations that allow them to demonstrate what they’ve learned.  With play, the biggest example I can think of is when I teach (or rather introduce and monitor) code and coding.  There are numerous online sites that allow students to play while creating and grasping the concept of code – which is simply giving directions.  I plan for students to “play” with code for 2 weeks, a total of about an hour in my class.  Weeks later, students come in begging to do code again.

Things have changed.  Standardized testing has taken over my class just like it has taken over the upper grade levels.  In years past, I have been able to teach what I want, how I want as long as the Tech Apps TEKS were covered.  This year a new district change has mandated that I must use half of my time with every class as intervention with students using a computer based reading program called Istation.   Harapnuik states that “…we do have control over the design of our learning environments,” but do we really?  I see the hands of administrators in everything.  From the way students walk in the hall to how instruction is provided, administrators on our campus and from the district are “checking” in on teachers on a daily basis to ensure that instruction is being delivered in the “correct” way.

So how can a significant learning environment be created in a classroom that, as Thomas states in his TED talk, has become “toxic to passion, creativity, and innovation?”  Across the country, “the system of standardized testing we have has nothing to do with learning and everything to do with surveillance.”  Administrators and politicians watching and judging everything that teachers do – it’s not even about the students anymore.  How is a learning environment changed when so many barricades have been put into place?  Slowly and surely.

“The reason they (teachers) went into that job was to see a light bulb go off over a student’s head” (Thomas, 2016).  I believe this statement is at the heart of change.  Teachers still yearn to see the light bulbs, but teachers must also realize that we are but one part of the learning, not the be-all-end-all of the student’s resources.  Students, even at an elementary level, use “mobile phones, Facebook, and YouTube” as learning resources.  They look up answers to their homework, look for video tutorials on how to make a movie on their phone or computer, and view a number of opinions on social media.  Teacher must step back and give up the expert role so that students have the opportunity to explore the copious amount of information that is literally available at all of our fingertips.

Let’s use the Internet and the incredible amounts of software and websites to let students’ imagination and ability to play soar!  It will be a slow process because those above us are not accustomed to change.  Your students will come in begging to play again, like they STILL do with me and coding!

 

Thomas, Douglas. (2016, March 6). A New Culture of Learning, Douglas Thomas at TEDxUFM. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM80GXlyX0U&feature=youtu.be

Thomas, Douglas and Seely Brown, John. (2011). A New Culture of Learning. Retrieved from Amazon.com

Harapnuik, Dwayne. (2016, March 6). Creating Significant Learning Environments (CLSE). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZ-c7rz7eT4

COVA

Reflection

COVA is an approach that was implemented through the DLL program.  To sum it up, COVA stands for choice, ownership, voice, and authenticity.  I knew at the beginning of this program that this would not be like anything else I’ve done in my life.

In EDLD 5305, the third class of the program, we were tasked with choosing an innovation project to implement at each of our schools.  I went with something that I thought was “easy.”  There is no easy when it comes to changing the way teachers teach and use technology in their classrooms.  My initial reaction to choice was fear.  I was taught to follow directions and do my best to fulfill what the teacher expected of me.  I expected this master’s program to be the same.  (There should be a warning to forget everything you know about conventional think and learning at the beginning of the program.)  Having the ability to choose every aspect of my project was a completely different way of thinking that I am still adjusting to.  Ownership and voice were not difficult concepts to grasp.  I feel like I leave a part of myself in everything I do.  Authenticity is another concept that was not necessarily difficult, but it’s challenging to make every assignment and teaching concept an authentic learning experience.

Using COVA as a classroom teacher is easy compared to using COVA as a professional learning design model.  I know the educators who are apt to change and who the resistant ones are.  Giving educators a choice and ownership is easy.  Making their voice heard and giving the PL authenticity would be the tricky task.  Change is scary, but necessary.  No one wants to be the change leader because then you’re the one to blame when it all goes south.  Teachers expect change decisions to come from administrators, not their fellow teachers.  The change that needs to happen at my school would be resisted by most and accepted by few.

CSLE is a term that was first introduced about halfway through the program.  CSLE stands for “creating significant learning environments.”  We used Fink’s 3 column table and Understanding by Design as a “backwards” way to create lessons with the end goal always in mind.  I designed a lesson around my innovation plan which was the integration of iPads into the classroom.  I chose this plan which has been done at many other schools, but never at mine.  I had hoped for it to change the way classroom teachers thought about and used technology with their students.  Inevitably, they reverted back to what they always knew and what they were comfortable with.  When I teach, I use PBL (project based learning).  Students get choice and ownership of what they want to present and how they want to present the information.  Since going through the program, my learning philosophy hasn’t changed so much as I’m now more aware of how my students and I both learn.

Implementation

I will continue to use choice and ownership with my students through PBL activities.  For my students, projects we create in the lab are always a part of what they are learning in their core subject classes.  Students may not always get the choice of what program they want to use, but they feel ownership and the projects are authentic.

My students are somewhat used to COVA, but the teachers will have a hard time adjusting to getting choice.  I want to be able to use COVA with the teachers on my campus.  I want teacher to be able to choose PL courses that are applicable and meaningful to them and their classes.  It will take time to adjust, but overall I think they will enjoy getting the chance to choose, take ownership, and make it apply to their classrooms.

Some teachers, and students, are like me.  Tell me what, how, when, where, and why so I can do it the “right” way.  Breaking the out of that fixed mindset will be the biggest challenge I think I will face.

cova

Cummings, C., Harapnuik, D., & Thibodeaux, C. (2017). Factors that contribute to ePortfolio persistence. (In Press) – ePortfolios_COVA_IJeP_Final In Press Draft.pdf

Harapnuik, D. (Retrieved on 2017, February 5). CSLE [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.harapnuik.org/?page_id=849

Harapnuik, D. (Retrieved on 2017, February 5). COVA model [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.harapnuik.org/?page_id=6615

Pulling It All Together

Tech-To’s

Pulling It All Together

Throughout this course, I have been introduced to a number of studies and videos that point to better professional learning for educators.  I plan to apply what I’ve learned to PL for the teachers on my campus.  As mentioned earlier, the teachers on my campus tend to be apprehensive when it comes to technology in the classroom.  In one of my previous posts, I presented a slide share that expresses Gulamhussein’s 5 Principles for Effective PD and how it relates to my school.

Other areas I plan to address are collaboration, audience, needs, leadership, timeline, instructional design, and resources.  These areas were addressed in the last blog post, but have since been updated.

Collaboration

  • Teachers will work together during sessions to help each other. They will pair themselves with teachers from a different grade level as themselves.  This will help them open their eyes to what students need exposure and experience with and at what grade level.  I will also meet with teachers as needed and scheduled.

Leadership

  • The instructional technologist for the district and I will lead the components which is why the courses will be held on a monthly basis.

The Audience and Their Needs

  • The PL is optional for teachers who need and want it. Teachers sign up for each course individually.

Timeline

  • We’ll begin with monthly meetings during the fall semester. If the sessions are successful and the teachers want more, we will begin scheduling and creating sessions for the spring semester.
  • September – O365 & OneDrive
  • October – iPads in the Elementary Classroom
    • Prezi Presentation – http://prezi.com/kfr-j-rndjcr/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy
    • Teachers will have iPads from the library.
    • Teachers will have time to play with each of the apps and decide which one is best for their classroom and their students.
    • Teachers will bring lesson plans and will choose 1 app per core subject to integrate with the iPads.
    • We will create as a group.
    • Teachers can schedule one-on-one training sessions with instructional technologist or myself.
  • November – Presentation Makers
    • Presentation Tools PDF – presentation-tools
    • Teachers will have iPads from the library or desktops in the computer lab. Teachers can choose which tool works best for them.
    • Teachers will have time to play with each of the programs and decide which one is best for their classroom and their students.
    • Teachers will bring lesson plans and will choose 1 program to integrate into their classroom.
    • We will create as a group.
    • Teachers can schedule one-on-one training sessions with instructional technologist or myself.
  • December – Videos & Animations
    • Video & Animation PDF – videos-animations
    • Teachers will have iPads from the library or desktops in the computer lab. Teachers can choose which tool works best for them.
    • Teachers will have time to play with each of the programs and decide which one is best for their classroom and their students.
    • Teachers will bring lesson plans and will choose 1 program to integrate into their classroom.
    • We will create as a group.
    • Teachers can schedule one-on-one training sessions with instructional technologist or myself.

Instructional Design

Resources

  • Desktop computers
  • iPads
  • Software & apps listed above
  • Internet access
  • Videos, articles, and training session resources can be found in the timeline above.

 

I know that a lot of this feels like “sit & get” PD, but this is not the case for the teachers on my campus.  They are going to be given the opportunity to play and create, ask questions, and explore with their coworkers numerous apps and programs that normally get thrown at them in a one-hour session.  I can’t wait to implement this in the fall!

 

References:

Gulamhussein, A. (2013). Teaching the Teachers Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability. Center for Public Education. Retrieved from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Staffingstudents/Teaching-the-Teachers-Effective-Professional-Development-in-an-Era-of-High-Stakes-Accountability/Teaching-the-Teachers-Full-Report.pdf

Tech To’s

Tech To’s

(Technology How-To’s)

People fear the unknown, and there are teachers on my campus who are scared of technology because it is unknown.  The experienced educators have little expertise with technology.  For their students, it is second nature.  They have grown up with technology at their fingertips.  Teachers won’t integrate and use technology because they are afraid of it.  I think with a better understanding and with the basics under their belt these experienced teachers can begin integrating and using technology effectively with their students.

Using Gulamhussein’s 5 principles for effective professional learning, I’ve started developing a plan for the technologically disadvantaged teachers on my campus.  With the layout of the course, I intend to address all 5 of the principles.

  • Duration – Teacher PD will be held monthly throughout the school year.
  • Support – Teachers participating will have support from other participants and me, the instructor.
  • Active Participation – Teachers will be active learning the programs as they are presented.
  • Modeling – Teachers will see how and will then do it with assistance provided when needed.
  • Content Specific – Teachers will apply what was learned to their classroom.

Other areas that will be addressed are collaboration, audience, needs, leadership, timeline, instructional design, and resources.

Collaboration

Teachers will work together during sessions to help each other.  They will pair themselves with teachers from a different grade level as themselves.  This will help them open their eyes to what students need exposure and experience with and at what grade level.

Leadership

I will lead the components which is why the courses will be held on a monthly basis.

The Audience and Their Needs

The PL is optional for teachers who need and want it.  Teachers sign up for each course individually.

Timeline

The PL will last the course of one year with one tool or program presented each month.

  • September – Windows 8.1 Basics
  • October – Outlook email
  • November – Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel
  • January – iPad 101
  • February – Asus Tab 101
  • March – OneDrive
  • April – Office 365
  • May – OneNote

Instructional Design

learning-environment-situational-factors

questions-for-formulating-significant-learning-goals

3-column-table

Resources

  • Desktop computers
  • iPads
  • Asus tablets
  • Software listed above
  • Internet access
  • Videos and articles to be provided at a later time

 

Let me know what you think and what I can do to make this PL even better.

 

References:

Gulamhussein, A. (2013). Teaching the Teachers Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability. Center for Public Education. Retrieved from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Staffingstudents/Teaching-the-Teachers-Effective-Professional-Development-in-an-Era-of-High-Stakes-Accountability/Teaching-the-Teachers-Full-Report.pdf

Changing Professional Development

As teachers, we hear the words professional development, and we run for the hills.  For us, professional development means hours of sitting in a chair and listening to a trainer preach about a new tool, strategy, or concept that will revolutionize our classrooms.  We don’t expect our students to learn this way, so why should teachers?  Allison Gulamhussein doesn’t either.  She defines and explains 5 principles for making professional development effective.

So how does this relate to my school?  The majority of the teachers at my school are scared of technology.  If I can provide ongoing, active, and specific support for different types of technology tools, software, and programs, I believe that those same teachers will be able to connect and teach to their students more effectively.

Instructional Design for the Elementary Classroom

Developing an online course is a serious undertaking.  It takes time, energy, focus, and constant upgrades and changes to make online learning successful.  A solid understanding of how students learn differently is the beginning.

There are 3 basic theories of learning: objectivism, cognitivism, and constructivism.  Objectivism is the theory that learning happens when you can observe and measure changes (Dabbagh, 2006).  Cognitivism is the theory that learning happens when the learner is active in the process of learning (Dabbagh, 2006).  Cognitivism is the theory that learning happens when “tasks are authentic and meaningful and in realistic settings” (Dabbagh, 2006).  One other theory of learning is connectivism which is relatively new since our world has recently become digital and extremely connected (Bates, 2015).  Connectivism is the theory that learning happens when the learner makes meaningful and successful connections between ideas.  For the development of my blended course, I leaned toward the constructivist theory.  Students created or constructed projects that directly allowed them to learn the ins and outs of a popular presentation software programs, Microsoft PowerPoint.

After researching and determining the most appropriate instructional design, it was time to create the course.  Using a backwards design template like UbD (Understanding by Design), I started with then end in mind.  Then, I added in activities and materials that would allow students to meet and final goal.  The three column table is another way to develop a course using backwards design.  Keeping the end in mind will help course developers stay on target.

Today’s learners are growing up in a world where technology is literally at their fingertips for the majority of their day.  Seeing the role that technology plays in a student’s daily life, education can’t be far behind.  Technology and media that is useful and informational must be readily available for student access in and out of the classroom.  Learning can literally take place anywhere.

Students are not the only learners that need guidance and assistance when participating in an online course.  Teachers need professional development over technology that is relevant, appropriate, and applicable starting with the basics.  Bates says “It is much more cost-effective to provide adequate initial pre-service training so that learning technology units can concentrate on training, professional development and R&D into new methods of teaching and learning as new technologies develop” (2015).  So many of the teachers on my campus fear technology mainly because most of their students have a higher level of understanding for the devices themselves.  If teachers know how to use technology and media properly, then they can focus their time and energy of effectively integrating it into lessons and activities for their students.

Overall, there are a number of factors that play into developing a successful online or blended course.  Educators have to be willing to play a number of roles when developing these types of courses.  Through professional development and constant communication with students, online and blended learning can be successful with any age group.

 

References:

Bates, A.W. (2015). Teaching in a digital age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning. Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/

Dabbagh, N. (2006). The instructional design knowledge base. Retrieved from http://cehdclass.gmu.edu/ndabbagh/Resources/IDKB/models_theories.htm