Saturday, January 31, 2015

#SharetheMess Whats not working this year

Inspired by LS_Karl's #SharetheMess post about what didn't work in his classroom, I am writing today about something that has not worked for me this year.

Last Spring I wrote our district technology plan and one of the focus areas was to implement digital citizenship curriculum for all K-12 students district wide. We adopted Common Sense Media's Digital Citizenship Curriculum and I modeled lessons in several classrooms with an overwhelming positive response. Grade level teams were tasked with deciding which lessons would be taught when for their grade level using this Digital Citizenship Curriculum Planning Doc. This would allow teachers to have choice when implementing the curriculum. The goal was to create equity and insure that all students in the same grade level receive a guaranteed curriculum.

Using BrightBytes at the beginning of the year, we collected data on digital citizenship teaching and learning. We will be collecting more data late this spring.
Our data from the beginning of the 14-15 school year about teaching students to legally use web content
BrightBytes data gives us valuable information about critical areas to address.

We are now just over half way through the year and while some teachers have taught digital citizenship lessons, most have not. All students are not receiving the same instruction in digital citizenship. Feedback from teachers varies. Some state it is a lack of time to implement the lessons, others think they don't have access to adequate technology for the lessons, and some are just uneasy teaching a subject they know very little about. So, my plan was not working and I needed to do something before the year was over. To begin to address these misconceptions and get to the heart of the problem, I took the issue to a recent technology committee meeting.  We discussed the issue and the members came up with some great ideas.

Here is our plan. On March 10th we will broadcast a digital citizenship lesson via Google Hangout in five different 3rd grade classrooms. One teacher will lead the lesson and the other four will facilitate it in their classrooms. We plan to make it a Google Hangout on Air so it can be archived for all third grade teachers to use with their students. We also plan to have a second person in each of the rooms to serve as tech support and deal with any issues while broadcasting. If it works we will do it again with 1st grade teachers.

Will it work? Will we see increased implementation of digital citizenship curriculum? Will teachers feel more at ease after seeing a lesson taught? We are hopeful and excited about our plan.  Look for another post in March after the lesson.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Power of a Teacher Challenge

What professional learning activities truly change my practice?

I would have to say Teacher Challenges.  They are better than most workshops, seminars, or trainings at creating a lasting impact on my growth and learning.

What is a Teacher Challenge?

They are free professional learning events that feature daily or weekly tasks around a specific focus. The purpose of these challenges are to increase teacher skills with the support of mentors and colleagues.  In one of my Voxer chat groups, someone referred to challenges as a way for us to 'lovingly support and hold each other accountable' as we learn and try new things.

Here are a few of examples of teacher challenges:
Edublogs Teacher Challenges
Thinglink App Smash Challenge
TeachThought #Reflectiveteacher Blog Challenge
Global Cardboard Challenge - get students involved!
Your #EduStory Challenge 2015

Why are they so effective? 

I think it is because of four things:

  1. Community  - Teacher challenges are social and learning is social. When I participate in one I want to 'keep up' with others as well as contribute to the learning and discussions of others.
  2. Accountability - In a challenge, I am motivated to stay the course and complete it to the end. Knowing others are waiting to see what you post is an effective motivator!
  3. Collaboration - In every challenge I meet new people and learn new ways of doing things.  Many of the folks I am closest to in my personal learning network participated in challenges with me. We are always #bettertogether.
  4. Creativity - We are all creators at heart. The feeling of taking an idea through to a product that can be shared is rewarding.  We get so busy in our jobs and the day to day grind that we forget to nurture our creativity. Taking time to edit a photo, construct a video, build a model or write a story is invigorating and empowering. Let the creativity flow!

My past Teacher Challenges:

Thinglink, Teacher Challenge 2014
The Seven Day Daily Create Mashup Challenge
#ReflectiveTeacher 30 Day Blogging Challenge by TeachThought

Current challenges in which I am participating:

GEGNorCal Blogging Challenge
Thinglink STEAM Challenge

Challenges I created or helped with:

No Worksheet Week Teacher Challenge - with creator Matthew Weld
Admins Edtech Challenge for school site leaders and administrators (Coming Feb. 2015)

Here is my challenge to you:

Participate in at least one challenge before the end of the school year.  I try to do three per year, one in the spring, summer and fall.  Whether you complete the entire challenge or just one or two activities, it will be a rewarding experience. So take the plunge, accept a challenge and get started.

If you have a Teacher Challenge you would like to share please post in the comments.