Reflections of Deeper Learning PD

This reflection will serve as an artifact to meet my goals this year to improve my leadership presence and deepen my understanding of today’s educational environment.

A little backgroundJohn Dewey Reflection Quote

As shared in an earlier post, our district-wide PD efforts this year have been focused on deeper learning.  Deeper learning first and foremost aligns to priorities 1 -4 of our district’s strategic plan.  It also aligns to the Marzano Framework and PLC work educators have focused on in the past 3 years. (determining critical ELOs, creating common assessment, and scale work).

Our district goal was to implement a K-12 ePortfolio system that captures deeper learning.  (Official goal – 100% of all teachers will CREATE or REDESIGN and IMPLEMENT at least 3 lesson plans per year that inspire learners to achieve at high levels as measured by student ePortfolio artifacts.)  This work also aligns with Marzano Framework Domain 1 Element 12 and 22.  

Our process over the year

We began our process in August (Day 1) introducing the district deeper learning protocol (DLP), that was inspired the Trudacot work of Scott Mcleod and Julie Graber.  Staff were provided time to design or re-design lessons that met at least 1 of the facets of the DLP.  As a district, we collected their personal action plans and would meet again in October. Staff were to collect student artifacts and share their work with others.  Here is a snapshot example of our October day.
On March 17 we had our last PD day.  It comprised of a celebration of sharing of their last redesign lesson, ePortfolio Artifacts, a Teachmeet session led by Byron Educators, and finally a crowdsourced slideshow of our staff’s next Big Ideas!  This is a great document to showcase what our staff learned and how they would apply their learning in future lessons!

Reflections from the March PD day

Overall.  It was a great morning.  Celebrating our educators’ work by focusing on student artifacts was very powerful.  Many educators shared (in our feedback survey) how impressed they were with what other teachers were doing. Then to move to the Teachmeet also proved to be beneficial.  We need more opportunities for our educators to learn from one another.  Making the invisible – visible (student artifacts, teachers sharing) is proving to have an influence on our educators – especially when you review the IDEAs that were generated after the sessions.

PD Design.  If we believe deeper learning can benefit students – we should model deeper learning strategies in PD.  From the Deeper Learning protocol, I believe we modeled learner agency, embedded opportunities for collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking (in the form of reflection) and relevance both in the topic and audience.

The role of ePortfolios. Since our move to a k-12 ePortfolio system (SeeSaw for grades K-5 and Google Sites for 6-12) the making of teaching and learning visible is very powerful.  Rolling out the ePortoflios has not been perfect. While we have had a few hiccups (will explain in future post), I feel it has been successful – especially for year 1. We certainly have work to do to improve implementation (as results from our survey) BUT I do believe that it is tools like ePortfolios that will help us capture the power of the deeper learning, student growth, and being college – career – life ready.

Modeling Failure. I had plenty opportunities to model failure that day.  When I arrived at 6:45am , I was welcomed with a “The Wifi is down”.  Ugh.  Having a pd day (dependent on technology) and the district wifi is down is never a good sign.   But the show must go on!  I turned on my mobile hotspot, and turned the keys over to the techs (to work with the engineer to solve the problem).  During the presentation, I was interrupted several times (by calendar notifications, phone call from our enginner, ect).  The final near fatal fail – was tripping over the projector cart power cable and watching the cart weeble and wobble nearly tipping the projector and my laptop over. Could it get any worse? I was almost afraid to ask!  Luckily the wifi was back up before the teachmeet session, (VM server issue) and the technology fails disappeared. Thank you Matt and Matt!

Prizes. While prizes are viewed as extrinsic… they do make the desire to participate a little more fun!  We gave away 1 BreakoutEDU kit and 2 wireless keyboard/track pads. LIVE Drawings for prizes were based on participating in the IDEA activity.  (used flippity.net and Google Forms)

Artifacts from the day!  I always appreciate photo’s and videos that capture the learning process. Next time, I would like to interview a few folks about this experience as it is happening.

 

 

3 Comments
  1. Jen, I LOVE hope you are leading to redesign and redefine PD. My two big “ahhas” were:
    1. “Making the invisible – visible (student artifacts, teachers sharing)”. YES!!! We need to see many more examples of student work in professional development sessions. I would love to see more students actually sharing their work and voice at teacher PD sessions, but logistically that is difficult, but not impossible. From a classroom teacher’s point of view, when teachers are given opportunities to share, my learning is is deeper.
    2. “If we believe deeper learning can benefit students – we should model deeper learning strategies in PD.” Exactly. Teachers model all the time. It’s how we get the desired results in our classrooms. If we model our vision of learning and create an environment where deeper learning can thrive, it will happen. Deeper learning comes from deeper questions.
    “Deep learning” has quickly become a new catch phrase in education. How is it defined? How is it evaluated? How do we know is happening? Sometimes the results of deep learning happen long after the project is done. Sometimes the results of deep learning are not visible at all. Deep learning isn’t a “one off”… it’s simply becomes a way that we learn and think about things. I’m not sure anyone can look at a project from a distance and say “yes” that’s deep learning or no it isn’t. If you want to determine if deep learning (however that is defined) is happening, visit classrooms…not for an hour or even a a day… visit them often and talk to kids and listen to them talk and share. Listen to how they talk, how they think and how they question and you’ll then understand how they learn.

  2. Peter – Thank you for your feedback! I have been fortunate to be working with a team (our curriculum director and instructional coaches) to help make this happen. I believe the evaluation of deeper learning, as well as our progress in increasing it, is one of our district’s biggest challenges. Right now, our primary measurement tool is standardized tests. (at school/district level) These are valuable assessments. We need all of our kids to be able to read and comprehend what they are reading. BUT! Only reading about something is not applying what you have learned is not deep. I can read all I want about the way PD should be – but until I make steps in actually improving professional development – it is all talk with no action. You are right, listening to kids talk and share are ways that you can identify deeper learning. That is one of the reasons why I love ePortfolios and more importantly reflections of our students on their artifacts of learning. The other thing I love about ePortfolio’s is it is a more comprehensive snapshot of learning. Something, like my blog, that I can continue to reflect on and build upon. (and great GREAT FEEDBACK) While I feel the adoption of ePortfolios is step in the right direction, it is still messy when trying to come up with a metric at the school or district level that shows progress. I have more ideas here…to be continued!

    And finally, visiting classrooms is defintly something I am working on this year to support my goals! Funny thing is – improving my visibility has increased my own learning 10 fold.

  3. This was probably the most effective morning of PD I have seen at scale — it seemed like everyone has something useful to take away and a number of important messages were communicated. (1) Teachers here have PERMISSION to do cool, crazy things. (2) Someone is actually looking at these ePortfolios and they are starting to prove valuable. (3) Every PLC has some kind of purposeful idea to push forward with deeper learning. Well executed.

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