PD, Online Learning, and Growth Mindset

This week will mark the end of yet another 8 week e-Classroom course and 6 more Byron educators will officially be e-Certified.  I developed and have been facilitating this for nearly 4 years and am constantly tweaking and fixing the course (via Moodle).  The smallest of improvements  can have great impact for future participants.  One of the things I LOVE about online learning, is that I have a record of discussions, reflections, and feedback.  This is critical – not for the participants – but for myself, my facilitation, and my course.

eCertification Framework

Establishing your eClassroom – Framework

Because of the way I have crafted the eClassroom course, it has provide extra time to focus on very personalized feedback.   Last year, I stumbled on Dwecks Mindset book.  It has changed my life.  I was determine to put extra time and effort to  focus on growth mindset techniques in all of my responses.   Generally reflections in Mod 1 indicated frustrations, doubt, and fear.   This is very natural and module 1 generally requires significant facilitation.   I will not lie.  I have seen some very VERY significant growth in participants this time around.  Not just growth in skill and technology but growth in mindset. From “I dont think this is for me and my classroom” to “I am ready to do this”!

I always provide opportunity for my teachers to give me feedback after each module and in an end of course survey.   The narrative provided this time around were great and the comments reflected my work in facilitation.

End of course feedback

End of Course Feedback from October-December 2014 cohort.

 

Improvements needed – my reflections

1. Somewhere in Module 1 or 2, I need to create a video about Moodle Design.  I would hope this would eliminate the amount of adjusting/clean up participants would have to do in Mod 4.  OR – better yet, maybe when I create their sandbox course – I only allow 2 or 3 topics. That way, they will try to keep unit materials under 1 topic.

2. Our district recently adopted the Marzano Framework for teaching.   This course is very aligned to Domain 1, 2, and 3.  I need to take some time and align the course to the framework, as well as ISTE and INACOL standards.  I would like to try utilize outcomes in Moodle.  If I could do standards based feedback/grading via Moodle – that would even be better. Word is @moodleshare may have figured this out!

Moodleshare Tweet

3. I would like to add a few scales to my activities to help with clarity in assessing the learning artifacts.  It is always important that my participants get opportunities to improve them.  I really like the Moodle rubrics.  Will I use those – or just a simple scale?

4. Give choice in reflections.  Either allow participants to reflect with me 1:1 (Moodle activity) or allow them an option to create a blog and reflect to their own audience – submit link to me.   I noticed one of my participants reflection improved significantly when the reflection went to our course discussion board in Mod 6.  Makes me think  – audience matters for some! I remember when I was in my masters courses and I loved LOVED blogging vs. private reflections.

5. Pay special focus with teachers in the as they are developing their units.  As they begin creating tasks and resources – its important that I provide feedback on whether or not the resources and tasks are age appropriate.  I would love to do cohorts of teachers in similar grade levels.

6. Consider either a module in copyright/fair use  or adding an activity in Mod 2/3.

7. Add more relevant research in hybrid learning.  When I first created – it was focused on online learning, I then readjusted to include flipped classroom.  I believe “Blend/hybrid” is the best solution and need to find research to support it.

Is there such a thing as the “perfect” course?  I doubt it.  But I will do my best to conquer and build it!  In the mean time, I am satisfied with the completion rate of Byron teachers (who voluntarily sign up) and the feedback they provide me to improve this course!

certification rate

eClassroom certification rate as of December 2014

 

How the 140 character discussion helps me

Tonight marked the 1st #MNLEAD  twitter chat. Michelle Ament (@mlament)and Lisa Sjogren (@lisasjogren) did a fantastic job creating the discussion agenda and moderating the event.  Having the agenda ahead of time really helped me keep track of the answers to the questions and flow of the conversation.  I also appreciated learning about tweetchat – a tool specifically for twitter chats.  For those of you who have not participated in a chat before, essentially a moderator will ask a question and then you respond.  Typically you get 10 minutes to have a rapid conversation (I mean crazy-fast high-adrenaline discussions) around the ideas presented, before moving on to the next question.

Below is a sample:

moderate
My response

twitter

 

While what I tweeted was nothing earth shattering, it was a my statement, my thoughts and something that I could have a side twitter conversation about.  This is what  like about twitter chats.  A single tweet leads may lead to a favorite or  retweet (RT) which can lead to a reply.  The reply leads a formal twitter conversation that may include actual samples and  ideas that are being currently implemented  in districts.  That 140 character conversation leads to follow up email or in this case an invite to a  Google community #MNTransformEDU.  Follow up emails and/orconnections in Google communities can lead to longer more in depth conversations. If online discussion is not enough it may be necessary  for a phone call and my favorite – Google hangout.  I can not begin to tell you how many times a spark on Twitter has lead to some pretty significant change in my district as well as my own professional growth.  Because of that 140 character discussion cycle, I have now have a deeper connections to like-minded colleagues around the state (or world) who support me, but more importantly challenge me in my thinking.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still learned quite a bit from our chat.  I like that we had 40-50 ed leaders in MN come together to talk about leadership and what we like, what we do, and how we will follow up with what we learned.   We also have to tweet our actionable items throughout the rest of the week – (this was a nice touch!)  If you are wondering what the lollipops are about – please watch the video in the agenda.

action

One pondering question I have.  What if we had MORE edu leaders participate and engage in Twitter Chats.  What kind of movement would that create in MN schools? Join us Sundays at 7pm cst!

Hybrid learning: Claiming our digital space

Its official, tonight our school board approved a pilot in which several of our high school teachers will be developing and implementing Hybrid courses.  Whats more exciting, is that we will be starting as early as this quarter! Last summer, my principal and I attended Claiming your digital space:Developing an Online Program for Your District.  I have to say, after leaving that day, it was like I had an digital epiphany.  We have been dabbling in online learning for several years and have some great things going. We have teachers that have been certified (through a 5-6 week online course) to provide fully online courses. (so, we dont lose our students to other online programs)  Our math department developed their own Moodle curriclum and was implementing Flipped classroom techniques and getting great recognition and gains in academic achievement!

Balancing OLL with F2F learningBut new opportunities arose, to develop our program further, when we were awarded 4 TPC Interns from an Innovative Winona State teaching program. While 1st semester is spent with these individuals as a typical student teacher mentor, during 2nd semester the interns “take over” the classes.  This frees up a tremendous amount of time for the mentor – allowing our district to use their time elsewhere.  (Big win for Winona and Big win for us!)

Seeing the writing on the wall, a couple of our teachers decided to begin developing content early this school year.  Imagine the excitement I felt when I coordinated the first official meeting last week (to address the registration guide deadlines and possibly needing Hybrid language) and the teachers were ready to PILOT now, this quarter.  And tonight, only 4 days later, we are getting board approval to move forward!  We will still  focus on course development 2nd semester, but to have some pilots started this quarter, to learn from, is going to be very beneficial!

The statistics are clear. Online/hybrid learning is certainly on the rise.  I am excited to say, our plan is coming together and I do believe we will claim our space when it comes to online learning!  Stay tuned!

Synthesizing #memo10 – Ideas to take home

Reflections from Memo

Day 1 of the Memo conference, and I have been completely energized.  The day started out with an excellent keynote by Buffy Hamilton (@buffyjhamilton), the Unquiet Librarian.  Her message – “Beyond Balance; participatory librarianship for creating , connecting, conversing, and contributing” was highly engaging and motivating. (I tried embedding -didnt work..sniff)

Even though her target audience was media specialists, I found that much, or I should say most, of what she shared could be incorporated in any classroom, school, or district.  “Where does the library live? What are the physical and virtual spaces like?” – led me to think about our classrooms  and schools.  How do we build effective virtual spaces and more importantly how do we cultivate participatory learning in these spaces?  In her library, there is a sense of shared ownership of learning between her students and staff. Her goal – build on passions. Shouldn’t we also be cultivating this in our schools?

Her ideas to get started – map out your vision – literally. (please note learning environments on her map – thumbs up!)  I think I would like to try this technique with our district technology committee to assist with technology planning.  However, why stop there? This technique could be done in any classroom, department, committee, school, or district.  As we develop our plans, goals, vision – it is the follow thru that has the planning worthwhile.  “DOING vs. PLANNING” is taking your vision, your plan, and putting it into action.  Make sure your planning and visioning has plenty of input/approval from stakeholders (shared conversations)  – because when it is time to “walk the talk” it’s those folks that will need to help you deliver the vision.

eReaders

Next on my schedule… demonstration and discussion about eBooks by Dawn Nelson (@dawnrnelson) and Lin Salisbury.  I have to admit I am behind in understanding the opportunities with this technology and this was a great session to get me up to speed.  My take aways… library’s can purchase an ebook and share it simultaneously with up to 6 devices. (Barnes and Noble Nook or Amazon Kindle)  You then check out the device to the student. Within these books you can annotate, search, and even add audio (at a fee). There are a considerable amount of FREE ebooks and nooks are compatible with ePub.  Prices for Nooks start at $149.

What gets a little “muddy” is managing this.  Problems = 1 login account per 6 devices. Having 30 devices would require 5 separate accounts. Purchasing books is also a challenge.  BN only accepts credit cards and this has caused some issues in business offices.  One alternative is gift cards – but this is also a problem with school auditors.  The SCARIEST problem shared, (that left me shaking in my shoes) was that the Nooks are directly linked to your account and credit card AND as of right now, there is no password protection! OUCH! The workaround… librarians will put the nook in airplane mode which will not give the nook access to the internet.  However – how long before the student figures out how to take to turn the Internet back on? Hello Shopping Spree!   Management and security seem to be a problem right now but I am sure BN will eventually figure out a way to make it work better. I really like the idea so that leads me to wonder about the iPad?  From what I understand  – there are apps for BN or Amazon or a bazillion other useful programs.  I don’t have an iPad yet – I think its time.  Still waiting on the Google Pad. Hurry up already!

Another session with Buffy

“Strategies for Keeping Up with (Almost Everything)”. It was a no brainer…after the excellent keynote in the morning, that I was going to attend a session with Buffy Hamilton.  One of my goals this year is to help our staff develop their own personal learning networks (PLNs).  This session was perfect timing!  I love the title “Strategies for Keeping Up” ! Instead of a title like “Creating a PLN”, which can appear to be another new thing, and extra… this title makes developing a PLN to be more helpful to organize and manage information.  Some takeaways…” “Walk before you Run”.

Looking or explaining my PLN may look very scary for staff.

However, starting small and  “cultivating their passions” is key.  It is also beneficial to show the tools to help them organize information. Google Reader, iGoogle, Netvibes, ect…(personal note – I need to master iGoogle!)  Even if they do not want to share their thoughts publicly (tweet, blog) in this case…it is OK to be a “lurker”.

Presenting with Doug

Next I was privileged to co Present “To Friend or Not to Friend: A guide for Teachers Using Social and Educational Networking Sites” with the  Blue Skunk Blogger Doug Johnson (@BlueSkunkBlog).  Even though I was extremely nervous, the audience made me feel very comfortable. They were receptive to our presentation and there was a great exchange of dialog/ideas. Yeah – I learned too!   My take away from this experience/presentation.  First of all – Doug is a master presenter. He has a great talent in engaging conversation with the audience, and making it interactive.  This is something I need to continue to work on – instead of “showering the crowd” with information, it is more influential to guide them into conclusions based on ideas and information. (guide on the side vs sage on the stage)

My other take away…is that districts still continue to have problems with sites being blocked in their districts. Youtube is blocked, Wikis are blocked, Blogs are blocked, Social Networks are blocked. Sometimes it is the settings on the filter, but most seem to blame the  “Network Gestapo”.  CIPA is usually the excuse given to block sites. But take note – CIPA only requires that schools (who apply for erate funds for Internet) require schools to block sites that are: obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors (for computers that are accessed by minors).  Creating a classroom blog, wiki, or youtube channel is NOT HARMFUL TO MINORS.  Blocking these sites is a DETRIMENT to education and your students learning is being hampered.  Classroom innovation and transformation will never happen without access to these tools.  My advice, devise a team (include students), and a plan targeting the educational value (include baby steps). Showcase the innovation in other districts aka…what is NOT happening in your district.  Don’t stop at the Gestapo if you get turned down. Your administration and board may be much more receptive.  Booster Clubs and PTA can be also be effective.  Please do not give up the battle!

Here are a couple of youtube channels for your Bag of Tricks

Hanging with District 287


I’ll be honest. Being it was almost 3pm and after a day of total engagement, I wasn’t sure that I was going to get much out of “Stimulate your district’s Online Courses” with John Fila and Mike Smart (@moodleshare).  I was soooo wrong. Talk about save the best for last!  Right now our district is at a pivotal transition.  Moodle has made an entry in our district and we are beginning to develop blended moodle courses as well as fully online courses.  The course design techniques shared as well as the FREE courses/units (aligned to MN or National standards) were AMAZING.  A little background…District 287 received an E2T2 grant and had around 80 teachers apply to develop courses and units (after being trained). These teachers were from all grade levels and subject areas. What is very nice about the free units/courses is that you can go in and preview the content and then decide to download what you like.  Eventually the plan is to make them available at the Minnesota Learning Commons.

As for the design techniques – I can’t explain how excited I was to see this.  We have all heard of Presentation Zen but I have never witnessed Moodle Zen.  Stunning graphics and visually appealing.  No scroll of death!  There is a trick to it –I think between working with labels and hiding topics, (moodle terms) is how they do it.  They also have a very good eye for media design. They are now developing Minnesota Licensure courses for their staff to take.  They have a wonderful orientation course required of all their students. (they believe their success rates have gone up because of this requirements).  Hey John and Mike – you guys need a whole day session OR an online class that I can enroll in to learn this.  It is very unique and needs to be shared!  Where do I sign up????? Oh by the way – in their district they have a position called “Innovation Coaches”.  This is like a duty for a teacher or a .1 position in every building.  What an empowering position that must be!

Bidding adieu to textbooks…

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Andrew Wertheimer

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Andrew Wertheimer

This summer our high school math department will be leaving their old, heavy, dusty textbooks behind and will be developing and moving their curriculum online.  While this may seem like a considerable charge (for a team of five) there are several reasons why they decided – Now is the time to move!

  • Money talks – Especially when there is none.  Just like most districts in the state of MN, our district is facing budget reductions.  There is no money for new textbooks.
  • New Standards – The state of MN has been shifting and restructuring the math standards and many of the current HS math courses need adjusting to match those standards – starting in the 2010-11 school year.
  • Current textbook Use – The team has identified that the  majority of our students do not use textbook as learning resources but use them for homework assignments only. They are heavy, dated, and lack real world application.
  • Open Education – New open education resources like Hippocampus, Curriki, or Connexions are free online sites with organized learning modules so teachers do not have to reinvent the wheel. (many are multimedia rich)
  • Learning Styles – Textbooks only address a limited number of learning styles and are generally not for the visual or auditory learners.  They are not interactive, very impersonal, and lack the collaborative learning students today crave.
  • Access 24/7 – The math department has already made the decision to begin recording video SMART board lessons/lectures/demonstrations, storing them on Youtube, and organizing the content within Moodle.  Students will have 24/7 access to these resources, and can watch and (RE)watch the recordings as many times as it takes to understand the concepts.  (Many students will not ask questions in class in fear of looking  “stupid” in front of their peers)
  • Living Curriculum – Since the team will be creating the curriculum – they will also be able to adjust and improve upon the courses as needed.  Forever.
  • Future  Delivery of Public Education – Reports indicate that half of high school courses could be online by 2019.  Governor Pawlenty recently proposed to require every high school graduate, beginning in 2013, to take an online course, participate in an online experience or participate in online experiences.  Developing a blended curriculum in the math department will prepare our students AND teachers for the eminent shift in the delivery of public education.

There may be many more benefits than the ones I have identified above.  There will also be roadblocks that we will have to address. (like computer access)  We will tackle those problems as they occur.  I am looking forward to this new journey and the opportunities it will give our students!

Moodle focused professional development

I was recently asked whether or not Moodle should be a main topic in training our teachers and administrators in online learning.  Here is my response:

Moodle is a vehicle, a tool and/or container for online learning. There is no doubt in my mind as online learning or hybrid courses expand in our schools, that  teachers are going to need a session on tips and tricks in Moodle.  However,  what I see as a bigger need, is continuous sessions on how effectively utilize online learning to support and meet the diverse needs of our learners. Moodle is not the cure-all, and should not be the only tool considered in an storm of new tools and enhancements. A two hour session is great for our teachers who are hand-holding, hands-on learners. HOWEVER, more importantly… we will need to develop networks of learning to support this endeavor when teachers need it  – by teachers who use it… not when WE decide to schedule it. Online professional development, just as online learning for students, will be driven by the needs of each individual teacher.

As for the administrative training…that is a different beast. Many administrators, do not understand the benefits of online learning and have not “bought in” to its effectiveness. Many of them haven’t even taken an online course and now are the key decision makers in the policy and procedure of online learning? That is ludicrous. If you think of the journey to administration..it is supported by years of classroom experience, followed by some administrative theory and practice. This a whole new landscape!!! Should Moodle be the focus of this training? I say no. Can it be embedded? Of course. Our administrators should be encouraged to take online training, participate in the learning communities right along with our teachers.  Actually, I take that last statement back.. Why do we have to encourage this learning? Shouldn’t they WANT to do this for the benefits of our schools?

Online teaching/learning…coming soon to a location near you!

Last week, after our online learning committee meeting, I was asked to develop a survey that would ask all middle and high school teachers their interest in learning more about online learning.

FROM THE SURVEY

Are you interested in learning more about online learning? Please select the level of training you would like to receive below.  (select all that apply)

  • Level 1 – Basic informational meeting – What is it, How does it work, how will it affect my classroom?
  • Level 2 – Extending my face to face classroom into the online environment using Moodle.
  • Level 3 – Learning to develop/teach fully online classes.
  • Other

THE RESULTS

Out of the 80 or so teachers (MS/HS), 23 teachers indicated interest in learning more about online learning…and even possibly teaching online!  I am very excited to see that our teachers are showing interest in this new method of delivering education.   After all, Pawlenty’s 2013 online high school learning experience will be a requirement for our current 8th graders!

OLL Results

Information sessions will be coming to your buildings very soon – be on the watch for invitations.

Was Pink Floyd and education futurist?

Think of how education has been delivered for the past 130 years.  Information was not readily available.  If you wanted to be informed, you would have to go to a public library, pick up an encyclopedia, or be “taught” information by university scholars deemed “teachers”.

 Fast-forward to today’s environment.  Information is readily available and students can Google information faster than the teacher can lecture it.  So is the lecture important?  Do you think the traditional industrial aged teacher, who was the keeper of information, will be successful in an online environment?

The biggest change (or challenge) for online teachers is that they will transform from the “sage on the stage” (givers of information) to the “guide on the side” (mentors of information). Online learning is truly student-centered and teachers will need to help students with their questioning, problem solving, and investigation skills while individualizing and differentiating their instruction for every student. 

Since online teaching will focus on the needs of the students, it will be very important to have multiple ways to assess them.  When I say asses – I do not mean TEST!  (traditional t/f, multiple choice tests) Too often teachers use the “test” method as the only measure and evaluation of student’s learning.  Learning comes in multiple facets so we need multiple ways to obtain students personal growth.  Assessments need to be viewed as a teaching tools and learning tools.

Assessments can be reflective and personal (like blogs, journaling), can be knowledge based and measured (quizzes, tests, pre/post courses surveys), and they can be collaborative (like skype and wikis).  All assessments must be based on the courses objectives and final outcomes!  

Teachers will also learn from these assessments.  Are my course materials effective?  Does content to be further enhanced or developed?  Teachers need to be open-minded and accept the learning and feedback they receive from their students.  It can be very empowering to the students that we are learning from them, just as they learn from us.

So, please review Pink Floyd’s video “Another Brick in the Wall”.  How does it coincide with the current problems in brick and mortar classrooms?  How will online learning tear down these bricks in the wall?

Bubble.us – free concept mapping

Bubble.us is a great freebie that allows its users to visually collaborate and/or organize projects.  Below is a quick concept map that I created for past workshop I have taught.  I am thinking of how I can move some of my sessions online.  Each objective should list specific course materials (readings, resources and rubrics), high quality discussions that embed critical thinking skills, and assignments/projects as evidence of the user's newly developed podcasting skills.  As you look at my map - what else should I add?  Maybe quality feedback from the student to the instructor and visa versa?

You should be able to zoom in and out and move the map around to read it better!

TIES 2008 – Exploring Google for Educators – My notes

Molly Schroeder, Edina Public Schools

Saturday, Dec 6 from 8:30 – 11:30

What a wealth of Google knowledge this Minnesota Google CERTIFIED teacher has!  I thought I had a pretty good knowledge of Google, but she took me a step further!  We played with:

My favorite resources was something called Google Lit Trips.  Basically the site teaches great literature by using Google Earth mapping out road trip stories from literary works.  Grades k-12!

Her agenda can be found here