Friday, May 29, 2015

The #TwitteratiChallenge

Yesterday I was mentioned in the #Twitterati Challenge in a blog post by Marcello Mongardi.  The idea behind this challenge is to recognise supportive colleagues, but these cannot be people who you work with in "real life".  When I started to think about this, it took me back to the time when I first started to use Twitter, which was when I was working in Thailand in 2007.  I can't remember how I got introduced to Twitter, but I'm guessing it was through ISTEC, a tri-annual meeting of tech people working in international schools in and around Bangkok.  It wasn't until I moved to Switzerland, however, that I started to see the possibilities of making meaningful connections through Twitter, with people that I hadn't ever met.  I started to refer to Twitter as my "virtual staffroom" and when I introduced tech training at my new school, in the form of Techie Breakie (breakfast) sessions, Twitter was one of the first tools I introduced as a way of building up a PLN.

The people on this list are those whom I mostly first connected with using Twitter when I worked in Switzerland, but I have remained in contact with ever since.  Several of these I have since met in person.

Vicky Loras - @vickyloras It's amazing to me that when I first started to follow Vicky on Twitter I didn't realise that she also lived in Switzerland.  I think I first found her via George Couros with the Greek/Canadian connection.  It was only after several Twitter conversations that I discovered that not only did she live in Switzerland, she also lived in the same town as me!  Vicky is the founder of the Loras Network, is a prolific tweeter and a wonderful language teacher.  She was recently named as one of the 42 Women Leading Education.  I'm happy that we got to connect both in person and through Twitter while I lived in Switzerland.

Silvia Tolisano - @langwitches  It was while living in Switzerland that I first came across Silvia, who at that time was based at a school in Florida.  I love the way that Silvia shares her ideas and what she does so generously.  While working in Switzerland Silvia invited me to take part in Quad Blogging Action Research about how blogging can improve student writing. Since our first contact on Twitter Silvia and I have also met a number of times.  We first met at the ECIS IT Conference in Frankfurt, and then again in India at ASB Un-Plugged.  After spending a year working in an international school in Brazil, Silvia is now working as a consultant.

Edna Sackson - @whatedsaid  Edna is one of my strongest connections on Twitter, and is someone who I have never met in person (and yet I feel like I have!).  Edna and I first connected through the blogging alliance set up by Kelly Tenkely at the start of 2010.  Both Edna and I had started blogging in the Fall of 2009 and without this alliance we would not have connected with each other quite so soon.  I think I felt an immediate rapport with Edna as she was working at a PYP school in Australia and we were both thinking about the same things - mostly inquiry - and both of us identified with being teachers AND learners.   Also Edna was already involved with a project in India (SOLES and SOMES), a country that I was later to move to. Edna went on to set up the Inquire Within blog, another wonderful way to connect inquiry teachers.  

Kelly Tenkely - @ktenkely  In 2009 I started this blog.  Who knows what would have happened to either me or my blog without Kelly, but certainly I doubt I would have anything like my 750,000 readers!  At the start of 2010 she set up a Blogging Alliance and she encouraged a group of us to read and comment on each others' blogs - she also commented on every single post that we made.  At the time I was working in a school that did not support blogging.  Having a blog was referred to by one of our administrators as "personal branding" and without the encouragement of Kelly I may well simply have given up.  Kelly is the founder of Anastasis Academy and also blogs at iLearnTechnology where she shares ideas of tools and how they can be used with students.  I have never met Kelly in person, but since ISTE is taking place in Colorado in 2016, I'm hoping that there is a chance that I might get to meet her then.

Jason Graham - @jasongraham99  Around the time I moved to India, I also became a PYP online workshop facilitator for the IBO.  When I did the training for this, I first came across Jay who is now a lead facilitator.  In fact, Jay was the first person I co-led an online workshop with - and he provided a very supportive introduction to this role.  Jay was also one of the founders of the #pypchat on Twitter.  (Click here to see the great video Jay made about this).  Jay and I have met face to face a number of times too.  We first met in Singapore a couple of years ago when we were both training to be school visitors for the IBO, and last year we co-led a workshop on Flipped Classrooms, also in Singapore.

The #Twitterati Challenge has been a great way for me to think about - and thank - some of the wonderful educators from around the world who have helped to turn me into a connected educator.  To all of you:  Vicky, Silvia, Edna, Kelly and Jay - you will probably never know how much support you have given me and how grateful I am to the part you have played in my educational journey.  I would not be the person I am today without all of you.  Thank you.

If you would like to take part in the #Twitterati Challenge the rules are below.  As to rule number 3 and 4, it's our end of year staff party tonight so I am going to have a gin and tonic over ice and say "Cheers" to you all.


In the spirit of social media educator friendships, this summer it is time to recognise your most supportive colleagues in a simple blogpost shout-out. Whatever your reason, these 5 educators should be your 5 go-to people in times of challenge and critique, or for verification and support.

There are only 3 rules.

1.You cannot knowingly include someone you work with in real life.

2.You cannot list somebody that has already been named if you are already made aware of them being listed on #TwitteratiChallenge

3.You will need to copy and paste the title of this blogpost and the Rules and What To Do information into your own blog post.

What To Do?

There are 5 to-dos if you would like to nominate your own list of colleagues.

1.Within 7 days of being nominated by somebody else, identify colleagues you regularly go to for support and challenge. They have now been challenged and should act as participants in the #TwitteratiChallenge.

2.If you’ve been nominated, you should write your own #TwitteratiChallenge blogpost within 7 days. If you do not have your own blog, try @staffrm

3.The educator nominated should record a video of themselves (using Periscope?) in continuous footage and announce their acceptance of the challenge, followed by a pouring of your (chosen) drink over a glass of ice.

4.Then the drink is to be lifted with a ‘cheers’ before the participant nominates their five other educators to participate in the challenge.

5.The educator that is now (newly) nominated, has 7 days to compose their own #TwitteratiChallenge blogpost and identify who their top 5 go-to educators are.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Coaching - a review of the first year

As we enter the final month of this school year I wanted to write a short blog post to share the impact that tech integration coaching has had in my school division. We recently conducted a feedback survey, the results of which were extremely positive. This year all the coaches were trained in at least the first 4 days of Cognitive Coaching, with some completing Days 5-8. We have focused on planning and reflecting conversations.
At the start of each year, all teachers and teaching assistants set a tech goal.  For the teachers the goal is connected to the ISTE Standards for Teachers - this year we are focusing on Standard 2 designing and developing digital age learning experiences and assessments.  Our teaching assistants based their goal on Standard 3, modelling digital-age work and learning.

According to the survey
  • 73% of teachers indicated that Tech Integration Coaching has supported effective digital age learning environments that maximise the learning of all students
  • 57%  indicated that coaching has had an impact on using technology for assessing student learning
  • 43% said the coaching has helped them provide rigorous and engaging learning experiences for their students, and
  • 32% said it has helped them differentiate instruction
Teachers were also asked about the coaching conversations they had been engaged in with their coach.  These were ranked on a scale of 1-4, with 1 and 2 being low satisfaction and 3-4 being high satisfaction.
  • 81% of teachers gave a 3 or 4 to being engaged in planning conversations
  • 72% of teachers gave a 3 or 4 to being engaged in reflecting conversations
  • 66% of teachers responded with a 3 or 4 when asked about how their coach had engaged them in data collection
  • 86% responded with a 3 or 4 for help they had received from their coach with artefact collection for the Tech Audit, and
  • 80% gave a 3 or 4 for support in problem resolution
The teaching assistants were asked about support they had received when working on their personal tech goals.
  • 64% of assistants indicated coaching had helped them collaborate using digital tools and resources to support student success 
  • 36% said coaching had supported them in using a variety of digital age media and formats, and
  • 50% said they could transfer their knowledge to new technologies and situations.
TAs were also asked to rate their coaching sessions. We had a rating scale of 4, with 1 and 2 being low and 3 and 4 being high. TAs responded in the following way:
  • 73% of TAs gave a score of 3 or 4 based on their engagement in planning and reflecting conversations
  • 59% of TAs gave a score of 3 when asked if tech coaching has helped them with problem resolution.
  • 82% of respondents indicated that tech coaching has helped them learn new tools.
This data will be invaluable to us as we reflect on our first year of tech coaching - and as we build on this to support teachers and assistants next year.

Photo Credit: Ruthven Moonwolf via Compfight cc

Trends and challenges

Following on from a previous post, I do find the trends and challenges sections of the Horizon Reports to be really interesting and useful.  Here, then, is my summary of these trends and challenges that appear in the preview of this year's Horizon Report.

Long-Term Trends
  • Rethinking how schools work.  Keeping schools relevant is something we talk a lot about at ASB and the Horizon Report highlights the movement to reinvent the traditional classroom paradigm and rearrange the whole school experience though student-centred approaches like project- and challenge-based learning where students move fluidly from one learning activity to another instead of working on traditional subjects.  This will also impact on schedules, which will need to become more flexible.  Learning should become more personalized and authentic.
  • A shift to deeper learning - deeper rather than broader seems to be the main idea here, with students being given opportunities to apply their learning.  This brings more real-world application of the curriculum, and often involves devices such as smartphones and tablets.  This trend will see students brainstorming and implementing solutions to both local and global problems, as students immerse themselves deeper into learning that connects with their own lives.
Mid-Term Trends
  • Collaborative learning - among both teachers and students.  Teamwork leads to greater engagement and better performance.  For teachers the trend is towards more collaborative PD, sharing best practices and learning from each other.
  • A shift towards students as creators.  Increasingly students are learning through active hands-on activities that encourage making and creating rather than from the consumption of content.
Short-Term Trends
  • Increasing use of hybrid/blended learning.  Blended learning is on the rise and perceptions of online learning are shifting so it becomes a viable alternative to face-to-face.  Online learning will become more popular still with rapid developments in learning analytics and adaptive learning.
  • STEAM - a growing number of educators are arguing for integrating the humanities and arts into STEM classes.
Solvable Challenges
  • Authentic learning that brings real-life experiences into the classroom is still uncommon in schools.  
  • Teacher education still does not focus on the rising importance of digital media literacy as a key skill in every discipline and profession.
Difficult Challenges
  • Personalized learning and adaptive learning are still seen as being some way from being adopted widely in schools.
  • Rethinking the roles of teachers.  The integration of technology into everyday life is causing many to argue that schools should be providing ways for students to continue to learn beyond the school day.   Teacher PD is changing too - and now involves social media and online tools and resources.
Wicked Challenges
  • Scaling teacher innovations to get them into mainstream practice.  Innovation is rarely rewarded in schools with an aversion to change, and teachers are often discouraged from experimentation.
  • Teaching complex thinking that takes on-board artificial intelligence, big data, modelling technologies and the semantic web at the same time that students are learning communication skills to apply the complex thinking effectively.
Photo Credit: Rantz via Compfight cc

The Horizon - getting closer or further away?

I've been looking forward to getting the K-12 Horizon Report every year since 2010, but this year was a bit different.  I've had the preview lying on my desk for a while and haven't yet been tempted to read it.  I've become disillusioned with the timeframe.  Let's give an example.  In 2011 predictions for K-12 education were as follows:  cloud computing, mobiles, games based learning and open content. Since this report is now 4 years old, you would have imagined that anything that was on the near horizon back then (1-2 years away from implementation) would already be mainstream by now.  Yet last year cloud computing was still on the "near horizon" while games and gamification were seen as being 2-3 years away.  So I'm interested in a way to read this report to see how quickly we have moved this year - and which predictions that were made in the past are actually moving further and further away.

In the 2015 Horizon Report Preview for K-12 the near horizon includes BYOD and Makerspaces.  In fact BYOD was already on the near horizon in 2012 and again in 2013!  The report notes that BYOD adoption has less to do with a move to reduce technology spending and more to do with the fact that this reflects contemporary lifestyle and ways of working and learning.  Makerspaces are seen as important because of the shift in skill sets needed in our world, making creativity, design and engineering more important for education.

On the medium horizon this year are 3D printers and rapid prototyping, and adaptive learning technologies.  The 2013 Horizon Report mentioned that 3D Printers were about 4-5 years from becoming mainstream, so the timeline for these now being on the medium horizon of 2-3 years is certainly in line with that.  In last year's report adaptive learning was mentioned as a challenge so it's good to see there have been developments in data-driven software and online platforms that adjust to students' needs as they learn, anticipating the type of content and resources that individual learners need at specific points in time to make progress.

This year on the far horizon of 4-5 years away are badges and micro-credits, and wearable technology.  I believe that badges were first mentioned in the Horizon Report in 2013 as a way of giving credentials for online learning, which at that point was seen as being on the near horizon.   In 2013 and 2014 wearable technology was also seen as being on the far horizon.  In fact as far ago as 2012 Google Glass was launched, and it hasn't come a long way since then.  I'm more excited about some of the new wearable technology such as the smart watch and Fitbit, though I think there is still some way to go before these devices will be mainstream in schools.

So while I am still interested to read about what's coming up on the horizon, I'm now starting to take some of the time frames mentioned with a pinch of salt.  Predicting the future is always difficult, but I'm going to read this report with more scepticism than the previous ones.

Photo Credit: Judy ** via Compfight cc

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Coaching teachers in the "refinement" stage

In the past few weeks, as I've been reading the book Building Teachers' Capacity for Success by Pete Hall and Alisa Simeral, I've been trying to relate the various stages of teacher reflection with the 5 states of mind identified in Cognitive Coaching.  This is the final post in this series and deals with teachers who are generally high in all 5 states of mind.  How can a coach effectively work with these teachers?

Teacher in the refinement stage are very reflective.  Hall and Simeral describe how they reflect before, during and after taking action.  They are aware of problems that occur during lessons and therefore analyze and act on them during the lessons.  This shows they are high in consciousness and also empathy.  They also recognize that there are multiple "right" courses of action and modify lessons and plans to meet students' needs.  This open-mindedness shows that another state of mind that is high is flexibility.  They are also high in craftsmanship, having a vast repertoire of instructional strategies, and frequently engage in action research.  Finally since they pursue opportunities to work with and learn with colleagues, their interdependence is also high.  Teachers in the refinement stage think beyond the classroom and focus on the art of teaching.

In the classrooms of teachers at the refinement stage, assessment drive daily instruction, students are responsible for their own learning and there are multiple strategies in use, as they are aware of the individual abilities of their students and use various strategies to tap into each child's potential. Again, since everything appears to be going well and the teachers are already motivated and reflective, how can a coach impact the learning going on in these classrooms?

Hall and Simeral suggest the following when coaching teachers at the refinement stage:

  • With these teachers it is essential to encourage continued reflection through asking open-ended mediative questions and paraphrasing that can lead to cognitive shift.
  • Provide a wide range of pedagogical resources (blog posts, journal articles, online videos, web pages, professional books)
  • Encourage professional book club facilitation or initiation
  • Analyze group data together
  • Establish a team action research project
  • Encourage participation in conferences, seminars and publications - these teachers have a lot of expertise and experiences to share.
  • Arrange for student-teacher hosting opportunities - giving these teachers the responsibility to mentor and coach student teachers forces the refinement stage teacher to further self-reflect
  • Seek out opportunities for individual talent development
  • Encourage leadership (if this is a strength) - at ASB one of the things we have encouraged is for these teachers to train to be technology integration coaches themselves.
In an upcoming blog post I am going to reflect on the impact that tech integration coaching has had on our elementary school teachers and teaching assistants.  We recently conducted a survey and I'll be sharing some of the results on how coaching has impacted teaching and learning at ASB in it's first year of introduction.  I'll be reflecting on these results with our coaches as we plan on how to move forward next year.

Original artwork by an ASB student