Celebrating EdTech Women Making an Impact

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March is known as Women’s History Month and this year the theme honors Trailblazers whose passion has influenced their respective field of work. This month I plan to highlight groups of Edtech Women each Friday that are leading the way in our field, celebrating their passion, innovations, and work. These women are helping to lead the way in creating a change in the field of education that is best for kids around the world.

leslie.jpegLeslie Pralle Keehn, Instructional Technology Consultant at Prairie Lakes AEA

“I want to help teachers and students follow their passions to create, change, and lead a  world that is better off than when I entered it.”

  • Current Edtech Favorites: DIY.org, ISTE Young Educator Network, #ObserveMe movement
  • Advice: Don’t let any individual or system keep you from doing the work that is best for your kids. There is a huge network of educators ready to lift you up and support you, often only one click away.
  • Connect with Leslie: @LPralleK (Twitter and IG)

 

beth-500Beth Holland, doctoral student, writer, consultant

“My entire education focus has always been to find the best possible ways to create meaningful learning experiences for students.”

 

julieJulie Daniel Davis, Technology Coordinator

“Somewhat of a futurist, I am passionate about meeting teachers and students individual needs through the use of technology and taking them forward in their growth as lifelong learners.”

 

alice.jpgAlice Keeler, Teacher and EdTech Blogger

“You don’t teach a class, you teach a room full of individuals.”

headshot_jenn_2Jennifer Womble, Program Chair, Future of Education Technology Conference

“My mission is to design the highest quality professional development that inspires educators, accelerates learning and engages curious minds.”

  • Current Edtech Favorites: Catchbox (great for engaging audiences and getting people talking), Mentimeter (perfect for visualizing responses from an audience),
    Google Cardboard (inspiring VR with low cost tools and apps)
  • Advice: Engage your professional passion every day; teaching children requires building relationships and inspiring thinking, when educators are passionate, students are motivated to create, be curious and learn new things.
  • Connect with Jennifer: Twitter @JenWomble and at face to face conferences around the country–especially FETC

 

karaKara Welty, Mentor Teacher and Technology Integrationist

“Do everything with great love.”

  • Current Edtech Favorites: All things GAFE, Do Ink Green Screen App for iPad, Seesaw
  • Advice: Let your heart steer you. Follow and embed your passions as an educator into everything you do. When it is clear to others that you love your work and thoroughly enjoy what you do, it is contagious to all who interact with you. Be the person that uplifts everyone you meet through EVERY single interact you have. Furthermore, anyone who dedicates their life to teaching, leading, and learning understand how important our roles are and see how much it takes to be an educator that our students need.  Having said that, through your journey, keep your eye focused on what really matters, which is always the people we serve. Through serving others, we grow and become better as a result. Give yourself grace and acknowledge the incredible acts of service YOU dedicate to your school and community. Lastly, continue taking in as much knowledge and inspiration from the people around you and you will be UNSTOPPABLE!
  • Connect with Kara: Twitter- @kara_welty, Website- karawelty.com, Instagram- kara_welty

 

sueSue Gorman, Consultant

“Always see the good in everything and everyone and be kind always.“

victoriaVictoria Olson, Grade 3/4 Teacher & Technology Coach

“To me, education is about nurturing the growth of the whole child and providing them autonomy in their learning so that they’re proud of what they can offer the world.”

  • Current Edtech Favorites: Explain Everything, YouTube Playlists, Google Classroom, IFTTT
  • Advice: Let kids make mistakes and give them space and time to realize it. When adults interject too much in the lives of kids, we are failing them. Realizing mistakes allows kids to build independence, self-regulation, and resilience.
  • Connect with Victoria: Twitter @MsVictoriaOlson, Insta @msvictoriaolson, Blog: techteacheronamission.com

 

kerryKerry Gallagher, Digital Learning Specialist at St. John’s Prep, Director of K-12 Education for ConnectSafely, and EdSurge Columnist

“Start with a question, and let your search for answers lead to better questions.”

  • Current Edtech Favorites: Open Education Resources, Formative , PlayPosit
  • Advice: While it is important to listen to the feedback of your colleagues in your school and your PLN, be true to yourself and your students when you make your final decisions about what happens in your classroom and how you represent yourself to the world professionally.
  • Connect with Kerry: Twitter: @KerryHawk02, My Blog www.KerryHawk02.com

 

heatherHeather Callihan, District Technology Integrationist

“Every day is an opportunity: As an educator, I embrace the opportunities, reflect on the process, learn from others and never stop learning!”

  • Current Edtech Favorites: Google Keep, Twitter and Podcasts
  • Advice: Failure is a learning opportunity.  Own your experiences and embrace all opportunities!
  • Connect with Heather: Twitter @hcallihan email: hcallihan@ginorthwest.org

 

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7 Characteristics to Look For when Purchasing New Curriculum/Programs

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It’s that time of the year again when schools across the country are looking to purchase new curriculum and programs. Often times the big rocks that make things best for kids are masked by bells and whistles. Part of my role is helping educators determine which programs and curriculum are right for their staff and students. I believe that no one program or curriculum meets all standards or needs of all students, but there are definite factors that schools should consider before purchases are made.

7 Characteristics to Look For when Purchasing New Curriculum/Programs

  1. Direction – Before making a purchase of new curriculum it is important to understand the mission and goals of the program. After an introduction to the program, educators should have a clear understanding of the direction the program intends to deliver as well as the means in which to arrive. Look for both a larger conceptual mission of the curriculum that reach both inside and outside of the school as well as smaller goals aligned with the mission.
  2. Standards – All teachers follow some sort of standards or guide in which to embed curriculum and write student learning targets. Whether you are using the Common Core State Standards or a different roadmap to guide instruction be sure that there is alignment between the two. I again want to reiterate that while no program or curriculum materials reach all Standards or student needs, there are definite discrepancies between the quality available from each company.
  3. Learning Cycles – Within each program or set of curriculum materials, there should be evidence of learning cycles. Look for assessment in both pre and post formats, objectives, steps, scaffolds, timelines, etc. When purchasing programs that are meant to meet the needs of students all of these factors come into play during instruction and learning.
  4. Resources – When identifying which programs or curriculum to purchase it is essential to consider the resources included (or not included) for successful implementation. Resources involve materials for both teachers and students, people and time, technology integration, and also alternatives. Having to create or find material, people, and time that was not expected at the initial time of purchase can be detrimental to any new program or curriculum.
  5. Professional Learning – Knowing what professional learning is available for programs and curriculum schools are considering purchasing helps plan for roll-out, implementation, as well as systemic change. Professional learning could come in a variety of forms from on-site training, manuals, digital resources, and communities. While purchasing high-quality materials is an investment in kids, a better investment is in the educators that are working with students. Do not neglect this area when making a purchase. What typically happens is spotty use and frustrated staff members.
  6. Student-Centered – When purchasing new curriculums or programs it is important to always keep the student at the center of your decision. Students should recognize themselves (backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, etc.) in the texts. Materials targeted to engage youth at appropriate ages. Subjects that are important and relevant to students. Does the material allow for choice in content or demonstration of understanding? Is there a variety of instructional styles designed to meet more than one “type” or student needs.
  7. Continuous Improvement – Finally, it is also important to identify resources within programs and curriculum that allow for interventions, spiral or scaffolded learning, enrichment activities, and multi-lingual support for our EL students. Do they value reflection and metacognition empowering students to own their learning?  Are there clear ways information and data collected informs instruction and supports educators enhance learning for ALL students in their classroom?

(Adapted from David W. Moore)

I also like to gauge the group whose charge it is to identify and select programs/curriculum to purchase. I use this form and share the results with the school leadership team so that all voices are heard. Feel free to make your own copy to use.

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Posted in #edchat, administration, Assessment, beliefs, Consultant, Curriculum, edchat, Education, Instructional Coaching, Program, students, Teacher | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fake News Should Die… Or Should It?

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This blog post is part of the CM Rubin World Global Search for Education which poses a question each month to leading educators for reflection and sharing. This month’s question is “how do we fight the fake news epidemic?”

 

Recently, Fake News has been getting a bad reputation, I’m hoping this post changes that!

Over half of Americans get their news from just one social media site – Facebook and 45% of US adults say government politicians and elected officials bear a great deal of responsibility for preventing made-up stories from gaining attention (Pew Research Center,  December 15, 2016). These statistics alarm me. Not the first one highlighting where people find information, but the second claim in which many feel the responsibility of identifying and stopping the spread of fake information resides with the government.

It is essential for educators to develop healthy skepticism within each child; critical discerners of information that are able to evaluate, analyze, and apply information that they encounter throughout their lifetime, no matter the mode.

Information is doubling every 12 days, containing fake news, half-truths, alternate facts, and reliable information; and while there are many resources (my list here) and blog posts written that offer apps, website, fact-checkers, and lessons plans for educators to utilize, we must not overlook the charge of education in our pursuit of combating fake news –  to develop independent, critical thinkers.

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A conversation I had with my 7th grade son and his friends this morning:

Me: What do you know about fake news?

Son: What do you mean?

Son’s friend: Didn’t you see President Trump on the news yesterday talking about news sources…

After a brief discussion on politics

Me: So what should we do with people or news sources that report and spread fake news?

Son: Fine them, make them pay…

Son’s friend: They should get jail time.

All the boys: Yes, jail time and not be allowed to report fake news. The government needs to shut those people down…

Me: So the government should police the internet, news sources, social media, conversations and get rid of all of the fake news?

Deep Thought

Son’s friend: Well that means I could be thrown in jail… or we could end up like North Korea…

BINGO!

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Fake news is not a bad thing. In fact, it provides teachable moments for educators across the globe. It begs us to consider who or what determines information as fake? And How can we support kids in their pursuit of understanding? The discernment of information and the application to construct one’s own understanding should be practiced and refined in every classroom across the country. With that being said, the importance of what should be done with fake information and the people or corporations that report this news as truth is a piece of the conversation that is missed.

 

  • What exactly is fake news?
  • Would killing off fake news truly help people?
  • Does allowing others to determine what information you have access to leave you with only factual and correct information?
  • Who should police the internet?
  • What role should the government play in determining access to information?
  • Does killing off fake news equal censorship?
  • Is censorship needed?
  • Can censorship be both good and bad?
  • Can censorship and freedom of speech coexist?

Resources, websites, fact-checkers are nice. They support an individual’s pursuit of knowledge. We use them as adults and we should definitely model and share them with students.

But

DO NOT forget the second part of the conversation, one in which students understand the value of fake news in the age of information. The conversation that includes the tough discussions on freedom of speech, critical thinking, approaching information with healthy skepticism, and censorship.

Special thanks to Shawn McCusker and Steven Anderson for sharing information freely!

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Consider These 6 Areas When There is a Glitch in Reading Comprehension

when-reading-comprehension-breaks-down

Direct instruction in literacy should not end in elementary school. Students of all ages need continual modeling and practice of reading comprehension skills. And while many elementary teachers use running records to inform instruction, at the intermediate grades, this type of assessment can be modified to meet the needs of our older readers.

At the end of the oral reading, students retell what they had just read summarizing, analyzing, and connecting to the text. This retelling is preferred over the typical question-answer assessment for older students. Retelling gives us a glimpse into the reader’s cognition and provides valuable insight as to what was grasped and what may have been lost.

During the reflection with the student following the retell, teachers can hone in on 6 areas to identify possible sources that contribute to the breakdown of comprehension.

6 Areas to Explore when Reading Comprehension Breaks Down

  1. Background Knowledge on the topic. Do I need more information on the topic in order to understand the text? Would rereading or talking about it help me understand new concepts presented by the author?
  2. Vocabulary. Were there lots of words I’ve never heard of or seen in this selection?
  3. Cultural Differences. Is this about a way of thinking or pattern of acting that is different from mine?
  4. Word-Recognition Skills. Can I figure out hard or unfamiliar words?
  5. Comfort with the task. Am I worried about doing well?
  6. Responses to environmental influences inside and outside of school. Am I confident I can be successful?

(Based on the work of Mary Shea)

When teachers and students reflect and identify areas that contribute to the breakdown of comprehension glitches can be addressed efficiently. Teachers instruction is targeted and students understanding of themselves as readers grow enhancing independence and comprehension.

Posted in #edchat, #tcrwp, Assessment, beliefs, communication, edchat, reading, Reading Instruction, Skills, students, Teacher, Teacher Beliefs, teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6 Practices that “Work” to Accelerate Student Learning

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In education, we are often inundated with programs, curriculums, and frameworks that are “guaranteed to increase student learning”. Promises of a silver bullet that will fix all learning difficulties find their way to teachers and administrators alike. But as John Hattie points out in Visible Learning, it’s hard not to show growth or “evidence” for a program when the bar is set at zero.

As I began my study of Visible Learning for Literacy, much of the initial learning was not concentrated on what works in literacy, but what accelerates students’ learning in any classroom. Hattie identifies what works in education based on his research and a hinge point of .40 or greater. (The hinge point is any influence with an effect size of .40 or greater as having a positive impact on learning where acceleration extends beyond what a student can achieve in one year of simply attending school.)

Identifying high-impact influences and practices enhance an educator’s role as they reflect and evaluate their teaching by placing research and evidence in their hands. “What Works” in the classroom shifts from a buzzword to intentional practice that will accelerate learning. While Hattie identifies many influences above .40, I’ve narrowed the list down to 6 that apply to all educators.

6 Practices that “Work” to Accelerate Student Learning

  1. Teacher credibility (.90 effect size) Trust, competence, energy, enthusiasm, and consistency are among the top characteristics students consider when determining if their teacher is credible and if they are going to choose to learn from them.
  2. Teacher-Student Relationships (.72 effect size) Positive teacher-student relationships involve trust, fairness, open communication and maintenance to sustain and impact student learning.  
  3. Classroom Management (.52 effect size) Students understand expectations and are consistently held to those expectations. Promotes healthy relationships with teachers and peers.  
  4. Self-Reported Grades/Student Expectations (1.44 effect size) Students set their own goals, monitor their own achievement, and reflect upon their process of learning.
  5. Teacher Clarity (.75 effect size) Learning targets are clear and articulated with success criteria. Students should be able to answer: What am I learning today? Why am I learning this? How will I know that I learned it?
  6. Feedback (.75 effect size) Just-in-time feedback identifies where the student is at, what the expectation is, and actions they can take to close the gap.

Simply put, be genuine and clear, relationships matter, create a safe environment that nurtures independence, and feedback moves students not grades!

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