Course 4: Final Project

Course 5 Final Project Ideas

Possible Writing Contest Idea

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the final project.  One of my first ideas was to do something with a Collaborative Creative Writing Contest. My husband and I have talked a lot about the strong writers we have in our classes and desire to celebrate their work more than we currently do.

It is also the 10th year anniversary of our school, so we were thinking that it might be cool to tie in a writing contest with this year’s celebration. Perhaps students would need to learn about the history of the school and how it got to where it is today. This would require them to reach out into the community, interview teachers and board members who helped start the school, etc. Then we were thinking students might collaborate to create a piece of writing or perhaps a video connected to the 10th year anniversary celebration.

Concordia 10th Year Anniversary Monthly Celebration Photo.

Maybe the final piece could even be in the form of a news story about the school’s past and present. Or we could give students a creative writing prompt and somehow connect it to the school. I also thought about having students collaborate with one of the art students to create illustrations that go along with the writing. In the end, this could be displayed or presented in May when we have a big 10-year anniversary celebration.

I still really like this idea, but ended up thinking I might go with this second idea. I’d still like to know of any writing contests that elementary international students can get involved in. Some of my students have such great writing. I’d love to find more opportunities for them to get their work seen. Does anyone have any ideas?

Social Justice Issues

The idea that I think I will go with is redesigning the current Social Justice Issues Unit designed by the former grade 4 teachers.  This is a Reading and Writing Unit in which students learn about different social issues through research and using the read aloud, “Amal Unbound.”

Students choose real-world issues and problems (gender inequality, racism, equal education access, etc.), develop ideas and theories around these issues, and pursue answers and solutions.

Some of the changes I would make to this unit are incorporating collaboration by pairing students based on interest in a topic. Students could create a website or blog to keep track of their resources and document their learning.

In the end, students will use their research and knowledge to create a collaborative TedTalk that will be presented in front of an audience of parents and students. The objective of the TedTalk is to raise awareness on the social justice issue.

Because public speaking will be new for the students, they will also collaborate with the high school communications class. These students will be able to give helpful tips and advice to 4th-grade students.

Real-World Application

Another component that I’d like to add to this unit is finding ways to extend learning through real-world application. This is one area of my teaching that I need to push myself in.

In Vietnam, students have access to many different social enterprises such as Blue Dragon, Crazy Love Foundation, and School on a Boat. Having access to these types of organizations will allow students to see how individuals can make a change. This is also one of the 6 Elements of Social Justice Curriculum Design. Students can reach out to these organizations to learn more about their work and to find out how they were able to make change through their social enterprise.

The 6 Elements of Social Justice Curriculum Design offer some guidance in how to successfully design a social justice unit.

Taken from usingtheirwords. org-Designed by Sheryl Davis at San Francisco Human Rights Commission

To meet Element 6: Social Action students will take part in taking social action. Students will need to use the Design Thinking process to tackle a problem connected to their research and Ted Talk. This is the part that will be a challenge for me. It is hard to envision at least 10 different independent projects going at the same time. For anyone that has done something similar, I’d love some advice or any insight? How do you incorporate the real-world application into your classrooms?

Continuum of New Pedagogies Effectiveness From A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning. Real-World Application is over on the far-right. Pushing myself towards the far-right is a goal of mine.

Deep learning experiences are engaging,relevant, authentic and build the 6 C’s.

Michael Fullan 

This unit plan will take students through a deep learning experience that will promote the 6C’s and meet the following ISTE Standards.

ISTE Standards

Standard 1 Empowered Learner: Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving, and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences.

Standard 3 Knowledge Constructor: Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.

Standard 4 Innovative Designer: Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions.

Standard 5 Computational Thinker Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.

5b Students collect data or identify relevant data sets, use digital tools to analyze them, and represent data in various ways to facilitate problem-solving and decision-making.

Standard 6 Creative Communicator Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.

Standard 7 Global Collaborator Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.

Any Advice or Tips?

If any of you have taught a social justice unit, I’d love to hear how it went? Or if you have any experience with teaching students how to give a TedTalk type or presentation, I’d love to hear about it! I am also feeling a little uncertain about the real-world application part of this unit. I can’t envision how I will be able to manage all of the different things my students want to take part in. I’d love to hear from any of you with experience with these types of learning experiences.

Putting Deep Learning Into Practice

Give yourself some Grace

Continuum of New Pedagogies Effectiveness From A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning

 

As I mentioned in some of my previous blog posts, I think I am currently in the process of pushing myself away from more traditional methods to new pedagogies that promote deep learning. Being in COETAIL has definitely helped push me along the Continuum of New Pedagogies Effectiveness.

What I’ve come to realize through all the work and reflecting I’ve done throughout each course is that I need to give myself some grace. At times, I feel overwhelmed by the work I still need to do in order to make the shift towards deep learning. I want to redesign all of my units so they foster deep learning experiences, but this is not an easy task. Instead, I try to remind myself that this will happen over time. Right now, I can focus on one unit at a time. Eventually, I’ll get to where I want to be on the right side of the continuum. 

Assessing Deep Learning

Because deep learning tasks move beyond the textbook, standardized tests don’t always work when assessing students. However, there are many authentic ways to assess students. 

Chapter 5 of A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning gives examples of authentic assessments that allow students to demonstrate new knowledge in a more impactful, authentic way. 

Examples of Authentic Assessments

-Student-created rubrics with sections for content knowledge that needs to mastered as well as areas that include the 6c’s such as creativity and collaboration.

-Teachers can use mini-assessments throughout the learning to see if the concepts are mastered, for example in math.

 -Students can give oral presentations to teachers or a panel to demonstrate their learning (the panel can ask students questions to push their thinking)

-Public exhibitions to display student work

-Writing Pieces

-Website development

-Student-Created TedTalk

Ultimately, our goal as facilitators of learning is to get students to move beyond reproducing existing content knowledge to developing new knowledge, “through the integration of prior knowledge with ideas, information and concepts, into a wholly new product, concept, solution or content.”  Furthermore, we want our students to go beyond creating new knowledge to doing something with it – to use that new knowledge to make an impact on the world.

Design Thinking

This year our elementary school has a designated S.T.E.M. teacher (also a COETAIL Alumni) that works closely with the teachers to create learning opportunities that promote deep learning. During a recent Science unit on Earth’s Changes, students investigated the causes and effects of erosion and deposition. Then we were able to extend students’ learning by working with the S.T.E.M. teacher to create an opportunity for students to problem-solve some possible solutions.  

Students used the Design Thinking process to investigate possible ways to reduce the destruction caused by landslides. The central region of Vietnam was hit particularly hard this year by heavy rain and tropical storms. These storms caused flooding, landslides, and death. We were able to make this investigation more realistic by having students research what had happened here in the country we are living in. Then students came up with possible solutions and tried them out using stream tables.

Stream Table Investigation on Erosion

Design Thinking Challenge

Challenge Notebook

To take this unit all the way to the right of the continuum shown above, students would need to actually go out in the real world and try out their solutions.  Perhaps, even meet with experts who plan for these types of natural disasters to share their ideas and to learn more. They could even fundraise to rebuild a home in a way that they have researched or tested that would sustain a substantial amount of rain. I think this is the piece I am currently missing in my practice; taking learning to the next level.

It’s a Process

When I think about the next level, doing real things in the world, it can honestly be a bit intimidating. I wonder when I will ever have time to plan for this type of teaching; especially being in a new grade level on a team of two. But then I remind myself that it doesn’t all need to happen at once. I can start off small with one unit at a time. Then I can build upon that. Perhaps next year, I can take the Science Unit I described above and add the next step of real-world application. It is important is to have a desire to change. Then to start taking small steps in the right direction. This describes my journey right now. The desire is there and I am taking small steps. I’ll keep going!

Unleashing Deep Learning

Set the Tone

I really enjoyed listening to Brené Brown’s Daring Classrooms Keynote. Her message of vulnerability is so powerful.  In particular, these words really stuck with me, “Make the world a better place. The revolution will not be televised, it will be in your classrooms.” These words are so powerful because they are true! Teachers really do have the power to make a huge impact right inside the walls of our very own classrooms! 

Her thought-provoking message also sparked lots of past teaching moments to come to mind for me. The good thing is that I think I am doing a pretty darn good job of teaching vulnerability to my students. I think this is actually one of my strengths as a teacher. I build a loving, classroom environment that feels like one big family. And it doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes intentional decision-making skills and time. 

All humans need to feel connected. (Photo by Sidharth Bhatia on Unsplash)

Building a classroom community with a dialogical learning approach that is filled with humility, love,  faith, hope, and critical thinking are essential to developing strong relationships with and amongst students. I set the tone for this work from day one in a variety of ways including a careful selection of read-aloud books, getting students connected through Morning Meeting, and getting students working in collaborative groups through games like Breakout EDU. The more students interact and connect with one another, the more likely they are to feel comfortable enough to be themselves in the classroom.

Students work together to solve the puzzles in a recent Breakout EDU game.

Some of my favorite beginning of the year read alouds are Each Kindness, Raise Your Hand, The Day You Begin, Say Something, and All Are Welcome. I choose these books for their messages. Messages of humility, love, faith, hope, and critical thinking. Messages I believe are important and hopefully, messages that students will hear and believe in, themselves.

Teaching vulnerability is done through both the big and small actions of a teacher. Doing things like taking a stance on unkind behaviors such as name-calling, using Restorative Circles,  sharing personal experiences, and listening to students, all contribute to creating a classroom environment that feels safe.

Allowing Yourself to Be Vulnerable

One of the biggest ways I’ve been able to connect with my students is by showing them my vulnerabilities. By showing students that I am vulnerable, they see that I am a real person with feelings, insecurities, and fears. Students appreciate this honesty.

During a recent Opinion Writing Unit,  I modeled how to write an opinion essay using my own example. This was my thesis statement and reasons: I need to have more confidence in myself because I worry about what others think too much; there are times I want to speak up and I don’t, and I have skills I could share with my peers.

Writing this essay in front of my students allowed me to share my own insecurities with them. Many of them were surprised to hear that I get so nervous to speak in front of my peers or that I am afraid to speak up at times. Some students connected to these feelings so much that they shared times when they felt the same way. Because I showed vulnerability to my students, they felt a sense of relief to know that adults have insecurities and things they struggle with just like children do.

My Personal Essay

My personal essay that I shared with students for our Opinion Writing Unit.

Here’s Some Humility

Another way that I’ve been able to connect with students is by showing humility. In Paulo Freire’s Five Ideas for Dialogical Learning , he describes humility as the ability to learn from and understand students (humble approach), rather than taking a more directive approach. 

This is the story that comes to mind when I think of how I’ve shown humility in my classroom.

In my classroom, students can earn team points by transitioning quickly, working together, being helpful, being kind, and many other ways. I keep track of the daily winners on a color-coded calendar in the classroom that teams fill in at the end of each day if their team won. At the end of the month, the team with the most days won gets recognized in class for their efforts. I take a picture of the team and hang it on the “Wall of Fame” along with their team flag. They also get a small reward such as eating lunch outside, extra recess, or extra tech time.

Image by HeungSoon from Pixabay

For a few weeks, I incorporated a few rounds of rock, paper, scissors in the last 3 minutes of class for fun. Students could win extra points for their teams if they won the round. On occasion, winning rock, paper, scissors could lead a team to victory for that day, meaning they got to color in the calendar square.

One student really did not agree with this strategy. He felt like it wasn’t fair; especially since his team had worked hard all day and then they ended up losing because of rock, paper, scissors. The day after this happened to his team, he politely walked up to me and handed me a handwritten 5 paragraph essay title, “Why We Shouldn’t Play Rock, Paper, Scissors for Points.”

He had obviously put a lot of thought and time into writing this essay for me. He had strong reasons and evidence, used a convincing tone, and was respectful at the same time. After reading the essay, I could see his point. He felt that I might be discouraging students from trying hard if they would end up losing in rock, paper, scissors. A game that had nothing to do with teamwork, kindness, or being helpful.

What did I do next?

Love

I asked the boy if I could share what he had done because I wanted all of my students to see how important it is to SAY SOMETHING when they do not agree with someone, even if it is an adult. He agreed.

During our Morning Meeting, I shared the story with my students and let them know how proud I was of the boy for speaking up. I shared how his essay helped me see that my choice in using a game towards team points wasn’t the best idea. I shared how his actions were able to help me learn and grow as a teacher.

What I really appreciated about this boy’s courage to write an essay to his teacher stating why he disagrees with a choice I made, was that he felt safe enough to do so in the first place. That’s love.

I think it all really boils down to love. Teachers who truly love kids are some of the best. If you really love kids, you enjoy your time each day with them, you work hard for them; you stick up for them; you advocate for them, and you show you appreciate them. They will notice this. They will love you for it. They will respect you. They will work harder for you. This is why I teach.

Deep Learning, Digitally

The Power of Yet

“On the path to discovering your shortcomings, don’t forget the YET.”

-author unknown

When I think about where my teaching falls in terms of  Deep Learning, Digitally, I think I am on my way there. I am definitely not there yet. When I read the other posts from the COETAILers in this cohort, sometimes I feel like I could be doing so much more. But then I remind myself that I shouldn’t be comparing myself to someone else because we all have our own learning journeys and experiences that have led us to where we are.

Just because I am not where I want to be yet, doesn’t mean I won’t get there. I teach the concept of the “Power of Yet” to my students at the beginning of the year. I want them to know that it is okay not to be able to do things yet. We all have room to grow. We all have things we cannot do yet. This isn’t only true for students; it is true for all of us.

So when I was feeling like I am not yet where I want to be with Deep Learning, Digitally, I had to remind myself that this is okay. Then I took some more time to see where other people were in their learning journey and got some great ideas!

Inspiration from others

After reading Cindy’s post for Week 3, I got the idea to redesign an upcoming Math unit using some of her ideas. I am new to grade 4 this year as well as my teaching partner. We use the Everyday Math series. This year I feel like we are both just trying to figure out the curriculum and stay afloat. So far we haven’t done much to make the Math units tech-rich. We pretty much follow the textbook and use the resources that come with the series. I want to do more though! I know I have students who need to be challenged more than the textbook offers.

In an effort to work towards teaching with Deep Learning in mind, I created this Math Unit with lots of inspiration from Cindy’s week 3 blog post while keeping Michael Fullan’s description of Deep Learning Tasks in mind.

Deep learning tasks are energised by the notion of ‘learning leadership’, in which students are expected to become leaders of their own learning, able to define and pursue their own learning goals using the resources, tools, and connections that digital access enables.

-Michael Fullan (A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning )

Redesigning a math unit for Deep Learning, Digitally

I decided to re-think an upcoming Math unit on Multdigit Multiplication for this task. As I said before, Math is pretty much taught from the Everyday Math series. Students have Math Journals where they complete math worksheets, participate in Math games (that come with the series), and practice skills on IXl and Khan Academy. There really isn’t much deep learning happening yet.

Most of my students go to after-school math tutors or academies. Students perform very well on the MAP test from Math. Fifteen out of twenty-one of my students perform above average (blue) on the MAP Test. This means these students need to be challenged.

I’ve found a few ways to do this. I’ve added their individual scores to Khan Academy so they get more individualized plans and found some real-world math application problems on Yummy Math. However, I know I could be more effective in my approach to differentiating instruction for the students. For example, not all of my students need to be doing all of the Everyday Math Journal Worksheets; especially if they can show they know how to do those skills already. I’d rather give them more authentic choices in their learning experience.

Overview of Redesigned Math Unit

Math Unit 4 Multidigit Multiplication

I designed my unit using a slide deck from Slidesgo that fit perfectly for Math. I used slides so that my students could access all of the standards, resources, and activities in one place. Then I started by looking at what standards were addressed in Unit 4 and the end of unit Math Assessment we use that fits with the Math series. After that, I thought about how I would go about teaching this unit.

I really like how Cindy explained that she front-loads the unit with mini-lessons that teach students the concepts and does an example with them. We use Math Notebooks so I will use those to build a resource with students that they can use throughout the unit. In the notebook, they will keep examples for each standard as a reference tool that will be provided to them in the first week of instruction.

Students will self-assess after each mini-lesson to determine if they are green: I can do this on my own and explain how to do this, yellow: I can do this on my own, or red: I can do this if I get help or look at an example. If time allows after the lessons, students can work on the optional activities that align with each standard (slides 16-18).

After the week of mini-lessons, students will work more independently to master the skills and demonstrate an understanding of the content standards or to challenge themselves using more inquiry-based type questions from Freckle. This will be done through a Multidigit Multiplication Placemat.

Multidigit Multiplication-Independent Practice Placemat

As students work through different problems, they will check in with me to see if they have shown their understanding or not. If not, they will continue to practice that standard through the day to day activities.

In addition to the Multidigit Multiplication Placemat problems, students will choose a mini-workshop to attend with me. I will offer these throughout the second week of the unit. The focus will be to support students who need help (based on their math homework) and to introduce the Math Challenge problems from Freckle for more advanced learners.

During week 2 of the unit, students will either be working to prove their understanding of the standards using the daily learning activities, placemat or challenging themselves using one of the Freckle real-world application problems.

When the unit ends, students will take a post-assessment. For now, I have the Everyday Math Assessment. However, I would also like to re-vamp this into something more authentic and meaningful. I haven’t gotten that far yet!

Final Thoughts

Although I realize this unit plan has room to grow, I think it is a good start in the right direction of getting students to learn deeply using technology. Many of the resources I provide for students wouldn’t be possible without technology.   And although it is only one unit out of the 8 we teach in Math, it is a start. We all start somewhere and this is my beginning to transforming learning in my classroom. And that’s the power of yet!

 

Deep Learning

There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.

Margaret Wheatley

Loving on Children

One of the things that my school really cares about is that all children feel loved. We don’t just talk about it, but we truly stand by this through our actions and words. The children come first.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Our principal reinforces, “Do what is best for the children.” Whether that means trying something new in the classroom, purchasing a new learning tool, allowing a student to carry around a stuffed animal, if it is good for the students, she is supportive. 

Our school cares about individuals, families, and relationships. Because of this, we are able to make changes on the outside as well as within our school community. One example of this is through the implementation of Conscious Discipline. Last year, our principal introduced Conscious Discipline to our elementary teachers.  This approach to social and emotional learning has a strong foundation in safety,  connection, and problem-solving. This was something she felt passionate about, and she wanted to learn alongside the teachers to implement the practices of Conscious Discipline in our school.

Don’t change individuals, change groups. 

Michael Fullan

We have now spent over a year learning about Conscious Discipline. We’ve moved from learning about it to teaching our students how to use the foundational skills in their own lives. Slowly we are starting to see changes. We see changes in the way students communicate with each other, how they work together to solve a problem, and how they care for each other and the world. This is the perfect example of what Fullan says, “if you want to change the group, use the group to change the group.” Change doesn’t happen quickly, but when people work together the work continues on. It doesn’t stop when the principal for example that taught us about Conscious Discipline leaves. We will continue to LOVE ON ALL CHILDREN because this is what the group (the school) stands for.

When children feel loved, safe, and connected, they can learn. They can also collaborate and communicate more effectively, which will lead to deeper learning.

Fostering Learning Partnerships

Another way my school fosters deep learning is through community service. Early on, children are shown what it means to be change agents and to care about the community and the world around them. We do this by getting students involved in helping humanity. For example, our 5th graders are leading a fundraiser for Movember to raise awareness about cancer; especially those affected in Vietnam. The school is also launching a whole school community service project this year that will transform a local community center for the local people. Parents, teachers, and students will be involved in this work. These are just a few examples of how my school truly demonstrates character education, citizenship, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity.

In my classroom, I work to develop relationships with my students from day one. I believe I am a partner in their learning. I want them to feel supported, safe to make mistakes, and listened to. I want the learning experience in my classroom to feel like an equal partnership with me. To me this means:

  1. Students and teachers work together to make students’ learning a contribution to their community.
  2. Students work actively with problems, ideas, materials, and people as they learn skills and content.

In working to achieve these goals, I learn alongside my students. At the same time, students take more responsibility for their learning, while learning how to become more independent, self-regulating learners.

Key Ideas from the Resources

My take-aways from this week’s learning on deep learning boils down to using the 6 C’s.

 

Frameworks for Learning

Simply adding technology to K-12 technology integration environments does not improve learning. What matters is how it is used to develop knowledge and skills.

-Zucker and Light, 2009

Technology Frameworks

Successful technology integration requires students to have access to a variety of tools that match the task at hand and provides students the opportunity to build a deeper understanding of content. Successful technology integration can accelerate student learning in a way that was once unimaginable. To transform student learning it is important to merge technology with content to create an enriched lesson or unit plan. Most importantly, don’t teach technology as a separate class. 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Technology is just one piece of the puzzle.

When planning for technology integration and examining our practices as educators, we must keep in mind how and why we are using technology to enhance student learning. The technology frameworks: Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition Model (SAMR Model), Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge framework (TPACK), and Technology Integration Model (TIM) can all be helpful models in guiding teachers towards using purposeful technology in our classrooms. Let’s take a closer look at the key components of each model!

Comparing Technology Frameworks

         SAMR                           TIM                    TPACK
Picking the right strategy for the lesson on hand

How can educators engage and empower students through technology?

Focus is on levels of use of educational technology (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition)

Makes learning engaging

Offers pedagogical choices available to a teacher in designing a technology-infused lesson

Illustrates how technology can enhance learning

Focuses on planning, describing, and evaluating technology integration

Five interdependent characteristics of meaningful learning environments: active, constructive, goal-directed, authentic, and collaborative 

Five levels of technology integration (entry, adoption, adaptation, infusion, and transformation)

Merge technology with content to create the perfect lesson, don’t teach technology as a separate class

All about knowledge (technological, pedagogical, and content)

Makes learning more effective

Pedagogy and content are most important.

Solid teaching strategies and solid content knowledge drive instruction and tech components enhance learning.

Practices in my classroom

In my current classroom, we have 1-1 Chromebooks. My students use a computer almost every day to enhance their learning. If I were using the SAMR Model, I’d say I swim between Augmentation and Modification. One of my goals is to swim a bit deeper over to the Redefinition tier.

One way I am going to push myself to do that this week is by connecting with individuals in different areas around the world who have survived extreme weather events like tsunamis or earthquakes. My students are researching extreme weather events and one area of their research is to read first-hand experiences. I know several people who have survived some of these extreme weather events and I thought it would enhance student learning to talk to some of these people about their experiences.

Last week, students collaborated amongst their extreme weather research groups to create a quick presentation (one day to put it together) that would teach their classmates about their reading topics. First, I taught them the CARP Design Principles, then I showed them an example presentation that I designed on droughts. After that, the students used my template to create their own slides.

Using Google Slides, the students were able to collaborate and I was able to offer feedback using the comment feature. Learning for all students was enhanced. The visuals and words in the slides were especially helpful for the audience especially because they are all English Language Learners. Originally, this was met to be a quick activity as students will continue to research a second weather event. However, I wanted to deepen students’ understanding of their topics by teaching each other. By putting together a presentation I was also able to teach students the CARP Design Principles as well as presentation skills.

Takeaways

For each model, there are different components that I find helpful. The SAMR Model by Ruben Puentedura makes it easy to think about the role of technology in supporting learning. It is helpful in identifying where a learning activity falls on the SAMR Model. 

Retrieved from : https://hookertech.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/samr-pool.jpg

The TIM Framework offers different approaches to integrating technology. The matrix framework of this model makes planning for technology integration easier because there are lots of videos and lessons for teachers. Seeing examples that fit into each cell on the matrix helps teachers see what each cell looks like in action. I find the website really helpful!

Photo Taken from: https://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/the-invisible-technology-integration-matrix/

Lastly, the TPACK Model focuses on technological, pedagogical, and content. At its core, solid teaching strategies and solid content knowledge drive instruction, and tech components enhance learning.

image ©2012 by tpack.org

After examing each model closely, I like the Technology Integration Matrix the best. I find it to be “user friendly” and the example lessons and videos help me generate ideas easier. Currently, my school does not use any of these technology integration frameworks. However, I am thinking it could be something that we start discussing. This year for the first time we have a S.T.E.M. teacher for elementary (who was once a COETAILer ). Hopefully, this is just the beginning of technology integration at our school and the development of our program will continue to grow.

Course 3 Final Project: Tackling Nonfiction Texts Bootcamp

Overview of Our Unit Plan

 

Tackling Nonfiction Texts Bootcamp Unit Outline

Reflection

For my collaborative project, I worked with Holly and Erika at the Anglo-American School of Moscow. I am a 4th-grade teacher at Concordia International School Hanoi and Erika and Holly teach 2nd and 3rd-grade students.

We decided to do a “Tackling Nonfiction Texts” Bootcamp because I am currently teaching a nonfiction unit, “Reading the Weather, Reading the World,” written by Lucy Calkins and her colleagues at Teachers College.

We planned a unit where the 4th-grade students could take their learning and knowledge of nonfiction texts to help support the learning process of 2nd and 3rd-grade learners who will be studying a nonfiction unit after us.

An example of a Text Structure example that was identified by a 4th-grade student and uploaded to Padlet.

The process of creating this unit plan with Erika and Holly gave us the opportunity to brainstorm ideas together, communicate in an effective, timely manner, and refine our unit plan by combining our ideas.

Our group worked well together because we all took part in creating the plan and we were all flexible about the topic and activities. I got the template for our unit going and Erika and Holly were able to fill in the gaps and create resources like the Infographic Lesson Outline. 

By creating a project with two educators in Russia, I was able to see that making global connections and working with others is not that difficult. Using Google Docs makes the collaborative process quite easy. Erika and I were even able to work on the unit plan at the same time while using the chat feature to ask each other clarifying questions as we developed the unit.

Developing this unit, allowed me to explore tools that I haven’t been using this year that I would like to utilize more often such as Padlet and Flipgrid. These two tools make global collaborations quite easy as well. This unit plan also allowed me to use what I learned about visual literacy in teaching my students good design principles.

Connections to Course 3 Learning

In this unit outline, we kept the learning from Course 3 in mind as we planned. We knew we wanted the students to create something visual as the final product. This seemed to be one of the big learning outcomes of Course 3. By having students create a visual aid that would support 2nd and 3rd-grade learners, we were able to teach students the CARP Design Principles that would help them produce effective visual aids.

We also wanted our students to collaborate as we did in creating this unit plan together. Students will collaborate through experiences such as a Text Features Scavenger hunt using padlet. The 4th graders will get continuous feedback throughout the process by using the comments on Padlet to improve their designs.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Students Outcomes

Our hope is that all students become better nonfiction readers because of this collaborative learning project. In addition, our hope is that students will learn how to globally collaborate with someone using tools such as Flipgrid and Padlet and use feedback to improve their designs.

Students will be able to demonstrate their learning of these concepts through their responses on the padlet exercises as well as their final responses using Flipgrid. The responses and feedback that students leave for one another will show the students’ ability to communicate effectively. We will also be able to use the final infographic visual as a way to assess students’ understanding of the CARP Design Principles that are taught in this unit plan.

Standards

3 (Knowledge Constructor) Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others

    • 3a Students plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits
    • 3c Students curate information from digital resources using a variety of tools and methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions.

6 (Creative Communicator) Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.

    • 6a Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.
    • 6b Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
    • 6c Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.
    • 6d Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.

7 (Global Collaborator) Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.

      • 7a Students use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning.

Small Actions, Big Impact

 

“Teaching is a creative profession, not a delivery system. Great teachers do [pass on information], but what great teachers also do is mentor, stimulate, provoke, and engage.”

Sir Ken Robinson

 Take-Aways

This week’s task reminded me of this quote from Sir Ken Robinson. We’ve spent weeks learning how to raise the level of our delivery of information, but teachers do more than delivering information. As Robinson says, we “mentor, stimulate, provoke, and engage students.”

Teachers do not always have to present information to students verbally. They can use meaningful texts like The Cycle of Socialization article to get students thinking.  The article focuses on an important topic that gets the reader thinking and reflecting on their own experiences and behaviors. By using the Text Rending activity along with the reading, I was more engaged with the text and more aware of the words I was reading. Joel’s delivery of information came in a different format this week, but the delivery was powerful because it got all of us engaged and thinking deeply about the words in the text. The activity also allows students to hear other people’s views and perspectives on the same topic, which then promotes conversation (through Flip Grid in this case).

This simple, yet thought-provoking activity, had me feeling engaged in the text and motivated to take action in making the world a better place. Reading this article was also a great reminder that even if I do not have power, I CAN still make a difference. I want my students to have the same feeling!

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.

Below are the words that stuck with me the most.

Powerful Words

Sentence: People without power may think they can’t make a difference.

Phrase: Stand up for change.

Word: Action

Community Text Rendering Response
Community Discussion Response

Self-Reflection

Reading on diversity and social justice as we did in the article, The Cycle of Socialization is impactful to my practice because it allows me to stop and take note of some of my own social identity and how this has played a role in how I see others and myself. Reading articles like this forces a person to reflect on their own lives and choices. It is thought-provoking.

I love it when I read something and finish feeling motivated to be a better person. This article gave me that feeling; especially, after I chose my words and thought about them. That feeling continued to grow after listening to the Flipgrid responses too!

Take Action

At the beginning of the school year, I read aloud the book, Say Something by Peter H. Reynolds. I love this book because it explores the many ways a single voice can make a difference.  I know I can be left feeling like “what can I really do to make a difference?” I often feel powerless.  I feel this way when it comes to the injustices that are being done to people of color. I feel like this when I see the sweet dog tied up outside with no human interaction day after day on my motorbike ride home from work. I felt like this when my school asked my student “Mr. Watson” (wrote about him in Course 2) to leave.

However, when I read articles like The Cycle of Socialization or read books like Say Something to my students, I am reminded that a single voice CAN make a difference.  I am left feeling empowered, which has provoked me to use my voice more often. My hope is that my students also feel this way. My hope is that they will use their voice to Say Something that makes a change.

My hope for my students has actually motivated me to live by the words I teach them. If I truly want them to stand up and Say Something, I too must do as I say. This has pushed me to go outside of my comfort zone.

I’ve gone in and talked to my principal about her decision to ask “Mr. Watson” to leave. It wasn’t easy for me to get up the courage and let her know that I didn’t feel good about this choice, but it felt like the right thing to do. I’ve taken action in feeling sad about helpless dogs and helped rescue 5 dogs from animal shelters in Korea (*let me know if you’re interested in one). I said something to a longtime friend who posted insensitive material on her Facebook page about the protests in the United States. These might seem like small things to do, but every small action counts. Hopefully, my small actions lead to something bigger.

A great reminder that a small action can lead to something bigger.(Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash)

My wish is to continue to mentor, stimulate, provoke, and engage others through my actions and words. I want to continue to learn and grow just like my students.

*I found this website helpful in finding recommended titles that teach Social Justice in unbiased ways.  A Teaching for Change Project also includes a great rating system that helps educators pick anti-bias children’s books.

 

Refining the Art of Delivery

Explain it all

This week I was inspired by Mike Johnston’s Tedx Talk on The Art of Delivering Information.  Johnston believes that all students are capable of learning, but how students learn depends on how the information is delivered. As teachers, we must explain things every day. This might mean explaining the same concept in multiple ways for different learners. This is why the teacher is so important. However, the ability to deliver information in multiple ways is not always easy.

This is why he calls the ability to explain things to one person an art form. “It is a talent,” Johnston says. Explaining things well takes practice. It requires teachers to put themselves in the shoes of a student. When teachers are learning something, we must be present. Think about, What do you feel as a learner? What made the delivery of that information powerful? Or not so powerful? Being present during our own learning experiences can help us be better delivers of information.

His message also calls us to be more caring. If we care, we explain something until a student gets it.  This doesn’t mean doing monumental things.  If we just change the way we think about something, then those “light bulb” moments can come for those we learners who needed us to care a little more.

Photo by Júnior Ferreira on Unsplash

Get feedback

Johnston’s message also applies to the ways in which we deliver information through visuals. Not all students will understand a visual in the way we intend it to be used. This is why feedback is an important part of refining the art of explaining. Students are a great source of feedback. They are the ones receiving the information we deliver.

Teachers can determine how well students receive information in several ways: reading a student’s body language, using formative assessment results, listening in when students turn and talk, etc., or we can also ask students for feedback.  According to Jennifer Gonzalez, from the Cult of Pedagogy, one of the benefits of asking students for feedback is that it increases student engagement.  Gonzalez states”If some methods of delivery are better received than others, then they’re likely to result in greater learning gains as well.” By asking our students for feedback, we can figure out what methods work best in our classrooms. This led me to think about the visuals used in my classroom and the effectiveness of them.

Reflection on My art of Explaining

One visual I consistently go back to is my Ask 3 Before Me visual. I introduce this visual at the beginning of the year to get my students in the habit of thinking about their questions before asking me for help. We brainstorm necessary and unnecessary questions together. Then we role-play scenarios where “Ask 3 Before Me” might be used. Students discover that many questions they have can be answered on their own or with the help of a classmate.

When students forget and ask me questions such as, “Where do I put this when I am done?” I reply, “did you ask 3 before me?” Most likely, their response is to turn around and find a classmate because they have not.

This is my Ask 3 before me visual before I redesigned it.

Refining My art of Explaining

Before I introduced this visual to my 4th-grade students this year, I thought about the effectiveness of this chart. Last year, I remember repeating “Ask 3 before me” many, many times. Maybe, this meant my visual wasn’t actually that effective. Furthermore, students would often tell me that they had already asked 3 classmates and still could not find the answer to their question. This got me thinking. Maybe, I needed to rethink this concept.

If students were often left without an answer to their questions after asking 3 classmates, maybe there were other ways to get them to problem-solve without using me all the time. First, I asked my students for some ideas. Then, I did some searching and found an idea that matched well with what my students had offered as helpful ideas.

A remade version of my Ask 3 Before Me Chart. I even included our school mascot Thunder in this visual.

Ultimately, my students and I came up with a visual that offered more than one way to get help, rather than to depend solely on their classmates. My new visual, “Try 3 Before Me,” puts more responsibility on the learner. Students must first ask themselves. This means they can stop and think about how things usually go in my classroom. For example, where do I usually ask students to put their classwork when it is complete? Or the learner might focus on any directions that were given.

If students still need help, they move onto step 2: Look Around. They can look for directions that are written down or they can look at what their classmates are doing. Getting students in the habit of using the world around them is a good habit. Many times students can figure things out like what to take out of their desks or what to put away based on what their classmates are doing. Steps 1 and 2 put the responsibility on the learner.

Finally, if students are still stuck, they can proceed to step 3: Ask a friend. I especially like this visual better than the first one because there is more responsibility on the learner and it offers more strategies than just asking their classmates.

I have also seen firsthand that this visual aid is more effective than the one I was previously using. This year, students are asking me less unnecessary questions, solving their own problems by using the environment around them, and going back to my written directions before asking their classmates or me. I want my students to feel comfortable asking questions in my classroom, but I also want them to think about the questions they can answer on their own. This allows more time for the necessary questions.

Although this is one simple way I am working to refine my art of explaining, it is a start. In the meantime, I’ll keep asking students for feedback, and most importantly, caring enough to work on my craft of delivery so that what I teach makes sense for everyone.

Making Learning Visual

Data Collection

On Friday, I spent time collaborating with a colleague of mine. We were looking closely at a recent Writing Post Assessment for Narrative Writing. We were looking for trends in the comments I had written to students. This information would help us form small group instruction.

As we analyzed the data (scores) and the comments I had written, we were also looking for whether or not students had improved. This required us to look at the Elementary Assessment Spreadsheet data. From the spreadsheet, my colleague and I were able to see if students’ scores had improved from their pre-assessment scores.

While we were collecting all of this data, we were adding some notes to a Google Keep note that helped us organize small groups and notice patterns. Then, I wondered if putting this information into an infographic might be helpful and more effective for us. So, I decided to give it a try!

Writing Post Assessment Infographic (Including a link because I am having issues inserting a document)

Impact

Having this visual of the data that was found from the assessment, is useful in many ways. First, I can see the percentage of students whose score either went up or stayed the same. This allows me to see the students I need to target in small group instruction. The bar graph at the bottom represents patterns that were noticed in the post-assessment comments. I can look at this infographic and see how well my students did as well as areas that still need to be reinforced.

I also think an infographic like this is helpful because it organizes all the data in one place whereas before I was looking at several documents (Elementary Assessment Data Spreadsheet, Google Keep notes, rubric comments, and a Google Doc with information that was gathered on students’ writing). In the future, I would still need to gather information from these resources, but putting it all together helped me organize all of the information in one spot as well as share it with my support teachers.

Support Tool

Having a visual representation of the data collected from the Writing Assessment is one easy way to share information with the teachers who work with my students; especially the EAL and writing push-in teachers. By sharing this infographic, the teachers working with my students will also know what skills they can reinforce and which students still need more support. This allows us all to collaborate and meet the needs of the students in an effective manner.

This spreadsheet of a Post-Assessment for Reading allows me to see which students still need support and in which areas they need support in. The color coding was done using Conditional Formatting in Google Sheets.

In the future, I might not go as far as making an infographic of this type of information. Although it was kind of fun to see it in the formate, I think I would be able to get the same information by using conditional formatting in Google Sheets. I’ve done this before with pre and post-assessment data and the conditional formatting commands I used allowed me to see a color-coded document showing student growth. This was an easy way to see which students still needed support.

Using visuals is not only useful for students. There are so many ways teachers can use visuals to improve their teaching practices. Making data visual is just one-way teachers can use the information they collect from students useful.