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.

 

Buzz of Excitement

Motivation

It’s been taking me some time to get the motivation to do my COETAIL work lately. I moved up to fourth grade this year from second grade, and I have been busy learning the new curriculum and helping a new teammate adjust. Although I put off doing this assignment for a week, I was excited when I finally started planning my learning activity. It reminded me that I have been too focused on learning the curriculum, and I haven’t spent enough time being creative. This was a great assignment to get my mind thinking outside of the text.

Thinking Routines

Before I planned out my learning activity I wanted to familiarize myself with Thinking Routines, so I explored Project Zero’s Thinking Routine Toolbox. Thinking Routines promote the development of thinking through guided, easy to learn steps.  Many of the routines are ones I commonly use but didn’t necessarily use the terminology. I like Project Zero’s structured approach to developing inquiry. I also like how one Thinking Routine can be used in multiple ways across disciplines.

As I explored, I had an idea in mind for a learning activity connected to a math activity that involved triangles and art. The See, Think, Wonder Thinking Routine seemed to fit well with how I wanted my students to collaborate.

I used this Thinking Routine to get my students to look closely at each other’s finished products. Image from https://thinkingpathwayz.weebly.com

Learning Activity

Since I am about to begin a new math unit on Geometry, I thought it would be fun to Flip the Classroom a bit and expose students to the three types of triangles using these triangles: Equilateral, Isosceles, and Scalene Triangles video and the Math is Fun website on triangles. Students have already been exposed to the types of angles: right, obtuse, and acute. With the knowledge students gained from these resources combined with what they already knew about angles, they were ready to complete their learning activity: Classifying Triangles: Tri-Mi Activity.

Design Process

The students’ task was to design a piece of triangle art using Google Drawing, the tools in Google Slides, or paper and rulers. Students could choose the platform. Many students had not used Google Drawing or shapes to design a piece of art on Google Docs.

The only constraint was that the entire picture is created out of triangles. The rest of the directions are listed below:

Students were then shown the image below as an example.

This activity allowed them to explore a new platform and troubleshoot together, which ended up creating quite a buzz in the classroom.

Unexpected Collaboration

Much to my surprise, students were able to collaborate much more than I had expected. Because many of them had not created in Google Drawing or even used shapes and lines in Google Slides to create a picture, there was a lot of exploration and questions as students got started.

This buzz of excitement reminded me of the article More Talking in Class, Please. Often times the use of technology can limit student discussion, but there are ways in which technology can encourage it. In my activity, students were using a new tool, which encouraged them to talk. Students offered each other ideas, tips, and troubleshoot problems together.

Some students even paused what they were doing to show the class a helpful trick. It was fun to see how the students figured out the nuisances of creating such small triangles without a mouse too. It was a good fine motor skills exercise too!

Publish

After students finished their Triangle Artwork, they uploaded it to the SeeSaw Activity I created. This allowed students to see each others work as well as comment using the See, Think, Wonder Thinking Routine to push their thinking.

One student used triangles to create a robin. She labeled her triangles, added a description, and a caption.

When students had a chance to look at others’ drawings on Seesaw, there was a lot of excitement and positive reactions. Students had questions about the design techniques of their classmates. They wanted to know how to do some of the things their classmates did too. So by having students comment on the artwork, it not only allowed them to share their work, but it got students talking, asking questions, and working together to teach each other new design skills.

Here are some of the comments: (*for some reason, I am having issues uploading a screenshot. It keeps saying the system is busy or the file is too large. Any ideas on how I can get around this issue?)

Comment 1

Comment 2

Deeper Understanding

Overall, I believe students have a deeper understanding of the different types of triangles. This knowledge of triangles going into our math unit will make identifying triangles much easier. Students will already have the background knowledge from the video as well as visual artwork to help them see what these triangles look like in the world around them.

They will also be able to use the See, Think, Wonder Thinking Routine in other activities now. I’ll be trying others out as well!  I love how they promote critical thinking with guided, easy to follow steps.

This activity has sparked my creativity again and I look forward to keeping that buzz going in my classroom.

Using new learning tools and allowing students to explore together, helps promote a buzz of excitement in the classroom amongst students. Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

 

ISTE Standards for Students 

4.b. Students select and use digital tools to plan and manage a design process that considers design constraints and calculated risks.

6.a. Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.

6.d. – Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.

A New Look

Image from Halacious on Unsplash.

It’s exciting to get back to COETAIL after a long summer break! The beginning of the school year is always a busy time, but I have been looking forward to getting back to learning with COETAIL. This year I moved up to Grade 4 from Grade 2. I am enjoying the change and feeling pretty blessed about the fact that we get to be learning in school rather than doing remote learning.


Learning about CARP

When I read the assignment for this week, I immediately thought about a presentation I attended at the 21st Century Learning Conference in Hong Kong with Tanya LeClair a few years ago. The presentation was titled “Digital Design Skills for Students.” During this presentation, Tanya introduced the CARP Design Principles. These were simple and easy ways students could lift the level of their presentations. At the time, my second graders were learning how to use Google Slides. Tanya’s presentation was one that stuck with me and also helped me transform how I taught students to put together a presentation.

                CARP DESIGN PRINCIPLES                              Design by Kelly Bisogno

Contrasting

Ever since I attended Tanya’s presentation, I have tried to incorporate the CARP Design Principles into my own work. Using contrasting colors and fonts really help the headings stand out from the text. I like to use one font for the heading and another for the text. This also helps readers find information faster.

 

Using a color wheel is helpful when deciding what colors go well together.                              Image by Greg Altmann from Pixabay.

Taking into consideration the design principles of using contrasting fonts and colors, I made a few changes. First, I wanted to add some color so I changed the background from black to a mint green color. I really liked the pop of color. Then I relied on the color wheel to help me decide on a contrasting color for some of the fonts. I ended up using a mint color for the headings, black as the main color, and fuchsia for the links. Then I changed the font type and size of the headings for those to stand out more.

Take a look at the results!

Before picture of my blog with mostly black and white font and color.
An after look at the front page of my blog. I’ve added some color to help the headings and links stand out.

Repetition

I like how my blog is simple and easy to navigate. I enjoy having some white space and a clean look. For this reason, I didn’t change too much else on my page. In a few places, I noticed some formatting things that did not follow the use of repetition.  For example, I had written “Course 1-Ourselves as Learners” as a page title, but wrote “Course 3: Visual Literacy” as the new course heading. I simply made sure I always used a dash instead of a colon. Small things like that make the page look cleaner and more professional when they all repeat the same pattern.

When looking for repetition on my page, I noticed the use of                        the dash and the colon. I needed to change that.

Alignment and Proximity

I’ve been adding the horizontal line in this post. That’s new. I like how it breaks up the page a bit by topic along with the headings, which keep everything organized.

I also align my images in the center of the page, along with the captions. Although, I do find it difficult to format everything the way I want it to be using WordPress. Sometimes, I cannot get the caption centered with the photo. It drives me crazy!

Working with WordPress is not always that user-friendly for me, so I find that I don’t mess around with as many design elements. I try to keep my layout simple and clean with a few images that add to my post.


Experiment

Whether you are using the CARP Design Principles or the 6 principles of visual hierarchy, I think it is important to have fun while designing. Play with color, fonts, and design until you see what you like (but also keeping the design principles in mind).

Model the design principles in your own work so that students see your own design habits. I was able to teach my second graders the 4 Basic Design Principles as seen in the poster above. You could even give your students a poorly designed poster and have them redesign it using the Design Principles. This is a fun way to practice!

I thought this COETAIL 12 sign was a fun addition to the top of my blog post. The colors fit well too.