COETAIL, Course 4, Course 5, Kuwait

Looking ahead to course 5 – MYP Design & Art

Background
The specialist classes in the middle school (French, band, art, drama) previously met 3 days during an 8 day cycle. This year they now have .5 credit (3 out of 8) and 1 credit classes (6 out of 8). In an attempt to give middle school students more flexibility in their schedule, our MS principal decided to pilot incorporating the MYP Design Cycle into the full credit specialist classes. This makes it so that not all students have to take a formal Design Tech class. Two units in each of the specialist classes during the 2013-14 school will be assessed on both subject and design criteria. It was agreed last year that the technology integration coaches (there are 3 of us PK-12) would be the ones to assess the design cycle criteria.

I have been assigned to work with the French and art classes. During a meeting with the MS principal (Dave Botbyl) and the art teacher, Dave suggested that I use a unit in art next semester for my COETAIL final project. Genius! ūüôā

We are using the the ‘old’ design cycle and not the new one from the next generation materials.

Ideas
I have shared the course 5 final project details with Lindsay (our MS art teacher). Next semester her classes will be doing a unit on photography. It is a brand new unit that she will be building from the ground up. She has agreed to let me write the unit with her – yay!

After learning more about problem-based learning, I’m excited to incorporate the design cycle into art. I think there is a lot of potential! But it is also a lot of pressure…a brand new unit with a brand new concept. Solving problems with design and art just makes sense. Lindsay is currently doing a unit on logo design with her 8th grade visual arts class. It looks like a great unit and I’ll be eager to see the results.

I’ve started brainstorming for the photography unit but Lindsay and I haven’t sat down together to plan yet so it’s all pretty rough. A recent presentation to Language B teachers about visual interpretation¬†had me mulling over how these tools might be applicable to the photography unit. When I think about SAMR and redefinition, the ability to collaborate, share and learn from others around the world is where my mind goes. Below is a working list of ideas. I’ve shared the document and made it open for comments – I’d love any input from YOU!

COETAIL, Course 4, Professional Development

Technology Integration = Challenging

Frustrated
I spent 3 years in South Carolina teaching French and trying my hardest to meaningfully integrate technology into my curriculum. Sometimes it worked really well. Other times, not so much. Sometimes lessons were redefined. Other times the tech was just a substitute. No matter the lesson, technology integration wasn’t the easy way out. It was frustrating,¬†difficult and usually took more time. But the learning experiences that were created made all the hard work worth it.

146/365 square peg into a round hole
I’m now a Technology Integration Coach helping teachers meaningfully use technology in their classrooms. It’s actually been an even harder job. [Many] Teachers want the easy way out: they want me to hand them ready-made materials or ‘have an app for that.’ Technology integration needs to be more thoughtful than that and should be about choosing the best tool to fulfill lesson objectives. I see my job as continually challenging teachers to change the way they teach. As long as technology is seen as an extra, integration is not happening. Every single teacher in the entire world should read What is Technology Integration?¬†(or “What Technology Integration is NOT”). That might sound a bit dramatic but this is pure gold:

I strongly believe that SAMR, TPACK and the TIM¬†should be used together in order to guide teachers and leadership on effective technology integration. We have started slowly introducing SAMR to our staff and have created a resource page for teachers to access. One thing I like to stress to our teachers is that SAMR isn’t a hierarchy and not all of their lessons are going to be redefinition. My long term goals would include introducing TPACK and TIM to our staff as well.

Integration is an instructional choice that generally includes collaboration and deliberate planning – and always requires a classroom teacher’s participation. It cannot be legislated through curriculum guides no will it happen spontaneously. Someone with a vision – an administrator, a teacher, or a specialist – needs to model, encourage, and enable integration, but only a classroom teacher can integrate technology with content-area teaching.

Although I’ve learned about TPACK, I hadn’t read Mishra and Koehler’s article. These guys are cool. My two biggest takeaways that could benefit all educators:

  • “We would argue that almost everything that is artificial … is technology, whether low tech or high tech.”
  • Repurposing these cool tools for educational purposes, however, is not simple. If educators are to repurpose tools and integrate them into their teaching, they require a specific kind of knowledge.”

Technology is all around us and we need to be working hard and working smart in order to choose the best tool for the job. Technology isn’t a fad…it’s been around for centuries. But we, as educators, are continually being challenged to purposefully and meaningfully help our students learn with technology. Technology can most definitely make our job harder…but can’t it also make it better?

Collaboration, Kuwait, Professional Development

K-12 SAMR PD Phase 2.0

It’s been awhile since we actually did phase 2.0 but I’ve been bad at blogging. I do want to make sure I get some thoughts down before I completely forget!

In Phase 1 we went into¬†Divisional¬†meetings. Phase 1.5 was done with only the Middle School teachers. For Phase 2.0 we attended Department (HS/MS) and Grade Level (ES) meetings. I attended the Language B, Science and Language A Arabic Department meetings. To date we have been invited into KG1 and Grade 3 meetings (only 5 to go…maybe).

Way back in Phase 1 of the SAMR series, we left teachers with the question “How have you used technology in your classroom as a direct tool SUBSTITUTE?” We wanted to make sure that we followed-up and didn’t leave teachers hanging so this was our first order of business. My priority was to give teachers a comfortable space to share what they have been doing. I think it is incredibly important that teachers are able to share with each other (without feeling judged) in order to foster discussion and ideas.

I then asked teachers to share a lesson (that they recently taught or will be teaching in the near future) that didn’t originally include technology but that they would like to brainstorm ways to transform. As a group we brainstormed ways that technology might be used, focusing on the great lesson plan and THEN the technology. I then briefly shared our Tech Coaches website with them. I included Jeff Utecht‘s SAMR Circle¬†and my adapted Thinking Critically flow-chart. I didn’t go into detail about either but hope that we will be able to next year.

One of the challenges in the meetings was keeping everyone focused on the things we CAN control. Understandably teachers enjoy having a place to vent. Nonetheless it was great to get the conversation going and some great ideas were thought up. Below are excerpts from the emails I sent out after each meeting (my goal is to always follow-up!).

Collaboration, Kuwait, Professional Development

K-12 SAMR PD – Phase 1.5

After introducing SAMR to our entire PreK-12 staff, we were granted a little extra time with the middle school teachers. Here’s how it went down:

1. Compile a list of how teachers answer the question “How are you using technology in your classroom as a direct tool substitute?” in a Google Doc to be shared with the entire middle school staff.

2. Allow teachers time to brainstorm tasks that they ask students to do.

3. Share out, creating a Popplet.

4. Brainstorm technology tools that teachers could use to accomplish their tasks (stress task first, tool selection second), adding to Popplet.

After the meetings, we finalized the Google Doc and all 4 Popplets. We also added more tools that we thought would best fit the tasks (quality over quantity). We sent the links to all the documents to the MS staff reminding them that the Popplet compilations are a work in progress and a toolbox for them to start using.

Do you have tools to add?
Grade 6
Grade 7
Grade 8 (there was a different thought process for this one)
Specialists

Lots of thanks and props to my wonderful co-worker (and husband) for helping brainstorm and give this PD! The popplet suggestion was genius! Thanks Jeff ūüėČ

Kuwait, Professional Development

SAMR in Arabic

You may have noticed that one of the slides in my last post was a little funny looking. We have many teachers at our school in Kuwait who are native Arabic speakers and are at varying levels of English proficiency. We did quite a bit of searching and asking around but we weren’t able to find any¬†resources¬†to introduce SAMR to our Arabic staff. One of our wonderful HS Arabic as a Foreign Language teachers was amazing enough to sit down with me and work on a translation of SAMR. This translation keeps the English words for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition (to keep the acronym¬†consistent). In addition, it¬†is not a direct translation but gives an idea of the meaning behind S, A, M & R.

Feel free to use our translation as needed (with attribution of course). ūüôā

SAMR - Arabic

Kuwait, Professional Development

K-12 SAMR PD – Phase 1

SAMR is something I’ve wanted to introduce to our staff for awhile…we were just¬†waiting¬†for the right time. We’ve had some setbacks with our 1:1 iPad initiative this year and I’m ready to step away from the device towards quality pedogogy and technology (not iPad) integration. After blogging about the proposed¬†PD plan for COETAIL course 1, we’ve finally been able to put a few¬†pieces¬†into action here! It’s initiated some great discussions thus far and I’m looking forward to continuing with the SAMR mindset (we’re avoiding the terms framework and model) as we bring in new staff in August.

We went into the Elementary and High School divisional meetings and the Middle School grade level meetings. [Side note: One thing we’re quickly realizing is how different the vibe is between divisions. I’ve only ever taught in a high school so I’m used to the (sometimes) close-minded and bitter vibe (NOT saying that all HS teachers are this way!). Elementary teachers (while still a little bitter) are much more open to doing activities and having discussion.]¬†Prior to the ES & MS meetings, the principals asked staff to read an article from the NASSP that we provided. Here is how each meeting was run:

1. Give teachers a couple minutes to talk about anything/everything they know about SAMR and do a little research on what it is (they had their iPads). We gave groups butcher paper in case they wanted to write anything.
2. Give them a little help (links to specific SAMR websites/articles).
3. Share out to the group about what they knew/found. Show them the SAMR visual.
4. Provide them unmarked examples of S, A, M & R (in paper & electronic formats). Allow them to discuss & debate in order to match the examples to ‘phases.’
5. Go over together which example matches S, A, M or R and ask teachers WHY.
6. Leave teachers with a question to ponder (to be followed up): “How have you used technology in your classroom as a direct tool substitute?”

We stressed that teachers are already doing these things and that we are just giving them common vocabulary to use. We are also avoiding the hierarchy¬†mentality¬†..that’s not what SAMR is! After each meeting, we sent an email to all teachers with the resources used and a reminder of the question. See our slides (with examples linked) below. (They are very similar, only the examples are different.)

Elementary

Middle

High

COETAIL, course 1

Collaboration = Ultimate Success

During my 3 years teaching HS French I slowly incorporated more and more technology into my units (with the help of awesome colleagues). As I look back on how and why I integrated technology, I keep coming back to collaboration. The days that stick out in my mind (and also seemed to have the biggest effect on my students) were the lessons where they were able to collaborate – with their peers in class or with other students outside of our school walls.

Technology allows us to collaborate in a way that was not possible before. Technology is truly redefining the way we work¬†with¬†others…and that’s what it’s all about, right? No matter what you teach, where you are or how old your students are you can help them make connections to people around the world. Their ‘peers’ are no longer just the students sitting next to them in class each day. The teacher no longer has to be the only ‘sage on the stage.’ There are classrooms and experts out there waiting to connect and collaborate.

One (and maybe only?) thing drawing me back to the classroom is the chance to help my students make connections and learn about the world around them. So in my current position, helping teachers find ways to collaborate and connect with other classes around the world is probably my favorite topic of discussion and biggest passion. I wish more teachers would step outside their comfort zone and put “flattening” their classroom at the top of their priority list…the learning objectives and standards will come.

As we put more technology into the hands of students and teachers we need to CHANGE what our classroom looks like (thanks Jeff L!). It’s not going to be easy. But luckily it can be free. While I think projects like Flat Classroom are great, you don’t have to pay lots of money to get out there and find ways for you and your students to collaborate and connect. Wikis are free. Blogs are free (if you find the right ones). Google Apps for Education is free (if you’re non-profit). Twitter is free. Skype is free. Do you get the point? Start talking to other teachers and make exploring outside the 4 walls of your classroom a priority.


I recently ‘hungout’ with a few principals in my former district to discuss ¬†virtual field trips and thought the topic fit quite nicely with this post ūüôā

COETAIL, course 1

It’s about time…

I’ve been a little uninspired lately. I’ve been trying to figure out what my Technology Coach position actually looks like (it’s a brand new position this year). We’ve spent most of this year going with the flow of our “1:1” iPad program (it’s quite far from 1:1 and we’ve had several stumbling blocks). Most of the PD we’ve offered at our school has been app specific. Teachers want to know how to incorporate the iPad into their lessons and the questions usually ends up being “What’s the best app for xyz?” or “What can I do with this new app?” This kind of technology integration has never been my style…but I’ve gotten sucked in and am now dealing with the consequences. It seems that much of our staff see integrating technology as “How can I use the iPad?” and view it as an extra, something special. I don’t blame them as (it seems that) this is how the majority of educators worldwide view technology.

Last week I’d had enough and decided we needed to re-focus on how we are integrating technology. I wanted to (finally) introduce SAMR. I had a great brainstorming session with Christina, read some great blog posts (more on that later) and was inspired…ready to get moving, shaking and changing!

The SAMR PD plan (just an idea right now)…

1. Share this article with all staff and ask them to read it prior to coming to PD.
2. Spend 20 minutes introducing SAMR in the elementary and high school divisional meetings and the middle school grade-level meetings. (Idea: In groups ask them to come up with everything they know about SAMR – prior knowledge, info from NASSP article, Google searches, etc. Come together and share out about it. Would love to use Jeff‘s circular SAMR visual. Give them division specific examples of what SAMR looks like in the classroom, making sure they align with the IB philosophy. In closing, ask teachers to brainstorm how they have/could integrate(d) technology at the SUBSTITUTION level for our next meeting.)
3. Spend time in the MS/HS department meetings and the ES grade level meetings (small group). Ask teachers to share how they have integrated technology at the substitution level. Lead a brainstorm/workshop session for how they could start transforming their lessons.
4. Start weekly (bi-weekly?) PD sessions for all staff focusing on technology integration through the lens of SAMR. Example: A workshop on what formative assessment looks like at the 4 SAMR stages. What might that then look like using an iPad? A laptop? Some other session topic ideas: summative assessment, projects, etc. The goal would be to make the curriculum the focus, NOT the technology.

We’ve gotten the okay to introduce SAMR to the middle and elementary schools next week. The rest is still a work in progress. This school year has been a work in progress. I’m excited to move forward and see some transformation of the education at our school.

I would love any ideas for my above plan. Have you introduced SAMR to your staff? Have you ever been in a PD workshop about SAMR? How can I best get my staff to move away from ‘there’s an app for that’ to redefining their lessons?

iOS, Kuwait, Professional Development

A Reflection on Tech Integration – SAMR

I’ve been struggling a lot lately with this whole technology integration initiative that is sweeping the world. Yesterday Jeff and I went into a 1st grade classroom to help them create word-webs and stories using their iPads. It didn’t go as smoothly as one would hope and by the end we were wondering if the technology made the project better.

This morning we were truly challenged as Technology Coaches – two elementary teachers are starting their final project for COETAIL and need to integrate technology into a unit plan. Unlike many teachers that we come into contact with they know about SAMR and want to attain the Redefinition level.
This is what our job is supposed to be…right? Integrating technology in a way that redefines education? I honestly can’t say we’ve done a ton of that this year. I often wonder how many technology coaches (or whatever you’d like to call us) are truly helping teachers CHANGE education through the use of technology. I’m not naive enough to think that it can happen for every task that a student completes…but how about once a unit? Once a month? I’d take once a year! So many people (me included) are quick to make suggestions for integrating technology (in our case iPads) – make movies, use Explain Everything, write blogs, etc. How often do we stop to think…and ask ourselves “Is technology making my lessons better?” and “Where am I on the continuum?” I’ve sat around tables with teachers who truly believe that they are redefining & transforming education when they are simply at the substitution stage. I am just as guilty of this too! There are thousands of education blogs out there boasting about the latest and greatest way technology is “changing” their classroom. But is it really?

So where do we (me, my school, you, your school, educators around the world) go with this? How do we ensure that technology isn’t just a band-aid? I’ve had this discussion with Jeff countless times. But how do we have this discussion with other teachers without stepping on toes and hurting feelings? We haven’t introduced the SAMR or TPACK models to staff yet because we think they’d be a little overwhelmed (have you read Nicholas Provenzano‘s rant?). We are also in limbo waiting to hear what our iPad initiative will look like next year. Do we introduce these models? If so, when?

Quality technology integration isn’t easy. It’s takes time, patience and lots of brain power. It takes CHANGING the way we teach. Are we ready for that?

Get started redefining…
Exploring the SAMR model (ECISD Technology)
Brief Intro to TPCK & SAMR (Dr. Ruben Puentedura)
Technology in Education: A Brief Video Intro (Dr. Ruben Puentedura)
More on SAMR (Dr. Ruben Puentedura)
Elementary example of SAMR
TPACK
TPACK Explained

This is in no way a complete list…please feel free to share more!