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!

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COETAIL, Collaboration, iOS, Professional Development

I watched #COETAILCast 11

And really enjoyed it! Definitely worth an hour of your time. But if you don’t have that much time, here are the highlights (according to me):

COETAILers on Twitter
After the workshop I gave at PEAK on Saturday, I found value in the conversation re: Twitter. Becoming a connected educator can do so much for you and for the education community.

COETAILers on Blogging 
A great discussion about making the time to blog and what to blog about. Hopefully something we can use during our KIEC workshops in January. Two highlights for me:¬†“If you’re in a tech integration job, part of your job is to blog, to reflect” (Jeff Utecht) & “Write for yourself” (Chrissy).

Dana Watts on iPads in education
Dana summed up everything I believed in the perfect way. I’m not going to try to paraphrase. Just go watch it (only a minute or two).

COETAIL, Course 4

Problem-based learning = IB MYP design cycle?

Problem…or Project?
I recently mentioned the variety of X-based learning vocabulary that has invaded the education world. When I first saw PBL for this week’s blog I had to do a double take – I thought the P stood for ‘Project.’ So I needed to do a little research to understand the difference between Project and Problem -based learning.

In Project Based Learning (PBL), students go through an extended process of inquiry in response to a complex question, problem, or challenge. Rigorous projects help students learn key academic content and practice 21st Century Skills (such as collaboration, communication & critical thinking). (source)

 

In a problem-based learning (PBL) model, students engage complex, challenging problems and collaboratively work toward their resolution. PBL is about students connecting disciplinary knowledge to real-world problems‚ÄĒthe motivation to solve a problem becomes the motivation to learn. (source)

Twitter and Google searches also helped aid my understanding between the two models. John Larmer contends that problem-based learning is a subset of project based learning and provides a helpful table to differentiate between the two.¬†In¬†Geoff Krall‘s¬†opinion the two biggest differences are time and order and he also provides a great pie chat¬†of the differences and similarities.

With a clearer picture of what these two models actually are I definitely see advantages to them. Just as I do with several of the other X-based learning models (game-based learning, challenge-based learning…).

IB MYP design cycle?
One of the features of problem-based learning is the ‘steps that can be repeated and recycled.’ The inclusion of authentic problems and the prescribed steps remind me of the IB MYP design cycle (and design¬†thinking).
MYP Technology Design Cycle

 

The core of why I like the MYP design cycle, and all the X-based learning/thinking, is that they are student centered and move the teacher from the sage to a guide. What is best for my students is the question I always want to be reflecting back on. Are these models (or a hybrid or them) best for my students? Probably!

As for technology’s role this these models – it becomes a tool for learning, not the base of all learning. You could actually go through the entire design cycle without once using technology. Would it help facilitate the cycle? Most likely. But is is absolutely necessary? Not always. Design and X-based learning models have the potential (if done right) to give true meaning to technology integration.

Disclaimer: I don’t actually teach the MYP design cycle nor have I received official training. I’d love to hear opinions from any of you that do teach it / are trained!

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?

Kuwait

Connect to ES #music classes!

Our elementary music teachers have started a blog in order to connect classrooms around the world. I LOVE it! If I haven’t mentioned it before, my favorite use of technology is the connections it allows. I had no hand in the idea for this blog and I’m so proud of our teachers for their initiative and drive. As an IB World school, this is a great opportunity for students to become open-minded, inquirers and communicators.

From their About page:

This blog is an attempt to connect music classrooms all around the world, with the overarching goal of helping students realize that they have something in common with students all over the world. This is a place for questions to be asked and answered, performances shared, and music to be celebrated!

They have had 3 posts from other schools so far and are hoping for many more! If you’re interested in participating (or want more information), email Nick & Stacey. The blog is currently private to protect students’ identities.

musicroom2musicroom

Collaboration, Kuwait

Connect to ES #music classes!

Our elementary music teachers have started a blog in order to connect classrooms around the world. I LOVE it! If I haven’t mentioned it before, my favorite use of technology is the connections it allows. I had no hand in the idea for this blog and I’m so proud of our teachers for their initiative and drive. As an IB World school, this is a great opportunity for students to become open-minded, inquirers and communicators.

From their About page:

This blog is an attempt to connect music classrooms all around the world, with the overarching goal of helping students realize that they have something in common with students all over the world. This is a place for questions to be asked and answered, performances shared, and music to be celebrated!

They have had 2 posts from other schools so far and are hoping for many more! If you’re interested in participating (or want more information), email Nick & Stacey. The blog is currently private.

musicroom2musicroom

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, Social Media

International Mindedness & Twitter

Thank you to everyone who helped me last week by answering my questions about Technology Coaches. My PLN is awesome!

Our school is starting voluntary focus groups based on where we feel we need to improve in our Middle Years Program practice. Because of my passion for culture, I chose to participate in the ‘International Mindedness‘ group.

Our initial meeting was just me and Deb, our MYP coordinator. We skimmed some literature from the IBO and then discussed what international mindedness might look like in our school. Our short-term goal is to help teachers incorporate/recognize the three dimensions of global consciousness (global sensitivity, global understanding and global self) in their unit plans.

As we were brainstorming, we discussed that maybe it was easier than one might think. In Earth science, instead of just teaching about sand and water (because that’s what we have in Kuwait) teachers should also be teaching about soil, ice, etc. The technology coach in me couldn’t help but connect international mindedness to global collaboration through the use of technology. Social media baby! Students are no longer confined to studying what they can see in their environment or what a book tells them.

Dinner is served

Kuwait is rife with pollution and we tend to focus on how bad it is here. During a unit of study, students could create a hashtag and share pictures of pollution in Kuwait on Twitter. With careful hashtag selection, these tweets could be seen by other students around the world. The goal would be to get students from all over to share pictures of pollution in their countries. I could see this idea getting changed around (for the better) by students. I’d love to see what could come of something like this across different content areas in our school when students took ownership of it. Students are on their phones constantly…let’s allow them to be open-minded communicators!

Professional Development

Looking for input from all of YOU!

This has been a really interesting year as a¬†Technology Coach¬†in our school. It’s the first year the school has had a position like this. There are 3 of us in the position (2 a married couple, 1 not a certified teacher). We don’t have a job description. The school is attempting to go 1:1 with iPads…I could go on.

After working with some teachers and approaching in it different ways, things have come to a point where we need to figure some stuff out. That’s where I’d be forever grateful if you’d chime in! In any way you’d like (comment, tweet, email, etc), could you please respond to any or all of these questions? This is a rather hastily written plea so anything else you’d like to contribute would be wonderful. MERCI bien in advance!

Do you have¬†technology¬†coaches (instructional technology specialists, technology integration coaches…whatever you’d like to call it) in your school? (Why?)

What does their job look like? What responsibilities do they have? (Why?)

Are they certified teachers or support staff? (Why?)

Are they considered admin/leaders or teachers? (Why?)

Do they influence teachers or give them what they ask for? (Why?)

Please share any knowledge or resources you have! I’m eager to help mold this position into what is best for the teachers and school. THANK YOU!