The Kid President video titled "A Pep Talk" sums up my ADL journey quite well. After choosing the path less traveled he exclaims, "And it hurt, man! There were rocks, and thorns..." From the get-go, Dr. H. warned us that this journey would not be easy, as we were going to be learning about COVA + CSLE while experiencing COVA + CSLE. No reading chapters here! Quizzes? Unheard of! While I embraced the freedom that this learning style offered, I struggled to reconcile my desire to please the instructor with the lack of clear expectations. As we moved through the Growth Mindset modules, I became more comfortable with self-directed learning and gained confidence in the process of learning through feed-forward rather than traditional assessment methods. At the moment, I'm trying to convince my campus leadership to implement some in-depth Growth Mindset training for the staff, as I think most negative attitudes and resistance to change stems from our Fixed Mindsets. I know mine did!
The biggest transformation for me was learning about organizational change strategies. I find myself consulting my Six Sources of Influence, 4DX, and Crucial Conversations on a weekly basis to help plan PLC meetings and coaching conversations. This course helped me find and use my voice as a campus leader. This year my campus added a Friday afternoon club block from 2-2:45. While this club program isn't as robust as the 4-H program, I think that involving more teachers and students is very exciting! If I hadn't gone through the ADL program, I would not be prepared at all to guide the staff through the added responsibility of club leadership and facing the challenges of working out the kinks. As is often the case, this change was made without adequate planning upfront, but doing it this way has helped the staff see how the students respond to authentic learning and get them more excited about COVA + CSLE themselves!
I'm so grateful to have been a part of this program. At times I was wishing for something easy, like some chapters to read or a quiz to take, but I know that that type of learning would not have been nearly as transformative or given me the confidence to move forward in my career. As Kid President says when faced with two paths: "I want to be on the [path] that leads to awesome."
A Pep Talk from Kid President: https://youtu.be/l-gQLqv9f4o
Reflecting on my Innovation Plan, I realize just how much it has grown and changed over the last 11 months. Join the Club: Beyond the Campus Walls started out as a plan to integrate project-based learning into our existing 4-H club program. The first challenge was just getting the clubs back up and running again after last year's hiatus. While I was unable to recruit anyone to take over the Garden Club, we did add Game Design, ESports, and Rock Band to our existing clubs: STEM, Cooking, Chess, and Sewing. The next challenge was professional development. I have to admit that my PL plan to train the club leaders in project-based learning has not come to pass, as there is simply no time in the schedule. As a result, I have had to sneak the information in through informal conversations and club leader Google chats. Luckily, my club leaders are of the same mind as I, so not a lot of formal training is needed. Moving forward, as I hope to encourage the use of PBL in classroom environments, I will have to rethink the professional learning portion, which I am currently working on in 5318.
Something interesting that happened this year is that the administration put 'club time' in the master schedule every Friday! I was ecstatic and terrified, with good reason. Now as the coordinator of what amounts to a school-wide genius hour, I have a broader audience to preach the gospel of my Innovation Plan to, but I am also placing 570 kids into clubs that rotate and change every 5-6 weeks based on interest levels while attempting to avoid the angry mob of teachers being asked* to lead a club.
For me, the Six Sources of Influence has been such a game-changer. I made myself a graphic and printed it out to hang in my office as a reminder that to affect change, I need to remember the basics. I use it every time I begin planning a PLC or PD day, every time I go into a coaching session, and even with myself when faced with an assignment that I'm not crazy about: "How do I make myself love this? What resources do I need to be able to accomplish it?"
The end of the ADL program will not mean the end of my Innovation Plan. I will see it through to the end of the year, and then hand it off to one of the many dedicated and qualified folks that have been so integral in implementing the clubs this year, then go on to apply what I have learned in a new career - hopefully in Instructional Design!
*I do ask, albeit sometimes with a heavy dose of guilt trip
This program has validated my learning philosophy and ideas about how students learn. What I lacked were the research and accurate vocabulary to describe it. Now I have them: Choice, Ownership, Voice, Authentic Learning Environments. This in no way means that I didn’t struggle with the freedoms given us as students in the COVA framework. I had never been asked to learn this way, and 50 years of sit-and-get and take the test was working against me. I relish a challenge, though, so the transition was not too bad.
My Innovation Plan is authentic. I love PBL and I’m the Club Manager on campus, so it only made sense to combine the two for my organizational change. It has been a difficult start to the year for many unforeseen reasons, so my plan is getting a slow start. I believe with patience and perseverance the vision will eventually be fully realized.
In my organization, I will use COVA and CSLE principles as I am planning professional learning events. If teachers are going to embrace these methods, they must be exposed to them, as we were in this program.
My Score: 90
While I like to think of myself as a leader and hold a leadership role in my professional life, in a group of relative strangers I tend to hang back and observe for a while before I’m comfortable enough to engage. Over this past summer I finally felt able to participate in class discussions in a way that brought something meaningful to the conversation. Having had foot surgery in June, I was off work from both jobs and had plenty of time to really dig into the courses, carefully consider my Professional Learning Plan and how it fit into the creation of Significant Learning Environments on my campus, and submit work I could be proud of. I did miss some zoom meetings due to other commitments, but the recordings were there to catch me up.
Moving into the fall semester proved challenging. Although I still engaged with my core group regularly and attended the first several zoom meetings for each course, there came a time about halfway through when my participation lagged. I found the zoom meetings to be mostly Q&A, which only serves to make me anxious about assignments I thought I had a good grasp of. I used the recordings as a tool to pick and choose the parts that were relevant to my learning and avoid the conversations that I felt I did not need in order to be successful. I also found myself falling behind on the last few discussion posts. I did complete them all, but some were too late to really be of use to my classmates’ learning. On the other hand, I read others’ posts and use their contributions on a daily basis in both this program and my career.
Designing learning experiences, whether for students or teachers, is one of the things I enjoy most about my job. The creativity and problem solving involved in the process hit two of my perceived strengths. My PL sessions are rarely sit-and-get events, more often a combination of workshop model and flipped learning. Unfortunately, participation in these events has waned of late as teachers’ plates get piled high with other responsibilities and learning about tech tools gets pushed aside. Through 5317, I was able to really dive into the problems faced by digital learning coaches while researching and writing my publication article on the lack of EdTech PD time. Since my Innovation Plan is about implementing project-based learning in our 4-H Clubs, and much professional learning will be necessary to make that happen, writing about creative ways to deliver quality PL seemed like the logical choice. In 5315, I decided to design a research plan to determine if Project-Based Learning affected student behavior. It may have connected better with 5317 had I chosen to research the effects of good professional learning on successful PBL programs, but the connections that did occur were more in process than content. I see opportunities to use the Action Research protocol to survey teachers for the purpose of planning future professional learning sessions. Conversely, I’ve also thought about designing and delivering PD on action research for teachers. This informal research is something that happens all the time, but with a bit of intentionality, the strategy could yield some interesting observations about what happens in our classrooms.
My core group, consisting of Robin Ballard, Danielle Pyle, Lindsay Hoerig-Cavanagh, Lindsey Wallace, Maria Rodman, and Avery Nihill maintained a Google slide deck to curate resources and share our work outside of the Blackboard platform as well as a GroupMe for real time communication. GroupMe continues to be a great source of support as well as inspiration. We continue to communicate daily to ask questions, discuss our different interpretations of videos and readings, and gather feedback on our work. In my opinion, the most powerful effect our group has had is encouraging each other to maintain a growth mindset and focus on learning rather than the final grade. This emotional support and encouragement has been vital in my own growth within the ADL program and I continue to look forward to working with these ladies as we continue into the home stretch.
What is the goal of education? Not many educators would ever answer “To have students memorize facts and processes so that they can pass a standardized test,” yet that is exactly what the system asks us to do. That is exactly what university programs teach future educators to do. We all agree that communication, critical thinking, curiosity, and perseverance are WHAT we should be teaching, but no one knows HOW to teach those things. Self-directed learning is the goal, but teachers are not trained how to facilitate this framework with a class full of students, nor do they have the time to do so with the strict calendar of learning standards they are handed. “We have to use content to teach core competencies” is the sentence that stuck with me from Wagner’s video (Society, 2009). It marries the idea that we do have state-mandated curriculum, but with a little creativity it can be delivered in a way that also addresses these 21st-century skills. By asking students the right questions to guide their learning rather than handing them the information we can do for the students what Dr. H. and company have done for us: Make them THINK and take ownership of their learning.
Society, A. (2009, October 1). 7 Skills students need for their future [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NS2PqTTxFFc&feature=youtu.be
Think, B. (2013, July 17). The Seven Essential Life Skills, With Ellen Galinsky | Big Think Mentor | Big Think [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdIkQnTy6jA&feature=youtu.be
People have often asked me why I never became an administrator, and my response was always something sarcastic about dealing with parents, but it also has something to do with what Stephen Graves says in The Difference Between Leadership and Influence. I’ve never wanted to be in a leadership position where people looked at me as the ‘boss’. In reading the descriptions of influence: crosses boundaries, behind the scenes, under the surface (Graves, 2013) that’s where I want to be.
The Most Persistent Myth almost made me laugh - we can all remember not only technologies that have come and gone, but methods and pedagogies as well. This video brings home the foundational idea that teachers will never become obsolete - in fact, human educators are more important than ever in today’s society to develop personal relationships with each student and inspire them to do more with their life than staring at a screen.
Developing this personal relationship with my audience is what I will strive for in both my article and podcast. Being a flawed, somewhat awkward, and dorky human makes me relatable- hopefully, I can leverage these qualities to influence my audience in a positive way!
Graves, S. (2013, October 21). The Difference Between Influence and Leadership. Stephengraves.Com. https://stephenrgraves.com/articles/read/the-difference-between-influence-and-leadership/
My favorite A/V tool at the moment is Screencastify. I use it mostly for short tutorials on new programs or apps that I think teachers should know about but don’t have time for a full professional learning session or PLC. I also use it as a ‘spoonful of sugar’ to convey abundant information instead of putting it in a lengthy email. I love that SC has released an upgrade that allows teachers to assign video responses in Google Classroom. I often ask the TECHsperts to create and submit a screencastify that teaches younger students how to use a digital tool, like different features in Seesaw for example. Many of the younger teachers on my campus prefer Loom, but i don't see enough of a difference in the two to switch.
For longer informative videos I use Filmora Wondershare - it is cheaper than Camtasia and (I think) more user friendly.
I enjoyed the article Popular Culture in the Classroom, as it reinforced the idea of technology as an enhancement, not a replacement, for traditional learning. It is an older article and digital learning has come a long way since 2006, but the concept still holds true - using audio & video, and let’s add gaming to that list, does motivate students and capture their attention by making learning relevant to them.
Popular Culture in the Classroom (2006)
Within the planning stage, identifying and limiting the topic will be the most difficult for me. I tend to be a ‘big picture' thinker, and getting down to the specific details of any project or initiative pushes me out of my comfort zone. Once I am able to narrow my focus, I should be able to accomplish the planning stage of my research and begin the Acting stage within the time frame of this course. With project-based learning as the cornerstone of my innovation plan, I don’t think there will be time to gather enough data for the Developing or Reflecting stages before the end of this course. We are just getting our club program started for the year, and the authentic learning experiences we are planning range in duration from several weeks to all year.
We have been prepared well for the gathering information step through the self-reflection, description, and explanation we have been maintaining throughout the ADL program on our blogs. Reflecting has made me a better educator by making me more aware of my own strengths and weaknesses. Since I’m in a position to not only work with students but also the educators on my campus, I have used self-reflection to identify where I tend to have a growth vs. fixed mindset and use that to help me be a better leader during professional development sessions and PLCs.
As Dr. Thompson said in video 1.2, educators are constantly conducting action research by evaluating what works with their students and what doesn’t, making adjustments, and drawing conclusions about how to proceed. (I was glad to hear her say that because I was thinking it!) What that ‘on the fly’ approach lacks is actual data. We use our own informal observations and perceptions to make decisions rather than developing a plan based on anything formally collected. There is definitely a place for the former (like every day all day), but the latter could give insight into more complex classroom issues that a teacher might be facing that require deeper understanding. That leads to the big difference between action research and more traditional methods: action research is directly related to the educator’s situation and needs, whereas traditional research focuses on things outside the educator’s sphere of influence.
While I’m still working on narrowing my topic, I’m looking forward to all the possibilities that action research presents.
There are so many edtech tools out there, it is often tempting to try everything - kind of like a Las Vegas buffet. Classroom teachers neither have the time nor the patience to wade through the smorgasbord of choices. As the tech integrationist I see that as one of my responsibilities - testing programs and apps to determine which ones are worth the time. I use the network of other tech integrationists through TCEA, ESC Region 11, Common Sense Media, and Kasey Bell’s Shake up Learning. Ironically, I also often find out about new things from students - Blooket for example! If I think something is worthwhile, I generally have my Techspert team test drive it to get the student perspective.
Teachers on my campus love screencastify and flipgrid for student responses - especially now that screencastify integrates with Google Classroom! They also use Quizziz, Quizlet Live, EdPuzzle, and Kahoot pretty regularly. I personally adore Symbaloo. I use it to curate websites and activities for students to do during stations, for research, and during ‘free time’. See my Digital Citizenship Symbaloo here:https://www.symbaloo.com/mix/lddigitalcitizenship
Contributions to Learning and the Learning Community
My Score: 90
While I like to think of myself as a leader and hold a leadership role in my professional life, in a group of relative strangers I tend to hang back and observe for a while before I’m comfortable enough to engage. This summer I finally felt able to participate in class discussions in a way that brought something meaningful to the conversation. Having had foot surgery in June, I was off work from both jobs and had plenty of time to really dig into the courses, carefully consider my Professional Learning Plan and how it fit into the creation of Significant Learning Environments on my campus, and submit work I could be proud of. I did miss some zoom meetings due to other commitments, but the recordings were there to catch me up.
Designing learning experiences, whether for students or teachers, is one of the things I enjoy most about my job. The creativity and problem solving involved in the process hit two of my perceived strengths. My PL sessions are rarely sit-and-get events, more often a combination of workshop model and flipped learning. Through 5389, I discovered some new strategies - especially ones that involve reflection and collaboration between participants. I look forward to using walk-and-talks in addition to group formative assessments like 1-minute videos in future professional learning events. Designing the PL for 5389 with Robin Ballard was inspiring. She is so detailed and thorough in her approach to everything she does, whereas I contribute through big ideas and creative thinking. We made a great team, working together on many aspects of the plan but allowing for individuality as well. Since my Innovation Plan is about implementing project-based learning in our 4-H Clubs, I aimed my professional learning plan at the staff members who lead the 4-H clubs. Robin’s Innovation Plan is aimed at a broader audience at the secondary level, so the details of her PL plan were slightly different from mine although the basic concept and structure are the same.
What I enjoyed most about these summer courses was how well they connected for me. In designing my Professional Learning Plan, I was challenged to create a Significant Learning Environment in which to deliver it. As I said, I prefer my PL sessions to be active and authentic, and they understand the content I present on some level. Having gone through 5313, I realize I had never really thought about ways my learners could more deeply connect with the material in a way that would truly change the way they think about teaching and learning. Moving from the traditional UbD template to using the BHAG and 3-column table opened my eyes to how considering the core knowledge and beliefs I want my audience to internalize should play a foundational role in my PL design process.
My core group, consisting of Robin Ballard, Danielle Pyle, LIndsay Hoerig-Cavanagh, Lindsey Wallace, Aliscia Drummond, Maria Rodman, and Avery Nihill maintained a Google slide deck to curate resources and share our work outside of the Blackboard platform as well as a GroupMe for real time communication. The GroupMe was a real lifeline this summer when it came to asking/answering each other questions and discussing our different interpretations of videos and readings. In my opinion, the most powerful effect our group has had is encouraging each other to maintain a growth mindset and focus on learning rather than the final grade. This emotional support and encouragement has been vital in my own growth within the ADL program and I continue to look forward to working with these ladies as we continue into the fall.