JustinHaney.org

books, tech, lessons from a librarian

Tag: P21

The Future is Now. Librarians are Ready.

the future is now. sci-fi graphic with librarians

“Information is king” and “Knowledge is power” are how the sayings go. Though Sir Francis Bacon’s knowledge quote still rings true, the first would seem to be a 20th Century adage that should be retired. In the 1900s information was siloed and access was somewhat by caste. There are still remnants of the tiers of access in today’s education society. Unequal school funding and geographical economic differences result in imbalanced access to information, with factors such as reliable high-speed internet and the need for functioning technology playing a role. Even with those roadblocks, the arrival of the Internet and open access to networked information has begun to shift the balance of power to where the new saying is closer to “Information navigators are king”. Merely having access to information is now not enough, rather the desired skill set is knowing how to weed through massive amounts of information in varying forms to figure out what really matters. The mere act of knowing how to navigate helps to prevent failure due to information overload.

My final blog post of this quarter explores ISTE Coaching Standard 4:

Professional Development and Program Evaluation

Performance Indicator B

  • Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.

Guiding questions:

  • What role does administration play when designing professional development for adult learning?
  • How should we advocate for necessary professional learning opportunities when administrators pursue new educational technology initiatives?

Which led me to this triggering question:

  • What role should teacher librarians play in planning and in support of professional development, both at a building level and district-wide?

With the goal of proficient information navigation skills for our students, our thinking must then shift to professional learning for educators. How can we expect to help our students to develop these skills if we haven’t experienced the learning process for ourselves? 21st Century learning should look different as it’s focusing on a different outcome. Unfortunately, most professional development offerings bear little resemblance to the teaching we’re hoping to successfully implement with our students. Gaining 21st Century skills requires different emphases. Educator Greg Miller shares thoughts on this idea in a 2014 blog post: “Understanding Networked Learning is an essential part of contemporary pedagogy. Connecting through networks in a digital world is when a learner accesses information through a number of connections and uses that information to construct knowledge, often through those same networks. Whether it is Big Data or Linked Data as Tim Berness-Lee (founder of World Wide Web) refers to it in ‘The next Web of open’, linked data teachers need to be clear about how data, information and digital technology knowledge are interrelated and the opportunities that come with knowledge building.” (Miller 2014)

So how do we make the shift? Librarians. The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) states: “The mission of the school library program is to ensure that students and staff are effective users of ideas and information; students are empowered to be critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, skillful researchers, and ethical users of information.” (AASL) The central focus is on developing effective “users of information” and not “responders to information” or “consumers of information”. There is a central difference in that “using” means going beyond a passive role into a position of active learning. Librarians are in a unique position and we must utilize our positioning to integrate 21st Century Skills with learning for staff and students alike.  

In 2015, the Alliance for Excellent Education created the Future Ready Schools (FRS) program to “help school districts develop comprehensive plans to achieve successful student learning outcomes by (1) transforming instructional pedagogy and practice while (2) simultaneously leveraging technology to personalize learning in the classroom.” (Future Ready Schools) The Future Ready Librarians (FRL) movement expands on the work of the FRS initiative. Here’s Mark Ray, former Washington State Teacher of the Year and librarian, and current Chief Digital Officer for Vancouver Public Schools, in Vancouver, WA, in a TED Talk about how librarians can and should shift our role:

This shift is not an instantaneous one, nor is it always painless, but it is necessary. “Librarians have traditionally served an important role in school systems as teachers, particularly in teaching students how to access information. Now, in Vancouver and elsewhere, librarians’ roles are evolving, as districts count on them to help teachers use technology to improve instruction, and to troubleshoot problems with digital systems as they emerge.” (Brzozowski 2015) and “Utilizing the ‘whole school’ view, the librarian is in a key position to contribute to the development of strong professional learning communities through professional development and technology integration.” (Dees, Mayer, Morin, and Willis 2010)

Future Ready Librarians frameworkFuture Ready Librarians graphic from http://futureready.org/about-the-effort/librarians/

As you can see in the FRL framework above, collaboratively developing professional learning opportunities for staff is right in the future ready librarian’s wheelhouse: Collaborative Leadership; Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment; and Personalized Professional Learning. With that in mind, one has to wonder why so many districts in recent years have made cuts to library programs? One consideration: in many cases, were those librarians working to make themselves indispensable when it came to working collaboratively with staff, students, and community alike. Were they focused on personalized student learning as an end goal? On the other hand, were the relevant administrators providing the funding and supports necessary for the librarians to achieve those lofty 21st Century goals? And if not, why not? If ever there was a group of educators with the desired skillset for this initiative, it’s librarians. “ISTE recently convened a small group of distinguished leaders to share the success they were having with PD models that integrate context, collaboration, and technology. In analyzing their success, three essential concepts emerged. The most effective PD was: 1. Technology-rich, 2. Delivered through a coaching model, and 3. Enhanced by the power of community and social learning.” (Beglau, M., & et al. 2011)

This video from FRS showcases some of the work being done to develop teacher leaders to strengthen professional learning:

Finally, created by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, this video is certainly applicable to education and professional learning in the U.S. as well:

Future Ready Schools need Future Ready Librarians. Future Ready Librarians are uniquely equipped to lead the way and should actively advocate for the opportunity to lead professional learning for their colleagues. Returning to the AASL’s guiding statement: “The mission of the school library program is to ensure that students and staff are effective users of ideas and information.” We need to provide opportunities for staff to experience information overload, to provide opportunities for creativity by asking open-ended questions and allowing the learners (and teachers) to explore solutions that are authentic and applicable to their world. We need to provide guidance to ensure equitable and open access to information and resources. Calling these 21st Century Skills does them a disservice, as it makes it seem as if they’re skills for the learners of the future. The future is now and librarians are needed more than ever before.

References

Abilock, D., Harada, V., & Fontichiaro, K. (2013, October). Growing schools: Effective professional development. Teacher Librarian, 41(1), 8-13.

Alabi, J., & Weare, Jr., W. (2013, August 23). The power of observation: How librarians can benefit from the peer review of teaching even without a formal PROT program” [PDF document]. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/gaintlit/2013/2013/1

Alliance for Excellent Education. (2017, February 14). Future Ready Librarians: What’s not to love? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2rPnjx_5yM

Beglau, M., & et al. (2011). Technology, coaching and community: Power partners for improved professional development in primary and secondary education. Retrieved from International Society for Technology in Education website: https://www.ri-iste.org/Resources/Documents/Coaching_Whitepaper_digital.pdf

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (n.d.). Teachers know best – K-12 education. Retrieved March 1, 2017, from http://k12education.gatesfoundation.org/2015/05/teachers-know-best-2/

Brzozowski, C. (2015, April 13). K-12 librarians’ roles shift to meet digital demands – Education Week. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/04/15/k-12-librarians-roles-shift-to-meet-digital.html

Dees, D., Mayer, A., Morin, H., & Willis, E. (2010). Librarians as leaders in professional learning communities through technology, literacy, and collaboration. Library Media Connection, 29(2), 10.

Farkas, M. (2015, January 6). Peer learning in library instruction [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/2015/01/06/peer-learning-in-library-instruction/

Future Ready Schools. (2017). Future Ready Librarians. Retrieved from http://futureready.org/librarians

International Society for Technology in Education. (2017). Standards for coaches. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

LaGuardia, C. (2014, March 20). Professional development: What’s it to you? Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/03/opinion/not-dead-yet/professional-development-whats-it-to-you-not-dead-yet/#_

Miller, G. (2014, May 31). Teacher professional learning in a digital world [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://gregmiller68.com/2014/05/31/teacher-professional-learning-in-a-digital-world/

Moreillon, Judi. “Building Your Personal Learning Network (PLN): 21st-Century School Librarians Seek Self- Regulated Professional Development Online.” Knowledge Quest, vol. 44, no. 3, 2016, p. 64.

Murray, T. C. (2017, March/April). Seven gears principals can leverage to enhance technology use. Principal, 96(4), 8-11. Retrieved from http://www.naesp.org/principal-marchapril-2017-technology-all/principal-marchapril-2017-technology-all

Ray, M. & Trettin, S. (2016). Librarians connected to National Future Ready Initiative. Teacher Librarian, 44(1), 8-11.

Wolf, M. A., Jones, R., & Gilbert, D. (2014). Leading in and beyond the library. Retrieved from Alliance for Excellent Education website: http://all4ed.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/BeyondTheLibrary.pdf

Connecting the Dots: Is there room for creativity in professional development?

connect the dots header image


Dot-to-dot puzzles. My kid loves them. Always has. Now in sixth grade, his favorites still start off 1-2-3, but now they’re cranked up to 11. Extreme puzzles like this one:   extreme dot to dot of a giraffe
This giraffe puzzle (sorry to spoil the surprise… it’s a giraffe) has over 1300 dots to connect, but the concept is still the same as the first puzzles he completed as a toddler. Find the beginning dot, and then follow the pre-determined path until the image becomes more clear and complete. Reach the final dot and you’re done. Move onto the next puzzle.

Dot-to-dot puzzles are the antithesis of the creative process. Worse than coloring books even… it’s not even about staying inside the lines, you’re literally drawing the line. Nothing in life is as simple as connecting the dots. Nothing in education that prepares our students for life as a grown-up is as simple as finding the starting spot, drawing a straight line from one prescribed dot to the next, and continuing until you reach the end.

In reading and researching the final ISTE Coaching Standard in EDTC 6106 at Seattle Pacific University, I was given this guiding question to explore: What does the ideal technology rich professional learning program look like? During my exploration the question & answers I decided on were:


Q: How can we integrate creativity into a technology rich professional learning program?

A: Have teachers follow the LAUNCH design process in their learning. Celebrate innovation. Allow for reflection and open communication. Make the collaborative process necessary for success.


So why focus specifically on creativity? Returning to the original analogy, in my 15+ years in education much of what I’ve seen in professional development programs has been a dot-to-dot puzzle. It’s been a prescribed process, with a predetermined product expected. Straying from the order will result in more than a few raised eyebrows and even redirection. Engagement is driven not by innovation but by strict adherence to connecting dots, one after another. The problem is we’re tasked with helping our students to develop the learning and innovation skills that by consensus have been agreed to be critical to success in the 21st Century: Creativity and Innovation; Critical Thinking and Problem Solving; Communication and Collaboration (http://www.p21.org/about-us/p21-framework). How can we hope to achieve success in developing those skills if our own professional learning doesn’t reflect the same values?

I was recently reading a book and came across this quote by educator Bo Adams (It’s About Learning https://itsaboutlearning.org/bo-adams/):bo adams quote

LAUNCH book coverThe book is LAUNCH: Using design thinking to boost creativity and bring out the maker in every student by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani. Spencer and Juliani have created a design framework that is applicable and incredibly useful for today’s education, for students and teachers alike. The LAUNCH acronym stands for:

Look, Listen, Learn
Ask Tons of Questions
Understand the Process or Problem
Navigate Ideas
Create a Prototype
Highlight and Fix
& launch your work to an audience.

Here’s a video introduction to the LAUNCH design thinking framework:

What I especially love is how the focus is on design and creativity, rather than specific technology “stuff” that may or may not be available to all educators or their students. Allowing for personalization in the learning and design process means that the there is considerable freedom in taking a different approach to find solutions. Juliani and Spencer’s Launch website is filled with great ideas, as are both individual author’s blogs and Twitter feeds.

Related Resources
John Spencer: http://www.spencerauthor.com/
A.J. Juliani: http://ajjuliani.com/
The LAUNCH Cycle: http://thelaunchcycle.com/
The Global Day of Design: http://globaldayofdesign.com/ (coming up soon! — 5/2/2017)

In my opinion “creativity” is the key to success for 21st Century citizens for at least 3 of the 4-Cs in the P21 Framework (http://www.p21.org/about-us/p21-framework). [1] Critical Thinking — higher level skills inherently require creative approaches; [2] Collaboration — going beyond mere collegiality requires creative thinking. Creative thinkers find new ways to collaborate and new partners to collaborate with; and [3] Creativity.

By injecting a requirement of creativity into a technology rich professional learning program, it keeps the focus not on consumption but on creation. It is easy to be distracted by shiny new apps and flashy tech doo-dads, but requiring creativity in the learning means that higher level thinking skills are essential to success. A lot of adults have forgotten what it means to innovate and create for fear of failure. Allowing for failure in the process would be great practice for educators as they begin the process of bringing project-based learning into their classrooms.

The TPACK framework is largely the work of Professors Koehler and Mishra and the Deep-Play Research Group at Michigan State University. This infographic by Mark Anderson (Twitter @ICTEvangelist) provides a great overview on the subject:

TPACK framework(Anderson 2013)

Related Resources:
Punya Mishra, Ph.D.: http://www.punyamishra.com/
Example of Mishra’s work: Mehta, R., & Mishra, P. (2016). Downtime as a Key to Novelty Generation: Understanding the Neuroscience of Creativity with Dr. Rex Jung. TechTrends, 60(6), 528-531. doi:10.1007/s11528-016-0119-3. Retrieved from http://www.punyamishra.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Jung-Interview-Mehta-Mishra-techtrends.pdf
The Deep-Play Research Group at Michigan State University: http://deep-play.com/

So returning to the question, how can we integrate creativity into a technology rich professional learning program? I think the key is understanding that creativity must be a part of the planning, implementation, and product of the educational process, but it shouldn’t be the only focus. TPACK centers on this idea of a balanced approach. When all of the circles (Technology, Content, and Pedagogy) are intersecting, and when creativity is called upon, there you’ll find the sweet spot of learning. The TPACK model reminds me of an early dot-filled infographic from the 1971 Ted Williams book The Science of Hitting. In his mind, arguably the greatest hitter in Major League Baseball history imagined this graphic in each at bat:

Ted Williams batting zone infographic

“My first rule of hitting was to get a good ball to hit. I learned down to percentage points where those good balls were. The box shows my particular preferences, from what I considered my “happy zone” – where I could hit .400 or better – to the low outside corner – where the most I could hope to bat was .230. Only when the situation demands it should a hitter go for the low-percentage pitch.” (Ted Williams)

Williams’s “happy zone” was at the intersection of vision, reach, muscle memory, training, bat angle and speed, and knowing himself as a hitter. His innovation as a baseball player made him a Hall of Famer, and yet his quote acknowledges that there are times to shift your approach “when the situation demands”. One of TPACK’s strength is that it can help educators from losing focus. The targeted learning should be at the intersection of how you teach, what you teach, and what you use. Focus on only one or two of the three and you’ll miss out on the “happy zone”.

The Dot book cover by Peter H. ReynoldsFinally, I couldn’t wrap up this dot-focused post without mentioning one of my all-time favorite picture books. The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds is profoundly simple. Vashti is convinced she is not an artist, that she’s not creative. “I just CAN’T draw!” A simple art project (“draw a dot”) transforms Vashti’s life when she realizes there is room for exploration and her spirit and voice. The fear of failure is replaced with pride and ownership, and the book’s ending finds Vashti empowered to pass on her learning to others. Vashti’s development and success was aided by a teacher who provided the necessary tools, a framework that allowed for exploration, and the chance to share her learning with others. My hope is that someday soon it will be more common to find technology rich professional learning that allows for creative growth and innovation. Are we ready to LAUNCH? 3.2.1…

Resources

Anderson, M. (2013, May 28). Technological, pedagogical and content knowledge [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://ictevangelist.com/technological-pedagogical-and-content-knowledge/

Fryer, W. (2009, June 13). Moving at the speed of creativity | Blending professional development to focus on content, technology and pedagogy [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.speedofcreativity.org/2009/06/13/blending-professional-development-to-focus-on-content-technology-and-pedagogy/

Juliani, A. J., & Spencer, J. (2016). The Launch Cycle – Bring out the maker in every student. Retrieved from http://thelaunchcycle.com/

Kay, K. (2011, September 29). Becoming a 21st Century school or district: Use the 4Cs to build professional capacity (Step 4 of 7) | Edutopia [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/21st-century-professional-development-key-kay

Mehta, R., & Mishra, P. (2016). Downtime as a Key to Novelty Generation: Understanding the Neuroscience of Creativity with Dr. Rex Jung. TechTrends, 60(6), 528-531. doi:10.1007/s11528-016-0119-3. Retrieved from http://www.punyamishra.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Jung-Interview-Mehta-Mishra-techtrends.pdf

Mishra, P. (n.d.). Punya Mishra’s Web – Living at the junction of education, creativity, design & technology. Retrieved March 5, 2017, from http://www.punyamishra.com/

Mishra, P., & The Deep-Play Research Group. (2012). Rethinking technology & creativity in the 21st Century: Crayons are the future. TechTrends, 56(5), 13-16. doi:10.1007/s11528-012-0594-0. Retrieved from http://www.punyamishra.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Mishra-crayons-techtrends1.pdf

Niess, M., & Gillow-Wiles, H. (2015). Creativity, digitality, and teacher professional development: Unifying theory, research, and practice. In Handbook of research on teacher education in the digital age (pp. 691-721). Retrieved from http://www.punyamishra.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Creativity-Digitality-and-Teacher-Professional-Development-Unifying-Theory-Research-and-Practice.pdf

Pearman, D. (2016, April 9). Are we putting the cart before the horse? | Innovative pedagogy [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://innovativepedagogy.wordpress.com/2016/04/09/are-we-putting-the-cart-before-the-horse/

Spencer, J. (2016, February 15). Curious about design thinking? Here’s a framework you can use in any classroom with any age group [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.spencerauthor.com/2016/02/curious-about-design-thinking-heres.html/

Who will take these notes with me? Combating Little Red Hen Syndrome

Little Red Hen

The Little Red Hen’s “Who will help me make this bread?” familiar refrain can teach us a lot about collaboration with our peers. Let me set the stage…

The dreaded moment has arrived. You’re in a staff meeting. You’re sitting with a few colleagues at Table 2. You’ve been assigned to read and report on a portion of a chapter from a book you’ve never heard of until about 2 minutes ago. “Have someone in your group take notes so you can share out with the whole group when we reconvene.” And now no one in your group wants to make eye contact with each other. Suddenly a stray piece of fuzz on your pants is the most interesting thing in the world, as you think to yourself, “…Please don’t make me write. Please don’t pick me. Please don’t make me write…” After a few awkward moments, some sacrificial lamb of a teacher offers (or more likely, is offered up) to step into the role of “recorder”. The sad reality is that often “recorder” can be translated as “poor soul who got stuck with the unenviable job of listening to a conversation while simultaneously translating/condensing/transcribing”. The cherry on top? “Who’s sharing out from Table 2?” “…[awkward pause]…[pant fuzz has made a repeat appearance]…[slow realization that the “recorder” is the only one who can truly translate the list of ideas and now they need to share out]…I’ll do it,” you say reluctantly while trying to sound enthusiastic even though you’re still a little annoyed that you didn’t even truly take part in the conversation that you’re about to summarize.

The truth is, you likely aren’t mad at your peers for being put on the spot. Your frustration stems from the feeling of disconnect and missed opportunities for conversation and learning. Our students most likely feel the same way when stuck with learning opportunities that limit collaboration with their peers. As we educators continue to enforce these limitations, we’re also limiting opportunities for our students to develop the invaluable 3-Cs of 21st Century learning and information skills: Creativity and Innovation, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, and Communication and Collaboration. So now what?…

G Suite application iconsG Suite to the rescue! Formerly known as Google Apps For Education (GAFE), G Suite (renamed in Oct. 2016) is the family of Google productivity tools, including Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Classroom, and more. The suite of tools is intact, so why the change in name? When it comes to Google, at times it feels the only constant is change. In 2014 Mark Howe, managing director for agency sales at Google, spoke to the value Google places on change: “We don’t go out to be a disruptive business, but we’re changing the rules all the time because the world is constantly changing… We’re all constantly thinking into the future, rather than thinking incrementally. If you’re only incremental then you’re falling behind immediately.” Howe said that last year Google made 1,100 changes to its search business. “You’ve got to be working fast – if not [the next big thing] will come from someone’s garage and take over. You have to keep running, you can’t slow down and be complacent. Complacency about change will be the death of companies.” (Barnes, 2014)  What can be a frustration for educators is actually a business strategy and way of life for the world of Google.

G Suite app store screen captureOne area where teachers can really struggle with G Suite products is keeping up with the constant churn these changes (frequently made with little or no warning). I recently overheard in a staff lounge: “Just when I get close to figuring out how to use Google Docs, then they go and change it again!” (I didn’t even broach the subject of the GAFE name change for fear of minds being blown!) So how to respond? Professional development is always an important step, though the constant change makes creating tutorials that are meaningful and lasting in their applicability a Herculean task. Luckily for us, earlier this year Google acquired Synergyse (https://portal.synergyse.com/), a company founded by a pair of ex-Google employees. Synergyse’s product consisted of interactive training modules and walkthroughs that were integrated into GAFE applications. Even more luckily for G Suite customers, the same training tools are now available through G Suite Training, a free Chrome add-on available on the Chrome Web Store: G Suite Training  

Watch for this rainbow question mark:  G Suite Training iconBy adding the tool to the Chrome browser, the G Suite Training icon then appears in the Chrome toolbar in all G Suite applications. At any point in any project, you can click on the icon and instantly explore training modules and information — the type of on-demand training and assistance that is necessary in the face of constant change.

The G Suite Training Center is also a great resource for novice users and power users alike: https://gsuite.google.com/learning-center/

G Suite Training Center

These are certainly not the only resources available to help teachers navigate through G Suite tools, but perhaps their greatest value lies in knowing that the training modules and information will adapt and change alongside the tools. There’s no sense in creating step-by-step tutorials that are out-of-date nearly as soon as you share them.

Throughout modern history, top secret development labs (at 3M, Dow/Corning, Lockheed/Martin, Boeing, and the like) have become famous for incubating dynamic and new ideas. Google’s development lab is known as “Google X,” and the pace of change there is staggering. Not only is success not guaranteed, but the failure rate is far higher than many teachers would be comfortable with… “This is the essence of Google X. When the leadership can fail in full view, ‘then it gives everyone permission to be more like that.’ Failure is not precisely the goal at Google X. But in many respects it is the means.” (Gertner, 2014)

So how do we combat the Little Red Hen Syndrome? How do we enable and empower teachers to work together on project development? On collaborative grading and revision? Unlike the beloved folktale, it’s seldom pure laziness on the part of our colleagues that drives our disinterest. Instead, we’ve all been burned too many times by inefficient processes and poor collaborative frameworks. Think back to that initial doomed staff meeting. Why didn’t anyone want to take notes? No one wanted to be stuck in that note-taking role and be removed from the conversation and the learning process. Instead, if the staff had been able to work on a collaborative Google Doc, they each could have recorded their responses, in their own words, in real-time. Just think of the opportunities for going beyond surface level “collaboration” and actually diving into working together collaboratively using G Suite tools. The opportunity to experience learning from the perspective of our students is invaluable. And if things didn’t work perfectly, perfect! We’re following Google’s lead to successfully fail our way towards growth. Though, to be honest, the sentiment sounds a great deal like a poem from 1840…

‘Tis a lesson you should heed,
If at first you don’t succeed,
Try, try again;

Then your courage should appear,
For if you will persevere,
You will conquer, never fear
Try, try again;

Once or twice, though you should fail,
If you would at last prevail,
Try, try again;

If we strive, ’tis no disgrace
Though we do not win the race;
What should you do in the case?
Try, try again

If you find your task is hard,
Time will bring you your reward,
Try, try again

All that other folks can do,
Why, with patience, should not you?
Only keep this rule in view:
Try, try again.

Thomas H. Palmer (1782–1861)
printer, author, and educational reformer

References

Barnes, R. (2014, April 2). Google on disruption and looking over your shoulder to the guy in the garage. Retrieved from http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/1288538/google-disruption-looking-shoulder-guy-garage

Carey, J. (2014, July 18). 10 things teachers should know to do with Google Docs. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/10-things-every-teacher-know-google-docs/

Foltos, L. (2013). Enhancing learning by integrating technology. In Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.G Suite on YouTube. (n.d.). Retrieved November 29, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/user/GoogleApps

Gertner, J. (2014, April 15). The truth about Google X: An exclusive look behind the secretive lab’s closed doors | Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3028156/united-states-of-innovation/the-google-x-factor

Google. (n.d.). G Suite Learning Center – All the training you need, in one place. Retrieved from https://gsuite.google.com/learning-center/

International Society for Technology in Education. (n.d.). Standards for coaches. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

Lardinois, F. (2016, May 2). Google acquires Synergyse, an interactive training service for Google Apps | TechCrunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2016/05/02/google-acquires-synergyse-an-interactive-training-service-for-google-apps/

Palmer, T. H. (1840). … The teacher’s manual: being an exposition of an efficient and economical system of education suited to the wants of a free people | Internet Archive. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/teachersmanualbe00palm

Rochelle, J. (2016, October 4). Introducing G Suite for Education [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://blog.google/topics/education/introducing-g-suite-education/

Teaching Channel. (n.d.). Fostering student collaboration with Google Docs [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/fostering-student-collaboration

The Little Red Hen
photo by: in pastel
https://www.flickr.com/photos/g-dzilla/5198225154 (CC BY 2.0)

 

ISTE Coaching Standards

ISTE-C Standard 1:   Visionary Leadership

  1. Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms

ISTE-C Standard 2: Teaching, Learning, and Assessment

  1. Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences

P21, Peer Coaching & Picture Books

John Wooden quote

Addressing 21st Century Skills and promoting critical thinking in a fifth grade classroom can be a tall order when faced with a deeply scripted curriculum. While project-based learning (PBL) is often seen as a catch-all approach to develop the 4-Cs (Collaboration, Communication, Critical thinking, and Creativity), the harsh reality is that fully implementing PBL is not always feasible. We as teachers are still tasked with developing those vital critical thinking skills in our students, though, so how can we respond? The same way I respond to many complex problems… with picture books!

ISTE-C Standard 1:   Visionary Leadership
Implement strategies for initiating and sustaining technology innovations and manage the change process in schools and classrooms

ISTE-C Standard 2: Teaching, Learning, and Assessment
Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences

Guiding Question:

What can I do as a peer coach to help a fifth grade teaching team develop critical thinking skills in their students?

library shelves with picture books

Metaphors and other figurative language are great practice for higher order thinking. As an elementary librarian I’m a bit biased, but I think one of the best ways to teach concepts (simple and complex) is through picture books. It can enable students to make complex connections that may otherwise be missed with text-heavy resources only. This 5 minute video from the Teaching Channel website (https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/using-touchstone-texts) explores the idea of using a picture book for just that reason, as a touchstone text (Using a short engaging text to anchor a series of lessons on a tough concept). I feel that this video could be an effective resource to kick off a discussion with the fifth grade team.

As I continue my studies on peer coaching and the ISTE Coaching Standards, I have been reminded of the overwhelming nature of my colleagues’ work. With ISTE-C Standard 2 in mind, I met recently with a peer fifth grade teacher to explore ideas for manageable technology integration into their literacy block. An upcoming lesson is focusing on completing a reading response poster.

reading response poster

While it’s been a highly engaging activity for his students in the past, this project seems like an opportunity ripe for technology integration. One thing that has impressed me in our brief conversations has been how focusing on active listening and the use of clarifying questions shifted the tone of our interaction. I’m often seen as the “tech guy” who knows the answers to all things tech. The reality when it comes to technology is I’m a failure. I fail early and I fail often. Then I troubleshoot and find a way to make things work. And that’s what I want to help my peers to discover: to understand that failure is an option and their peers are available to support them through those inevitable moments. One of the biggest benefits of the peer coaching model is this shift from the default “expert” mode. I don’t know what technology tool(s) we’re going to use or explore, but I do know that my colleague is excited about the idea of exploring options that would allow for technology integration into the final product.

21st Century skills such as critical thinking are best developed within the framework of project based learning, something that is difficult with a primarily scripted and prescribed curriculum seemingly at odds with open-ended learning. I want this to be a meaningful and realistic process for my classroom colleagues, and my fear is that they’ll feel overwhelmed and see these activities as unfeasible add-ons rather than worthwhile additions to their instruction. I also want my peers (and students) to remember Coach Wooden’s words: “Failure is not fatal”, rather, it’s failing to adapt that causes the real problems. The more we revisit that idea and the more we keep the idea simple and digestible in bite-sized chunks (Picture Books!), the more success we’ll see in our work. 

Resources

3-5 Critical Thinking Rubric (non-CCSS) | Project Based Learning | BIE. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.bie.org/object/document/3_5_critical_thinking_rubric_non_ccss

Edutopia. (n.d.). Search results: Critical thinking. Retrieved November 2, 2016, from https://www.edutopia.org/search-results?search=critical%20thinking

Finley, T. (2014, August 19). Critical thinking pathways | Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/critical-thinking-pathways-todd-finley

Lange, S. (2014, June 12). Strategies to promote critical thinking in the elementary classroom – P21. Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/news-events/p21blog/1435-strategies-to-promote-critical-thinking-in-the-elementary-classroom

Mastro, V. (2014, May 20). Common core, critical thinking and Aesop’s Fables. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/common-core-critical-thinking-aesop-vincent-mastro

Ripp, P. (2015, October 3). Great Picture Books to Teach Theme. Retrieved from https://pernillesripp.com/2015/10/03/great-picture-books-to-teach-theme/

Schoch, K. (2016). Teach with Picture Books. Retrieved from http://teachwithpicturebooks.blogspot.com/search/label/picture%20books
(http://teachingreadingandla.pbworks.com/f/Picture%20Books%20Across%20the%20Curriculum%202011%20revised.pdf)

Teaching Channel. (2016). Using a touchstone book to introduce tough concepts. Retrieved from https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/using-touchstone-texts

Picture book section by San Jose Library (CC BY-SA 2.0)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/sanjoselibrary/2720236291 

 

 

[bonus resource] I came across this 30 minute documentary about using picture books to teach complex philosophy concepts to second graders. It was just too good not to include it in this resource list…

Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy through Picture Books  http://wgby.org/bigideas

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