Year 2 @ISB: Onward and Upward

Booster Dragon

This year, as an EdTech Team, we have created the following goals:

  1. Articulate, communicate, and facilitate the implementation – with ongoing reflection? –  of a PK-12 Digital Citizenship program/curriculum to all ISB stakeholders (students, teachers & counselors, admin, parents). 
  2. Model and support a culture of openness and sharing through collaborative practices, public reflection, and celebration. 
    1. #learnISB more than just celebratory e.g. feedback, advice, process, reflective goals, professional learning etc.
    2. Commitment to reflective professional learning through blogging. Showcase professional reflective practice. Develop an active blogging culture.
    3. Facilitate personalised learning through the development of authentic tasks. Engage co-teaching and planning, tech integration etc.
  3. Work with teachers and admin to develop criteria and frameworks that foster continual and sustainable optimization and refinement of our student learning systems, resources, and tools. 

And from these team goals, I have identified my own professional goals for the year.  I have focused on Goal #2.  Here are my three goals that will help support our team.

2. I will model and support a culture of openness and sharing through collaborative practices, public reflection and celebration.

a. I have been using #learnISB on Twitter to share out projects as I work on them with teachers primarily the past year.  This year, I’d like to try to share out more “works in progress” and try to make my twitter communication more interactive rather than just celebratory.  I don’t seek feedback and interaction as much as I used to and often just “like” or retweet rather than extend, so this is an area that I will work on this year.  My plan:

  • I will try to tweet something once a week that is more than just celebrating student work.
  • I will also seek other twitter accounts and educators’ social media as inspiration/models to help me think about how I want to share my passion about design thinking and STEAM in Education.

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b. I will blog more to continue to make connections with other educators, be a model for other educators and to deepen my own reflection, as I feel it is definitely enhanced by the act of writing it down, editing, revising and getting feedback.

I love to blog.  In my blogging hayday, I was managing, writing, sharing through three blogs at the same time and I loved it.  However, that has dropped off the past few years. Being new at ISB last year, I found it hard to find the time to blog. This year, I am going to make more of an effort.  I think having other bloggers on the EdTeach team and giving myself a specific blog goal (to post at least one reflective blog a month) will help me stay on track.  The great part about all this, is the vulnerability of it and I know my own thoughts and practice will grow from sharing my own teaching and learning.

c. I will facilitate personalised learning.

This is HUGE, but something I feel really passionate about and am very excited about in my role as a Design Technology Facilitator.  I want our students at ISB to go beyond scoring well on their IB Exams and walking away with an exceptional GPA as many of them do.  I want to better prepare them for being a creator and creative problem-solver no matter what area they plan to study or be a professional in.

Here are my measurable indicators of success:

  • Integrate & Co-Teach Design Process in authentic ways
    • I started this last year, but I want to work in more areas and break out of the Science/Engineering classes more this year
    • I also want to make more of an impact in high school
  • Build the Passion Project course to be more visible and increase enrollment/excitement around this course
  • Increase student opportunities to personalize their learning with high quality enrichments and ASAs that develop skills and use design thinking as a process.
    • ES – MS – HS After School Opportunities
    • MS Enrichments
    • HS ELO (Experiential Learning Opportunities)
    • More in-school studio-like experiences like OneDay or something like NuVu
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Year 1: Design Technology Facilitator

I have to say, I landed a dream job this year.  I don’t think this position exists in many places around the world.  It is the perfect balance of teaching, curriculum building, leading, presenting, program development and designing collaborative spaces.

That being said, I have learned so much this year.  It is exhausting and amazing to move to a new country and school.  I love seeing how different schools and systems work differently.  Everything from the schedule to homeroom structures to communications to curriculum to human dynamics is different.  It is always sometimes better and sometimes more challenging than other work places.  When you put yourself into this newbie position, you are vulnerable, you have to depend on others and you learn, learn, learn and do your best.

I didn’t have goals this year besides surviving and develop a Design program at ISB.  I had an action plan to work with which definitely helped out.  More importantly, I was very lucky this year to have a large amount of amazing people around me – both professionally and personally – new colleagues, old colleagues; new and old friends.  And that is what made this year amazing.  Not perfect.  But a great first year, for sure.

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Arduino Teacher Training – Thanks to Jonathan @ Creatica

First, I’ll start with things that I am proud of accomplishing this year:

  1. Creating a Design and Engineering Team to develop a K-12 Design Process for our school that connects design thinking with NGSS Engineering and can be used throughout our school – in classrooms, enrichments, After School Activities and even in our own practices of creative problem solving.  We still have some work to do as our program grows, but I feel like we collaboratively created a process that we can all work with.  I have developed standards and rubrics based on this process and will continue to make more support materials for teachers to use.

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2. Being very active in classrooms  – this was not so much my doing than the openness of the teachers I work with.  I was frequently invited to co-teach, facilitate and work with many teachers this year.  It was great to get to know our students, community and teachers so well in the first year.IMG_2934 (1)

3. Designing collaborative spaces for design thinking and engineering to take place.  It was amazing to have an idea and over Winter Break a new design lab was born for MS and HS students.  It is a great space (although basic) for students to tinker, learn, prototype, create and learn.  To add on to this experience, there will be another space for ES students and teachers to use next year as we develop the Design & Engineering Program through the whole curriculum.

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4. Collaborating on Personalized Learning Experiences

Before I arrived, ISB had a lot of great opportunities for students to follow their passions, interests and curiosities to choose their learning.  Middle School students sign up for enrichments – anything from band to yoga to robotics to textiles to game design to Genius Hour and everything in between.  I was able to jump in and help coach and co-teach Genius Hour which was a fabulous experience.  I worked with amazing teachers and we worked together to create a similar design in which students followed the design process to identify problem or opportunity and create a solution.  I help facilitate other enrichments, and I learned a lot working with other teachers.  I was able to “take over” One Day, which is a day that all MS students to design their learning.  It was difficult to take it over when I had only experienced it through Twitter the year before.  Due to a teacher leaving, I’m excited to be facilitating for the Passionate Project Class in HS, which will allow many middle school students opportunities to design their own learning experiences as they move through high school.

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One Day Construction

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One Day Student Collaboration

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Genius Hour Feedback Session

And now on to things I feel like I missed the mark on and need to work on more next year:

  1. Working with high school – Middle school is definitely “my space”.  This MS being full of exceptional teachers who welcomed me in all the time, I didn’t always leave a lot of time for HS.  I need to work harder to get into the HS.  Students are enjoying the experiences they have in middle school and I don’t want their design thinking skills and creativity to take a back seat as they enter high school.
  2. Evaluating what I do and how it connects to what my role at this school is.  This year, I rarely said no.  I wanted to learn more about the curriculum and my colleagues because in my role, relationships are everything.  Some work I took on, was beyond my job description, as it is with most teachers.  However, next year, as I work with a new colleague coming in and have a better sense of the school, I need to articulate my role better and stay focused on what I can do well and impact student learning the most.  I know this is something I will always struggle with and I feel like I want to do more and really be a part of a community, so I need to maybe even simplify this goal and think that if I take something on, I need to take something else off the plate.  This is a big school with a lot going on, so there is always something to do.

Goals Reflection 2015-2016

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This year my Tankyuu (personal teacher inquiry) goal research question was:

How can I foster creativity at Canadian Academy?

It’s a big question.

And maybe a little too unfocused.

I definitely feel like I have made some forward strides with fostering creativity at Canadian Academy, but because my question was so broad, I think I was a little all over the place, rather than focusing on one area of our community.

My Action Plan was to:

  • Increase creativity in my classroom
  • Improve Creativity for the ICT PD
  • Offer Creativity Workshops for the Community
  • Facilitate a Hack-a-thon
  • Host a Collaborative Art 7 Design Profesionnal evelopment Forum
  • MakerSpace in the Library

I will reflect on all of these areas below:

1 . Increase creativity in my classroom

Did I increase creativity in my classroom?  This is hard to measure.  If I compare my projects this year compared to last year, I would say overall they are more creative, but I didn’t create a rubric to quantify this. The kids are different then the classes last year, even though most of my units are the same. I will say that the number one thing that helped improve creativity in student projects was really simple.  When I met with kids and conferenced with them and gave them formative feedback, especially in criterion B when they are deciding and justifying their designs, I asked them,

“How is this creative?”

That sparked interesting discussions and often led students to revise their ideas or go a little deeper with their thinking and create more interesting, creative, original designs.

2. Improve Creativity for the ICT PD

I proposed this to the tech department and our director of learning.  In February, we started to run Tech PD sessions on Mondays after school in the library alongside of the Tech Talks – Tech Help for our Community.

There were some great sessions:

Graphic Designing for Teacher led by our HS Art teacher, Laura Dortmans

Digital Attribution was co-led by Team Lemley, as we discussed the difference in digital attribution and expectations we have as teachers which also sparked more questions to bring to the whole secondary faculty

Google Classroom was led by Kieran Burgess our Theater teacher.

There were more sessions.  I think it was great to see teachers teaching teachers.

However, I feel like these sessions were not well attended.  Many of the same teachers/staff attended while a lot of these sessions would have been appropriate for the whole faculty.

3. Offer Creativity Workshops for the Community

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Choreograph Your Own Dance Creativity Session

Liz Durkin and I organized creativity workshops for students on December 11th and February 10th. Both sessions were really successful. Each day, there were over ten sessions that middle school and high school students could sign up for a session they were interested in.

Teachers created time and space and offered interesting creative topics through a wide range of disciplines. In my readings this year, one of the most important factors in fostering creativity is time and space to create.  I also feel after my own experiences in the Design classroom and also supported by The Secret to Creativity Ted Talk by Mike Dillon, that by offering specific tasks that someone can be creative with the outcome or solution is much better than a completely open-ended project.

4. Facilitate a Hack-a-thon

After attending John Burns’ Hack Your School session at Learning 2.0 in the Fall and hearing about all the great things they do at SIS (#sisrocks).  Laura and I were inspired to bring this to our school.  We made a little proposal for Leadership.  I created a video asking people what they would “hack” if given the opportunity, but it fell flat.  It was a busy year for me with my two jobs, recruiting and after speaking to the Headmaster about making time for it… it didn’t happen.  If I hadn’t had so many things going on, I would have pushed back more.  So this action was a fail.  But, one I would like to facilitate some place, some time, because I think it’s a great concept for grassroots change at a school that supports learning and gives anyone at school a voice and platform to be heard.

5. Host a Collaborative Art 7 Design Professional Development Forum

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Creative Connections was my pride and joy this year. Laura (Head of Arts) and I really wanted to merge our departments this year.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do that well.  But in one of our (many) discussions about art and design being together we started to talk about PD.  We had both been to a TON of pedagogy based PD and IB training, but very little hands-on workshops in art and design.  At Learning 2.0 this year, I went to an Build-Your-Own Arduino Bot session and I got to sit and create with other teachers and it was fantastic.  Laura and I successfully planned and pulled off Creative Connections.  It was exactly what we wanted it to be.  I plan to reflect on Creative Connections in another blog post, hopefully coming soon.DSC_0159

6. MakerSpace in the Library

 

The MakerSpace at CA Library didn’t come to fruition.  I had two really good conversations with the librarians about this.  MakerSpaces in libraries are all over the place.  There are many resources on what people do and why they are so awesome.  The first conversation I was super gung-ho about getting things in the library.  I’m all for piloting and starting off small.  We discussed changing the themes each month for materials.

Then I read more and thought about it more and considered the logistics.  I can barely keep up with the materials in my own two classroom/labs and I don’t want to be making a mess in someone else’s space.

Without direction, will the kids create good quality things?

Our library doesn’t have spaces that one can get really messy and create or have a sound proof recording studio, which I think would be great, so I decided to abandon this idea for this year.

Again, something I’d like to look into again somewhere, someday, but this just wasn’t the year.

So, I now go back to my original inquiry question for my goal for the year: How can I foster creativity at Canadian Academy?

I think I thought of some pretty good ideas to bring more creativity to the classroom, professional development and to activities at CA this year.  Again, I was a little all over the place with many things going at once.  I’d like to do a few things well rather than do a lot of things just okay.  In the future, I would like to work with a team of teachers/staff (and/or the Arts & Design Department) to develop a better plan to work on this at a school. There is a lot of good creativity at CA in pockets, but it is something that can continue to improve.

I know for my own personal creativity, I just need more time.  I hope in all the actions I worked on this year that I provided a time and place for people to learn, play, solve problems and collaborate.  As a design teacher, I need to find more time in my own life to be more creative, to be a better example for my own students and children.

So next year, I’ll be off to a new school with new goals.  I’m not sure how annual goals will be developed at my new school, but I do hope that I can help develop my own goals out of my own interests and passions and I continue to foster my own creativity.

Are there any BALANCED teens out there?

Two weeks ago, the grade nine and ten students self reflected on our Responsible Use Policy with their homeroom teachers as a way for them to be reminded of our expectations.

The two area that were mixed or didn’t lean more towards the positive side were BALANCED and CARING.

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So, this is where LizD and I stepped in to start developing lessons and activities to help the students become more balanced and caring.

For our first sessions, we will focus on BALANCE. We are lucky at CA to have an hour BLOCK time on Fridays that we get to steal a few of throughout the year to develop ATL (Approaches to Learning/Digital Citizenship) skills.

We have created a session with multiple activities to stimulate student thinking to reflect on their lives but also to take some action.

Fortunately, today, I also just watched the Digital Nutrition TedxTalk by Jocelyn Brewer. Which got me thinking…  that the audit that I want the students to do is pretty shallow. What if they are doing great things with their long hours on their computers at night? Of course they are, but they are also probably doing a lot of mindless things as well.

So, I’d like to develop another follow up to this activity delving a little deeper about their online use. I’ll never get them to cut back on their laptops, maybe a little, but their generation is different from my own and I am online a lot.

I find it hard when I cannot deliver all the digital citizenship lessons myself, but due to my schedule and reaching all the kids in a timely manner, it isn’t always possible. I know the homeroom teachers did a great job with this lesson, as BALANCE is something I think everyone has to reflect on and work hard to maintain.  Now, I need to wait to hear how the sessions went.  I’m curious as to how the students reflected and what actions they’ll take to become more BALANCED.

Today I Was My Own Resource Teacher

I am currently teaching a unit on Basic Coding to my grade 7 Design students.  The first few weeks of the unit are skills-based classes.  Each day, I introduce a few skills to the class and then the students play and create a basic animation or game on Scratch demonstrating their newly acquired skills.  I give them formative feedback on what they have created.

Over the years, I have gotten much better at differentiation and always pre-test in one form or another at the beginning of each unit.  I have identified skills that the whole class needs and I definitely wanted to make sure we had a common language for the concepts and skills of this unit.

I found a video tutorial from Clint’s MYP Design blog which was a good tutorial teaching the viewer how to double jump with the Sprite in Scratch.  It had some general background information about Scratch and I really liked the part when he shows how to make the Sprite move naturally.

But, how did I want to share this with my students?

Should I just mimic the skills and do it myself on the screen?  This would work.

Have the students watch it on their own time?  This would work, too.

However, I ended up having them watch it all in the class via the projector.

I felt a bit weird about this.  It is a twenty minute tutorial.  It’s not just a quick video I’m showing at the beginning of class, this is a substantial part of my class.  They are paying tuition for me to teach.  Was this a lazy way out?  Did this discredit my expertise?  These were all things going on in my mind.IMG_4529

It ended up being one of the best things I have done in a while.

I became my own resource teacher.

I was able to watch the students as they worked through the tutorial.  I saw students who struggled with coding.  I saw students who struggled with following the instructions and going from the big screen to their screen.  I also saw students flourishing.  I saw students helping each other.  I wasn’t caught up in delivering the content and I was able to really see the kids and where they were.

When students left the class, I gave them an exit card asking them how they felt learning this way, what they learned in the class and what they struggled with, needed more practice on, or wanted to now learn.  Many of them liked this approach.  Some of them wanted to watch the tutorial at their own pace and pause it on their computer.

I haven’t had a resource teacher since I was a Language Arts teacher many years ago. I forgot the power in actually helping while the students were receiving instruction.  I was able to really “see” my students – from the back of the room, watching how they synthesized the tutorial they were watching.

I was lucky to find a great tutorial, so I didn’t have to spend the time creating one.  Luckily there are hundreds of Scratch tutorials.  I did spend time in watching quite a few the past few weeks to make sure they are good quality, have a low “cheese” factor and explained what I wanted it to.

Why don’t you try it.  Go ahead, be your own resource teacher.  Share how it goes!

#beyondblogging Take Aways

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Two weekends ago, I attended #beyondblogging with a group of teachers from CA.  The great thing about this group of CA teachers and staff, is that I don’t always collaborate with them regularly on instructional technology and it was great to chat with them about what’s going on at our school seen through different perspectives.

Jabiz and Rebekah were confident leaders, guiding us through activities and discussions for which they did not have the answers, but allowed us to make our own conclusions and actions for our own next steps.  I feel that that is something very important as a teacher to remember.  I felt more of a learner because I felt like my thoughts not only contributed to other “students” but to everyone in the room.  These leads me to the first of my two big take-aways…

1. The Leaders. The Presentation. The Workshop.

I feel like I am a good teacher… to middle school students.  Where I know I can improve on, is my presentations and sharing with adults.  It’s a much harder gig to stand in front of the faculty or adults you’ve never met than standing in front of my middle school Design Teachers.  I think that being a good presenter to adults, especially teachers, is a really important skill to hone.  Jabiz and Rebekah did this very well.  They were down to earth, well-read, experienced and confident. They prepared a great two days of learning and collaborating.  I find it a fine balance of keeping the workshops active: talking, sharing and thinking but not forcing adults to do kind-of ridiculous hands-on jigsaw activities that waste a lot of paper, that I really wouldn’t use in my whole class anyways.  I also feel that the workshop was differentiated for beginning bloggers to those of us that have been doing it for years for ourselves and our students.  It’s hard to differentiate a workshop or just plan it so everyone can get a lot out of it when you don’t know your participants because they are teachers coming from all over Asia for a weekend workshop.

2. Students Sharing in their Own Way… Even Unedited (gasp!)

Throughout the workshop, we were asked to share our thinking.  With the exception of a few times, we could share how we wanted to. I shared my learning through a Vine, Instagram photos, blogging, Tweeting, and sketching on chart paper.  Other teachers shared in different ways, but we all contributed in our own way and showed our learning.  In my MYP Design classes, students can turn in products using a variety of media, because that is the nature of the course.  However, I don’t differentiate the reflection piece (design folder) too much.  There are some parts that don’t really lend themselves to other formats – like their sketches, but I could encourage them to post however they want, as long as they meet the criteria and I can find their work fairly easily. I could also encourage students to use the social media they use regularly to share their learning and passions.

Taking Action

So, I jumped right into it.  The Monday after the workshop was the second week of my MYP Food Design 9 course, and it was the perfect time to present how I want students to share their “learning journey with food” throughout the course of the semester.  I want students to share what they have created in and out of class and any other food products that inspire them to create.  I offered some suggestions to the class. As I’m typing this, I’m thinking I should have had more of a discussion with the students as to what they want to use…  (maybe we can talk next week, it’s still early in the semester to change).

But, already, I’ve gotten some great results.

I have students sharing photos on Instagram.

They’ve created Picasa albums.

They’ve created new categories on their blogs.

Now, the organization for me to find them all is not the best workflow in the world – it’s a Google Doc with the link to where they are posting work.  For some kids they are just hashtagging their Instagram pictures with #cadesign9. This makes it a bit more than a one-click solution.  BUT, it’s easy for them, and I think I’d rather it be easy on them than on me.  Also some of their pictures have been retweeted and shared, which is great.  I want them proud of their work.  I don’t want them creating for me, for a grade.  I want to see what they are passionate about.  I want to see what they want to create and that they are thinking about food.

Now, this is much easier with my ninth graders, because they all have iPhones and are of the age where they can open up social media accounts.  I need to figure out how to bring this down to my sixth grade.  I can easily have them record their reflections with Photobooth and post their work.  But is there more?  What else can I do?

I also want to use specific language in my class for “un-edited work” and “finished, polish work”.  A finished video takes a lot of time and can sometimes distract from the purpose of the task, but I think video is a great tool for documenting a variety of work and reflections.  Video, with both the audio and visual piece can really show who the student is at that snapshot in their life, better than a bunch of text on a screen can.

So, I’ve gone off on a tangent a bit here, but as you can see, I’ve taken a lot away from the #beyondblogging workshop.  I still need to think about our school blogs and their purpose and what students may be using in 5, 10, 15 years to share their growth, learning, service and passions.  As always, I have 99 more ideas running through my head and got a few other great take-aways from the weekend, but I’ll save them for another day.

Digital Citizenship Scope and Sequence

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One of my favorite (and most challenging) parts of my job is creating engaging lessons/activities to promote good tech use amongst our students in and out of school.

Sometimes this knowledge and skills is taught in classes, but a lot of times, it is taught separately during our advisory/weekly BLOCK time when we often work on social and well-being skills with our students.

For me, it can be hard to identify exactly what the grade of students needs and how it can be taught well, rather than a teacher droning on about the “No, no, nos” of their digital world which we are not always a part of.  Compounded with this, is sometimes I have to prepare lessons that I will not teach.  Often times, advisory teachers or grade level teachers teach the content and may not have social media or a good understanding of how our kids use it as they try to share their wisdom with the students.

That being said, I think it is effective, most of the time.  I try to partner up teachers so that even listening to what the students are saying can be educational for them, and I try to have interactive activities which get the kids to think and share their thoughts.  Many times there are no answers, but the students are left with questions, that they hopefully ponder, strategies that they may try or at least develop empathy and/or understanding of the systems and their classmates.

Here is our Secondary Digital Citizenship document to date.  It is a “live” document which is revised regularly.  I feel that the digital citizenship curriculum can’t be planned out perfectly every year.  Every year, different groups of kids walk through the doors.  Each grade level’s digital socialization is a bit different than the other.  It’s a great challenge.  I like that I do teach some of the students, because then I do get a good feel for what they are doing and how they are using their technology.