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.
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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.

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!

Teacher Goal: Holiday Sushi Class

IMG_3086My teacher learning goal this year is to improve my technical skill levels – both with food technology and digital technology.  Over the past five years, I feel like I’ve had a lot of PD and growth with my teaching strategies and I have developed a good curriculum for our design department.  However, teaching a very skill-based course,  I need to acquire new skills, especially since I haven’t worked professionally as a designer.

One strategy was to attend cooking classes to:

1. Learn new skills and cooking techniques

2. See how other people teach cooking

3. Evaluate the kitchen space and how materials/ingredients are managed

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I not only gained confidence in creating sushi, I learned about Japanese ingredients I had never purchased or worked with before. I saw how much the teacher prepped for the class. (It was a lot.) But, I came to the conclusion that when creating a highly technical product, there may be more prep time needed, especially for a limited time frame (like my 60 minute class).  Our chef-teacher and her team had measured out the quantity of all the ingredients, while still leaving a lot of the prep to the participants, like mixing, cutting and manipulating the food.

One other huge benefit to the class, was to take the class in Japanese.  After that experience, it made me think that EVERY teacher, definitely every International School teacher should take a class in a language that they have limited proficiency in.  It was good to be a student in that environment and experience what many of our new students experience.  I was able to easily follow along, because the teacher did such a great job of demonstrating (with the assistance of the remote control camera-screen) and she was friendly and worked one-on-one with students who needed help. I think it is really interesting that you can identify good teaching without understanding language.  I’d love to try this again in a school setting to see if I can learn or see learning in a classroom without mastery of the language of the classroom.

In the end, this was a really rich (and FUN!) professional development experience.  I now give myself at least an hour to prep the kitchen for classes (which is time consuming) but worth it.  I get to spend more time giving formative feedback to my students and I can really have my students focus on the skills I want them to, rather than try to rush around and in the end make a big mess in the kitchen, because there wasn’t enough time to do everything.  I hope to do more cooking demonstration classes in the future to get more ideas to use in my classroom and continue to improve my own skills, in a variety of cuisines.

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Reflection: Taking Care of Digital Devices Session

Last week, I helped create a presentation for Grade 9 and 10 students to help them take care of their digital devices better. There has been a rise in damage in student laptops and students have also had issues with their laptops working optimally, so there have been a lot of visits to our Tech Help Desk.

Liz D and I created this presentation for ninth and tenth grade homeroom teachers to take their students through.  I was lucky to be able to work closely with one of the tenth grade classes to really see how the presentation went and how the students interacted with the content and the “clean-up activities”.

The beginning of the presentation started with a survey.

Following our recent PD with Naomi Nelson, I will follow the protocol for analyzing data, below:

1. Make Predictions. I predict that students will score on the low end of all the questions.  I think that most students NEVER back-up their devices and rarely update their software/restart their computers – I would say monthly, at best.

2. Go Visual.  Here are the responses:

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3. Analyze the Data.  

  • Most G9 and G10 students have dropped their laptops.  41% of these drops have caused damage.
  • 64% of students never back-up or only back-up their media and files once a year.
  • 65% of students would be greatly impacted if their computers crashed tonight.

4. Infer/Make Assumptions and Generate Potential Causes.

  • HS student are only recommended to use protective covers, whereas it is more enforced in the MS.  HS students are allowed more freedom on campus and can use their laptops without supervision.  The survey question regarding damage was not clear, and I’m not sure the data is clear either.  Next time, I’d like to change this question for it to have options, like “visible dents, damaged ports/screens, damaged hard drive”.  There was also no damage question regarding liquid spills, when I know this has also been an issue.
  • Students don’t have the time to back-up.  It is difficult to enforce at school, without an external drive.
  • This last data point is directly related to the backing-up issue.  Students are saving directly on to their hard drive and maybe just on their desktop, which makes organization an issue as well…

I’ve adapted the last two data processing protocols to suit my needs better.

5. What questions do I now have?

  • Are students using cloud based storage for their school work?
  • In what format do teachers expect work to be done in?  Or where/how is work turned in?
  • What can I do to improve the care of student devices?
  • How can I collect more specific data from our Tech Help Desk?
  • How can I better collect data and analyze tech use in the HS?

6. Now what?

I’m glad that it worked out that I led one of the sessions.  I was able to quickly see that the students were so connected to their phones, so immediately I added a slide regarding the care of their phones as well.  I’m not sure the damage/upkeep issues that students have with their phones, and they don’t use them too much for academic purposes, so I included information of issues/concerns that I see during Tech Talks – storage and updating.

1. I modified the presentation and posted it for the parents to see.  I think that parents should be aware of what we are teaching and this was a valuable session to share that information.  This can help promote the care of devices at home as well.  Unfortunately, there have been only 19 view as of the time of this posting, so I need to share that more with parents.

2. MS students had a lot of this information reviewed with them when we went over the RUP at the beginning of the year, but I will also have an interactive session with them, hopefully once this semester and once second semester to give them time to “clean-up” their devices so they are effective learning and collaboration tools.

3. I need to talk to Sonny about how he collects data for students who visit him and see if we can easily obtain more specific data (without giving him a lot more work).  I’d like to collect more specific data to look at the differences between HS/MS since they do have different device expectations.  I’d like to collect more specific data on “frequent flyers” to the Tech Help Desk.  I’d also like to create postcards to send home to parents when students visit the Tech Help Desk for damage or other chronic issues.  I do realize that this is putting more work on Sonny, so I need to talk to him about this.

4. I want to continue to work with the whole secondary school and create a digital citizenship curriculum that branches through the high school as well.  Many of them have competent tech skills due to their own inquiry, Design class and tech integration in some of their other courses, but digital citizenship has not been articulated through the upper grades well.  An on-going issue with this is time and how will the content be delivered – just by me or by homeroom teachers during homeroom/block.

Happy New Year: My Resolutions and Goals

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Photo Credit: yousuke_orenikki via Compfight cc

Every January, when everyone is sharing their New Year’s resolutions, I sometimes throw a couple on the table, but this feels like such an unnatural time for me to make resolutions and goals.

Since I was born, with an exception of about three years in between finishing my bachelor’s degree and starting teaching, my “year” has revolved around on a North American school schedule.  My parents were teachers and then I was in school and ultimately, I became a teacher. So August and September seems like the best time for me to make my resolutions and goals.

A few of these are personal and a few are professional.

PERSONAL

1. Drink more water – this seems simple enough, but I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve come home from school and realized that I didn’t drink more than a glass of water at lunch and I was active all day.

2. Be balanced – mostly this is making sure I’m not behind my computer screen all day and home at night.  I want to be with my kids 100% when I am with them, not trying to get work done in between playing games or having conversations with them over my screen.

PROFESSIONAL (more details can be found here)

3. Improve my technical skill levels – both with food technology and digital technology.

4. Improve the quality of my students products by improving their knowledge, skills and techniques –  using a differentiated, skills-based foundation for my design cycle units.

**This is the Design Department’s Student Learning Goal**

5. Further develop our Digital Citizenship curriculum around our Responsible Use Policy and the IB Learner Profile.

6. Work with our librarian and MYP Coordinator to articulate the Approaches to Teaching and Learning.

7. Integrate technology more holistically – plan and work with teachers across all content areas to make sure technology is authentically used.