Sunday, November 27, 2016

Changing Teachers' Mindsets one Baby Step at a Time

Last year and this year I have had the privilege of being a STEAM coach.  It was not part of my original job description as a Curriculum Coordinator, but I added it because I missed being with the teachers and students.

Since it is Thanksgiving time, I am truly thankful for the small district I work in and the MANY roles and responsibilities I get to experience.  I have shared many STEAM activities on this blog and on Twitter.  One thing I emphasize with the teachers and students I work with is that they will be out of their comfort zone, like Sylvia Duckworth's sketchnote:

With this sketchnote in mind I have witnessed a growth progression in the STEAM teachers I coach weekly:
(this is only a small part of my overall coaching role)

My Coaching Process:
  • Weekly STEAM time with a 5th grade, a 3rd grade, and a 1st/2nd grade class.
  • Give students a Maker or Coding Challenge: (CLICK HERE to see what we've done so far this year)
  • Create a HyperDoc to accompany our activity: (Included in the link above)
  • Get out of the students' way tell them to figure it out and/or make it work (I'm a Project Runway fan)
  • Have the teacher walk around and support but NO helping or rescuing
  • CLICK HERE for some photos of our work this year
What the Teachers Do:
  • See their students' engagement
  • See their students struggle and persevere
  • See that their students are creative and capable problem solvers and critical thinkers
And eventually they step out of their comfort zone and start creating their own HyperDocs and activities with a risk-taking mindset.

The week before Thanksgiving vacation the 1st/2nd grade STEAM teacher created a HyperSlide on Salmon for her students and had the work on it during our STEAM time so I could support her and the students.  The incredible part of the lesson was when she realized she needed their names and so she told the kiddos that she is learning along side of them and that she needed them to "redo" the form with their names.  It was an awesome example of modeling and risk-taking for a self proclaimed "non-techy" teacher and her students.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Power of a Chromebook - A Brick in the Head Moment

Sketchnote by Sylvia Duckworth

Every once in a while as educators we have what I call the "brick in the head" moments.  Those times when the student literally woke me up in such a startling way that it is like they threw a brick at my head.  After the initial shock and possible disappointment it forces me to take pause, reflect and assess the situation and the job I am doing as an educator.

I have to share a glaring "brick in the head moment" that happened 19 years ago (OUCH)!  I was teaching a multi-age 3rd - 6th grade class that had seven students at each grade level and the students looped up with me for four years.  Needless to say the beginning of the year was tough on the incoming 3rd graders as the rest of us hit the ground running.  I did not realize the extent of their suffering and frustration until one day during reading groups.  As I worked with a group, I noticed Rory packing up her backpack carefully.  Being the scientist that I am, I watched and let the scene unfold.  When she finished, she slung her backpack over her shoulders and headed for the door.  It was at that moment that I headed out after her.  I caught her at the bottom of the portable ramp,

"Rory, where are you going sweetheart?"  I asked her
"Third grade is too HARD!  I Quit!  I'm going back to Mrs. Ruppert's Class."  Rory replied

Brick in the Head...  Thanks to Rory's brave move all of the third graders released a huge a sigh of relief as we slowed down and gave them a chance to catch their breath and join the class.

Now back to October 2016 and the brick that hit me on Friday from a frustrated teacher at one of our elementary schools:

Today, my class used chrome books to use compass learning.
Upon students opening each of their c books, the screen was different for different students. 
  1. Signing in all my students with the help of another teacher in the room took a total of 25 minutes!
  2. Multiple students somehow were bumped out of compass and had to sign in again , and some more than once.
  3. Some students did not have to sign in with their google account and were able to just go straight to compass because the purple compass screen came on automatically.
  4. The compass sign in had ODySSEY and should have auburn. Last year that was added to the drop-down and it is not there now.So I had to type it for several students. 
  5. Do I really need to write a grant to get headphones for my class? The kids had a hard time listening to their own computer and that would be ideal. If not, please let me know asap so i can get my grant app in by next week.
  6. This is frustrating and subsequently I want to just go into the computer lab and not use chrome books if this is how it will be.... 
  7. Is it possible to have the books open and my students be able to touch or click on an app or icon to go to the site I want them to?
  8. I had to type in the url for compass on several computers to get to the compass sign in page.
Thank you so much for all your help 
Becky Hawkins

How and Why is this a "brick in the head moment"?  It is something that many of us facilitating a Chromebook roll out experience: the teacher's comfort zone.

Our district has increased the Chromebook ratio to 2:1 at our elementary schools and 1.something:1 at our middle school.  We have worked hard to effectively introduce and support the integration of technology use for instruction.  However, there are the occasional hiccups.  As a STEAM and instructional technology coach, I have to come along side the teachers who are struggling to support them as they exit their comfort zones for the benefit of their students.

As the brick was hitting me in the head, I appreciated the fact that the teacher felt comfortable enough to vent to me and honestly share her frustrations.  We had a nice chat/meeting a few days after she sent the email and we began the process of supporting her Chromebook integration in a way that was meaningful for her and her students.  

Thanks to all of you brick throwers who jolt us out of our comfort zone and cause us question and reflect on how, what and why we do things the way we do.