Assistive Technology for Struggling Writers

I recently attended an online workshop presented by Kelly Rasmussen from  GotSmartz Assistive Technology Coaching on the topic of Assistive Technology (AT) for Writing.  In the past, I thought of AT as students using the Voice to Text feature to help them with their writing. Or using the Read to Me feature in digital books to help with comprehending a reading. In the back of my mind, I assumed there was more available for us out there in the Kingdom of Unknown Knowledge but of course, I did not know what I did not know. After Kelly’s presentation, I am happy to say I now have more tools in my AT toolbox, and in addition to learning new tools, I learned a few new concepts plus I came to wonder about a couple of other points.

Benefits of using Assistive Technology for Writing

Kelly shared the benefits of using AT with our struggling writers which involved (1.) the students feeling included, (2.) it is an accommodation, (3.) it allows teachers to differentiate (i.e., making a voice note instead of writing for science), (4.) it gives students a voice, (5.) holds the students accountable for their learning, and (5.) provides the students better access to the curriculum.

Written Expression Disorder Defined

One wondering I have actually been considering off and on for quite a while was, I wonder why students have the ideas in their heads but have trouble getting them on paper? According to Kelly’s presentation, it may be because of a written expression disorder. This of course led me to wonder, what is Written Expression Disorder and what is Dysgraphia? 

Chung, Patel, and Nizami (2019) described it as, “dysgraphia and specific learning disorder in written expression are terms used to describe those individuals who, despite exposure to adequate instruction, demonstrate writing ability discordant with their cognitive level and age.” This is what I have been noticing in some of my students; however, none of them have been diagnosed with any written expression disorder.

Steps in the Writing Process

In searching for answers, I discovered I first needed to consider the writing process. Specifically, the process of writing a sentence includes,

(I) internally creating the desired statement; (II) segmenting the desired statements into sections for transcription; (III) retaining the sections in verbal working memory while executing the task of writing; and (IV) checking that the completed written product matches the original thought (Chung, Patel, & Nizami, 2019).

Steps in the Speech to Text Process

In her presentation, Kelly shared with us the Speech to Text & Word Prediction steps: Think it, Speak it, Check it,  Fix it. I found these steps similar to the writing process. Like we should teach students the writing process, we also should teach them how to use speech to text. 

Tools in the AT Toolbox

Several tools were shared during the workshop and the ones I plan to incorporate immediately are the Chrome Extensions (1.) Read&Write, (2.) Session Buddy, and (3.) Power Thesaurus. In addition, I want to use Google Keep to save Anchor Charts for students to be able to pull up when working on a Google doc.

 

The Read&Write extension is a tool students can use to help with reading and writing digital content. Some of the features include simplifying the language and screen masking on a webpage for easier reading. This would be helpful for students with lower reading skills. It also has a text and picture dictionary, word prediction, and read-aloud options.

 

The Power Thesaurus extension is a quick and easy way for students to be able to check their words and help find synonyms and antonyms.

 

When writing, students can use anchor charts to help them remember punctuation rules, transition words, or other concepts they are trying to use in their writing. Anchor Chart graphics can be kept in Google Keep for the students to pull up quickly for reference on the right side of their Google document. Kelly shared a How-To video on this topic. 

In Conclusion

While reflecting on how to start incorporating AT with students, I realized they have two devices available to them, iPads and Chromebooks. The iPad can go home with them and they are just starting to learn how to use Chromebooks so this will be a big step in the process of them learning to write with a device and use the assistive technology to help them with their writing. The iPad has its advantages; however, I feel the Chromebook is better suited for word processing.

The four tools I plan to incorporate right away with my students will happen one tool at a time. We will play around and explore the tool with the goal of the students becoming proficient when using them. Students do not have to have a diagnosis of dysgraphia or a written expression disorder to benefit from using assistive technology. In fact, I will be using AT as a role model for students to see an adult using them. I will also encourage the parents and classroom teachers to also model the use of AT in their daily lives.

Course 5 – Balancing Screen Time

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

“Do not watch too much TV or play too many video games because it will cause learning and attention issues!” Pre-pandemic, parents and teachers were encouraged to keep the screen time to a minimum. However, during these times of the pandemic, teachers are being told to keep the students online in synchronous learning practically all school day. Educators strive to make research-based decisions; therefore, I wonder what research there is to back up this new way of teaching our students who are not in school? I also wonder if the positive aspects outweigh the negative aspects during these times with the necessity to have students online so much?

https://www.onlinecoursefacts.com/the-learning-pyramid-what-percentage-of-learning-is-retained/
Negative aspects:

As a third-grade support teacher, I push into many online lessons. As the classroom teacher teaches away, sometimes I watch the students and observe what they are doing while they are listening to the lesson. These would be the students who bother to turn on their cameras because many do not. Needless to say, eight-year-olds can be super gross and/or super funny. The faces they make and the places they stick their fingers-incredible. The students become bored and tune out so quickly. It is very difficult to have a lesson flow and go well. As a reminder, the Learning Pyramid shows us what percentage of learning is retained through different modes. Teachers should also be keeping this in mind while planning online lessons. To make matters worse, getting students to participate online is difficult. They do not seem to want to answer any questions and they seem to be counting the seconds until they are excused from the online lesson. In their 2016 article Sharkins, Newton, Albaiz, and Ernest shared from their research,

“Some studies caution that children’s use of and exposure to media, technology, and screen time (MeTS) can lead to decreases in executive functioning (ability to attend to tasks), academic performance, quality social interactions with parents and peers, and creative play. In addition, MeTS has been shown to increase obesity, aggressive and violent behavior, bullying, desensitization to violence, lack of empathy to victims, fear, depression, nightmares and sleep disturbances.”

With all these negative results, it is clear educators and parents must work together to maintain a careful balance for our children. Education is important but of course, the children’s well-being is also. A child’s attention span is short and long lessons online are not enjoyed by the teachers or students. Besides, the likelihood students are actually learning something is doubtful, in my experience. It seems to me, teachers should provide a five to ten-minute lesson then have an activity or send the students off to be productive. In a recent Facebook forum discussion in the group, Instructional Designer, a member posed the question, “Max run time for video aimed at ages 8-15? Client thinks 20-30 minutes.” Over 100 comments were given and the consensus seemed to be five minutes or less- shorter is better.

Positive aspects:

Fred Rogers’ Center Position Statement on Technology and Interactive Media in Early Childhood Programs (2012) stated “technology is effective if it is active, hands-on, engaging, empowering, and child controlled.”  Teachers should plan their students’ screen time purposefully. For instance, screen time should be used to communicate and create.  During this pandemic it is especially important teachers understand the lessons they are creating should be not only in the best interests of the students’ education but also their mental health.

One surprising bit of information I found was from Scherer (2014). He shared a statement from Steve Graham, a professor of education at the University of Arizona, “Word processing has also been shown to improve the quality of student writing over longhand, even in the early grades. From first grade to 12th grade, we have the same effects. It’s basically a 20-percentile jump.” As a child,  I remember being told if you write neatly, your teacher will be more apt to give you a higher grade. Now I can switch that thinking over to wordprocessing. Students can do better writing through a keyboard than with traditional handwriting.

In conclusion,

During the pandemic, alternative forms are necessary for educating our students. We have to keep our distance and keep everyone healthy. Online synchronous learning is an option we have chosen. Parents and teachers are struggling to give the children the best education possible under the circumstances. Teachers need to plan engaging activities and minimize teacher talk time. Students need to be active, creative, and hopefully happy and healthy. So much screen time is not the best for our children; however, we do not yet have a better alternative for educating during this pandemic. We are all in this together and in the end, we will come out knowing we have done our best.

Photo by Ambreen Hasan on Unsplash

References

Instructional Designer Facebook Group. (2021). Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/groups/201308379891017

Scherer, M. (2014). The Paperless Classroom is Coming. Time. 184(15), 36.  Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=tth&AN=98751183&site=ehost-live

Sharkins, K. A., Newton, A. B., Albaiz, N. E. A., & Ernest, J. M. (2016). Preschool Children’s Exposure to Media, Technology, and Screen Time: Perspectives of Caregivers from Three Early Childcare Settings. Early Childhood Education Journal44(5), 437–444.

 

Course 4, Final Project

Why this unit?

I think this scientific writing unit is a good possibility for my Course 5 project because writing is an area many of our special educational needs students struggle. It would be great if I could find a way to improve upon the unit to make being successful more of a possibility for all our students.

ISTE standards

The ISTE standards I chose were 1-Empowered Learner and 6-Creative Communicator. The standards will enhance the students’ understanding of the content by making the learning more student-driven and giving the students a voice and choice in their learning

ISTE Standards for Students, 1 (Empowered Learner) Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences.

ISTE Standards for Students, 6 (Creative Communicator) Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.

Learning with COETAIL

This unit reflects my learning during COETAIL through synthesizing everything I have been learning about into a plan to incorporate technology to enhance students’ learning. This unit is different from other units I have designed or facilitated because I am not collaborating with others on this project. As a member of a grade-level team at my school and as a member of a COETAIL student team, we have always worked together to design and facilitate units. Not having the others’ expertise to draw from or rely on has been a huge loss for me and reminded me how great working on a team is.

Influence

One concept that has influenced me during COETAIL is the SAMR model. It is reflected in this final project when I created lessons that were not just substituting technology but also augmenting and modifying the work.

Concerns

Some of my concerns about redesigning this unit are my lesson ideas will not really make the writing aspect easier for the students, maybe the lessons are still basic technology substitution, and there is an even better way to use technology to help my students be successful scientific writers.

Pedagogy shift

The shift in pedagogy this new unit will require from me is focusing on using the technology in a way for it to have a positive effect on the learning.  “Technology used without powerful teaching strategies (and deep learning tasks) does not get us very far”(Fullan and Langworthy, 2014). I have to find a way to make deep learning able to happen and I have to make sure the students are not bored but engaged and active in their learning. I am relenting my hold and the students are taking more of a lead with the learning. Also, I am keeping a focus on the assessment for this unit through the one-point rubric and will rewrite it in student-friendly language so the students can use the rubric as a guide to see what is expected of their products.

Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash
Student attitudes

This new unit will require the students to be active in the learning process. They will not be able to simply “sit and get” but they will need to advocate for their own needs. They will need to question the activities and provide ideas to make them work better.

Outcomes

The outcomes I hope to see when students complete this unit are they will be able to write like a scientist and they will be able to collaborate with their peers to improve upon their work. I will know students have learned these concepts by them demonstrating growth through their scientific journal and conversations with their classmates.

Course 4, Week 5, Putting Deep Learning into Practice

 

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

COETAIL course 4 has been about “exploring what it means to be designers and facilitators of learning” and this week has been learning about ways we can do that. The readings included several frameworks, processes, or means of how we can make it happen.

Challenge Based Learning

Challenge Based Learning (CBL) is a teaching framework in which students are engaged and active in relevant learning. CBL has hands-on learning, collaboration, and real-world problem solving using technology (Johnson & Adams, 2011). Students identify a challenge and they follow a framework to overcome it.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are innovative learning experiences that immerse the learner into a creative and engaging environment. Typically the curriculum is science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and the students use devices like headsets that allow them to see concepts virtually they would otherwise not be able to. This is an opportunity for students to better understand complex topics they are learning (Schneider & Radu, 2018).

Game-based learning

Gamification is creating learning games like Oregon Trail created in 1971 which is an example of one of the only successful educational games ever created. Gameful design is making a game out of what is being taught by using the basic elements of gaming. (Bell, 2018).

Gameful Design Rubric (Bell, 2018)
Project Based Learning

PBLworks.org explained Project Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects. With a traditional project, teachers give students a project to complete at the end of a unit they taught and this can be referred to as a dessert project. The difference with PBL is the entire unit is the students use collaboration, high order thinking skills, and problem-solving to complete a project (pblworks.org).

What is PBL? pblworks.org

There are seven essential project design elements to provide a framework for developing high quality projects: (1.) a challenging problem or question, (2.) sustained inquiry, (3.) authenticity, (4.) student voice and choice, (5.) reflection, (6.) critique and revision, and (7.) a public product (pblworks.org).

There are also seven project based teaching practices to help teachers, schools, and organizations improve, calibrate, and assess their practice: (1.) design and plan, (2.) align to standards, (3.) build the culture, (4.) manage activities, (5.) scaffold student learning, (6.) assess student learning, and (7.) engage and coach (pblworks.org).

Design Thinking

Design Thinking is an innovative process students and professionals from all industries use to creatively solve a problem (Spencer, 2019). The process is not necessarily a linear process but can be an overview of the ways to solve a problem or complete a project in school, work, or life (Friss Dam & Siang, 2020).

Student Achievement

Hattie Ranking: 252 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement is new information for me and I first heard about it during my COETAIL Course 4. I am beginning to understand what his research means and I am starting to wonder how I can use it in my practice. Using research seems logical; however, understanding how to use it is not necessarily intuitive. I noted “hinge point” was a new concept and I searched for its meaning. DeWitt (2016) defined it clearly, “Hinge Point – It has long been agreed upon by researchers over the last few decades that when a given approach has an effect size of .40 it means that the approach can offer, when done correctly, a year’s worth of growth for a year’s input. Anything over the .40 can offer more than a year’s growth. So, if we look at the given approach of classroom discussion, you can see that when done well that can lead to two year’s of growth.”  The implication of hinge point is important in my job working with students with learning differences and students learning English as an additional language. My students typically are  behind their peers academically. I need to know how I can help them make more than a year’s growth.

Assessment of Learning

Fullan and Langworthy  (2014) explained most measures still being used are standardized, content mastery assessments.  Along with the new pedagogies, they told us new measures are needed which would include,

“students’ deep learning competencies: 1) students’ mastery of the learning process, including their ability to master new content; 2) students’ key future skills, including their abilities to create new knowledge using the collaboration and communication skills necessary for high-level value creation; 3) students’ proactive dispositions and levels of perseverance in the face of challenges; and 4) the effect of students’ work products on intended audiences or problems.”

If the “ultimate goal for teachers, as John Hattie has described, is to “’help students to become their own teachers (Fullan and Langworthy  (2014).’” then, teachers will need to provide students the skills to be independently in control of their own learning.

Effective v. Ineffective New Pedagogies (Fullan & Langworthy, 2014)
The bottom line

Students are bored and teachers are not satisfied by teaching bored students (Fullen, 2015). The new pedagogies and the examples of different teaching methods we explored this week could lead to my students and me being excited and engaged with our learning. Some of the concepts I am considering are how do I put this all into practice? I am a support teacher and I have so little time with my students. How can I start implementing little changes now to improve my students’ learning experience? How can I measure the effectiveness of the teaching I am providing for my students?

I might assess and measure the impact of deep learning pedagogies with the use of rubrics. A rubric could clearly outline for the student the goal which they are aiming for and they could see what they need to do to achieve it. I would like to implement deep learning tasks in my practice. It might look like project based learning. I can see implementing PBL with my learning support students and English learners.   

I will support my students in becoming “independent, autonomous learners able to effectively design, pursue and achieve their own learning goals and personal aspirations as well as master curricular learning goals” by laying the groundwork for understanding they can be in charge of their own learning, they can learn about what interests them, and they can make suggestions and help me figure out how to make it more interesting, relevant, and engaging for them.

The learning frameworks and new pedagogies in my school include inquiry, design thinking, and project based learning in the secondary school. I have been learning about using the rapid design cycle the past two years. I have used gameful design elements in the past and I might put them into action in Course 5.

Resources

Bell, K., (7 May 2018). Gameful Design: A Potential Game Changer. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2018/5/gameful-design-a-potential-game-changer

DeWitt, P., (13 September 2016). John Hattie's Research Doesn't Have to Be Complicated. Retrieved from https://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/finding_common_ground/2016/09/hatties_research_doesnt_have_to_be_complicated.html

Friss Dam, R. and Siang, T., (2020). What is Design Thinking and Why Is It So Popular? Retrieved from https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/what-is-design-thinking-and-why-is-it-so-popular

Fullan, M., (2015). Topic Series 11 - Push & Pull: The Role of Technology. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEO9lmmamy8

Fullan, M. and Langworthy, M., (January 2014). A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning. Retrieved from https://michaelfullan.ca/a-rich-seam-how-new-pedagogies-find-deep-learning/

Hattie Ranking: 252 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement. Retrieved from https://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/

Johnson, L. and Adams, S., (2011). Challenge Based Learning: The Report from the Implementation Project. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Schneider, B. and Radu, I., (28 August 2018). Using Augmented Reality to Promote Making with Understanding. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/blogs/2018/8/using-augmented-reality-to-promote-making-with-understanding
 
Spencer, J., (6 April 2019). What Is Design Thinking? Retrieved from https://spencerauthor.com/what-is-design-thinking/

What is PBL? Retrieved from https://www.pblworks.org/what-is-pbl#:~:text=Project%20Based%20Learning%20is%20a,question%2C%20problem%2C%20or%20challenge.

Course 4, Week 4-Unleashing Deep Learning

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Digital Tools and Resources

Fullan’s New Pedagogies is comprised of three core principles. Over the last weeks, we have read about learning partnerships and deep learning tasks. This week we read about the final new pedagogy principal, Digital Tools and Resources. Fullan and Langworthy (2014) began by sharing research data that showed having technology as part of a lesson has little to no effect on student learning. The research findings showed for technology to have a positive effect on learning, how it is integrated into the lesson makes the difference.

The evidence I have seen to support, “technology used without powerful teaching strategies (and deep learning tasks) does not get us very far” is from Fullan and Langworthy (2014). They shared research findings from John Hattie in A Rich Seam, Meta-analyses of the impact of technology on learning outcomes confirm that, up until now, technology use has had a below-average impact on learning relative to other interventions” (Fullan & Langworthy, 2014).

Leveraging technology in powerful ways, i.e. for collaboration and knowledge creation is not a simple task to plan for third-grade students. First, collaboration might be easier to figure out. I could possibly have students write to students in other schools to discuss different topics. I also might have students collaborate with students in other classes on a research project. A third possibility could be to have students create digital stories and share them with their families, friends, and classmates.

There are several tools I use to integrate technology for basic uses. For example, students use their iPads to research, word-process, use Google Apps like docs and slides, find pictures, practice their math skills

raz-kids.com level K ebooks

on websites like IXL, practice their spelling on websites like SpellingCity.com. They can find more information about many topics on websites like brainpop.com and to read books on websites like Epic! and raz-kids.com. They can easily find books at their level on a variety of fiction and non-fiction topics.

My practice could allow “students to become independent learners who design and manage the learning process effectively” in different ways. One example could be instead of first teaching students how to write an essay with an introduction, body, and conclusion; I could challenge students to write a persuasive argument on a topic of their choosing and in their own opinion. Once they have finished writing their piece, we could go back and edit and revise as necessary, using their first draft as the basis of the teaching.

Shame

In Brown’s 2017 South by Southwest Keynote speech, she spoke about shame. She explained we need to understand the difference between emotions like shame, embarrassment, and humiliation. If we understand these nuances, we will be better prepared to deal with them when they happen in the classroom, home, or workplace. She encouraged teachers to create a safe classroom for their students to be able to learn. If students do not feel safe, if they feel shamed; they will not hear the teacher and they cannot learn.

I teach courage and develop a courageous classroom through flearning. I remind my students often the way to learn something is to make mistakes. I encourage them to be risk-takers, to not worry about being perfect, and when we fail, we’re given an opportunity to learn. I am vulnerable with my students by not hiding my mistakes, asking them for help and to teach me something new, and thanking them for their patience when I am learning new stuff.  I would like to think there is no shame in my classroom. My students are perfect just like they are and are accepted for who they are-all learning differences.

Dialogical Learning
(Kelly, 2019)

Kelly (2019) explained how Freire’s five ideas of dialogical learning added the communication between teachers and students necessary to allow learning to happen. A teacher who practices with humility, hope, faith, love, and allows students to think critically; will set up an optimum environment for student learning.

I recognize learners as equals so that true learning can take place. My students are young, short human beings who want to be treated with the same respect as adult humans. I demonstrate humility by asking students to share what they know with me. I give them hope by setting high expectations with attainable goals. I show them I have faith in their abilities by focusing on their strengths and helping them work on their weaknesses. I show them love by asking about them and their interests, truly listening to their answers. I promote critical thinking with my students by giving them the wait time they need to figure out the answers themselves. If they struggle and need help, I give them bits they can take and run with and come up with the answer themselves.  Students are encouraged with positive reinforcement to demonstrate these traits with their classmates and others.

In conclusion

Based on this week’s reading, I might shift in my practice in three ways. First, I will be finding more ways for my students to collaborate and create using technology. Also, I will be careful to point out when my students make mistakes, the thing they did wrong does not reflect on them as a person. They might make a mess, but they are not messy. Finally, I will be more mindful to use Freire’s five ideas for dialogical learning to increase the likelihood my students are able to learn. I want students to feel safe when they are learning with me and provide them the most optimum environment for learning.

Resources

Brown, B.(2017). Keynote, Daring Classrooms. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/DVD8YRgA-ck

Fullan, M. & Langworthy, M. (January 2014). A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning. Retrieved from https://michaelfullan.ca/a-rich-seam-how-new-pedagogies-find-deep-learning/
Kelly, M. (17 Sep 19). Paulo Freire’s Five Ideas for Dialogical Learning.Retrieved from https://instructionalcoaching.com/paulo-freires-five-ideas-for-dialogical-learning/

Terhart, E. (2011). Has John Hattie Really Found the Holy Grail of Research on Teaching? An Extended Review of “Visible Learning.” Journal of Curriculum Studies43(3), 425–438.

Course 4, Week 3: Learning Deeply, Digitally

Create a reality where all students can and will learn. -Fullan’s moral imperative

Deep learning tasks

Fullan’s New Pedagogies is comprised of three core principles. Last week we read about the first one, learning partnerships. This week we read about the second, deep learning tasks.

Infographic from A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning

Fullan and Langworthy (2014) explained deep learning “tasks harness the power of the new learning partnerships to engage students in practicing the process of deep learning through discovering and mastering existing knowledge and then creating and using new knowledge in the world.” They go on to say, “Deep learning tasks re-structure learning activities, involve knowledge construction, develop the 6 Cs or key future skills, and define clear learning goals.” If you would like to play around with these concepts, I have created the following Quizlet.

Re-structure students’ learning

In my school, when we use digital tools we can re-structure students’ learning of curricular content. For example, when writing a persuasive essay, students can use Book Creator as an alternative to handwriting or word processing. It becomes more engaging for some students. In addition, it can add a bit of a challenge for those who are ready to try a new digital tool.

Real experiences

We try to give students real experiences in creating and using new knowledge in the world beyond the classroom. For example, during the Save the Planet Unit of Inquiry, we have students design a plan and produce a prototype of an innovative way to Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and/or Repair (the 6Rs) plastic.

Partnerships

Using the plastic example from before, one way we can partner with students in designing the structure or process of the task by using the Rapid Design Process.

https://discoverdesign.org/handbook
Authentic choice

We can give students authentic choice over what they learn and how they execute the learning by allowing them to decide on their own topics, such as with the rapid design process and allowing them to decide what opinion they want to choose to write about.

Learning goals

We connect the deep learning tasks to clear learning goals by sharing the learning goals and keeping them in mind during the unit. We also share the rubric for what the expectations will be for their final products.

Raising the bar

The expectations for all of our students are high. To begin with, the student population of our school scores mostly at or above grade level on the standardized MAP assessment. This naturally pushes the English learners and learning support students to strive to meet their peers’ performances. At times, we even have to remind ourselves that we must allow some students the time they need to meet the expectations. We meet students where they are currently and push them to excel, bit by bit.

Students can & will learn

At my school, all students can and will learn. Not only are their high expectations and the entire grade level is working approximately one year above grade level, but we also provide support to those students who need it. We have a strong Special Educational Needs department and we strive to help our students be as successful as possible and meet their potential. When a student is not performing to their potential, we give attention to what that student needs. It may be as simple as a six-week intervention.

Designing meaningful learning experiences

Teachers meet weekly and plan for deeper learning through the design of meaningful learning experiences. We collaborate and create lessons that allow students to chose their own learning interests.

Invisible bias

As an English language teacher, I am culturally sensitive; however, invisible bias is a new concept for me. I will need to think further about this phenomenon and create a plan for nurturing self-awareness in my students and colleagues. I would think a reasonable first step for me will be to keep an eye out for instances happening around me. When I notice them, I could bring attention to it in a friendly manner.

My practice

I can shift my practice based on this week’s readings in order to create an environment that embraces equitable deep learning tasks. I will need to plan lessons to maximize the potential of technology through active, deep learning. I will need to keep in mind SAMR and be sure to strive to use technology to redefine the learning experience. Creating a bias-free learning environment where students have choices, clear goals, and meaningful learning opportunities lends itself naturally towards more personalized learning experiences. As a special educational needs teacher, it is my job to assist classroom teachers to accommodate their students’ learning differences. It may be in the form of using voice to text instead of handwriting, working in a small group with a teacher, or working one-on-one with me to learn to read. The bottom line is creating deep learning experiences to meet the way students learn individually.

Resources

Fullan, M. & Langworthy, M. (January 2014). A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning. Retrieved from https://michaelfullan.ca/a-rich-seam-how-new-pedagogies-find-deep-learning/

Fullan, M. (16 March 2016). Topic Series 10 - The Moral Imperative. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/tQYvruRPeLU

Whiting, J. (4 September 2019). Everyone Has Invisible Bias. This Lesson Shows Students How to Recognize It. Retrieved from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2019-09-04-everyone-has-invisible-bias-this-lesson-shows-students-how-to-recognize-it

Course 4, Week 2: Partners in Learning

This week we are discussing the needed change in our pedagogy, with the use of technology integration, to ensure our students are actively engaged and participating in their learning. We very well know the traditional industrial teaching styles should stay in the past where they belong. Let us continue to explore and embrace new pedagogies that will prepare students for the 21st-century skills they need for a workforce that may not even exist yet.

Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash
May the three forces be with you.

New pedagogies, new change leadership, and new system economics are the three forces at work in this innovative change in education. New pedagogies are about changing the “relationships between all the key players in learning: students, teachers, technologies, school cultures, curricula, and assessments.” New change leadership is about creating an environment where the students take charge of their learning and become intrinsically motivated to lead themselves. New system economics refers to these new pedagogies being cost-effective with the potential of twice the learning for the same money (Fullan & Langworthy, 2014).

How do new pedagogies find deep learning?

Fullan and Langworthy (2014) painted an exciting picture of an innovative change in education taking place. Frustrated and bored students are pushing for changes to meet their 21st-century ways of learning and some teachers are showing students how to take charge of their own learning. Under this new way, students are defining their own goals and teachers are supporting them by teaching them how to pursue these goals and achieve them. The changes happening between teachers and students is creating new roles for both.

A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning

 

Fullan (2017) explained the initiative, New Pedagogies for Deep Learning includes six C’s: character education, citizenship, collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. This initiative had a strong beginning in Ontario, Canada. As a result of the initiative, teachers and students were feeling empowered and it was noticed the students came to care more about school, life, and making a difference. “Students are becoming a force for change, they are frustrated and bored with traditional school and starting to influence the pedagogy (Fullan, 2017).”

The new pedagogy defined

Fullen (2015) defined pedagogy as drawing out learning from students and explained it was rooted in Latin. The New Pedagogy is the best learning relationship between and among students and teachers. It includes partnerships between teachers and students and they are all learning more from each other (Fullen, 2015).

Three Emerging Theories of Learning
“Technology integration can play a large role in changing our learning environments to better support the development of higher-level thinking skills needed by the 21st century (Doak).” Three theories of learning emerging are, (1.) situated cognition, (2.) distributed cognition, and (3.) socially shared cognition. These three new theories embrace action, communication and collaboration, and the use of technology to achieve learning environments with higher-level thinking skill development students need to be best prepared for their futures. Our teaching practice should be based on research and these current theories can assist with that.
In conclusion

My students are collaborating with each other on their work. They are discussing their ideas and giving feedback. They ask questions and learn from each other. They share ideas and build on them taking their own direction. Students are setting their own goals and continuously work towards achieving them. They are empowered to question our lessons and encouraged to give suggestions and make choices on how to achieve the learning objectives. However, there is always room for improvement. As the students learn to take charge of their education, I learn to let go and allow them to make more decisions about their path. Through new pedagogy and new learning theories, it is possible to improve my teaching practice to become more of an innovative teacher ready for the 21st-century higher-levels thinking skills development my young students need.

Resources

Doak, S.Emerging Theories of Learning and the Role of Technology.
https://sites.google.com/a/boisestate.edu/edtechtheories/Home/emerging-theories-of-learning-and-the-role-of-technology

Fullan, M. (22 January 2015). Topic Video: The New Pedagogy. Retrieved from https://michaelfullan.ca/topic-video-the-new-pedagogy/

Fullan, M. (13 March 2017). New Pedagogies for Deep Learning. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/-39PNs4sCmQ

Fullan, M. & Langworthy, M. (January 2014). A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning. Retrieved from https://michaelfullan.ca/a-rich-seam-how-new-pedagogies-find-deep-learning/


Course 4, Week 1 Frameworks for Learning

 

“While educational technology does make learning visible, it is the teacher that makes learning meaningful.” L. Portnoy

I fell down an internet rabbit hole while researching technology integration frameworks this week. There are so many articles, videos, and graphics!

When planning lessons, teachers use a framework to assist in deciding on how to best teach the content while integrating technology. The two frameworks we considered were Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition (SAMR) and Technological knowledge, Pedagogical knowledge, and Content Knowledge (TPACK).

“We want to impact student learning, not just replace a tool with a tool.”  -NCVPS

SAMR

The SAMR model was created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura in 2010 to assist teachers in reflecting on how they are using technology in their lessons. SAMR is designed to help teachers use technology to move their tech from enhancing learning to it transforming learning. It has been likened to making the switch from crawling to walking. Google doc with the SAMR ladder graphic

TPaCK

TPACK is also a framework teachers can use to guide their use of technology with their students and it was introduced by Punya Mishra and Matthew J. Koehler of Michigan State University in 2006. There are three areas of knowledge teachers use (1) content, (2) pedagogy, and (3) technology. The content knowledge is the “what”-their subject matter, the pedagogy is the “how”-what activities they use to teach, and finally, the teacher’s technology knowledge is how they layer the tech into the lesson to improve the students’ learning.

 

I created this graphic with tech at the bottom because it shouldn’t be the first we think about. -HM

This infographic compares and contrasts the SAMR and TPACK frameworks for technology integration using a Double Bubble Thinking Map. Google doc with the Double Bubble Map

Google doc with the Double Bubble Map: https://docs.google.com/document/d/13s0FKpntZoJd_lwN3Lq5HcGoDhszE2apvEOLlMLeeSo/edit?usp=sharing
My practice of technology integration

I am a support teacher for third grade and I do a lot of small groups and one-on-one teaching. Currently, I am using technology to meet with students at home. We meet in my Webex room to work on reading and writing. We use several Google tools like Slides, Docs, and Google Search. I prepare some lessons in a Google Slide deck for students to see easily. I use Reading A to Z for online books to read with students. I sometimes use a document camera to show writing and reading books. According to the SAMR framework, I am at the Substituting and Augmenting level. I am using more technology now than ever. Before teaching online, I did not use a lot of technology with the teaching I was doing.

My school’s technology vision

My beliefs and practices fit into my school’s vision for learning. I try to personalize learning for my students by offering choices. I provide immediate feedback on students’ work while we are together. I encourage students to be risk-takers and to learn from their mistakes. When learning takes a turn due to students’ interests and questions, I welcome it.

my schools’ technology vision
Real-world example

Serendipitously, this week my son, Jacob, shared a video he made for his English 201 class. After viewing his video, I had to ask to see the instructions he had followed to come up with his product because I was very curious. You can see the full prompt in the screenshot below from Jacob’s phone. (I also thought it apropos Jacob accessed his course assignment on his mobile. I cannot imagine completing my course from my mobile! I am definitely showing my age.:) The professor explained in the instructions for the final paper the students are to create “an easily consumable video” instead of “scrambling to submit a behemoth final paper last minute.” I was pleased to see the professor had moved her teaching practice to the top rung of the SAMR ladder with this assignment.

There are many frameworks available for teachers to use to improve their lessons involving technology. The SAMR is quick to gauge at what level your lesson is. The TPACK helps teachers to keep the different types of knowledge in mind. Regardless of which technology integration framework you choose, we need to keep attempting to improve our teaching by constantly learning more to stay current. Being aware of these frameworks is a step in the right direction.

Resources

Ady, K. & Kemp, B. TPACK vs SAMR: Key Differences Between 2 Tech Frameworks. Rretrieved from https://youtu.be/JVq4F36b8gM 

Alivi, J. (2019). A REVIEW OF TPACK AND SAMR MODELS: HOW SHOULD LANGUAGE TEACHERS ADOPT TECHNOLOGY?. Journal of English for Academic and Specific Purposes. 2. 1. 10.18860/jeasp.v2i2.7944.

Bevans, J. (1 Nov 20) Week 1: Frameworks for Learning. Retrieved from https://online12.coetail.com/

Introduction to the SAMR Model. Retrieved from https://www.commonsense.org/education/videos/introduction-to-the-samr-model

NCVPS Professional Learning. Take 5: Why use TPACK and SAMR? https://youtu.be/x9La-U-mP54

Marshburn, J. (8 Nov 20) Jacob's Eng 201 final. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/hMDwYbXh7WE

Portnoy, L. (1 Feb 18). How SAMR and Tech Can Help Teachers Truly Transform Assessment. Retrieved from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2018-02-01-how-samr-and-tech-can-help-teachers-truly-transform-assessment

Course 3, Week 5-Breaking Down Barriers

Cycle of Socialization
Cycle of Socialization

The activity we completed for this week’s action was to read Bobbie Harro’s chapter, the Cycle of Socialization. Below you will find my first Flipgrid post. I have not used a tool like Flipgrid before where we make and watch others’ video clips. I especially appreciated how easy it was to make a recording. While watching others’ videos, the next video would start playing making it a quick and easy transition by not having to select the video myself.

Fear. …people who conform minimally receive the benefit of being left alone…Our silence is consent.

Flipgrid

I can foresee using Flipgrid with my students to encourage conversations and discussions. Most grade three students enjoy videoing themselves and watching their peers’ videos. They like to make positive comments for feedback, too. I could provide the prompt or activity and have the students respond or reflect through a Flipgrid. Although this was my first, the students have used Flipgrid before with their classroom teacher. Most of my special educational needs students struggle with writing so this platform will make the process easier using videos instead of writing.

My practice

My reading on diversity and social justice will impact my practice. Harro’s chapter helped me to see and be more aware of the different social identities. From here on out, I will remember to be mindful of my students in the targeted groups and the agent groups. I will question myself: Am I showing bias? Am treating my students equitably? Am I giving or taking away their power? Am I being a good role model?

My social identity

I identify as a middle-aged, white woman raised in poverty in the south-eastern United States. My social identities set me off on a path as a young adult and somehow I landed where I am now. If I knew then what I know now, there were so many other opportunities I could have explored. Choosing teaching as a profession is so typical for a woman. My children are my greatest achievement. That being said, getting married at 18 and having babies at 20 (just like my mother and grandmother) was not necessarily the best decision for our futures. Luckily my kiddos have chosen to break this cycle that kept us in poverty. I share all this personal information because those struggles are what I believe shaped me into this middle-aged, white woman I am today. My start in life could have been easier if I was a member of more agent groups; however, like every coin has its flip side, my start could have been much worse.

I am the accumulation of all my life experiences, shuffled together with my agent and target memberships. I can empathize with my students. I can appreciate my colleagues. Harro’s article resonated with me on a deep level. Harro shared information I “can’t not know it anymore.” I see the power imbalance in my workplace, for example. I am one of those silent bystanders who “conform in order to receive the benefit of being left alone.” I do not argue with my administrators when I believe my students or I am being treated unfairly. I may ask a question but when I am not favorably listened to, I stop. I cannot afford to be a troublemaker. At least, I am not willing to risk my job by challenging those in power. No promises but I realize I need to try harder and I will try harder to make a difference.

our community Flipgrid discussion on the cycle of socialization

This week we explored technology tools we can use to collaborate and share ideas. We dove into the content-the cycle of socialization, using the tool- Flipgrid, while we practiced the visible thinking trend-Text Rendering Protocol. Please join our community discussion by following the link to our community Flipgrid

Course 3, Week 6 Final project

My team and I chose to “create a unit planner based on the enduring understandings of this course that support students in becoming Creative Communicators and Global Collaborators (ISTE Standards for Students 6 and 7).” After some discussion of the different options, we concluded the unit planning would be more useful. Our positions are elementary school teachers and currently, we do not have plans to offer a professional development opportunity; therefore, the PD program would not be the most useful for us to create at this time.

Tackling Nonfiction Texts Bootcamp

The topic my team chose, Tackling Nonfiction Texts Bootcamp, was a non-fiction text features unit and the standards chosen are currently being covered in our grade levels.  We chose this due to the practicality of being able to include infographics in the lesson plan and being able to create a learning experience to span three grade levels.

Two heads are better than one… C. S. Lewis

Not only does collaborating with a cohesive team make group projects more enjoyable, but you also have a better chance of creating a better product.  Once you start brainstorming, sharing ideas, and building on others’ ideas; a powerful collaborative is created. In addition, I’ve learned frequent communication is essential when collaborating. You do not have to have all the answers and even asking “dumb” questions can move the ideas along. Like we tell our students when they are stuck: just start writing words on the paper, and eventually, a story will form. Once our collaboration was started, our story was able to be formed.

The project was different from other learning experiences I have designed because of the technology topic of creating infographics. Using what I learned in Course 3 and translating it into opportunities to share my learning with my students creates more enriching, diverse lessons. This opportunity is like a breath of fresh air into a lesson that is not necessarily the most exciting topic.

This final project related to what I learned in Course 3 because creating this unit planner allowed us to take the skills we learned, like infographics and design elements, and pass the learning along to our students.

I believe what has influenced me the most in course 3 is improving my visual communication. After learning the design principles, I began using them to improve my communication online. This is reflected in my final project where I attempted to incorporate design principles. For example, on slide 3 of the Infographic Creation Lesson Outline, we used visual links instead of just a list of words.

example of using visual links

In my experience, the typical elementary school student is egocentric. They complete their online projects to please themselves. The idea of making a slide deck more comprehensible for the reader is a new concept for many of them. They still want to have multiple, unreadable florescent green fonts with a red background, for example. I have included a work sample below showing what an eight-year-old finds visually appealing. I was able to talk him down to only two font colors and I plan to work with this student to incorporate more design principles in the future. I will know students have learned the concepts once I see them independently using infographics in their work or following design principles. Hopefully, I will also see students making suggestions to their peers on how they can improve their work.

grade 3 student work sample showing what is visually appealing to this eight-year-old

I hope to see students take what they learn about infographics and design elements and transfer them to their future work. I hope they will agree with the idea infographics can make learning easier. I hope they will agree using the design principles of Contrast, Alignment, Repetition, & Proximity (CARP) in their work will make relaying their message to the reader more effective. In addition, I hope to see students improve on giving and receiving feedback as this is a difficult skill for this age group and more exposure is beneficial.

Course three has been full of fun activities and new information. I look forward to using what I have learned about visual literacy and continue to become a better communicator and collaborator.