Instructional Coaching Reflection

I have been working in a cross-cultural educational setting for the past 10 years. During those years I had very little access to professional development training or Western colleagues to share resources and ideas with. Working in this limited capacity motivated me to create my own teacher-training courses for new foreign English teachers and local Chinese teachers (see figure 1).

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Figure 1: Teachers sharing ideas during a leadership training seminar.

When I started taking this course I was so encouraged that the “instructional coaching” strategies presented by Jim Knight were very similar to the strategies I had developed and been using in a cross-cultural setting.

In chapter 2 of Jim Knight’s book, Instructional Coaching: A Partnership Approach to Improving Instruction, he shares the seven principles of instructional coaching:

  • Equality
  • Choice
  • Voice
  • Praxis
  • Dialogue
  • Reflection
  • Reciprocity

As an educational leader, my philosophy of instructional coaching has been similar to the seven principles described in chapter 2. I believe that practicing equality is the foundation of a healthy coaching relationship. Equality is not only sharing different experiences but also reinforcing that each person is equally valuable. I like the way Jim Knight stated it, “his/her words are just as a valuable as the instructional coach” (Jim Knight, Module 2 video 2.1: Partnership Principles part 1). Once this foundation is in place, I prompt and make suggestions to my colleagues, while at the same time leaving space for them to take ownership of their work through voice and reflection. This allows them to make decisions based on their own choices. By using these principles I earn mutual respect and trust with my colleagues, developing a deeper level of partnership. Furthermore, this partnership supports collaborative dialogue in how to use ideas in the classroom (praxis).

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A teacher using a new instructional strategy with her students.

The teaching stand I take is through reciprocity. I want my peers to see that I am learning right along with them and have faith in their ability. As I partner with other educators I also make sure to take time and reflect on what is working and/or areas that may need to be modified in order to enhance the partnership. A key characteristic that I would like to adopt is to always be respectful and persistent. I want to make a point to spend time meeting with each teacher in my educational community in order to build bridges and start friendships one by one.

I am excited to continue using the seven principals within the educational community I work in. As I move forward as an educational leader I will seek out ways to enhance my own professional practice. I will use the eight tactics of partnership leadership (module 13) to refine areas that are challenging and set up action plans to improve. I feel much more equipped as a leader having been trained in Jim Knights instructional coaching methods.

Reference

Knight, Jim (2007). Instructional Coaching: A Partnership Approach to Improving

Instruction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press

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Digital Citizenship in the Classroom

ISTE Standard 4: Digital Citizenship

According to the website www.digitalcitizenship.net, digital citizenship can be defined as “the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use.” The moment one connects to the World Wide Web they become digital citizens; no passport required to travel and stay connected to the world! So what does this mean to me as an educator living in a society where technology advances daily? How can I support my students when most of them know more about technology than I do? What is my responsibility as an educator and digital citizen in teaching my students what it means to be digitally responsible with regard to technology? I have been mulling over these questions the past few weeks and feel like I have come to the solid belief that not only is it important for me to teach my students what it is to be a digital citizen but also model how this is done.

My first step in doing this was researching what elements make up digital citizenship. Most websites identify nine elements of digital citizenship. I especially liked Vicki Davis’ “9 Key Ps” of Digital Citizenship. The article featured in www.edutopia.org was insightful in how I might teach my own students digital citizenship. The “9 Key Ps” are:

  1. Passwords
  2. Privacy
  3. Personal Information
  4. Photographs
  5. Property
  6. Permission
  7. Protection
  8. Professionalism
  9. Personal Brand

I like how she uses the P’s to help students learn the key elements of digital citizenship. Our school does not teach digital citizenship, but I think it is crucial we begin teaching our students how to become digital citizens. While I don’t think I can persuade my school board to buy digital citizenship curriculum like “Common Sense curriculum”, I can at least begin teaching my own students what it means to be a digital citizen by using the “9 Key Ps”.

Next, I plan to teach a Digital Citizen mini lesson twice a week and plan aligned activities for students to demonstrate what they are learning. To visually enhance these lessons I created a poster (http://olympia1980.edu.glogster.com/digital-citizen/) to help students reference the “9 key Ps” and I made a graphic organizer similar to the poster for students to fill in as we go through each mini lesson. Furthermore, I will share each of the mini lesson learning target and activities with parents, so that they can learn/support their student at home. At the end of the Digital Citizenship Unit I will divide students into nine groups and give them one “key p” to become experts on. They will need to put together a short presentation for the class and provide a visual such as a poster or power point that supports their put together a digital citizenship poster that represents the “p” they are. At the end of the unit we will present our posters in the computer lab to motivate other classes to become digital citizens.

I encourage all educators to learn more about digital citizenship. If your school does not teach it do a quick Google search on resources and materials you could use in your own class. It is our responsibility to teach students how to be responsible when using technology. Technology is continuing to advance, we live in a digital age and we must make sure we are preparing our students!

Reference

Davis, V. (2014). What your Students Really Need to Know About Digital Citizenship. Retrieved March 14th, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/digital-citizenship-need-to-know-vicki-davis

K-12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum| Common Sense Media. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14th, 2016, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/digital-citizenship

Ribble, M. (n.d.). Nine Elements. Retrieved March 14, 2016, from

http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/Nine_Elements.html

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Online Educational Learning Communities

ISTE Standard 5: Evidence of Participation in an Online Educational Community

Introduction

Part of becoming an effective educator is learning how to collaborate with others in order to share ideas, gather new techniques and strategies as well as develop a support team among educators. Over the past decade I have been part of such communities in a bi-lingual/bi-cultural setting. I love the face-to-face collaborative interaction and growth that I have experienced in my own educational journey because of this, but have often felt limited in what I have access to because of where I live. This year I began exploring online learning communities. Even though it is difficult for me to access a number of websites I persist in finding them because I know the value in having online educational learning communities. There are three that I have found most helpful and applicable to my situation:

Teacherspayteachers.com

I have been criticized in the past for using this website because some believe all teaching resources should be free, however, I am a firm believer that you should pay for quality, effort and time that other gave in putting together lesson materials. I have found so many wonderful resources on this website.

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Image of the teachers that I follow on teacherspayteachers.com

What I like about this community is that they offer lesson plans, unit studies, printable resources and so much more! I have zero access to such resources where I live, so being able to go to a reliable website, look at what other teachers have put together and pay a small price for what they have to offer is well worth it.

Stroybird.com

I am so happy I discovered storybird.com. I made this discovery early on in the Technology class while I was researching my triggering events question for ISTE standard 2. Storybird.com is a fun and easy-to-use tool for creating short, visual stories. This

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Image of my published story on storybird.com

collaborative group of teachers, artists, and students share their individual stories by selecting artwork, dragging and organizing photos into a story template. Then they add their own text to create beautiful digital stories. Have been able to use this tool in my class and look forward to helping my students become connected with other students who are published in storybird.com.

Skype Education

skypeI have had a Skype account for several years and it was the primary way of talking to friends and family while living abroad. It was not until doing research during Technology class that I realized they offered virtual field trips. I look forward to getting more connected with this learning community in order to support and engage students in the content we are learning.

Conclusion

There are so many wonderful learning communities to explore and be a part of. My one caution to new educators is to narrow down online learning communities to 2 or 3; beyond this it may get to time consuming and take away from preparing effective lesson plans. Overall, online learning communities are an excellent way to stay connected, supported and prepared.

Reference

Teacherspayteachers.com

Storybird.com

Skype

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EDU 6136 Content Methods Course Reflection

Program Standard #2: Instruction

Introduction

How do teachers meet the needs of all of their students? What kind of ways can teachers engage their students to ensure that they are meeting standards and learning goals? How can teachers support students with varying learning abilities and needs? The answer to all these questions can be summed up in one answer: use research-based instructional practices. While the answer may sound simple enough, understanding how to implement and balance such practices can be more of a challenge. The following research-based instructional practices were taught in the course Content Methods. I have included a brief summary of the instructional practices we were taught in the course, why they are important and a suggestion of how it may be implemented.

Understanding Students

Teachers should assess each of their student’s prior knowledge of content by using informal assessments such as lesson review, question/answer and content pre-tests. Using these types of informal assessment can help a teacher determine how to plan instructions as well as modify lessons to meet students needs. Likewise, understanding student assets is also beneficial. If a teacher understands the community a student comes from they are able to connect valuable cultural comedies to teaching instruction.

Teaching Academic Language

A teacher needs to be able to determine what sort of academic language is needed during instruction that is aligned with learning targets and tasks. Academic language instruction should include the vocabulary of the content subjects, the syntax and text structures. The article, “Developing Academic Language: Got Words?” explains that teachers should be highly selective about which words to teach and provide multiple encounter with the target words. In addition teachers should provide students direct instructions on how to infer word meaning (Flynt and Brozo, 2008, page 500).

Scaffolding and Supporting a Variety of Learners

If teaches have background knowledge of their students, then it is easier to determine how to scaffold and support each student. Theories and ideas such as the Piagetian theory that “students should be provided tasks just a bit beyond their current competence”, as well as the related Vygotskian idea that “teaching should in the zone of proximal development and scaffold” should navigated a teacher’s choice in planning scaffold instruction (Child and Adolescent Development for Educators, 2007, p. 264). Furthermore, teachers should make sure to provide information in a variety of ways to meet the varied learning needs of their students by providing them not only with visual representation of what they are learning but also a hands on activity like note taking, using graphic organizers and manipulatives (The Art and Science of Teaching, 2010, p. 32).

Providing and Responding to Feedback

This is often overlooked when it comes to teaching instruction. It is easy enough to give a grade on the top of a paper, but it is so much more effective to give specific feedback on what a student did well on and/or areas that may need improvement. Providing feedback can be given in written or oral forms.

Deepening

Teachers can enhance their instructions by thoughtfully eliciting and building on student responses in way to develop and deepen content understanding. This is one of my favorite areas of instructions. In Doug Lemov’s (2015) book Teach Like a Champion he explores research based strategies and techniques that enhance student participation and engagement with content. Some of the strategies he suggests for deepening student knowledge are: think-pair-share (page 324), quick writes (page 282) and prompting questions (page 318). 

Refection

Reflection is beneficial for both teachers and students. Reflection is a valuable tool for teachers to use in order to improve and modify lessons. Reflection also aids in assessing what types of techniques and strategies need to be implemented in order to enhance students learning. The second way reflection can be utilized in teaching instruction is by teaching students how to reflect on their own learning. I have found that exit tickets are a great way to elicit student reflection. Having students pause and reflect on what they are learning is a wonderful way for students to process and connect what they have learned are learning and what they would like to learn.

Conclusion

It is important that teachers find the right balance of research based teaching instruction. It may seem overwhelming for new teachers to look at all the components of researched based instructions and figure out how to most effectively use them, but over time and with more practice teachers will discover balance and determine what works best for their class. The following links offer more specific examples of how a teacher might implement and use components of research based instruction:

Lesson plan example: Reading.TallTales

Tips to new teachers website:

olympia1980.edu.glogster.com/tips-for-new-teachers/

Differentiating examples:

tamarayork80.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/differentiation-reflection

Reference

Flynt E. and Brozo W. (2008), Developing Academic Language: Got Words? Retrieved from the Seattle Pacific Banner data base.

Lemov, D. (2015). Teach like a champion 2.0: 62 techniques that put students on the path to college. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Marzano, R.J. (2007). The art and science of teaching: A comprehensive framework for effective instruction. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Pressley, M., & McCormick, C.B. (2007). Child and adolescent development for educators. New York: Guilford Press.

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Using Technology to Engage in Global Learning Communites

ISTE Standard 5: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership

Triggering Events Question:

What type of local and global learning communities could I participate in to explore creative applications of technology in order to improve student learning, while living in a country that has heavy Internet restrictions?

Inquiry:

I would love to share the process that I have had to go through in researching this topic! The country I live in places heavy Internet restrictions on its users. Websites such as BBC, CNN, and Facebook cannot be accessed without a Virtual Private Network (VPN). I have a VPN, but often this does not even work well because different VPN Company’s are

frustrated woman

My daily struggle with restricted internet access.

constantly being monitored and shut down. Just last week the VPN I was using for almost a year was disconnected due to “political meetings”, so I had to download a second VPN.

In order to research my topic I thought it would be more useful to see what was available to me without the use of my VPN. While most people would just do a Google search of “global teaching communities”, I had to use bing.com because all Google applications are blocked. Once I got to Bing, I then had to translate my search into English. That all worked great, however, accessing any of the websites available became the issue. After several attempts at trying to search and open websites related to “global teaching communities I gave up because nothing would open or it was not applicable to my situation. Next, I decided to see if my Microsoft Education account would open without a VPN. No luck.

So what does that leave me with you might ask? Should I just give up and say it’s impossible? Nope, thankfully I have a wonderful community of educators I have connected with in my technology class that have offered a plethora of wonderful websites. This collaborative community has passed on not only technology resource websites, but also collaborative community resources. Once I get a specific website URL I can check to see if it works without a VPN. For example, one classmate shared the website home.edweb.net. Good news! It worked (most of the time). I was able to access different resources from the website. I have not joined in any of the webinars so I am curious if I would run into any complications streaming the sessions. I am excited to see that I can still be part of educational communities and connect with others in a global context! Some other education communities I can participate in without a VPN are:

  • Skype
  • Education.com
  • Scholastic.com
  • Teacherspayteachers.com

Conclusion:

What I have learned is that living in a country with heavy Internet restriction makes me work twice as hard to find creative resources and appreciate the resources I do have! Other opportunities for me to explore using technology in the class to support student learning is partnering with elementary classes in America; instead of having “pen-pals” our class would have “web-pals”. This would be a fun way to explore and use technology in the class but really support our students in a global environment!

References:

Education.com

home.edweb.net

scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3752271

Teacherspayteachers.com

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Digital Storytelling

During Technology EDTC 6433 students were asked to create a digital storytelling project. The goal of this project was for us to understand the power of digital storytelling by creating our own.

This project encouraged students to engage in applying ISTE Teacher Standard 1: ‘Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity’. While investigating and learning more about this standard. I read the article Digital Storytelling – a meaningful technology –intergraded approach for engaged students learning written by Alaa Sadik. This article investigates, analyzes and records the effectiveness of digital storytelling in the class. What I found helpful, before diving into my own digital storytelling project, was that the research based study concludes that, “Digital storytelling provides a real way to help students learn how to use technology effectively in their learning, particularly if provided with appropriate digital resources and usable editing tools to further motivate them into creating quality stories” (page 502-503). From reading articles such as this, I realized that I needed to make sure the project I put together would demonstrate how students could create a story with purpose using the right tools and resources to captivate their audience.

I decided to share a personal narrative that would relate to the students at the international school I work in. Most of the students in the international school identify themselves as Third Culture Kids (TCK). The term Third Culture Kids was coined by sociologist Ruth Hill Useem who used the term “TCK because TCK’s integrate aspects of their birth culture (the first culture), the new culture (second culture) and create a new culture “third culture” in the environment they live” (tckid.com, 2016). The “third culture” in which I get to be a part of has a high turn over of students. This means students frequently have to deal with saying goodbye to friends. This is a big transition that has a profound effect on student relationships and socialization in our school. Each semester teachers provide an outlet for students to process through their emotions and learn how to appropriately say “goodbye” to friends. I realized that digital story telling not only could help me teach a lesson in “transition”, but also provide students with a creative outlet in sharing their “transition” story using digital storytelling (Digital Storytelling – A Powerful Technology Tool for the 21st Century Classroom, 2008, page 223).

My project could be viewed in both a formal and informal educational setting. I will use this project to teach teachers how to effectively use digital storytelling in their classroom. I will make sure that teachers understand that digital storytelling could be used throughout a number of subjects, not just teaching about “transition”. Even though my project targets students that are going through transition, it could also be used in an informal setting outside of school. For example, I plan on sharing this project with friends and family who are also TCKs.

The process I went through in completing the final project was emotionally enlightening and frustrating while at the same time instructionally very informative! While I was doing research on what website I should use for my 4th/5th grade class I looked into sotryboardthat.com, animoto.com, Mac Imovie and Storybird.com. What narrowed down my search was whether or not these websites could be used in China and if they could be easily uploaded onto YouTube. I discovered all of the websites could be accessed in China; however, YouTube is one of the many websites blocked in China without the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN). So no matter what website I chose for my students they would not be able to post their finished product publicly via YouTube. I chose storybird.com for three reasons. First, students can use the site without a VPN. Second, storybird.com offers thousands of beautiful illustrated pictures to choose from to enhance personal stories and poems, allowing students to spend more time writing and creating and less time trying to upload images and pictures without a VPN and fast Internet. Finally, students can publish (publicly or privately) their book. Students or a class can make their books available on storybird.com, on the websites blog, they may also choose to buy a published copy of their book. Books can be purchased in hardback, softcover and PDF forms.

I did go a step further in exploring what it would like to turn my storyboard creation into a video. These are the steps I had to take:

  1. Download my story into PDF
  2. Take screen shots of each page
  3. Create a Power Point Presentation.
  4. Copy and paste each page into the PPT.
  5. Download and loop background music.
  6. Record over music an audio of me telling the story.

The final PPT was a masterpiece ready to be publicly shared however, I ran into the obstacles of copywriter laws and video formatting from PPT.mov into YouTube.

Since we do not have VPN’s set up at our school and because many of the students do not have VPN’s on their home computers I don’t think it is necessary for them to apply audio/music to their published work. However, I do think that teachers could use step 1 – 6 to create more dynamic and engaging lesson instruction through storybook reading.

While I found this project to be very challenging for a number of reasons such as, lack of technical support from my school, no working VPN in our school computers, very little previous knowledge of digital storytelling and wanting to create a digital masterpiece, I came through the project knowing how to use digital storytelling and supporting tools.

I am so excited to begin using storybird.com with my students. I already have three other teachers interested in how to use digital storyboards in their classes. While I enjoy the benefits of storybird.com I will also show them how to use sotryboardthat.com and animoto.com. I think these to websites would be engaging for upper elementary and high school students.

To view my book please go to:

http://www.storybird.com/books/stars-in-my-journey

References:

Bernard R., (2008). Digital Storytelling – A Powerful Technology Tool for the 21st Century Classroom. Retrieved from Seattle Pacific Library Data Base February 25, 2016.

Sadik, A., (2008). Digital Storytelling – a meaningful technology –intergraded approach for engaged students learning. Retrieved from Seattle Pacific Library Data Base February 25, 2016.

TCKids | A Home for Third Culture Kids and Adults (TCKs). (2016). Retrieved February 7, 2016, from http://tckid.com

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Digital Citizenship

Module 4

ISTE for Teachers Standard 4 – Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility.

Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices.

Triggering Events question:

How can I demonstrate understanding of local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in a cross-cultural International school setting?

Inquiry:

There are really two answers to this question. First, I can demonstrate understanding of local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture by using online student friendly “news” website while teaching. I often use websites such as, http://magazines.scholastic.com (Links to an external site.) during 4th/5th grade ELA lessons. Since I have such a diverse number of students representing 8 different countries, my students enjoy reading what is going on in their home countries and like to discuss events going on throughout the world. They also like that other students write the articles. My classmate Katlyn Corn shared a website she uses in her class. She commented to our learning circle, “One thing (website) I have already posted about is newsela.com (Links to an external site.). I think this is a really good way to model knowledge about what’s happening in the world through current events. I love the conversations I can have with my students after we have read the same article. Students are able to read about things happening in the world in a grade appropriate way” (Canvas, 2016). While it is important to educate student about what is going on locally and globally, it is also an opportunity for us to exhibit legal and ethical digital behavior. This leads to the second answer of the triggering events questions.

As an educator I need to demonstrate digital citizenship. I can “demonstrate” understanding of local and global societal issues and responsibility by being a “Digital Citizen” in the classroom while using such resources such as newsela.com and scholastic online news. Digital citizenship is a concept, which “helps teachers, technology leaders and parents to understand what student/children/technology users should know to use technology appropriately.” (http://www.digitalcitizenship.net/Home_Page.html (Links to an external site.), 2016) As a teacher I can prepare my students for a society full of technology.

As a digital citizen it is my responsibility to teach my students appropriate ethical behavior while using technology. In the international school environment I work in many students, staff and parents have varying ideas about how technology should be used in school. Despite others valued opinions, I can support the use of technology in our school by appropriately implementing and modeling how to use it positively. I found a wonderful website full of resources (lesson plans and posters) that could help support how I communicate safe technology in my school and classroom: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/scope-and-sequence (Links to an external site.) Using such lesson plans and technology curriculum will continue to help teachers and parents navigate and guide students into making good choices while using technology, ultimately raising up a generation of positive digital citizens.

Conclusion:

As I work towards implementing these wonderful lesson plans into our school curriculum, I can use resources and ideas from such websites.

picture

Figure 1

For example, figure 1 is a poster I could use in the class near the computer lab to remind students how to be a digital student. Technology will continue to develop and evolve and it is our job as educators to model how to use technology in safe and ethical ways.

Reference

commonsensemedia.org

digitalcitizenship.net

magazines.scholoastic.com

newsela.com

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