Category Archives: #CyberPD

Micro-Progressions

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Rick Wormeli via Tweet by Andrew Kozlowsky @MrKoz31 July 14, 2016

This is a second post for #cyberPD, which is exploring DIY Literacy: Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence by Kate Robers and Maggie Beattie Roberts. In the first post, I focused on how we need to establish the student learning need before we can turn to the tools that might support student achievement and how we can better determine that student learning via teacher collaboration. This conversation is where I live; it’s what I want to focus on all the time.

Why am I doing this learning?

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In my classroom, this question has a permanent home, and periodically, I ask students to write down what they are doing and why they are doing it and post their thinking. It’s hard for them to think about why they are doing what they’re doing. Sure we have learning goals and success criteria. Yes, we often co-construct both. Nonetheless, seeing the learning and connecting this discrete skill with the next one and the next one, so that eventually they can

  • engage in the research process;
  • write a blog post;
  • synthesize their reading into an infographic;
  • participate in an online literary discussion;
  • read increasingly complex text and make meaning with those texts;

is hard to hang on to.

Kate and Maggie offer us a series of four tools that can make the learning visible, and thus make it stick:

  1. Teaching charts
  2. Demonstration Notebooks
  3. Bookmarks
  4. Micro-progressions of skills

I already use both teaching charts and bookmarks regularly, and many students do access them when they need to recall earlier learning or to remind them about what questions they need to consider. For example, together we will construct a teaching chart of what the research process entails and then we will unpack each step thereby creating a series of explicit teaching charts. Here is one showing how an information paragraph with integrated evidence is constructed:

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However, not all students turn to these tools for support despite not yet being independent in that skill. Maybe the model of how one paragraph (in this case) is not enough. Micro-progressions may be the right tool for some of these students.

Micro-progressions show the way toward higher levels of work. by providing actual examples of work that’s improving, as well as listing the qualities that make up each “level” of work, micro-progressions allow for both self-assessment and self-assignment (17).

The first challenge I faced in tackling the creation of a micro-progression was that for every skill (including the one above) there were sub-skills that needed their own micro-progression. To write a good information paragraph with different types of evidence integrated with the writer’s own thinking, students need to be able to know how to integrate evidence using a variety of signal phrases. They need to know how to paraphrase. They need to know how to locate, read, and cull information from those sources that may be relevant to their topic. And this is what Kate and Maggie mean when they note “we encounter trouble when we teach too much to hold onto, too much to remember” (46).

Where to start?

I decided to start with an essential skill that students should be using throughout their academic career: the research note. The student note-making samples used in this strategy are all submissions from my students.

 

 

But notice how the note with the most breadth and depth is the one that includes the student’s own thinking. Well, that got me thinking about another essential skill: making connections. The models used in this strategy all come from student work.

 

 

I am keen to integrate the use of micro-progressions into the teaching – learning process and to get feedback from the students. I am hoping this strategy can provide clarity of purpose because they can see where they need to go next and independence in the self-assessment process that we began this past year (which I haven’t yet blogged about).

And as we co-create more micro-progressions, we may even innovate on the model, and add in an answer to the question: Why should we learn this?

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Hold on to a Learning Focus

“You have got to have a lot of dance steps, so depending on who your dance partner is, and what the music is, you can actually shift the repertoire. A lot of us fall into default mode so when the music changes to rumba or cha-cha, we keep doing the samba…. A skilled professional … will actually shift repertoire, and has a range of pedagogy.” (Allan Luke, Leaders in Educational Thought, 2012)

This year #Cyberpd is exploring DIY Literacy: Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence by Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts. Roberts and Beattie Roberts focus our attention on the idea that students will have different learning needs at different times and that we need to be ready to meet them where they are with the tools they need so that they can be independent learners. While I agree that tools that make the learning sticky are important, I want to first pull the focus away from the teaching need (the tools) and put it on how we determine what the student learning need is because it’s only with a very clear sense of the ‘why’ that the tools become meaningful. Without focusing on the problem first (the learning need), tools and strategies may become “activity traps” (Katz, 24). 

Sometimes teachers struggle to identify student learning needs. They reference things like students’ level of organization (coming to class prepared to learn) or self-regulation (putting phone way) or responsibility (completing independent work/homework) as obstacles to learning. And sometimes they identify “the curriculum, or the politics of education, or the lesson plan” (DIY, 2) as the things that block student learning. But none of these things are student learning needs.

What does a student learning need look like?

It is learning that the student(s) needs based on the evidence we have. This might be our own assessments, and it might be evidence from standardized tests, and it might be a combination. What is clear, however, is that even after we have taught the skill in the best way we know how to, some students still don’t get it.

What Roberts and Beattie Roberts note is that a student learning need is a teacher learning need; that “we don’t [always] have at our fingertips the content we most need to teach our kids” (23).  What do you do if the way you have been teaching students a skill is not reaching all of your students? If we have evaluated the importance of the skill; that is, we have determine that the skill is valuable, then there must be a sense of urgency for students to learn it (33)!

If you don’t belong to a collaborative inquiry or a professional learning community  then the authors suggest that teachers can access professional texts and a professional learning network (PLN) to help them find new content and/or strategies that may address their students learning needs. But by far and away, their first suggestion “Never teach alone” is the best alternative. We are better together! And not just because we need to model modern learning for our students, but also because the themes of teacher leadership, collaboration, and inquiry feature prominently in the research findings of leading education experts (e.g., Little, 1982; Darling-Hammond, 1998; Ball and Cohen, 1999; Lieberman and Miller, 2004; Hargreaves and Fullan, 2012; Hattie, 2012; Timperley et al., 2007; and Katz et al., 2013) (Donhoo and Velasco, 13-15). This research drives the collaborative inquiry I facilitate each year. The “link between teacher practice and student learning is a strong and robust one (Katz et al., 36), and it compells me and my team to work together to do the learning we need to.

So, when I read the Bonus Chapter, “Do it Yourself: Mining Your Own Work for Strategies”, I immediately made the connection to the work we do in our collaborative inquiry. Based on the determined learning need, we do

  • ask “How do we teach our students to…?;
  • seek the advice of experts;
  • challenge each other’s perspectives to “try to see a lot of different kinds of WHATS”;
  • do the work ourselves to see what will happen;
  • study what we did;
  • challenge each other’s assumptions about the learning.

We do all of this because we are trying to get to the WHY–the WHY behind the observable because that is what makes the difference. (Katz et al., 2013)

What is the it – if improved – that is going to make a difference for learning? This is what defines powerful professional inquiry, “a challenge of practice” or “a persistent and familiar instructional improvement dilemma” for which both educators and learners “at this point in their learning, have no easy solution” (City, Elmore, Flarman, & Teitel, 2009). Addressing challenges of practice is complex work as educators examine, analyze and make sense of the connections between student learning needs and their instructional practices. (Capacity Building Series, Dynamic Learning)

The challenge while reading DIY Literacy: Teaching Tools for Differentiation, Rigor, and Independence is to not get caught up in the tools…in a teaching focus, but to hold on to a learning focus.

Please share your collaborative professional learning experiences in the comment box.

Let’s learn together!

 

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#cyberpd 2015 title pitch

cyberpd

#cyberpd  holds a very special place in my heart because it is the event that first got me connected digitally (in a significant way) back in 2012. I couldn’t participate last year because I was in courses all summer and living on the road, but I am happy to be back!

I teach high school English and this year my stack of TBRs are all works of fiction. I am fortunate to have a supportive Principal who has helped me build a new and substantial class room library, and my goal this summer is to read as many of the titles as I can.

But professional reading is important to me, and I am hoping that #cyberpd offers me that one must read title for this summer as it has with Who owns the learning? and Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives.

I am very compelled by the buzz around Creating a Culture of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools by Ron Ritchhart. Creating Cultures of thinking

I have learned so much from Ritchhart’s Making Thinking Visible as it has supported my professional work on learning how to engage students in questioning. The biggest challenge is that students don’t think. They have been trained to sit back and wait to be told what to do, and at best, to answer teacher questions. Generating their questions, questions that haunt them, that must be answered is a tough sell. But I am an optimist and truly believe that by creating a real professional learning community the culture of a school can be reshaped into one where personal inquiry, and thus, deep, meaningful learning, can happen.

The post below is only one that I have read on Creating Cultures of Thinking. In it Patricia Northrop quotes from the book’s introduction:

It feels good to be a member of a culture of thinking. It produces energy. It builds community. It allows us to reach our potential. This is something we as educators need to remember. A culture of thinking is not about a particular set of practices or a general expectation that people should be involved in thinking. A culture of thinking produces the feelings, energy, and even joy that can propel learning forward and motivate us to do what at times can be hard and challenging mental work.

Indeed.

Not only is this passage inspiring, it also describes for me the very essence of the #cyberpd community.

Creating Cultures of Thinking is my nomination for #cyberpd 2015.

 

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#Cyberpd 2013 ~ Collaboration for learning

This is the final day for the incredible book study on Alan November’s Who Owns the Learningfor #cyberpd 2013. This event is hosted annually be the marvellous Cathy MereJill Fisch, and Laura Komos. To read what others are saying see the Jog the Web that houses the #cyberpd blogs.

November’s message is that students must have the opportunity to experience purpose and ownership in their work.  We can create such opportunities by incorporating roles or jobs for students that enable them to contribute to the learning of all. When students are tutorial designers, scribes, and researchers for their peers in their classrooms, and importantly, beyond their classrooms, and their work is available on-line, they leave a legacy of their contribution. How exciting and engaging is that!

My personal goal for this summer is to become better versed in creating visual content. I have where ever possible to represent my thinking about Who Owns the Learning? visually.

A few posts back, I wondered about the learning that would emerge by annotating an existing video in Popcorn Maker. What I discovered was that not only did the process of annotation deepen my understanding of the content, it also extended my editing skills.

By chance, I came across a post by Kim Wilkens in her Google+ community Women Learning Tech about using Popcorn Maker as a collaborative tool. She asks “What does open and closed mean in the digital age? Members of the community were invited to view her video and then to add their thoughts. What do you think of their collaborative experiment? This remix represents two contributors. There were more, but the challenge in making this a collaborative project is that each participant needs to ‘pick up’ the most recent remix to add his or her thoughts, not the original version.

I decided, since Chapter 5 is on the student as global communicator and collaborator, I would give Popcorn Maker a go with the #cyberpd crowd. I Tweeted out the idea, and Amy Rudd jump into the project. The first portion of this video is mine, and Amy’s portion is the VideoScribe.

If you would like to try your hand at Popcorn Maker and at collaborative content creation, click on the remix button found at the bottom of the screen below.  Add your ideas, save, and Tweet out the new remix.

For some reason, the Popcorn Maker begins to play as this page loads…so I have removed it for now. You can access the remix HERE.

Reflection:
I do like this idea, especially for assessment as learning. I envision my students each creating 30 seconds of video (either in Popcorn Maker, an Animoto type tool or in Movie Maker) and then annotating the video with links and text  that illustrates their big learning (synthesis) of a unit. Students can post their individual Popcorn Maker video to their blogs, but we can also connect them all (remixing) and post the class reflection on a wiki.Thanks to the #cyberpd folks for engaging in this book study in such creative style! We have definitely moved from thinking and writing about the ideas, to creating visual content too! Thanks to Cathy Mere for gathering our posts at Jog the Web and for initiating our own board on Pinterest. 

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#Cyberpd 2013 ~ The Student Researcher

Darren Kuropatwa speaks about the shift of control from teacher to student as we ask our students to take on more of their learning responsibilities. Central to ensuring that this is a successful shift is preparing our students to cope with the volume of information to which they have access. If I am no longer the disseminator of  the content, then I must ensure that my students have the strategies and the critical thinking skills to find, filter, assess, and attribute information.

 

The Process:
I have made many Glogs over the years. I use Glogster when I need to create layers of information that my audience can choose to access. As you scroll over the Glog, those elements that are linked to on-line text will have a WWW appear. Click, and you are whisked away to relevant, supporting information. Normally, I would have the Joyce Valenza video embedded in the Glog, but it is in Vimeo, and for some unknown (the temperamental nature of the tool) reason, Vimeo was not going to embed for me today. I first made this Glog in a horizontal template, forgetting that I wanted to embed it  here. Although, you can chose code for a blog size Glog, it still appeared squashed. So, I reconstructed the Glog in a vertical template. As an aside: My grandmother used to say “stupid head makes for sore feet”. I need to update this saying to reflect the consequences of not thinking through my on-line work!

The Reflection:
I have spent hours on the ideas emerging from chapter 4 because in spite of being a teacher who has always taught researching skills, the shift of control that I want to happen in my class room means that I am not the sole purveyor of content. I want to teach with student inquiry. I want students to decide what part of “Why is global dignity important?” (for example) is meaningful to them. I want them to engage in the research process- find, filter, choose, create, attribute, share-because the work is meaningful to them. I want students to be excited about learning. 

Questions I am thinking about:

  1. How do I gain the attention of students who already think they know how to research?
  2. How much time will each step in the process need?
  3. Where will students think about their work as researchers? Journals? Blogs? Wiki? Is there choice here for students?
  4. What tools will students use to gather their research? Paper? Google docs? Wiki? Word?
  5. Will they work collaboratively? And if so, how will that happen? Google docs? Wiki? 

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#Cyberpd 2013: Chapter 3

#Cyberpd is an annual on-line book study hosted by Cathy Mere, Jill Fisch, andLaura Komos. Today begins the sharing of our thinking on chapters 3 and 4 of Alan November’s Who Owns the Learning?, although in this post, I will tackle chapter 3 only.

“The Student as Scribe” is all about how our students can work collaboratively everyday using the various tools that are available to schools now. But I so appreciate Kuropatwa’s point that this work is not strictly about the technology, but about pedagogy. He explains how deliberate and intentional he is in introducing the collaborative tool students will use for scribing.  “That time can involve going over the goals for the scribe posts, outlining how to set up the blogging or other program, reviewing the basic option settings” (pg. 46).  And, he is equally intentional about ensuring that his students do receive feedback from a global audience. This is the work that is before us. The way we plan has to change, the way we assess has to change, and the way we teach has to change. Thus, we have the “shift of control”.

Since one of my goals for this summer is to become better acquainted with visual tools, I decided to push myself here to create a video, and then to annotate the video using Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker. These tools support the work our students need to do to read deeply, make connections, synthesize main ideas, and consider audience and purpose.

The Process:I used Sparkol Videoscribe (the 7 day desktop trial version) to create the initial video. I then uploaded that video to Popcorn Maker. There I added the pop ups, the thought bubbles, the images, and the Wikipedia page on Alan November.

I created the videoscribe quite quickly this time, although I did run into a problem at the video rendering stage where the process got hung up at the zero mark. After many attempts at finishing the video, I did consult ‘them’ and I discovered that in fact this is a problem for many people. Finally, by re-saving as a new file, I was able to render the video and upload it to YouTube.

Popcorn Maker is quite straightforward to use. There are a number of tools, or Events, with which you can annotate a video. The only glitch here was that in the tutorial on Popcorn Maker one of the Event choices was Twitter, but Twitter did not appear in my list. I did consult the Google + community Making Learning Connected (#clmooc), and according to one member, “Twitter recently changed something with third party apps and sites. I’ve been hit and miss with some sites & Twitter working.” Very odd.

The Reflection: 

Chapter 2 (Students as Tutorial Designers) and Chapter 3 (Students as Scribes) are merging for me as I consider these tools. In both tutorials design and in scribing (if students create a video as the note), other students in the class can annotate the video to include their own understanding of the key concepts or examples. Another idea is to have the scribe take the back channel conversation generated while viewing a content area film or a film adaptation of a novel and annotate the film using the main ideas that emerged from the tweets.

The salient point is that students must be generating their own content. Videoscribe and Popcorn Maker are superb tools to help teachers and students do exactly that.

This week’s host is Jill over at My Primary Passion. Head over there to link up with all the terrific conversation around Alan November’s Who Owns the Learning?

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#Cyberpd 2013 Students as Tutorial Designers

Finally, a video scribe! I have made many excuses for not not creating visual texts, but as I am returning to the classroom in September, I really need to push myself this summer to acquire some skills in this area.

The tool: Sparkol VideoScribe VideoScribe is fairly straightforward. I used the 7 day trial version and there are enough features included to make a decent story. I did access YouTube to view a few tutorials (irony is not lost on me here!).  I discovered too late in the process for editing, that you need to use a lot of space for each ‘scene’. A scene is comprised of a group of elements that all have the same camera setting. If the elements are too close together then everything shrinks. Beyond ensuring generous use of the canvas, the more elements you include, the more time consuming the process, which makes sense, but it also means the harder it is to edit. In my case, half way through, I realized that I needed more space and that the elements should be larger. However, to edit would mean shifting the whole story element by element. Next time.
The reflection Throughout the process, I thought about the value of this tool for my students’ learning.  I discovered that just like the students’ Alan November describes in Who Owns the Learning?, I spent far longer on VideoScribe than I had planned as I considered what elements to include to best tell my story. What’s more, my understanding of chapter 2  at  the end of the process is much deeper than it was after having read the chapter.  In the SAMR model of technological transformation, VideoScribe definitely comes in at the redefining level if students are generating the video. The student is the creator of the content and as such is the teacher.  The task of reading, synthesizing the reading, and presenting content that is remixed.
The questions I produced this text on a laptop. How is the process different on mobile devices? Does the app work in the same way? What would happen if a VideoScribe text is further remixed in Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker?

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