Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Raft's Professional Learning Plan

In developing my Professional Learning Plan I decided to use a Weebly site.   I found that this would be a nice tool to use and would enable me to update and add to easily.  In my Weebly you will find my goals for Saline Middle School, Saline Area Schools and my personal goals relating to technology integration.  I also included a networking page that will allow me to have all of my sites in one location.  Being able to share my Weebly site with whomever I wish is an added feature. 

Developing my Professional Learning Plan is just another example of the valuable projects that CEP 812 has provided me.  All of my experiences in the MAET classes have been valuable, but during this class I have been pushed to a higher level of thinking.  Plus, I have had the chance to learn practical skills that will help me in my day-to-day work.  My favorite was learning to use Google Hangout.  I have used Google Hangout in my daily work, such as meetings that otherwise would require me to leave the building.  This was an experience that was well received by my colleagues as well.  The second item was my expanded use of Evernote.   During the entire Wicked Problem, using Evernote as a tool rather than a checklist made the project more manageable.  Being able to bounce between my computer, I-pad and I-phone with information at any given point helped me document my project at any moment.  A lot of great learning happened during this class and I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge during the MAET Summer Cohort. 

My new goals for the middle school staff and students will help to create educational technology within all classrooms.  More importantly, having the staff share their creations with each other during school-wide professional development will be a huge benefit to all.  To reach my goals I have discovered that I need to become a tech specialist so that staff can come to me for support. 

After completing three courses within the MAET program I see that there is much more to learn.  My short-term goal of being accepted into the MAET program has been achieved!   As for my long-term goal, I will continue to work on earning my Master’s Degree in Educational Technology; however, I am getting closer!    

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Raft's Wicked Problem Part D

My Wicked Problem was a somewhat complex problem to solve.   My focus was trying to find more time during the class period to address the needs of struggling students.  The focus was for the teachers to incorporate some differentiated learning methods into their daily instruction.  In this scenario we implemented “flipped” learning by having teachers make video tutorials that students could access within in the classroom and at home.  Also, using QR codes made the experience user friendly for those smart phone users.  Overall, I feel this implementation was successful.  Below is a graph from a poll the students took after a month of using QR codes.  As you can see 73% of the students find this method beneficial.   

(Polleverywhere.com was used to complete all polls.  The students in Mr. Reeves’s class helped participate with this poll by the use of their electronic devices) 

After working through this Wicked Problem one thing I would do differently would be to look for an issue of a smaller scale.  My Wicked Problem was one that I feel is an issue that may have been too large to take on for my first Wicked Problem.  Looking to help support the 69-minute class period by using the flipped method of instruction is a strong concept, however, it is a large endeavor that takes more time and training then I was working under.  Moving forward, my future Wicked Problem will be a little smaller in scale and focus on issues that I can problem solve relatively quickly.

One lesson that I have taken from this Wicked Problem is asking too much from my staff.  They were willing to help support my problem and gather some data, but it was being done in a short amount of time.  Not to mention changing their ways of delivery from what they have been doing all year.  Change is difficult in most cases, but without some lead-time and planning it compounds the idea of change.   Sure they where doing good things for their students by creating lessons online and by the use of QR codes, but it still takes time to create such lessons.  The good news is that once they are created you have them and they can be used over and over.  

One of the things that I will continue to do is push the use of technology to create lessons that are stimulating for all learners.  I think providing the staff with professional development and training prior to kicking off a similar situation would be much more beneficial.    Looking at the poll response below you would notice that the students really have not taken advantage of the online tutorials.  After a class discussion it was clear that even our students are creatures of habit.   It appears like years of learning by teachers using traditional methods of delivery have created a routine in these young people.  One student, said “maybe if we did this from the start we would be more use to the idea” which said a lot for this idea being implemented so late in the school year.  So starting the process earlier and giving clear explanation of what is being done would be a change that I would make going forward.

This last poll provided me with some hope.  The students were pretty even when asked if they like having their learning delivered differently.  Through our discussion they did express that they liked having more time during class with their teacher.  They felt that they had more one-on-one time and that their teacher was able to help and guide them through the lessons more individually if needed.  I think the results from the survey below would have swayed more towards having lessons viewed at home if a clearer vision had been explained.  Plus, using these methods from the start would have set the table for the school year. The students and teachers really didn’t roll this out as well as it could have been to reach its full impact. 

I chose a complex Wicked Problem that provided me with some good knowledge moving forward.  Even though it may have been a complex problem to work with in a short time period, it was still a valuable experience. We did explore some different methods of delivery using technology.  Students were able to provide feedback that was helpful moving forward.  Most important was the feedback from the staff.  It clearly takes a lot of time to develop lesson online.  Time isn’t something teachers are fortunate to have a lot of.  So providing them time to develop online lessons is crucial.  Moving forward I must continue to support what has been started.  Even though my original problem was much larger than expected it still has lots of value to offer.  In the end, these methods of delivery and support are in the best interest of our students. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Raft's Wicked Problem Part C

Implementation of Raft's Wicked Problem

It has been very exciting and motivating to watch the implementation and development of my Wicked Problem.  I am realizing, however, that there is a lot of work involved in creating the perfect setting.   Let’s recap my Wicked Problem.  My wicked problem within the Saline Middle School is not being able to provide sufficient individualized instruction due to the 69-minute time constraint per class period.  Teachers can "flip" their classroom instruction, which allows students to view podcast lessons at home or within their classroom.  Allowing the students to receive individualized instruction with the teacher who is focused on clarifying the level of understanding during class-time.  Our schedule is limited; therefore I need to address this issue with instructional strategies and technological tools in order to successfully meet the differentiated learning styles of our students.

However, to fully implement my problem it will take more time educating the staff on the many thoughts that go into this process.  Being a building principal I want to focus on my leadership as an educational leader.  This means helping, guiding, supporting and educating our staff on innovative learning techniques.  My passion is being able to support all students and their different learning styles in a limited amount of classroom time.  My first journey with differentiation began as a high school teacher when it was clear that there wasn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching.  In most cases, my style of teaching didn’t fit most of the students I had. I had to work really hard as a teacher to create different methods of delivery to meet my student needs.  While the idea of teaching with student differences in mind is an old theory, there really were no classes offered, professional developments days on the topic and certainly not the advanced technology resources we have today.   Now, keep in mind I left the classroom in 1999 and a lot has happened with technology over the past 13 years.  

I started implementing my problem with the help of a few teachers whom were willing to work with me and use some of the “flip” methods that we have been discussing as a staff.   To many, the vision of a “flipped” classroom is one where all instruction is done at home so that in class time can be spent completing on the assigned work.   My thought process here at SMS is that “flipped” simply means that students have access to instructional tools that can aid them in learning even when the teacher is not around. “Flipped” learning can take place at school in the classroom as well.  Utilizing the 69-minute class period for more individualized learning.  Providing the teachers an opportunity to work with students more closely and providing the students a chance to work at their own pace. 

I implemented a couple of different methods in two specific classrooms.  Mrs. Roehm, a 7th grade Science teacher who helped support my Wicked Problem project.   In her classroom we explored her using video tutorials via Camtasia that could be used in class and outside of class. To her delight she found that she was able to better support her students during class because they could view a video to find answers to minor questions, allowing Mrs. Roehm to circulate and address students who may have more needs at that time.

Below is a video of Mrs. Roehm explaining this process and how it has benefited her classroom.  Listen to her voice as she explains what she is doing, it is obvious that she is excited about what is happening.  Now, she will also be the first person to speak about the amount of time that this undertaking has taken in creating these tutorials using Camtasia. 

One of the other technology tools that we implemented was in Mr. Reeves’s 8th grade math class.  After attending The Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) Conference, I discovered another valuable tool that could benefit all students if they need support in and outside the classroom.  The use of QR Codes embedded into the students assignments.  How this works is that Mr. Reeves would either video himself teaching a specific lesson or demonstrates the lesson via his notes and linked it to a QR Code using “My Kaywa QR-Code”.  He attaches the QR Code to the assignment and if the student gets stuck on a problem he can use his mobile device to get a review of how to do the problem.   This is an area I find can help all our students in a time that they do not have a source to go to for help.  Below is a video of a 8th grade math student sharing her experience with using QR codes and having the video tutorials available on line. 

One of the roadblocks that caused a little bump in the process was that technology has moved faster than all families and students can support.  So we needed to work through some issues with students who did not have access to the Internet.  We provided students more opportunity to stay at school and use school devices by extending our Media Center hours.   We allowed the students to sign-out devices from the Media Center so that they could use them at home if needed.  What did surprise me was that after taking a poll of the students we discovered that more that 93% of our students really didn’t have an issue getting access to devices or the Internet. 

One of the greatest highlights was listening to the enthusiasm from these two teachers and how positive they were about these tools of instruction.  At one point, Mrs. Roehm was so excited telling me how she can have 10 of the 17 groups in her classroom have their hands up, all with different questions at different points in the assigned project.  She used to find herself running around frantically while students simply sat and waited for her to reach their group.   But, by having tutorial videos embedded into her project students can view them and actually find their answers.  Another highlight was listening to a student from Mr. Reeves class talk about her experience with the QR Codes and her ability to find answers when she is not in school.

In conclusion, one component that really can have an impact on this Wicked Problem is that parents have access to these videos so that they can gain knowledge and help their children with their work.  I have received many positive comments from parents who are thrilled with having access to the lessons their students are learning.  In most cases, parents want to help their children and want to be involved in their learning but simply do not know the right questions to ask.  By watching these video tutorials, students and parents can have productive, intelligent conversations about what the students are learning.  They can watch a video and it is as if the teacher is sitting with them at their computer helping them through. 

This has resulted in the best differentiation I have experienced.  Each individual group, no matter the ability level, has access to one-on-one instructional aid from their teacher at their fingertips at all times. As a result, the students, parents and teachers can reduce stress levels and are able to enjoy the process of learning.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mobile Learning At Saline Middle School

As Principal of a BYOD school, Mobile Learning was a great topic to research.  I always enjoy learning new ways to use mobile devices and being able to share my new knowledge with the staff.  In most cases the staff also share their ideas with me, allowing me to explore what they are doing with technology as well.  

In an effort to support this initiative, the Saline Area School District recently added wireless capabilities to Saline Middle School allowing student-owned devices to be used to support instruction in the classroom setting.  With classroom teacher approval, students may use their own devices in the classroom to access, interact and save information from the Internet, communicate with other learners and use web productivity tools to create assignments/projects or take classroom assessments.
Through this lab I had the chance to explore the many uses of technology that we are doing here at SMS and also had a chance to expose the staff to a couple of great ideas that I’ve learned about while exploring mobile devices.  What’s nice about already having BYOD at Saline Middle School is that we are using many devices for a lot of the basics.     Such as, maximizing access to Internet to check vocabulary/spelling, researching for the writing work they are doing,  or using their devices to access teacher websites and associated links/resources that can help productivity and organization.   The most common use is that our students are using their device to read digital text, with e-readers, I pads, computers or their smart phones.   Our students are really getting a great experience using mobile devices in their day-to-day life as a student.
My newest learning was the use of Evernote on my I-phone.  I’ve been using Evernote on my computer as a checklist for my tasks and organizing some of my thoughts.  Recently I met with a 6th grader that is using Evernote as a digital version of his planner. He uses it for a variety of things, such as taking notes, responding to questions, journal entries, recording important information, etc.... It is basically an electronic binder that can be shared, resorted, and adds to very easily.  I have been exploring Evernote on my I-phone and have discovered taking pictures and notes during observations that directly connect to my I-pad and Laptop.  This has helped me capture some great educational moments and seeing that observations take place at anytime I can always make notes.  The more I explore the more value it has to offer me as an administrator.  I am really finding Evernote a resource that I cannot do without. Check out the link Evernote http://evernote.com/ also, you can watch a quick YouTube video that gives a brief overview.

One of the coolest and more useful mobile tools that I have discovered while attending the MACUL Conference this past February was the use of QR Codes.   In its simplest sense think "print based hypertext link" you can simply encode a URL into the QR Code and then point a mobile phone at it.   You have to have a QR Code decoding app downloaded.   Point the camera at it and it will take you directly to its browser or URL.  I approached one of our more tech friendly teachers who teaches math and we discussed how this could benefit his students.  As part of my Wicked Problem we started to explore how this would work in his class.   We polled 120 students and found that 91% of them have access to a mobile device that can scan QR Codes.  Then we demonstrated how it would work at home or in class.  He then started to either video himself teaching a specific lesson or demonstrates the lesson via his notes and linked it to a QR Code using “My Kaywa QR-Code”.  He attaches the QR Code to the assignment and if the student gets stuck on a problem he can use his mobile device to get a review of how to do the problem.   This is an area I find can help all our students in a time that they do not have a source to go to for help. Check out the link to My Kaywa QR-Code http://qrcode.kaywa.com/dashboard/
Also, this is the video we shared with our students.  What is a QR Code

One of the more familiar apps that I have used in meetings and in the classroom is Polleverywhere.com
I have occasionally used this as a response system in the beginning of a meeting to get immediate feedback on a building issue that I want staff feedback.   We introduced Pollyeverywhere.com at a beginning of the year professional development and it was a hit.  I know that many teachers use it in their class for review purposes and for those students who do not have their own devices we let them check out an I-Pad from the media center.  However, most of the students have some form of mobile device that they bring to school.   It was a great tool to use doing this past Presidential Election as we did our own election as an entire building.  During 3rd hour every the students participated in Polleverywhere.com and at the end of the day we announced the winner.  Obama won at SMS also!  Polleverywhere.com is easy to use and provides immediate feedback that is useful and fun.   Check out http://www.polleverywhere.com/

This is a quick video:

This was another great lab that was useful in my day-to-day operation of building principal.  I was able to learn new tools and have been able to share these tools with the staff here at Saline Middle School.  Finally, being part of the Classroom 2.0 Cell Phone in Education group was a useful site to be able to share ideas and get viewpoints on topics that you may not otherwise hear.   Connecting to another network of people only enhances my education and continues to teach me that there are many useful tools available in an educational setting.  It also teaches me that I am not alone in this ever- changing technical society.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Data Visualization

Wow, what a great lab this week in my MAET class CEP 812.  Our lab was to explore the many different Visualization forums that are available.  Exploring the many links that Karl Gude has put together for us to use, as a resource is great.  Check out his Wiki as http://freevisualtools.wikispaces.com/

I personally explored many of his links, but focused on a few that would be useful at the middle level.  I plan on using these forums in my own day-to-day work as we gather and present data gathered here at SMS.

When looking at a tool that I could share out data and putting into a form that is useful and user friendly I liked the link High Charts http://www.highcharts.com/demo/column-negative High Charts provides over 50 different ways you can share out data results.  You can import and export your data, show it in pie, line, stacked column, bubbles, polar and many more.  Actually, it is a little overwhelming but really cool to explore.  We continue to breakdown our local assessments, MEAP results and our Explore results.  This tool will be greatly used to share with staff and parents.

Another data visualization website was Pixton – A World of Comics Made by You http://www.pixton.com/for-fun#video I found this to be age appropriate at the middle school and could be used to create educational comic strips for any subject.  The teachers could use this to teach lessons or emphasis a specific topic.  The students could be assigned a project having them create a comic strip as a final presentation.  This would be great for all and is a nice way to integrate technology into the classroom. 

I actually created my visualization by using My Choice - Makes Beliefs Comics.com http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/Comix/ this was an easy and fun way to create a message.  It was simple to create and could be used in many different educational settings.  Mine is a three-slide comic strip reminding our students about our BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) motto.  Stop – Think – Connect before you post or send anything into the cyber world.  This was a nice tool that creates a link that can be shared immediately to others, Facebook and Twitter. 

Check out my link: Comic Strip

My Ah-ha moment was when reviewing the many links that Karl Gude has on his wiki site how useful his site was.  The site just provided another example of how much useful technology is available to use as an educator.  Plus, how fun it is to explore and play around with these sites.  My plan is to share this site with our middle school staff and walk them through a few examples that would be valuable tools to use within their classroom.  

Raft’s Wicked Survey Results

This assignment was a two-folded assignment.  One it was to gather data on our Wicked Problem, two it was a chance to explore and learn more about using different technologies to give a survey.  It actually was beneficial to me on both accounts. 

As far as my experience creating a survey I used Google form.  Google form is an excellent tool to use to create survey’s.  For one it is a web-based program that can be shared with anyone easily.  It also has many different appearences that make a survey look professional.  But, what I most like about Google form survey’s is that you can easily summarize the data that is being collected.   After collecting your data you simply go to "form" and select "show summary of responses" this creates your data in a viewable chart that is easy to read.   Not to mention your are able to format your survey to multiple choice, yes/no, open-ended, etc… questions.    Google continues to make using their tools user friendly for all levels of technology knowledge. 

As far as my survey, I created a three-question survey.  I shared it with my entire staff at Saline Middle School and also opened it to my MAET and Twitter friends.   The survey was directly related to my Wicked Problem, which I have posted previously.  Quick recap…does our schedule of 69 minute classes provide us enough time to meet all the differentiated needs of our students?   I asked only three questions and they were all multiple-choice.   Basically, I wanted to gather quick data and get directly to the point.  I had a great response with 73 people actually taking the survey.  This actually provided me with good data. 

My first question was more or less to get a feel for how people learn.  I asked, to learn how a computer works, would you rather?  Then I provided them four responses.  Watch a movie about it, Listen to someone explain it, Take the computer apart and try to figure it out for yourself and It’s magic I will never figure it out. The first two responses were the most popular. 

Then my second question directly related to the daily schedule we use here at SMS. As an educator do you feel 69 minutes is sufficient enough time to teach a lesson and meet the differentiated learning of all students? 69 minutes is not enough time, 69 minutes is an adequate amount of time, There is not a given amount of time that could meet all their needs.  Most people responded that they felt that 69 minutes was a sufficient amount of time. 

Finally, my last question related to how comfortable each person was using technology to record themselves teaching a lesson and then providing it on their teacher page for students to reference at anytime. Would you be willing to create a podcast of your lesson and upload it to your weebly or moodle site for your students to view?  They were provided three responses.  Yes…this would a good tool for blended learning, I don’t know what I am doing, but if I did I would and No Way!  The most supported choice was, yes they felt it was a good tool for blended learning. 

Below are two links.  The first link is the actually survey and how it appeared to those who took the survey and the second link is the actual results. 

Let me summarize my experience.  Using Google form to create a survey was simple and user friendly to create survey results and data to be shared with anyone.   As part of our School Improvement plan we are preparing to collect data with our families at Saline Middle School on climate.  I will be using a Google form survey to collect our data for our plan. 

As far as my Wicked Problem survey the results clearly reflect that people learn differently.  Also, there is a need to provide more education on the use of technology to deliver lessons.  Overall, this will benefit meeting the different needs of students and provide meeting their individual needs. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Team Sparty Flipped PD

We Are Group Sparty, our group consisted of four classmates with a variety of educational experiences.  We created a Flipped Professional Development by demonstrating the use of the App “Confer”.  The Confer App is an application that is used with any Apple product, primarily the I-Pad, I-Phone and I-Pod touch.  The Confer App is a data-collecting app that makes data collecting, organizing and analyzing data quick and easy.   Data Collecting and analyzing has never been more valuable in education today. Data connects the teacher and administrator to their students and their learning, pushing them to high levels of reflection on their practice.  Data also encourages dialogue with colleagues, students, and parents.  Unfortunately, most teachers do not share this view of data as a resource that helps them teach better.  Data collecting is time consuming and at times threatening to us.  That is why using the Confer App is so nice, it’s user friendly, quick an easy! 

Below you will find the embedded presentation, which was created in Google Drive and then uploaded to Camtasia to create the final presentation.  This video is just over 15 minutes and very informative.  From my perspective as an administrator 15 minutes is a nice amount of time to do a PD presentation leaving time to have discussion and questions.  Having the PD in a Google document and shared with everyone allows for anyone to review at their pace at a later time.  Also, included will be the script used for the video for you to follow along or go back and review.  Another option is by checking out the website www.conferapp.com.  

Directly below is the script used to create the Confer video:

Here is the Flipped PD on Confer:

To get the most out of our PD we have a survey to be completed after your Flipped PD session on the Confer App.  Having a survey will provide us with data on areas that our staff needs further support or clarification on when using the Confer App. 

Here is the link to the survey: 

I hope you find this Flipped PD on the Confer App useful.  At Saline Middle School we are continuously looking at data and working on improving our students.   I know that I will be using the Confer Flipped PD presentation will my staff in an upcoming professional development meeting.