Wayfinder Learning Lab

"Learning is about living, and as such is lifelong." Elkjaer.


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My Top #EdTech in 2018

This year I jumped the Great Firewall and landed in China, in a new life and new role as High School Learning & Technology Coach. It has been a great learning experience so far, and as a techy learning nerd, I’ve been able to try out new tools for learning and supporting teachers. I’m not easily impressed by EdTech products, but over the last couple of years some great stuff that focuses on learning (not just ‘more tech’) has been coming out.

Here are some of my favourites – they’re not all new, but some were new to me and of course they need to be China-friendly. 

Curation Tools

Over the last decade I’ve been creating, curating and sharing through my i-Biology.net site and on here, powered by WordPress. I love this platform, but over the last few years have been tinkering with other tools to make collecting and sharing easier for me and for others. 

Screenshot of my TigerTech landing page. I love LibGuides!

LibGuides

Inspired by Nadine & Jeri, the teacher-librarians here at WAB, I’ve really got into LibGuides. It’s huge, amazing and (I think) pretty pricey, though as I’ve been getting settled here I’ve been building my own TigerTech group and resources on there to support teaching and learning. It can embed almost anything and with a little tinkering can look pretty cool.

I have a lot to learn from my colleagues, but I am loving this tool! 

Wakelet and Padlet Backpack

Two simple but great tools. Wakelet has replaced the functions I used to use Diigo and Twitter bookmarks, and has potential to take the place of Storify in archiving Twitter chats and events. See Tanya LeClair’s Wakelet about Wakelet here for loads of ideas. I use the mobile app a lot for quickly saving things to read for later, or categorising them for use in different parts of my job.

Padlet Backpack ($$) is the schools version of Padlet, with teacher and student accounts. Great for collecting up group responses, student ideas, resources and comes with a range of different layouts and privacy settings in the school domain.

Both Padlet and Wakelet can be embedded easily, and they both seem to work fine in Libguides, Moodle & Google Sites. 

Archiving Twitter chats in Wakelet

Learning Tools

Equity Maps (iPad)

I love this iPad app and have tweeted about it a lot since I came across it after reading Alexis Wiggins’s Best Class You Never Taught. Taking the Spiderweb discussion/ Harkness table method and turning it into a simple, data-informed tool for empowering group discussion, Equity Maps makes the learning community responsible to their own data. It exemplifies the cultural forces of interactions, expectations and language, and can work really well in a range of discussions. I have used it in meetings as well. It’s one of those rare EdTech apps that goes beyond gimmicks & flash and focuses on making the learning visible.

Edji.it

This is a brilliant social reading app, designed by a teacher for teachers and great for gathering student reflection, questions and comments on a shared reading. Very simple, very powerful – try an example here.

If you are interested, use this link to sign up for a free account (referring five people will give a free year of Edji).

Microsoft Translator

This is super cool. Microsoft translator allows for translation through your device with typing, talking, tap-and-talk conversations and scanning. It also facilitates group translations, where participants can join in a conversation or presentation online, using their own language. Very neat. Give it a go here.

Easy Rubric

This iPad app is useful for grading and note-taking on the go.

A Few More Technoids

Here are some more recent #EdTech highlights for me, shared through Twitter.


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Connecting ISTE NETS & IB ATL Skills

Back in 2016-17, I worked with a group on a project to connect the IB ATL Skills to the ISTE Standards for Students and AASL Standards, to generate our own school’s Instructional Technology & Information Literacy (ITIL) Standards. CA is a three-programme IB school (PYP-MYP-DP). The goal was to create an alignment of the ISTE and ATL skills that would allow us to put the language of ATL first in conversation and collaborative planning with teachers, but to build on the excellent work and resources of ISTE in our co-planning and tech integration.

At the same time, it brought together a range of people responsible for working with teachers on their units of inquiry, and built a stronger connection through the library. This group included tech integrators, librarians and Liz Durkin (@lizdk), who along with being Associate Secondary Principal is now Ed Tech Director. I was in the role of MYP Coordinator and PK-12 Director of Learning. Planning took place in the library, and by the end of the 2016-17 year we had a framework to get started on, with some spaces for further development.

This post outlines some of the processes, decisions and next-steps for the project. This was a big project, starting almost two years ago, and I’m sure there will be parts I’ve forgotten, but now it’s the summer, there is some time to reflect and capture thoughts.

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 07.42.52

A section of the resulting spreadsheet, showing the outcomes.

Decision 1: Keep the ISTE Standards but put ATL first with teachers

This fits in with a longer-term school-wide goal of better embedding the IB ATL skills framework in the school, and we were wary that adding another new set of language for teachers to use could create a block to implementation. We have kept the ISTE Standards and Strands as published, but unpacked each strand into a cluster of ATL skills that we saw as contributing to the realisation of the skill/strand.

Later on, ITIL co-planners as ‘gatekeepers’ of the ISTE standards would be able to articulate the connections. Also, as the IB MYP ATL skills framework was being developed in 2013-14(ish), it was clear that some skills were directly derived from 2007 ISTE NETS. With the 2016 ISTE for Students update, and seeing future directions of ATL in PYP and DP, we saw a timely opportunity to get to work.

Decision 2: Add a “Lifelong Reader” Standard

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 08.15.13This allowed for the stronger connection of the libraries as a research/ATL centre, but also made explicit the reading role of the library, referring to the AASL framework. The structure is the same, with standard, strands and ATL skills. We included, but are yet to develop (it’s in next year’s goals) a “mother tongue” strand to work out how the library can support ATL development through mother tongue and language acquisition support.

Decision 3: Adapt for context

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 08.12.20As we went through the collaborative process of unpacking the ATL skills against the strands (first on paper, then on the spreadsheet), we spotted some opportunities to adapt to better suit our own context, or to generate custom ATL skill descriptors to better represent the meaning of the ISTE strand. We coloured these differently (blue in the example to the right), as a reminder that as specialist skills these are very unlikely to be covered in other classes and so will need to be found a ‘home’ in the curriculum.

Decision 4: Determine Descriptors

This was an attempt to align the four levels fo mastery of the ATL skills with the ISTE standards, to show our expectations of learners over time. We started with the third column (practitioner/demonstrating) as “meets expectations” and determined a statement of a competent student. Very quickly we realised the ISTE standards statements, with minor modification, fit the bill. We then developed band 2 (learner/developing) and band 1 descriptors (novice/beginning) as steps towards competence. Finally we decided to leave the fourth column blank and ‘aspirational’ as an opportunity for inventive and diverse high-level implementations to be opened up. After all, tech moves fast and we don’t want to cap creativity with artificial descriptors. See Cult of Pedagogy’s Single Point Rubric post for more discussion of this.

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 08.16.58

Four levels of description. Aim for green, work towards it, aspire beyond. 

Decision 5: What skills do we need to know?

Although this project developed a strong connection between ISTE and ATL for the purposes of EdTech integration, we still needed to know what skills teachers and students need to know to be successful in our high-tech school. A supplementary process identified a “CA Tech Skills” inventory for orientation/support to help people get up and running successfully.

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Next steps & future development

This was a really enjoyable curriculum project and it worked well as a tool to bring co-planners and integrators from different sections of the school together. Next steps, of course, are to further implement the ISTE standards through embedding ATL into units and instruction via the library-tech and co-planners. Over the 2017-18 school year work began on this, and Liz Durkin expertly led the TALT & Tech Reps group in adopting the RAT model (replace, amplify, transform) of tech integration, identifying lots of amazing uses of tech in the school and spreading them through celebrating and sharing success. Over the next year, things will really click into place, including the work being done on digital wellbeing.

As I move on to a new role as learning/tech coach at another school, I look forward to continuing these discussions and collaborations.


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Using Tweetdeck to Curate a Twitter PLN

Twitter is an amazing tool for building a PLN (personal learning network), but as you follow more accounts the main stream can be too fast/distracting to follow, and dipping in at random times is inefficient. Tweetdeck is ideal for curating your feeds: create a column for each topic of interest. Here’s an ugly image for an overview. It’s also great for keeping up with rapidly-moving feeds (such as twitter chats or breaking news).

Using TweetDeck

Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 21.28.20Some tips: 

  1. I find TweetDeck for Chrome works well
  2. I get rid of the “Activity”column, it’s distracting
  3. Click on >> (lower-left) to see more options
  4. I add columns for many topics of interest. Each is its own potential PLN.
  5. Some Twitter users curate “lists” of accounts. You’ll get notified if you are added. If you look in the list, there may be other interesting people to follow.
  6. When an interesting conference or event is on, I follow the #Hashtag and am able to review the feed to learn vicariously. Too many columns can slow down Chrome, so delete them if they’re no use.
  7. “Likes” are often used as bookmarks, though the poster will know. On the main Twitter app you can “save bookmarks” but not here yet. Sometimes at the end of an exchange, a user will “like” the final post as a polite way of ending the conversation.

Some MYP-related Hashtags/Accounts you might want to put into columns. Copy everything, including OR. As you follow more accounts, you can see the kinds of #tags they are using. 

  • #MYPChat OR @MYPChat OR #IBMYP OR #IBChat
  • #PYPChat OR #IBRebelAlliance
  • #IBATL OR #SkillsFirst OR #DOKChat
  • #EdTech

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Update: here’s a short tutorial video by Dan Klumper (@danklumper)


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Bold Moves for Schools

This is a quick-and-dirty review of a book that ticks all the boxes for a curriculum nerd like me: Bold Moves for Schools, by Heidi Hayes Jacobs & Marie Alcock, from the ASCD (2017, 207 pages).

It’s a practical and comprehensive, yet concise and quotable handbook of where to take curriculum, learning and leadership for modern learners. Educators in international schools will see many familiar themes emerge, from student agency and creativity in the curriculum to effective assessment, learning spaces and teacher development. There is much here that can accelerate a well-implemented IB curriculum (or standards-based learning model), and this book will sing to coaches or coordinators as it does to me.

“Innovation requires courage coupled with a realistic sensibility to create new possibilities versus “edu-fantasies”. Moving boldly is not moving impulsively or for the sake of change. Moving boldly involves breaking barriers that need breaking.”

As a “pragmatic idealist” I like how the book connects a future-focused, genuinely student-centred education to the best of what we’re already doing. It avoids falling into the trap of trashing the traditional, instead framing bold moves through the antiquated (what do we cut?), the classical (what do we keep?) and the contemporary (what do we create?). Jacobs & Alcock insist throughout the book that these bold moves are mindful, that we are not “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” and that “meaningful curriculum composition versus meaningless imposition” is the goal.

How can we build a genuinely exciting contemporary educational experience that keeps the joy in the learning, the future in mind and the students in the driving seat? Through a systemic approach that focuses on what works and what could be: one which empowers teachers as self-directed professional learners and curriculum architects. For anyone trying to effect change in an existing (long-established) system, well-reasoned handbook is worth a look and resonates with my belief that we need always to respect the journey in our work.

“What is most critical is that the outcome reflect quality.”

I hope that much of what is in this book is not new to most curriculum leaders – particularly in the IB context – but it is great to have a volume that pulls it together in one place, with practical resources. This would make a great book study (guide here) for curriculum leaders and teachers. You will find interesting surprises, resources and provocations littered through the text, worthy of further discussion.

You may even make some bold commitments as a result…

Bold Moves 3 Elements

Three big ideas in Bold Moves for Schools.

Quick follow-up: I was at a Bold Moves Bootcamp with Marie Alcock recently, and it was great. There is a post about one of my outcomes (a DOK4 filter for transfer) here.

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Check it out

Without being too spoilerific, here are some useful links and resources from the book:

 


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Webb’s DOK4 & Transfer

115013bI recently took part in a fabulous Bold Moves Curriculum Mapping Bootcamp, by Dr. Marie Alcock at ISKL. I was there to think about next steps for curriculum planning at CA, and it was a great opportunity to pick the brains of a true expert (and get lots done). I like the bootcamp model for PD: short, focused and with the opportunity to take immediate action with great feedback from colleagues in similar positions.

DOK is not a wheel of command terms

dokwheel

Not a Wheel. [John R. Walkup]

Through one of the discussions about high-quality assessment, Marie dug into Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) framework. She asserted that it’s not a “wheel” of command terms as is often presented, but a way of framing how deeply students need to know and use information, skills and concepts.

Similarly, DOK is not the same as Bloom’s Taxonomy, and is not a pyramid or a hierarchy of knowledge that “peaks” at DOK4. DOK4 can be accessed from any of the other three levels, and effectively sits in parallel. For a decent explainer of how DOK levels work, see this by Erik Francis for ASCD Edge – I used his DOK descriptors in my rough teacher plansheet tool below.

In practical terms, as explained by Marie, students should be able to access DOK4 from any one of the other DOK levels. This means that DOK4 can act as a filter for transfer.

How else can the student use the knowledge, skills and content at this level? 

So… in curriculum and task design and differentiation, teachers can set up situations for all students to pull their learning (even if only at a recall/DOK1 level) through to DOK4 by applying it in a new context – as long as it is the same skill/target. For example, this might mean taking a scientific skill and applying to a new experiment, or a writing technique applied to a new genre. This is knowledge augmentation.

MYP Teachers will see the immediate connections here to level 7-8 objective descriptors in the criteria (“correctly applying x in unfamiliar contexts”). This calls for some careful task design.

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Teacher Plansheet: A Practical Use

Transfer is a notoriously difficult skill to teach, even though it is included in the ATL framework, and so I sketched up this planning tool (pdf) in the hope that it can visualise how DOK4 can be used as a filter to make transfer explicit. Follow the arrows as you think about putting a target standard or learning outcome to work. What level (DOK1-2-3) is expected of the student? How else (DOK4) could it be used? For some excellent, practical resources on applying DOK in the various disciplines, check out Dr. Karin Hess’s Cognitive Rigor and DOK rubrics and resources.

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Transferring the Transfer: Thinking Collaboratively

How else might this tool be put to use? Here are some quick thoughts on how this might work with the collaboration of the relevant experts or coaches in the school.

  • Technology Integration: using the DOK4 filter as an opportunity to amplify and transform (RAT model) the learning task (but still meet objectives).
  • Service Learning: In moving from “doing service” to service learning, could this be used to help frame students’ focus on planning, or post-service reflection? As students learn about issues of significance, how can they put it work through transfer to meaningful action? As they reflect on their learning, can they connect new and existing disciplinary knowledge?
  • Interdisciplinary Learning: How can students take their learning and use it meaningfully in a context that requires transfer between disciplines?

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Google Certified Educator

Today I took the Google Certified Educator (Level 1) test for a few reasons:

  1. GCE_Badges_01To check my own competence in Google Apps for Education basics.
  2. To see how long it would take, with an eye on how we might support colleagues in taking the test themselves (e.g. PD time, cover or an event).
  3. To see how it might support our colleagues in getting up to speed at school in connection with our use of EdTech and integration in classes.

I can’t write too much as participants need to sign an NDA before beginning, but here are some basics. 

To register, sign up here and pay USD $10. It might take a day or two to get your web-assessor account, then you have seven days to complete the test (in a single sitting).

Participants are allowed three hours for the test, during the entirety of which your webcam is on. It starts with some multi-choice questions and then leads into a series of scenarios were you have to work in Google Apps to complete a range of tasks (they create a model environment for you for the test, it does not use your own account). From mail, calendars and docs, to classroom, forms, sites and more, it is a pretty thorough assessment for getting going.

It took me almost 1 1/2 hours to complete, but I already know my way around Google Apps. There is a lot of reading and flicking between tabs – and EAL participants or new users might need the full amount of time. Fortunately there is a progress bar and each of the eleven tasks are similar in their time demand. I have not taken Level 2 yet, as I predict it will take longer, but plan to do so soon.

Applications as a tech leader/ co-planner

A small team of us have been working on connecting ISTE standards to IB ATL skills and from that starting to outline a ‘tech drivers’ license’ for teachers and students. I think this test would be a useful validation for teachers getting started in GAFE at our school, and maybe something they work towards over the year. We would need to structure PD time or support with this.

I can see the value in even advanced users taking this test, as it will give some empathy or insight into starting over again and will help support colleagues. A reminder of the basics for efficient and effective use of Google Apps should help us help our colleagues do the best things, with less stress. I did learn some efficiencies.

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Footnote 

There are quite a few companies out there offering (pretty pricey) training towards this test. If you have enough techy types in your own school, it’s be hard to justify that investment. The test is only $10 per person. I imagine that once you get beyond the basic competence, some more ‘transformative’ PD would be a better return on investment for teachers.

Resources

Eric Curts (@ericcurts) has a couple of useful skills audits online:

 

Update: Sept 2017

We have these tools available in our school, and I want to make the best use of them, but am wary of advertising/branding teachers or schools as X-product. There is a very thought-provoking piece in the New York Times here.

 


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PaperPile: Managing Research & References in GoogleDocs

As anyone involved in studying (or a job that requires looking up a lot of research) knows, managing citations and remembering sources is a challenge. This is doubly difficult when you’re balancing it with full-time work and use the same tech hardware for both. Alongside using tools for my own purposes, I look for alternatives (replacements or improvements) that I could with classes or show colleagues to make their lives easier.

With PaperPile (Chrome extension & add-on), I think I have found one of those solutions. This, to me, was the solution to the final problem that kept me using Micro$oft W0rd: reference libraries, one-click citation and auto-bibliographies. I’ll keep testing it as I go through the dissertation, but for now, check it out.

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Updated: January 2017

Long-Term Review

The dissertation is long-since completed, but I have kept my subscription to PaperPile going for now, as I found it worth the money for work. Now that my library access from Bath has been disconnected, I am debating whether to keep it or if I should downgrade back to the free version.

Here’s a quick user review, based on my experiences.

Things I loved

  • Connecting to the uni library was easy and super-helpful.
  • Researching from within a GoogleDoc make things more efficient that before.
    • Often I could bypass the uni library search tools altogether.
    • When searching through Google or Scholar, a button appears next to possible citations, which pulls the paper back into the system.
  • Automatic download of available pdf files is amazing – it backed them up into my Google Drive for reference, and was easy to download.
  • Live updates to citations helps a lot, as with the Word Citation Manager.

Limitations

  • Sometimes the citation format is squiffy and needs to be manually updated. Be careful with this if you refresh the paper references, as if you forget to check you might end up with some irregularities.
  • When I was finishing my dissertation I was working on a simple netbook on a sluggish internet connection in Indonesia. Drive with Paperpile is pretty heavy in terms of internet, and sometimes typing and citing were frustratingly delayed. Predicting this, I installed Office 365 and finished the dissertation using Word.
  • There doesn’t yet (as far as I can see) appear to be a reciprocal citation manager with Word. It would be awesome if switching between the systems would update in both.

Recommendations

If you’re a Google Suite user and active researcher, I’d recommend giving PaperPile a go. It looks like it is going to get better with further development and would be great in a Chromebook environment.