Teachers are flipping over Flipgrid, a platform designed for social learning. Flipgrid allows teachers to pose questions to students, and in response, students prepare a video that is displayed for the full class to view. Using the video grid, students listen to the ideas shared by their classmates and provide feedback in the form of comments or emoji symbols. Students love the creativity they bring to their video by including custom stickers and selfie cover photos to their videos. This tool is helpful to facilitate in class discussions or debates and can be used for project-planning or formative assessment. With so many options, Flipgrid is a tool that any teacher will find useful. Check out the video below to learn more.
Hapara is a luxury to have in District 109. It serves as a Google management tool, giving teachers access to their students’ Google Drive and Gmail accounts to encourage best practices with the Google suite of applications. In addition to serving as a fantastic Google management tool, Hapara can also be used as a robust classroom management tool. Hapara’s interact feature gives teachers access to their students’ screens to ensure that students are on-task during work time while on their student devices.
One particularly helpful tool is known as Hapara Focus. With Hapara Focus, teachers can focus their students’ browsing to a particular tab or website for a predetermined amount of time. Check out the video below to see how Hapara Focus can help you manage student browsing activity during class time.
From May 10th-May 12th, Sam Kurtz, Associate Principal of Shepard Middle School, and I attended the Personalized Learning Summit organized by Education Elements in San Francisco, California. This three-day conference exposed us to the philosophy behind personalized learning which will help us move beyond PL as merely an education buzz word.
The conference began with tech company tours of innovative companies located in the heart of San Francisco. Sam and I visited AutoDesk, a company that creates design software for “people who make things.” In District 109, we are familiar with AutoDesk’s online design platform for 3D Printing called Tinkercad found in many of our school libraries. As we explored the layout of the company’s headquarters, we were struck by the comfortable seating options, open-air cubicles, collaboration suites, and treadmill desks. When we think about personalized learning, we must first think about the environment we create in our classrooms to allow for this type of personalization. Our students will ultimately join a workforce where they will have autonomy over where they complete much of their work. Seeing an actual 21st-century office space was confirming to us that rethinking our classrooms to provide students with more voice and choice will help prepare them for their future.
During the conference, we had the privilege of hearing two incredible keynote speakers: Brad Montague, creator of Kid President and Kaya Henderson, former chancellor of DC Public Schools. Both speakers gave important messages to all of us as educators. Brad reminded us that “you were once a child, too.” As we think about our classrooms, it is important to ask ourselves if we would want to be a student in our own classrooms. If the answer is no, it’s time to make some changes. Kaya suggested that we customize a personalized pathway for each child and warned us not to “just put students in front of technology so that they can go faster or slower with the content.” This was a common theme that emerged throughout the conference about technology. Although technology can make personalized learning easier to manage for a teacher, personalized learning is not about the technology. It’s about the pedagogy that teachers use to personalize the learning experience for her students.
What is Personalized Learning? From the information that we gathered at the conference, it seems that personalized learning is exactly what it sounds like: personalizing the learning experience so that every student gets what they need when they need it. In order to meet the needs of every learner, teachers need to consider students’ needs, skills, and interests. According to school leaders from Futon County Schools in Atlanta, personalized learning provides students with support when they need it, creates conditions to make teachers more effective and efficient, and uses technology to enhance instruction and support student learning. It was emphasized the PL is not having students on computers all day or replacing teachers with computers. Some ways that teachers are already personalizing learning in District 109 involves giving student choice and voice in how they learn new information along with giving students choice in how they demonstrate what they have learned. Some areas where we can continue to develop the ways in which we address personalized learning in our classrooms include flexible pacing (student move through the curriculum at a pace that is right for them) and co-planning of learning (students are involved in planning and setting goals to demonstrate learning.)
Building teacher capacity will be a necessary next step for teachers to engage students in personalized learning. During the conference, the National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education (NAATE) shared five competencies of effective personalized learning educators. These competencies would help any organization guide their teacher development programs to ensure that all students receive a strong personalized learning experience.
Pedagogy and Content – Teachers need to help students identify high quality content and provide guidance in creating experiences that match the desired outcome for the learner
Metacognition – Teachers must support students so that they can direct their own learning, self-regulate, goal set, self-assess, modify and reflect on learning
Social-Emotional Competence – Teachers must foster a teacher-student relationship where students acquire tools to self-motivate and persevere
Data and Assessment – Teachers must understand how to leverage the data collected to help students progress toward mastery
Teacher Leadership and Adult Learning – Teachers need effective professional learning experiences to gain a better understand of how to deliver personalized learning to students
What is next for District 109? Now that we know that personalized learning is more than just a buzz word, we are challenged with bringing awareness and support to all District 109 teachers. The is an exciting time in education, and we look forward to finding more and more opportunities to personalize learning for our students and teachers in District 109.
Recently, I had an epiphany when I was trying to schedule a meeting time with a colleague. As we sent emails back and forth trying to find a common time to meet, I realized that she probably did not know about one of the best features built right into Google Classroom. Using the “Find a Time” feature of Google Calendar, you can find an available time when everyone is free. Imagine how efficient we can all become in DPS109 if we used “Find a Time” when scheduling all of our meeting and appointments! Learn how to use the “Find a Time” feature in the video below.
When you want to share a URL but don’t want to report to sending it through chat or email, Google Tone makes it possible using sound waves. There are other apps and extensions for link sharing, but we appreciated Google’s innovation enough to share it with our staff. Check out Google Tone in the video below!
On March 2, representatives from District 109 presented at the ICE Conference on the topic of Inclusive Technology Decision Making. In District 109, we proudly include our teachers and students in our decision-making process to ensure that all stakeholder voices are heard.
This year, we were tasked to make some decisions about student, teacher and classroom technology. Our process began by gathering two committees: a teacher/administrator committee known as the Technology Review Committee as well as a student committee known as STAT (Student Technology Advisory Team). These two teams met on three separate occasions to work with leaders in District 109 to establish a shared vision about technology, collect data on technology usage, and ultimately make decisions that would be best for the learners in our classrooms. All of the notes from our meetings can be found here.
Through the work of the committees, we quickly determined that teachers desired a technology solution that no longer kept them tethered to the front of the classroom, and students desired more flexibility in their environment. In order to collect data on technology usage, we structured Technology Walkthroughs with groups of teachers and students throughout the entire district. Our analysis of the data collected on our Technology Walkthroughs led to the realization that technology is used differently now that our students use 1:1 devices in their classrooms. Nearly a decade ago, Promethean Boards were the only pieces of technology in our classrooms. Today, those boards serve as a static display while students work interactively with their own screens.
In the coming weeks, we will share the final decision about our next classroom technology solution as well as some of the other exciting things happening throughout District 109. In the meantime, please take a look at the presentation below that was presented at the ICE Conference to better understand our decision-making process.
On Thursday, December 15th, ten members from the District 109 Leadership Team traveled almost four hours north to Weston, Wisconsin to visit D.C. Everest Middle School. Our experience, though short in length, was rich with ideas that we hope to implement in District 109 in the near future.
D.C. Everest Middle School, led by Principal Casey Nye, gives many students a personalized learning experience. Students have the opportunity to select when they take their courses and choose how they learn new information. Flexible learning spaces support this innovative approach to learning, where teachers are facilitators of learning rather than keepers of content knowledge.
Check out this video that gives a brief snapshot of what it’s like to be a learner at D.C. Everest Middle School.
From September 28-30, Adam Levinstein, our District Coordinator for Technology, joined me in Denver, Colorado, for the EdLeader 21 annual meeting. What I appreciate most about this event is that it is viewed as a robust PLC meeting rather than just as a traditional conference. During the meeting, progressive districts from across the country come together to engage in conversations and collaborative projects that will promote student and teacher proficiency of the 4Cs.
During my time at EdLeader21, I participated in a facilitator training session to learn how we will begin implementing performance tasks in several fourth-grade classrooms in Deerfield District 109. This innovative approach to assessment will engage students in authentic work and provide teachers with an opportunity to assess the quality of student performance. Our teachers will join nearly 40 districts in the work of providing students with a common performance task. In addition to the task, we will take part in a scoring calibration exercise to analyze common data and explore the instructional improvements needed to enhance this learning. I look forward to sharing the outcomes of this experience with our leaders and teachers to bring more performance tasks to Deerfield as a form of assessment.
Other important takeaways from EdLeader21 came from a keynote delivered by Deborah Delisle, the Executive Director of ASCD. Deb reminded us that our responsibility as educators is to fill kids with hope so that they can find success in a complex, ever-changing world. Along with hope, we must focus on the individual students behind each and every data point so that we truly personalize the educational experience of all learners. Deb challenged all EdLeader21 members to keep students in our hearts as we carry on the important work of ensuring a 4 Cs education for all kids. What a privilege to hear Deb share her powerful message!
As we look ahead, District 109 will send a small team of teachers and leaders to Colombus, Ohio this spring to participate in EdLeader21’s Professional Learning Days where we will leave with a creativity and innovation toolkit. We are grateful to be part of EdLeader21 and are eager to continue our involvement with this influential community of educators.
Heading into the 2016-2017 school year, I could not be more proud of the work we are doing in District 109. With a focus on innovation, many of our teachers have spent time over the summer learning about ways to bring new ideas, technology, and tools into their classrooms. There has never been a better time to be an educator and never a better place to teach and learn than in District 109. Below is some of the important work that has taken place in District 109 to prepare for our best school year yet.
Project-Based Learning Workshop
From June 14-16, nearly 50 educators from our district took part in an intensive workshop to learn about the project-based learning framework and prepare to implement PBL units into many classrooms across the District. This is an important next step toward designing even more authentic, hands-on learning experiences to foster the development of the 4 Cs (communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity) among all of our learners.
Last spring, we awarded 100 staff members with an individual iPad grant to facilitate more creativity and productivity within their current roles. Over the summer, nearly 70 of those 1oo teachers participated in iPad Foundational Training to prepare to use their iPads once the school year begins. In addition to the 100 individual iPad recipients, we also awarded classroom sets of iPads to 10 3rd-8th grade teachers from across the District. We look forward to observing how a 2:1 learning environment supports the 4 Cs in these classrooms.
Teaching Digital Citizenship using Nearpod
This year, our District will use Nearpod, an interactive presentation tool, to deliver important lessons on digital citizenship. Each grade level will commit to teaching designated digital citizenship lessons produced by Common Sense Media so that we can ensure that all of our students have exposure on these important topics during their years in District 109. To see which lessons are being taught at which grade level, click here. Nearpod will be used in other subject areas as well to engage our learners and monitor their progress in the classroom. Last month, over 50 teachers in our District attended Nearpod Bootcamp, a 3-hour session to learn how Nearpod can be used to engage students in the classroom. To learn more about Nearpod, click here.
In a world where data is constantly collected by third-party applications, we made a bold attempt to review all apps used by our teachers to ensure that they meet legal guidelines and best practices. Because many of these apps require students to create logins and collect student data as part of that registration process, it is incumbent upon us to share that information with our students’ families. While this list is a work in progress, we are proud to be able to share it with our teachers and families to inform you about the tools we are using to provide creative and effective teaching and learning in all of our classrooms. To view all web-based and iOS apps that have been vetted by the Department of Teaching and Learning, click here.
It has been a busy summer in the Department of Teaching and Learning but certainly a productive one!
If you have never checked out Google Keep for note-taking, this is one you’ll want to add to your toolkit. It works well on all devices, is easily customizable and allows you to collaborate with others.