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Saturday
Jul222017

BFTP: Technology look-fors in teacher evaluations

The Blue Skunk is going on vacation for the next 10 days so readers will get a reprive. In the meantime, here is an old post to chew on. Read the comments to the original posting - this got a lot of reaction, positive and negative!

My attempt to integrate technology use into Charlotte Danielson's Frameworks of Learning has gone absolutely nowhere in my district. In February 2011, I proposed adding some technology competencies to our system of teacher evaluation divided into Danielson's domains. The original document/tool I wrote is here.

So last week I was whining to our Professional Development Coordinator about this sad lack of progress, when she asked me to resend her the proposal. She then very kindly responded by suggesting that I should simplify the technology lists under each domain, picking the most important skills in each domain and changing the items to "Look for's." In other words, when doing a teacher observation or evaluation, the observer should look for _____________ related to technology use.

Brilliant!

Here are my originals and my revisions in italics. See what you think:

Domain 1:  Planning and Preparation 
Technology-related competencies in this domain:

  1. Teacher uses online resources, including professional social networking sites, to stay current on the latest research and best practices in his/her field.
  2. Teacher is aware of the characteristics of "net generation" learners and their relationship with technology and its uses. Teacher uses this information in using technology in the classroom to design engaging activities.
  3. The teacher determines the technology skill level of students, knows the expected competencies for productivity and research, and finds means of remediation of individual students when needed.
  4. Teacher uses adaptive and adoptive technologies with special needs students.
  5. Teacher establishes appropriate goals for technology applications for students.
  6. Teacher knows, accesses and uses digital resources provided by the state and district, including productivity tools, online teaching/reference materials, and textbook supplemental materials. Teacher uses other digital materials available online outside the district that support student learning.
  7. Teacher designs learning activities that use the technology resources available.
  8. Teacher uses online resources to provide instructional materials at differing levels and subjects to meet individual student abilities, needs and interests.
  9. Assessment criteria of student work include qualitative indicators of effective technology production.

Look for....

  1. The teacher creates assignments appropriate to the technology abilities of his or her students.
  2. Teacher uses digital resources provided by the district, including GoogleApps for Education, Moodle, e-textbooks, Learn 360 and Worldbook Online.
  3. Teacher designs learning activities that use available technology resources including laptop carts, iPads, computer labs, and SmartBoards.
  4. Teacher uses digital resources to differentiate instruction, including using devices for special needs students, by using a variety of computer activities and online materials suited to different reading abilities and/or learning preferences.
  5. Assessment of student work includes technology production when applicable.


Domain 2:  The Classroom Environment 
Technology-related competencies in this domain:

  1. Teacher interactions online follow the same guidelines as face-to-face interactions.
  2. Teacher demonstrates an enthusiasm for educational technology and its uses.
  3. Teacher uses technology to provide a wider audience for student work, which in turn leads to higher levels of concern by students about their work's quality. Appropriate safety and privacy efforts are made.
  4. Teacher helps student use technology in the revision process of their creative efforts.
  5. Teacher uses technology to facilitate peer editing of student work.
  6. Teacher has rules and expectations for productive technology use in the classroom, including rules regarding the use of personally owned technology devices.
  7. Teacher use the student information system efficiently, resulting in minimum use of class time in management tasks.
  8. Teacher monitors student technology use and responds to misbehavior if it occurs.
  9. Technology in the classroom is arranged for ease of monitoring and flexible use.

Look for....

  1. Teacher demonstrates a positive attitude toward educational technology during class.
  2. Teacher uses technology to help students “publish” their work online for other students, parents, and the public to view, following district safety and privacy rules.
  3. Teacher uses technology to facilitate collaborative creation and peer editing of student work.
  4. Teacher has rules for technology use in the classroom, including rules regarding the use of personally owned technology devices such as cell phones.
  5. Teacher monitors student technology use and responds to misuse if it occurs.


Domain 3:  Instruction 
Technology-related competencies in this domain:

  1. Teacher gives students alternate means of discussion and asking question using online communication tools to bring out the ideas of all students.
  2. Teacher allows students to initiate discussions in online forums such as classroom blogs, discussion lists and social networking tools.
  3. Teacher expects and reinforces appropriate student interaction when using online tools.
  4. Teacher uses technology to create and project visual images that help explain content and concepts.
  5. Teacher uses technologies such as interactive white boards, student response systems and computer games to engage students.
  6. Teacher encourages students to use online resources to answer questions and explore concepts during class and teaches search and information evaluation strategies.
  7. Teacher uses technology in ways that make students productive and meet the instructional goals of the lesson.
  8. Teacher uses adaptive and adoptive technologies with students with special needs and to differentiate instruction for all students.

Look for....

  1. The teacher uses the classroom sound amplification system if available.
  2. Teacher uses technology to create and project visual images and video that help explain content and concepts.
  3. Teacher uses the interactive white board (Smartboard) in ways that engage students. These uses include student use of the board, gaming applications, actions based on student responses, and polling.
  4. Teacher encourages students to use online resources to answer questions and explore concepts during class and teaches search and information evaluation strategies.
  5. Teacher uses technology in ways that help make students productive (writing, designing, creating) and also meet the instructional goals of the lesson.

Domain 4: Professional Responsibilities

Technology-related competencies in this domain:

  1. Teacher uses online grading and reporting system to maintain information on student completion rates and shares this information through student and parent portals in real time.
  2. Teacher uses online grading system portal to inform students and parents of upcoming assignments, projects and assessments.
  3. Teacher uses the district website to provide a wide range of current information to students and parents.
  4. Teacher uses online communication tools such as e-mail, blogging and social networking to keep students and parents informed on a regular basis. Teacher engagement with students and parents online is frequent and successful.
  5. Teacher uses collaborative online tools to communicate and work with colleagues.
  6. Teacher volunteers to share effective uses of technology at staff meetings and inservices; through professional writings and presentations; and through demonstrations to parent-teacher and community organizations.
  7. Teacher participates in both organized and personal learning opportunities online.
  8. Teacher honors and learns from students who have technology competencies and knowledge.
  9. Teacher keeps an open but critical mind about technology uses.

Look for....

  1. Teacher uses online grading and reporting system to maintain information on student completion rates and shares this information through student and parent portals in a consistent and timely manner.
  2. Teacher uses online grading system portal to inform students and parents of upcoming assignments, projects, and assessments well ahead of the date due.
  3. Teacher uses the district website to provide current information to students and parents.
  4. Teacher uses online communication tools such as e-mail, blogging, and social networking to keep students and parents informed on a regular basis.
  5. Teacher uses collaborative online tools to communicate and work with colleagues. 

Those of us who are immersed in technology need a reminder now and then that we should speak plainly and prioritize technology use expectations. A little kick in the pants never hurt anybody - for long anyway.

Let's see if the revised "look for's" have better success than my original model. Your revisions to make this stronger?

Original post June 5, 2012.

Friday
Jul212017

Consequence thinking - effective but short sighted?

Our safety messaging (in many countries) has to date almost exclusively modeled what Harvard researchers call “consequence thinking” (consequences to self) rather than moral thinking (consequences for known others) and ethical thinking (consequences for unknown others, e.g., one’s community or planet). To be crystal clear, let’s call it “future consequence thinking”: with messages like, what you share online will be there forever, don’t post that because it could hurt your future prospects, turn it off and go outside or you’ll get fat, anti-social, or socially excluded, etc. Do we think about the laser focus on consequences to self and whether that supports social emotional health, deep connection with others and civic engagement? Do we think – and help our children think – about how their activities in this moment are providing or supporting meaningful connection and collaboration right now? Anne Collier 6 takeaways from 20 years of Net Safety: Part 2 July 19, 2017

Is WIIFM the basis of your digital citizenship teaching strategy? Collier's observation above made me think hard about how I get others to take Internet safe and ethical use seriously. And yes, it's been mostly about how safe and ethical use benefits the user - consequence thinking as Collier puts it. Do we owe it to those we teach to include moral and ethical thinking as well - how our actions might impact others? Do we have faith that those we teach care about not just themselves, but others as well. It would take a true misanthrope to do otherwise. And while experiences sometime turns teachers into misanthropes, misanthropes don't make very good or effective teachers.

A second reaction I had to Collier's divisions of "safety messaging" made me think about my decisions as a educational technology administrator. When asked to make a decision, do I choose:

  • What most benefits me? (does not cause controversy, stays in budget, does not cause disruption, leads to job security)
  • What most benefits those in my department and those I interact with often? (give others what they ask for, keeps work loads managable, suit personal interests)
  • What benefits the students and communities, local and global, I serve? (creates needed positive change, helps empower students and teach critical skills, builds equity)

It's a happy day when I can make a choice that meets all three criteria. But it doesn't happen very often.

In the column linked above, WIIFM?, I observed:

 

One most excellent thing makes the job of the technology advocate easier. Teachers respond not just to a WIIFM approach. In fact, the WIIFMS  argument is often far more persuasive: What’s In It For My Students? (We are still the most altruistic profession on the face of the earth, regardless of the political rhetoric.)

I still believe that is true.

Stop next time you make a choice and ask if you are making it based on consequence, morality, or ethics. You need to answer to no one but yourself.

Thursday
Jul202017

Lab-less is good

 

With the implementation of 1:1 devices in our secondary schools and plunking lots and lots of Chromebooks and iPads into our elementaries, traditional building computer labs may soon be a thing of the past in our district. I can't say I am sorry to see them go.

From the first Apple II labs placed in the unused classroom at the end of the hall back in the 80s, labs have always given the message: "Computers are not a real part of education. They are a special event. They are an extra. They are for reward. They are mysterious." Labs ran software for drill and practice and gaming. Computers usually directed the student rather than the student directing the computer.

Computer labs came with rules. Lots of rules. Computer labs have recently been associated more with testing than with learning. Computer labs often signaled prescribed lessons in reading or math and death by boredom. One kid; one computer. Everyone facing forward - toward the screen. Add headphones please to complete the isolation.

The lab was outside the classroom. "Real learning" was the teacher lecturing and reading the textbook and completing worksheets. Computers in the classroom were a distraction, competition to the whole group activity.

Happily, with 1:1 programs and with the addition of classroom sets of student computers, the poor messages the labs send is fading. Yes, some labs will remain in the media centers, business classrooms, and media production classes - any place where there is a need for pumped up computing power. But these tend to be what I call "co-lab-orative" environments, where groups use the computer workstation to create using a variety of media.

So, good-bye labs and good riddance. I am sure this is how readers felt when the monks stopped chaining books to the desks in the library.