Month: July 2015

Turning the Page

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” -Winnie the Pooh

I am blessed to be a part of the MAET (Master’s in Educational Technology) family. So many people have influenced my learning up to this point and its been such an amazing journey. Tomorrow is graduation day. I had no idea that I would be feeling all the emotions that I am feeling now.  Though this chapter is ending and I am turning the page in this book we call life, I will be forever touched by the MAET family.

This program’s rigor has pushed me beyond what I thought I could ever do. The challenges have helped me evolve into a better educator and individual. I feel that this program has equipped me with the mindsets, tools, and skills I need to be a successful technology integrator in the making. This year especially, I’ve learned the importance of making educational decisions that can be backed up by research. I think this will help me better education for my students.

Upon finishing my first year in the program, I was given the opportunity to broaden my horizons and fulfill a teaching goal of mine. I’ve always wanted to teach somewhere new, out of state or overseas, to gain new experience that I could bring back to Michigan. I interviewed for an educational technology position at Kamehameha Schools Hawaii and was offered the job. I feel that this was directly connected to everything I learned my first year studying in the MAET program. Michigan State University has definitely opened up the gates to global opportunities for me.

I’ve always had the philosophy that learning never stops but I never truly understood what it meant to have a growth mindset until I was immersed in the MAET program. I feel comfortable modeling failure, learning from your mistakes, sharing my learning process, and am not afraid to try new things. Purpose and intent will influence my use of technology in the classroom. I hope to model that technology should not be used just for the sake of technology. Reconnecting with my creative side has amplified my own vision for possibility. I know that my teaching practice has potential to become much more illuminated.

An overarching theme we had this summer was Spartans Will. I designed this poster on the first day of class and remixed it on the last day of class. If you scan the poster using Daqri, you will be guided through an experience to show what this Spartan Did.  This augmented reality experience displays the multimodal work I’ve done this summer.

VERSION 5

I am walking away from this program with SO much. My explanations in this post don’t even give this experience justice. I am definitely a more thoughtful and reflective individual. Growing as a professional in a digital world is by no means an easy task. My colleagues and professors have been more supportive than I could have ever imagined.

Michigan State University blessed me with the best mentor teacher ever, Mary Wever. Throughout my year student teaching, she shaped me into a confident educator and led me to the MAET program. I looked into the program and new that it was something for me. I also knew other people who had gone through the program and I heard nothing but exceptional things about it.  All my expectations were exceeded. I am so excited knowing what is in store for my friend Deidre Stasiak and everyone who will join MAET in the future.  They have no idea what they are getting themselves into.

“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life” – Amy Poehler

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Fishbowl Mock Interviews

On Friday, my colleagues and I were given the opportunity to view some mock interviews for educational technology related positions.  Everyone in the MAET Overseas program applied for one of the job postings.  This was a great time to brush up our cover letter writing skills and refine our resumes and portfolios.  Three students were selected to be interviewed fishbowl style, where the rest of their colleagues could watch.  Some students were also selected to be on the interviewing committee.  The entire job search process was very open and transparent.

For me, it was really nice to see the live interviews because I could really take note of what types of questions were being asked for these types of positions that I may consider actually applying to in the future.  I also feel like I now have experience being on a search committee because we were able to generate a list of questions to ask candidates.  It was good to brush up my resume, but it will also be beneficial to be able to take a look at other resumes that were submitted.

The three positions that were interviewed for were Visiting Faculty, Educational Technology Consultant, and Director of Academic Technology.  I gained a lot of insight especially from the interview for the Director of Academic Technology position. The verbiage that the candidate used was impeccable and powerful.  I think this really leveraged her chances to get the job offer because she illustrated a sophisticated image of herself.

Examining the interviews afterwards was really useful.  Not only was there open and honest feedback, but we also were given suggestions and tips for if and when we are in these particular situations.  I have two major take aways from this fishbowl mock interview experience.  First, Dr. Cary Roseth said, “people remember how you make them feel”.  This seems so simple but I believe it to be true.  Second, Mike DeShryver voiced his opinion that our digital portfolios should be our vision.  It shouldn’t look like our portfolios were created just to get a job or just because it was a requirement for a class.  I felt that I walked away from the fishbowl mock interviews with new skills and strategies to boost my professional character.

Reflecting on a GREAT day of learning

Today I presented at the Global Resources in Education and Technology Conference (GREAT15)  in Galway, Ireland.  It was such a positive and encouraging experience.  In my session, I shared the research I have been conducting over the past two weeks as a part of my studies in the Masters in Educational Technology (MAET) overseas program at Michigan State University. I have been doing research to improve my practice as a technology integrator in the making.  The learning experience I have been designing will teach research and information fluency to elementary students.

In my session today, attendees were very thoughtful with the feedback that they provided.  I was relying on them to help inform me of ways that I can enhance the learning experience that I am developing.  Their insights on project based learning and online inquiry were fantastic.  We deconstructed their processes of inquiry.  The feedback that I got from participants in the Padlet that I created was so useful.  They were very engaged in the quickfire activity, which was just a small taste of what my students will actually be going through when they do this unit of study.

The feedback that I received based on the session survey was encouraging.  Participants seemed to enjoy my session and I felt a sense of excitement from them.  One participant even said, “I wish my students were in your class!”. This confirmed that the research and direction I was taking to complete the design of this learning experience was good.  This reaction tells me that something I am doing will be beneficial to kids, which is ultimately what I aim for.

It was interesting for me to hear what my participants had to say about my designed learning experience because they all had different ways of looking at it.  For instance,  I did not think about having students think of what they would like to do on their vacation prior to deciding where they wanted to go.  There were great conversations that surfaced a variety of ideas that will help carry the design of this learning experience.  I am now wondering how I can curate an assortment of strategies that help teach kids how to manage their online inquiry process.

This is not the first presentation I have done in a conference setting.  However, I felt way more knowledgable than when I presented in the past.  I could back things up by research and engage my attendees by doing an activity with them.   I was able to grow professionally by presenting but I felt that participants also walked away with new ideas.  It was definitely a win win situation.  Seeing the tremendous growth I’ve made from when I’ve presented in the past to now has reminded me that learning never stops. 

I was even able to connect with new faces.  This, is one of my favorite parts of going to conferences.  I connected with Robin Sacks, from Toronto, Canada.  She has a unique position where she teaches leadership to college aged students.  We hope to Skype or do a Google Hangout after we both teach my designed learning experience to both of our classes.  The interesting piece here is that my lesson in designed for third grade students in Hawaii.  I am looking forward to connecting with people around the world who engage in the same learning activities that I do with my students.  It is uplifting to know that others want to teach the learning experience that I designed. Today’s conference had me thinking in new ways.  I now see how one can definitely benefit from looking at the world differently.IMG_1997

Research to Practice Design Process

TL; DR VERSION

[This Too Long; Didn’t Read version will give you an overview of the entire post. I invite you to read the Long version below if you find the time.]

This summer, I am completing my final courses for the Masters in Educational Technology (MAET) program at Michigan State.  As a piece of my course in approaches to educational research, I have been engaging in deep research that will help me design a learning experience for my students.  My learning experience will use technology to teach content in a way that is justified by theories and rationales found as a result of my research.

Big ideas from my research to practice design process include:

  • An outline of a project based learning experience that I am planning for my 3rd grade students in technology class
  • Questions that I am looking to find answers to as I research how to teach research and information fluency to elementary aged students
  • How my design for the specific learning experience has evolved through a process of revision and lesson study in my professional learning community
  • The challenge of picking just a slice of my learning experience to share in a 30 minute session at the GREAT15 Conference
  • How I have focused on the TPACK Framework to heighten my skills as a technology integrator in the making

LONG VERSION

This summer, I am completing my final courses for the Masters in Educational Technology (MAET) program at Michigan State.  As a piece of my course in approaches to educational research, I have been engaging in deep research that will help me design a learning experience for my students.  My learning experience will use technology to teach content in a way that is justified by theories and rationales found as a result of my research.

The designed learning experience I am creating is called Dream Vacation.  This project based learning unit will be taught to third grade Hawaiian students in technology class.  In order to align my lesson with curriculum expectations, I decided to focus on the third ISTE Standard for Students; Research and Information Fluency.  This is the primary driver of my designed learning experience.

My research focuses on the how.  These are the big questions that I am looking to find an answer to through my research.

What does research say about online inquiry and project based learning?

What are effective ways to teach research skills to elementary aged students?

What are best practices for guiding inquiry?

Getting to this point of clarity in this study has not been easy, by any means.  What I have just outlined for you is a result of hours spent drafting initial ideas, sharing those ideas, and getting feedback.  In less than a weeks time, my design for this learning experience has evolved immensely due to the process of revision and lesson study in my professional learning community.  To start, I knew I had way too many ideas that I could not possibly squeeze all of these ideas into one single learning experience.  To clear my head, I documented every thought I had on a Google Doc. I shared my ideas with a small group to get verbal and written feedback from my colleagues.  This feedback helped with revision in my design.  After this round of evaluating my design, I was able to clearly define that I wanted to create this experience for my third grade students.  There was no clear definition of what I wanted my content to be and I was still struggling with the content aspect of the TPACK framework.  This stage in the design process left me wondering.  Should my content be technology? Should I integrate core content with technology content? Should I teach core content by means of technology?

Fast forward to my next round of feedback, criticism from my professors.  I was able to meet with Michelle Hagerman in a one on one meeting to discuss my ideas.  It was clear that I still had a lot going on.  Narrowing needed to happen.  I came to the conclusion that since I teach a technology class, my content should be technology and that it would be appropriate to tie in other core subjects as needed.  Now I knew my students would learn research and information fluency skills.  As a result, I began to think about pedagogical methods that I wanted to explore to teach my content.  I now wanted to explore the realms of online inquiry, project based learning, internet reciprocal teaching, and instantly wanted to research effective ways to teach elementary aged students research skills.  I found that new literacies, social constructivism, and think aloud routines supported this research goal of mine.

My next opportunity for feedback was meeting with my colleague, Kristen Fenzau.  I shared the purpose of my lesson was to teach research skills and that I wanted to use Dash and Dot robots for the end product.  She justified that the robots would be the engaging fun part, like the light at the end of the tunnel.  I noted that I was struggling with the assessment piece of my design.  She was able to help me refine my assessment.  I will not just evaluate the end product piece.  I will also assess the students’ documentation process of how they gathered their research and made sense of it before reporting their new knowledge in a final product.  She and I also discussed ideas of ways that I could deliver the project to my students without giving them an example that they would copy.

Another challenging part of the design process was deciding what slice of my learning experience I could share in a thirty minute session at our GREAT15 conference.  After discussion with Kristen, I really began to think about what exactly I expect students to research and know about their dream vacation and how I am going to let my students research what they want to know without me giving them the answers.  This is where a lot of my pedagogical research will come into play, but I can also get feedback and data from my session attendees.  I decided that I would use my session to do a mini trial run on the research part with attendees. This would provide me with data, feedback, and suggestions on the inquiry piece of my learning experience.

My colleague, Morgan Saunders, also had time to give me feedback.  The big topic of our conversation was how I plan to teach the research skills and guide my students’ inquiry.  Morgan suggested that I teach my students perseverance and growth mindset so that they don’t give up.  She also recommended that I prime my students for the research that is to come by integrating short research activities on a daily basis so they are at least comfortable with the navigation and location part of research.  This way I can spend more time on the deepness of research when we get to the Dream Vacation learning experience I designed.

Most recently, we coded another colleague’s designed learning experience by using the seven components of the TPACK framework.  I am looking forward to viewing my coded learning experience to see where my gaps in thinking are.  Have I been focusing too much on a certain piece to the puzzle?

These processes of revision and lesson study in my professional learning community has influenced my thinking about being a technology integrator in the making because I’ve been doing a lot of thinking surrounding the pedagogical pieces.  On a deeper level, I’ve focused on the technological content knowledge, technological pedagogical knowledge, and pedagogical content knowledge.  Understanding these three relationships is new for me. I feel like I omitted these intersections before.  I viewed TPACK on a broader level, only seeing these four sections of the framework; technological knowledge, content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and technological pedagogical content knowledge. Now, I am sensitive to all seven components, including every intersection of technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge.  This leads me to believe that I am getting closer to designing learning experiences that truly hit the “sweet spot” of TPACK, which is what we technology integrators all strive for.