The Tale of Two Classrooms

Differentiation…it’s not just for a classroom teacher!

As I continue on my journey as a secondary technology coach, I find that many of the successful tools and strategies I used with my students in my classroom, can also be applied in this role.  Differentiation is one of them.

Today’s post is about one project implemented in two classrooms, and how different that can look.

In a previous post, I spoke about a Book Trailer project I was introduced to by Monica Burns while attending the NYSCATE conference.  When I came back to my district I quickly contacted an English teacher at the high school who was planning to start book trailers with her students.  Although we were planning to use Adobe Spark video already to create books trailers, after listening to Monica speak, I had a whole new way of looking at the project. After meeting with the teacher and showing her a sample book trailer she agreed with the change of direction.

What does all of this have to do with differentiation?

Early in the school year, I was contacted by this high school English teacher and she wanted to meet because she was interested in introducing her seniors to a number of different presentation tools. She was hoping we could meet so I could share a selection of them with her.  When we met I shared some different tools with her, and she decided on introducing Google Slides, Emaze and Adobe Spark Video to her students. As the year progressed, she was going to introduce each of the tools one by one and have her students complete a presentation project using it.  At the end of the year, for their final project, students would be able to choose the tool they liked the best and use it to present their project.  After our initial meeting, we would meet during her planning time so I could go over the key features of each of the tools, and she would in-turn present them to her students.  For this teacher, introducing the tools and their function was the extent of the level of support she needed from me, and that’s ok.

On the other hand, I introduced the same project to a 6th grade ELA teacher and her special education co-teacher.  After the first day of working with them, with their students in a computer lab, one of the teachers said, “I am so out of my comfort zone, but with you here I feel so much better.” To this, I think to myself, YAY, even though she was doing something she was not used to she was willing to try it because she knew she had the in-class assistance.  After working for a few days in the classroom with them, they said they felt comfortable replicating the project again on their own. #WINNING

So although my level of support was very different in the two classrooms, the same project was achieved and the teachers (and students) learned how to use a new technology tool that can be utilized for many different types of presentations.  I am seeing how coaching comes in all shapes and sizes, and it is important to meet each teacher where they are in their use of technology.



Where oh where did the time go?!

Originally posted December 19, 2017
WOW! It’s been so crazy since NYSCATE, I just realized I was behind on my blogging! ‘Business’ has been picking up in the #EdTechCoaching world, and in between there my hubby turned 50 and we snuck in a trip to Cooperstown and NYC!
I was so excited about the Adobe Spark video book trailer idea I picked up from Monica Burns, I have been spreading the news to anyone and everyone who will listen. In a nutshell, the book trailer is made with limited text, icons and voice-overs by the students. All of the librarians in the four secondary buildings are in! We have talked about not only adding QR codes to the books but also putting a link to the book trailer videos in the book’s listing on the online book catalog. So far the project has started in one of the high schools and I just finished the planning phase in a middle school. I will be speaking to the English department at the other high school in January. Can’t wait to help provide students an authentic audience for their work!
If you haven’t tried Adobe Spark Video yet…what are you waiting for?! It is a basic, easy to use tool to create beautiful videos, with just a few options (which is a good thing!). Yes, there are many options out there to create videos, however, by making the process of making the video easier, more time can be spent on the planning phase of video creation. This is where the learning occurs, the video is just the finished product that demonstrates the knowledge. Students as creators + authentic audience = successful tech integration! #WIN
Wishing you all a happy, safe and healthy holiday season! Looking forward to sharing the progress of this project as well as the new ones I will be starting in the new year.

Thanks for the memories NYSCATE!

Originally posted November 28, 2017
I hope everyone had a very happy and relaxing Thanksgiving holiday break. Not only am I recovering from two-7 hour drives, but my brain is still trying to process all of the information I gained while attending the NYSCATE conference in Rochester, NY from November 19-21. The last time I attended the conference it was held in Albany, NY and the attendees received a Palm Pilot…(needless to say, it’s been a while).
I have to say I was very impressed with the quality of the sessions I attended as well as the Key Note speakers. Tom Murray was on Sunday night, and he really made me think about school culture, who creates that culture, and how/why we use technology in schools (among many other things).
(I just noticed, I can see myself taking this picture! LOL)
The next day was Chris Emdin. Wow! Talk about an engaging speaker and someone who forces you to think out of your comfort zone. There were some key quotes I took away from his talk:
  • “You don’t teach grit, you activate grit.” It is already there for kids.
  • “We need to re-imagine the classroom first” before you can address integration of technology to impact learning
Although I really enjoyed all of the sessions I attended, there are four I am going highlight and I will reflect on them in the order they occurred.
I started my first day attending SketchNoting with Andy Wheelock. I have heard (and seen) a lot about this topic all over Twitter and I believe that students learn better with visuals, so this was the perfect way for me to start my NYSCATE adventure. I enjoyed seeing some of the research that backs up the idea of Sketchnoting, but even better, I like that Andy had us take the new information we gained from that research and create a SketchNote for it. I also enjoyed seeing how other people opted to draw their ideas. Best of all, he provided us with resources to not only see people who are well known for their use of SketchNoting, but also information to help us become better and tools to use to practice. I can see many uses for SketchNoting in the classroom, and I look forward to sharing this with the teachers I work with.
The next session (which I volunteered to be a presider for) was one I was very much looking forward to since my main focus for attending this conference was gain more information to not only bring back the teachers in my district, but also ways to help me improve my craft as a technology coach. Although the title was what grabbed my attention (Moving Up the SAMR Continuum: Coaching for Transformational Learning) it was the content that kept me engaged and delighted that I chose this session. The experience and knowledge shared by Vincy Murgillo and Megan Hugg was exactly what I was hoping for. I was just having a conversation with my fellow District Tech Coach about the idea that the coaching training we have attended doesn’t always 100% address our needs as tech coaches, so this was so helpful!
I have to say I have become a lil bit of a Twitter fan of Monica Burns, so when I saw that she was going to be presenting at NYSCATE I knew I had to make it to one of her sessions. I chose Tasks Before Apps: Elevate & Energize Traditional Learning Experiences because I think it is easy to get caught up in the tech tool, and forget about the learning goal. My biggest take away from her session was the idea of providing authentic audiences for our students. “If no one sees the work, it is the same as keeping the work in a pile on your desk.” This really resonated with me. She shared a book trailer project made with Adobe Spark which used icons and student voiceover to share information about the book, which was then made into a QR code that was placed on the book in the school library. HELLO?!?! There are so many reasons why this idea is awesome! I have already shared it with my fellow coaches as well as an English teacher who I already had introduced to Adobe Spark. We met, I shared this idea and she is now adjusting her project to collaborate with the librarian to make it happen. WINNING!
Last, but certainly not least (and I am not including this because I won a Nearpod VR headset…oh yes I did!!!) is Leverage Technology to Sculpt Culture & Ignite Innovation with Elisabeth Bostwick. There are so many ideas that stood out for me from this session. Elisabeth used a variety of visuals and quotes which, for me, helped send home the message. There seemed to be a common thread to many of the ideas that were being shared at the conference in general and in this sessions as well, one of which is to focus on the WHY (Ted Talk by Simon Sinek) and that many schools still look the same as they did in the early 1900’s. We, as tech trailblazers, need to disrupt in order to help innovate. This image she shared spoke to me:
This was such a great conference and I am so grateful I was able to attend and expand my coach’s toolbox all while adding to my Twitter professional learning network. There was a true sense of collaboration and camaraderie! Thank you NYSCATE!