Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Power of Yet

yet adverb \'yet\
Simple Definition of yet
  • : until now : so far
  • : at this time : so soon as now
  • : in addition
"Yet." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2016. 

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? How many times have you heard this phrase and perhaps been annoyed at the person asking?  If you think back, you likely have uttered these words too. The phrase is simply a way of expressing anticipation of getting to the next place, the next phase in life. It�s quite innocent, but can evoke irritation. I heard this recently with my niece and nephew as we were taking a family trip to Florida.  We were on the first of 2 flights.  They wanted to get there and so did I! This got me thinking about the word YET and what power it can hold.  

Author and researcher Carol Dweck known for her work on growth mindsets, shares in the Ted talk below The Power of Believing That You Can Improve.

Some key takeaways from the talk are: What can we do as educators?  How can we get to yet? Dweck suggests, we can praise wisely. Praise process, student efforts, strategies, focus, and improvement.  Refocusing our conversations will help to nurture a sense of resiliency.  
The words yet and not yet give kids a greater confidence. When we help students create and build a growth mindset it leads to equality in learning.  What will happen?  We will help brains to grow because we know that when faced with effort and difficulty, that�s exactly what happens. The brain changes, it grows!  

Dwecks� concepts speak to me when thinking about learning about new skills, specifically those involving technology.  How many times have you seen a great new tool or technique and been intimated because you did not know how to do it or even where to start learning?  Words like �I can�t do that� or �I don�t know how to approach that� may have crept in your head.  Now, think about your students when they are learning something new.  Do you think that perhaps they have had the same self doubt?  

It�s ok and natural to be afraid or intimidated by new learning.  My challenge to myself and to you is to add the word YET to your daily conversation. It might look something like this:

I don�t use Schoology, yet.
I can�t create electronic rubrics, yet.
I don�t know a thing about blended learning, yet.
I don�t know how to create an inviting digital learning environment, yet.
I don�t know anything about project based learning, yet.
...and so on...

Think about it...there is indeed a great power in the word YET.  

And now a little more fun...the Power of Yet brought to you by Sesame Street.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tuesday Tech Tip: Sketchnotes! A(nother) Strategy for Purposeful Note-taking

The conversation around whether or not digital note-taking is as effective as handwriting notes is coming up more frequently in education as schools are adding more technology to the classrooms. Teachers are trying to find the right balance and make sure students are learning the skills they'll need to be most successful in the future, one of those skills being note-taking. One alternative surfacing can be done either way (paper or device) and doesn't involve any frantic note-taking or typing. The alternative? Sketchnotes. 

Sketchnote School by Kevin Thorn
What are Sketchnotes?
According to the Sketchnote Army, they are purposeful doodling while listening to something interesting. Sketchnotes don't require high drawing skills, but do require a skill to visually synthesize and summarize via shapes, connectors, and text. Sketchnotes are as much a method of note taking as they are a form of creative expression.

How does it work?
While students are listening their brains are simultaneously processing the information, synthesizing and encoding pertinent information into the drawing they are creating. Professor of neuroscience at Texas A&M University, William Klemm, says the process is similar to that of a zip file.�This is a way to get your working memory to carry more,� Klemm said. With only a glance, a teacher can tell whether or not the student has gleaned the most important parts of the lesson, or if they got hung up on something different, or if there are any gaps in their learning. The drawing will tell the story. 

Why Sketchnotes?
Well, why not? We already know that the more times students interact or encounter a piece of learning the more likely they are to remember it. By drawing their notes, they are basically creating a graphic organizer for someone else, which is in a sense teaching them what they're learning. And we all know what happens when you teach someone else something...

Visual Note-Taking from Jackie Gerstein
Who should Sketchnote?
EVERYONE. Teachers, administrators, and especially students can use this method of taking notes for virtually any topic. Want to try a few yourself? Check out the lessons from BrainDoodles; they will walk you through some of the basics and get you started. Want to hear what it's like from the student perspective? Check out this video of 5th graders explaining sketchnotes! Wondering what this would like like as a final for a class? Look no further than Laurence Musgrove's blog. Want to try this TODAY? Grab some paper (white or digital), and start this TED video from Gever Tulley: 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do. The title already gives students an idea that there will be 5 basic sections, but just like with real-time, face-to-face lectures, there could always be a side note or something else worth capturing! Have students draw each of the 5 things from his story and see what they come up with!

As with everything, practice makes perfect. But in the case of sketchnoting, the "perfect" refers to the format and style of notes that you will help you remember the information, NOT the artwork. 

Want more? Here are some resources: 
Making Learning Visible: Doodling Helps Memories Stick
Kathy Shrock's Guide to Sketchnotes in the Classroom <--SO MANY LINKS

Let us know (CCSD Office of Instructional Technology) if you're going to do some sketchnoting in your classroom! Or share it with us on Twitter (@CCSDTechCO or #CCSDTech). Happy Sketching!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tuesday Tech Tip: 5 Additional Ways to Use Rubics in Schoology

*This was also cross-posted on Schoology's blog.

Rubrics can be very powerful instructional tools for providing criterion-referenced feedback, and in digital learning environments, they can also be a great data collection tools.  We get plenty of student data from external sources, like state or national assessments, but rubrics allow us to measure what we value.

In our district, we've seen digital rubrics being used most often in assessing electronically submitted written work, and the rubric feature in Schoology is a great fit for that.  However, in addition to that function, a digital rubric can be used in other ways as well.

1.  Performance Tasks, Visual Art Products, and Physical Models/Projects

Sample Debate Rubric on iOS
Just because Schoology's rubric is digital doesn't mean that the student work being assessed has to be digital.  In fact, a digital rubric can be a very handy way to assess work that's done offline.  Are your students doing speeches or debates?  Creating works of art?  Doing performances?  Use a Schoology rubric to provide digital feedback for students, even though they are not necessarily submitting work in Schoology at all.  

Tip: if you've got the Schoology app installed on a mobile device, you can assess work easily without having to have your computer in front of you.

2.  Weekly Point Collections

Sample weekly point collector using the rubric tool
As part of your classwork, you may have a daily assignment that is really more of a weekly collection of daily points.  Instead of creating a repeating assignment that you have to fill in every day, you can use the rubric tool to keep track of daily points but collect them in a single assignment.  This could work well for PE (where you may need to track if students dress out daily), citizenship or weekly participation points, or daily journal entries.  Use the criteria fields on the left for each day of the week and create a column (or several) for point totals for each day.  

Tip:  create a 4-day point collector as well, if you want to account for weeks where you may not see them each day.

3.  Offline Assessments for Tracking Mastery

Sample Data Collection for K-5 Math Pre-Assessment
If your students are doing an offline assessment but you still want to collect data based on standards or learning objectives, you could create a data collection tool with a Schoology rubric.  This is especially helpful when you have multiple questions that are aligned to the same standard and contain items that need to be in hard copy (like a math assessment where a student has to show work).  This allows you to track data for mastery without having to create an assessment and score each question individually.  (At the time of this post, Schoology assessments cannot be graded unless a student makes an online submission, which makes a rubric point collector a good alternative.)  

Tip:  Use a single column for the total points possible and type in the points received manually in the pts column.

4.  Checklists

Sample paragraph checklist
Sometimes you don't necessarily need different levels of achievement for criteria: sometimes it's just a yes or no situation -- either it was there or it wasn't.  This could helpful for project checklists, writing checklists, or notebook checks. While the Schoology rubric defaults to a 4 point scale when you create it, you can remove columns to give points for completion or the presence of a required element.

Tip:  If you want to gather data on the various checklist items, be sure to make them as custom learning objectives first. Anything you add to the rubric using the +Criteria option won't be tracked in your mastery reports (but it will still provide visual feedback to the learner).

5.  Notebook or Binder Checks

Collecting student binders or notebooks is a common method for assessing both notetaking skills and/or organizational skills.  Depending on access in the classroom, these notebooks may be digital or not.  Instead of giving holistic points for a notebook check, it might be a good idea to use a rubric so that a student can see which areas (if any) need some work in the binder. And, if the notebooks aren't digital and stay in the classroom, it can help parents keep better track of the notebook checks over time.

Tip:  if using achievement levels that cover different aspects (like the AVID notebook rubric below), use the rubric comment feature to let students know which specific element impacted the point score.

Sample AVID Notebook Rubric
Ultimately, rubric tools can be very flexible for looking at multiple elements for a single assignment.  Regardless of the whether or not you're grading digital work, you can still leverage a digital rubric for feedback, assessment, and data collection.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Tuesday Tech Tip: Happy New Year, Happy New Learning!

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Welcome to 2016! We hope that you had a rejuvenating winter break and that you took important time to reconnect with family, friends, and sleep. By now, you are back to school and re-associating yourself with setting the alarm, lesson planning, and keeping up with your students. Over the past 2+ weeks, you may have taken time to reflect on 2015 and set goals for the new year. If that�s the case, how are you doing? Are you on track? Do you like the goals you have set or do you need to tweak them? Goals and resolutions are highly personal. Did you know that making them public and sharing your intentions with others gives you a higher chance of achieving success? It�s true! Try it out. While you're at it, why not consider extending your goals to include technology? There are many opportunities right in our backyard for you to do this.  These include face-to-face, online, and hybrid options. Read on...

Digital Learning Environment Series

Through ERO offered by members of the Office of Instructional Technology

As part of our district vision to provide opportunity & access for all students in the digital age, we are offering a series of workshops during the 2015-2016 school year to help teachers learn how to leverage digital tools to further learning and student achievement. Each session will be a hybrid workshop, with 1.5 hours of face-to-face instruction followed by independent and collaborative work (some in an online format). Co-planning, co-teaching, and working with your Technology & Learning Coach is expected as part of the coursework. Sessions are open to anyone, even those not seeking credit or seeking recertification hours. Credit options are in ERO.
Sign up using our google form: https://goo.gl/forms/Xm9oPCjJNm
Take 3 sessions for .5 credits SRN #20158063401
Take 5 sessions for 1 credit SRN# 20158063501
Take 10 sessions for 2 credits SRN# 20158063601

Courses still available for the rest of the year are:
Using Gamification in the Classroom 01/19/16
Motivating & Managing with Digital Badges for Learning 01/26/16
Showcasing Student Work with Digital Portfolios 02/09/16
Differentiation in the Digital Age 02/23/16
Creating Effective Online Learning Spaces in Schoology 3/15/16
Designing Dynamic Assessments in Schoology 03/22/16
Student-centered Video Projects & Digital Storytelling 04/19/16
Leveraging Learning with YouTube & Video Tools 04/26/16
Creating & Collaborating in Google Apps 5/24/16
Leveraging Learning with More Google Tools 5/31/16


A GIFT from eNet. 

Online, through eNet Colorado

Start the New Year right!
Take an eNet course and you will receive free enrollment in our facilitated 2016 is Your Year to Get Organized course.
For a complete January Listing, Click here.

Learn about our digital content collections, including resources aligned to K-12 Colorado Academic
standards and Curriculum Overview and Instructional Unit Samples as well as mobile app resources.

EdCamps in Colorado Springs and Denver

a free �un-conference� committed to reaching educators in public, private, charter, and higher ed environments to share innovative instructional strategies and pioneering technologies that transform education for all students.

January 23rd in Colorado Springs
February 6th in Denver

For those of you who have never gone to an edcamp before, please make a note of the unusual part of the morning where we will build the schedule. edcamp doesn�t believe in paying fancy people to come and talk at you about teaching!

At an edcamp, the people attending, or participants, are the ones who who facilitate sessions on teaching and learning! So edcamp won�t succeed without a whole bunch of you wanting to run a session of some kind! 

Click here to learn more and to register!

None of those sound right? Perhaps you'd like to learn more on your own terms.  Consider personalizing your professional learning. Read more about PLNs here in a past blog post. 

Whatever you decide to do, commit to it and tell someone about what you are doing. Who knows, you may inspire them! For those of you in Cherry Creek Schools, should you want support from our office please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Here's to you, here's to 2016, and here's to continued learning....

CCSD Bright Spot: 5th Graders Create YouTube Style How-To Videos Using WeVideo

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