Communicate Your Content

COETAIL has stretched me so much in terms of thinking on how to apply my learning into my current role of assistant principal, it has also made me miss being in the classroom something fierce. For this week’s assignment I found tons of interesting infographics full of data about the teaching profession, but I wanted to be more pointed in what I use with my teachers.

Application #1// Standards Based Grading

One of my main jobs this year is priming the pumps of our community (teachers, parents, and students) to move to standards based grading and reporting next year. This process has been purposefully slow and erring on the side of providing too much information. It is a huge shift for our school and because of Brazilian educational laws we are being creative on how to make it work within the confines of the mandated system. So after reading this week’s assignment I immediately thought an infographic either describing standards based grading or visualizing the data supporting it would be powerful and clear.  

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Infographic credit: @CVULearns

 

The first infographic from @CVULearns can be used to explain the why of standards based grading to parents and students. I like how it created a story of a bunny moving from curious to skeptical to concerned, and finally to satisfied. I think this is a start for my school, I would remix it pulling different aspects from it, but using our school common language, for example exceeds, meets, approaches, and beginning as opposed to advanced, proficient, below proficient, and basic.

StandardsGradingInfographic1
Infographic credited by sstephens

 

The second infographic could be used to explain why standards based grading is best for kids. It was created by another COETAILer using Piktochart. Again, I would have to tweak this to fit the needs of my school, but it is a great starting off point.

Application #2// Reading and Writing Workshop

Another idea I had was to use infographics in the creation of our rubrics for Reading Workshop. Since we are in this weird limbo period of not being standards based yet, but going there next year teachers are creating rubrics that build a bridge between where we are and where we want to be.  I created a dull conversion chart for standard based grading language and percentages to be put in PowerSchool. I took that information and added some more reasoning (from a great pamphlet) and made an infographic that would better explain it to parents.  

Created on Piktochart
Created on Piktochart

 

At the same time I want to play around with creating a template for student progression as an infographic and then teachers can fill in their grade level criteria. Hunting and gathering for progress indicators I didn’t come up with much, but I did find pieces of things that I think I could weave together to create something for my school.  I like the student language in this self-assessment and then thought of using a gas tank or other data visual to match the language.

Application #3// Syllabus

Lastly, and not applying to me in my current role, I love the idea of doing the class syllabus as an infographic. What a quick and easy way for students (and parents) to know the expectations, design, and goals of the class at the beginning of the year. I will definitely keep this in mind if I go back into the classroom.  Here are some more examples: Madame Farabaugh (French teacher), Laura (Spanish teacher), and an English class.

 

infographic syllabus
Syllabus created by Cynthia Early

Over the course of this year I have made several different pieces of literature to communicate new programs and initiatives to parents. We have a very high EAL parent population and I think these pieces have helped communicate to them what we are working with their children on.  I wouldn’t consider these infographics, but they have visuals and different spacing that I think is easier to read and less threatening.

EAC Library Final

Literacy at EAC (2)

From Caves to Snapchat

1F Fred Flinstone & Carney Rubble by Fred Seibert
1F Fred Flinstone & Carney Rubble by Fred Seibert

Storytelling has been around as long with Fred Flinstone and will live on past the Jetsons, but as Joe Scabia said in his amazing TED Talk,

 

“The art of storytelling has remained unchanged. For the most part the stories are recycled, but the way humans tell the stories has always evolved with pure consistent novelties.”  

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With so many tools and stories to be told, I would argue we are hindering and neglecting our students if we don’t offer digital storytelling in our schools. The need is clear, the question is how to do it.

I have so many ideas of how to introduce digital storytelling to my school, but I want people to see its power. I keep getting stuck on how to show teachers it is useful and worth the time away from their already packed curriculum. We are in the beginning stages of implementing Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshop and I want to respect how hard my teachers are working to follow Lucy’s units of study. How do I help teachers see this as an authentic integrated option rather than an add on?

I can model it, I already plan to create a video to introduce standards based grading and reporting to parents and after this week thought it would be cool to do a remix of “Being 12” but do “Being New” and interview all our 25 new students(!) in our elementary school.  I can collaborate or coach teachers, especially since grades 5 and 2 current units of study are on persuasive writing. What a brilliant tie in? But both modeling and coaching seem forced from the “top down”. I can break it down so it doesn’t seem so daunting. I love Tanya’s idea of using Snapchat to tell a story. The kids already use it, so why not start with something familiar. On that track we could start using Vine or Instagram as well. It’s a start and I can hope that the feedback from the grades I work with the parents who watch the video is enough to get teachers excited.

Logistically, our school is a PC school, so we could use Photostory or Movie Maker for free. Programs like Audacity and VoiceThread are options as well. There is no shortage of Apps, programs, and resources to help teachers and students, in fact I think I would probably make a “cheat sheet” for teachers similar to Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano’s amazing Digital Storytelling Guide. Also, I think starting small with familiar apps is the best plan, like Instagraming or Tweeting a day in the life of __________ ( a student, teacher, principal, etc).

In my searching and reading this week I found some pretty cool resources:

  • Scenes: People and object cut outs to help you create a storyboard. You can download a start pack for free.
  • This Scoop Page: Lots of articles, resources, and information on digital storytelling
  • Introduction Lesson: A brief slideshare about multimedia journalism
  • Witness Organization: A powerful website with many videos on current injustices
  • Storycenter: Another resource with examples of powerful stories

 

So what are my actions going to be?

  1. A day in the life of Mrs. K (via Twitter)
  2. Work with grades 2 and 5 on their writing units of study
  3. Create a video on standards based grading

Course 2 Final Project: Empowering Use Agreement for Elementary

Need

This project couldn’t have come at a better time.  Our eLearning coordinator is in the process of revamping the approach to technology in our whole school.  Last meeting we looked at our current AUP and we decided we wanted different AUPs for the different school divisions (upper and lower). I was pleased to read option 1 for the final project. Now, the question was finding someone to work with.  

Option 1: In a small group that contains at least one cohort member outside your school, create a Responsible Use Agreement (RUA) or Responsible Use Policy (RUP) for your division level (Elementary, Middle or High School). You may start from scratch or use a framework from some of the resource that are covering in the course or from what your school already has in place. Include a reflective blog post describing choices you made in developing the RUA/RUP i.e. choice of language level, topics covered, issues of focus, describe how it would be shared with students etc.”

Process

I started on Twitter and then went to our Google+ COETAIL community. Blair posted a sign up sheet so I added my name to that. The next day I had an email from Meghan Highfill asking if I wanted to work with her.  I was glad to find a partner that wanted to work on the same option, so I replied to her and we set our plans in motion.  We began exchanging emails and both had some of the same ideas for where we wanted to go–a visual policy with a positive feel. The first thing we needed was some baseline data.  What did our school communities know about our existing AUP?  Was it helpful?  What stuck out in their mind?  Megan created a Google Form to send out to classes, parents, and teachers. After about a week or so we looked at the data.  

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What stuck out to me was that 42% of our communities didn’t remember even signing the AUP. I highlighted some of the eye catching responses based on the members of the community in the infograpic below.You can see for yourself, but I felt the comments overall were very negative or uniformed, the exact opposite of what we desired. As we’ve learned in previous weeks the Internet doesn’t have to be scary.

Untitled Infographic (4)Our next step in the process was to plan and work out the details. Up until now we used email and Google Docs, but I guess I am a little bit old fashioned because I wanted to Skype to lay the groundwork.  We had to figure out a time to meet, with Megan is in Indonesia and me in Brazil a little flexibility was required. Thankfully Megan is an early riser so we met her with a cup of coffee before work and me with a screaming baby in my arms before bedtime. (Shout out to Megan for being so understanding!)

 

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One of the many emails throughout the process

It was great to Skype, we were both on the same page and had done research prior to talking.  We decided what we liked on AUPs we researched and what we didn’t and then decided upon some must haves–linked to a mission, focus on the positive, include graphics that are correctly attributed, an reflective activity paired with the AUP, and a legal statement. I felt very strongly, and Megan agreed, about tying it to a mission. Again, Megan was super gracious and we used my school’s mission because she was leaving her school next year. The reason I feel so strongly about linking it to the mission is because my school has a new mission this year and any chance I find to make it come alive I try to do that. By linking the AUP to the mission the students are aware of the attributes of our mission they are demonstrating while using technology. I liked Megan’s idea of including graphics for younger students and our EAL population (both students and parents). Megan also had a great idea for a short activity for students to do with parents to reflect upon how they can follow the AUP. This builds a stronger connection between school and home and hopefully will foster further discussion. Lastly, we felt we had to include a legal statement in case an incidence occurs.  

After Skyping we both set out on our assigned tasks.  I created a draft of the AUP and then we both worked on it over the course of the next week.  We wrote comments back and forth to each other and made revisions based on the comments. We remixed some sources to fit our needs: Campbell Hall Technology Values, linked to IB learner profile, this one with visual clipart, former COETAILer Shannon’s. The overall creation of the document was pretty seamless. I think it helped that we had a clear vision of what we wanted.

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Commenting was an easy way to collaborate

Final Product

I am pleased with our final product. We ended up with all of our non-negotiables included and even came up with a positive title, Empowering Use Agreement (thanks to week 4 in this course).

We created the EUP and now is where the real work begins.  Most schools have AUP/RUP and the likes, but I think where we fail as schools is making them living and breathing documents. Now I have to work with my principal, teachers, eLearning committee, parents, and students to make sure this doesn’t get buried in incoming emails or under papers on a desk.  I have a feeling this will be a continuous process, but if it is done correctly I think it will EMPOWER our students, teachers, and parents. Hopefully in the next couple months I will have updates.

Reflection

This project and the process was awesome.  As I said before, it came at the perfect time for our school. I’m hoping that we can adopt it and start with rolling it out next semester. The process couldn’t have gone smoother, thanks to my rockstar partner, Megan. We started early and split up the work equally.

One thing I would do differently would be to find better more kid friendly graphics. As Megan said in her post, we felt limited because we wanted to use creative common licensed artwork/pictures, but kid friendly ones were hard to find. I think one way teachers can personalize this to their class and simultaneously teach students about creative commons would be to have their students find an image that represents the mission attribute in relation to technology.

Another thing I want to do is to make it into an infographic. I think we have a little too much wording, but I think if we could have been more concise in our wording we could have made a powerful infographic. I am still messing with the infographic, but it is looking a little crowded and more like a wordgraphic, so I won’t share it.

Our EUP is positive and almost idyllic, which made we wonder is it too empowering?  Does an AUP need to have a definition of what not to do and the consequences if a student breaks it? The Pollyanna in me wants to say no, but after reading this article I wonder if we should have been more explicit?   

I learned that when doing a collaborative project it helps to start early and leave lots of time for feedback and edits. It also helped me to be able to meet face to face, rather than just through email and comments on Google docs. Lastly, I learned that an AUP is a very personal thing to a school, so making a general one isn’t ideal. I’m hoping that this is a start and that over the coming years my school can tweak, add to, and make this Empowering Use Agreement their own.

Beg, Borrow, Steal.

Image credit Austin Kleon
Image credit Austin Kleon

 

A professor I had in my educational courses at Furman University said this is what teachers do. Beg. Borrow. Steal.  It is how we survive. I laughed at it and then in my first year teaching when I worked on an amazing team I found the truth in it. Could you please send me the review you created?  Thankfully I didn’t have to experience the stealing part. After this week’s readings I would have to add another to the list…remix.

The first time I thought twice about copyright and photographs was in my Masters class when Clint Hamada gave a presentation.  I observed that underneath each picture on his presentation was credit and a link to the source.  Of course I learned all about plagiarism in school and knew that I couldn’t take someone’s words, but images? I figured if I was just using them for school or professionally and wasn’t earning money on them than it was all good.

Living in China didn’t help my cause either.  The Chinese are known for not obeying  copyright laws. I once ate at an “Outback” in Beijing, seriously the same menu and everything, but it was called Aussie (or something ridiculously close). I got used to  never trusting a beer by its bottle.  Brands didn’t mean anything because it was just a knock off.  I guess I just got used to it, and sadly  didn’t really even think twice about copying texts for my class. After this week’s researching I kept asking myself, even if we aren’t in the country do we follow the laws?  My answer is now a resounding YES.  

If one of the reasons I create a positive digital footprint is to model for my students, shouldn’t I do the same in all aspects of my life? I want my students to give credit where credit is do, and realize when they are working from someone else’s work.  I’m pretty sure they all know not to plagiarise, but pictures, music, and videos is something I need to work on with them.  I need to dig deeper as to where to start, but I did stumble upon (and learn about) the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF thinks students “… need to understand their digital rights and responsibilities in order to create, critique, and comment on their culture. This curriculum fills an educational void, introducing critical questions of digital citizenship into the classroom without misinformation that scares kids from expressing themselves in the modern world.” (emphasis mine) I love this approach because it is so similar to how I feel about digital footprints.

Photo Credit: gato-gato-gato via Compfight cc

 

I loved Rebekah’s site on Remixing and based of an image (above) followed a trail to Austin Kleon’s site.  He thinks, “You are a mash up of what you let into your life. Anyone can be creative if they surround themselves with the right influence, play nice, and work hard.”  That couldn’t be more true. Then after watching Kirby Fergusson’s video my mind was blown. He focuses on hollywood and the music industry, but it completely applies to all aspects of creation. He spreads the message that everything is a remix.  There is nothing wrong with this, but it becomes wrong when we don’t attribute the creator. In his TED Talk Embrace the Remix Kirby says, “Creativity comes from without, not from within. We are dependent on one another.” It all comes back to connectivism, we learn through, with, and from others.  

Honestly I wasn’t sure how to use remixing in my teaching.  Then by happenchance my principal asked me to help plan a culminating assembly for our social emotional curriculum. Students will share videos they created to show how we can have empathy at our school, but we wanted to get the students excited and what better way than for teachers to make fools of themselves.  Enter the Village People.  We wrote new lyrics about all we have learned this semester to none other than YMCA.  Now, I am working on creating a video with our lyrics to the song. What a perfect opportunity to model attributing credit and remixing.

I also looked through a lot of examples of remixing in the classroom from Rebekah’s site. I loved Ben Sheridan’s global stop motion video project for kindergartners. I was amazed by all of the contributions. How fun is this Choose Your Own Adventure Hamlet style? And if authors instagrammed is a fun read.

I loved getting lost in the links this week.  I have a long way to go with remixing and I can’t wait to play and figure out ways to get our students and teachers remixing (and giving credit of course). Would anyone be interested in doing a remix project?