Thursday, December 15, 2016

2 Schools Connect in Professional Learning w Google Hangout and Periscope

By Linda Ashida

Imagine collaborating with colleagues across schools, visiting their classrooms, and engaging in professional learning conversations before, during and after the class visits. It sounds great, right? Except when you consider the time and logistics necessary to make it happen.

Enter Google Hangout and Periscope!

The result?  Professional Learning conversations and class visits connecting two--or more--schools virtually.  That is just what we did this week in the Collab Lab!

The idea came about earlier in the year when Bridget Wilmot, the Instructional Technology Coordinator from Riverside Brookfield High School, visited EG.  She and I exchanged examples of the ways we facilitate professional learning in each of our schools. We discussed the culture of peer observation at EG, and that led to the idea to do a virtual peer observation connecting two small groups of teachers at each of our schools.

We decided to have our first virtual peer observation at EG, with two class visits during our second hour, followed by a post-observation conversation 3rd hour.  Prior to the observation, the two host teachers at EG completed a form they shared with the RBHS teachers to indicate the focus of their lessons, and to share a successful strategy and/or request for feedback

In order for all of us to meet each other and have a conversation prior to the classroom visits, we used Google Hangout.

From there we connected on Periscope to live stream from the classrooms.  Periscope, which functions much like Facebook Live, would allow our virtual visitors to comment and ask questions real-time. However, we ended up doing our live back-channel conversation via Google Hangout chat, since we were already connected, and that way, Rachel Barry could moderate the chat while I concentrated on the live streaming. Also, for this first visit we decided to create a private group, rather than stream publicly.

First, we went to Kim Miklusak's English class and, in a variation of a socratic seminar, we saw a student-led discussion on the novel Sula. Using guiding questions, students on the inside circle engaged in dialog, while students in the outside circle commented, offered feedback and asked questions via a Schoology discussion, which was projected on the large screen. In the photo below you can see me live streaming, and Rachel nearby monitoring and responding to the questions and comments from the RBHS teachers.

Below you can see an excerpt of the back-channel conversation with varied comments and questions from the RBHS teachers with Rachel's responses.

From Kim's class we went to Mark Heintz' World History class. Mark's students were engaged in a collaborative activity on Mercantilism, analyzing documents and finding evidence to support their claims. While the students discussed, Mark circulated from group to group to monitor the conversations, answer questions and offer feedback.

Check out this short video clip from Mark's class to give you a better of an idea of what the streaming, moderating and class discussion looked like.

Following the two class visits, about 10-15 minutes each, Kim and Mark enjoyed connecting again with the 4 teachers from RBHS, again via Google Hangout. They shared feedback and exchanged ideas that included lesson design and scaffolding, creating and curating digital curriculum materials, focusing on essential skills and giving formative feedback, integrating technology and non-tech methods to facilitate collaboration, and making connections across courses with literacy skills. Such a rich professional learning conversation! Furthermore, some of the participants, who used Periscope or Google Hangout for the first time, left with ideas for integrating th0se technologies in their own classrooms.

This was our first experience doing a virtual peer observation in this way, and for all of us it was a positive an energizing experience. We're looking forward to continued collaboration with RBHS and connecting again via Periscope to visit some of their classes.

We're also very excited about the possibilities to connect in a similar way with our colleagues across District 214.  We've already discussed some possibilities.  For example, imagine you are a teacher who teaches a singleton course and you don't have a PLC to collaborate with. You could connect with and observe the same class of a colleague in another school! Just as students benefit from seeing models and examples of work, so too can we benefit from seeing strategies in action, made even more possible via virtual class visits and conversations across schools.

Are you interested in connecting in this way?  Want to learn more or have an idea to share?  We'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

D214 EdPrep Students Expand Opportunities with Social Media

By Linda Ashida

In the spring of 2016, District 214 kicked off the Educator Prep Program giving students yet another opportunity to gain workplace experience before they graduate high school. This unique program offers a sequence of courses, in collaboration with community partners in education, with the goal of developing future educators.


I recently enjoyed the opportunity to work with the students in Kim Sander's Teacher Internship Program at Elk Grove High School, to help them get started, or expand, their professional social media accounts to showcase their experiences in this program and build their professional digital presence and resumes.

Why social media?

By engaging in professional social media accounts, these students can multiply their opportunities to build their professional learning networks with other educators and professional organizations, and expand opportunities to learn, lead, and showcase their experiences with the community in D214 and beyond. Via social media these students can build a digital portfolio and resume which can lead to future connections and opportunities they might not even imagine. Using the hashtag #214EdPrep they can connect with fellow students in the program to share examples of their work and learn from each other.  They can build community with staff, parents and community members who can easily search the hashtag to learn about the program and their experiences.  The students can also follow other educational hashtags and participate in twitter chats that correspond to their specific educational or content interests. At year's end, their social media account will also serve as a portfolio of their work. This can be especially important since more and more universities and employers now do online searches of applicants. So, these EdPrep students, who will also post other academic and extracurricular experiences in addition to their EdPrep content, will have a positive digital presence that will impress and help them stand out in the crowd.

Getting started:
Before we got started with setting up our accounts, we discussed key considerations of digital citizenship and the importance of maintaining a positive and professional social media presence. After discussing the "how to" and the options for social media accounts, most students chose to use Twitter or Instagram.  They worked on their professional photo and profile and they prepared to do their first posts.  Even with just their first few posts you can get a good idea of the experiences they enjoyed during the first semester.

Next steps: 

Stay tuned and follow #214EdPrep for more posts to come from these students. They've already inspired me, and they are sure to inspire you! Consider how you could encourage these future educators by commenting on their posts, or sharing your own resources and educational wisdom with them.

I am looking forward to my continued collaboration with the group. As the students progress with Twitter and Instagram, some may expand and explore blogging for more in-depth reflection and sharing.  Stay tuned!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Effective Communication in the Gradebook - Part 2 (Science)

By Quinn Loch

Seventh post in a series from our staff-led Institute Day.  This is part II of a two-part blog post, with the first post reflecting on the math component, while this second post focuses on the science component.

Rachel Barry (Math) and Quinn Loch (Science) presented this session, which focused on these two questions:
     1.  How can I show formative feedback in the gradebook?
     2.  How can I communicate progress in the gradebook?


One of my biggest struggles has been how to record and report progress to students efficiently in the gradebook. I want to have formative feedback that doesn't "hurt" their grade and I also want to show student progress - all without cluttering up the gradebook with countless grades and having to need two separate gradebooks. Below are my current working solutions to these hurdles.

Question: How can I include formative data in the gradebook?

My solution: A "zero-weight" category allows me to communicate understanding during the learning process without penalizing the student. I call this category the "in-progress" category. This is where I post standard-based scores on what I call "progress quizzes." These progress quizzes are closely aligned to our learning targets and act as checkpoints along the way to our summative.

Snapshot of a progress quiz that gets scored 0-4.

Sample Learning Targets

: How can I show progress in the gradebook?

My solution: Entering multiple scores within one standard. I report feedback to students from a standards based scale of 0-4. If a student demonstrates an understanding level of "1" and then later demonstrates an understanding of "3", then I'll enter it as 3.1 in the gradebook.

Using decimals to enter multiple scores for the same standard

Question: How can I get students to use this information to close gaps and how can I hold them accountable for their learning?

My solution: Pre-Test Reflections. Here in an example of one that I use in class.
Pre-Test Reflection. Students do not take the summative if they have a 0 on any standard.

I try to do this reflection a couple days before a test so students have time to dedicate practice to, or remediate on, the specific things that they may be struggling with. I have yet to get the question "What should I study?" this year.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Effective Communication in the Gradebook - Part 1 (Math)

Seventh post in a series from our staff-led Institute Day.  This will be a two-part blog post, with the first post reflecting on the math component, while the second post focuses on the science component and the teacher take-aways from the session.

Rachel Barry (Math) and Quinn Loch (Science) presented this session, which focused on these two questions:
     1.  How can I show formative feedback in the gradebook?
     2.  How can I communicate progress in the gradebook?


To begin, it is important to note that these ideas and implementations are constantly evolving.  I am constantly discussing alternatives with my colleagues to determine what is the best way of giving feedback and communicating a student's progress.  I am in my seventh year of teaching, and I have yet to maintain the same grading system and gradebook set-up in two consecutive years.

- Formative Feedback is reported in the gradebook using a 0% Category.
All grades not on a summative quiz or unit test go in the 0% category. This helps students and parents see progress, without affecting a students grade.
Screenshot 2016-10-24 14.43.25.png
- Use comments in Infinite Campus to display student progress on a math standard.
Shows multiple attempts on same math standard.

Teacher View:

Screenshot 2016-10-24 14.46.42.png

Student View:
Screenshot 2016-10-24 14.49.38.png

- Students reflect at the end of a unit on their effort and performance.
At the end of each unit, students reflect on their effort and performance using the Reflection document below.  The Checklist grades are in the formative category of the gradebook, while the quizzes and unit tests are both summative categories.  They log in to Infinite Campus to fill this out themselves.  Then, they answer the following two questions on the back:
1.  What are you most proud of from this unit?
2.  What are you going to change to improve in the next unit?

The purpose of this document is for students to realize that if they complete the work in class (through a Schoology Checklist), they will be successful on the quiz.  Also, if they go through the reassessment process, they better their performance on topic.  Most of the time, when they have completed a retake, they also score better later on the unit test.  

Check in tomorrow for Part 2, focusing in Science!