Tag Archives: collaboration

Assignment Two – Collaborating and Mentoring a Teacher to Evolve Practice

Examples of potential resources in way of book covers, and citations.

 

**Disclaimer: Mr. Gains and Ms. Middleton are fictionalized characters pulled from a variety of experiences and encounters in my teaching career.  Names and details have been changed or modified to allow for anonymity.

 

Case Study #1Mr. Gains is a grade six teacher who is in the tail end of his career.  He has the school year down to a science: his lessons are organized by what worksheets will be completed on what specific week and day.  The worksheets are compiled from a variety of sources: teacher/student text book black-lined masters, and worksheet booklets based on subjects like math, English, science, etc.  Some may be worthwhile in conjunction with other tasks, but in the context that they are delivered it ends up being busy work for the students.  Mr. Gains often complains in the staff room that his students aren’t “what they used to be” and that they are “like trying to corral cats,” other teachers on his team would say it is because his students are not involved in their own learning and are therefore checked out.  At the end of the year students have become masters at rote memorization activities and have no conceptual understanding to accompany the “learning” that has taken place over the course of the school year.  These specific skills that have been acquired from spending a year in Mr. Gains’ classroom have no transference into any practical real world use.   For novel studies he has a set of questions that correspond with each chapter that students respond to individually with little, to no opportunity to discuss or extend their thinking/understanding.   Mr. Gains relies on his worksheets, and textbooks for all lessons, and while he does utilize and access some decent reference materials, he does not implement them into his lessons in a way that engages his students.

Goal: To help Mr. Gains reconnect with his students in methods of practice which allow students to be involved in their learning, and not merely a subtext of it.

Approach:

Mr. Gains loves any opportunity for extra help in his class, therefore i think it should be relatively easy to convince him that collaborating and team teaching could be a worthwhile experience for the students as well as himself.

Here is a great video by Elizabeth Buckhold, a grade eleven teacher, outlining her experience using literature circales with her students.  I would use this as a video to further illustrate the purpose of literature circles and to give a bit more exposure to the concept to Mr. Gains.

Potential Roadblocks:

Not being open to trying a completely new approach.

Ways to combat roadblock:

  • Provide examples of success stories from the past.  Speak passionately and confidently about the process and why it works.
  • Reassure that we will tackle this together and that I am there for support throughout the entire process.
  • Only as a last-ditch effort: Merge new ideas with existing so that elements feel familiar.

 

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Step One: The Hook

Offer Mr. Gains the opportunity to have an extra teacher in the room for the duration of a class novel study.

Introduce the idea of literature circles, where students will be given individual, rotating roles within a small group followed by weekly opportunities to discuss chapters in a formal small group setting.

Step Two: Planning

Provide choice of novel study, either the whole class reads the same book, or various books are chosen based on a similar theme at varied reading levels.

Pull literature circle teaching resources from the library and allow Mr. Gains to peruse the various graphic organizers and to further understand the process and purpose of literature circles.

Discuss what roles should be permanent, and which roles will be integrated in as occasional roles.

Create an end task where students will showcase what they have learned.  (Movie book trailer, book review, etc.)

Step Three: Implementing

Invite Mr. Gains’ class to use the Learning Commons space for the weekly or semi-weekly meetings.

Take turns sitting with each group and listening to their conversations.  Asking questions to continue conversations when appropriate or necessary.

Debrief after each meeting and share personal notes with Mr. Gains about students’ thinking and progress.

Provide feedback about where students are at and personal interpretation about how meetings are going.

Check in: How do you feel? Do we need to reevaluate our process? What will our next lesson look like?

Step Four: Integrating into the Future

Ask students to reflect on the process, what worked for them, what didn’t? Is this a format they would like to continue to work with in the future?

Reflect with Mr. Gains: What worked? What didn’t? What would you be willing to try next time? How can I best support you in the future? Where do we go from here?  How have your students’ reflections impacted your feelings about this process?

Case Study #1-2Ms. Middleton is a grade seven teacher who is also at the tail end of her career.  While she takes the time to build relationships with her students and genuinely cares about them, her laid back approach to life is evident in her teaching style.  Ms. Middleton frequently pulls lessons or free units from the internet to “keep kids busy” while “checking off the PLOs for the year”.  In teaching one unit she printed six pages of questions on the topic from the internet, made no modifications, handed them out to students and gave them hours of internet access to find the answers.  She provided no purpose, background, or lessons around performing research for the process, she also did not mark the work once it was submitted.  In spite of some of these actions, Ms. Middleton can be motivated by other teachers and can be open to new ideas, so long as she is not required to invest too much time or energy into revamping.  She does have the understanding and experience to identify fun and engaging learning experiences versus the mundane, she just doesn’t always take the time to look objectively at her units/lessons to ensure that they are contributing to student’s higher level understanding and learning experience.

Goal: To help Ms. Middleton create meaningful learning experiences for her students that fit her style, but are reflective of quality critical thinking challenges.

Approach:

Based on Ms. Middleton’s laid back style of teaching I think introducing the concept of Project-Based Learning is something that could be easily implemented into her practice through exposure, mentorship and guidance.  She currently embraces student driven learning, however she needs a bit more purpose and direction in order for her approach to be worthwhile.

Below is a video from Edutopia that serves as an introduction to Project-Based Learning.

Potential Roadblocks:

The biggest roadblock I can foresee is that Ms. Middleton would be afraid that integrating this new approach would be too much work.

Ways to combat that fear:

  • Provide examples of past success stories
  • Provide choice and appearance of being in the driver’s seat (topic choice, right to veto, direction of lessons)
  • Emphasize that this is a team effort and that I am there to support her throughout the process through: collaboration, team teaching, resource selection and individual lessons that I can offer to help set students up for success.
  • Once Ms. Middleton has agreed make it hard to back out.  Check in regularly, communicate excitement as well as the work I am doing on the side to bring things together.

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Step One:  The Hook

Invite Ms. Middleton to be one of a small select group of staff that I could collaborate, and team teach with this term in the role as Teacher-Librarian.

Discuss potential subject areas that might be of interest for Ms. Middleton this term and introduce the concept of project-based learning.

Provide examples of successful Project-Based Learning experiences to motivate Ms. Middleton to agree.

Step Two: Planning

Review new curriculum together and narrow down potential PBL topics and establish a critical thinking question to drive the project.

Pull and select potential resources that will support student learning and the research process.  Discuss together which ones would be considered credible, good quality etc. and create a plan for how students will understand and come to similar conclusions about resource selection.

Create timeline for lessons – what will we teach together, individually, mirrored in small group.

Consider possible guest speakers who are experts in the topic to come in and present to students as a “hook” at the beginning of the learning.

Discuss how students will show what they have learned.

Step Three: Implementing

Check in daily to see how things are going.  How can I continue to support you? What is working?  What needs reworking?  How are you feeling? What will tomorrow look like?

Step Four: Integrating into the Future

Reflection:

How can I support you in integrating a similar approach to teaching in the future?
What worked?
What would you do differently?
What can I do to help continue the momentum?

 

References

 

Loucks-Horsley, S. (2005). The Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM): A Model for Change in Individuals. Retrieved August 12, 2015.

Edutopia. Resources for Project-Based Learning. (2015). Retrieved August 12, 2015.

 

Riedling, A. (2005).  Reference Skills for the School Library Media Specialist: Tools and Tips (2nd ed.).  Worthington, Ohio: Linworth Books.

Middle Years Inquiry Planning Guide

This is a document I would like to share with Middle Years teachers to help guide, support and inspire their efforts to create an inquiry based project.  Sometimes we are lost and we don’t know where to begin, other times we may have an idea of where we want to go but need a bit of inspiration for ways to get there, wherever you are coming here are a few places that can help you get where you are trying to go.  No one is expecting you to reinvent the wheel, but sometimes finding quality resources or information can be arduous with little show for the time you’ve put in.

I have broken down the guide into four curations:

  1. A starting point for planning.
  2. Activities/Lessons for students to teach key skills involved in the research aspect.
  3. A sampling of quality resources for student during research.
  4. Presentation – a selection of presentation tools for students to show what they have learned.

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So, you want to start an inquiry, or research project with your students but are unsure of where to start?  In this curation I have selected both resources that offer specific information about inquiry projects, as well as general teacher resources from quality sites created for supporting teacher planning and student learning.  I invite you to explore all of the sites to some degree, and narrow done the ones that will best aid you in your planning process.  Click here to begin.

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In this section I have curated a grouping of lessons and activities that can help teach students the skills they will need to be successful in their researching.  Ideally these lessons are taught before students are independently performing research, as it will help to guide their process.  Here you will find lessons and teacher supports to aid in the teaching of fundamental areas such as: avoiding plagiarism, learning how to cite sources, establishing credibility of websites, how to search, how to critically evaluate information, etc.

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By the time you are ready to use this next curation you will have a plan in place, and your students will be ready to start their independent research process.  In this curation you will find quality websites that you can pass along to your students to aid them in their research.  The websites in this section are geared towards students, the formats are easy to navigate, and the topics/information available is suited towards many learning outcomes of middle school curriculum.  In my experience, students appreciate this list as it gives them a bit of confidence as they begin their research and the daunting task of discriminating their sources to find the answers for which they are searching.  The list can be found here.

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Here I have curated a selection of presentation and tech tools as options for students to use to showcase their learning.  You may want all students to use the same format, or perhaps a selection of ones you’ve identified.  These are all tried, true, and teacher recommended options.  I would encourage you to spend a bit of time checking them all out to some degree, and playing around with the tools so you have an idea of which ones will be the best option in your specific project.  Note: while many of these are web-based, there is also a link to iPad app suggestions.  Our school does have iPads available, if there is a particular app you are interested in that we do not have please come see me as we may be able to purchase.

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In this section I will utilize some of the tech tools found that can be found in the presentation curation above as a medium to not only inform, but also expose you to some of the options highlighted for student use.  For example, all of the graphic posters you have seen thus far have all been created for free using Canva (found in the Symbaloo webmix: Presenting the Research).

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This resource was created in efforts to support the staff at the school I teach, however, it would be nice if it could also serve the global community in some sense as well.

While this is a tech tool, it is not meant to eliminate the person from the process.  I am here to assist you throughout your journey.  This resource will hopefully provide you with focus and a plan, once you have those in place I can personalize the support I provide to you and your students.  I would also like to reinforce that this is a collaborative document, if I have left out tools, or websites that you (or your students) feel are worthy of sharing please let me know and I can add them to our shared document.

How can I support you?
Watch this clip I made on Powtoon to help you understand ways I may be of service to you and your students. (Powtoon’s website can found in the Symbaloo webmix: Presenting the Research).

Outcomes: 

When planned and executed in a mindful way that is specific to your group of learners,  inquiry projects are incredibly successful as they allow students to individualize their inquiry and process, which supports a bigger buy-in and in turn a more meaningful learning experience.

Students will learn about the process of researching a topic and how both print and online sources can support one’s search.

Students will gain competency with technology tools, how to effectively use the internet for specific searching and how to discern between a good/bad source.

While the plan is in place, we want students to get from A to B, the journey of how they get there is not prescribed.  This approach meets the needs of diverse learners as the students will work with tools that appeal to them, and find content that is meaningful to their process.  Students can personalize their learning by the ways they approach their research and how they choose to present their information.  Students who require a more regimented and assisted approach can be provided a short list of resources, such as the ones provided above, but with a more direct route to the information they are seeking.  Since technology will be used ELL learners will have direct access to online translators as they perform their research.  Software is available on the computers for students who require assistance in reading the material, or scribing their thoughts as they go along.  The technology available is limitless, and therefore virtually any learning obstacle can be managed to assist students in their inquiry research.

This is an online tool, so the information is accessible anywhere there is internet and a device ready for use, which means students can continue their learning at home, in the classroom with the portable computer lab, or with their own devices on our wi-fi network (when permission has been granted).

Cross-curricular and integrative opportunities: Primarily this project meets prescribed learning outcomes for Language Arts and Technology across the middle and high school levels, and as many research based projects are routed in Social Studies or Science topics will be easy for your inquiry projects to meet the prescribed learning outcomes for multiple subjects.

Multiple Literacies addressed in this project are bolded in the list below, and explained in the Padlet image below. ( A link to Padlet can be found in the Symbaloo webmix: Presenting the Research).

 Digital Is outlines the various forms of literacies as:

  “Digital Literacy Cognitive skills that are used in executing tasks in digital environments

   Computer Literacy Ability to use a computer and software

   Media Literacy Ability to think critically about different types of media

    Information Literacy– Ability to evaluate, locate, identify, and effectively use info

    Technology Literacy– The ability to use technology effectively in several different ways

    Political Literacy– Knowledge and skills needed to actively participate in political matters

    Cultural Literacy– The knowledge of one’s own culture

    Multicultural Literacy- The knowledge and appreciation of other cultures

     Visual Literacy The ability to critically read images”

 For a closer, more interactive look click here.

If you have any further questions, or would like to add to the any of the curations above please feel free to contact me in person or online.

Let’s get started on something great in the Learning Commons today!

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Library Vision Completion and Farewells

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Click the picture above to be taken to the Shop Talk section of the blog.

This course has given me a lot of time to reflect and dig deep into the things that have really helped me in my career thus far, and through that understanding I have recognized the need to foster and to help create more opportunities for those events to occur so that they hold a place of permanence rather than merely happening by chance.  This journey is what brought my vision project Shop Talk To life.  It is kind of ironic how you have to take a journey that takes you down many different paths to fully see what was in front of your eyes the whole time, but if not for this journey and exploration I am not sure I would have fully been able to appreciate my newfound, old knowledge in the same way! The idea of Shop Talk emerged out of my experiences before this course, however the real articulation and creation can mostly be attributed to the experiences I have gained through completing coursework and engaging in online conversation with my 477b crew.

This course has helped me think about how to craft an engaging blog that is both artistically and mentally stimulating, and through this process I have had the pleasure of learning through new platforms, and making virtual connections with classmates who have offered not only support but inspiration.

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The overall journey was challenging, and personal and so much more meaningful than I ever expected from an online course.  I honestly feel that the connections we have built in this class are ones that will go beyond these four months together.  No, we likely won’t be meeting for dinner dates, but I know if I had a question or wondered about a new technology tool I could email some of the people from this course, or our instructor, without hesitation and be able to pick up where we left off.  In fact, I really hope that my classmates’ blogs are maintained so I can continue to learn from them in their personal journeys.

There have been roadblocks with using technology, and things I wish I could have done (if only I had more time, more skills, etc. etc. etc.) but alas, there comes a time where you just have to be proud of the challenges you have overcome.  While I wish I had the means of creating the 30 second summary video as an example for this Shop Talk, I did not, and I must move on and be happy that my ideas are articulated, and out there for the world to see.

Finishing this final post for 477b is a little bittersweet, on one hand I am thrilled to have completed the course, and astounded by the amount I have learned, and on the other hand I am sad that it is over and there are no other options for learning in this format.  I am not sure I can return to another regular online course knowing that this is how it should be shaped.  Such is life.

It has been a blast; thank you to the Bears crew for sharing your experiences with me, and for offering insight and kind words for me in my journey.

Thank you to Aaron Mueller for creating a course that will forever top all others.  You are truly an amazing teacher, I hope I have the opportunity to learn from you again.

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If you’re like me and you like hearing heartwarming stories of good teachers, check out this link, and enjoy the rest of your day!

A bientôt