Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Benefits of Peer to Peer Professional Development


I have been doing some research for a presentation that I am developing on peer to peer professional development.  We have experienced considerable success with the peer to peer approach at Mercy.  Peer to peer training is agile, focused, and inexpensive.  Learners often appear to be more receptive to colleagues than outside presenters.  An additional benefit is that those doing the training are are recognized and empowered in the school community.  Much of our training lately has been in the form of "drop-in labs" where teachers can receive 1:1 or small group help for technology issues.

Up to now my endorsement of peer to peer professional development has been based on observation  However, I recently found an article in the Journal of Staff Development by Tienken and Stonaker called “EVERY DAY is professional development day” which provides research supporting Mercy's peer to peer practices:

• Teachers learn best outside of the constraints of large-group work-
shops (Knowles, 1980).

• Participants in professional learning activities should demonstrate mutual respect (Brookfield, 1986).

• Learning is an outcome of personal interactions (Bandura, 1986).

• Teachers are motivated by participating in a community of learners where knowledge is created and shared among its members (Randi & Zeichner, 2004).

• Small groups facilitate communication and learning (Achilles, Reynolds, & Achilles, 1997).

On Monday we will be holding peer to peer training for Schoology.  The learners have selected two topics which will be addressed in workshops.  A drop-in lab will also be available. All of the training will be delivered by Mercy teachers.  I have never doubted that this is the right approach.  Nevertheless, it is good to know that we are also supported by research.


Scene from a Mercy drop-in lab

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Call for Presenters -- Tech Talk at MHS 2015

We have just put out a call for speakers for Tech Talk at Mercy High School (#mhtalk) on February 27, 2015.  This educational technology conference is designed for K-12 teachers throughout our region. With a group price of $30 per attendee, we wish to make this an affordable opportunity for teachers to learn about their peers' best tech practices.  We will be opening registration in the near future.

At our inaugural Tech Talk in 2014, we drew 250 happy attendees.  The success of the conference was entirely driven by our high quality presenters. Please help us recruit innovative teachers to apply to become presenters at our conference. They may do so at this link:


Direct inquiries to Tech Talk Coordinator Ann Lusch amlusch@mhsmi.org or me lrbaker@mhsmi.org

Tech Talk 2014

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hunting down Paramecia with an iPhone!

On Friday, MHS microbiology teacher Gerry Meloche contacted me to say that there was considerable excitement in his class.  For a microscope exercise requiring students to identify paramecia, he had added a new dimension.  The students were using their iPhones to photograph and video record the microbes before they scooted out of view.  This helped with the identification, but it also generated great collaboration and enthusiasm.  As the photos below indicate, the images the students were capturing could be mirrored on an Apple TV and projected to a screen.  As I reported in a past blog post, Gerry also can show live images through a microscope using a device I was introduced to at the ADE Institute in 2013. 








Thursday, September 11, 2014

Debating Turnitin, Self-Directed Learning, and Four Ways to Spot a Great Teacher

How Technology Supports Self-Directed Learning
Self-directed learning is an essential skill required in the 21st century educational world. This learning approach increases the motivation of students to learn, since they are the makers of their own knowledge, they experience a sense of independence while learning. This process keeps them engaged, since now they have to acquire knowledge on their own, and apply it along with their skills to find solutions to their problems, evolve their learning and be encouraged for life-long learning.

Is it Time to Reconsider AP Classes?
“Our major complaint with the AP courses was that it was a race for breadth against depth,” explained Robert Vitalo, Head of School at Berkeley Carroll, a Brooklyn prep school that decided to completely do away with AP courses in the 2011-2012 school year. “We think the way of the world, the way to be teaching, the way that kids should be learning is to look at how subjects and questions and ideas are connected and related, and to take the time to make those connections and ask those questions and not to have it be a race to cover a lot of content.”

Turnitin And The Debate Over Anti-Plagiarism Software
The fact that anti-plagiarism software can't tell the difference between accidental and intentional plagiarism is just one reason that Rebecca Moore Howard, a professor of writing and rhetoric at Syracuse University, is not a fan. . . . .Howard argues it's policing without probable cause. "The students have to prove themselves innocent before their work can be read and graded," she says.

Four Ways to Spot a Great Teacher
How can you identify a high-quality question in your child's schoolwork? It tests
for conceptual, not factual, understanding—not "When did the Great Depression occur?" but "What economic, social and political factors led to the Great Depression?"
U Michigan Adds Office of Digital Ed and Innovation To Improve Tech Use
"The University of Michigan has this opportunity to really differentiate and refine what it means to be a great public research university in an age fueled by technology, fueled by connection, fueled by evidence and analytics," said James Hilton, vice provost for digital education and innovation, in a prepared statement.

53 Ways to check for Understanding



Sunday, September 7, 2014

On the Edge of Chaos, Paralyzed by Technology and Principals Are People Too

daliborlev via Compfight cc
On the Edge of Chaos: Where Creativity Flourishes
“‘In the school environment, creativity can be considered pathological behavior as opposed to the compliant traits of being reliable, sincere, good-natured, responsible, tolerant, and peaceable — the qualities associated with the lowest levels of creativity,’ writes Cevin Soling. Openness to new experiences and a “disagreeable personality” are also associated with creative achievement, two attributes not always found in schools.”
http://tinyurl.com/lydn7f2

Are You Creating a Culture of Learning?
The Politics of Distraction are all of those issues that come up over and over again in our educational conversations. We talk about textbooks, homework, educational reform debates of who is right and who is wrong, and other adult-centered conversations. All are very worthy of discussion, but they often overshadow our desire to talk about students and learning.

Paralyzed By Technology
As I have worked with teachers over the years, I have come across one common problem that many teachers deal with when looking at technology. It's this idea that all new tech tools must be integrated immediately or they have failed as a teacher. As they look over the long list of available tools, they become paralyzed because they are overwhelmed.

Principals Are People Too
“The decisions I make impact the most people throughout the campus and throughout the school community. This ability is both a blessing and curse. I love my job because of the positive impact I can have in the lives of individual teachers, students, and the families that support our school. But if I make the wrong decision (or a decision that someone doesn’t agree with), then I can be perceived as “one of them” or ‘on the dark side’. I fear that I will be perceived as a principal that “doesn’t truly understand our situation” or ‘forgotten what it’s like to be in the classroom’”.

Before Reading or Watching Videos, Students Should Experiment First
A new study from the Stanford Graduate School of Education flips upside down the notion that students learn best by first independently reading texts or watching online videos before coming to class to engage in hands-on projects. Studying a particular lesson, the Stanford researchers showed that when the order was reversed, students’ performances improved substantially.”

How Pinterest is used in higher education



Thursday, September 4, 2014

A New Self-Paced Basic Mac OS Course (with Animated Badges!)

I have finished a new self-paced Apple OS X course for Mercy staff.  You, my faithful reader, can explore the materials as well. As of now 25 staff members have enrolled and ten have earned badges.  One over-achiever finished half the course over the Labor Day holiday.


Course Gradebook indicating badges awarded

The course is offered through Schoology, Mercy's LMS. It is designed to serve staff members, nearly all of whom have been issued MacBook Airs over the last two years.  It is a self-paced course which does not have to be completed sequentially. When a staff member completes a lesson successfully, he/she is awarded an animated GIF badge instead of a grade.

These are the lessons offered:  

Lesson 1 - Mac Basics

Lesson 2 - Keyboard Shortcuts

Lesson 3 - Making screencasts with QuickTime

Lesson 4 - Setting System Preferences

Lesson 5 - Organizing Your Desktop and Using Aliases

Lesson 6 - Organizing with Smart Folders and Tags

Lesson 7 - Snacking at the Menu Bar

Lesson 8 - Dictation and Special Characters

Lesson 9 - Using the Cool Features in Preview

Lesson 10 - Getting Help

I imagine that when the new OS X Yosemite is released soon, I will need to do some updating.  But of course computer technology is a moving target. For a couple of days I will allow myself the satisfaction of completing a fun project.

MOOCS, Open Education, the Maker Movement and other Hot Ed Tech Topics

The maker movement: A learning revolution
3D printers, robotics, microprocessors, wearable computers, e-textiles, “smart” materials and new programming languages — are giving individuals the power to invent. We’re not just talking about adults. Children of all ages can use these tools to move from passive receivers of knowledge to real-world makers. 

22 Of The Newest Apps To Make Videos In The Classroom
Below are 22 apps we’ve handpicked as powerful teaching and learning tools to work with digital media in your classroom. Like almost anything, these are more potent in the hands of students than teachers, so start there and work backwards–audience and purpose: What’s possible? What needs communicating through video, and who needs to hear/see it?
http://tinyurl.com/nqhfhpf


Morguefile free photo by dhester

Why Do Students Enroll in (But Don’t Complete) MOOC Courses?
“If you just think about the openness of these platforms, there are people who just want to see what’s going on, see how others teach the same subjects they do, as well as competitors who might want to steal some ideas and use them in their own platforms,” said Rhee-Weise, who said she has enrolled in a handful of MOOCs for research purposes without intentions of completing them.

The Power of Teacher Collaboration
Successful collaborations happen when teachers work together to share the workload instead of doubling their efforts. From the delegation of tasks, teachers are also able to learn more from each other as they come back together to review and assemble their separate assignments into a cohesive lesson plan.

Building Your Own Textbook
No doubt the move from print to digital content is shaking up the entire publishing industry. But the opportunity to shake up and rethink textbooks seems particularly profound. When you digitize other types of books -- novels, for example -- you (probably) want to retain the layout and the chronology of the original print version. But when you digitize textbooks, you can disassemble all those various pieces that comprise it -- the different units, chapters, exercises, diagrams, illustrations and so on -- and you can re-engineer something completely different.

Why Open Education Matters

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