Yesterday, I was able to attend an Improvement Science Workshop put on by the Eagle Rock Professional Development Center. They offer a variety of professional development for schools across the country. We spent the day examining a problem of practice using improvement science. Thankfully, the presenter emailed out a Google Drive folder with all of the materials from the session in electronic form ahead of time. I was able to use a Chrome app called Copy Folder to make a copy of all of the folder materials at once (instead of the usual copying every file). This process was relatively easy and allowed my to select the folder directly from my Drive, name the new folder, copy sharing permissions (or not) and place it where I wanted in my Drive. I would recommend sharing this as a resource if you ever share a folder with participants and want them to make their own copy of multiple documents.
When I got assigned to my working group, I shared the folder with them and we were able to collaborate on many of the tasks from the workshop electronically. While my group members primarily engaged on the process using the posters and sticky-notes provided to us, I had the flexibility to express my thinking electronically and more importantly, capture all of my group's thinking in a way that would be easily referenced later. Oftentimes, posters from workshops are never referenced again and thrown away or recycled. By having an electronic archive, I know that our group will be far more likely to reference our work again. One document that gave me difficulty, however, was a Fishbone diagram. The electronic version was not very user-friendly for filling out electronically. Instead, I decided to use Lucidchart to create my own version of the diagram. I was satisfied with Lucidchart, but I'm not sure I would pay for a premium account. You are limited to 3 documents in a free Lucidchart account, but I think I will stick with the free account until I dig more into concept mapping software. Overall, it was very satisfying to engage with the workshop materials in a way that resonated with my working style. I am thankful that the team from Eagle Rock gave me the chance to explore what electronic engagement in a workshop can look like.
Do you give your participants the chance to engage electronically? What has worked? Share your stories in the comments!
I decided to embark on a creative project last week. I created a guide on how to make courses in Schoology more aesthetically pleasing, AKA Mattea's Guide to Making Schoology Pretty. This can sometimes be challenging, given some of the current design constraints. This is my first project where I've added a little more personality and humor and I feel pretty pleased with the results. Click the image below to open the guide. Feel free to share with others. Enjoy!
This leads me to my second recommendation. If you have never listened to the Harry Potter audiobooks, you are missing out. The narrator does an incredible job bringing the story to life, with unique voices for each character. He somehow manages to sound like Hermione while still sounding like a story narrator. This had been my newest obsession and I have found myself on to the third book in a matter of a couple of weeks. I have thoroughly enjoyed re-reading the series this way and find myself sneaking in more Harry Potter every time I take public transit to work, wash the dishes, or work on laundry. I even sometimes listen to it while working out. Who says that you can't read and be active at the same time?
Since I do not have an English background, I would be curious to hear thoughts from English teachers on how this app can be used with students. Please share any recommendations or ideas in the comments below!
I was so happy to spend the day surrounded by other education and edtech enthusiasts at #edcampdenver. Going to an edcamp always makes me feel at home, surrounded by my people. I always enjoy connecting to other educators and hearing about what they are doing in their classrooms. This is even more true this year, as I do not have a classroom of my own.
First, I make a large number of presentations and visuals as a part of my job. I was excited to learn about https://thenounproject.com/, where there are several icons you can browse to use to represent ideas. I look forward to using this site in the future as I push many of colleagues to create more visual representations of ideas, instead of relying on paragraph-style representations that tend to have little impact.
It was also super nice to connect with a variety of new people. First I connected with Colorado Teacher of the Year, Sean Wybrant, over telling the authentic stories of teachers and students in our K-12 schools. We agreed that there are many stories of students and teachers that need to be shared in order to help improve our education system and help make teaching a sustainable profession. Teachers are selected for The Colorado Teacher of the Year award based upon a nomination process. If you know a teacher who should be nominated for the 2018 award, you should use submit your recommendation on the CDE website here.
Overall, it was an incredible day filled with inspiring conversations and amazing company. I strongly recommend attending an edcamp in your area. If you know of any that are coming up or would like to share your own reflections on an edcamp, feel free to leave a note in the comments.
It has been difficult to figure out what my connection to teaching math looks like now that I have taken on a new position that is not in a classroom. I still have a strong love for math and I purposefully have signed up to present AP Calculus Saturday Study Sessions in order to maintain my skills. I am finding that it is just a part of who I am and my position cannot get me to let go of my hold on teaching math. When it came to the Math, Tech and Teaching Podcast, however, I didn't really know what to do. I had received a handful of emails reaching out to me based upon the podcast. Hearing from listeners made me even happier than I had anticipated and I wanted to keep the conversation going. As a result, I have decided to revive my podcast and open up the content to the questions and stories of listeners. I'm curious about where this journey will take me and I hope that some of you will join me. To share a story or ask a question you can contact the show in the following ways.
You can find the latest episode here. You can find also find the podcast and subscribe via iTunes.
I hope to hear from you soon!
It's not often that I find myself at a loss for words at the end of a conference, but I have still struggled to describe what I learned at the School Reform Initiative Winter Meeting earlier this month. I have attended other conferences and felt frustrated that issues of equity and inclusion were brushed over. This conference did no such thing. The entire week was saturated with discussions about equity and inclusion. And while I had many great conversations about equity during the week, I am still left speechless over the closing keynote by Paul Gorski. I know the video is long, but if you're someone who is passionate about equity in education, this may be one of the most powerful hour-long presentations you have ever seen. I hope that you find it as moving as I did.
What did you think? Feel free to leave your reflection in the comments below!
Today, I was able to attend a pre-conference session to the School Reform Initiative Conference focused on equity in education. The delightful Amber Kim presented a variety of research, videos and activities designed to push educators from across the country to think more deeply about what equity really means. Additionally, she provided practical, academically grounded approaches that encourage educators to build a system of education that increases academic achievement for students, while equipping them with equity literacy and positive socio-cultural identity. Before even attending the conference, I knew that the session was going to push beyond the typical conversation around equity based upon the thought-provoking article we were asked to read before the session. While it is impossible to capture all of the amazing things shared in today's session, I hope to share some of my major take-aways in this post.
One of the things I really appreciated about this session, was the strategic use of videos to illustrate many of the concepts presented. Luckily, Amber has an entire Youtube playlist that has all of the videos from the session and more. My favorite of these videos reminded me of my students. It wasn't until I saw this video that I understood some of the conversations I had with my students around pronouncing their names correctly and they impact it had on our relationship. You can see the video below.
The next concept that was particularly helpful was the idea of equipping students with equity literacy. This includes helping students see or recognize bias and inequities, respond to those biases and inequities and redressing the biases and inequities they see. I especially appreciated the way that Amber argued that an equitable education includes not only academic achievement, but must also include both a positive socio-cultural identity and a deep understanding of equity literacy in order to be truly equitable. I believe this is an important distinction that is often overlooked in the eduation world - test scores wrongly tend to be seen as the only measure of success that matters.
One of my favorite concepts from the session was the graphical model of the concept of resistance. As a math teacher, it really helped me to visualize the many ways we handle addressing issues of inequity in society and how they can fit on a spectrum. While I would try to describe the graph below, I recommend checking out this site for a brief, clear description of the model. Amber did an excellent job helping us process the model by placing images and scenarios on the graph. She also gave several examples of how teachers can help improve student equity literacy by encouraging them to place historical figures, fictional characters, modern-day celebrities, etc within the model.
As I continue to work on the Bias and Equity Training Hybrid Course (mentioned in a previous post), I am sure that I will continue to come back to the many resources presented in today's session. Addressing inequity in our education system and society is incredibly important work that has an increased sense of urgency in today's climate. Our students need us to educate ourselves around issues of inequity and ensure that we do not contribute to an already bias and inequitable system. We cannot sit back and wait for others to move this work forward. In a time where many things are uncertain, we need to be the best advocates possible and serve as a role model to our students. I know I will continue my own personal and professional work around equity and I invite you to do the same.
What work are you doing around equity? What resources or tips can you share? Please share any reflections or suggestions in the comments below!
While I feel like I am always reflecting, the start of a new year brings the opportunity to look back on 2016. It would be an understatement to say that it has been a big year of change for me - I got a new job, I got married, my name changed and I have wrestled with my identity throughout all of it. While students are still my passion and focus, I have struggled to talk about my work since it no longer revolves around students. As a teacher, I used to come home from work and tell and handful of stories about my day. I now find myself coming home and simply muttering some mono-syllabic response to the question "How was your day?"
You may think that this implies that I don't like my new position, but you would be wrong. I love the work that I'm doing now. The difference is that I don't know how to talk about it. I spend a great deal of my day creatively imagining different ways to make sure the professional development can be a joyful, rigorous and personalized experience (a coined phrase the has come up a lot in my new position) instead of a dreaded time-suck. I'm making gamified PD, scheming big-picture plans for online course rollouts, etc. But it's all so new to me that I don't always know how to talk about it. I've learned the math and teacher lingo, the edtech phrases, etc. Now, I don't know what people want to know about my new role. What do I blog about? Tweet?
Luckily, I have been given the wonderful opportunity to present AP Calculus Saturday Study Sessions for the Colorado Education Initiative for another year. If you have never heard of them, their work with AP programs absolutely transformed my teaching practice when they supported my school through the Legacy Schools Program. They are incredible people that have done amazing things for students across Colorado. While I wrestle with my professional identity in my new position, I am so happy that they have given my the change to get my fix for geeking out over calculus with students. It's the one thing that feels normal as a recovering AP Calculus teacher.
If you have any ideas for what you would like to hear about with my new 'Professional Learning Parner' role, please be sure to message me on Twitter or leave a comment below. Happy New Year everyone!
This fall, I took on many projects as a part of my new position as the Professional Learning Partner for the Division of Student Equity and Opportunity for Denver Public Schools. This role has come with many challenges and opportunities for growth both professionally and personally. With so much of my identity wrapped in my role as a teacher, I have spent the past 6 months getting to know a different version of myself. One of the projects that has pushed my personal growth the most is the Bias and Equity Training I have collaboratively created for the Division of Student Equity and Opportunity.
This fall, I was tasked to create a year-long professional learning experience focused on Bias and Equity in collaboration with a member of the DPS CELT team, Bill De La Cruz. Together, we have been able to create a model grounded in two pieces of research:
With this research in mind, we decided to create what we called a "Cohort Model". In this model, participants attend an in-person session once a month and complete online work in small groups of no more than eight people in an online course. DPS has adopted Schoology as the LMS for professional development for teachers, so all course materials were created in Schoology. I wrote a previous blog post about using Slides to build out a Schoology course if you are interested. Below is a visual of our model.
Topics we have included in our in-person sessions have included Foundations of Bias, White Fragility, Preparing for Thanksgiving Conversations and Healing Circles. Each session has taken our department into deeper conversations that have pushed our individual growth. Bill has served as an excellent content expert and I have enjoyed working with him to create online modules that utilize a combination of articles, videos, discussions and in-person conversations to move our work forward. Based upon initial survey data, we have seen our team increase their expertise around Bias and Equity and engage in deep conversations around issues of bias and equity. I look forward to continuing this work for the remainder of the school year and sharing the overall success of our initiative in the future. If you are interested in seeing the materials and course I have put together, feel free to contact me and I would be happy to share all of our resources.
How have you used a blended approach to support issues of bias and equity? Please share in the comments below!
Today, I attended the Connect Colorado Schoology Conference, hosted by Jefferson County Public Schools. Denver Public Schools has moved to adopt the LMS as both the student and teacher platform for online learning, so it was important for me to learn as much as I could about the platform and its features. I was able to learn a lot about functions that will be unique to the enterprise version of Schoology, which DPS is in the process of adopting. While each enterprise is slightly different, there are some common features across districts who have purchased the enterprise version of Schoology. One of these features is portfolios, which allow the users to compile a variety of documents, images, files, etc into one cohesive presentation. See the video below for more information on portfolios.
While I learned about some neat features and functions in Schoology, the most impressive session was the one that combined the power of Google Slides and the embedding features in Schoology. Below is the tweet one of my colleagues posted that best sums up the experience.
For those of you not familiar with Schoology, it is important to note that the current text options for content pages and discussions are... less than impressive. As someone who appreciates great aesthetics in a course, I find myself consistently disappointed with the current design features in Schoology. Adam Larson brilliantly pointed out that you can embed a Google Slides presentation into these pages, allowing you to utilize all of the infinite capacity within Slides as well as a sleeker design. For those of you not familiar with this feature in Google Slides, you can access the embed code by publishing your document. Even more brilliantly, he talked about ways to hyperlink within your presentation, making it an interactive learning experience for users that updates automatically. The video below is an example of what Adam described.
As this mind-blowing session continued, it was apparent that there were some major advantages to using this technique over the built-in design elements in Schoology.
Needless to say, this session have completely transformed the way I will design the courses I create in Schoology. Never underestimate the power of a good embed code. So simple, yet so powerful.
What simple and powerful workarounds have you found? Please share them in the comments below!
Mattea Garcia is a passionate educator dedicated to improving instruction by utilizing technology. This blog is dedicated to reflections on educational technology tools, instructional coaching, and educational equity.