This week, I am reflecting on my final project for Course 2 of COETAIL. I go over how I thought I new the topic, working with my peers over Zoom, comparing this project to previous PDs, my use of Google Suite tools, and finally displaying our work.
A Friend From Work
How often have you walked into a PD session where your look at the topic and realize that you already have a strong background knowledge in the topic? Is this a common thing? Or does it feel like you are walking into something unknown where there is a chance that you do not know something that everyone else knows? Coming into the final project, I was not sure what to work on. After being approached by Justin and Megan about joining their group to focus on ISTE Standards for Citizens, I was feeling pretty good. I had previously looked into the idea of plagiarism which tied into ISTE Standard 3c “Mentor students in safe, legal, and ethical practices with digital tools and the protection of intellectual rights and property“. Going in, I felt excited that I new a bit about the topic as it is something I had explored during my Masters. It felt like I new an old friend…
Yet, the more I worked on the standard and dug into how ISTE defined each part, the more I realized that my initial understanding was limited more to traditional thinking about plagiarism. Like Thor in the clip above, I realized I had my work cut out for me.
For me, I benefited greatly by being able to see my groups work and take ideas from them. Seeing the different styles they put in place for their workshop helped me better understand how I was putting my workshop together and how it might not suit everyone. I can be very logical in my progression and not everyone works the same way. Others may want to jump around a bit and explore as they go. Danielle used a placemat style activity where there was more choice and that helped me be able to build in choice into my workshop.
Zoom Meetings and Feedback
Given that we were all based in different locations, the first step taken was to organize a group meeting on Zoom. The experience I had of Home Based Learning has made me more comfortable over the past year of working through Zoom or other video platforms and for me this help take some of the stress out of planning. I think if I had not had the exposure to Zoom because of Covid, it may have felt a little more impersonal. Yet, having spent hours on Google Meet with my students and Zoom with family, it went fine.
We quickly decided that Justin would take point in organizing the introduction and ending of our professional development program, where he brought in the idea of an unconference at the end to all the participants to reflect on their learning in team without a strict hierarchal sense to it. Then, the Megan, Danielle, Kimberly and I would split the four subparts of standard three and prepare are own workshops around them. This worked well as it allowed us each to bring our own style to the workshop. The way we conceptualized it, on the day of the workshop or prior to it, participants would have selected two of the four substandard they wanted to learn more about and then would go to those workshops. We shared our planning documents and slides in a Google Drive which allowed us see how each of us were developing our workshops.
After a few weeks of working away, we then had a second and final Zoom to go over our workshops, think of ways we could try to standardized parts of it (such as having a provocation and clear indications of hyperlinks), and to offer suggestions. For me, some of the suggestions I received was to rearrange my slides so one of the videos I had embedded worked as a provocation. A second was to add in more agency for the participants as they would be coming in for different levels of knowledge. To this end, I came up with a suggested order of topics to look at depending on the participants prior knowledge. I went with a mild, medium, hot way of arranging the ideas.
To help those who would be participating online, I had a selection of videos for different slides where I introduce myself and give instructions on how to use the slides. Further, a range of tools were used to try and build a more interactive nature, such as Quizlet, Jamboards, and Padlet.
Then and Now
Earlier this year I co-led a short PD session on differentiation for EAL students at my school. Preparing that with a colleague, we decided that the key thing we wanted teachers to walk away with was solid tools they could use in developing resources for their students. Two tools I highlighted were Rewordify.com and Duolingo’s CEFR Checker. Rewordify allows the user to change the language in a text to help identify or define more difficult language or make a reading quickly into a cloze activity, among other uses. The CEFR checker can identify the difficulty of a reading, allowing teachers to understand how hard a reading is and have confidence if EAL students will be able to access it.
While the planning for this activity took place through Zoom meetings and emails, I did not find the experience that different. What was different for me was thinking about how I wanted to facilitate it. Instead of having me lead it and everyone else to follow, I wanted it to me more self driven where I would be more in a support role. This mimics more of how I want my classroom experiences to be, where students have some agency over what they learn and take on based on their prior knowledge or their strengths and weaknesses.
Getting Comfortable with GET
So far in my GET training, I have felt pretty comfortable with the workload and the tools presented. My schools 1-to-1 technology policy and use of Google Classroom has given me a strong background in the tools. Yet, I am still pleasantly surprised with each of the small details and tools I have learned about through the training. This project allowed me to use a wide variety of Google Suite tools which only furthers my comfort with the technology and being able to share my learning with others.
I made use of Google Calendar to plan for and share details of our meetings which helped with the workflow.
I made use of Google Drive with a Shared Folder to share my Google Slides and observe my group mates work.
I used a Jamboard to help share ideas and be collaborative during the presentation.
Finally, the workshop was created to allow for independent learning for those that wanted to take that route.
The Final Results
Below is the workshop I created as part of the professional development program. It walks the participants through four parts to break down the standard, discuss the idea of mentorship, explore what is safe, legal, and ethical, and finally reflect on the protection of intellectual property.