Blog: Write any final thoughts you’re having about your whole master’s experience.
It feels good to be finished! Whew! I think I'll miss it, though. Keeping up with the trends and stimulating my brain with themes from my profession instead of personal hobbies has been really good for me. I have a new interest or specialty now that will keep me motivated and help to be an "influential teacher" for years to come. Specifically, I'm really looking forward to putting into practice the outdoor photography homework plan that came out of this experience. I want to get my students outdoors more with their parents on nightly walks around the neighborhood. (If you have ever had a dog walking schedule around your neighborhood you can relate.) Except with my plan, you are doing much more than helping your dog relieve themselves and mark territory while you enjoy the neighborhood. With my weekly homework, you could feel good about helping your child do science while enjoying your neighborhood. And if you also walk your dog, then it'd be three birds with one stone!
I hope the model becomes a popular idea because, (to me at least), it makes sense. How else can you touch so many bases? (I'm imagining this for Third Grade.)
Check! Check! Check! Check! (How long do you want this post to be, anyway?)
The Touro/NapaLearns master's program has been almost too good to be true. It feels like a Goldilocks program for teachers because it wasn't too much or too little. The focus on technology and innovation is so appropriate for these times, and especially for these distance learning times. We must use technology in innovative ways if we want to guarantee a quality education for the near future, and beyond. Being in this program has given me the skills to make an easier transition to distance learning. That's another take-away I will never forget.
I'm very thankful to have been a part of the Learning Innovation Lab. It's too neat to have a webpage floating around out there in this big database. I'm honored to feel I may have contributed in a small way to our children and public education! I want to give a big thanks to all the people who make it possible! (You know who you are.)
What is your biggest takeaway from the 703 class? What’s been your favorite part of the class? Where did you struggle and what did you do to push through your struggle? How do your skills in transliteracy relate to the TPACK model?
My favorite part of class 703 was making the video. It was also the most challenging. And because it was challenging, and creative, it was the most rewarding project.
I like the idea of having a website that contains my work from this program. It is out there in the digital world, in all its imperfection, but will hopefully will help teachers who are interested in the theme of outdoor education.
I feel like my biggest struggle was with very silly things. My computer did not seem to function properly. For example, whenever I downloaded something, I could not find it. Nothing appears in my downloads folder. I manage to find things somehow. But every time I have to perform digital somersaults to connect things.
Other times I can't connect things. My video does not have many photos from my class. For some reason the photos in my iCloud won't appear where they should be, either. I suspect it has to do with which accounts are linked to what. It is complicated and frustrating for me. So I just used stock photos for most of the time.
I know things are not appearing because of some simple problem that a couple of clicks could fix. I searched for solutions on the Internet. None of them seemed to address my problem. It's this "not knowing" and "not being able to find it out" that bugs me about computers. Solutions are hidden. People who might know how to help are not around. I feel like I have "old school" intuitive problem solving skills that don't apply to technology.
Having suffered like this is what I have been needing to improve my teaching game, however. Now that I've made videos I'll be able to help my students do the same. I'm really looking forward to passing along the skills I've learned in these classes to my students. I'm super duper exited to try my outdoor photography project starting at the beginning of the school year. With the distance learning model we'll be in, it will really come in handy!
I'm deep in the learning pit. I'm torn between two kinds of videos I might make and I can't figure out which one to use. What's keeping me from deciding is the idea that I might be able to creatively blend the two styles.
The practical documentary would be of me being interviewed on the A roll, and using photos and videos from the school year on the B roll. It makes sense because it tells the story of my research in a real way.
The other option is to try to get creative and do some filming. The reading and video tutorials from this week make me feel like this is the expectation. I also feel it would be fun, interesting, challenging, and creative. But I can't figure out a way I could do a documentary about what happened last school year by filming now. I thought of doing something with my son. I could film him on devices inside and then take him outdoors and film him using devices in nature. (It would be funny if he dressed in a Bigfoot outfit.) But then the commentary and story line would not have much in common with my actual project. It would not be a documentary of my project. It would be a documentary about the father of Bigfoot, or of Bigfoot himself. Now that might work, but would it be too silly? Are the costume stores even open? Ellison did something where she blended her home experience with her project. I could try something similar, I guess.
But then I can't imagine what my interview questions would be. I'd have to pay my son a lot to do that, also.
So, Sasquatch, (Can I call you Sas?)...how did it feel to be indoors all day on screens? etc, etc...
The best advice I heard from the videos I've been watching on YouTube has to do with the discomfort of trying something new. They said to put the interviewee at ease by telling them that if they say something wrong, it can be re-recorded and edited. The takes a lot of stress off of the interview.
Touro University California is a university under Jewish auspices founded upon the universal values of commitment to social justice, intellectual pursuit, and service to humanity. As such, Touro University California is dedicated to the following:
In this week’s blog, consider how the work you have done during this program fits within Touro’s values and how you are going to take what you have done into the world to make a change. Will you share your work with your principal or colleagues? Will you post about it on twitter? Or will your focus be making a change within your classroom or something else? What practical thing will you do to be of service?
I firmly believe that ignorance, which leads to fear of diversity, greed, and the inability to see that our well being relies on the well being of everybody, is the root cause of racism. This is why the above statement which links social justice to intellectual pursuit really resonates with me. The third component of this statement, which is service to humanity, has to do with the responsibility of sharing the knowledge one gains in order to combat ignorance and racism.
The privilege of being able to get my master's degree brings with it this responsibility. I feel obligated, and anxious, to share the knowledge I have gained through this course of study. The other thing this course of study has shown me is that sharing knowledge is no longer just something you an do with your immediate circle of acquaintances. No, the urgency of these times, and especially in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, requires us to take advantage of social media platforms to amplify our voices and share the kind of learning we have gained. (I'm thinking particularly about Linda Darling-Hammond's The Flat World and Education: How America's Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future.) For me, this means that I have to embrace social media to help get this message out. Up until now I have shied away from social media, but now that I have some positive learning to share and teach with, (and the new tech skills to do it with), I know I need to start sharing this learning with more people.
Silence would mean compliance, consent, complicity, and more racial violence.
I will share my learning with the teachers in my school. I hope other teachers read my website and find it useful. Now that I have a Twitter and and an Instagram, (and a tech savvy wife), I'll start spreading the love online, as well.
But of course it does not stop there. Our new knowledge about how to empower children's voices through 21st Century skills is a path to achieving equity for ALL of our students. I think my greatest commitment is to them. As I've said before, I aim to empower them, and in doing so, empowering myself , my loved ones, everybody, and YOU!
Black Lives Matter
TPACK has been called “the heart of innovative teaching”. Teachers who want to empower their students through 21st Century learning have this model in mind in order to provide the best instruction possible. The most recent addition to the above Venn diagram is the TK, or, Technological Content circle. It adds a whole new dimension to a teacher’s knowledge of Pedagogy and Content. Content knowledge is what teachers know. Pedagogical knowledge is how they teach. Technological Knowledge relates to the role of technology to not only assist PK and CK, but also to potentially re-define what they mean.
You can’t really effectively describe the TPACK model unless you do it in light of another important educational model, which is the SAMR model:
SAMR stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. The introduction of technology into schools can substitute prior, non-tech teaching strategies and techniques. This is considered to be the weakest use of technology. An example is using a computer to type a paper instead of writing it by hand. Using technology to augment instruction means to substitute a non-tech tool, but with a functional improvement. An example of this is using spell check while writing a paper on the computer. A tech modified lesson allows for a significant task redesign. An example of a modified writing lesson is to have students share their writing in Google Docs and do peer reviews. At its most powerful, technology can redefine pedagogy and content. This means that new, previously inconceivable tasks can be done. An example of this is to create videos and slideshows to showcase writing, and to share end products on social media sites. The goal that the SAMR model shows is the transformation of outdated education habits such as dictation and memorization, with the 21st Century skills of analyzing, evaluating, and creating. These skills are essential to today’s Common Core State Standards. Technology has the potential to significantly enhance students’ ability to perform the 21st Century “4 C's Skills” of Communication, Collaboration, Critical thinking, and Creation.
Let’s look at both TPACK and SAMR in the context of the Screens to Streams outdoor photography homework idea I am working on.
In the area of content knowledge, I’m looking at the NGSS science standards for third grade. I’m looking at the descriptions of the units, and which units lend themselves to the integration of outdoor, digital photography projects. For example, for the NGSS standard:
For any particular environment, some kinds of organisms survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.(3-LS4-3)
Possible photo prompts for this unit could be:
“Take pictures of plants around your house and community. Try to take pictures of plants that you think people planted, and also “weeds” or trees that you think grow there naturally. For each photo, be ready to share: What do you notice? What do you wonder? What does it remind you of?”
“Take pictures of animals and insects from around your house and community. You can take pictures of pets. Also try to take pictures of wild animals and bugs if you can find them. For each photo, be ready to share: What do you notice? What do you wonder? What does it remind you of?”
In the classroom or in Zoom, (depending on where we are at with distance learning in the years to come), when students share their photos and observations on Padlet, they get a much better idea of which plants and animals are having success in their community. A discussion can also arise about which plants and animals were NOT seen in the community and why.
An important task in the development of this idea is to create prompts to give to the students for their photography, according to each unit, and also what guiding questions to discuss when students display their photos. Here is where it will be useful to have a current, NGSS science curriculum to mirror. Our school has not had a current “traditional” curriculum for the past several years. Teachers piloted several curriculums this past year, but with the Covid-19 crisis, adoption has been put on hold for another year. Many teachers including myself have been using the online, video based program called Mystery Science. These photography units can also be built around the NGSS standards covered in Mystery Science.
In the area of pedagogical knowledge, I’m also looking at NGSS guidelines. Specifically, I’m using the pedagogical “best practices” of students doing science and modeling their science learning rather than just learning about concepts from a textbook or video. I think it’s a very powerful idea to get kids outdoors in their communities and accompanied by their parents in order to tie their science learning into their individual contexts.
Happily, the technological knowledge branch of TPACK is what empowers students to be able to perform the pedagogical best practices of “doing” and “modeling”. Digital tools like cameras, nature identification apps like iNaturalist, and collaboration platforms like Padlet, are just a few of the tech tools that can redefine science learning in the 21st Century. For example, when a student makes a recording of an observation of a plant or animal in iNaturalist, the app uses GPS technology to “pin” the observation, which in turn is added to their “IO” or integrated and open database. This adds to real science because it is a resource for people all over the globe.
It looks like a good place to jump over to a discussion of how Screens to Streams fits in with the SAMR model:
Here are the questions I’m asking myself as I look at outdoor photography units in relation to the SAMR model:
Substitution: What will I gain by replacing the old technology with the newer technology?
A: Taking digital devices home to take photos of observations in nature is more motivating to many students than drawing in nature journals.
Augmentation: Have I added an improvement to the task process that could not be accomplished with the older technology at a fundamental level?
A: Yes, with a camera, students are able to record a larger number of observations in less time.
Modification: Does this modification fundamentally depend upon the new technology?
A: If my students were taking nature journals home and drawing their observations instead of photographing and posting, they would be more limited in their ability to share their observations with peers on collaboration platforms and with larger audiences through social media.
Redefinition: How is the new task made possible by the new technology?
A: Taking photos with the app iNaturalist, for example, redefines a student’s role in science. With each valid observation they have the ability to add to the body of scientific knowledge on species’ ranges and habitats around the globe.
Give us an honest appraisal of your journey around trying to produce your Capstone Project. What problems have you encountered? How will you solve them?
So far my biggest stumbling block has been my unfamiliarity with creating content on the Internet. I struggle with linking things between platforms and just knowing where and how and why to click on buttons that often seem hidden behind "windows" or tabs or whatever. Nothing seems to work the first time. Much feels counter-intuitive and not seamless. I think everything is more complicated than it should be because there are so many companies and platforms and file types and places to store things, etc, etc. Sometimes my wife helps me and sometimes YouTube videos do. I'm learning that a vital 21st Century skill is just being able to "teach yourself" new skills most of the time.
A big problem is my info graphic. I see that most others that my peers have done are related to the lessons or the process that their project incorporated. Since I was not able to complete the core part of my study, I don't know if I can do an honest, informative info graphic on this. I can come up with something alternative to do.
What aha’s have you encountered as you watch mini-documentaries and past capstone videos? How are they different? Think about who you are creating the mini-documentary for? What essential points will be most important to them and how will you address them in your storytelling?
It's comforting to see how different the capstone videos are. They all work. That's good. The mini-documentaries taught me what b roll is. I learned that there is a real art to piecing together the different images and b roll footage with the interview footage. Right now I'm juggling a few things that I might piece together for my video. One is the interview footage and audio. The other could be the story line. When I wrote the story line I thought that it could also be read aloud and woven in between the interview cuts in order to give a more complete picture of the project as it evolved, then crashed, and evolved again. I uploaded a lot of images and videos from the past school year that I think could be enough to tell the story visually. I don't think I'll have to record any video to re-create what the project was about. When I was uploading images into WeVideo they actually helped me to imagine how the story line will read. I also took pictures of my sketches and put them in there to help tell the story along if I need to use them. The hard part is going to be piecing it all together. I need a storyboard planner where I can order and overlap the b roll images and video, the interview video cuts and voice audio, and the story line audio. If I can tell the story without the story line audio, I think I should do that. It might be overkill and I should be able to tell the story with just the interview and the images. Kinda like reading between the lines. If I can't maybe the story is too long and complicated to maintain interest.
My documentary is for teachers or aspiring teachers and specifically for teachers interested in teaching outdoor science. I need to keep that in mind and give what I think would be the most useful and interesting tidbits of information. They should come away from the video knowing at least one thing they could go look into if they wanted to.
I found this language on our school's official website. It's the plan from 2009-2014. Looks like we need an update. I might inquire about it. I think I'll check out New Tech High's language to compare it to what I imagine is a good plan because it's such a big part of that school. Our plan could use some changes. For example, I had difficulties with our school's technology policy while doing my research. I was unable to upload nature apps onto any of the iPads due to a 1 upload per year policy (which I did not see in the language I encountered here below). I read it and so much has changed since then it's amazing! Our students have had 1 to 1 devices for the last six years! As far as I knew, we didn't have any mission or vision or goals related to the use of technology in the school. Turns out there is language about that in this plan, too.
Our technology sure did help us with distance learning! We rolled out devices to every child and the community paid for several hot spots so that everyone could have wifi access. Our administrators are pretty proud of our ability to adapt, thanks to the 1 to 1 devices and teacher flexibility/adaptability.
Here's part of the 2009-2014 plan from the CJUSD website:
3a. Description of teachers’ and students’ current access to technology tools both during the school day and after school hours.
Calistoga Elementary School
All students have access to a minimum of two up-to-date computers in each classroom with high-speed Internet access. Many classroom computers have headphones that allow English Learners to make use of language development software. There is at least one printer accessible from classroom. All students are served in classrooms that have access to Discovery Education, an educational video download service, via the Napa County Office of Education. Other online resources are available through and Ed1Stop, a service of NCOE. In addition, all classrooms are equipped with a television and VCR.
All students learn in classrooms that are networked, allowing students and teachers to make use of Scholastic Reading Counts. The school library/media center contains a large collection of lexile-rated reading materials with corresponding Reading Counts quizzes to encourage students’ choices of recreational reading at an appropriate level for comprehension.
The district’s schools work with the local SELPA to provide any needed adaptive technology for students with special needs. The school district also uses language development software from DynEd to provide extra help for English learners at both sites. The software is research-based and provides both placement and mastery skills tests in both oral and written English.
In the summer of 2008, the Calistoga Elementary School updated the school computer lab with new PC computers (Lenovo ThinkCentre with Intel Core2 and Windows XP) and to purchase enough additional computers to allow each student his or her own workstation. There are 26 student workstations in the lab, two networked laser printers (one black laserjet and one color laserjet), and a teaching workstation which includes computer, digital projector, and Califone PresentationPro audio speaker. Each student workstation is equipped with headphones to allow for the use of English language development software. The computer lab is used for computer classes and Academy classes throughout the day, with designated times available throughout the week for teacher reservations. The computer lab is located in the school library/media center. In addition, Calistoga Elementary School has assembled a mobile center of 24 IBM ThinkPad T30 laptop computers which may be checked out by teachers for use in their classrooms.
The school library is equipped with an electronic card catalogue augmented with an automated bar-code check-out system. In addition to the librarian’s workstation, there are four student workstations located in the library. The library staff maintains a small professional library containing educational videos and audiotapes.
Calistoga Joint Unified School District 8 District Technology Plan 2009-2014
Teachers make use of classroom computers for instructional planning and to record student assessment scores on a networked database. Every teacher has an email account. Parents are encouraged to contact teachers by e-mail. All classrooms are equipped with voicemail. Teachers also have access to the school and district web site for posting grades, announcements, and classroom newsletters.
The computer lab at Calistoga Elementary school is also open to use by students with tutors, Boys & Girls club, and CCLC ThinkTank from the hours of 2:00-3:00 on Tuesdays and 4:00-5:00 on all other weekdays.
It goes on in more depth about protecting students from online predators, use of computers to enrich reading and math, professional development, etc. It's a complete plan! But it is VERY outdated. Our computers have changed. Our reporting tools have changed. Our curriculum has changed. Looks like we could use a lot of the structure of this plan and update it. I found out we used to have TWO full time technology coordinators in the district. Now as far as I know we don't have any. Maybe they have one at the high school. We could sure use someone now to work on updating our technology vision and plan! I don't imagine too many people were talking about the SITE model, TPACK, or 21st Century skills in 2008.
I took advantage of Lisa's post on Remind about how to create an icon using Adobe Spark. I watched her friend's YouTube video and made this. I would have liked for the figure to be holding a handheld device instead of a walking stick. If I can figure out how to make a figure that looks like this, but does that, I might change it. I could also live with this one. I actually made two as per the video's instructions. This one is supposed to have a transparent background so that I might be able to paste it into different backgrounds. I think I failed to make the text-backing transparent, however. Looks like I'll need to watch the video again. The first one I made is brown. It's supposed to look like the national parks icon.
On this one, I did not get the color number of the background and did not match the text background perfectly to that. Again, more practice is needed.
So the icon is supposed to communicate how using screens can lead to getting outdoors. I'm not convinced that this idea has that kind of message. It looks like it is pointing upward, but I don't see the screen leading to the figure. I thought some wavy blue stream lines would be in there somewhere, but the experience with Adobe Spark, combined with my lack of experience, led to this product. Any comments and suggestions are greatly welcomed. Thank you.
My first goal for my students, above any academic concerns, is to ensure that they are safe and healthy. Based on experience with my child at home, a wide range of studies, and the testimonials of my students' parents, I know that the amount of screen time students typically engage in these days is a cause for concern. As we move toward increasing use of screen based technologies both at home and at school, this problem has often troubled me. The amount of time children spend outdoors has been decreasing proportionally to the amount of time they spend indoors consuming one form of media or another. I know that children love video games, YouTube Videos, Tic Tok, and social media. They familiar with and skilled at using these forms of technology. I also know that they love playing and learning outdoors when they are given access or encouraged to get out of their homes or classrooms. I've seen the power of outdoor education through the various field trips and overnight adventures our school offers to children. These experiences, in my opinion, are too limited.
My big question has been how to leverage students' familiarity and interest in technology in order to get them more in touch with outdoor environments. I've discovered that it can be done! Through an outdoor photography homework model, where students use handheld devices to capture images of plants and animals, and identify them using apps such as iNaturalist or Seek, students can be prompted to go outdoors on a much more frequent basis. This activity is linked to the classroom where kids share and present their photos with the class and larger audiences. The transliteracy skills students learn through this kind of project empowers them to be effective communicators in the 21st Century. Empowering my students, after looking after their health, has been my other big interest as an educator.
In the future I plan to continue to explore this idea by linking our newly adopted science curriculum with outdoor photography extensions. This will help students to fulfill the NGSS goal of students "doing" science rather than passively learning about it in class. I also hope that it will increase their ability to perform the NGSS practice of obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.
It would be great to collect end products to share with other teachers. It would also be great to develop a teacher training to show step by step how to put into action a outdoor photography homework "flipped" science unit. It would be great to have data to show teachers and parents how this kind of activity can lead to students spending more quality and healthy time outdoors. It would be great to be able to show with data how it increased parent involvement with students. I could also share these results on a much larger scale if I share these experiences on social media platforms such as Twitter or Instagram.
Questions for Reflection:
1) How does transliteracy change your current thoughts on the content you deliver?
2) How do you see the incorporation of transliteracy teaching methods increasing student inclusion and engagement?
3) How does sketchnoting fall into the transliteracy category and how was it for you to process information in this way? How might you use this in the classroom?
Transliteracy is a unified way to think about literacy past, present and future. It is defined as: The ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.
These above skills are regarded as the ones transliterate people are better able to do through the use of apps, tools, media platforms, and digital social networks. I firmly believe that the integration of these methods will not only increase student engagement, but also increase learning on a deeper level, which arises out of empowering kids to do the above skills. Technology tools are integral to this. I can no longer teach using old methods of instruction such as lectures, textbooks, whiteboard presentations, and paper and pencil assignments. As I described in my "About the Author" section, I have always been focused on empowering students with the tools they need to be effective communicators. For years I was a Dual Language instructor, and I saw biliteracy as an important way to give students an edge. Now I'm seeing transliteracy as being potentially as empowering, if not more so, than knowing two languages.
It's long been known how sketching and images can help students, and especially second language learners, to understand content and communicate their ideas. I can see how more frequent integration of sketch booking can scaffold a variety of skills we hope to teach students. For example, they can use it to plan the plot of a story they want to tell. The images stimulate the need to write more in order to explain them. And the images make the presentation of their stories much more engaging for their audience.
Students can then take their images and stories and upload them onto slideshow presentations. These in turn can be placed in social media platforms in order to reach larger audiences. This is all very motivating for people.
The slideshow presentations I was envisioning my students to make, based on their outdoor education experiences, could be even more powerful I now realize, if they intersperse drawings of the experience with the photos they took while outdoors. These would also be mixed in with slides that show the research they did about the photos they took. This technique could be very powerful in creating a narrative of the experience, and help students to demonstrate their learning, communication skills, and creativity to their peers, teachers, and families.