Welcome to my Showcase of some of the products that I created as I made my way through the MAET program at Michigan State. One of my primary focuses throughout my journey through the program was the need to at every opportunity make sure that what I was learning and doing would directly impact my work at Roxboro Community School in terms of products created and skills learned. As you view these artifacts of my work over the course of my coursework, you will also notice a progression towards mastery of pivotal skills that will serve me well in my current and future endeavors.
I chose to divide this Showcase into two parts. The first shows the products that I helped to create with peers via collaboration. This illustrates lessons that I learned via cooperating with others sometimes in person but more often over great distances. These projects also illustrate the need to work together towards mutual goals. As a Technology Director, a fair portion of my job description involves working with other people to help them meet their goals. These experiences helped hone my already present skills as well as develop new ones.
The other section is comprised of solo assignments that I created which are either currently being utilized at my school or is being pursued as something that will be done (Dream IT project). This section illustrates how I put the lessons I was learning directly into application in my workplace as I developed and utilized new skills that have served me well and will continue to serve me well in the future.
The first major group project that I did was an exploration of the Wicked Problem of teaching Complex Thinking. Wicked Problems are issues that there is no definitive answer too. Any answer will have weaknesses but you strive to find the best answer possible. Our group was tasked with defining and trying to tackle this…well wicked problem. Our findings and thoughts can be found attached to the blog post.
As I continue in my role of Technology Director, I will invariably be faced with daunting to impossible tasks that will demand the best of the bad answers. This project helped me to determine ways to utilize other people’s thoughts and combine them with research to determine what is the best possible decision.
One of the major assignments that we did during the summer of 2017 is Understanding Understanding. You can see the directions here. Essentially, we were tasked with coming up with a concept that we felt there were misconceptions about, create a planning document. do research including surveys, create a script/questions, interview people, and then create a video that would explain the misconceptions and attempt to find the source of them.
Emily Sherbin, Jocelyn Paez, and I tackled the question of Digital Privacy. As part of this assignment, we created the video as mentioned and we also created a website that includes our survey, our script, our video, our findings, and resources that you can utilize.
While it is unlikely that I will create a website and video to explain a misunderstanding, this project opened my eyes to see the value of seeking out where people are in their understanding (or misunderstanding) so that I can guide them to where they need to be in terms of Technology utilization at RCS. By meeting and talking with people, I will be able to know where my colleagues are so I can more effectively help them towards our stated goals as a school.
This assignment was brand new to the MAETy2 program, so we had fun blazing a new trail. You can read the directions here. My partners for this assignment were Shari Saddison and John Howell. Essentially, we were tasked with developing a professional development program that related to STEAM education that we would then present at a conference with roughly 140 attendees. My group chose to present on QuickFires. More specifically, we focused on how attendees could create their own QuickFires using lessons that they were already doing. As part of the presentation, we created a website that we intended to be a resource for people interested in using QuickFires in their classroom. You can view pictures of attendees by using the #quickfiresk12 hashtag. You can also view our presentation here.
In North Carolina, in order to be considered “distinguished” in certain categories, you must present at conferences. While I have no problem presenting to the faculty at my school, I had never led a session for people that I did not know. The preparation and delivery of this program have equipped me to have the confidence to present at conferences here in North Carolina and potentially elsewhere. I would never have considered this prior to learning the ins and outs of conference presentation through this project.
For this assignment, our group (Jocelyn Paez, Emily Sherbin, and myself) were responsible for organizing and conducting a live webinar utilizing YouTube Live and Google Hangouts on Air. The directions for this project can be found here. My group chose to do a Webinar on this topic: Technology to assist learning II: Meeting the diverse needs of your students, assistive technologies, particularly through the idea of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).
As we tackled this assignment, we created a planning document where we posted research, questions, ideas of who to invite, the email that we sent out, the blog post we sent for the MSU Bridge site, resources, and technical information about how to do the Webinar. Emily and Jocelyn primarily led the question and answer session, while I controlled microphones, made sure everything was working and monitored Twitter and YouTube comments, as well as advertising on Twitter throughout the Webinar. We had several guests including Marnie Diem (Tech Director at Hillel Day School), Stephen Blosser (Assistive Technology Specialist at Michigan State University), Mike Ryan (Research Associate at Georgia Tech in the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC)), and Randy Brookins (fourth grade teacher who previously worked with special needs student at CHOA). To view the webinar, click on the advertisement I created below.
To be completely honest, this was the project that stretched my abilities the most. I typically do not attempt to get strangers to help me with projects at work. I almost universally do the work myself or pull in someone that I know very well. Due to my complete lack of knowledge about the topic, I knew no one that I could get to participate. One thing that I have noticed as a Technology Director is that you need to lean on other people (often people you do not know) to be able to effectively do the work that needs doing. I learned how to effectively approach experts in a field and garner assistance with a topic that I was admittedly weak in. I have already on several occasions at RCS used those skills to accomplish tasks I would not have been able to do otherwise.
As an educator for eight years prior to starting this program, I had written innumerable lesson plans over time. When we were exposed to TPACK as a framework for integrating technology (or not) into our practice, it became apparent that there was a better way for me to utilize technology in class. TPACK is much more than just adding a tool though. It is a paradigm shift. For this particular artifact, I took a lesson plan that I had done the previous year and TPACK-ified it. You can read the blog post to see the specific changes that I made, but this assignment taught me the requisite skills to not just use technology in a lesson. Rather, it instilled in me a mindset that starts with the Content Knowledge, seeks the best pedagogical way to teach the concepts, and then finds just the right tool to come alongside the pedagogy to transform the lesson from good to great. I continue to use these lessons as I prepare and present professional development opportunities for the staff at RCS. What is good for young learners tends to be good for all learners.
This is one of the assignments that I am most proud of. I wanted to create something that would actually live in the real world, so I created a means for teachers to self-evaluate where they were in their use of the LMS called Canvas. I called it the Canvas Continuum and filled it with resources that teachers could utilize to move from where they were to deeper and more authentic uses of the LMS. Here you will find the Canvas Continuum and the Rationale behind it.
We are currently using this at my school as a way for teachers to have constant and consistent improvement in their utilization of our chosen LMS, Canvas. Additionally, I have learned a process that I can use to create similar tools for our teachers at RCS to use to improve their instructional practice.
For this project, I worked through the Stanford Design Thinking model in pursuit of a not terrible professional development plan. Through the process, I focused on trying to understand where teachers were coming from and what they needed. I then rethought my understanding of the issue before I sought out ways to fix it. Eventually, I made a prototype and tested it with teachers before revising. You can find the plan here.
The Dream IT Project was an opportunity for us to develop a proposal that could be utilized to obtain a grant for technology that we could use in our classroom (or in my case school). My proposal revolves around getting a class set of 30 devices that can be used to utilize Google Expeditions and other Virtual tour applications. The Dream IT project has five parts, which are Part I: Brief project description, Part II: Outline the transformation you would like to see in your teaching and your students’ learning, Part III: Presenting the Total PACKage, Part IV: Evaluation, and Part V: How does your project connect with other key issues in educational technology? If you prefer, you can view the project all on one page here.
I have never pursued a grant before this assignment. I would never have known where to start. Due to my work at a charter school, however, I will need to continue to write grants to help pay for equipment that we would otherwise be too cash-strapped to purchase on our own. This project gave me a framework that I can use to develop grant proposals. Prior to this, I would have been lost. The skills gained from the assignment will directly relate to my ability to equip the teachers that I work with at RCS.