One of my goals for this year is provide more opportunities for authentic student leadership, specifically in the tech support and training that we do with students and teachers. We have a very engaged and supportive learning community here at YIS, and in addition to our fantastic student councils at each division, we have a great opportunity to add more student leadership in an area where students are often the expert: technology.
Facilitating a Student Tech Team
Throughout my career as a teacher, I’ve always facilitated some sort of middle school student tech team. In some schools it’s been a hang-out time for students who enjoy spending more time with technology, in others it’s been more like an extra class where we have actual lessons, in other schools it’s turned into a movie making club or some other form of creative use of technology. In each school, of course, the dynamics of the community and the group of students have had an impact on how we spend our time.
Over the last two years at YIS, I’ve facilitated our Middle School Student Tech Team, and each year I’ve learned a ton from my students. My biggest take-away has been how much they want to share their expertise with others.
In my first year at YIS, the MS STT was a voluntary club, held after-school once a week. Because we had a majority of students in grade 6, who were learning about blogging in MYP Technology, we developed a STT blog. We used that space to share resources we found online, and to create a personalized one-on-one tech support for teachers during lunch or after school. Although we had some success with the teacher training, the after-school timing made it more difficult to stay focused and productive. Also, because the club was voluntary, we didn’t really have a true Middle School team (students were mostly from grade 6).
So, with the implementation of our Connected Learning Community last year, we have included a student representative (similar to a student council model) from every homeroom to create our MS STT. Having this equal representation from each homeroom has had a positive impact on the growth, the reputation and the skills set of our team.
Sometime in the middle of last school year, we realized one of the best ways for our team to share their knowledge was through tutorial videos. Each month, at our middle school assembly, the MS STT had at least one tutorial video to share. Of course, we had the blog from the year before, so that became the repository for all of our tutorial videos.
In fact, the MS STT became so good at creating tutorial videos, that they created the entire CLC Essentials for Students site with all of the training videos for our CLC Orientation this school year. This was a huge improvement to the way we introduced the laptops in our first year of the CLC, because now students can work at their own pace through a selection of student-created tutorials, and we had our MS STT lead the sessions at the beginning of the school year.
Now that we’re in our second year of the CLC, with a more established STT role in the school, thanks to their leadership in previous years, we’re ready to build in even more student leadership. During our first meeting this school year, I asked our team (of 17 students in grades 6 – 8) what they would like to do this school year, focusing on being more active leaders among the teachers, students and parents.
Here’s what we have planned:
The STT tutorials are popular with students and teachers, and having them all centrally located on our STT blog makes them easy to access. Our goal this year is to continue to help students become more efficient and effective with their technology use, prioritizing tasks and skills that we weren’t able to highlight last year when so many features of having a laptop were new to everyone.
So far this year:
- Idan (grade 6) has created a tutorial on using Google Calendar to record homework,
- Brian (grade 8) is working on one to show how to use Activity Manager effectively so that you can maximize the processing power of your laptop, and
- Aiden (grade 6) is creating one for organizing and managing files in Google Drive.
Teach the Teachers
Our STT is really excited to start leading more training with teachers. They want to run sessions that will help teachers understand why they use technology the way they do, and to help teachers become more efficient and effective with what they do on their laptops.
So far this year, we’ve had students featured at our first SpeedGeeking event of the year:
- Michael (grade 8) presented on Facebook privacy settings and how to use FB for academic purposes
- Keigo (grade 8) and Joseph (grade 6) shared an intro to iMovie
Based on their success, they will be offering after school hands-on sessions to any teachers or students that are interested in learning more.
In addition to featuring students at our SpeedGeeking sessions, they’ve also come up with a number of hands-on sessions to run during lunch times and after school:
- Ashley (grade 6), Charlotte (grade 7) and Jack (grade 7) are working on a blogging session,
- Keigo (grade 8), Brian (grade 8) and Joseph (grade 6) are working on a QuickTime and iMovie session,
- Idan (grade 6) and Loretta (grade 6) are working on a Making the Most of Your Mac session, and
- Idan (grade 6), Keigo (grade 8) and Brian (grade 8) are developing a session on Minecraft.
All of these will be offered to students and teachers, starting after our October break.
In addition to these group sessions, we’re also going to continue the one-on-one teacher support through a simple survey linked on our STT blog. Teachers can request a specific STT member, or topic, and a specific time to be trained. We keep track of all the training we’ve completed using a shared Google Spreadsheet.
We are very fortunate to have a 2-day orientation at the beginning of each school year. For the past two years, this has been primarily focused on introducing our Connected Learning Community. Next year will be our third year, so we would like to see more of a focus on team building and getting to know each other.
To support this more collaborative and social environment, we will have the STT lead the majority of our CLC-focused sessions. We have a team working on an a YIS Orientation iOS app, another team will work on developing age-appropriate activities, and another team updated and expanding the CLC Essentials for Students.
We have a very active and engaged parent community. A number of parents who regularly attend our Parent Technology and Literacy Coffee Mornings have requested one-on-one tech support. The first time I was asked, I thought maybe our superstar YIS-graduate tech support staffer, Kanna, could help. But then a few weeks ago, I was asked again, and thought it would be great to have a list of students willing to help, along with their specialties.
It was no surprise to me that when I shared this idea with the STT, they jumped at the chance! We’re just in the early stages of planning, but we’d like to have a central list of STT members (and others, if they’re interested, perhaps CAS students?) who would be willing to tutor parents in technology, along with a short bio, photo and their list of specialty areas.
Learning New Skills
Our whole team wants to learn more about technology. As we learn, we will teach each other. One of the teams is really excited about learning how to create an game for iOS devices (any experts out there? We’d love some help).
I’m really excited to see where this team will go! They have already organized themselves into sub-teams with leaders in each group who are responsible for reporting back to me on their progress. Each student is able focus on an area of personal interest or growth to add to our growing list of responsibilities. Already I’ve been impressed by the time and effort they have put in to each task – by our second week, the group had already asked for two meetings a week! Now we meet on Wednesday and Friday during lunch. I’ve also heard from other colleagues that whenever there is a tech problem in class, the STT members “swarm” in to help. It’s taken a few years to get this kind of energy about student tech leadership going, and we’re just going to keep on growing!
Do you have a student tech team at your school? What do they do? I would also love to see if we can collaborate with other student tech teams around the world – perhaps some Skyping to share tips? Or even starting some collaborative resources if we have similar school communities and needs? Interested?
- Student tech team filming & reviewing a laptop responsibility video on the fly with an iPhone by superkimbo, CC Licensed on Flickr
- So proud of our MS Student Tech Team members for leading teacher training today! by superkimbo, CC Licensed on Flickr
- MS Student Tech Team members teaching teachers during SpeedGeeking by superkimbo, CC Licensed on Flickr
Last week we started our second year of our Connected Learning Community (1:1 program) at YIS. Although our program ran really smoothly last year, including our first 2-day orientation at the beginning of the year, we learned a lot and made this year’s orientation even better!
Here are a few highlights:
One of the major improvements we wanted to make based on last year’s orientation, was to include more student leadership right at the beginning of the year. Since we had such an outstanding Middle School Student Tech Team last year, we thought they would be perfect to lead our hands-on laptop sessions during orientation. In order to make things as easy to manage (for the students) as possible, our five grade 8 Student Tech Team members, made a series of video tutorials introducing all the important skills for managing a student laptop at YIS.
Along with the video tutorials (see below), they were able to run the sessions entirely on their own (with the teacher to facilitate). Not only was this a great way to demonstrate student leadership in the school, but the teachers really enjoyed having the students lead the session. We were able to take the pressure off the teachers from having to teach all of those skills on the first day back, give the students a chance to lead, and allow the class to move at their own pace, work together and finish up on their own time.
Student-Created Video Tutorials Site
At the end of last school year, the Student Tech Team developed the list of skills with me and a few other middle school teachers so we would be sure to target the skills students and teachers really need. We spent a few lessons last June recording the tutorials so they would be ready to go right on the first day of school.
Over the summer, I took the tutorials they created, and compiled them into a simple, streamlined Google Site. This allowed our superstar Student Tech Team to lead the sessions during the scheduled times, and the rest of the students to watch and proceed at their own pace during the session, and to finish up at home.
This CLC Essentials for Students site has all of the basics that our students need to know to actively participate in our CLC. Over the year, we’ll add more videos as we create them, to continue to build a variety of skills for our students and teachers. I’m also planning to create a similar site for parents and teachers with video tutorials and resources relevant for them. Hopefully this series of Google Sites will become a one-stop-shop for everything each stakeholder group needs within the context of the CLC.
More Streamlined Schedule of Events
One of the great things about our orientation days is that they are completely off-timetable. We structure the days with the sessions as needed in order to make the most of our shortened school days. Last year we realized a few sessions were too short, others too long, and some not needed altogether. This year we revamped the schedule to better match the needs of the students, and we put the whole thing (including all the lesson plans) on our Digital Dragons Google Site (this is where we house our digital citizenship curriculum). Hopefully this made the sessions more practical and efficient, as well as making all of the resources easier to find for teachers.
Updated Parent Presentations
One of our very important sessions is for parents of new students and 6th graders to introduce the CLC (6th grade is the first year they can take their laptops home). Over the course of last year, we learned that parents needed more support in how to manage the new laptops at home. They were mostly concerned about balance and time management. So in May of last year, we hosted a great parent session with our admin team called Living With Laptops. We highlighted some of the strategies that we use at school to help students develop understandings about balance and time management and gave the parents an opportunity to strategize about how they can mirror those support structures at home.
This year, we used a slightly revised version of that presentation, with our own advice, along with tips and lessons learned from YIS parents, and added it to our introductory presentation. I’m thinking it was probably a lot of information – too much for most people to really absorb all in one go at the beginning of a school year – but it hopefully started some conversations. The best part is that we give these presentations to the whole family – the parents and their children together. Therefore the message about what happens at school, and what could happen at home, goes to the whole family at once, directly from us.
Updated Student Presentations & Activities
Since we’re in year 2 of our program, we are confident that most students understand the expectations, and we use this time to highlight both digital citizenship and general guidelines for behavior and use of laptops at school. We had:
- An image-based “quiz” for all students in grades 7 – 10 (returning to the CLC) to help remind them of our expectations, delivered by our admin team.
- A scavenger hunt for grade 6 to introduce them to all of the important people, places and expectations, run by the 6th grade tutors.
- A session on digital citizenship, using Common Sense Media lesson plans, in grades 6 – 8, to highlight the importance of online behavior.
- A discussion-based session in grades 7-8 with scenarios that actually happened last year (well, most of them) to help remind students about the expectations in our CLC.
- The hands-on sessions for setting up and managing your laptop, led by the Student Tech Team.
We are so lucky to have these 2-days of orientation at the beginning of the school year. It’s great to be able to ease our way back into the school year with some great opportunities for team-building and getting to know each other. This year, naturally, went smoother than last year, but it was still exhausting – especially for the MS Tutors. Basically, for MS Tutors it’s two-days of non-stop contact time.
Next year it would be great to have more sessions led by students, not only to give teachers a break, but to demonstrate how much our students can do. At the very end of last year, we had a fantastic visit from Robyn Treyvaud (more on that later) and she really inspired a number of our students to be more actively involved. I hope we can build on that momentum to design an orientation almost entirely developed and run by students!
The most challenging thing about having more student leadership at this time of year is that it’s actually the very first two days of school, and we haven’t seen the students since the year before. Of course we can’t ask them to come in early to prepare, and sometimes it’s hard at the very end of one school year to really envision and prep for the upcoming year. Having said that, I was really impressed at how professional and prepared our Student Tech Team members were this year, so I know we can do it again, but of course, any strategies or advice would be greatly appreciated!
How do you start the school year? Do you have any tips for building in more student-led events?
As part of COETAIL Course 3, which focuses on Visual Literacy, we talk a lot about design and often end up discussing (and comparing) résumés. I love seeing how different teachers represent their personality and philosophy through the way they share their experiences!
At our last COETAIL meeting for this school year, we happened to look at a few really unique examples: Sonya, Tasha and Jamie. In each résumé, you can really get a feel for each individual’s perspective and approach, simply based on the design and format. Looking at these examples made me realize that my résumé needed a lot of work. Even thought it’s served me well so far, it had just become an endless list of bullet points. As Jamie said when he looked at “you can tell you have a lot of good stuff here, but you don’t know what to do with it.”
So, inspired by Tasha’s look and feel (and Jamie and Sonya’s beautiful and unique designs), I decide to rework my résumé (and the rest of my professional portfolio). It’s not an infographic, or a visual résumé - not yet – but I am considering adding that option eventually. I also looked at Jeff’s, Scott’s and Angela’s for inspiration – I’m sure there are tons of other great examples out there, I just happened to remember liking something about each one of those at some point.
For now, I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve got, but I would really like some feedback!
I wanted to make sure that:
- the printed version was only 2-pages (down from a 4-page epic saga)
- the web version was streamlined and easy on the eyes (with plenty of white space)
- I highlighted the consistent themes from all of my work experience, rather than each job on its own
- my personality and approach was more prominent than just a list of tasks completed
- everything included in the two pages was worth reading
For the rest of my professional portfolio, I was really focusing on:
- showing a more personal side (rather than just the professional)
- highlighting the different types of consulting work I can offer (thanks to Angela for this idea)
- re-organizing my presentations page (which used to be a long list of slideshare and youtube embeds that took forever to load)
- featuring the workshops I can offer, separate from presentations, so that it’s easier for schools to see examples of my previous experience
- making it easy to keep my experience up-to-date more regularly (since I normally only update when I’m recruiting)
I’m not planning on going recruiting anytime soon, but I do want to apply for the MYP Workshop Leader training (which will have to be for next year since I clearly missed the deadline for this year), and I do want to make sure that it’s easy to find out more about me and what I can offer a school as a consultant.
I also really wanted to make my whole website look more like a portfolio than a modified blog. Thanks to Jeff, I discovered WPExplorer, who has tons of beautiful (free and premium) WordPress designs to choose from. This particular theme was so easy to customize, and ironically looks a lot more like my old portfolio from about 10 years ago that I designed with Dreamweaver (but this one was about a million times easier to create and modify!).
Although it may be a while before my portfolio is used for full-time recruiting, I think (hope) this design will still look good – simple, clean and easy to navigate, while highlighting my skills, experience and personality.
What do you think? What am I missing? Can you find out everything you would want to know without being overwhelmed with information? What should I change? Have you seen other great examples of educators’ professional portfolios that you can share?
One of the requests I hear from teachers regularly is that they would like specific outcomes for student learning with technology – basically what students need to know at each grade level. Often they are keen to use technology in their classrooms, but they’re just not sure what the expectations should be, and what they should focus on in their classroom.
I have to admit that in the past, I’ve shied away from these kinds of lists because I was so worried that they would be out of date as soon as they were created. (Anyone remember the old ISTE NETS standards before the refresh?) I also worry that these documents are usually so focused on the tools (that change so quickly) that we forget the skills, attitudes and behaviors that will stay relevant, no matter how the tools change.
So, when this conversation came up at YIS last year, I realized that we really did need something. A document that can help guide teachers toward a common vision, can clarify expectations, and can share concrete examples of what this kind of learning looks like in action.
Around this time last year, we created a working group of teachers to develop our own standards document. Teachers from each division, as well as each subject area participated to ensure that the final document would represent as many different perspectives as possible.
Thankfully, we were able to build on the previous work of our fantastic technology, library and coaching team at ISB, by using aspects of the standards we created while I was there as a starting point (thanks ISB21 Team!). At ISB we started with our essential understandings for 21st century literacy, built guiding questions, then applied the internationally recognized standards, and selected appropriate benchmarks from the State of Victoria, Australia. Although it wasn’t an intentional goal, we really did end up with a very international document!
Since we had such a fantastic foundation to work from, we were able to review, reflect and refine the document to meet our specific needs at YIS. As a team, we wanted to ensure that this document:
- Provides a clear vision and framework for learning with technology
- Combined technology and library standards into one streamlined document
- Represented internationally recognized standards (like ISTE and AASL)
- Does not focus on specific tools, but rather the skills that will be developed
- Reflects the PYP, MYP and DP approach and perspective (at each divisional level)
- Emphasizes our Connected Learning Community vision
- Includes practical examples of each benchmark
Our mission is to provide the highest-quality, balanced education to internationally minded students in an inquiring and supportive environment. We seek to inspire students and to provide them with the academic and social skills that will enable them to fulfill their human potential as responsible global citizens.
Our Connected Learning Community leverages advanced technologies and progressive teaching approaches to enhance student learning, promote collaboration and facilitate the creation and sharing of knowledge locally and globally.
At YIS, students will become:
Standard 1: Effective Learners: Students use appropriate tools to efficiently gather, critically evaluate, and effectively use information to make informed decisions when conducting inquiry and applying knowledge to real life contexts.
CLC Vision Statement: Attitudes and Behaviors: Our community will be characterized by inquisitive, discerning, open-minded, and self-directed learners who use technology in a balanced and responsible manner.
Standard 2: Effective Communicators: Students use appropriate media to effectively communicate ideas, knowledge, and understanding to audiences ranging from local to global.
CLC Vision Statement: Learning Environment: Ubiquitous access to technology tools and resources will enhance our learning environment, expanding horizons beyond the physical classroom. This will empower YIS learners to access information, collaborate, and exchange ideas within the YIS community and around the world.
Standard 3: Effective Creators: Students demonstrate creative and critical thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using appropriate technology.
CLC Vision Statement: Educational Experiences: Educational experiences will be authentic, imaginative, and provide for different learning paces and styles. Learners will be encouraged to become independent and enterprising in order to meet the challenges of a constantly changing world.
Standard 4: Effective Collaborators: Students connect with peers and recognized experts to collaborate, develop their own understanding, contribute to the learning of others, and contribute to the global society using a variety of media and online communities.
CLC Vision Statement: Community: Our Connected Learning Community will provide a sense of identity and belonging that will enrich our overall school community and connect us with others around the globe.
Standard 5: Ethical Citizens: Students practice legal and ethical behavior with an understanding of cultural and societal issues related to technology and information.
CLC Vision Statement: Actions and Decisions: Our actions and decisions will demonstrate responsible digital citizenship, reflect our school values and create a positive online presence.
Within each standard we included essential questions, statements describing each aspect of each standard, and benchmarks for K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12.
At two separate meetings (one in the ES, facilitated by Elif, our ES ICT Facilitator and Shanel, our ES VP and a another meeting in the MS/HS facilitated by me and Susie, our MS VP), we asked teachers to review the documents for understanding, accessibility, and relevancy. The majority of the feedback we received was based on the formatting of the documents and the need for a number system to easily identify each benchmark.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been working on making our standards easily accessible, well-organized, and easy to identify (and therefore track within our curriculum documentation). In order to continue to highlight the importance of these benchmarks, I thought they would work well on our Digital Dragons site (home to our Digital Citizenship Curriculum and Events). I was able to use a table of contents in the overall Google Doc to link each standard to it’s benchmarks – hopefully this will make it easier for teachers to find what they’re looking for.
What do you think? Are they easy to navigate? Have we identified the most important aspects of learning with technology and information literacy? Are we missing anything important?
We’ll be going over these again at the beginning of next year to again highlight the expectations we have for students, so any advice or suggestions are greatly appreciated!