Monday, May 3, 2010

Organization and Administration: Reflections on This Course

For my final post in the course, Organization and Administration, I've decided to do a videoblog post. On the heels of the Maryland Society for Educational Technology (MSET) Conference, I am inspired to lead by example. I enjoyed hearing from Chris O'Neal as he discussed how to bring technology to your school by modeling its use.

This video was created using the trial version of Camtasia. I think I am falling in love with this software!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Structure and Usefulness of Organization & Development Course

This blog post is in response to my graduate course assignment

An administrative/leadership team consists of leaders from a school with a variety of strengths and interests who come together to make a difference in the learning of all students. Typically, it is the principal, assistant principal, guidance counselor, department chairs, library media specialist, teacher representative and community representative. The consistency of the team varies from county to county, district to district. The Organization and Administration course provides students with an opportunity to work in small teams simulating real-life.

Concepts of the Course
The balance between team discussion and individual assignments works well for me. The weekly discussion topics provide a scaffold for the successful implementation of the Administration Action Plan. Because the goal of a well-constructed Action Plan is shared collaboration and data-based recommendations, the individual assignment would be very difficult without the structure of the team activities. It is also nice to be able to design components of the plan within a team structure, even though ultimately, we are individually required to construct our own Administrative Action Plan. We are able to model a variety of roles represented on a leadership team, e.g., principal, assistant principal, curriculum coordinator, guidance counselor, etc. We are also able to implement the use of a variety of Web 2.0 tools so that we can gain consensus from the team, even in an asynchronous environment.

Preparation for Administrative Roles
One growth area for me is in learning to be succinct. Sometimes (a lot of times), less is more! Within the team, I am able to learn how to communicate without the aid of visual cues. While we try to use video or teleconferencing application like Skype or ooVoo, we are frequent users of email. One topic per email means that you will probably get an answer! Too much information is probably going to lost in a sea of other requirements. Just as in a busy school day, an administrator needs to quickly identify issues that are immediate, gather needed information and communicate with necessary staff in order to come to a decision.  I am learning to use visuals in order to express myself and to clarify information. A picture says a thousand words, as do graphs, bulleted information, and charts.

Areas of Growth
Probably the area where I need to the most growth is in the financial aspect itself. Our team has created a preliminary budget, but there is so much that we do not understand. Exactly how much does it cost to get a substitute teacher in the building? Exactly how to do you know what that textbook costs, that extra planning period for a teacher costs, etc. I learned a lot from my team during this exercise. We represent five different school systems, two virtual, and we are located in two countries (and two different states). If I had to prioritize what I learned from the budget exercise, it would be to ask questions! People were very forthcoming with information and there is a lot available in books.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Steps for Change

I decided to breakdown this week's blog prompt into two different posts. You should read the previous post first before addressing this post.

What specific steps would need to be taken at my school in order to enact these policies [pertaining to the identified priorities required to integrate technology into the curriculum]?

Note: If any of the following audio files fail to play, please refresh your browser and try again!

Creative Commons Photo

Technology's Role in the Curriculum

Part 1 of 2:

Over the last few weeks, we have analyzed multiple aspects of the Written, Taught, and Test Curriculums. The Wordle in the above image depicts my priorities with each curriculum in terms of technology. The ultimate goal for each curriculum is to educate the whole child so that every child achieves success.

The Written Curriculum should provide a framework containing standards so that it can be delivered (Taught Curriculum) in a variety of ways using technology that makes sense for each child in each lesson. The Tested Curriculum will incorporate technology so that each student can demonstrate what he/she knows and is able to do in a format that is best suited to his/her learning style.

My top three priorities for technology in the curriculum are:
  1. The curriculum should promote the use of technology in the creation of authentic student projects
  2. The curriculum should provide opportunities for students to learn how to select information and use it ethically
  3. The curriculum should encourage the use of technology for communication, e.g., between teachers, students and families
I put together this slide show so you can visualize what I mean:

All images are from CreativeCommons and can be accessed at:

Part 2 of this question is in the next post.....

Monday, February 8, 2010

Instructional Technology's Role in the Curriculum

This week's JHU homework prompt is:

· As a school administrator and instructional leader, what instructional technology would you expect to see in the written, taught, and tested curriculum of a school or school district striving to meet the needs of 21st century learners?

Written Curriculum:

As an administrator, I would expect to see objectives in the written curriculum that would allow for flexibility for classroom teacher differentiation. More than naming specific technology, I would like to see learner outcomes that are achievable through a variety of ways, especially through the use of Web 2.0 applications. I would like to see the curriculum itself generated through a shared, collaborative space so that teachers would be able to contribute their ideas for effective practices and network with peers throughout the district. When teachers are given the opportunity to implement best practices in order for their students to learn and be able to accomplish the given standards, teachers can address their students’ diverse abilities. Each student’s strengths are recognized and provided for as the standards are met in a variety of ways.

Wordle: Written Curriculum

Taught Curriculum:

As an administrator, I would work to create a taught curriculum that contains a variety of interesting learning opportunities, incorporating multiple technologies for teachers to choose from to deliver the content to their students. Words would be infused into the curriculum guides that would encourage tiered instruction, Socratic seminars, compact instruction for acceleration and a variety of grouping methods for instruction. The written curriculum should encourage the classroom teacher to challenge their students to achieve the objectives of instruction.

Wordle: Taught Curriculum

Tested Curriculum:

As an administrator, I would like to see a variety of assessment procedures to prevent “one size fits all” approach that is common with high stakes, standardized tests. I would work to see the addition of digital portfolios that contain a sampling of learner products covering instruction from in different subject matter areas, during a specific interval of time. I would like to see the use of video tapes showing student progress such as in a discussion or problem solving situation. Self evaluation by the learner of a completed project or other activity would be facilitated through the use of weblogs. Objects constructed related to an ongoing unit of study, using rubrics the means of appraisal could be uploaded to Flickr, SlideShare, Google Applications, or any number of Web 2.0 applications. The Tested Curriculum would dictate what is to be assessed, leaving the how to the classroom teachers and/or schools. The assessment would be a combination of formative and summative. I would advocate for these additional approaches to testing to ascertain learner achievement.

Wordle: Tested Curriculum

· What instructional technology would you promote to differentiate instruction for all learners? Consider some of the Web 2.0 tools discussed in Week 3 and some of the tools/ applications suggested in the UDL discussion.

The instructional technology that I would promote to differentiate instruction would not be specific to a particular brand or application, but a category of technology. This would allow for newer generation tools to be applied and prevent the addition of an obsolete technology in the ever changing 21st Century technology arena. I would group the technology according to data collection, graphing tools, presentation tools, poster generators, translation tools, video and animation applications and rubrics generators. It is difficult to stay abreast of the latest technology available and that is why I would advocate the use of a Wiki or other collaborative site to host the curriculum in order to accommodate the rapidly changing technology landscape.

Wordle: Technology & the Curriculum

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Philosophical Beliefs

This week's prompt is the first reflection for the course titled, "Curriculum Theory, Development and Implementation."

What are your philosophical beliefs about the purpose of school, about what subjects should be taught, and about how students learn? How does your work demonstrate your belief?

I decided to answer this question in a visual format, using the Web 2.0 application, Photo Peach. Everyday I learn something new from my personal learning network and this blog post was inspired by Peggy George, an educator from Arizona who loves sharing her Web 2.0 adventures through her blog.

This presentation looks much nicer full screen. Click the full screen icon on the lower right corner of the presentation window.

I hope you enjoyed my presentation. All of the photographs come from Flickr's Creative Commons.

Finding images in Flickr for inspiration or research is made easier by using the Compfight Webite. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that increases sharing and improves collaboration. Many Flickr users have chosen to offer their work under a Creative Commons license, and you can browse or search through content under each type of license.

In addition to the references page which I have embedded as a Scribd Web 2.0 document, I have also bookmarked them on Delicious for easy reference. You can find them with the philosophy_presentation tag. I got that cool idea from another member of my personal learning community, Bethany Smith and a SlideShare presentation that she created.

I hope that in addition to my presentation, my modeling ethical use of information through the inclusion of a reference page, utilizing Creative Commons images, experimenting with Web 2.0 (this is my first Photo Peach preso!), utilizing the knowledge of my personal learning network all exemplify my beliefs in education.

I hope that you have enjoyed my views on Educational Philosophy!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Full Clinical Observation--Post Observation Conference

What strengths and/or improvement areas did you notice about the environment and tone of the post-observation?

When watching the video of my post-observation conference, I noticed immediately that the conference exhibited a collegial, conversational quality which I contribute to my choice of settings. I intuitively chose to use the work area of our media center because it is out of the way of traffic and I knew that it would be conducive to creating an uninterrupted environment. A bonus about using this space is that it contains a round table. In hindsight, I reflected that when my administrator conferences with me, her preferred choice of setting is her conference room, with a round table! I personally like this format and I think it was instinctive to use this space for this activity because of my positive experiences with this setting.

When I first viewed the video, I had the sound muted and I just cued in on the nonverbal behavior; i.e., body language, eye contact, hand gestures, etc. Because we were sitting side by side, the teacher and I were both able to view the post-conference write-up together and I was able to address the artifacts I gathered by pointing to them at the same time that the teacher was viewing the documents. I think the environment that I created enhanced the conversation, but it was also obvious that the teacher and I had built up a relationship prior to this activity. Our first contact was when I initially approached this teacher about this assignment. The second was our pre-conference meeting where I gathered information from the teacher about the class, the particular lesson that I was observing and the curricular unit that it is a part of. I also had the opportunity to work with this teacher on an unrelated project earlier in the year and have come to the conclusion that the more an administrator can observer the teacher in a variety of settings, the better the administrator can gauge the quality of the teacher's instruction.

The main artifact that I gathered from the observation is a floor plan of the computer lab and on it, I denoted which students the teacher worked with, when he worked with them and for how long. I discussed this with the teacher during our pre-conference and he was interested to see the results. Working with students in the computer is more demanding that many teachers realize and I know that it is easy to miss a lot of off-task behavior and students requiring assistance, so that is why I chose this particular form of data-gathering tool. During our post-observation, the teacher quickly noted that his approach to assist the students was chaotic and it was evident on the chart that several students were not addressed at all in the 50-minute time period. The teacher said that he was going to use the seating chart in the future and actually assign particular seats for optimal learning. This class had 7 students on IEPs and there were several instances were I noted off-task behavior. The teacher concluded that if he had a seating chart and created a check-list of expected outcomes from the class period, he could walk around the room in a systematic way, checking off completed requirements and address each student in a more orderly manner, ensuring that each student was addressed by the teacher at least once. The form is below:

Computer Lay Out for Rm 230_observation

What strengths and/or improvement areas did you notice in the conference about strategies to improve instruction?

Overall, I feel confident in this teacher's ability. While there were definite areas of concern, the teacher is willing to take suggestions and is self-reflective without being prompted. He offered to me that he already changed up his lesson for the 2nd and 3rd days because of what he experienced on the 1st day, the day I observed. This lesson was unique in that it took place in the computer lab and that setting offered a challenging set of circumstances.

In the conference, which behavior did you seem to predominantly use? Do you think this was an appropriate approach given the developmental level of the teacher? Briefly explain.

I used the approaches of listening and presenting alternatively. I noticed that I did provide a few explicit suggestions pertaining to instruction for the teacher, but I felt that they were appropriate guidance for a first-year teacher in his first semester of teaching. I will admit that a couple of times, the teacher volunteered suggestions on what to do next time before I had an opportunity to broach the particular topic and it was comforting to know that he and I were on the same page. I think it is appropriate to use direct assistance to beginning teachers and it was particulary effective since we had already built up some sort of trust between us previous to this post-observation conference. I also think that since I am technically not this teacher's administrator, he probably looks upon me as a fellow teacher, which also enhanced the reception of my post-conference feedback.

Overall Impressions

I really enjoyed this assignment. This was the first time I was responsible for a full-clinical observation and it was satisfying to see the complete cycle; pre-observation conference, observation and post-observation conference. The teacher was receptive to my feedback which informs me that my technique was not off-putting. I plan on working with this teacher on another assignment in the Media Center this semester and we will discuss how the modifications that he made impacted the student learning. This particular observation also gives me much to consider as a future administrator because I found myself questioning the rationale that is used so frequently with new teachers in education. This teacher is part-time, only teaching three periods a day. During those three periods, he has 25 students on IEPs and each class has a special education co-teacher; a different co-teacher for each class! I found myself more upset about the situation than the teacher, because as a new teacher, he doesn't know how it could be better! The special education department in my school is frustrated with the lack of planning classroom teachers do with the co-teachers, but if classroom teachers must plan with a different co-teacher for each period and also have a high quantity of IEPs to plan for, then I don't see how there is enough time in the day for a teacher to do it all! I know the situation could be better because there are some teachers who exclusively teach AP courses and Honors courses and then there are other teachers who only have the assisted classes. Why not share the load? So the results of this observation not only had me reflect on the assignment to observe teachers, but the bigger questions of how teachers are assigned classes, and why are new teachers are given the more difficult classes and experienced teachers given the smoother running classes?