Leadership Lean In – January 2018

The Technology Integration Matrix, or TIM, is a tool that teachers can use to analyze and enhance their lessons. We reference the TIM in our eCLASS Levels document and have used it through the years as a resource for instructional planning.  The TIM focuses on five learning environments along with five levels of technology integration.

The Florida Center for Instructional Technology has recently updated the TIM to include new resources that leaders can use to familiarize their staff with how to use the tool. One of our favorite resources is the library of non categorized practice videos. This is a great starting point for teachers to practice placing lessons on the TIM before they move into analyzing their own lessons. As a small group, teachers can view one of the practice videos. Then, the teachers can discuss where each learning environment falls on the matrix. Finally, and most importantly, there can be a discussion about how this lesson can be moved to the right on the matrix in ONE area.

Then, teachers can reflect on their own lesson activities – plotting them on the TIM, and then collaborating to transform.  It may be best to start by focusing on one aspect of a lesson.  For example, the collaborative portion of a lesson may be at the adoption level while the goal-setting portion may be at the entry level. After placing the lesson activities on the TIM, teachers can pick ONE learning environment to move towards the right and transformation.

Some  of the resources on the TIM website now require a small fee. However, there are plenty of free resources that leaders can utilize to begin a discussion on transformation. These resources can supplement tools available in Gwinnett.  For instance, the TIM survey is not needed, because Gwinnett has a Teacher Profile that can be used to determine levels of classroom transformation.  However, the videos on the website can provide models to help teachers see examples of “next levels” after they have their results from the Teacher Profile.

The TIM is a great resource used in combination with other Gwinnett tools for school and classroom transformation. The TIM focuses on the lesson level. The eCLASS Transformed Classroom focuses on the classroom practices as a whole. Finally, the eCLASS Implementation Matrix focuses on the school transformation.  Together, these resources can assist you to drive technology-infused instructional transformation for our students.

GaETC 2017 Highlight #1: Flipgrid

The 2017 Georgia Educational Technology Conference was packed full of new tools and exciting strategies that everyone is eager to try out with their students and teachers. We are going to share a few highlights from the conference with you in case you weren’t able to attend or if you attended different sessions. We hope you find something new you can use to engage your students!

flipgridThe first tool we are sharing is a website called Flipgrid: “Flipgrid is the leading video discussion platform used by millions of PreK to PhD educators, students, families, and organizations in more than 150 countries! Create a Grid (that’s your classroom or group), add Topics to spark the discussion, and your community builds a dialogue as they share short video responses. Super simple. Super powerful. Endless uses.”

Flipgrid is a free website that you can use to facilitate discussions and conversations among all your students. With the free account, you can set up one grid, which is the equivalent of a class.  Within your grid, you can create unlimited topics for students to discuss. Students will then record a video of themselves answering the question you posed. In the free account, teachers choose to restrict the video length to either 15 seconds or 90 seconds. Students love adding drawings or stickers to their videos before posting them! My favorite part is that your grid can be embedded in your eCLASS page.

Teachers are using Flipgrid across all subject areas.  computer Students are sharing book reviews, reflecting on their learning throughout a unit, explaining their math thinking, and collaborating with students from other schools. Videos that students post become formative assessments to help guide instruction the next day. Foreign language teachers are using Flipgrid as a tool for their students to practice speaking while music teachers are asking students to record themselves playing a piece of music. Need help with ideas of how to use Flipgrid? Check out their website for links to blog posts with suggested ideas.

Did you discover other ideas while you were at GaETC? Share them on our Padlet!

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Leadership Lean-In November

Written by Dot Schoeller, eCLASS Mentor

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As the instructional leader in your building, you may have been looking at your eCLASS usage and wondering where to begin. As I faced the exact same dilemma, I recognized that I was not an eCLASS user and did not truly understand the power of the tool and how it can transform classroom instruction to increase student achievement. Three strategies I used in order to get my school started down the path of transformational teaching with technology are briefly described in this article.

First, to begin the journey, I did not want to add any more work to my teachers’ already full plate. We began by examining the AKS they were already planning to teach along with the technology they were incorporating, and plotted it on the TIM matrix during their collaborative planning session with the help of our LSTC. During the next session, each grade level looked at the chart to see what other grade levels were doing and then collaboratively discussed how to improve one lesson on their grade level. By starting with one lesson at a time, teachers were able to string together several lessons over the course of a semester until they were consistently creating lessons that were much more transformational at the end of the year than they were at the beginning of the year. We began the second year with a blank chart and teachers decided in August what lessons they were committed to transform in the first semester.

Secondly, during the January staff development day, we did a “Teacher Carousel” that was facilitated by the LSTC and one lead innovator from each grade level. These teachers and the LSTC planned a 20 minute grade-level showcase intended to highlight tools the grade level was using with students to increase student engagement and help teachers with differentiation. The LSTC ensured that each grade level showcased different tools so we didn’t have 6 sessions of “Kahoot! “ Each grade level started in their own rooms and then rotated until they visited all six elementary grade levels. At the end they debriefed together about tools and strategies they learned and how they could implement them during the next semester. This was one of the most effective staff developments we ever had and really moved our school forward. The teachers not only loved learning from each other, but it also supported the evaluation system with teachers wanting to “lead and guide others” in order to be exemplary on their evaluations.

Lastly, during this entire process, I used the personal motto, “Feed the race horses.”  Basically, using this philosophy means that whenever I had extra money to purchase additional technology or send someone to a conference, I would go after those lead innovators who are “pulling the wagon” for the school and helping transform lessons.  The overall result of feeding the race horses was that not only did they continue to improve in their instructional and leadership roles, but also their colleagues began to witness the powerful effects of their work and re-examined and retooled their own practices.

Looking at integrating technology can be a daunting task. But just taking a first step will help move your school along. Begin with those who are willing and ask them to bring along one more person. Soon you will be multiplying leaders in your building. Start small with one lesson. If you can string together lots of lessons, you will transform a classroom. If you can string along lots of classrooms, you can transform your entire school.

Leadership Lean In October 2017

As school leaders, we have the responsibility to structure systems within our school to provide the best support for our teachers’ professional growth, which in turn will result in our students’ academic growth. Structures are important, because they can provide the framework on which we can build one another up, develop and enhance our practice, and ultimately achieve our goals. The same is true in the eCLASS initiative – our journey to transform teaching and learning through effective student use of technology. Both research and practice have proven again and again that peers supporting peers is the most effective agent of growth and change. We are so fortunate to have a culture of collaboration and collegiality in Gwinnett that allows us to make the most of structures that promote peer-to-peer learning. We have fantastic teachers who want to learn from one another and grow together. Our teachers are willing to share their expertise with colleagues, and also willing to review and improve their own practices by relying on the expertise of others.

So, as leaders, we need to look at the structures we have in place. Are they optimizing the opportunities for modeling, collaboration, and growth? The diagram below identifies the structure that we have found to be most effective for growing teachers’ capacity in using technology with students.

Lead Innovator Model

There are teachers in every school who are the “experts” in using technology to increase student learning. Most likely, these experts, or innovators, are at every level – every grade, every department, every course team. When we allow these innovators the opportunity to collaborate, share practices and strategies and resources with one another, with the expectation that they then share with their colleagues at the course team or grade level, the transformation spreads. At the district level, we can then support that group of innovators by pouring directly into a “lead innovator.” Attending eCLASS Lead Innovator meetings and online sessions will give the lead innovator strategies to take back to your innovator group . . . continuing to feed their learning and work, as they then look to support their colleagues.

How fully is this structure in place in your school? Do you have at least one in innovator in every course team or grade level? Do those innovators have frequent opportunity to share ideas, strategies, tools, resources with one another? Do they have a forum (in collaborative planning, for instance) to help their grade level colleagues develop student activities that put technology in the hands of students to increase engagement and differentiation? Is this an ongoing cycle, a supported structure? If you can answer yes to every question, awesome! Keep supporting and monitoring, and watch the growth.  If there are any questions that right now get a “no,” then that provides you with the next steps . . . how can you make a tweak in your school structure to get a “yes” to that question?

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