Counting Down to ISTE! Join Me and Learn About Effective PD

Stephanie Chan photo

My bags are packed. I’m ready to go…to ISTE 2013! I am looking forward to joining everyone in San Antonio soon. This will be my first time at ISTE. I am incredibly excited about learning with passionate, skilled and knowledgeable educators and students, and having a ton of fun while I’m at it!

I am also excited to be presenting the results of research that I conducted, along with focuses that I have undertaken as a result of my findings. During my research, I followed a group of four diverse high school teachers and experienced a year in their work as they used technology with their students. I learned so much from what they did, what they said, and what they thought. Their incredible openness and honesty has directly influenced my approach to support and professional learning around educational technology.

My presentation will be targeted, fun and full of useful strategies and resources. Here are the details. I hope you will join me! I also invite you to stay connected on Twitter @TechPudding

Topic: Experiences of High School Teachers in their Use of Educational Technology 

Monday, June 24, 2013 – 4:15-5:15 pm, SACC 101; Table 2
Format: Roundtable research presentation
Presenter: Stephanie Chan, Educational Technology Specialist
Calgary Board of Education, Alberta, Canada 

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What Makes Effective Professional Learning?

Providing effective professional learning is a complex challenge. How can we make the most of tight budgets and limited supports? Join me as I discuss a yearlong case study that profiled the everyday challenges and experiences of four high school teachers as they used educational technology with their students. Then learn about strategies and resources that can support effective PD engagement and design. Walk away with:

  • Insights into what works for edtech coaches, school leaders and PD providers
  • Strategies for planning and implementing successful edtech professional development for individuals, teams, schools and districts
  • Examples of district-wide professional learning initiatives that emphasize flexibility, choice, scalability, collaboration and informal learning
  • Access to free professional learning modules and templates that you can use to design professional learning to suit your needs and the needs of your staff

Presentation Resources

I am all about sharing! If you’d like to use and share my resources with others, please do! (If you do, please link back to techpudding.com so that we can all continue to expand our learning connections.)

Now I just have to get through this week. See you there!

And by the way, if you have questions or comments about my presentation materials, please write me a comment! You can help me improve them and perhaps I can answer some questions about it! Happy to learn with you.

The New York Times Learning Network: An Innovation in Student Engagement

Today I stumbled upon a highly innovative resource called The New York Times Learning Network. In particular, I came across the Student Opinion blog. I am incredibly impressed with this resource and feel that most educational sites can learn a few things from it! There are a few reasons why I believe this to be an exceptional resource:

  1. High quality posts
  2. High audience engagement, interaction, and collaboration
  3. Organized appearance and layout

High quality posts

First of all, the posts are written for junior high and high school students, and contain thoughtful, educational topics of high interest. A major highlight is that the articles are written in a way that respects the intelligence and abilities of teens. Currently, the first three posts are titled, “What hidden talents might you have?”, “How do you relieve stress?”, and “Would you mind if your parents blogged about you?”. These issues are all highly relevant to students, and contain links to additional resources and articles. They provide thought-provoking questions, bring creativity to their subjects, include current issues and events, and can be used in all subject areas. Furthermore, each post is short and to the point, and is very well written.

High audience engagement, interaction, and collaboration

One of the most accurate ways to judge the quality of a site is not the number of hits it receives, but the way in which it encourages audience interaction and elicits quality responses. Judging from the well-written comments under a post titled, “How do you define family?”, I can tell that students are encouraged to be thoughtful and incredibly honest about such a personal topic. In fact, the only other place where I have encountered this number of thoughtful comments posted by young people is on a make-up review site where young women share tips and opinions. (It absolutely amazes me how eloquent a teenager can be about a subject that interests her!) Besides encouraging thoughtful responses from readers, the Learning Network also includes interactive elements including: Daily News Quiz, Word of the Day, 6Q’s About the News, Student Crossword, Test Yourself Questions, Poetry Pairings, and more (full list to the left). There are also lesson plans for teachers. All of these elements provide a variety of ways for students and teachers to interact with the material and each other.

Organized appearance and layout

I am surprised at how much information is packed into the Learning Network site, even though there is plenty of white space, columns for easy reading, and a highly accessible navigation menu at the top and right side of the page. It should be easy for teachers and students to use this site daily. Rarely have I visited a site that is so well-organized and well thought out.

Ideas for use

Here are some ideas for how to use this rich, vast resource with students:

  • Hook students with something curriculum-related
  • Give students a ‘thought break’ half way through the class
  • Encourage discussion about critical and relevant issues in the everyday lives of students
  • Have students respond to an article, comment, or interactive activity on the site
  • Begin research on a topic presented in one of the articles
  • Explore the writing style of the posts and use them to teach students how to write for the web
  • Have students contribute to their own blog about relevant issues

Have you used the New York Times Learning Network resources? How have you used them? Do you have additional suggestions for resources of this quality? How do you assess the quality of a resource?

New High School Course to Examine Technology

I am currently working with a group of teachers to overhaul a course offering in the high school where I work. The course has existed for many years under the name, Information Technology. Collaborating to update it has been an incredible learning experience so far.

It amazes me, how outdated the course has become in fewer than five years. In many ways, even the current the course curriculum still reads like a secretary’s handbook from the 1990’s, full of outcomes that reflect long lists of static technical skills like:

  • entering text in a document
  • numbering pages
  • changing font, font size, and style
  • adding clip art to a slide

However, a recent curriculum update has added and enhanced some more thoughtful outcomes including:

  • analyze and demonstrate the effective use of communication tools (synchronous and asynchronous)
  • define and evaluate digital literacy
  • think and solve problems
  • be adaptable

As I continue my work to overhaul this course, I am drawing conclusions about what it should look and feel like. It is clear that the course should no longer focus on the mechanics of Microsoft Office applications–it needs to branch out to Web 2.0 tools. But far more important than diversifying tools, is how we teach students to think about and understand their interactions with technology. Students often use technology without examining the processes that they went through to use it, the benefits or limitations of the tools, how to problem-solve, and how they can apply the tools in the real world. In many ways, we are following ISTE’s (International Society for Technology in Education) NETS-S Standards for Students in our work.

With this in mind, I would suggest that we call the new course Innovative Technology and focus on:

  • real-world examples and applications
  • assistive technology applications
  • networking with professionals to learn how they use technology
  • discussing, thinking, and sharing the process of using technology
  • examining social, emotional, cognitive, and academic effects and consequences
  • sharing ideas, knowledge, and skills through a variety of mediums with specific audiences in mind
  • examining ethical issues and digital citizenship
  • using and contributing to creative commons works
  • researching and preparing for how to respond to and use emerging technologies and future trends
  • using Web 2.0 tools

These are my thoughts so far on the overarching themes of our new Innovative Technology course. Do have some suggestions for me? Ideas? Resources? As always, they are all very much appreciated and welcome!

(Image: IT10 brainstorm, by TechPudding. 2011.)