Sunday, April 9, 2017

My Journey with ISTAA Experienced Teacher Accreditation #4

Getting Some Guidance from the AIS

When I last wrote about the Experienced Teacher Accreditation process, I had just completed my literature review and project proposal. At that time I was not entirely happy with what I had put together as it had been a bit of a rush towards the end. I really wished that I could have more time to get it right. I was also somewhat limited in the academic literature that I had access to at that time as I was not connected to a university. 

This term I received an email to say that someone had reviewed my writing and had provided feedback for me. I looked over the feedback and felt a bit stumped. The person who had read my work was confused by the way that I had put my information together. She thought that I was saying that students develop a growth mindset through receiving feedback from formative assessment. But what I was trying to say was that students benefit from having a growth mindset when receiving feedback from formative assessment. 

The AIS contacted all the teachers involved in the Action Research Pathway to let us know about two professional development opportunities in which we could meet with the reviewer to discuss our work further and also receive further information about the process. Feeling uncertain about what I could/should do to improve my literature review and project proposal, I thought it was important to attend one of these days. I got the "ok" from work and headed in last Tuesday.

It was a huge day, and very brain intensive. By the end of the day I had a migraine and still had to go back to work for Parent Teacher Interviews! The great thing was that I got a lot of clarity through the process and now feel I have a better sense of where I am headed. I still need to put at least a day's worth of work into sitting down and restructuring things, but I now understand more about action research and the importance of being clear about the constructs and how they relate to one another. 

I enjoyed hearing about the variety of projects that teachers are working on. Everyone was so passionate about their choice of topic. I heard lots of people sharing their sentiments about how they were worried their project was too big, but they really wanted to explore all the parts. Some people, like me, had begun working on their ideas last year, and one had already presented on her findings at an international conference! Lots of people were talking about what they will focus on for their project, but already considering the other questions that have been coming to light that they would like to investigate as well. 

I feel that this professional learning session was really beneficial because it helped to reinvigorate us as well as providing the nuts and bolts of what needs to be done. It was encouraging to hear the experiences of others in the process and to realise that we all generally felt as much in the dark when it came to formulating an action plan, completing a project proposal and writing a literature review - none of which form part of our usual teaching role. Many people expressed how challenging this had been having not done any form of formalised learning since graduation, plus doing it alongside normal work load and towards the end of the year with so many other time pressures. 

Going forward, I feel excited about where my project is headed. My question is now: What is the impact of Growth Mindset on Year 1 student academic achievement through formative assessment?
I have spent this term building a supportive classroom environment and teaching students about the Growth Mindset using a variety of videos including those available through Class Dojo. I am using elements from the lesson plans in The Growth Mindset Coach and I have been working with my students on the language that we use in the classroom when facing challenges. 

Next term I will focus more on giving, receiving and using feedback. I need to spend some time these holidays thinking though exactly what this will look like and the data I will be collecting. I will also revisit my literature review, this time with access to a wider array of resources (due to other studies I am also doing now) and adjust my project proposal accordingly.

For those considering this option for 2018, I believe that they're allowing more time for the projects in the future. I would highly recommend this pathway for the accreditation because you learn so much through the process. It is incredibly confusing at times, and frustrating, but through the process you make changes to the way you do things and find a new level of excitement in what you do. Teachers that I spoke with said that the changes they have made have become a part of the way they do things now. They can't go back to how it was before. 

What are some of the things that you have found useful for invigorating your teaching? What things have helped you to make changes for the long-term?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Study Techniques for Busy People

On top of my usual teaching load and working through my Experienced Teacher Accreditation, I thought I'd finish off my Masters in Education Leadership this year! I knew that it would make for a busy year, but I don't think I realised just HOW busy things would be. As I started first semester at University, I had to get used to the whole online environment and figure out how to get the readings for my classes. One of my biggest struggles has been finding time to do the readings, so I decided to get creative with how I do this. Here's what I worked out:

Let Siri do the reading 

I don't live too far from work, but each day I have over an hour of commute. Ordinarily I have used this time for listening to podcasts or enjoying some of my favourite songs. I now use this time to listen to the readings I need to get done.

Step 1: Download the readings and send them email you can access on the iPhone or iPad.

Step 2: Go into email, download file and import with iBooks.

Step 3: Change settings. Go into General, then Accessibility, then Speech. Toggle Speak Screen.

Step 4: Open the reading in iBooks. When the reading is displayed, scroll down from the top of the page using two fingers. This will bring up a control bar and Siri should begin reading the page.

Siri doesn't pronounce all words correctly, and I found it amusing that she struggles with some words that a techy 'person' should know - like ICT and "geeking out" and "technologies". Ideally it would be great to be able to teach Siri how to pronounce the words that she is getting wrong. Perhaps this is something Apple will build in at a later point in time.

Annotate the readings with Notability

I got a new iPad for Christmas, with the intention that it could help me through my studies this year. So far I've been really pleased with how it's working out for me, and I LOVE having the Apple pencil. After I have listened to the readings, I need to return to them in order to prepare a response for the assessment of the course. I like to be able to scribble down ideas and highlight the important parts to come back to. For this I use Notability, and then I don't have to cart around a pile of papers everywhere. Please note, this is an app that needs to be purchased from iTunes.

Step 1: Go back to the email I sent the readings to.

Step 2: Import the reading with Notability this time.

Step 3: Go into Notability and respond to the dialogue box - either select the pages you want to import, or import the whole thing.

Step 4: Open the file and make notes using the available tools. I prefer to handwrite and use highlighter, but you could add text or post-its if that is your preference. For my other posts about using Notability, go here.

Build a YouTube Playlist

There have been a number of YouTube videos as part of my course materials this semester. Again, these are things that I would prefer to listen to "on the road" or walking my dog, rather than eating into official study time. Making a playlist to store these, and logging into YouTube on the various devices I use means that I can access the videos easily wherever I am.

Step 1: Log into YouTube.

Step 2: Go to a video you want in the playlist.

Step 3: On the bottom left, select "Add to", then at the bottom of the dropdown box choose "Create New Playlist".

Step 4: Enter a name for the playlist and select Create. Your video can now be accessed within that playlist, in your "library".

Step 5: To access your playlist on your mobile device, log into YouTube with the same account, select the Library tab. Find your playlist and play your video.

Another benefit of logging into YouTube is that it will suggest other relevant videos, given what you have been watching. This can help to provide further exploration and depth when researching the topic.

The next thing I need to find a short-cut for is collecting citations for the texts I use. I have been using the Citation Machine to help with this, but I really should get better at collecting the citations as I go, rather than having to chase that up when I use them in my work.

Do you know of any other time saving study techniques that you could share to help other busy people?