ISTE 13 Reflections – EduFamily

Before I start, let me preface this by saying there is no edtech in this post, no cool tips, no new tools. That will all come at another time.

I’m not sure how much this is like my past ISTE and CUE reflections, but this conference was all about relationships for me. As I sit on this plane departing from San Antonio, I can’t help but feel closer who I want to be. I feel even more in love with my wife, Jenna, even though she wasn’t even there with us. I appreciated our phone conversations and talking all about her amazing work with other educators deepened the feeling that I am extremely lucky to be with her. I definitely would not be who I am without her.

As relationships at the conference go, I keep thinking of one word. Family.

I feel like I’m developing an even larger edufamily than the one I’ve developed with my friends in CUE. There are people I spent the last few days with who now feel like my long lost brother or sister. Others who have been like the wise cousins who watch out for you as you step out and try new things. People who I am sad to be leaving. An honest feeling of sadness and longing. I hesitate to name anyone here, as I would surely leave someone really important out and I’d feel terrible. I also hear at least one of them likes to keep a low profile.

Again, there’s no edtech content in this post, but this is what my ISTE experience was truly about… my edufamily and their overall amazingness. I can’t wait to learn and create with you again and share some more amazing experiences together. Let me know the next time you are in the Bay Area.

Posted in Conferences, Forging My Path | 2 Comments

Reflecting On A Week With Glass

It’s been exactly one week since picking up Glass at the Google Garage in Mountain View, CA. You flash your email confirmation, meet your personal Glass Guide (my terminology), and are asked if you’d like a mimosa, champagne, juice, or water. I didn’t at first, but after the second person came by and asked, I decided to have some juice. Not just any juice… organic local juice of course. Probably pressed on Google’s campus. This was like the geek’s version of DryBar (if you’re into that go somewhere to get your hair blow-dried phenomenon, I’ve heard it’s the best).

Google Glass

After receiving a drink, you are shown all the five colors of Glass and can try on each one to make sure you have the right one for your style. I chose white… err, Cloud, as if I’m going to be experimenting with this new technology I’d rather not look like I’m trying to be a secret agent. It’s not as jarring as the blue or orange, but does prominently announce itself.

The unboxing. As my guide Rachel said, it’s such a built-up moment that there should’ve been some dramatic music playing in the background. For the price of it, perhaps there should’ve been a live quartet playing. Also, as much as it’s great that there is someone there to walk you through the fitting and configuration of Glass, it’s actually more awkward than helpful. Perhaps they should ask if you’d like support, but then it wouldn’t take on this prestigious aura they are going for in this Explorer program.

Rather than walk you through the next 168 hours (I know you want to!) I’ve decided to break my reflection into some key areas that I’ve been thinking about while wearing (and not wearing) Glass for the past week.

Easy Access

With Glass, there a lot of information easily accessible at all times. I could quickly tap the Glass touchpad to see the latest tweets from my wife, @JennaWachtel, and any mentions of myself, @Pronovost. I had breaking news updates, e-mail, and current NBA scores.

Yet the more I had access to, the less I found myself wanting access to all of it. That’s actually the most surprising thing for myself and I believe for everyone else I talk to about Glass. Yes, it’s all there. And I find myself taking off Glass more and more, ignoring alerts, and actually touching all of my portable technology less. Even my phone, which Jenna had to help support me to separate myself from in social situations a few years ago.

Jenna and Me

Yes, that’s Jenna and me. No, I’m not wearing Glass.

Maybe it’s the mindfulness I’m practicing. Maybe it’s the terrible driving I see all around me when the driver’s head is looking down at a bright screen. Maybe it’s the fact I can get any question answered in just a few seconds, but Glass has helped me disengage with technology and engage even more with the people and scenery around me.

Before I go any further, don’t let the last two paragraphs make you think I’m disappointed in what Glass can do or think it’s not a quality product. Far from it. But as I preach not using technology for technology’s sake in the classroom, I believe that also holds true in our personal lives.

Photo/Video Sharing


One of the coolest features of Glass? I can take a photo or video within a second or two, without turning taking anything out of my pocket, a bag, or even holding something in my hands. I wanted to show my newly decorated office to Jenna, but she couldn’t come by. So I held down the camera button on the top right side of the Glass frame and looked around the whole room.

A colleague wanted my opinion on a new website. Rather than view it, make notes, call him up and share those thoughts, I just took a video of my first interaction with the site. Glass followed where I was looking, which was great for me, although my colleague did say he thinks there needs to be a bit of a stabilizer on for the camera. (YouTube does offer to stabilize your video, but I wanted to get my thoughts to him as quickly as I could.)

I did have to take a few shots whenever I wanted to keep any artistry to my photos, as you’ll see in the two photos below. While I like the photo of my sister- and brother-in-law, I had to get right up in their personal space to capture that photo. And you thought it was awkward when someone put their phone in your way to try to capture the shot just right.


Yes, capturing that photo just right means some strange maneuvers with your whole body. Right now, others don’t seem to mind, because Glass is such a novel tool and they often hope that they can try it on. But generally, I don’t find getting up in someone’s face to snap a photo is very appropriate.

Neither is wearing Glass everywhere. I know there are famous techies out there who think it’s completely fine to wear Glass all day, including in the shower. But why? If it played music for me in the shower, maybe. But again, back to engaging with our environment… do we really need access to Twitter in the shower?

As well as business meetings. Every time I’ve entered a meeting in the past week, I’ve taken Glass off. I tried to sit with it on for a little bit in one meeting but just couldn’t do it. There is no reason I need to make the person I’m meeting with feel like I might be engaging with Glass rather than them or like I might snap a photo and share it virally. Yes, I could easily look up whatever we are talking about. But as I’ve learned in the past few years, that actually disengages you from the conversation. Not knowing everything is what makes our conversations lively. Yes, that person might be wrong about the year that the Blazers drafted Sam Bowie – given it’s the year I was born and the biggest mistake of my favorite basketball team, I know it pretty well – but I don’t need to look it up and prove it to that person now. Unless we’re betting on it. Are we?

In the car. On a walk. Sitting in the office. Again, most of those situations don’t require Glass. In fact, it’s a bit of a distraction. But, who knows, I might change my mind once I experience wearing Glass walking the busy streets of New York. Doubtful though.


Also, while I personally know that I have to talk to Glass or touch the touchpad on the right side to engage with Glass, others don’t know that. They don’t know if you are here with them or you’re off in Facebook-land. And that makes building relationships even more difficult.

Google Now

Back to a big highlight of Glass. Google Now cards, which allows Google to provide you with the information it determines you’d like, based on your recent searches and emails. Perhaps a little creepy, but the fact that Glass told me the status of my flight to ISTE and even told me the current temperature in San Antonio was quite nice. As well as seeing the latest Giants and NBA Finals scores without even needing to search. That made getting to my gate today much simpler.

Addendum: Google Now also knew the address of the hotel I was staying at as well as how long it would take to get there in current traffic. Now, the cab driver also knew that stuff, but sometimes that confirmation can be reassuring.

Effects On Your Eyes

Eye Strain

On the first day, my eyes definitely hurt from the strain of looking up-and-right more than I ever had in my life. On day seven, I can’t say it feels a whole lot better. Not to mention the fact that I feel the ghost of a box above my right eye even when Glass isn’t on my head. As much as the videos show someone looking at Glass and riding their bike or walking down the street, I can’t say I’ve enjoyed that a lot. It’s great for quick access, but you do disengage with your environment, missing steps or having to readjust the direction you thought you were walking. I’d much rather have an image directly in front of my eye if I wanted it (but only when I wanted it), like any of the robotic super-heroes (or anti-heroes) in all those action movies.

Talking Through Glass

Cupping the ears. Plugging them works even better.

Plugging the ears works better, but looks stranger.

Talking to someone through Glass often is a difficult process. Everyone I’ve talked to has said it sounds like I’m riding a bike while I’m talking to them (even when I’m sitting on a bench). I’ve also had to plug my ears (at least my right one) to really hear what the other person is saying. No volume adjustments as well, so what you hear is what you get.

Ready For The Classroom?

As exciting as Google Glass is, odds are my Glass will be back in Google’s hands before I even have the chance to try it out in the classroom. The possibility of having your students feel like you’d rather be online than with them? The photos and videos that could accidentally be shared? (My wife Jenna has received numerous accidental emails from those who have tried on my Glass.) Not to mention eyestrain. And that’s all when thinking about an educator wearing Glass, not even the students.

One of a few dozen accidental shots I've taken by laying Glass upside down.

One of a few dozen accidental shots I’ve taken by laying Glass upside down.

For the same price, I could return Glass and purchase five Samsung Chromebooks for a classroom. I’m not saying that one product could do what the either could, but when thinking about technology for a purpose, Glass isn’t yet worth the cost.

Rest easy, Technology and Human Resources departments. I won’t be testing how the board policies apply to Glass. Yet.

Posted in EduGlass | 2 Comments

Creating Educational Playlists, or How I Embraced A Product I Originally Discarded

I started my journey of technology integration in the classroom in 2007-08. Back then, I was the only one in the classroom with access to a working computer, as the two computers that sat in the back of my room were far too slow to access anything much. That meant I was the only one who needed to access the websites for the classroom.

Then came to my rescue. I was able to organize all the links I wanted to use in my classroom and keep them all in one place, regardless of which computer I was using. Not that I had more than the one personal laptop I brought to and from work. worked for me, but I came upon some issues when I created what are now being called “playlists” for my students.

In 2008-09, upon securing (through a grant, Craigslist, and friends’ discarded laptops) about ten computers, I began using to create lists of websites for my students to practice specific standards. But if having them pick the right list wasn’t difficult enough, getting them to cycle through was a frustrating experience.


I discovered Sqworl, I think at ISTE 2010. Sqworl was a lifesaver, as it allowed me to collect links and share them with my students using one URL. Students could then cycle through the sites in the specific order I set. But it was still so wordy. And I also had to generate a new Sqworl for them each time.


Symbaloo - Mr. Pronovost's Links

I was introduced to Symbaloo in 2011 and it felt like the collection system I’d been looking for the whole time. The site looks a lot like an iOS screen, which was very easy for my students to adapt to using. There is text, but also an icon and a color. I used different sections of the grid for different subjects, and then organized the required, optional, and review sites with specific colors. That way, a student could work on the orange sites in math for the day, open the black sites if they needed to review a subject (usually linked to a YouTube video I created or found) and then go more in depth with the gray sites. And it’s pretty easy for students to differentiate between the orange site with the turtle and the one with the 10/10. Students loved it, I could change it as I saw fit and still keep the single link, and keeping it as the home page on the computers -I had about twelve at the time, much faster than the original ten- allowed students to quickly access the sites. I continued using Symbaloo last year, marking it as the home page on all 24 computers in my classroom and it worked pretty well.

But even with the ease and visuals of Symbaloo, I couldn’t easily give my students directions as they did their work on the other site, which definitely impacted the amount of directions I’d have to have written up for them or explain each time before we began in our centers. Usually those directions included which games on certain sites to play, or what level to choose on other practice sites.

This fall I began my new adventure outside the classroom. Around the same time, I went to the Imagine K12 Educator Day, where teachers get a chance to meet the new edtech startups as they really get to work evolving their products. I met Amy Lin (@heyamylin) and saw her new product, Edcanvas, but couldn’t see a use for it. Just another collection site. Just another place to put all your links, which is good for competition, but not very useful in a real educational setting. I had tried Edcanvas, thought it was okay, but there was no reason to move to a different site for creating my playlists, as Symbaloo had (pretty much) everything I wanted. I wished Amy all the best, but couldn’t see a reason to promote the site or use it myself. And that’s how I felt until March.



After SVCUE‘s Teach Through Technology event, I realized that I needed a new playlist/collection structure. Something that allowed me to have a greater visual than Symbaloo’s icons, along with the ability to have comments along with the site/document/video. Gooru is definitely a good option, but it felt a little complicated for novices to use, especially if I wanted to allow them to access the playlist in any order they wished. (Yes, I’d definitely recommend Gooru for classroom use, especially with their ability to tag collections/playlists with Common Core State Standards and even play a very select part of a video. This is especially good in middle school, as some of our RCSD teachers have demonstrated this year.)

At that point, I either saw a retweet by Edcanvas or an original tweet by someone else sharing their canvas of Common Core resources. I’m trying to collect as many valuable CCSS resources for our teachers as possible that I visited and saw how Edcanvas has evolved since the beginning of the school year. It was exactly what I was looking for: a visual way of collecting websites, documents, videos, and more; easily draggable; capable of embedding comments; simple. I was sold.

SVCUE Reflections

Since then, I’ve used Edcanvas to completely redesign our district ed tech resources site and am recommending it left and right. Until the next evolution, be it Activate Instruction or something unexpected from the next cohort of Imagine K12, perhaps relying on voice activation and a partnership with EdElement’s Hybrid LMS.

It’s not about the person, the company, or what I’m comfortable with… it’s about what’s best for our students and teachers. So as much as I like Amy Lin and all the entrepreneurs working on awesome products like ClassDojo and Gooru, if something comes along that is better, that’s what I’ll be moving onto. Because it’s all about the kids.

Posted in Educational Playlists | 1 Comment

Converting Lexile Levels to Approximate Fountas & Pinnell Guided Reading Levels Made Easy

Our district has just adopted i-Ready, an online diagnostic and instructional program. For all its great features, it current has teachers go to each individual student’s report to find the student’s Lexile Level. Now I may not be in the classroom this year, but I do know how ridiculous it is to ask teachers to click through so much to find a Lexile Level and then make them find a correlation chart to find out what approximate Fountas & Pinnell Guided Reading Level the student is reading.

So, after a few days of learning about the amazingness of Google Spreadsheets from none other than Alice Keeler, I thought I’d make my own spreadsheet to help teachers out a little, given that I can’t make the i-Ready people create the batch reports we need. I learned a lot about nested if statements and basically was told by Alice and Roni Habib that I need to learn about vLookup, since I used way too many nested if statements. Wanna see?

Nested if statement

Yikes, right? Anyway, I had a lot of fun creating this, and since it might be useful for more people than just the teachers in our district, I thought I’d share it with the world.

Convert your Lexile Levels to Approximate Guided Reading Levels

Please, log in with your Google account and make your own copy, so you can manipulate and save the data. Remember that it’s only an approximate level, but share this with anyone you’d like!

Posted in Reading Workshop | Tagged , | 14 Comments

Reflecting on Maker Faire through Lytro Images

Had a great time at Maker Faire this year, so much so that I really want to get a MakerSpace into our district soon. I took my Lytro camera with me, snapping photos of those things that really spoke to me, and I will be writing my reflections based on these images, but will link to the product site with name of the product.

Overall, it was a great time. Most of the things that I saw that really felt applicable to students/children making was found in the main hall, not the education pavilion as those who put the show together had planned. Not sure why, but there seemed to be a great disconnect between the main group of makers and those in the education pavilion. Hopefully that can be better blended or adjusted for the future, as I feel it would really make this show more useful to all the teachers out there.

LittleBits (Lytro image)
The simple way of introducing circuits to kids. When I grew up, it was connecting wires to springs. When my brother was in elementary school, it was snapping circuits on a grid. Now, it’s all based in magnets. Simple and fun.

Popeze (Lytro image)
Ever had trouble helping kids make a pop-up card? Popeze makes it so simple with their clear sticky plastic pieces. I would love to have a few sheets of these for my students’ card and artistic creation time.

HowToons (Lytro image)

(I never finished this post, but I at least wanted to share this much!)

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Why did you become a teacher? How could you ever leave the classroom? (Part 1 of 2)

Today’s post is answering the first of two questions I get asked quite frequently. The first question often comes from those who aren’t teachers. The second question usually comes from teachers.

Why did I become a teacher?

I wish I had a simple answer, but it’s a combination of many things. First of all, my parents instilled a great thirst for knowledge into me, a thirst that led to a dedication to achieving the goal I set in sixth grade of going to Stanford and becoming a lawyer. (No, I did not decide to follow a career in law, but my sixth grade self definitely set me on a good path by putting Stanford into my goals.)

Next, I moved from Portland to Sacramento a week into high school. Now I did not choose to move because of how mediocre my school in Portland was, but that became clear pretty quickly. I had been in school for a week in Portland and was completely lost. I entered the school in Sacramento (Go Huskies!) and even though they had started a whole month before I got there, I felt at home. I know the teachers in Portland were doing their best too, but for me personally, I would have likely followed a completely different path had I stayed up in Portland, due to the expectations and quality of education at that school.

While I realized the difference in the schools at the time, it hit me even more when I went to work for St. HOPE Academy under the leadership of the current mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson. At St. HOPE, KJ was trying to give the children of Oak Park (a neighborhood in Sacramento) the lives they deserved. I watched as the teachers union tried to deny a quality education (I know that’s not how they perceived it) to families who desperately wanted it. I walked with them in protest outside of the board meetings until 2am. They were not going to give up. It was their future, after all.

All that led me to the spring of my senior year at Stanford. I was deciding between the Stanford Teacher Education Program, working in customer relations at Google, or some other venture altogether (bartender, perhaps?). I received some great guidance from the outreach coordinator at STEP (who is now my mother-in-law) and decided to go down that path. It definitely was a hard decision in the moment, but looking back, I can’t believe it wasn’t easier.

I actually feel that way about each of those decisions I made. Yes, choosing to move to Sacramento was a choice between living with my dad or my mom, which in itself is a very difficult decision, but I believe the school I would’ve been at definitely had more of an impact on my life trajectory. Working at St. HOPE? I had to talk to the Haas Center at Stanford for a while to work at a non-profit they hadn’t worked with before (since I was on the federal work-study program and had to work at a non-profit in the summer to be a part of the program), but without those experiences and the leadership training from Kevin Johnson, I definitely wouldn’t have ended up here, or at least wouldn’t have ended up making the (small) impact I have made. And as far as choosing a career path my senior year… seriously? I can’t believe I was considering working in a cubicle, calling people about their ads on Google.

Posted in Forging My Path | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

STEM Coordinator? How’s That Going?

I started my new role as the STEM Coordinator on August 1st. The first question I get is asking what I will be doing. Well, for the most part, I will be in classrooms, supporting teachers in getting technology integrated into their classroom instruction. I will also be sharing tools on, meeting with companies and other districts who can support us in our move toward getting a STEM focus into all classes, Kinder through 8th Grade.

Next question: Do you miss being out of the classroom? My answer… not yet. Right now, I’m doing what I would always be doing, finding new tools and figuring out the best ones to be used in the classroom and getting all the technology up to speed. Yes, I’m not setting up my own classroom, but I have helped Jenna and another friend or two set up their rooms, so I feel covered in that realm. As far as actually having students goes, we’ll see. Next Thursday, when everyone else has kids in their room, then we’ll see how I feel. Odds are, yes, I will miss being out of the classroom.

Trust me, I know it will be different. I’m not trying to kid myself or make it seem like I know exactly how teachers are feeling. I know I can use the bathroom whenever I want. I can get lunch off campus without students knocking on my door the whole time. I don’t have to be in there with the class for three more hours when I can tell they are exhausted (and I may be too).

If I get too far from the classroom or forget what it’s like, tell me. Seriously, call me out on it. Please.

Posted in Forging My Path, STEM | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Where Am I As An Online Teacher?

As a final reflection for my LEC course, I’m asked to read the iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Teaching and reflect on where I am in relation to each standard, including strengths and needs, and think about what areas I’ve grown in over the course. For those of you interested, here is my first post, when I reflected on being ready to take on online course. I knew I would have to work on accountability and sure enough, I did. Yes, there were a million other things to do too, and I had no clue that this LEC thing was going to take more than a few hours of one day originally, but that’s definitely what I need to keep as a focus as an online learner. I know that and will continue to focus on that. But now onto where I am as an online teacher.

Standard A “The online teacher knows the primary concepts and structures of effective online instruction and is able to create learning experiences to enable student success.”

When I reflect on Standard A, I believe that I have many strengths in this standard. I am always seeking out new tools, new strategies, and new knowledge as far as teaching goes. I try to give back as well, sharing on my blog, responding to fellow educators on Twitter, and going into classrooms to support teachers when I have time. Additionally, I have the appropriate credentials for my type of blended teaching, including a multiple subjects credential and a Masters in Elementary Education.

Standard B “The online teacher understands and is able to use a range of technologies, both existing and emerging, that effectively support student learning and engagement in the online environment.”

I feel I also have many strengths in this standard, too. I am very critical in my selection of online tools, including trying them on my own, reaching out to others, and testing in a small way before I move to fully implement that tool in my practice. In my practice I use songs with visuals, screencasts, as well as my voice, text, and in-person discussions. I actually enjoy troubleshooting, from in-person support to making videos to support those who I am not near at the moment or who might need it later. And from the 800 favorited tweets I have to read this summer, I will certainly be identifying and exploring some new tools. Perhaps too many new tools…

Standard C “The online teacher plans, designs, and incorporates strategies to encourage active learning, application, interaction, participation, and collaboration in the online environment.”

Here is a place where I feel so-so. I definitely use student-centered instructional strategies, but not with as many real-world applications as I would like, or probably is even necessary. I know in part this comes from teaching at a school where EDI (Explicit Direct Instruction) is the norm, so I will just have to work at getting more of those ideas gathering cobwebs in my mind out and into the classroom. Also, while I feel I can reach out appropriately to students of diverse backgrounds, I know I need to work on making my instruction more accessible for those who may have a learning or physical disability. I will reflect more on that with Standard F.

Standard D “The online teacher promotes student success through clear expectations, prompt responses, and regular feedback.”

Overall, I feel pretty good about this, especially because my level of accountability shifts when I’m the teacher rather than the learner. Still, I will need to make sure I am clear about my response times and ensure that I follow them. I don’t imagine having this issue as a teacher, but I do need to continually reflect on my struggles as a learner, ensuring I’m supporting those who needed the extra push like I did. I know taking this course allowed me to experience how a student might experience my course and I just need to keep that in mind as I create assignments and interaction with my students.

Standard E “The online teacher models, guides, and encourages legal, ethical, and safe behavior related to technology use.”

This is one standard where I really feel I learned a lot from this course. Most of what I learned is summed up pretty nicely in this video on YouTube: A Fair(y) Use Tale (which is licensed Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License by Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University). Yes, I knew about copyright and fair use before, but not necessarily how it applied to teaching and learning. Knowing the fair use standards will be important for my use in the course, as well as what my students produce and share.

Standard F “The online teacher is cognizant of the diversity of student academic needs and incorporates accommodations into the online environment.”

This is my weakest area, although also the area I learned the most in during this course. It’s the area I’m also most cognizant of, trying to make sure I’m using appropriate headings when I can find them and providing alternate text and captions for any visuals I use in my work. I’ve had plenty of work in my physical classroom in regards to English learners and students with IEPs, but not very much experience with students with physical disabilities.  Especially not with supporting students with physical disabilities in an online setting.

I will definitely continue to add captions and transcripts for my videos now that I’ve had experience with doing that with one video for class, as this is clearly an important action step to allow all learners to access my materials, but beyond that, I think I have more learning to do. I need to really explore the tools I have and tools that are out there for making more accessible texts, videos, and sites, and share the things I learn, since most of us are at the same point in learning how to adapt our teaching materials for a broader and more diverse audience. I would hope and challenge myself to blog about the adaptive and assistive technologies I learn about and try to get feedback from those who would benefit most from these technologies, since I can only make assumptions about how certain tools and strategies would work.

Standard G “The online teacher demonstrates competencies in creating and implementing assessments in online learning environments in ways that ensure validity and reliability of the instruments and procedures.”

Overall, I’d say I’m pretty firm in this area. Perhaps the one place I need to grow is in relation to ensuring the security of online student assessments. Of course, I use sites for assessment that need me and the students to provide passwords, but I hear from some educators about how unsecured certain sites are, including Google Apps for Ed, and I know this is something I need to investigate further. Before I start teaching a fully-online course, I need to know what sites and information are truly secure and what is not. And honestly, this is probably the area I have the least idea where to start, so any comments or suggestions are welcome!

Standard H “The online teacher develops and delivers assessments, projects, and assignments that meet standards-based learning goals and assesses learning progress by measuring student achievement of the learning goals.”

Again, feel pretty strong in this standard and I’m not just saying that because I’ve written over a thousand words in this post. (Although this is pretty lengthy!) I actually am pretty excited about this standard, because I feel it’s somewhere I could truly use things I haven’t used in a while. Using authentic assessments rather than the traditional assessments is something that, well, is more real. Of course, I know that the traditional assessments are necessary at some level, but to truly know if someone understands something is to ask them to apply their knowledge in an authentic way, like my Find A Fish project from a couple years ago.

Standard I “The online teacher demonstrates competency in using data from assessments and other data sources to modify content and to guide student learning.”

(Right now I feel like my students at the end of the CSTs. I know each question is important, but I’m so close and just want to rush to the end so I can go bike riding!)

Feeling pretty good about this standard. I feel that using online and in-person data to plan instruction is something I do pretty well, as I’ve been practicing this in my second grade classroom for the past few years. Also, I always try to send home questionnaires on my teaching effectiveness, which would be much easier to do online. Since my days in my credentialing program, I have grown to be a much more effective time-manager in the classroom. I know this is where I had to really focus for that credentialing year and following that, but I feel much stronger in it now.

I learned how to assess student readiness through this course, including having students create some initial work that is more about getting familiar with the tools than it is about content as well as the assessment I took and reflected on in my first post.

Standard J “The online teacher interacts in a professional, effective manner with colleagues, parents, and other members of the community to support students’ success.”

Again, feel good about this standard overall. I am continually looking to engage in professional development activities, including joining the Silicon Valley CUE Board and participating in more CUE events, participating in online webinars, attending conferences such as ISTE, and just keep up with other online/blended educators on Twitter.

I reach out to parents when I need to or can and with an online setting I can see this happening more often, because of access to the Internet and some of the tools I use which are accessible online, including ClassDojo and engrade. (I haven’t used engrade, but wish to try, since it feels more accessible than Infinite Campus.)

Standard K “The online teacher arranges media and content to help students and teachers transfer knowledge most effectively in the online environment.”

After taking this course, I would say I feel much stronger in this standard than I did before. Especially when considering the ability to create online assignments that are aligned with different ways of learning. I tried out and discussed using non-text/slide based assignments including VoiceThread, Vocaroo (using this prompt I would put out via Twitter: “Read this poem: then go to & record using expressive voice. Post the link here w/ #PoetryWithMrP”), and video (here’s my video prompt for a poetry assignment on YouTube).

Now, I know where I really need to focus, most especially Standard F. I have many instructional materials I’ve used in the past that I need to make accessible if I am going to use them in an online course, including adding captions and transcripts to any videos (such as my class’s Speedy Addition instructional video). I also need to practice more with using the accessibility tools on my current software (Apple Pages, iMovie, etc) and look for tools that make it even easier for those with physical disabilities to access my instructional materials.

I’m sure when I look back at this after teaching my first online course there will be more things that stand out as strengths I didn’t know I had or needs I didn’t know I had to address, but it’s just like student teaching… there are some things you can’t really know you don’t know until you’re in your own classroom, experiencing these situations firsthand.

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Reflecting on Social & Professional Networks

As I write this, I’m very aware that I need to post a reflection on my visit to Maker Faire, as I learned about so many new tools and ideas while continuing to come up with ideas of how to use existing things in my classroom.

This post is meant as a reflection for my LEC course I’m taking right now, thinking about social networks and how they support me as a learner and professional.

@Pronovost interacting on Twitter

This image, a screenshot of a conversation on Twitter, shows the results of a collaboration between my class and Mr. Habib’s class (@Roni_Habib) during this past month. Roni and I met at the CUE Conference in Palm Springs in March, even though our schools are less than 10 miles apart in the Bay Area. Through Twitter, Roni asked if my class would be able to participate in a project for his Economics class, to which I enthusiastically (well, I remember it this way) said yes.

We coordinated through Twitter and email to make it possible, resulting in some of his students coming over to our classroom and working with M&Ms and Tootsie Pops to understand the laws of economics. While this would have still been possible without Twitter, the ease of communicating and the limits it forces via character limitations made this project more possible than it would have been without.

Perhaps this would’ve been possible with another form of social media. I don’t know, since for me, Twitter is the only one that has really lent itself to becoming a learning/communication tool. Other social media has become a place where I can share or I can see what others have shared, but it feels much more shallow than my interactions on Twitter.

Since I mostly follow education-related people/companies on Twitter, I am getting a constant stream of amazing resources and ideas. This can be very helpful, because I get to keep up to date and get to learn A LOT everyday, but it can also distract me from keeping a focus. Perhaps I get online, hoping to connect over a relevant #edchat for an hour, but during that hour I also learn about ten other new things. I can “favorite” the posts for later, but that “favorites” backlog is now over 700 messages long and sometimes those new things feel more immediately relevant. Two hours later and I’ve done no work, but am up to date on the International Space Station and know the ins-and-outs of PicMonkey.

I can see students facing the same distraction factors, even more if they haven’t effectively filtered their incoming information. I can’t use Facebook as a learning tool personally, because I have too much incoming information already. I’m sure I could put in some filters to that information, but since I don’t see Facebook as a learning tool for myself, it’s not worth the effort. For whatever tool my students are going to use for learning, they need to learn how to use that tool effectively.

I can and will support them by modeling my effective use of social media both inside and outside the classroom.  We will try using the social media tool effectively in a class discussion or exploration in order to be able to reflect on the use as a class. Class reflections will be the most important part, in fact, because that is the time that we will truly be able to actually digest the ways that social media can help and hinder our learning.

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Online/Blended Learning and Assessments

As I consider formative and summative assessments online for the LEC course I’m taking, I realize that most students will take these assessments without the the teacher there. That means a teacher needs to be prepared for the student to use outside resources to support. Is there anything wrong with this?

Well, I guess it depends on what you expect from the students. If you’re simply looking for the students to regurgitate facts, yes, it’s a problem. But honestly, is that what we’re looking for? We should be looking for production as well as collaboration.

In my work this week for my LEC course, I was asked to create an assessment for my students. To this end, I created a three-part assessment:

1) Creating a poem based on this image (VoiceThread). Because I chose the image myself, I can more effectively know that students aren’t just taking a poem from somewhere else and pasting it in, as it wouldn’t apply to the photo.

2) I took this poem from a student last year and asked for supportive commentary. This way, I can judge what they already have learned about poetry in the past two years of school.
An image from KidBlog

3) I posted a poem with hopefully very few difficult words for students to read (VoiceThread). This is simply to gauge their poet’s voice and see if they can perform a poem. It also gives them an idea for their own poems, if they haven’t read/heard others before.

If I used these as pre- and post-assessments, I would expect the poems to use more descriptive language the second time around, give more targeted feedback, and will have a much more interesting read of the poem. Much better than asking for a poem using alliteration, where the student could simply do a Google search for alliteration poems.

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