ISTE Certification: The Beginning of a Journey
Earlier this year an opportunity arose for me to take a course and attempt to become an ISTE Certified Educator. The decision to make the attempt and become certified was not an easy one. Considerations that I needed to address included impact on family, cost, time to complete the certification, timing of the course, school district approval to get out for the training, and other smaller considerations.
It took some time and a good bit of self reflection to clarify details, organize resources, discuss the available opportunity, and eventually make the final decision to take the leap and attempt to become certified. I will not go into the specifics of working through all of these considerations in this post, I will just say that they were resolved in a positive fashion.
The process consisted of two days of face to face training, with nine more weeks of online coursework, then we have approximately six months to create an ePortfolio of evidence to be evaluated to achieve our certification. This ePortfolio will be discussed later.
As of yesterday, November 8, 2019, I completed the two day face to face training. It was intense, but well paced, with plenty of opportunity to reflect on how all of the information fits into my classroom.
I am currently in a cohort with sixteen other educators, many of whom I already know through PAECT. This familiarity helped me settle into the course and remove some of the jitters that arise every time I take a new course in my professional development journey. The educators that I did not previously know are welcome additions to my PLN and I look forward to working with them.
There was one major consideration that I have not mentioned until now and it is the elephant lingering in my subconscious…what if I fail to achieve my goal?
Even after I worked through all of the other considerations and was in a position to take the course, this thought hovered just below the surface in my mind. I believe I am a good teacher and already implement many of the ISTE Standards in my classroom, but having a total stranger judge my efforts was an entirely different level of evaluation. The concept of one evaluation to assess my entire effort is a bit overwhelming. That being said, I have no choice but to work within those stated parameters.
Individuals are to submit an ePortfolio of artifacts to show how we meet the standards, our evaluators will not know us, nor will they be able to infer any other information about us. Our portfolios will exist in isolation with only our submitted artifacts as evidence. There is no opportunity to clarify, rebut, or add to the ePortfolio once it is submitted. Talk about an uncomfortable finality…
I had talked with other educators who had started the course earlier this year to gain some insight into the process and their thoughts on everything. Though the sample size is limited, just a handful of educators, all were in agreement of the rigor and intensity of the ePortfolio creation. My stress level remained a bit elevated.
After talking with many members of my cohort, it seems a number of us have the same anxiety/concern about the ePortfolio. This fact of not being the only one with anxiety over the ePortfolio helped ease some of my anxiety. Weird, I know, but that is how my mind often works…beating to its own irrational, illogically logical drummer.
Anxiety aside, I am in this marathon learning experience as a full participant. Hopefully my blogging stays somewhat constant as I journal about my experience through the ISTE Certification process.
Pittsburgh’s Bomber Mystery
Dateline January 31, 1956
A B-25 Mitchell Bomber crash lands into the Monongahela River somewhere between the Homestead High Level Bridge and the Glenwood Bridge, these bridges are between Kennywood Park and Pittsburgh, PA for those not familiar with the Mon Valley Area. There were a number of witnesses, thus many differing details to what happened that day. There was no Internet at that time, social media as you know it did not exist, television was new, I do not believe we had helicopter breaking news stories, this limited access to first hand details for the populace.
The Backstory or How I Heard about the Event:
I have always been a History Buff, even as a child. I love reading about history and I especially love hearing about history; add LOCAL HISTORY to the mix and I am hooked. I first heard about this story as a kid in Leo Gigliotti’s barbershop in Duquesne, PA. I knew him as “Mr. Leo” he was a great friend of my Grandpap.
I was in Mr. Leo’s shop getting a haircut around the anniversary of the bomber crash and several regulars were talking about it. They mentioned one of their buddies who had assisted in the rescue efforts, he had just been driving by when he saw the bomber crash. He helped pull crew members out of the river that day; when he showed up late to a family function his family accused him of being out at a bar, due to the peculiarity of his story. The story hooked me immediately, I listened intently to the men discuss the actual crash details and how the crew was rescued. Then the discussion turned to the conspiracy theories and my mind raced with images of the threads they weaved together.
I longed to find out more about this event, as I grew older I conducted research at the local library, but information was scarce. From time to time information would be published in a newspaper, or there would be a brief but tantalizing segment on a local news station.
Stories such as this one piqued my interest with the conflicting details about the event and its aftermath. I admit, I love to read these stories that are “off the beaten path” they give the mind a chance to wonder. Due to meeting those gentlemen in Mr. Leo’s Barbershop all those years ago, I keep an open mind about the event.
The more traditional or “official” stories contain the same facts and some even mention the controversies surrounding the plane crash. The most recent story published in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review can be found here. The Heinz History Center has information posted on their History Blog, about the crash and the recovery efforts by Marion Hill Associates, a New Brighton based company.
Your assignment is to read the articles about the plane crash that are linked above, there are three articles. After reading the articles, post a reply with your thoughts about the event, review the “Commenting Guidelines” that are posted on the Class Blog. I will be posting a reply rubric here shortly.
You can check out the more information on Mr. Leo Gigliotti here.
Better Blogging with Students 2018: Week 1
This post originally was a reply to the post you can find here in a course I am taking: Better Blogging with Students 2018. This is our first week and we were asked to reply to a post about ourselves, our goals, how we would like to integrate our blog into our classrooms, and other such topics. Below is my reply.
I have been blogging for a number of years, but my attempts are streaky at best- I write about educational technology, best practices, or tools and projects my classes are using or creating, then I drop off. Some posts are written as a model of what the current student project should look like. At worst I post sporadically, once every month or semester. As for my students’ blogs, they blog a couple of times a nine weeks at best, with replying to to other blogs only as an assignment. They are mainly one way avenues, not the vibrant exchange of ideas I hope to create.
My overall goal is to model consistently good blogging practices that I can show and discuss with my classes. This goal is to have a platform for them to use as a model. If I cannot meet my expectations, it is not fair to require them to meet the same expectations. The short term plan is to start small, just post regularly, even if it is just a review of what happened in class that week, maybe even just a cross post from a review pencast or podcast, but just get into the habit of producing a post on a regular basis by creating a set time for the exercise.
My audience is varied, I write mainly for other educators, showing off my students’ work and new tools I have begun to use with my students. Parents can also view the blog to get more of a feel for my class.
My Honors students have their own public blogs, where they post assignments from class, they are linked under my class blog. Students publish many writing assignments, mainly opinion pieces to Edublogs instead of writing to paper and recycling them in a week.
I am entertaining the idea of having a guest blogger on the main class blog as an enrichment assignment. Students can volunteer to write a bout a topic of their choice that fits into the course curriculum, History, and have an open forum to express opinions, interview people of that era, or some other task we agree upon.
The end result is to create a higher quality blog, class and student, where conversations occur naturally, not forced by class assignments. They would need to be integrated into class time so they become part of the class culture and not just an added task.
This has been an ongoing project and goal for awhile. I make small steps forward, I am hoping to make a bit more progress this time and not backslide when done.