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.
This year’s PETE & C was very rejuvenating and a great learning experience. I picked up a solid mix of new tools and new pedagogy. Many of the tools I was exposed to I have heard of or seen before, but I picked up new ideas on their usefulness. This is always enlightening, it also precludes the need to learn and/or pay for new tools and apps. I believe these experiences out and about, immersed in these conferences improves my overall concept of education.
My previous thoughts on some “Old School” practices, such as handwriting, which I am biased against due to my messy handwriting, and a few other ideas were challenged. I was forced to look at those notions and adjust accordingly. I see where some concepts, such as reading cursive is necessary for looking over primary documents and still a basic skill set that is necessary, albeit not often used.
I continue to push for student creation of content and challenge the students to think outside of the box, but I need to break projects and lessons down into smaller, more manageable or basic parts. This allows for students who may not be comfortable with these concepts to hopefully have a higher rate of success. (Author’s Note: since returning from the conference, I have experienced my theory in a real world learning situation. That will be a separate blog post.)
I am very interested in Mindfulness and creating a more effective learning environment in my traditional classroom and online class setting. The changes have been instituted on my part immediately, although in small pieces. I find that my students adapt better to incremental changes rather than one major paradigm shift. This is especially true with my Honors US II class.
As stated earlier, I am working incorporating these strategies and tools into my classes by modelling tasks repeatedly, and creating more and more video tutorials. My students have also stepped up and have been mentoring each other more, especially on the current project utilizing my class Padcaster.
As more specific ideas and tools are rolled out, I will add to the story at MrSal.edublogs org.
I am also breaking assignments into smaller assignments to try and monitor and reward students more often. I will follow up on the results via my blog.
I have owned a Livescribe Pen for a number of years. I earned, or was rewarded with my first Livescribe Pen for attending the Keystone Technology Integrator’s Summit at Bucknell University. I cannot remember if it was as an attendee or a staff member that I received the pen.
My students use the Livescribe Pen to take notes in class, the Livescribe is referred to as “The Magic Pen.” The notes are pushed over to an iPad and then uploaded to Evernote. Once in Evernote, the .pdfs are embedded in the class wiki so other students can access the notes if need be. A written copy is printed for the students who take the notes for the class.
In my quest to take existing skills and tools and apply them to more situations, I decided it was time to learn how to create pencasts with the Livescribe pen. Needless to say, there was a learning curve for me. The first couple attempts…or so did not work our so well. I ended up with an audio file, but no corresponding video to see what was being discussed.
Long story short, I was “pushing” the wrong virtual button with the Livescribe Pen. I was “pushing” the record button in the notebook, I was supposed to just “push” the little square button on the iPad.
So for today’s portion of #12DaysofSketchnoting we have to describe Communication/Creative Communicators. This boggled my mind at first, but that happens at times, especially in the AM now that I drink half-caf coffee.
As a history teacher the first thing that popped into my head was President Reagan, due to his nickname “The Great Communicator.” Bizarre…yes, but par for what goes on inside my mind. Should I try and draw him, or an unfinished movie poster title such as “Bedtime for Bon…” with a partially drawn monkey. My drawing ability is not good enough to draw President Reagan and I was not sure if anyone would get the movie reference. The ideas were non-starters.
I had to do a hard reset and rethink how I could approach today’s topic. I decided to incorporate a blog post to explain my Sketchnote; it would be better explained in that context, than as a standalone image.
On to my Sketchnote:
I believe I can communicate well, for as non-linear as I think. I do lecture more than I should, but I try to make my classroom more of a discussion setting. While doing this, I try and relate issues to local/personal experiences, I have been known to be melodramatic, use various accents, and even act out and model situations. If nothing else, students can recall my bizarre actions, some can even recall the points I was trying to make.
Since communication is a two-way street, listening is a major component of communication. Actually, not just listening, but giving students a legitimate voice in their own educational experience. Listen to them, but put what they say to use, give them a sense of…on second thought, not even a sense, but actual ownership of their experience in your classroom.
The Sketchnote below is the mishmash of visuals bouncing around in my head as I thought about and typed this today.
Last night I sat in on a PAECT members only webinar about Sketchnoting, or visual notetaking with Sylvia Duckworth. I have read about this concept before and encouraged a number of my students to work with the concept over the last several years. I never practiced it due to a very basic level of drawing ability, my wheelhouse is writing.
A free refresher on the topic was too good to pass up, especially when presented by someone as well respected on the topic as Sylvia is. I was hoping to pick up some new ideas to pass on to my students, which I did. That being said I also gained a better understanding of of the overall concept. This came about by actually practicing or trying out the various strategies as Sylvia explained them. After the hour and a half webinar I can safely say that I am still far from a Skectchnoting expert. I can say, however that I am much more comfortable explaining the concept to others.
I also see how Sketchnoting can help me when the need arises to study. Going back to review my notes and sketching out a re-writing would benefit me the most out of the strategies discussed. I hope to have a Sketchnote to embed in this post shortly.
Here is a short video overview of the Sketchnoting concept.
This is my Sketchnote Review of the webinar.
Today one of my students said I looked like a baseball dad…I have no idea what that means or meant. When I inquired as to the meaning, the students who were sitting there whispered amongst themselves then replied, “We don’t know…like a dad who likes baseball.”
I have no idea if the comment was complimentary or not. It is dress down day, I have on jeans, my KTI Golf Shirt, tenna shoes (in my best Pittsburghese), and my $1.00 reading glasses on top of my head. No full selfie to go with the description, I thoroughly dislike the angle needed to show the entire pic, but here is part of me…
Later I overheard the term “Soccer Mom” being used by these same students. It was not directed at me, but knowing how many of these terms have both positive and negative connotations…I must expand my culturally aware vocabulary.
Until next time…
At this past February’s PETE and C in Hershey, PA, I learned more about a concept called Breakout.edu. The premise is that students or adults solves a series of puzzles and/or problems to achieve a predetermined learning goal. Breakout.edu allows for critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity.
These lessons can be either digital in nature or actual physical lock and puzzle boxes. There is a growing and strong support network for teachers online, with numerous resources, but that is a topic for another blog post.
I chose to work with a digital breakout to start, it is free and I have access to all of the necessary online resources.
This post is currently under construction.