Looking back to how I felt or what I expected at this time last year I have a couple of takeaways.
Having not been in school (as a learner) for 7 years, the thought about starting a Master's program made me uneasy. I was excited but incredibly nervous. All these self-doubts floated in my head. Could I still write at a high academic level? Could I manage my time appropriately to get the most out of the courses? Was the content presented in class going to motivate me to improve my classroom instruction?
What I found in the Innovative learning program was a supportive environment, one that wanted each of us to succeed. Through the cohort model, we were able to quench each other's self-doubts while growing our educational tool-kit. The cohort model worked so well for this type of distant-synchronous programing. I would not have wanted it any other way. I am leaving this program with strong connections and insights into various people's practices which ultimately will help create change in my own practice.
Each one of us in the cohort is an individual. We all have our own lives that come with their own set of struggles and strengths. Talking with a coupe of members of our cohort last week and listening to how they manage their time to work on their website and video, while caring for young and teenage children is beyond my frame of reference. This dedication is why we are all here. We want more from ourselves and our educational journey and seeing the products created throughout this year is motivating. Hopefully, these connections we made will not just end with the finish of the program and that we can at times rely on each other for ideas, feedback or just a person to vent to. Well done Touro for creating an inclusive, supportive program that allowed us to reach beyond our comfort zones!
I never have given much thought to video production. Yes, I like movies and slightly pay attention to the videography that goes into a video project but now, completing our 5th video for the program I have a new found respect for those that can make their videos look amazing. Viewing several of the sample videos that were excellently crafted makes me want to do better. I wish I had more video editing skills and a more skilled eye within composition of film. Even though I understand that there is a balance between meeting the assignment requirements, creating a good product and using the time that we are given, I still want a bit more from my video. I think that's normal, right?
So for now, being able to string together various tools we have used throughout the program such as Screencasts and Adobe Spark, has but the ideas of the video into action. I have also really enjoyed using Photobooth that is built in on a Mac for recording myself, to have interview like clips within my video. This tool adds a more personal feel and recording in short intervals allows the videos to be uploaded to spark (which has a 30 second limit per slide). I cannot wait to see everyones video on the 18th!
Growing up my mom always told me to lead by example. After reading through the Touro values, there are a couple that I find myself gravitating towards. The first being, Intellectual inquiry, discovery, and passion for life-long learning. As educators we are charged with the task of promoting learning, curiosity, discovery and critical thinking. If we are unable to to do these things ourselves, what message does that send to our students? The expensive piece of paper that hangs on my classroom wall (Bachelors degree) is not a finish line but merely an accomplishment. The soon to be paper from Touro, with the Master's of Education imprinted on it, is an artifact from a journey and should not be considered a stopping place. Learning is on-going and the more students see that what they are doing is part of a lifelong journey of collecting, connecting and synthesizing knowledge, the more the process of education becomes less about a separate institution and more about an ingrained part of being human.
The second value that shouts to me is student-centered education. Often times I think back to my first couple of years in the classroom in which I felt that I had to be the source of knowledge, the classroom oracle. As my journey has progressed, I have been more intentional about creating an experience that is not about me and what I know, but about how students access and apply the information. This connected with much of what Ken Robinson writes and speaks about, curiosity. Curiosity is ingrained in each one of us and as educators we have the power to foster that curiosity or squash it down. What I will bring into my classroom is providing students the chance to investigate, discuss and make mistakes. This program is so applicable to this facet of classroom ideology by giving us the tools to put the learning back in the students' hands through lessons that incorporate creation and independent thinking. Hyperdocs and other digital tools help to expand this but by no means are meant to be stand alone items. Much like a recent email from ISTE stated in the heading, Discover how to lead with learning, not tech.
The end is near. I can smell it (or hear it, or see it?). Just the final bits and pieces to wrap up including the poster, hook video and some tweaks to the capstone site.
While the executive summary seemed more painful than expected when it was originally assigned, it was incredibly useful to dig back into the action research paper. Having been 7 months since I shoveled the research paper away in a long-forgotten EDUC790 Google Drive folder, deciphering the main points seemed so distant from where I am at currently. For a moment anxiety struck me, "how was I going to summarize a process that I no longer felt connected with"? Then I realized, I wouldn't be in my current mindset if it wasn't my past experiences that had called out for the shift. For some reason, this connection has previously eluded me. The innovative learning program is designed to push you, encourage you to reflect on your pedagogy and ultimately allow you to integrate new skills and thought processes into your classroom. The program did exactly what it was designed to do, create change. In this respect, it is encouraging that how I am thinking about education is different today than it was 3,6,9,12 months ago. That is the purpose right?
I am excited to begin my poster after completing the executive summary. Sifting through my collected data and analysis has really helped boil down what it is I want my viewer to get and to know about how this program has shifted the way my classroom operates and why this is important to my students.
As I get my hands dirty with Adobe Spark a couple of issues have arisen. The first being that there is a huge time crunch to get this done. In our last 703 class, we were taught about lighting and basic video techniques, but would we really have time to do actual recordings? This video should be an excellent product since it is on our home page, but I am afraid that it will be rushed and the quality will suffer. The second dilemma was also encountered during the icon creation portion of 703 and that is transferring what you have in your head (or on your storyboard) to the actual product.
There is good news though. I suspect most of us came into the Touro program as video newbies, however, that director's eye has been slowly cultivated within us during previous classes. To assist me with this I have thought back to the work we did with our book reports in 791 and our team utilized Adobe Spark to create a professional looking product. Being able to gain experience navigating Spark and its availbale tools has already paid dividends during the hook video. As for the timing, not to be cliche, but the timing is what it is. Summer term is crunch time and this means being able to produce on a moments notice. This video will get done, it will look professional and will engage those who venture to our capstone sites, for optimism is truly helpful in situations such as these.
Much like taking a stock and reducing down into a flavorful finishing sauce, condensing and therefor concentrating our almost year worth of work to a minute takes a deliberate hand, focusing on what we are really wanting an indivdual to get out of it. What worked for me is to map out what I would want the viewer understand. Alt ed, check. Digital tools, check. Hyperdocs, check. WHY, double check. I keep coming back to the why, as this is the most important aspect of the hook. Why should someone care about the work that has been done, the infographics made, the endless writings contained on the capstone site as well as in the many blogs completed during the last 10 months if they cannot connect to the need for all of this. My why cannot point blame, nor approach the viewer as if they are doing something wrong. As members of the education community, we pour out an immense amount of time and energy and while not everything is perfect, we are doing our best (right?). I want the viewer to nod their head in agreement as if to shout through the internet that "I see that too"! So my approach is being relatable. Whether you are teaching little ones that need help using the restroom, or large, surly teenagers being comfortable saying no to just about everything we all have similar experiences. This is the connection.
I am a professed Adobe Spark convert after our book review in EDU 791. The ability to give short commentary, re-record easily (I stutter at times and this is a huge bonus) and the clean package makes this a go to. While it might lack some of the bells and whistles other programs have, at this stage in the game not having to reinvent what has worked in the past is a major bonus. I do wish I had video capture of students to include with the video because again, this is relatable at the very basic level, the fact that we all work with learners in some form.
Oakland's district math team helped shaped the way I viewed education, especially math education. The Team Math Collaborative (TMC) was in charge of designing and implementing a curriculum that relied upon student discourse, investigations and exploration. Foundational skills were supported through the use of number routines such as Number Talks, where students could share the way that they made sense of numeracy not what was dictated to them. This is where I got my chops. In the classroom I was free to act as a facilitator rather than the lone keeper of information. In this model, I relied little on technology (not to say it wouldn't have made my structure even better).
Moving to another district, into an alternative program, changed much for me. No longer did I have the consistency in attendance to build up cooperative groups or a class wide movement though the curriculum. Individualizing education for each student was not only a support but a necessity. With a constant influx of new students, varying levels of prior knowledge and spotty attendance, I needed another way to think about math education. Turning my previously designed curriculum into a more scaffolded individual endeavor worked. Since the class sizes were small, I could bounce around and support each student as they needed it. If a student missed several days or weeks, when they came back they could pick up where they left off. It was exhausting, but results were good, students were learning.
This experience led me to think more and more about integrating technology to help meet the students needs on an individual basis. First a spreadsheet tracker was developed to monitor students understanding of specific standards as they worked through the units. Next came organizing the trackers and assignments into Google Classroom. The Touro Innovative Learning program helped support and push me as an educator to begin to merge curriculum, pedagogy and technology (TPACK). This level of integration has led to students using various tech tools to create and design using their voice, writings, videos and presentations. Students were gaining experience becoming independent learners through the use of screencasts, instructional videos, hyperdocs and other resources. As I wrap of the 2018-19 school year, I am in a place where TPACK is becoming more and more fluid within the classroom. For each lesson or unit I am gaining fluency in being able to select the right tool for the job and put the learning into the students hands. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to see how this understanding plays out next year. More to come!
To design my capstone logo I chose Canva because I was already comfortable with the layout of the site. What I found was it is really difficult to create a logo when you are trying to emulate a sketch that you have done. What Canva was useful in doing was offering ideas from the preloaded templates and elements while designing something that was visually pleasing and conveyed what the focus of your site is.
Since my capstone relied heavily on the use of hyperdocs, I wanted to highlight one of the key features of this tool, which is being able to link resources to your document. For this I chose the universal image of a link (chainlink). Since students are using this link to access other documents or tools, an arrow seemed like an appropriate image to accompany the link. While the logo is clean and visually pleasing, I am wondering if this image will convey what my site is about, alternative education and independence through learning. Assuming there will be several iterations during the logo design process before a final version is selected, I am excited to get peer feedback on what others think because my bias is too heavy to gauge the true usefulness of the logo.
Transliteracy was a new to me vocabulary word as I entered the Innovative Learning program at Touro. The word is reminiscent of typical buzzwords that get thrown around when talking about education such as equity, 21st Century skills, standards-based learning and many others that came before them. This is not to say that transliteracy is a fad, but the exact opposite. To be literate in todays society, workforce and education system we must be transliterate, or able to take in, understand and synthesize information from a variety of mediums.
Within my current site, I noticed students having immense struggles with accessing technology, working through digital tools (or analog tools for that matter) and being able to use technology as a resource. To sum it up, the students that came into my class, for the most part were transilliterate. My entrance to Touro's program and this observation coincided in a very fortuitous manner. As we built curriculum this year, our staff really pushed on the ideas of being multi-faceted and embedding traditional content into yet another learning area, digital literacy. As we wrap up this school year, looking back students were able to self learn through apps such as Khan and teacher created screencasts and youtube videos. In addition to taking in information in various ways, every student became a creator by using technologies such as Flipgrid, the Google Suite and Padlet. The concept of tranliteracy has transformed my classroom structure and pedagogy in a way that will never go away. It is a habit now.
Transliteracy helps foster choice for students as well as give individuals a better understanding of their own preferences, strengths and areas of growth. When asked to investigate Marshall McLuhan each member of our cohort had a different preference. Christina pulled the most information from a video, while I preferred to read a synopsis of the book. Others might of rather had the information constructed as a bulleted list or maybe a graphic. With transliteracy alive and well in the classroom (and hopefully the work place) students are able to shoulder more of the learning themselves which leads to more ownership, engagement and inclusion. Not everyone is going to think of -3 + 5 as - - - + + + + + with 3 zero pairs, so the more access points, the more success.
As I begin to think about my website, the audience that I am trying to reach are teachers at the micro level, but I would could also see the site being used as a jump-off for professional developments at the site and district level. Working in Oakland, we had a strong and connected district content teams that did a large amount of work around curriculum, pedagogy and other "mathy processes" but very little was spoken around integrating technology into the curriculum. I believe that creating a resource that highlights hyperdocs, digital portfolios and other design tools can help teachers differentiate and engage students, so why couldn't my site be used as a resource within PD's?
After reviewing the Learn More sections within other's capstone sites, this is the "protein and potatoes" of the website. If I was going to access a site that was dedicated to using hyperdocs and the digital design process I would want to see it in action! Sample lessons, units and student portfolios will need to be presented as well as a short tutorial (I can see this being a screencast with voice over) on how to plan, organize and design a hyperdoc. The resource section of the Learn More page could have all the tools that I have used when developing hyperdocs during my own lessons. Since my use of hyperdocs has been math centered, it would be useful to link the creators of hyperdocs page to my site to show other content uses of the tool.
Brainstorming of the Learn More page