First Impressions of Digital Citizenship

Week One’s introduction to digital citizenship came as reinforcement of currently practiced ideas. After reading and watching the week’s resources, I realized that everything my parents taught me about being a positive citizen in the “real world” parallels the meaning of being a positive citizen in the real world. The intriguing and somewhat scary conclusion drawn is that in the near future citizenship and digital citizenship will be 100% synonymous. We still seem to be in a transition period between the culture of “two worlds” to the culture of “one world” (Ohler) On one side of the educating world is a tenacious group of traditionalists desperately desiring to cling to their storied practices. The other is made up of chameleons that are constantly absorbing information and adapting their practices to best fit their target audience. Educators must hold themselves accountable to model proper digital citizenship to promote a digital world that benefits each citizen that engages with it.

One of my favorite studies conducted in the field of education is the “Hole in the Wall” experiment. Sugata Mitra discovered that humans will adapt their practices to learn how to use the tools they are provided with. Humans are naturally self-directed learners. They only become stagnant when unchallenged and provided for. The largest problem in my organization my students face concerning the use of digital tools in their learning experience is access to the digital tools they desire to employ. Unfortunately, the lack of access stems from school policy and not lack of resources. My school was build less than a decade ago and has a multitude of computer labs, laptops carts, and a phenomenal media center. However, the technology policy states that all students must put all devices “Off and Away” through the entirety of the school day. My organization operates under the “two lives” approach described by Jason Ohler. Students must separate their digital lives from their educational lives, because the importance students place on their digital lives is distracting to their educational well-being (Ohler). This deliberate restriction of the students’ access cannot be maintained efficiently and more importantly, cannot create a learning environment conducive to 21st century learners. Digital literacy, an essential component of digital citizenship and citizenship in the 21st century, suffers under the restriction of access. By providing the students of my school with the access available to them, the student will learn to use the tools they are provided with and can improve within each element of digital citizenship.

Digital citizenship can be defined as engaging within the digital realm to ensure the positive development of the realm and those who occupy it. Citizenship during the 21st century demands digital citizenship. The qualities of digital citizenship demand digital citizens to demonstrate the equal parallel qualities of citizenship while participating within the digital world. Digital citizenship will not be completely synonymous with citizenship until all members of the global community have equal access to the digital global community. However, the two concepts will join under an equal definition through the employment of the second most important element of digital citizenship: digital literacy. Those who do not have access to the digital world and those who are not digitally literate cannot achieve the remaining elements of digital citizenship. I cannot expect my students to excel in the digital world if they have never been given access to hone their skills when using digital tools. I cannot expect my students to understand how to effectively use digital tools if they have never been introduced to those digital tools. It must be the responsibility of schools to provide their students with access to digital tools with proper instruction on how to operate using digital citizenship.

References:

Ohler, J. (2012). Digital citizenship means character education for the digital

age. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, 77(8), 14-17. (PDF:

Ohler_Digital_citizenship_means_character_education_2012.pdf)

A New Era Deserves a New Education

There can be no denying the transition to a digital age in America. Over the past two decades, Americans have seen the birth and growth of the internet along with adaptations to technology aimed at inclusion of the “online experience” in all tools available to the average American. Americans have seen the introduction of “smart” phones, cars, refrigerators, watches, etc. If our culture continues to move forward into this digital age, then it seems appropriate that our schools do the same. The book Teaching in a Digital Age supports this idea, “Technology is leading to massive changes in the economy, in the way we communicate and relate to each other, and increasingly in the way we learn. Yet our educational institutions were built largely for another age, based around an industrial rather than a digital era” (Bates).  Creation of online and blended learning programs is the first step in achieving an education system that parallels the job market in the digital age. According to (Standards for Professional Learning), the creation of an online course must address all needs of a student’s learning process: knowledge and skill acquisition, reflection, refinement, assessment and evaluation. Educators must aim to achieve success in each part of the process as well as create an engaging atmosphere that inspires action.

The four learning theories; behaviorism, cognitivism, contructivism, and connectivism; must each be addressed in the learning process. If the argument that knowledge has evolved out from limitations of the past, it is fair to deduce that behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and connectivism evolved out of each other. Therefore, it is imperative to include each learning theory in each student’s academic growth. The use of a LMS facilitates the learning process by allowing the opportunity to move through each step of the learning process at a personalized pace with guidance from their teacher. The use of a LMS will also provide the platform to create a learning community that uses collaboration to promote learning gains. In all online courses, educators must comprehend that they creating a learning community through the use of a virtual classroom/course (Morrison). Students will be able to view materials, complete assignments, collaborate with peers, gain insight and advice from their teacher, and create meaningful learning gains through the use of the LMS schoology when completing the course designed by myself. For more information on the development of my course please view EDLD 5318.

References

Bates, A.W. (2015) Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning (Chapters 1 & 2). Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/

Morrison, D. (2013, May 7). Why Online Courses [Really] Need an Instructional Design Strategy. Retrieved from https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/why-online-courses-really-need-an-instructional-design-strategy/

Standards for Professional Learning. (2015) Retrieved from https://learningforward.org/standards/learning-designs#.VzHxq2MWVlI

It’s All About the Timing

The Planning Stage: My attempts to implement my innovation plan demonstrate perfectly that a plan’s success determines on the timing of the plan just as much as the quality of ideas behind the plan. When I brought my innovation plan to my organization, the timing was wrong. The pieces were not in place, and the ideas had no data to back them up. I had jumped the gun. This hasty move forced me to reevaluate my innovation plan and add steps in that would need to be accomplished before I went forward. Step one to getting back on track required me to display proof that my innovation plan would benefit the students in my organization. This data would be collected using an action research plan attempting to answer the following question: “To what extent will reading using digital resources affect a 9th grade student’s reading experience compared to reading using print resources?” More information including the purpose and methods of data collection can be found in the outline for my action research plan.

The Acting Stage: In attempt to prove that I had learned from my misstep in bad timing with my innovation plan, a timeline for my action research plan was created. My timeline for my action research plan reveals that at the minimum one year of data will be collected. Data will be collected a minimum of three times during that year. If data returns inconclusive results, another year of collection will be implemented.

The Developing Stage: The data collected within my classroom will determine how digital reading affects a 9th grade student’s reading experience. This data will determine the scope of my action research plan. The research documented in my literature review foreshadows that students will display different sets of skills and opposite experiences when reading using digital and print texts. The results of my data could determine that ELA teachers need to adjust their curriculum to include the honing of each set of skills. This  will open up my research plan to include all 9th grade teachers within my organization. This will allow the students to be used as the control. Teachers can focus each of their classes on digital text comprehension through a number of lessons and print text comprehension through a series of different lessons. More data will have to be collected to determine which reading skills are growing and the rate they are growing at. This data will be collected alongside the implementation of effective professional learning of blended learning models.

The Reflecting Stage: Once the data has been analyzed and a conclusion has been drawn resulting in an answer to my research question, I will assemble a report and reflection on my action research. This report and reflection will be given to my administration. My schedule for my innovation plan, including the steps to implement effective professional learning of blended learning models, will have gained the ground needed to get back on track with support from using the station rotation model within my classroom and the data collected within my classroom.

 

The Research Behind the Plan

The development of my action research plan continues adapt itself as support for my innovation plan. If my innovation plan to implement the station rotation of blended learning in the classrooms of my organization, than I must collect data to support that the station rotation will be a positive impact on student learning. The aspect of the station rotation model that is essential as far as the rotation being a blended learning model demands students read using digital resources. I plan to determine if and how reading digitally will affect the reading experience of my 9th grade students. This literature review displays my research supporting my action research plan.

Plan, act, plan some more

Educators seem to have their own way of getting in their own way. Whether you are the educator that takes on every extra job possible or the educator that focuses so much on planning that the grading stacks on your desk turn into skyscrapers, we all have flaws in our practices. My flaw seems to be an insufficient amount of patience when attempting to incite culture changing practices within my organization. This can be observed in the first steps of implementing my innovation plan. I took my idea to my organization without the proper research and data; therefore, my idea was heard, addressed, and moved over. Action research provides me an opening to perform the correct research and collect the necessary data to support my innovation plan‘s implementation within my organization.

The first step in anything should be to properly plan whatever action you wish to take. The following outline displays the first plans put in place for my action research. This outline will provide me the groundwork to formulate a literature review of cases surrounding similar topics. That literature review will bring to light any changes I need to make in the planning of my action research plan.

The Struggle of Innovation is Real

There are many reasons that a great idea can fail. A budding entrepreneur develops his or her pitch knowing the presentation will lead to the ultimate success or failure of the innovation being sold. Because even if the innovation has the ability to transcend standards set by previous sustaining innovations, if the users cannot comprehend the ability, then the innovation will not take hold and fail. My challenge to develop an innovation that would create positive impact within my organization allowed me the opportunity to electrify the current evolution of my school’s culture. This opportunity has not been squandered, although it has taken a number of detours. I found that when I unveiled my innovation plan without the proper amount of evidence and structure, I unintentionally set my project back months and possibly years. By displaying an incomplete plan without first developing evidence of success on my own, I alienated teachers that were not familiar with blended learning and I disappointed teachers that were familiar with blended learning. This negative reaction to my innovation plan does not hurt the integrity of the plan, but it does hurt the plan’s ability to succeed within my organization. A successful ICT project owes its entire life to the entity that takes the project on as its own. My ICT plan to bring the station rotation model of blended learning into my organization depends solely on my ability to motivate a vast majority of my peers to implement the model within their classrooms in an attempt to create one cohesive culture aiming at providing students an education for the 21st century.

Originally, the vision of implementing the station rotation model centered around using ICT to promote student growth. In an area that is populated primarily by youth that will need to live autonomously before they leave their teenage years, my school focuses on providing students opportunities to demonstrate skills necessary for such a lifestyle. The students at my school will be able to use ICT through the use of the station rotation model to promote ownership of education and ultimately, ownership of life. The realization of opportunity to use ICT to assist my students in their growth as positive citizens became the catalyst to develop my plan to use the station rotation model of blended learning.

The preemptive strike I took to share my innovation plan cost me credibility and time. My twenty-six-year-old ego knew that I had found the key to success for our school. I was fresh into my graduate program, and I was immersing myself in research that struck every nerve on its way to the heart of why I became a teacher. I read the material, identified the problems that I wanted to solve, determined possible routes to success, and envisioned a map of actions that would bring my organization to succeed in creating a strong, positive school culture that prepared our youth for life in the 21st century. What I didn’t do was pilot the station rotation model within my classroom to demonstrate why and how the model succeeds. I brought an idea to my peers that had little to no background knowledge of the subject and expected them to climb on board blindly. Had I taken the time to run a pilot of the model within my classroom, I would have discovered my entire plan’s timeline needed a serious revising.

On top of introducing my plan too soon, I introduced an unattainable goal to an apathetic audience. My inexperience as teacher comes through loud and clear with this mistake. My audience remained unconsidered until after the introduction of the plan. I assumed that ideas provided were judged on their merit and those with the highest merit would take hold. This assumption proves false due to the human nature to fear the unknown. The teachers that had limited knowledge of blended learning were suddenly being posed to implement concepts and pedagogy that they had neither researched properly nor planned and practiced. Of course they shirked at the idea of being asked to make immediate changes to their practices. I needed to provide opportunities for effective professional learning to take place.

My accidental discovery of the deep need for effective professional learning in my organization forced me to reevaluate the steps of my plan and the timespan allotted to each step. There were new steps that had to be taken. My colleagues displayed interest in the plan through questions and criticisms. I had the door cracked open. I took this opportunity to insert a professional learning option into the timeslot open due to our organization’s early-release Wednesday schedule. Teachers may use the time between 2:15 and 3:30 to collaborate with peers, attend professional learning breakout sessions, or take dents out of the daily workload of a classroom teacher. Beginning in the fall semester of the 2017-2018 school year, I hope to be instructing teachers on a variety of blended models of learning and observing those teachers implement the learned strategies within their classrooms. This optional professional learning will eventually be proposed to hold the primary focus of mandatory professional learning within the organization. With my teachers gaining new perspective and practice on blended learning, my innovation plan to implement the station rotation model of blended learning will push open the cracked door and proudly walk into the center of the room.

My rush to change has left me with hungry with an overflowing plate. Promoting and producing my optional professional development will serve as the first few bites of my meal, but I will need to consistently and urgently refill my spoon to clear my plate. Effective professional learning demands an on-going process that is reinforced through deliberate and extensive practice. It is possible that my professional learning plan may not become the focal point of my organization’s professional learning plan for multiple years. Until then, my cliental will be composed of teachers that volunteer to engage in my weekly professional learning and offer their classroom to be observed. These early adopters have the ability to help promote my professional learning and innovation plan, but until the early majority buys in, my innovation plan will have to wait. My responsibility to pilot the station rotation model within my own classroom weighs heavy on my shoulders. Teachers want to see success before attempting to adopt new strategies. My pilot will serve as that success and as personal practice needed to effectively coach my peers.

A Stride in the Right Direction

Throughout the Digital Learning and Leadership program at Lamar University. I have been introduced to the idea that the end product, vital behaviors, or BHAG will only be reached if that final output receives first priority in all circumstances. The presentation that will follow, as my “What,” combined with a teacher leader presenter, will move educators within the entirety of academia to the agreement that Professional Learning must evolve with the coming of the Digital Age. We have also been instructed to develop our projects in the hopes that we will use what we are learning within our organizations. This simultaneous advancement and employment of teacher leaders across the country will expedite our field’s move to the Common Core Standards. I, originally, had my sights set on a near-unreachable goal. Once I realized I did not have to bound through my career, I adjusted my stride to accomplish a necessary step within my current organization. This presentation aims to inspire questions throughout its audience. This presentation finds its “What” in a hopeful pursuit to create the urge in teachers to take back the power of being a life-long-learner. The survey titled “How Do You Want to Learn?” will act as radar for which teachers will be enlisted to assist in spreading interest and which teachers will be targeted to develop new interest.

A Blended Approach to Professional Learning

How Do You Want to Learn?

The “How” of the presentation defines itself as all great ideas do: a collaboration of a few good ideas and less bad ideas. After viewing How Presentation Zen Fixed My Bad Powerpoints and How to Avoid Death by Powerpoint, I took to my Microsoft Office with tenacity and determination. I had my BHAG; I was going to join the worlds of K-12 public education and the world of higher education. Districts would pair with online graduate programs to provide teachers with courses aligned to eventually earn a Master’s Degree in focuses such as Educational Leadership, Digital Learning and Leadership, Special Education, Teaching English as a Second Language, and more. Great ideas also need the counseling of an outside source. After consulting with my professors, I decided that it was best to focus my presentation on achieving the goals I had set out for with my innovation plan. An upcoming outline will determine my agenda for enlisting the peers of my organization to ensure my organization takes the steps needed to implement my innovation plan and more importantly, save teachers from out-dated, ill-used professional development.

Even good plans can change

In EDLD 5305, I was asked to develop an innovation and an outline for that innovation to be implemented. My Outline for Proposal to Adopt Blended Learning Program was more than I could handle. The plan was not received well in my organization, and I knew that I needed to re-prioritize my goals to achieve the original innovation plan down the road. I aimed my sights at something more manageable. I observed that even though the bellwork plan at our school had created growth in student achievement, the bellwork plan was not working to its full potential. This led me to develop a a new innovation plan. I followed this innovation plan by developing a 4DX model of implementation. I believe that achieving this WIG foremost will provide me with the credibility within my organization to revisit my original innovation plan to incorporate a station rotation model of blended learning in my organization.

Let’s Bring Departments Together

A major reason for the lack of collaboration in my organization is the psychological separation between departments. Not only do departments section themselves off during faculty meetings, celebrations, PD, etc. they separate themselves by their content areas to the students. My goal is to role-model collaboration to the students by increasing collaboration between departments. Observation Games outlines my proposal to change the way bellwork is being observed at Heritage High School. I would like to change the amount of observations and the way observations take place. My experience with bellwork observations is as follows: an administrator arrives in your room unannounced, observes your bellwork exercise, and places the rubric in your mailbox with a few points circled and maybe a sentence of feedback. I aim to change this practice of  observation using the six sources of influence.

1) Personal motivation: Currently in our district, teachers may earn an infinite amount of compensatory time, but can only use 16 hours over the course of the year, 8 in the first semester and 8 in the second. For a teacher to observe a peer they must give up their valued planning period, so why should they not receive comp time for their efforts to collaborate with their peers? However, the ability to earn comp time does not translate into motivation to earn that time if you cannot use the hours you earn. Therefore, I move that teachers be allowed to use 16 hours of comp time a semester to motivate teachers to complete their observations and participate in the other various methods of earning comp time: chaperoning after-school functions, teacher-parent conference nights, etc.

2) Personal ability: Observations are of no use if they are not done properly. A teacher that views checked boxes of a vague and confusing rubric to receive feedback on their performance may hear the wrong message or feel they were observed unfairly or unjustly. Observations need to incorporate deliberate practice. Teachers should discuss what the observer will be observing in detail (this could happen face-to-face or through email), record meaningful feedback to give back to the observee, and feedback should be discussed between the two teachers and if possible an administrator/3rd party. Teachers will need to know what this practice looks like; therefore, it could be modeled during a pre-planning day or in-service day. Teachers will then have the proper skills to observe each other displayed for them.

3) Social Motivation: This proposal asks teachers to complete more work in an already busy school-year. There will no doubt be an enormous amount of resistance to the idea of more observations and observations of other department members. The way to combat this is to gain support from the teacher leaders within the school. These are not necessarily the department heads. Teachers that are respected within the school must be part of teaching observation skills, and the professional development sessions must include as many teachers as possible to reinforce skills taught and learned. Endorsement of observations by the teacher leaders wipes the dirt off what is an obvious way to better personal skill within the classroom.

4) Social Ability: This is where observation of different department members comes into play. I would argue social ability is the reason teachers stick to their own departments rather than the departments not getting along. It is much more comfortable to socialize with peers that have commonalities through content area, than trying to empathize with peers outside of your content area. Teachers that observe classes outside of their department will come face-to-face with the goings-on of the teachers in their school and build relationships between their peers through noticing similarities and differences that each content area poses. This strengthens the bonds between the teachers and promotes further collaboration.

5) Structural Motivation: Why will teachers want to perform proper observations if improper observations are accepted? My organization uses the professional development platform ProGoe to document peer and administrative observations. This allows the observer to simply check a few boxes, click submit, and move on to the next task. This is an efficient way to document the observations but not necessarily meaningful. While there is a place to write in feedback, I have noticed that many teachers “pride themselves” in accomplishing their observations as quick as possible; therefore, I’m assuming checking boxes is the most used practice. I propose a mandatory write-in piece of feedback for at least one aspect of each of the five dimensions included within the observation.

6) Structural Ability: If teachers are going to be mandated to give written feedback, then they better know how to give proper feedback. The collaboration that happens during the reading or listening of feedback by the observee is arguably the most crucial point of the observation. I, personally, was lost for a week or two after my principal threw me through a loop by giving me feedback for my lesson planning when he only saw the implementation of the plan. Teachers must be instructed on what proper feedback looks like and sounds like. Teachers must also be instructed on how to respond to feedback. This is something that I believe can be accomplished by demonstrations by the teacher leaders during a pre-planning day or in-service day. Teachers are tired of seeing the same PD slideshows every year anyways.

This is going to be a mountain of a hike to accomplish, but by arranging support in the right places and dedicated work it is attainable. Teachers will not easily see the obvious opportunity to better their practices and their peer practices. However, by using crucial moments to demonstrate proper skills and value of observations, teacher leaders to create a bandwagon, and speaking up against those that aim to devalue the change, schools will build a strong culture of inclusiveness and collaboration starting with the teachers and ending with the students.

A Push for Student Growth creates Urgency for Change

The first step in creating change is identifying and outlining the purpose of your change. You must develop a “why,” a “how,” and a “what.” The order that these three stipulations are prioritized can make or break an innovation plan. The most effective plans for change begin with the “why” statement. Members of an organization are more likely to assist in your plan if they believe and support your “why” statement. Therefore, discover why you are attempting to create change and then move to the how and what.

Why = We believe that digital tools and cooperative learning provide an essential element to the learning experience of each student in our school.

How = The educators at our school use 21st century methodology and pedagogy to ensure the students receive the proper tools and opportunities to succeed in their communities after graduating.

What = Our students receive instruction on how to use the tools at their disposal to work through their assignments within the school and the issues that encompass their community.

These three statements come together to clearly describe the school’s mindset for developing positive, progressive citizens. However, these statements cannot be upheld without changes to the school. This creates an urgency to acquire the necessary digital tools for a 21st century classroom, instructional coaches that guide teachers on how to properly use new tools and techniques, and administration that holds each member of the school accountable to the standards set. Each statement is aimed at the hearts of all members of the organization. The statements, together, imply that the school culture is centered around student growth, and, that, is something that reaches every educators heart and personal “why.” Whether  the goal is for test scores to be higher, for the graduation rate to be higher, or the number of graduates attending higher education to be higher, student achievement and growth is at the core of the mission.