Thursday, September 1, 2011

Edina's Teaching & Technology Cohort


Over the past year 29 teachers from Edina Public Schools participated in a Teaching and Technology Cohort. Because of a grant from the Edina Education Fund, the teachers were able to participate in the cohort for a reduced price.


The certificate consisted of four courses:
  • Collaboration and Community with a Global Perspective
  • Curriculum in the Cloud - Integrating Curriculum with Technology
  • Authentic Assessment using Technology
  • Emerging Technology and Trends

After completing the four courses, each Edina teacher earne
d a Teaching and Technology certificate from Hamline University. The teachers participated in these courses in a blended learning format. Once a month the teachers met face to face and then throughout the month they engaged in learning online using Moodle and Google Apps for Education.

The two Edina Technology Integration Specialists, Mike Walker and myself, taught the courses and were able to tailor the courses to enhance Edina's curriculum. Teachers were able to develop lessons, projects and assessments that they could use directly in their classroom. This was a great opportunty to really enage Edina teachers in transforming learning in the 21st Century.

We took a pre assessment of how the teachers in the cohort were using technology and how they felt about their skill level implementing technology into the classroom. We did the same survey at the conclusion of the cohort and were very excited to see growth in the level of confidence that teachers flet as they now could integrate technology into the classroom and curriculum.

Some of the areas that teachers grew the most in were incorporating digital images and digital stories into their curriculum, using Moodle for a blended or online learning experience in their classroom, using Google Docs, blogs, Google Sites, and other Edina Apps in their classroom, and using web tools and resources to enhance learning in the classroom. A highlight of the course was lear
ning about screencasting and how to video lessons and instructions so that they could post these lessons to the web for students to watch and relearn or practice concepts. Teachers found that as a result of the cohort they were posting more information and student work to the web. They found themselves participating in global learning networks and promoting digital literacy and citizenship more frequently. At the end of the cohort, 90% of the teachers felt confident in integrating technology into their classroom and curriculum...the other 10% simply said they have so much more to learn. Overall, teachers grew immensely in their understanding, in their tool set, and in integrating technology into the classroom and curriculum. Teachers increase
d their Personal Learning Network by using twitter and other social networks to collaborate and share with professionals outside of their district and building walls.

When asked what technology tools would help them to engage students in learning, the top tools were laptops, iPads, iTouches and Smart Phones. The teachers reported that technology has greatly impacted the way that they teach and the way that the students learn.


At the end of the cohort each teacher created an e-Portfolio showcasing their work. View Kristy's Portfolio to see a sample of all the projects and work each teacher completed.


You can view a list of all of the ePortfolios off of the Edina Teaching and Technology website.

Each teacher was asked to share an "ah-ha" moment or a reflection of the chohort. They could write about it, blog about it, create a podcast, or find any other creative way of sharing their ideas. Here are a few reflections from the Edina Teaching and Technology Cohort.


Reflections and Ahha Moments

Kristy's Reflection





Kalea's Storyjumper Reflection- See the website version here







Here are a few other written reflections...


SueWhen I started the CoHort my computer was something I used to do office tasks and social planning. I didn’t know how to go to a coffee shop and find a Network. To me a Tab Bar was the thing that moved the cursor to the left and right and I couldn’t figure out why Mike wanted us to open a Tab (pop?). My hardest obstacle at first was overcoming my anxiety at being such a low-ability user. Learning through Moodle took time at first, but it’s practical and now I will use it with the kids. It’s a good way to organize, post and find information. Some skills we learned in CoHort are more helpful in my field than others but the year of course work has altered the way I teach. We learned a lot of new presentation methods like Prezi, Jing and Screencast that will update my lectures and can be downloaded on Moodle so students can listen at home. I’ll focus on the technologies that help kids produce spoken language (Screen Cast, Voki, Go Animate, and the many language Apps out there). Finally GASP! I’ll allow mobile devices in my classroom. Things will change but I’m open to the idea that not everything is going to work. I’m just giving it a try. It’s time....
Finally, a cool part to the CoHort was looking at what other K-12 teachers are doing with technology. Wow! We have outstanding teachers here in Edina schools.


HeatherWhen we started the cohort, we were asked to share what we were looking forward to during our year. I said I was looking forward to “having permission to spend lots of time playing!” Play we did…with tons of really useful tools! I can’t count the number of instantly applicable tech application we learned about during the cohort, and have found great value not only while trying them out with my students, but also in learning how my colleagues are embedding them in their classrooms. I’ve been AMAZED at the thoughtful and creative ways other teachers have approached using technology in the classroom. I’m grateful for the new ideas! This has proven that the properly chosen tech tool is useful in any grade level and any content area.
I appreciate the fact that Mike and Molly really supported us in our efforts to try new things out in the classroom. Knowing their expertise was just a phone call or email away at any point during a project was exactly what I needed to jump right in with different technologies as we learned about them.

I acquired really valuable information and gained valuable skills during the cohort. The information was very timely – technological advances are totally changing the world, and the cohort gave a solid overview of many of the current trends. I think that if we are going to properly prepare students for the future, we need to model the skills and tools presented in the cohort. Along with these tools, we need to make sure students know how to use them effectively, ethically and safely. The four cohort classes did a really nice job preparing me to do my part in making sure that happens.


Heather- About Google Apps for Education a.k.a. Edina AppsThe list of tech tools that I incorporated into my classes this year is long, and I can’t think of any that I won’t try again in the future. If I had to choose only one tool to highlight here, I’d say that the arrival of Google Apps for Education has made the largest impact on my teaching. The sharing functions of Google Docs greatly facilitated collaborative work. In my classroom, students used this format for collaborate in partners, small groups, and with a classroom at Normandale! Google Forms allows for the creation of really quick progress monitoring and visual overviews of student mastery. Picasa’s photo storage options allowed us to keep our class photo albums updated and easily stored uploaded illustrations for 100 students! On the practical side, Google Docs and Google Forms have kept me organized and have greatly simplified homework procedures. They’ve allowed me to easily share templates with students instead of making needless photocopies, and the options they offer for correcting student work have allowed me to give almost instant feedback on many activities AND make informed decisions about student learning needs.


Chad S
I believe that the biggest impact to my professional learning was through the use of Twitter. Twitter has put me in contact with numerous other PE teachers that integrate technology on a regular basis. It helps knowing that there are professionals out there that are willing to help when you want to bounce ideas around. Just like in the actual building I teach, teachers always say we could use more time to meet, that it would help our teaching. Twitter does that without needing the actual facetime. My life and teaching won't be the same becasue of Twitter.


Kany
Now I see technology as a powerful learning tool not just a cool thing to add to lessons and projects. During the cohort, I had my students use most of the new tools I was learning. It truly empowered them and they always wanted more. They wanted to know about the new tools that I learned. I thought that it was very empowering for them to know that they were learning and using the same tools I was learning in my classes.

Deanna
What have you gained?I have gained knowledge of tools, resources and ideas. I have gained an appreciation for collaboration and assessment. I have gained confidence in my own technological abilities. But most of all, I have gained an excitement for showing my students how technology can enhance their music making!


Mary Z
Before the cohort, I had a pretty healthy attitude towards technology in education. I did not, however, see the benefits of truly integrating technology into the curriculum. I always held the notion that the teacher was responsible for utilizing technology in her lesson plans. I did not see how the student could take advantage of the myriad of technology in order to better his or her own learning. My perspective on technology prior to the cohort was that I, the teacher would teach with it, rather than actually teaching it. I never had seen myself as a technology instructor, whereas now, I see myself as responsible for introducing and cultivating technological skills.
It is so amazing to work with this talented group of teachers who are ready to transform learning using the new technology skills and tools they learned from the cohort. They are our new leaders in technology education and they will be showcasing their work at the District Kick Off on August 29th. They will also be sharing their projects, tool set and learnings in staff meetings, team meetings and other various opportunities throughout the year.


We all know that behind all learning is great teaching. The teachers have a new tool box to transform their classroom, projects and learning space. Congrats to a great cohort of Edina teachers in the Teaching and Technology Cohort! Your dedication, hard work and example of life long learning is inspiring to all.


We hope to offer the Teaching and Technology Cohort again staring in the fall of 2012.

-Molly Schroeder
Edina Elementary Technology Integration Specialist
molschroeder@edina.k12.mn.us
@followmolly on Twitter