Providing professional development, either right now informal development or structured, formal PD, is a large part of my role as a learning coach. That was the primary reason why I chose for the course 2 final project to work to develop a professional development plan that helps teachers better understand the third ISTE Educator Standard – educators inspire students to positively contribute to and responsibly participate in the digital world.
Developing a PD opportunity from afar
Thankfully, Reyna is also a coach who was keen to work together to develop this program. Reyna and I had met briefly earlier this year in Vietnam and has chatted a bit in depth about reporting, so I knew she was passionate and would make a great partner. We started a bit late, but made up for it in our efficient decision making and well-developed planning. Reyna, thankfully, put together a great overview of what the PD could look like and we
For this PD, we broke it up into 4 shorted 30-40 minutes sessions. This made it a bit more manageable from a planning perspective, but also significantly easier for us to actually use. As a learning coach, I don’t often have 2 hour chunks for professional development and often work with shorter, more direct time frames.
Building from course 2
COETAIL course 2 laid the perfect foundation for this PD program. We share a similar structure as we work through the third ISTE Educator Standard and we relied a lot on using various articles and resources to drive discussion. Combining those great articles and resources with valuable Visible Thinking routines and other discussion prompts, created a wonderful way for teachers to learn and develop collaboratively.
Take a look
Please, take a look and let us know what you think. Much of the actual content is in the speaker notes, so please have a read of those to get the best idea of what we were planning. Feel free to adapt and use it in your school!
This week’s resources had me really inspired. After reading a few of the articles mentioned I turned around to Jason Edwards, our Director of Technology, had a rich discussion about the history of responsible use policies at YIS and our vision for the future. Thanks to those who have come before me (Kim Cofino, Clit Hamada and others), YIS was revolutionary in developing the Connected Learning Community (CLC) – a technology support community of learners that focused more on the learning and less on devices. Our CLC was primarily developed in the Middle and High School, but it’s now working its way down to elementary. With this move down to elementary, we’ve dug out the old responsible use agreements.
Our current responsible use agreement for upper elementary students
One challenge I’ve been facing recently is our current responsible use agreement. I say it’s our current one, but in reality no one is using it – it’s just the most recent one we have. It is too wordy, it is a bit too negative for my liking and it would be challenging most of our upper elementary students to digest. Most importantly, our students don’t know it or believe in it.
Take a look at it:
Simplicity. It’s long and inclusive, but is that necessary for an elementary school student?
Empowerment. It includes way too many “not’s” – It doesn’t empower our students to use technology to be creative and share their creativity.
Trust. Our students want to do the right thing and they are just waiting for us to support that. Of course, sometimes they need some guidance, but they need us to trust them and empower them.
What are some good examples?
A lot of international schools are really pushing forward with their technology agreements and policies and it’s really inspiring to see what others have spent the time putting together. Here are a couple of my favorites:
Scott McLeod’s blog post about implementing an Empowered Use Policy really inspired a lot of my thinking. He was discouraged by the negativity of traditional acceptable use policies and developed an empowered use policy:
When it comes to digital technologies in our [school / district], please…
Be empowered. Do awesome things. Share with us your ideas and what you can do. Amaze us.
Be nice. Help foster a school community that is respectful and kind.
Be smart and be safe. If you are uncertain, talk with us.
Be careful and gentle. Our resources are limited. Help us take care of our devices and networks.
The American School in Japan has a great graphic for their digital media and citizenship program that has a very easy to digest and inspirational message. Check out more about how they learn with technology here.
Because of this post, I’ve quickly shifted my priorities so I can spend some time working on an empowered use agreement for elementary school students. I want to create a document that is a living, breathing policy that our students and teachers know and appreciate. I want a document that inspires our students to create and share all of the amazing things that they are doing with technology, not restrict and challenge their creativity.
Creating a new empowered use agreement isn’t something I can just sort out in a couple of days, my vision is to work with a group of students put together a policy that they believe in. I look forward to sharing what I’ve come up with soon.
If you had an elementary school education like I did, you would probably answer cheetah. While there is some truth to that answer, it isn’t technically correct (and let’s be honest, the best kind of correct is technically correct). Fast Company shared a well researched article on the cheetah being the fastest animal:
For some reason, the idea that the cheetah is the planet’s fastest creature has hardened into fact through years of childhood repetition. But not all superlatives in the animal kingdom are so easily settled as weight (the blue whale) and height (the giraffe).
In fact, determining the fastest creature on earth is much more complicated than we’ve all been led to believe.
“When we talk about something being fast, it’s really not clear if you’re talking about the total duration, the total time it takes to perform the movement, the speed at which its performed, and the acceleration at which its performed,” said Sheila Patek, biologist and founder of Duke University’s Patek Lab. “Each one of these things mean very different things.”
Cheetah’s are only the fast animal when you only consider land animals running from point A to point B. With that constraint, yes, cheetahs reach amazing speeds up to 29 meters per second (Nature journal article).
Some other animals that hold fastest records:
Sailfish – the sailfish can reach speeds just over 30 meters per second.
Falcon – falcons reach incredible speeds when performing a stoop (a high speed dive used when hunting) – over 82 meters per second
Termite – yes, a termite. It bites at a speed of 67 meters per second (read more about it in Current Biology)
Thanks to some lovely political discussions coming out of the US, fake news has become very polarizing dinner table discussion. However, the underlying idea of checking researching and fact-checking what we read online is very valid. Stanford University research suggested that students “may focus more on the content of social media posts than on their sources”.
Is stating the cheetah as the fastest animal #fakenews? Well, somewhat. Unfortunately, in an attempt to make information more accessible for younger students we’ve often over simplified fact statements so that they no longer have become fact anymore. Then combine that with no one questioning what information they received as a child is correct, then passing along that information without proper research and you have many people believing that the cheetah is the fastest animal in the world.
As teachers, it’s our responsibility to break these chains of misinformation and teach our students how to properly detect misinformation online.
How do we teach about misinformation online?
As mentioned above, misinformation is a problem and it is affecting our students. They need some direct instruction on how to combat this. Thankfully, here at YIS, we have a wonderful research continuum created and spearheaded by our librarians that addresses misinformation and #fakenews. I’ve supported their inquiry into misinformation with a couple of resources:
Take it APART
A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to design a poster created by Tim Staal to support students evaluated information they find. It’s a great tool students can use to take apart the information and evaluate it based on 5 different criteria – authority, purpose/perspective, accuracy, relevance and time.
Another great tool for tackling misinformation is to use a hoax websites to teach students how easy it is to find misinformation online. My favorite is the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus. This is a very believable hoax website that details all about a specific species of octopus that lives in trees.
Our grade 4 How We Express Ourselves unit of inquiry inquiries into how media can influence thinking and behaviour. Each year I have the opportunity to work with our grade 4 students on misinformation online and use The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus website as a tool to present the idea that misinformation is everywhere online and we need to be vigilant in taking apart what we find online to find out if it is credible. It’s a wonderful provocation into using a tool like Take it APART.
If you’ve seen or used The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus site before, another great resource is The Dog Island. A very similar concept, but a bit better with older students (we use this with our MYP students).
Our readings this week drew a lot of connections to conversations the Japan international tech community has been having recently about improvements to Japan’s data protection laws. Like our colleagues in Europe dealing with the educational implications of GDPR, Japan has recently significantly amended their Act on the Protection of Personal Information (APPI), which has large implications on businesses that hold personal information of clients (school’s included).
Here at YIS, I just stopped by a grade 5 class and did a quick, informal survey of services students have used just this week that collect their data. They include:
Veracross (our student information system)
Google (G.Suite for email addresses and Drive)
Flipgrid (via Google)
Padlet (via Google)
Quizlet (via Google)
What information about our students are these organizations holding and how can we ensure that it is being used appropriately?
What changes in data protection are we seeing in Japan?
Japan’s Act on the Protection of Personal Information (APPI) was one of the earliest privacy laws when it was enacted in 2003 (read an English translation of the 2003 act here). It was created to “protect the rights and interests of individuals while taking consideration of the usefulness of personal information.” The original act was amended in 2015 (coming into force in 2017) after numerous high profile data breaches in Japan (see Sony’s 2014 data breach).
The 2003 act applied only to business operators that had 5,000 identifiable individuals in their database on at least one day during the previous six months, with the 2017 amendment, that restriction is now gone.
What is the impact on education?
Every school in Japan is collecting personal data of its students. That data often includes what Japan terms “special care required” personal information. This data includes a clients race, creed, social status, medical history, criminal record, fact of having suffered damage by a crime, or other descriptions – while most might not apply to schools, we certainly have some data on medical history.
Having the data isn’t the problem according to APPI, it’s more about the rights data subjects have in regard to their data. Schools need to be prepared to respond to requests for the purpose of how we are using their data, and if we don’t reply in two weeks we could face legal action. We also must apply cybersecurity measures to guarantee the security of data we house.
How do we address these changes with our community?
Or even better, join the Japanese Privacy Law Conference on May 21 at Christian Academy of Japan and learn from a real expert from the Personal Information Protection Commission.
What about teachers? This seems aimed at administrators…
While conforming to the expectations required to be APPI-compliant are mostly at the administrative level, there are some important elements that apply to teachers. As teachers we have access to a lot of this date and use this data regularly, especially with the growing amount of tech tools that require student information. Our teachers are at high risk for having that data stolen. One school in Japan that I recently chatted with are using KnowBe4’s phishing security test with their teachers to see how likely their teachers will fall for phishing emails. This data can then help train staff in data protection.
Insights, Focal Point. “Beyond the GDPR: What You Should Know about Japan’s Act on the Protection of Personal Information.” Focal Point, 18 Apr. 2018, blog.focal-point.com/beyond-the-gdpr-what-you-should-know-about-japans-act-on-the-protection-of-personal-information.
“Amended Privacy Protection Law.” The Japan Times, 1 June 2017, www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2017/06/01/editorials/amended-privacy-protection-law.
After surveying 40 ninth and tenth grade students, that’s the number of hours per day on average they spend in front of their phone.
However, these are my stats for the last seven days. While it isn’t so far off from our students, I might add that a huge chunk of my “Reading & Reference” category is Google Maps, which I use for car navigation and I’m not sure that counts as true screen time.
To narrow it down a bit further I asked the students what their top used app was for the past seven days:
Instagram and Snapchat are a huge part of our students digital usage and are impacting and influencing them in many different ways. Recently I had the pleasure of presenting a workshop with Adam Clark, one of our counselors and COETAIL grad, about teens and their digital use/presence. He shared some of the top 200 Instagram comments and almost all were positive messages about looks. What kind of identity expectations are we setting for our children? Why are these themes normalized in social media? How can adults help shift this?
However, as adults, and educators in particular, I think we are quick to jump to the negatives of this new social connection, but I think it’s fair to also look at the positives. I like to remind myself often that US graduation rates are continuing to increase – it’s not the end of the world and we are certainly still doing something right. Our students recognized the positives as well, they commented:
We are able to communicate with friends family very quickly, we are aware of any change in school programs or world events.
It is easy to socialize and contact people, as well as there is a wide array of resources available for academic purposes that expand our knowledge.
Maintains personal connections and relationships
Being a global citizen and knowing what is going going around in the community and the world
Although technology can seem antisocial, it is actually one of the most common ways of teens and kids socializing in the modern day. It provides an alternative to actually going out and spending time with that person as you can still “hang out” in the virtual world. It’s an alternative that can be used to avoid external factors that can’t be controlled when hanging out with friends (such as bad weather).
We also asked our students about the negatives of always being connected. This is what they had to say:
Can be tracked
I’m not focused enough during school.
That we can lose track of time and not spend physical time with friends and or family cause were always being our phones.
It can be hard to keep track of time when using technology, so you find yourself overusing your devices at times.
It can influence you in ways you don’t realize especially your confidence in your body image, capabilities, etc.
Missing out on what’s going on in front of you
You are not disconnected
I get glued to my phone
You get attached to your phone and procrastinate
Cyberbullying which is a current problem due to the birth of social media.
decreases real life communication and socialization opportunities
That any information you put up there is published forever, and your personal information is always tracked by online companies to show you the ad that you will most likely be interested in.
The self awareness among our ninth and tenth graders is quite amazing, actually. I think it shows that they are very aware of some of the challenges with social media/phone usage, but likely lack some of the strategies they need to solve the problems they face. It’s a challenge that doesn’t have an easy one-size-fits-all solution, but I’m encouraged by the steps we are making to combat the challenge.
This weeks post is quite timely as I just had a conversation today a passionate group of teachers about digital citizenship, and the topic of intellectual property came up. Katy Vance, our amazing librarian and COETAIL graduate, shared some of the challenges she sees as she oversees the grade 10 Personal Project in regards to student understanding of intellectual property rights. One of the challenges she’s faces is that our grade 10 students haven’t been properly scaffolded in understanding intellectual property rights. they realize the importance of it now but they were never really concerned when creating ‘regular’ school work. As teachers and leaders, we haven’t done a great job of being consistent with and insistence on respecting intellectual property rights. We haven’t laid a strong enough foundation of intellectual property.
Starting small (really small)
Developing students who respect intellectual property rights isn’t just about teaching a few lessons and hammering home some concepts for the next big project, PYP Exhibition, Personal Project or Extended Essay. We need to start small. And it needs to start with the smallest members of our school.
Nelle, one of our fantastic kindergarten teachers, describes well how she teachers intellectual property to kinder students. She teaches that just the same as how she teaches sharing in her class. Her students always ask before they borrow something from their peers, and using digital works is no different. I love that approach because it isn’t about making teaching intellectual property rights something too abstract for a kindergartener, but instead bringing it to their level. Then, with that solid foundation, we can scaffold students and develop them to grow into grade 10’s as they work on their personal project.
Unfortunately, I think a large number of educators themselves don’t truly understand copyright and intellectual property. Many are even lacking a basic understanding of intellectual property rights to be able to adequately practice what they preach. A number of teachers understand that taking an image from Google is not okay, but struggle with the intricacies of fair use and an understanding of the various Creative Commons licenses. So, while I think it starts with our youngest students, it also starts with our teachers. That’s one of the reasons why I think the infographics shared in this week’s resources are so valuable. They take something that’s actually quite complex, like intellectual property laws, and make it easy to digest by your average, busy educator. I already plan a few to share a few of those in my weekly ‘learning with technology’ post to teachers.
What about my posts from course 1? After a quick review, most of my images were either used with permission or cited royalty free images. I also used a few purchased images. I have a NounPro education subscription which is well worth the 20 USD a year. Occasionally, I also purchase graphics from GraphicRiver – a great selection of graphics for those design-challenged, like myself. I did use the iBooks Author icon and one of my posts. I’m not sure if an educational post about using iBooks Author in the classroom warrants fair use of the icon, but I certainly should have cited its use, which I didn’t.
What I haven’t used in a COETAIL post yet, but love is Photos for Class, I learned about Photos for Class at Learning2 last year and it’s been a great tool I’ve used with both teachers and students to help in finding images that can be used and correctly citing them – making it easy to respect intellectual property rights.
This year we changed our device allocation in the elementary school to 1-to-1 iPads from kindergarten to grade 5. With that came Siri!
A couple of weeks ago one of our grade 1 teachers asked me about the role of voice assistants (primarily Siri and Alexa) in research. Her grade 1 students, while just learning the basics of research with PebbleGo, are experts in asking Siri and Alexa questions. However, theses experts had a few misconceptions – there was a consensus among the class that either Siri and Alexa were “real” or they just “knew everything”. So, I teamed up with Flynn and our elementary librarian to design and deliver a lesson to investigate Siri and Alexa as research tools. We have two primary goals:
Students will reflect on the effectiveness of their searching techniques when using Siri, Alexa, and Google.
Students will reflect on the usefulness of information gained when using Siri, Alexa, and Google.
We didn’t want to discount Siri and Alexa completely, but instead we want the students themselves to draw some conclusions on their effectiveness.
Last week our elementary librarian and I delivered the lesson to one of the grade 1 classes. It wasn’t perfect, but it led to some great discussion with the class and they drew some wonderful conclusions:
Siri and Alexa are good for things like facts and information
Siri is good at opening websites
Siri and Alexia are good at finding out about animals and leaves
Thankfully, our grade 1 students are currently inquiring into our new school campus and that led to some fantastic questions and answers (including Alexa defining the word ‘new’ when asked about our new school campus), and helped us develop a list of what Siri and Alexa are not ideal for.
Flynn and I reflected on the lesson and made a few changes. Primarily, we wanted to further develop the assessment and reflection. We found value in the class discussion and it worked well with grade 1, but we wanted a more substantial assessment and reflection for older grades – thus the addition of a Seesaw post with reflective questions directly related to our goals.
I look forward to teaching it again with an upper elementary grade after our spring holiday.
I was very interested in the articles this week on connectivism – the “theory of learning in a digital age that emphasizes the role of social and cultural context in how and where learning occurs”. It’s 2019 and 55.1% of the world’s population has internet access and here in Japan the number is over 90%. The expanse of internet access in the digital age has changed the way individuals and groups grow, develop and learn.
Now in 2019, one of the best illustrations of connectivism are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are online courses available to anyone and originally free-of-charge. They are amazing examples of interest-driven communities mentioned in Living with New Media. In the computational thinking/computer science world I keep heard about the MOOC CS50’s Introduction to Computer Science, available on edX and provided by Harvard University. It’s an amazing introduction into computer science and the art of programming – the on-campus vision is Harvard’s largest course. I haven’t worked through the entire course yet, but I’d love to facilitate an interest-driven community with some of our high school students passionate about CS.
I use this clip from a CS50 lecture all the time when introducing the idea of computational thinking.
What does connectivism look like at YIS?
While we aren’t yet taking advantage of MOOCs at YIS, there are numerous examples of connectivism impacting learning at YIS. One I am particular fond of is an interest-driven community of scuba divers that form our YIS Underwater Explorers service group.
YIS student attaching a secchi disk to measure visibility
Side note, for those that don’t know me quite yet, I’m very passionate about diving, especially diving education, exploration and conservation (I’m a GUE dive instructor).
Our young explorers aim to understand and improve the aquatic environment in Japan. We will serve our community by working with the organization Project Baseline to check and record the ocean conditions and share them with local governments and educational institutions. Project Baseline, while not a MOOC, it is a connected online network of divers from around the world working towards the same purpose – observe and record change within the world’s aquatic environments. The connectedness of the internet has brought what was previously only available to researchers and universities to anyone – including 15 high school student in Japan.
The students geek-out as they collect data on a handful of abiotic and biotic factors. They’ve worked with passionate adults (both our science teachers and some diving conservation experts) to investigating and collecting this data in Japan’s aquatic environment:￼
The connectedness of the internet has made these experiences real to our students and their passion is amazing.
Finally, I found a connection to diving for a COETAIL post! 😉
How are your students learning and sharing information across the web and among themselves? Do your students have opportunities to participate in MOOCs?
The grade 6 students at YIS are writing with a purpose with a unit on developing a picture book for an authentic audience, our kindergarten students.
A few years ago we attempted a very low-tech, yet high design-thinking approach to this unit. We abandoned computers completely, stocked up on bags full of Daiso* supplies and worked through the design cycle with the students. Our goal was to create a physical book that addressed the kindergarteners kinetic approach to learning. While the kinder students enjoyed reading the books with their grade 6 peers, the books were quickly tossed aside as they fell apart (it turns out Daiso materials might not be the best choice for book creation). However, more importantly, the grade 6 teachers and I doubted the actual impact to learning.
This year we decided to change direction for this unit. Our primary goals were to address these shortcomings in how we did it in the past:
Our grade 6 students were less concerned with the content of the book and were spending a vast majority of the time on the design (this was especially concerning as this was an English unit)
Our kindergarten students are just learning to read and most student could not read our books independently, which meant their use was further limited.
The change was also supported due to our change in device allocation in the elementary school. We went from having a mixture of ‘hand-me-down’ MacBook Air’s and iPad Mini’s to every student in elementary having their own full-size iPad (the specifics of this would require a completely new blog post). So, now our kindergarten students have access to their very own iPad that they use for learning as is authentic in their classes.
With the device allocation change and our shortcomings from the past in mind, we decided to investigate creating an eBook instead of a physical book. We explored using iBooks Author on the grade 6 laptops for creation and the iBooks app on the kinder iPads for reading, but the tools could be different based on the tech situation.
eBooks offered these advantages:
They are easy to create – while none of our grade 6 students had experience with iBooks Author, we build on their prior learning and conceptual learning and had them running with it in 20 minutes.
Illustrations for the books built on the student’s digital design unit from MYP Design class. Most our students worked with Wacom tablets and Mischief, but we were easily able to adjust the illustrations due to ability and desire. We has some students using Storybird and others using help from AutoDraw.
We could distribute all our grade 6 eBooks to every kindergarten student using the iBooks app.
Our grade 6 students could narrate their books due to the multimedia ability of eBooks. Each student placed a MP3 of them reading each page
We structured the learning experience for the students using input from Stanford’s d.school and some amazing Design Thinking resources from David Lee. We developed an essential question that helped drive our students thinking and design ideas. We empathized with our audience by visiting kindergarten, reading with this and studying children’s books. We defined our goal by creating problem statements unique to each student’s goal and passion. We ideated and then prototyped on paper then with digital tools. And finally, we will test our products with the kindergarten students next week.
The grade 6 teachers are amazed with the focus on learning and how the technology has contributed to its authentic success. I look forward with sharing a few of the books next week when they are published.
* Daiso is a 100 Yen store – a Japanese dollar store, yet so much more. If you haven’t visited one yet, it’s a must on your next visit to Japan.
Here at YIS our grade 4 students are inquiring: “scientific investigations about the Earth are changing how humans understand it.” One of the lines of inquiry is “how Earth has changed and is continuing to change”. The unit is very hands on and includes a detailed look at how landforms are being created & changed due to weathering & erosion.
Thankfully we have amazing grade 4 teachers who really value authentic links to technology and are always innovating in their classrooms. One of those teachers introduced me to the UC Davis’ Augmented Reality Sandbox:
My first thought was what an awesome link to some of their related concepts of geology, erosion, weathering and a great way to allow students to have hands-on experiences with these concepts. My second thought, after reading all the extensive information online and promising my our grade 4 teacher to investigate further was that I just might be bitting off more than I can chew! The hardware and software requirements are extensive and require a moderate understanding of Linux and working with command line (something I’m lacking).
What I lack in Linux and command line understand, I make up for with willingness to research and ability to follow YouTube tutorials (which there are many)! I have a plan, and a bit of a deadline, so I’m motivated to make this happen.
My Action Plan
Gather the required materials
Install Linux on a spare computer
Work through the calibration process
Find a way to mount the projector and Kinect
Build the sandbox and source the sand
Develop a learning experience for the students to interact with the sandbox
Thankfully, I’ve already started this week and have made it through points 1 to 3 and am keen to make progress on the next few this coming week. I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty in both the soft skills of learning some of the necessary programming and the hard skills of constructing a sandbox and mount. We have a great IT team here at YIS who are also keen to help out and provide some guidance – along with a lot of great information from Twitter and YouTube.
I look forward to sharing how the project develops – stay tuned!