TPACK Tech Integration

The TPACK instructional design framework is one of the most important topics that I have used and learned about during the MAET program.  After being introduced to it last year with our lenses lesson, I was excited to continue working with it this summer.  tpack.pngAs technology continues to change the field of education and before teachers start hopping on the bandwagon of the next best thing, TPACK needs to be considered.  It is a framework to consider the pedagogy, technology, and content knowledge of what student learning you are trying to accomplish.  Besides these three ideas, your context must also be considered in what will be best for your students with the resources you have.

For the TPACK assignment on instructional design, I was partnered with my colleague, Rick Forrest.  The first step was to describe a problem of practice that we each face within our classrooms.  We described our context and details of our problem and then shared the documents with one another.  Looking through the lens of a technology integrationist we were to find a potential solution to their problem.  We worked through the design thinking model to help us along the way.

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Rick is a middle school PE teacher and his problem was the forearm volleyball pass.  In talking with him, it seems that there were some misconceptions on the important parts of the skill.  I contacted members of my professional learning network for help, researched and began to ideate some possible prototypes.

Throughout my process of solving this problem I kept TPACK in mind.  The content knowledge was unclear to students and needed to be refined to be more effective for student learning.  In my prototype, I offer multiple tools, high and low tech to help increase student learning of the proper form for passing the volleyball.  The rubric identifies important parts and gives students something tangible to have with them to help them remember what they need to do. By critiquing their peers, students are challenged to put the new knowledge to the test.  They have to be able to identify the right and wrong form.  Students are also usually more accepting of feedback when it comes from their peers.

After presenting my prototype to Rick, I was happy with the work I had done.  He said that he could definitely use parts of the lessons and tweak them to work with his students.  He was a little overwhelmed with everything I had to offer, but was interested in the ideas and resources.  He said he never would have thought of some of the things before.

Koehler, M.J., & Mishra, P. (2009). Too cool for school? No way! Learning and leading with technology. Link to article: “Too Cool for School” EJ839143

Research 101

Research.  Just hearing this one word often brings fear to many and groans to others. Many people view research as a very dry, boring, complicated topic with long articles full of technical jargon.  After reading the book, When Can You Trust The Experts, and going through the process of conducting a research study, I have some new ideas about the implications of research in education.

To begin our research journey my colleagues and I explored the different types of research studies.  As we discussed different types we thought about topics in education that interested us.  Our cohort broke up into research groups based on our interests.  My group spent days reflecting and redefining our research question.  We were all interested in school calendar schedules and the implications that year round school systems have on student learning.  The research articles we found were a mix of supporting year round schooling in a positive light, negative, and some said that school schedule did not make a difference in student learning.

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Image Credit: Rachel Larner

Based on our limitations we chose to form our study around the question of, “Do teachers view year round schooling in a more positive light compared to a traditional school schedule?”  We developed a plan on how to gather data and came up with a Google Forms survey.  This made the most sense as we were in a foreign country with limited connection to educators.  We needed to hear back from participants very quickly as we had limited time to conduct the study.  The survey was quick and convenient for our participants to complete.  We sent this out to our professional learning networks via social media, emails, and text messages.  Through our analysis of the 54 responses, we had many takeaways on the perceptions of teachers on this topic.

Our participants provided us with a variety of feedback, some were contradictory, and some depicted a few overall themes.  70% of our participants reported that year round schooling is best for student learning.  As we reflected more on the results, we discovered some issues within our survey that may have affected our data.  The biggest issue was that our participants did not have an understanding of the definition of year round schooling.  Many thought that year round schooling meant no breaks.  If we were to conduct another research study surrounding this topic a definition of year round schooling we would include a definition of year round schooling at the beginning of our survey.

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Photo Credit: Megan Dreffs

We reflected on more changes for the future as well as the pros and cons of our research method.  We then put everything together into a presentation that we shared with our colleagues.

I feel that I gained a lot from this research experience.  It was trying at times through the planning and development stages, but this project pushed me to be even more conscious of how assumption can cause problems in research.  It also opened my eyes to the complexity of research in education.  There is great diversity in where teachers work, what subjects they teach, what type of schools they teach in, and just their ideas and perceptions.  Humans are fascinating to study because each person is different, however that is what makes researching them so difficult.  There is no 100% answer to how everyone feels, thinks, or perceives.  Research is a beautiful, stressful, confusing, interesting part of our world.

GREAT17: Leading the Way

As part of the Michigan State MAET program in Galway, Ireland, second year students are in charge of planning and presenting at an international conference.  Going into this summer and finishing my third year of teaching, my experiences with educational conferences was limited.  I could count the number of conferences I have been to on one hand and none were related to technology.  With that said, after 13 crazy work days of planning, I have a new appreciation for all of the work that goes into organizing a conference.  The GREAT17 (Global Resources in Education and Technology) was one of the most memorable and significant components of my Masters education.

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Image Credit: GREAT17 Marketing Team

My MAET year two cohort of 23 educators researched various topics of interest in educational technology, designed learning experiences, practiced presentations, created a website, divided into teams, and promoted the international GREAT17 conference on social media platforms. Our cohort communicated well and worked together with no detail left unnoticed.

I was responsible for being a contributing member of the logistics team.  I assisted in coordinating and communicating decisions that our team made to other planning teams.  I designed the feedback form for the conference specifically as well as the name tags that the participants wore at the conference.  On each name-tag were the numbers of the three rooms that participants were to visit during the three sessions.  I double checked the work of my team member to be sure participants were not only getting to see a topic of their interest based on our survey, but that each session had fairly even numbers.  On the day of the conference I was the “key master” in charge of unlocking all of the doors in the morning and locking them afterwards.

I stayed informed with overall progress of our conference planning and spoke up when I felt things needed to be tweaked or changed.  In one of our whole group planning discussions I suggested the change of an activity planned for the afternoon of the conference.  I thought of having everyone in the conference choose an educational app or technology that they are passionate about and participate in a Speed Dating App activity.  After taking a vote, my colleagues agreed and it was very successful at GREAT17.  Sometimes I get nervous to speak up in a large group of peers, however I am proud of myself for stepping up and voicing my opinion. lead

As I look back on the planning of this experience, I have a greater appreciation for event planners.  With 23 people weighing in on conversations, sometimes it felt as if there were “too many cooks in the kitchen”.  With that said, we respected each other’s ideas and our team made sure that every detail was taken care of before the big day.  I had specific responsibilities within my logistics team, but it took all of my colleague’s contributions for a successful conference.


Adaptive and Assistive Technology

As a special education teacher, I am very intrigued by assistive technologies that are out there for students with disabilities to utilize in their education.  My presentation partner, Kristen, and I struggled to find common ground of a topic as we both had different ideas that related to adaptive technology.  She was thinking more along the lines of adaptive programs and how to implement them into your classroom seamlessly.  After researching and having many conversations of going back and forth with different ideas, we chose to move forward with adaptive and assistive technology.

File_001My partner and I designed our presentation into more that just a lecture of research and information related to our topic. We wanted to clear up confusions about adaptive and assistive and ultimately foster an experience where participants could walk away with a deeper understanding of adaptive technology and the implications for their classroom. We set up an experience where our participants explored an assistive technology tool, Google Read and Write, applied their own thinking to analyze the tool, and shared out their information to the group in a one minute challenge.  We wanted to break the stigma of a formal conference presentation.

Finalizing this design did not come easy to us.  Planning a conference session for teacher may seem the same as planning a lesson for students, but it was much more stressful. We revised our ideas numerous times, met with colleagues, professors, and ran through practice sessions to ensure that this was the best design.  We were even making some tweaks the day before the conference after receiving more feedback from our instructors.  Our final presentation was developed in Google Slides and contains all parts of our learning experience.

 

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I was very excited to present and share our information with the participants at the GREAT 17 conference.  Overall, I am very proud of how our presentation turned out.  We only had a few technological difficulties that my partner and I solved on the spot.  I spoke with enthusiasm, energy, and felt comfortable with the information that I presented.  Looking back on the video of our presentation, I found a few ares that I need to improve on before presenting professionally again.

Our conference theme, Lead the Way, will continue to impact the way I think about technology in education.  I have gained new ideas for my classroom, learned from my participants and colleagues, and plan to utilize this experience to help me lead the way back at my school.  I feel confident and inspired to return with amazing resources for assistive technologies for my students, teachers, and parents, as well as a multitude of different professional development ideas.

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Photo Credit: Chris Sloan

This conference experience has taught me that leadership comes from within your team.  It comes from collaboration, communication, and teamwork.  It comes from flexibility and making the best out of what you have.  It comes from sharing a common goal and organization.  Most importantly, it comes from each team member contributing and utilizing their talents to be creative and revolutionary.

When I return back to Michigan, I will leave Galway with a new understanding of leadership.  Next year I plan to make small changes within my school to help Lead the Way.  Through teaching and coaching I can create an environment where others can join me in Leading the Way.  I am grateful for this experience and will never forget the lessons that I have learned.

Final Reflection

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Once again the MAET program at Michigan State University has challenged me to think outside of the box.  Design thinking is a wonderful process to help us solve any difficult problem inside or outside the field of education.  Here is a reflection and synthesis of what I have learned about design and the design thinking process.

Problem of Practice Final Report

Problem of Practice Final Report: The Design Thinking Process

Introduction

As a high school special education teacher, I am often faced with the problem of students not completing their homework.  I have a caseload of 17 students in addition to four co-taught Geometry and Algebra classes.  I am busy printing out the names of missing assignments and hounding students to get their assignments turned in.  Sometimes I meet with them individually or remind them of assignments daily when I see them.  It is a lot to keep track of with my caseload and remembering which teachers have late policies or accept late work.  Missing assignments is a huge problem because for many of them turning in just one more may be the difference in them passing or failing the marking period.  Many of my students do not test well so getting their assignments turned in is important.

This is a complex problem I face because there is no clear-cut solution that will work for every student.  Through the design thinking process I found that there were a number of reasons that my students were not doing their homework.  As I moved through the stages I came up with a potential solution to the problem that found some success.

homework-meme

Empathize

For the empathize stage of the design thinking process I used my caseload of students for my group of users.  I decided it would be best to employ two different techniques for gathering information through methods of empathy.  First, I checked their grades from the first semester and made notes about missing assignments.  For many, there was a correlation between the two.  The more missing assignments they had, the lower their grades were.  I pulled their IEPs, reread what teachers and parents had reported in terms of homework completion, and tried to draw some conclusions.  I have held twelve IEP meetings either this fall or winter.  Therefore, I have built some strong relationships with my students and parents already.  I reflected back on how those meetings went and if there was any conflict between the parent and child in terms of why homework was not being completed.  I used this information to help create the five-question survey that helped me narrow down my problem and focus for my questions, especially in giving my reasons as to why the homework was not getting done (survey question 4).  Each student is unique and has their own home situation, class schedule, level of organization, motivation, and knowledge of the material.  That is what made narrowing down this issue so difficult.

The results of the survey were pretty interesting:

Question 1: Question 2: Question 3: Question 4:
Always: 5 Always: 7 Multiple times/day: 1 I forget I have it: 9
Most of the time: 10 Most of the time: 8 Daily: 4 Don’t have time: 6
Seldom: 1 Seldom: 1 Weekly: 8 Don’t understand: 4
Never: 0 Never: 0 Rarely: 3 Forget materials: 4
    Never: 0 Forget to turn in: 6

 Define

The define stage helped me come up with a more specific solution for my problem.  I took my broad topic of students not completing their homework and narrowed it down to some possible solutions.  It was interesting to use the five whys analysis and the why how ladder because I feel that I am always asking myself why?  Asking why allows us to gain new information and this stage helped me gather more ideas about my students as they were the topic of my questions.  Ultimately, I concluded that there were two root causes including students forgetting that they have homework and students saying that they did not have time to complete their homework.

5 Whys?  Root-Cause Analysis

First Scenario:

  • Why are students not completing their homework?
    • Because they forget they have it.
  • Why do they forget they have it?
    • Because they don’t have it written down.
  • Why do they not have it written down?
    • Because they don’t like using their student planner.
  • Why do they not like using their student planner?
    • Because it is big, bulky, and not convenient.
  • Why is it big, bulky, and not convenient?
    • Because that is the planner the school provides and the student handbook is printed in the front of it.

Second Scenario:

  • Why are students not completing their homework?
    • Because they don’t have time.
  • Why don’t they have time?
    • Because they have activities (practice, band, choir, clubs, etc.) and do not manage their time wisely.
  • Why do they not manage time wisely?
    • Because they do not know how to manage their time.
  • Why do they not know how to manage their time?
    • Because they are not used to having this much homework every night.
  • Why are they not used to having this much homework every night?
    • Because they didn’t have this many homework assignments in middle school.

 Why-How Ladder

why-how-ladder

Ideate

Ideation is a process that occurs in stages.  In order to produce a number of ideas you need to spend time with others collaborating and being creative.  When I first started the brainstorming stage, I was a little frustrated.  I am a very analytical thinker and did not want to write some of my ideas down at all because I thought they would not work.  I struggled through this and appreciated ideas that others provided me.  I also learned that it was important to give my brain a rest.  There is value in taking a night off and re-visiting a topic the next morning.  I discovered some new perspectives and thoughts during my “incubation” period journaling that I would not have had if I stopped working after the brainstorming stage.  This really brought to light how many different solutions there could be for my problem.

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Prototype

During the prototype stage I decided to continue with my spreadsheet sketch from my ideation.  I used Google Sheets to create spreadsheet that I could use to track my students’ grades and missing assignments.  I love to make lists and organize my thoughts so I really enjoyed this stage of the process.  I played around with different layouts and changed around my ideas a few times before finalizing my prototype.  I put the student’s classes on the left side with columns set up for letter grades and missing assignments.  If the student has a C or better I highlight the box green, D is yellow, and an E is red.   Our district uses Skyward as a system for grades and it is hard for my students to see where they need to improve.  I thought that the color coding system may motivate some students and give them a feeling of accomplishment.  They will also be able to see their growth and how grades change over time.

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 Test

The test stage was the longest in my design thinking process.  I wanted to gather as much information as I could in testing my prototype and our school schedule was hectic due to spring break and state testing.  I focused on five students on my caseload that struggle with assignment completion.  The group was composed of two juniors, two freshmen, and one sophomore student.  I created a Google Sheet for each student I was testing which listed all of their classes on the left-hand side with rows for grades and missing assignments.

After checking in with my students, I individually interviewed them regarding the spreadsheet.  I chose to use this method of receiving feedback from my students because I have strong relationships with them and felt that they would be comfortable telling me the truth.  The feedback I received from 4/5 students was that they really liked using the Google Sheets.  A couple of them noted that they really liked the color coding system because they could see that they were improving by turning things in.  In addition to hearing back from students, I gathered feedback from a colleague in the special education department at my school.  It was amazing to hear about one of my students raving about the spreadsheet to her and hear her support of my prototype.

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Design Thinking Reflection

This design thinking process was an overall great experience for me.   The biggest take away that I had from the process as a whole was that it is a continuous cycle.  The process is never really finished because after testing you want to go back and improve anything that needs fixing.  As a special education teacher, I have never thought of myself as a designer.  I did not think that a lesson was a product to be used; however after completing this problem of practice I recognize that teachers are designers.  Designers are actively problem solving and trying to find solutions to difficult problems which is what we are constantly doing in the classroom.  Designing is being empathetic, brainstorming, collaborating, analyzing, incubating, and testing your ideas.  Designing takes time and perseverance in order to find success.  I am happy with my results from this project and I will continue to use the prototype that I have implemented in my classroom.  I can also see myself using this design process to help improve my teaching skills and strategies in the future.

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Problem of Practice: Test Mode

After completing the Prototype Mode of Design Thinking for my problem of practice, I decided to test my prototype with a specific group of my students.  I focused on five students on my caseload that struggle with assignment completion.  The group was composed of two juniors, two freshmen, and one sophomore student.  I created a Google Sheet for each student I was testing which listed all of their classes on the left-hand side.  This would be used to track their grades and missing assignments.  I met with each student individually and went over the spreadsheet, how it was set up, and why we were using the spreadsheet.

Upon returning from spring break our schedule was hectic with the SAT, ACT Work Keys, and M-STEP testing so finding time to test my prototype was a little difficult.  I took my tablet to my co-taught classes and checked in with three of the students during class at the beginning or the end of the hour.  The other two students I would pull in during passing time or the last five minutes of one of their classes.  I observed their responses and noted any improvements in their grades and missing assignments.  When I checked in with my students in my classroom it was very easy to switch back and forth between screens on the computer and fill in the spreadsheet.  With the tablet, our spotty wireless internet would exit me out and I would have to log back in repeatedly to check their grades.

After at least three check ins using the prototype, I began to individually interview my students regarding the spreadsheet.  I chose to use this method of receiving feedback from my students because I have strong relationships with them and felt that they would be comfortable telling me the truth.  I asked them questions such as: do you think this spreadsheet helps you, what do you like about this, what do you not like about this, and how can we make this better?  The feedback I received from 4/5 students was that they really liked using the Google Sheets.  A couple of them noted that they really liked the color coding system because they could see that they were improving by turning things in.  I thought it was interesting that the younger freshmen students were more excited and the upperclassmen had fewer opinions on the tracking system.  One suggestion for improvement that I received was noting the name of the missing assignments in the spreadsheet.  We discussed how that could be possible, however with each check in I had the list of missing assignments opened up with their grades broken down in Skyward.  One student was brutally honest and said that using the spreadsheet didn’t make a difference because he was not going to do his homework no matter what.

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In addition to hearing back from students, I brought my tablet to the leader of the special education department head and spoke with her about my prototype.  I wanted to hear her thoughts and any suggestions that she had.  I was surprised as she went on to tell me a story about one of my students in her co-taught class.  When she reminded him of a missing assignment he responded, “Oh Ms. Masserant already went through my grades with me”.  He went on raving about my spreadsheet system and how much he loves the color coding.  He even suggested that she start using it with her students.  This was amazing to hear!

Studentgrades

This student raved about how he was out of the red zone

This design thinking process was a great experience.   After the test mode, I was very happy with the feedback I received.  It was interesting to see how it helped some of my students.  I did not have an expectation that it would work for everyone and it didn’t.  With that said, I am excited about the improvements that were made.  For some students this just makes them more aware of their grades and now they are logging in on their own more frequently.  This may be the end of my problem of practice journey with CEP 817, but I will continue to use this tracking system with this group of students.  I will still be going back to my prototype because I have a few ideas on how I can revise my spreadsheet and make it even better.

Testing Lab Activity

I created an informational video using Screencast-O-Matic.  I came across some technical difficulties with my microphone while recording, so I had to switch to my old laptop.  My slow computer took a while to upload the video to YouTube, but eventually it was a success!  The video gives background information on the Stanford Design Thinking School’s design thinking model and describes the test mode.  I wanted listeners to understand what testing is before getting into my problem of practice.  I explain what the test mode is, why testing with users is important, and tips for testing.  Lastly, I give details on my prototype and how I am testing it with my users and colleagues.  Due to the timing of Spring Break and the state testing at my school, I am still in the process of testing my prototype.  I will continue to test with my users and gain feedback from my colleagues.  I look forward to reflecting on the results from this test mode.

Problem of Practice: Prototype Mode

For my problem of practice, I have started to work on creating a spreadsheet to track my students’ grades and missing assignments.  In the previous ideate mode I came up with a quick sketch of how I wanted it set up.  I decided to use Google Sheets so I can access the spreadsheet on any device.  I can check in with my students on my computer in my classroom or my tablet that I bring to my co-taught classes.  I am still debating if I want the students and/or their parents to have access to the spreadsheet.  I played around with different layouts and came up with the screenshot below.  I have the student’s classes listed on the left side with columns set up for letter grades and missing assignments.  If the student has a C or better I highlight the box green, D is yellow, and an E is red.  I think students will like checking in with me this way because the colors help narrow your focus when you look at it.  Our district uses Skyward as a system for grades and when I check them with my students, it is hard for them to see where they need to improve.  The color coding system may motivate some students and give them a feeling of accomplishment.  They will also be able to see their growth and how grades change over time.  I set goals with my students regarding grades and missing assignments and this spreadsheet will allow us to track them closely.  Some goals we can set could be staying out of the red in all classes for the marking period or keeping missing assignments to under five.


 

tracking sheet

Prototype Lab Activity

prototype lab

The Meaning of Life Prototype

This lab activity was definitely a challenge for me.  I decided to choose the topic of my view of the meaning of life.  Constructing that complex idea into something physical was a difficult process.  I kept second guessing the topic I chose when I was looking around to gather my items.  I thought there was no way I could get my idea across.  I piled up some items on the floor and played around a bit.  Some of my ideas changed as I built as far as what I wanted to use and how I wanted it to look.  The picture above shows my final prototype.  My view of the meaning of life is simple, follow your passion.  Everyone always says do what makes you happy and do what you love, but not many actually follow their passion.  I have a cross on top made of pencils with six paper clips around the edge of the cup.  The three pink paper clips represent my mom, my sister, and myself.  The blue clips represent my brothers and my dad.  Faith and family should always be your focus so that is why they are on the top of my prototype.  Underneath the cup is a dollar bill and around it are pictures I drew on the paper plate.  There is a car, diamond, house, and airplane.  These are all on the bottom because they should not be your focus in life.  If you follow your passion and spend your time building strong relationships, those things will follow.  We should not stress over such materialistic things, they are not what is most important.  This whole activity made me realize how much I struggle with not having “the right answer”.  There is no answer to the meaning of life, nor was there a right or wrong way to construct the prototype.  I am glad there was a note that it should take about an hour, because I could have wrestled with ideas and constructed all day.  Prototyping is doing, making, constructing, and building.  No time for analyzing and overthinking.

Problem of Practice: Ideate Mode

Brainstorm Session

Incubation Journal

Reflection

Throughout my work in this module, I realized that ideation is a process that occurs in stages.  In order to produce a number of ideas you need to spend time with others collaborating and being creative.  When I first started the brainstorming stage, I was a little frustrated.  I am a very analytical thinker and did not want to write some of my ideas down at all because I thought they would not work.  I struggled through this and appreciated ideas that others provided me.  I also learned that it was important to give my brain a rest.  There is value in taking a night off and re-visiting a topic the next morning.  I discovered some new perspectives and thoughts during my “incubation” period journaling that I would not have had if I stopped working after the brainstorming stage.

My ideas are continuing to evolve in my Problem of Practice.  The ideation mode really brought to light how many different solutions there could be for my problem.  I am still wrestling with what will work in the real world with my students.  I keep evaluating from prior experience what has not worked in the past.  Each student is different and I think my next steps may involve a combination of different solutions.  With that said, I really like the idea of have a spreadsheet check in system to use with my students.  I am looking to pursue using this and maybe some other technological tools in the future modes of this design thinking process.