I can’t tell you how excited I am to be nearly done with Coetail. Don’t get me wrong–it has been an amazing learning journey. I’ve made many great connections and pushed myself professionally way beyond what I would normally do as a direct result of Coetail. But being new to my role as Ed Tech Coach, at a new campus, trying hard to prove myself, as well a being a mother of young children, I have found it very hard to achieve a work-life balance. I am looking forward to reclaiming my weekends. (And not being literally locked in my bedroom, hacking out a weekly blog post while my husband tries desperately to prevent my exuberant 3 year old twins from banging on the door.)
That being said, I am extremely glad I went through this process. Things that have happened as a result of Coetail:
-Regular Twitter User
-Better slideshows (Thank you Course 3!)
-Greater awareness of my digital footprint–don’t wipe it out–make it positive!
-Improved writing/blogging skills
-Improved confidence when sharing my ideas in larger groups
These are some of my immediate reflections about Coetail in general, now onto my final course 5 project in particular.
I had a look back on my course 4 project proposal:
My Project Goals:
- Teachers will improve in their ability to document a wide variety of student learning and will use this documentation more meaningfully in the classroom to enhance student learning. Reluctant ‘posters’ (to Seesaw) will post more often. Frequent posters will post more reflectively. Reflective posters will include more range in the technologies they use to document the learning.
- I would like for the younger students I work with to also use both the digital portfolio (and/or blog feature) more independently and reflectively.
- I hope to use the blog feature of Seesaw in some of the classes/grades and to promote its use as a collaborative learning and reflection tool for students.
So, let’s look at Goal #1:
“Teachers will improve in their ability to document a wide variety of student learning and will use this documentation more meaningfully in the classroom to enhance student learning.”
I will admit, it’s a bit loosey goosey. How exactly am I measuring’ improvement’ and ‘meaningful’ and ‘student learning’. Those are the million dollar questions.
In terms of actual numbers, I can look at Seesaw analytics for ideas as to how often we post as a school. (I can only see when individual teachers sign in–when I see ‘last signed in 11 weeks ago’ I feel a bit deflated.)
Here are the stats of Seesaw posts from when I started Course 5 to the end.
Looking at weekly items doesn’t really help much. A quick look at the dates tells me teachers post most often in the week or two before school breaks– (and not at all during breaks.) They posted rather obviously right around Student Led Conferences on March 23.
I had to go back and check our e portfolio staff meeting dates (Feb 1 and March 1) and could see there seemed to be a building enthusiasm of posting after our first meeting–where teachers fed back and filled in the compass points activity (Need to know, Exciting, Suggestions for moving forward, Worries.) There was a definite drop in posting activity after the second meeting on March 1 , however, when we looked critically at posts using the following Guide:
Of course I have no idea if the meeting and reduced posting are related. Back from break, perhaps teachers feel the long winter ahead of them and feel sluggish about posting. Or perhaps they are in the middle of units, or have just begun units and don’t have much of anything to post. Or perhaps they are thinking more critically about what they are posting…the eager posters have actually slowed down and are asking themselves, “Where is the learning?
Our parent engagement section is always affirming. Looking at the two charts side by side, most parents take a look at what their children are posting, and it seems they have their notifications turned on. I can see there is a very small percentage of parents not connected. I am not sure what to do about that. We have discussed making the connection to Seesaw/blogs as part of the first Parent Evening–but even then, not all parents come.
Nevertheless, getting parents to engage more effectively (and not necessarily more often) will continue to be a goal for me and the school. Teaching them more explicitly about effective commenting skills can help push student learning forward. Of course, with younger students being the ‘readers’ of these comments, as a school we need to be clearer about who is the audience for the comments, or for that matter, for the posts themselves. Many teachers view the platform it as a way to communicate to parents, rather than as something for students, by students. When you are working with a wide range of student ages (3-12), this gets tricky.
Which brings me to Goal #2:
“Younger students will use the digital portfolio more independently and reflectively.”
Some students in KG and up are certainly posting to Seesaw more independently–but not all classes. I know from experience 4 years olds can handle it–it just needs to be embedded in the class routines, and not something they do only once a month. They will never remember the steps. Some classes have encouraged student reflection via the comments, but I do understand this is a big task for teachers to take on–listening to long winded student comments before approving them is daunting. This is where assistants could be of greater assistance if they were empowered to do so. (Currently their hands are ‘tied’ and must use Seesaw as ‘students’.)
Ultimately, the commenting feature needs to be utilised more effectively to get the most out of the platform and to enhance student learning, whether it is with the blog feature, or with regular posts.
Teachers making effective comments on student work.
Parents making encouraging comments about student work.
Students reflecting on their own work.
Peers making critical (not criticising) comments on classmate’s work.
And all of this means nothing if the student doesn’t get the opportunity to review these comments in a timely manner–when checking in on their portfolios/having the opportunity to reflect is not a daily/weekly routine.
“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” -John Dewey
“I hope to use the blog feature of Seesaw in some of the classes/grades and to promote its use as a collaborative learning and reflection tool for students.”
I managed to convince one class to open the blog option. Now, more may well have been interested, but my school’s admin were reluctant to confuse matters for teachers/parents/students new to the system by encouraging them to deal with yet another digital platform. It also opened up a can of ‘equity’ worms…once one class goes this route, others feel pressured to do the same. I strongly feel one class should not be held back by others unwilling to try something new. So, I tried with one class and that was not without its challenges. If I was not in the room facilitating, blog posts/comments did not happen. The potential of the power of the global connection was not (yet) felt by the teacher (although the kids were quite excited by it!) and so was not made a priority in the busy classroom. However, these students are getting much more independent when making comments in general, so this blogging effort is certainly worthwhile if only as a means to independent commenting.
Effective commenting on portfolio posts using thinking routines and effective questioning will be my on-going goals for the rest of the year and next. I will use the aforementioned Compass Points Activity to detail further feelings about my Course 5 project.
In terms of making the movie itself, I found syncing pictures I had curated along the way with the script I had in mind was a challenge. I had lots of pictures of some things–SLC’s for example– and little photographic evidence of other things (working directly with students on their posts). It was easy to get footage of the SLC as I was not directly involved on the day of. It’s quite challenging to take pictures while setting up microphones, prompting 4 year olds for their reflections, and guiding them to the right buttons.
I enjoyed combining different tech tools (Screencasts, Quik Videos, Google Slideshows, Haiku Decks, Spark Pages, etc.) to produce the final piece. I tried keeping CARP in mind, but the many, many fonts and layouts I’d used in projects and presentations throughout the year with staff and students made it look a bit of a mishmash when all put together.
I had fun going beyond the usual i-movie jingles by using attribution free music found in Youtube (video manager > create). I also made sure to double check that I could indeed use the photos from Haiku Deck attribution free. (I can-they are CC.)
Enough wordiness. Here is my final project: