Professional Development to Pursue Excellence
As educators, we must be lifelong learners who pursue excellence in teaching practices. Professional development is one avenue of lifelong learning available to teachers. Professional development, however, can be like visiting a candy store. Attending single, one-off workshops give you a taste of various innovations or teaching strategies but, unfortunately, does little to actually change or influence one’s teaching practice. So if one-off workshops are ineffective, what is a better approach to collaborating with colleagues to help them evolve in their teaching practices?
(For the Link to PDF version of Assignment 2: Yvonne DeWith: see below)
The SAMR Model and the Concerns-Based-Adoption-Model both recognize that learning is a continuum. When collaborating with others, it is important to remember that change is a process and not an event. In addition, supporting colleagues through the change is essential for the changed behaviour to take root.
Learning to drive a car is a great example of supporting the learner through the steps from a novice to a new driver. Without support, a beginning driver would not be able to move along the continuum.
Retrieved from https://youtu.be/us0w823KY0g
Another great video clip on the SAMR Model can be found on the Common Sense Media website (Commonsensemedia.org).
Retrieved from https://youtu.be/6E3rarcATqU
According to the SAMR Model and the Concerns Based Adoption Model, we must first meet our colleagues where they are and alleviate their fears by addressing questions regarding the impending changes. Once initial questions are answered, our colleagues move into a task-oriented phase by asking questions such as “How do I do it? How can I use these materials?” Following this stage, our colleagues are ready to consider the impact this change will have and be able to adapt, reflect, and evaluate.
Keeping these models in mind, I developed the following plan to encourage the use of digital resources in two grade five classes through the collaboration with two colleagues.
|Phase||Needs of the Learner||Phase Goals/ Collaboration Process|
have an informal conversation with both colleagues about research skills in teacher’s classroom: what works; what has happened in the past; what resources do you expect students to use; how do they access these resources; what support do you give through the research process
help teachers become comfortable with the materials and strategies
ongoing teacher support
Meet My Colleagues
Teacher 1: “Isaac” (pseudo-name)
Isaac has been teaching for about 15 years in a range of grades from 4-8. He describes his technology skills as “limited”. When working on research skills with his students, he focuses on print sources and requires a simple bibliography to include title, author and publishing date. He finds that students get lost in the ‘digital world’ when allowed to use computers to research. He mentioned his dislike of Wikipedia because students (at his current grade level) can’t comprehend the information or the information is unreliable.
Teacher 2: “Greg” (pseudo-name)
This is Greg’s first year as a classroom teacher. His first four years of teaching have been as a gr. 3-12 music teacher. Greg enjoys using technology in his class and often engages student learning through technology. When doing research skills/projects with his students, he begins with print sources. He talked about the value of books and mentioned how the pictures/information are helpful, rather than distracting (as compared to a computer search). When the number of books on a topic ‘runs out’, he allows students to use computers but limits their searches to teacher-selected sites. For example, he directs students to select Youtube videos but insists they view the video without sound and use the caption feature to help with note-taking.
The Execution of the Plan
Session 1: Informal Conversation and Brainstorming
I demonstrated the digital resources: World Book Online Encyclopedia and EBSCO Search Engines. Neither teacher was aware of the online resources available to students through out school and were excited to be able to model and teach students how to search using the World Book site and the EBSCO databases.
Isaac has not used the digital resources available through our school library. Although he tends to focus more on print resources from our library, he has, however, allowed students to use computers to search for resources on the internet. Difficulties encountered by students includes finding the most helpful keywords, too high reading level of sources, and time wasted searching and searching for the perfect source. Isaac would like to try the online World Book for his upcoming science unit on the digestive system.
Greg has also not explored the digital sources available through our school. He also tends to encourage students to begin research with print sources. Following that, he provides students with a specific list of teacher-selected sites. During the first conversation, Greg thought he might use the EBSCO database search engine for student research on natural resources.
Side Note: in our brainstorming and sharing, Greg demonstrated how he uses a google chrome app “savefrom.net” to download videos from Youtube to eliminate ads and to provide safe links for his students. Also, Greg demonstrated an app called “pear deck” which he uses to create interactive slide show quiz questions. His students select answers on their own computers and the class can instantly view responses.
Pear Deck. (February 9, 2015). How Does Pear Deck Work?
Session 2: Narrow Down Focus and Prepare a Lesson for Students
After exploring the EBSCO site over the week, Greg now decided to guide students to the “Novel K-8” resource through the EBSCO site. When guiding students to choosing books for independent reading, he offers suggestions but is excited to guide students to take more ownership over the process and to push themselves to try new literature.
After exploring the sources, Isaac decided to limit his students to the World Book Encyclopedia and to teach them the features available. The features he liked included: short articles with appropriate reading level, easy to find citations, links to further articles, videos and images. His students will research the function of one organ of the digestive system or an illness related to a particular organ in the digestive system.
Because Greg has not used the interactive functions of his Smart Board and would like to learn how to make use of the smart software, he chose to create a lesson for the Smart Board. I spent time teaching Greg how to use the Smart software and guided him through the process of creating a lesson. He was so motivated that he quickly found our school’s technology support person to load the software onto his computer. He came to me during the week to report that he had tried the Smart Board several times this week.
Isaac preferred to use Power Point to create a lesson to guide his students through the World Book resource. I showed him how to use the Snipping Tool to take screen shots to insert into his lesson to help guide his students.
Goal 2: use their lesson over the next week
Side Note: After our brainstorming and sharing session, I tried the Pear Deck in my Gr. 7 Current Events class. The students loved the interactive component and the questions sparked great discussions about Black History Month.
Additional resources to Demonstrate to my colleagues:
When creating or implementing a lesson on research skills and using keywords, teachers may want to have a look at the following:
- Keyword search lesson (Readwritethink)
- Basic Search Education Lesson plans through Google
3. 15 Lesson Plans for Making Students Better Online Researchers
- How Search Works (video file)
Cutts, M. (Mar. 4, 2010). “How Search Works”. . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNHR6IQJGZs&feature=youtu.be
How Search Works
Session 3: Debrief and Review (Impact-Oriented)
Greg tried Novel K-8 with his class. After demonstrating, the students were asked to find five books that may be interesting by using the Novel K-8 search engine on the EBSCO database. Greg then demonstrated how he can access his public library account through their website and how he can request books to be placed on hold. The students were invited to explore their own public library site at home and see if they could locate the books that they pre-selected on the Novel K-8 site. Some students reported back the next day that they had successfully located and placed holds on a few of the interesting books. Success! Greg motivated his students to take ownership in selecting books of interest and then following up by locating the books.
During another lesson, Greg invited his students to explore the World Book Online. He gave free exploration time to search for any topic of interest to become familiar with the layout, search tools and available resources on the World Book Encyclopedia.
In reflection, Greg felt that he could have been a bit more prepared prior to the lessons. by taking more time to explore some of the other areas available. However, overall, Greg felt that the students enjoyed the resources and that the learning experience was a great first step in the ongoing instruction of research literacy skills.
Due to the unexpected snow and weather conditions, lessons and day plans were rearranged. Isaac did not yet have time to try out his lesson but will meet with me next week for follow up.
When I met with Isaac, he had just finished introducing his students to World Book Online. As a class, they searched using the key words “digestive system” and then each student chose articles from the generated list. His students liked the fact that “the site is a more authoritative source of information than many others that they could find online”. Isaac felt prepared to guide his students through enough of the site for this particular activity but indicated that he would need to take some time to explore further aspects of the site to be better able to guide his students beyond the basics. If time allowed, another collaborative session with me (the T-L) would help to dig through the additional features available on World Book Online.
Through effective collaboration, the position of the learner changes from a “receiver of knowledge to [an] active participant in its creation” (Taylor, 2013, p. 10). In addition, as teachers engage in the learning process, they are “finding new ways to think and be a teacher [which] creates energy and encourages teachers to experiment more in their teaching practice” (p.14). I would argue that this renewed energy and enthusiasm is not limited to the learner but also to the ‘teacher’ or ‘teacher-librarian’. Through collaboration, all parties benefit!
As stated in the Learning Leaders document, a whole school benefits through the process of change as “participants support each other and build on each other’s thoughts and ideas to push further than each team member could individually” (Learning Leaders, p. 4). This encourages the viewpoint that “everyone is a learner; everyone is a teacher working collaboratively toward excellence” (p. 5). The previously drawn lines of “expert” and “novice” become blurred as everyone joins together in collaboration.
Thank you to Isaac and Greg for collaborating with me. I thoroughly enjoyed the learning and sharing together.
Bell, T. (August 15, 2015). My Personal Context through the lens of the CBAM. [web blog]. Retrieved from http://learning0utloud.blogspot.ca/2015/08/my-personal-context-through-lens-of-cbam.html
Canadian Library Association. (2014). Leading Learning- Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada.
Candace M. (May 30, 2013). SAMR in 120 Seconds. . Retrieved from https://youtu.be/us0w823KY0g.
Crockett, L. (Mar. 30, 2015). 15 Lesson Plans for Making Students Better Online Researchers. [web blog]. Global Digital Citizen Foundation. Retrieved from https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/15-lesson-plans-for-making-students-better-online-researchers
Cutts, M. (Mar. 4, 2010). “How Search Works”. . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNHR6IQJGZs&feature=youtu.be
Google Search Education Evangelism. (n.d.) Basic Search Education Lesson Plans. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/gwebsearcheducation/lessonplans
Haycock, K. (2007). “Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning” School Libraries Worldwide 13.1: 25-35
International Literacy Association and NCTE. (2017). “Keywords: Learning to Focus Internet Research”. Readwritethink. Retrieved from http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/keywords-learning-focus-internet-1122.html?tab=4#tabs
Riedling, A. (2013). Reference skills for the school library media specialist: Tools and tips (3rd ed.). Santa Barbara, CA: Linworth.
SEDL. (Feb. 24, 2011). Introduction to the Concerns-Based-Adoption Model. . Retrieved from https://youtu.be/6E3rarcATqU
Taylor, L. (2013). Lived childhood experiences: Collective storytelling for teacher professional learning and social change. Australasian Journal Of Early Childhood, 38(3), 9-16.