Scaffolding & PBL

Scaffolding in Project Based Learning can be defined as the support provided and the clear expectations that are set so that project goals can be accomplished. In Project Based Learning, the best projects use scaffolding in order to keep the project and students organized.  When students are well prepared and given guidance, projects are most successful.  The difficulty with scaffolding is providing direction, yet also giving the students the ability to show some initiative, creativity, and resourcefulness. McKenzie (1999) states that there are eight characteristics of educational scaffolding:

  1. Scaffolding provides clear directions.
  2. Scaffolding clarifies purpose.
  3. Scaffolding keeps students on task.
  4. Scaffolding offers assessment to clarify expectations.
  5. Scaffolding points students to worthy sources.
  6. Scaffolding reduces uncertainty, surprise, and disappointment.
  7. Scaffolding delivers efficiency.
  8. Scaffolding creates momentum.

Scaffolding provides clear directions

As instructors create projects for project based learning, they have to try and anticipate any problems or difficulties that may arise.  The directions and plans for the project need to be clearly written so that students can efficiently move toward a productive learning experience.  Much thought needs to be put into the planning of the lesson so that the students know exactly what they need to do and what is expected of them.  As I have created my project “My Dream Playground,”  I have worked hard to think of every possible problem that may arise or issue that my students may encounter; however, since I have never planned a project of this magnitude, I am sure that there are things that I have missed.  I think that as long as the instructional designer has put a lot of thought into the project–the steps, directions, activities, and assessments, they will be well equipped to handle any potential problems and eliminate them either before the project begins or as the students work through the project.  

Scaffolding clarifies purpose

In project based learning, students are presented with the purpose of their project as soon as the driving question and entry event take place.  The students know why they are taking part in this project and the project has meaning because they know they are presenting it to a wider audience beyond their teacher and class.  In project based learning, each task builds on the prior tasks.  Each lesson and activity in “My Dream Playground” builds on the next in order for the students to complete their final presentation and reach the ultimate goal of coming up with a feasible playground for the school.     

Scaffolding keeps students on task

A timeline or calendar keeps students on task and helps guide the project along.  Students know what is expected and when it is expected so that they are not wandering in all different directions.  In “My Dream Playground,” the students will be provided with a calendar of events so that everyone knows the timeline for when different parts of the project are due.  In addition, with each major portion of the project, students will be given guidelines or rubrics for what is expected of them.  They may go about accomplishing the steps of the project in different ways, but they are all given the same guidelines to follow so that they can stay on track.

Scaffolding offers assessment to clarify expectations

In the beginning of scaffolded projects, students are provided rubrics, standards, and examples in order to define excellent work.  For my project, students will be provided rubrics for their oral presentation, 3D model, and peer evaluations.  Expectations and a sample of quality work will be provided from the start, and students will continually meet with the teacher throughout the project.

Scaffolding points students to worthy sources    

In a scaffolded project, the teacher undertakes the preliminary research.  Realizing that the internet lacks credible sources, the teacher picks the best sources in order to help students accomplish their task.  Depending on the teacher, students might have to use the resources provided by the teacher or they may use those sources as a springboard to further their research.  In “My Dream Playground,” I will provide the students with four sites they can use to research the size and cost of playground equipment and playground surfaces.  They will be allowed to look for other resources, but not spend too much unnecessary time on this.  If they choose to use a different resource, they will need to obtain teacher approval before using it.

Scaffolding reduces uncertainty, surprise, and disappointment.

Instructors are expected to test each aspect of a scaffolded project to anticipate anything that might go wrong.  This will eliminate any student frustration as the project progresses and maximize student learning.  After students have completed the project, lessons may be further refined.  Each aspect of the “My Dream Playground” project has been carefully scrutinized so that the lessons and activities run smoothly for the students.  It is hard to anticipate every roadblock so changes will most likely be made during and after the project has been completed.  

Scaffolding delivers efficiency

Project based learning is very involved.  However, when properly scaffolded, students are focused, have clear expectations, and remain on task.  The “My Dream Playground” project has been carefully planned with a clear timeline.  Each lesson builds on the next leading up to the final presentation.  

Scaffolding creates momentum

The entry event, driving question, and its subquestions will create a great deal of excitement and momentum for the project.  They draw the students’ attention into the project and set the wheels in motion in order to motivate the students to project completion.  

McKenzie, J. (1999, December). Scaffolding for Success. In From Now On. Retrieved March 4, 2017, from http://fno.org/dec99/scaffold.html

 

Acceptable Use Policies

An Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is a document constructed by an institution that details the manner in which it would like its members to use technology including the internet. Many schools and districts have Acceptable Use Policies that address both acceptable and unacceptable behaviors for students, faculty, and staff when using technology and the internet.  Prohibited behaviors usually include plagiarism, piracy, cyberbullying, and visiting sites deemed inappropriate by the school.  Acceptable behaviors include being a positive digital citizen, having proper netiquette, and using the internet properly for school purposes (“1-1 Essentials-Acceptable Use Policies”, n.d).

A 2009 article by Education World titled “Getting Started on the Internet: Developing an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP),” states that an Acceptable Use Policy should contain six key elements.  They are “a preamble, a definition section, a policy statement, an acceptable uses section, an unacceptable uses section, and a violations/sanctions section.” The article goes on to explain each section.  The preamble details why the policy was created and the goals of the policy.  Key words in the policy are explained in the definition section.  This ensures that everyone reading the policy understands the terminology.  The policy statement lists what computer, mobile device, and internet services are covered and when the students can use those services.  The acceptable use section breaks down the appropriate use of school technology and the internet.  The unacceptable uses portion must give specific examples of inappropriate student use.  Finally, in the violations/sanctions section students learn how to report violations and the consequences they will receive should they violate the policy.

All schools and districts are different and create Acceptable Use Policies that are relevant to their situation.  The following are excellent examples of Acceptable Use Policies for elementary schools in the United States:

I feel that my school’s Acceptable Use Policy leaves a lot to be desired.  After reading about Acceptable Use Policies and viewing examples from other schools, I would like to initiate a conversation with my principal about revising our policy to make it more detailed and transparent for our faculty, staff, parents, and students.  Our current AUP can be seen by clicking on the following:acceptable-use-policy

We also have a 1:1 iPad program for our sixth through eighth grade students at our school.  The following document is sent home with the students and is signed by the students and parents: ipad-contract-2014I feel that this document is a better example of an Acceptable Use Policy because it incorporates the suggested sections that I mentioned above.  After reviewing both of our school’s policies, I think that the policy we have in place for the iPads should be edited to include all types of technology and the internet and used as the AUP for all our students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade.  Even though our kindergarten through fifth grade students are not 1:1, they do have access to iPads in the classroom and use our school computer lab.  

As educators it is important for schools to provide students with access to the digital world, yet we must do it in a way that protects our students.  An AUP is the first step toward protecting our students as long as it is enforced and supported by all members of the school community.  

References:
1-to-1 essentials – Acceptable use policies. (n.d.). In commonsensemedia. Retrieved October 4, 2016, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/1to1/aups
Getting started on the internet: Developing an acceptable use policy (aup). (2009). In education world. Retrieved October 4, 2016, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr093.shtml

 

Real Time & Virtual PD

Within the past month I have attended four webinars and four live Twitter chats.  Because I teach in the library and computer lab in a K-8 Catholic school, my goal was to attend a variety of sessions that would cover aspects of all these areas.  My Twitter chats discussed STEM, Learning Management Systems, technology, professional development, Makerspaces in the Catholic school, and blogging.  The webinars covered Makerspaces, using technology in the early childhood classroom, the library as a classroom, and connecting with school families through social media.

The topic of discussion for my Twitter chat on #edchat  was “How does an educator’s blog help the educator or his/her students? How does an admin’s blog help the admin or teachers?” We discussed these questions and many agreed that a blog is a good reflective piece used to share growth and model the importance of writing and communication to our students. We also discussed whether blogs should be made mandatory for the classroom teacher, whether blogs are becoming obsolete, and the different blog platforms available. I contributed my answer to the initial question, responded to others thoughts and ideas, expressed my frustrations with using WordPress, shared my classroom website, and ended up connecting with another K-8 computer teacher and corresponded back and forth with her after the chat regarding digital citizenship lessons. As nervous as I was about taking part in this discussion, I though it was fun and I was very excited to connect with someone who does the same work as me. I found it hard to keep up with the pace of the comments. I don’t think well on my feet so it was challenging to come up with a comment quick enough that wouldn’t go over the Twitter character limit. It was also distracting that other posts would come in through the feed during the discussion that weren’t related to our topic. It kind of interrupted the flow of conversation for me. I have included screen shots of some of the responses to my comments and my discussion with the computer teacher I met.

tweet1

On June 15th,  I took part in the online webinar, Library 2.016 Library as Classroom. This was like a seminar only online. It started with an address from five keynote speakers and then we broke out into half an hour information sessions. I attended three different sessions, “The LibraryMakerspace as Classroom, OERs at the Junction of Library and Classroom, and Incorporating Making Culture into the Curriculum.” In the Library Makerspaces as Classroom session, our speaker was a Libraries Fellow at NCSU. She shared information about their libraries’ makerspaces, the programs they offer, events they organized, and how they collaborate with course instructors to incorporate the use of their makerspaces in course instruction. I asked questions regarding their makerspaces and how to bring this down to a smaller level for the elementary library. I learned of resources and a blog to follow to get started. The OER session was presented by graduate students from the School of Information at San Jose State University. They created a website on California History for the fourth grade. On the site, teachers can submit lesson ideas, students can present projects, and resources are included including visuals, videos, and information resources. This site was designed for co-teaching among teachers and librarians. I contributed some of my thoughts on co-teaching. In the final session I attended, we learned how The University of LaVerne library system incorporated a making culture into their University’s curriculum through a Mini Maker Fair. The presenters discussed the process of planning, executing, and reflecting on their fair. I was impressed with the projects the students came up with for the mini maker fair and I liked the idea of a Shark Tank type contest they held where the students presented their projects to a panel of judges much like the Shark Tank television show. I loved that I could attend this conference from the comfort of my own home. At times the audio kicked out, though, and I couldn’t hear the speakers, but that is technology for you! Even though many of the sessions were based at the university level, they helped me formulate ideas for ways to scale it down to the elementary level. I have included files of the chat sessions for each:

Library 2.016 chat sessions

On June 16th,  I took part in the edWeb webinar “Social Media and Cell Phones-Today’s Tools to Connect with Families this Summer.” In this webinar we learned how to use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Remind to better communicate with parents not only during the summer, but also during the school year. If you get the chance, I would watch the recording of this webinar. The speaker was excellent and many ideas were shared from the speaker and participants in the chat. I handle our school’s Facebook page and website so this was helpful. I learned about adding a Twitter feed to our website and also that parents can access Twitter via text message if they do not have a Twitter account. Remind was a new tool for me and one that I will explore more. The speaker made it very easy to participate in this webinar by providing polls for us to answer. I also contributed with ways I currently use these tools for our school and new ideas I may try this summer and in the upcoming school year.

Digital Classroom 06-16-16 Chat Log

I took part in the webinar through edWeb.net titled, “Using Technology to Bring Intentionality and Purpose in the Early Childhood Classroom.” This webinar on June 15th covered the guidelines for screen time for our younger students in pre-school and kindergarten, best practices for using technology, and digital literacy. In this webinar I learned that the American Academy of Pediatrics will be coming out with new guidelines in the Fall. I also learned ways to integrate technology with clear thought and intent. Some ways were to have students use devices to take pictures during nature walks, using Skype or Facetime to talk with parents during Circle Time, performing a digital show and tell, and going on virtual field trips. Basic digital literacy for this age included care of devices, modeling proper technological vocabulary, and modeling how to perform an internet search. The main goal of this webinar was to teach us how to use technology within our lessons and move away from the students singularly using the apps to play games during centers. I contributed to this webinar by talking about some of the technology tools we use in our kindergarten and providing examples of safe search engines for kids and appropriate websites that I use with my students. I have attached the file of the chat:

Classroom Management 06-15-2016 Chat Log

On June 17th,  I took part in the Twitter chat run by ‪#‎bfc530‬. The question was “How should districts/schools go about choosing and rolling out an LMS?” There weren’t many participants involved in the chat, but some ideas were selecting students, teachers, and people with different levels of experience to test different systems, asking for input from others, and exploring tech savvy chats for recommendations. Many of the people did not know what an LMS was and stated that in the chat. I am not sure I would have known except for the fact that we use Moodle in this program. We don’t use one in my school for classes. Our online system is for grade reporting and communication to the parents. An article provided in the chat was very helpful: http://bit.ly/1qdbk7x if you are interested in the topic. Here are some screen shots of my responses to the question.

twitterchat2

I took part in a Twitter chat with ‪#‎catholicedchat‬ on June 18th. The topics we discussed had to do with technology, professional development for teachers, and makerspaces. I acquired some more resources for starting a makerspace and also received some great resources to share with my principal regarding personalized professional development for teachers and technology integration. I mostly participated in the  conversation that had to do with Chromebooks and iPads. One participant was starting a 1:1 Chromebook initiative with the junior high so I shared thoughts and insights regarding our 1:1 iPad program and also asked questions regarding using Chromebooks since I am trying to decide on the best path for our school. 

twitterchat3

For my fourth Twitter chat, I joined the ‪#‎edtechchat‬ on STEM on Monday, June 20th. During the hour long session, the moderator posted 6 questions. We discussed the benefits of having a STEM curriculum in an elementary classroom, when it should be infused in the elementary school, the barriers to overcome, ways to involve parents, activities to share, and non traditional forms of assessment that could take place. Some benefits mentioned among the many responses were the promotion of inquiry and it allows students to be innovative and creative. The general consensus was that a STEM curriculum could be introduced as low as pre-school. Time, administrative support, and a willingness to let go and allow students to explore were barriers identified to integrating such a curriculum. I shared information about a STEM night we held with our students and parents last year when the chat was listing ways to involve parents and shared the types of activities we did with them. Some of the non traditional ways to assess the students included rubrics, blogs, journaling, and providing demonstrations to other classes. The participants in the chat provided a lot of great resources. 

tweet4

On Wed., June 22nd, I took part in the Webinar: A Year in the Life of a New Makerspace. Michelle Luhtala, head librarian for New Canaan High School in CT, was the presenter. She detailed the process her library took over the past few years to transform their school library into a makerspace. During the webinar I asked questions about the makerspace, gathered some great ideas, gave input on places to purchase supplies, and even helped explain what a PLC was to one of the members of the chat. This high school library was two times the size of my library and even bigger than some of the branches of my public library! Even though this was a large library and they clearly have more money to spend than I do, I was able to gather some great ideas and tailor them to my elementary library. Many of the people in the chat provided resources that I plan on checking out too. It was also nice to see how the classroom teachers got involved in the makerspace and learn how to create buy-in from the administration and staff. I have included a file of the chat log:

EmergingTech 06-22-16 ChatLog

When we first received this assignment, I have to admit that I was very nervous.  Like anyone, I am really good at being a passive observer during webinars and professional development sessions.  I have never really felt that I could be considered an expert or have anything of value to contribute to the discussion.  What I have learned from attending these virtual development sessions and actually participating in them is that you do not necessarily have to be an expert on a topic.  You can be helpful to someone and aid in their professional growth just by sharing the information you have and what you have experienced.  Taking part in the conversation opens up doors and adds to a more valuable learning experience.

 

Content Curation

Beth Kanter (2011) states that content curation is “the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme.” Content curation is more than just picking a bunch of links to information about a topic and posting them. It involves careful consideration of whether the information is relevant to the reader, comes from a credible source, is annotated with a reflection from the curator, and is organized in a meaningful way for the reader to better understand the topic. The curated content is also continuously updated and kept current by its author in order to provide the best content for the reader. Curating content has become an essential practice due to the large amount of information that is shared all over the internet.

This week I worked with my PLN mini group to come up with a checklist for assessing the quality and value of a curated topic.  We used a Google Doc to create this checklist.  Using Google Docs is nice because each of us had editing rights to the document and could add information and comments at any time.  Because of some time constraints I had, I got started with the project by providing the group with a list of criteria or questions for evaluating our curated topics that I developed from reading our resources.  I also provided the links to the resources I used.    My next group member took the list I created and expanded upon it by providing explanations for some of the criteria, citing the resources, and developing our list of references. Finally, the other two group members finished the explanations and reviewed the references to be sure they were properly formatted using the APA style.  We worked well together as a group given our busy and varied schedules and I believe we developed a quality checklist.

Here is the link to the checklist our PLN created:

Content Curation Checklist

Kanter, B. (2011, October 4). Content curation primer. In Beth’s Blog. Retrieved from http://www.bethkanter.org/content-curation-101/.

Digital Footprints

footprint
Photo Source

 

A digital footprint can probably be one of the most permanent and maybe scariest footprint an individual can make.  If a person sets up any type of digital account, interacts online in any way, or even associates with someone who performs these activities online, than a digital footprint will be created whether a person wants one or not.  This can be scary because sometimes items may be included in a digital footprint that are less than favorable or possibly inaccurate. Because a digital footprint is unavoidable and is the new way of making a first impression, it is important to stay on top of what is posted about you and make good decisions about what you post and how you want to be perceived digitally.

After searching my name in Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Ask.com, I found it interesting that there are other people out there with the same name as me.  In Google, I had to include my maiden name in order to find myself.  It was clear to me that the search results came up based upon my social media accounts including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and my WordPress blog for the EdTech program.  The images I found of myself were ones I recognized from Facebook.  They were all favorable pictures.  The scary items that I found included a listing of every town that I have lived in throughout my life and names of my relatives.  I also found a record of my marriage certificate and a birth record for my daughter.  This birth record was inaccurate because it listed her as being born in 1903.  From this search, I realize now more than ever how important it is to monitor my digital footprint and continue to make wise choices about what I choose to post on the internet.