I have always found it interesting how corporations have been trying to push their product or idea into the education scene. In today’s age, this would refer to up and coming tech firms as well as the already well established. Companies like, Google, Microsoft, and Apple, have a product that will allow your staff and students to create, showcase, document, and organized work production. All three companies all also have an education series that allows educators to pursue to become an expert, innovator, or distinguishable with their product. Out of the three, Microsoft is late to the game when it comes to offering such programs. But just because they are new to the game, doesn’t mean that what they have to offer is a “has been,” educator program. What Microsoft has to offer is very refreshing, and I hope you take in consideration to hear what I have to say about it.
My journey into becoming a Microsoft Certified Expert (MIE), was somewhat manageable, a challenge set by our very own Director of Learning Innovation.
When I first logged into Microsoft Education system, I have to admit, it was a little intimidating, especially how to navigate and find what intrigues you. Right away the front page recommends courses that you can pick and choose that apply to your practice. But! Here is where I am going to tell you to find the Learning Paths section and select Microsoft calls, 21 Century Learning Design(21CLD). What intrigued me about this path was the real world skills that we want our students to build within and outside the classroom. Those skills are collaboration, skilled communication, knowledge construction, self-regulation, real-world problem solving, and using ICT for learning.
What you will find once you take a course is how Microsoft codes essential skill to it’s the simplest form. For example, it explores the broader meaning of collaboration and breaks down collaboration into five essential questions. “What are the big ideas in collaboration.”? “What does working together mean?” “What does shared-responsibility mean?” “What does making substantive decisions mean?” and “What does working interdependently mean?”
So what does this all mean, once you go through this course you will take a 8 question quiz that you have to pass with 80% to receive credit. But that’s, the least of why you should do this. You should do this course because it completely matches up to the Expected Student Learning Results (ESLR’s) or the four C’s (Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, and Critical Thinking). Not only does it match up but it gives clarity on how to create situations for students to experience these skills. And, to put the icing on the cake, Microsoft does a fine job providing resources around 21CLD. Resources include rubrics, lessons, and coding of skills for educators to apply in their teachings.
Becoming a Microsoft Certified Expert (MIE) is easy. But I suggest taking the course on 21 Century Learning Design as it applies to your practice right away.
There are many different pedagogical approaches for early childhood teaching, but they almost all have one thing in common: the child is the key contributor to what is taught and learned. This approach to student-centered teaching is essential for a child to build community within their classroom and to allow students to construct their knowledge. Often, and unfortunately, there is a disconnect that can occur as soon as these students transition into Kindergarten.
Luckily, we have SIS teachers who are willing to blur the lines between Early Childhood and Kindergarten.
Typically, a student’s experience once they leave the exploratory learning environment they enjoy in the early years is abrupt; an end to choice in learning. Nadia Erlendson and her kindergarten team have put a stop to that. Every morning, students are provided two options to start off their day. The students may go to the playground, where there is a teacher supervisor, or they may go straight to the classroom to begin creative play building.
This flexible schedule isn’t something new in the educational world, but Nadia and her team realized it was necessary for young learners at SIS. Initially, students gathered in the morning to have circle time, starting the day by comprehending the weather and what day of the week it was. Nadia noticed that some students were intentionally coming late to class, so she tested the waters by giving students an open play time in the morning once a week, to see if the heartbeat of the class would change. Slowly, she added an extra day of free purposeful play time over the course of a few weeks. She noticed that the pulse of the class was beginning to change; students quickly became more independent, critically thinking when problems came up, and, most importantly, started to become agents of their learning. This finally gave the Kindergarten team a chance to assess the students on their own terms. Ironically many, if not all, students were meeting age appropriate standards and benchmark from what the teachers gathered.
Something else was visibly noticeable. The students that would repeatedly show up late began coming on time, and all students were attentive for the entire school day.
This adjustment to the Kindergarten schedule was the spark that helped illuminate the need for continuing to explore how we can modify the school day to suit the needs of our students better. We look forward to following along next year to see what can arise from allowing students and staff to work together, to learn together, and to connect to move forward.
Doris King is a Chinese teacher at #sisrocks. She specifically teaches students from grades one to five who come from a household where Chinese is the first language. Typically, the traditional approach to learning the Chinese language is to memorize characters. This is especially true when it comes to learning how to write each character stroke correctly. Doris realized that there was a disconnect between how students were learning in their English-speaking homerooms and how she had been teaching Chinese to her native speaking students.
Doris wanted to transform her Chinese heritage class to make the language more accessible by creating more personal and deeper connections within the class, at home, and far away from her classroom. For Chinese heritage students, the goals are to instill the value of learning Chinese and also to illustrate progression. With that in mind, Doris began by encouraging her students to write and share their thoughts, opinions, and experiences through their personal blogs. Their first blogging task was to write about a time they experienced a challenge with a positive mindset. Once these pieces were posted to their blogs, students were asked to send their URL to a parent and a friend to receive feedback. The responses from their parents and peers were astounding. Parents told their children that they never knew they could express themselves that way. They were so proud of their child’s writing and were excited for them to share more.
Doris was pleased with the results but wanted her students to dig deeper. She took inspiration from colleagues at SIS, Ceci Gomez-Galvez and Nathan Lill. Doris used the mentor text that both Ceci and Nathan used for their Big DEAL event that has happened for four years now, based on “This I Believe,” from CBS’s Radio Network program, journalist Edward R. Murrow. In this instance, students had to scribe their works all in Chinese then use their speaking skills to showcase their deeper inner thoughts about what they believe.
The Chinese language program is still striving to have students digging deeper in their understanding and use of the Chinese language. Cross-campus connections, such as the “This I Believe” podcasts, are a great way for colleagues to encourage and challenge one another to try new strategies in their classrooms, often with incredible results.
Most instructors would agree that the importance of students taking ownership of their own learning and creative growth is paramount to ensuring their success. With something as demanding as the diploma program, and IB Art, in particular, it is critical for students to understand that, like most journeys, this course is a continual process that ebbs and flows in proportion to their own exploration and creative drive. That said, as teachers, we are also here to coach students and help them achieve. This is why my former colleague and I decided to piece together this guide. In it, students will find practical information and details about process portfolios, the comparative study, and the final exhibition – all key assessments required to complete the IB visual art diploma program. Again, @MrsYungArt and I found that the best way to do this was through an interactive companion. Our most recent update, for example, delivers new curriculum standard tables, an updated design, and student exemplars – all of which would not be possible through traditional means. Ultimately, our hope that the information and practices included will be used in a range of contexts and ultimately inspire students to gain a better grasp of IB and the concepts that guided our thinking.
Last week, I began one the learning pathways offered through the Microsoft’s Innovative Educator (MIE) Program. The pathways, unlike the individual courses, are bundled to provide a professional development pathway. I chose Teaching with Technology, a four-parter that centered around Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and finding “the appropriate technologies to match (y)our teaching activities and aims”. At its core, and as someone who’s been part of the #sisrocks community, the message, was a familiar one.
Gardner reminds us that “Technology [cannot] dictate educational goals. A pencil can be used to write Shakespearean sonnets or copy homework. The Internet can be used to engender enlightenment or hatred” In other words, before we can embrace any new technology, we must have a firm grasp of what our educational goals are and how, in this case, technology can help us achieve them.
As I moved through the learning pathway, this message kept resurfacing both in the structure of the course and it’s resources, all of which were clearly embedded into each module. Similar to the SAMR model, the courses adhered to a bigger hierarchy, in this case Microsoft’s E-transformation stages.
Additionally, all of the courses ended with a summary and a quiz one had to pass in order to proceed to the next course. The nice thing is that you can take the quizzes as many times as you need. There are also badges and a points system to help you styay on track and advance through the program. All in all, the Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Program is similar to the other certification programs such as ADE and Google programs for teachers, in that it is a great way to take your career to the next level.
If you would like to know more or have any questions on how to get started stop by the genius bar on either campus or hit me up on twitter
These days, it seems that everywhere you look private companies are putting their stamp on a teacher’s ability to effectively deliver curriculum using their platform. There’s the Apple Teacher program, you can become a Google Certified Educator, and even BrainPOP will “certify” you as a teacher. Although one might argue that we, as educators, should be giving our approval as to whether or not their systems are useful in the learning journey of our students, some of these programs do offer free, comprehensive professional learning opportunities.
After Microsoft Office 365 (o365) was adopted at SIS for its collaborative platform and unrestricted access within China, it was the Learning Innovation Team’s job to help with the transition to this platform as a viable option for students, teachers, and parents to engage with transformative practice. To this end, the LI team began exploring what Microsoft offers in terms of their certification process.
Signing in to the Microsoft Education Community is easy with your SIS Office 365 account.
As I recently perused the Microsoft Education Community resource site, I found it to be much more in depth, both in terms of resources as well as pedagogical exploration, than its counterparts. First off, it was far less about learning the tools (although there are courses that deal directly with learning how to use tools found within o365) and much more about how you might effectively use these tools to enhance student learning. Secondly, you are able to follow multiple different paths to achieve becoming badged as a Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE). This includes taking individual stand-alone classes or working through Microsoft-designed Learning Pathways that combine these individual classes to lead you to mastery on a given topic.
A learning pathway with a pre-designed combination of classes.
What this means for educators is that Microsoft allows you to individualize what you do to gain points in their system. By gaining 1000 points with any combination, you will receive an MIE badge. Other courses and pathways also gain your badges and certificates within Microsoft’s imaginative digital badging for educators.
You can check your achievements and progress by viewing your Microsoft Educator’s Profile.
I started by just taking a few individual classes and really found the Skype Collaboration class extremely useful. It is quite amazing how you can bring experts from around the world into your classroom, give students exposure to different cultures and multiple perspectives. Skype also allows you to act as an expert for Skype in the Classroom.
It’s easy to undergo virtual field trips or share your expertise using Skype Collaborations.
In then end, it really isn’t about gaining some certificate or digital badge. It’s not about being able to say you are an #MIEexpert. It really boils down to learning how to create the best digital learning environment for your students with the tools you have at your disposal. Having experienced the education community of multiple online platforms, I will say that the Microsoft Education Community seems to be the most comprehensive community, with basic tutorials on specific tools, to sharing great lesson plans, to actual pedagogical conversations. If you have any interest in exploring some free online PL on effectively using technology in your classroom, become a Skype guest speaker, beef up on your Microsoft product skills, or start your journey to becoming an MIE, sign into the Microsoft Educator Community and start diving in. If you would like help in getting started, please feel free to come see us at the genius bar on either campus.
This past week, students, parents and a host of other volunteers took part in numerous programming sessions, here at SIS, for Computer Science week. For those not entirely familiar, this week is also known for the Hour of Code – a global event that encourages students to participate in self-guided activities in an effort to develop their computer science skills. That said, it is easy to see how different cross-sections of our school galvanized behind the idea and brought a learning opportunity to our students that was challenging, authentic and personalized (CAP).
Although there are a range of tools and platforms for introducing coding to students (code.org, scratch jr, arduinos, etc…) we opted to go with Swift, a general-purpose programming language developed by Apple that is perfect for iOS and the iPads we have here at SIS. With a space (ES Library) the tool (swift) and clear sense of intent the event was resounding success. It was great to see and hear the questions being asked, the thinking being made visible and collaboration students were engaging in as they figured out the inevitable challengesthis type of coding presents.
I heard things like “this is so difficult” but then another student quickly chiming in “at least, it’s not impossible”, “How can we solve this..?” Additionally, as the exploratory sessions unfolded it became clear that most students were still obsessively coding when their hour was up – some of them, having to be ripped away from their iPads. Others opting to come back with their parents for a second session after school. All in all, very few students zoned out during the hour. Engagement was high all around, and thanks in large part to the team of (student, parent and teacher) volunteers who helped students get unstuck at critical moments they were able to experience success at each level of the various modules. As educators, it is this type of engagement, resiliency and maturity in students one hopes to see.
As the week ends, I am motivated to go beyond one hour and see all of the ways this could be integrated into the various aspects of life at SIS. I never expected students to deeply learn how to program from a single hour of coding, however, I am certain these sessions have motivated students to continue onward and, perhaps more importantly, to reconsider how many of the devices, apps and games really work. For those wanting to continue this journey with your child, your students or by yourself, please click on the resources below:
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) has been a transdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning dating back as far as 1749, Benjamin Franklin’s time, according to some. From there it has taken on many shapes and forms in the education world. But, it wasn’t a curricular movement until Judith A. Ramaley the assistant director for education and human resources at the National Science Foundation from 2001 to 2004 coined the term, STEM. This interdisciplinary approach has been around long before but recently started taking off in the mid-2000’s. Today we have additional variations, to STEM, one current branch is STEAM. Many scholars, in this case, Peter Hennigar and Jacob Scott, feel that the “A,” really needs to be lumped into the equation. We want to be aesthetically pleased, we want to communicate with a clear intention, and we want objects to have a purposeful function. So by applying principles of design to science class, makes complete sense for applying aesthetics, design, and communication. Peter and Jacob aren’t the first to use arts into science, and they certainly won’t be the last.
The focus of the course is to expose students to real world problems that need to be addressed to find a solution while also being conscientious of the importance of design.
How is this transdisciplinary?
Both Peter and Jacob have their students go through the Dartmouth Project for Teaching Engineering Problem Solvingmodel. This model gives students a platform that they can work from and move forward with a given challenge. One particular design problem was having students create a motion controller that would hold a digital capturing device.
So, you may ask…what makes this particular project, a STEAM project. Below are how all the disciplines are cover STEAM.
Model Credited to Peter Hennigar
The entire developing process, students, will be going through 2 processes, design thinking, and scientific inquiry while gathering evidence and documenting their learning progress.
Students were given the EV3 Lego Mindstorms to program the control of motion for their digital time lapse device. The students will also have a 3D printer available for rapid prototyping and printing fixtures. Students will also use their computers to research, document through their blog sites on the progression of their learning and thinking along the way. Before this challenge, Peter ran through basic programming skills needed to operate the EV3 Lego Mindstorm so students could access their prior knowledge while applying their understanding to the camera motion controller challenge.
All students will be using the EV3 Lego Mindstorms to engineer a structure to hold a digital documentation device. Groups that choose to 3D print will have to engineer models using a CAD program, specifically Tinkercad because of the simplicity of the tool.
Taking capturing video and time-lapse photography students are to compile their footage into an art piece that captures life in Shenzhen while exhibiting mood that engulfs the viewer attention.
Students must have a time-lapse piece in their film. The film cut needs to be a minimum of 1 minute long. Students need to show how many frames per second they captured to demonstrate an understanding of time, frame rate, and speed. Applying, all the disciplines together to into a great video in the end.
How do you assess each student’s performance?
Students must demonstrate their learning by gathering evidence and displaying their knowledge through a digital portfolio. Each group(3-4 students) had one log book to document their thinking and to demonstrate booking of experience every time they met during the STEAM class period. The record book supported their process of learning, however, some students documented in different ways, which for all intensive purposes students were given agency to showcase their knowledge. Many of groups as mention before, blogged about their experience, this was a must, but others not only blogged about their learning but video documented each contact day of their project development.
Their final product was to produce a video using their time-lapse motion controller to capture the life of the Shenzhen community.
Each group came up with a company name to present to “venture capitalists,” Just like the famous show in the US. Teams were given 15 Minutes to showcase product and answer questions from the “venture capitalist,” panel.
In the end, the shark tank panel handed out checks to each company to show their interest investing for a better product to be released for sale.
Traditional science predominate only pushes the traditional boundaries of hard skills to develop. With STEAM not only do student build hard skills but they also work on their soft skills, especially when it comes to showcasing their learning.
Over the course of testing out the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, Brittany Morgan can easily say that it’s not the iPad Pro that has transformed digital art… it’s the Apple Pencil. The highly responsive tool bends the rules of physical and virtual drawing aspects and mends them together. Artists and designers are able to create through all the physical attributes the pencil has to offer and virtually save and adjust work. The pencil, when combined with apps such as Procreate, allows for visible thinking and documentation of the process behind the art. Digital drawing is becoming more and more accessible to our young learners and we want to expose them to as many different experiences and learning techniques as possible while documenting their learning.