ISTE 4 Collaborator – Moving From Ideas to Implementation

While researching my question – How can we collaborate with others to move from talking about exciting ideas to authentic implementation regularly and with efficiency during planning time? – I reflected on how collaboration has looked for me this last decade.  I have been lucky to be at schools where there have been fellow educators who love to dream big with a desire to implement projects based on student interest.  There has always been many ideas and conversation yet we would retreat back into our separate classrooms without a clear plan to achieve these ideas.  Often, the lack of a formal structure when sharing ideas was the problem. We would share what was inspiring us but leave the conversation without a structured plan in place. In the video, Future Ready – Establishing a Professional Learning Ecosystem, there is a heavy emphasis on the idea having a Professional Learning Community (PLC) and the importance of learning how to best collaborate with others in a formalized way – using an agenda, having regular meetings, tapping into the skills of coaches or other content area teachers, co-teaching and so forth.

In order for it [a professional learning community] to be effective, it has to be collegial, it has to be ongoing and it has to be job embedded.

~ Steven T. Webb, ED.D
Superintendent
Vancouver School District

PLC’s are at the heart of how we can combine our ideas with best practices while blending the wisdom and knowledge of those around us and sharing our own expertise.  When including digital education and tech within these PLC’s, the sky’s the limit for what educators can do, realistically, for students and school communities. Yet, there is still the lingering question, how do we regularly implement these ideas successfully after the PLC meeting. In addition, this led to a new dimension of my original question which is, How can we grow our collaboration to a local and global scale in order to broaden perspectives and meet the ISTE standards for students and educators around global collaboration?

There are two digital tools that can help with the implementation step after PLC’s meet and globally collaborate which would hit on ISTE Educator Standard 4a (Dedicate planning time to collaborate with colleagues to create authentic learning experiences that leverage technology) and 4c (Use collaborative tools to expand students’ authentic, real-world learning experiences by engaging virtually with experts, teams, and students, locally and globally).  The first collaborative tool is a planning platform that enables educators to fulfill the requirements of standards-based planning while also being a living document that colleagues can use together to achieve collaboration. The tool is Planbook

I was turned on to this digital tool by the librarian at my school.  Three of us were collaborating (myself, another teacher and her) and we realized that through the process of planning together, it would be helpful to have a platform we could all use, change and share with each other which would cut down on our workload if we divided it up. This helps to move from talking about ideas into implementing ideas because we can get started together during our PLC but then work collaboratively online instead of having to sit together the whole time.  The downside of this tool is that you do have to pay to use it – $15 a year. If it does save you time, especially when needing to turn in standards-based plans, etc to administrators, then it is very much worth it but it is a less equitable resource because of a financial cost. Click here to read about 10 Reasons to Love Planbook to see if it could help you.

Another digital tool that can turn collaboration into global collaboration is Empatico.  

After meeting with educators in your PLC, you could use this tool to connect your classroom to classrooms around the world. Within the Empatico platform, you have access to pre-planned activities to help launch the collaboration and it is a free service to use.  Also, it is crucial to have plans available that can lessen the time and confusion of planning out a global collaboration on this scale (especially for the first time) and Empatico provides well thought out lessons to choose from. After connecting with another classroom and educator, you could work through the lessons available from Empatico and from there be in spot where you and the other educator may notice opportunities to continue collaboration in a meaningful way. Since the initial lessons provide a structured start to the collaboration, there is a higher chance of the collaboration being successful. From there, a continuing collaborative relationship could develop throughout the years even when your initial students move up to the next grade level.

Overall, the ‘movement of ideas into implementation’ conundrum that happens in schools is multifaceted but with thoughtful PLC training and practice, a digital planning tool like Planbook to keep educators on track with planning expectations and a platform like Empatico that can help you navigate the complexities of global collaboration, the chance of implementing ideas more regularly and globally has a solid foundation to grow from.  Having enough time to do all that we want to do will always be a struggle but having groundwork to grow from, it becomes less of a battle and instead, an innovative collaboration on a local and global scale.

Resources:

Chalk and Apples: Engaging Ideas and Resources for Upper Elementary. 10 Reasons to Love Planbook. Retrieved from https://chalkandapples.com/10-reasons-to-love-planbookcom/

Empatico. (2019, April). Retrieved from https://empatico.org

ISTE Standards for Educators. Retrieved from www.iste.org/

Office of Educational Technology. Future Ready: Establishing a Professional Learning Ecosystem. (2016, April 05). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/TMbeqn7NlyI

Planbook. (2019, April). Retrieved from https://www.planbook.com

ISTE 6 and 7: Creative Communication and Global Collaboration ~ Digital Tools and Toothpaste


ISTE Student Standards 6 and 7 focuses on creative communication and global collaboration. Providing opportunities for students to engage in this can feel daunting when looking through all the available digital tools and curriculum. Since there are so many platforms available to enable creative and global collaboration, the real question comes forth, which digital tools are more apt to be used successfully?  To start using digital tools and platforms within our classrooms, we often search for what we should use and have to wade through what resources are ‘good’ and what resources are not. For myself, this often involves me going down a google search rabbit hole and emerging inspired yet confused about what to use because there is so much out there. It reminds me of how I will stand in the toothpaste aisle at the grocery store feeling overwhelmed by the choices. Even though I know what I usually buy, I look at it all and try to figure out what is the ‘best’…is there something new that is better?  Sure, I could go with what I usually get but what if there is something better to whiten my teeth or freshen my breath longer.

Much like toothpaste, there are so many digital tools to use and ideas to follow and though it may be tempting to use what you always use, it is important to be available to other options. Many digital resources are similar so deciding what to use needs to be a combination of knowing what has worked for others (safe, dependable, engaging, etc.) while still being open to trying out new technologies – even if they flop – and picking one (or many) that work for what makes sense in your classroom. Knowing what has worked but being open to what is new are important ways to stay fresh, innovative and flexible while also keeping students safe, interested and having student agency and input!

A resource that can help educators learn about the many resources out there is Teachers Guide to Global Collaboration which is an unbranded, user-driven resource for teachers looking for projects and resources to collaborate with other classes around the world.  What I like about this resource is that it gives you a starting point with the option to learn how to use the guide (with a beginners focus), connect to global projects that make sense for your goals and then search through guides, curricula, communities and organizations. This is a great resource for UbD because you can pinpoint what you want to achieve and then find the right path to get you and your students there. Educators could take an idea or project they want to implement in the classroom and then search for projects and/or resources that have been successful and then launch their own version with the tools and resources at their fingertips.  

https://www.globaledguide.org

To kickstart your vision, it is always helpful to learn about classrooms that have had success and then look backwards to see how they achieved this. One resource that helped me to think about purposeful projects and how to get started was a slideshow from Channel Pro Network, 5 Examples of Collaborative Technology in K-12 Classrooms.  Each example had purpose and made sense for the classroom and community environment it was a part of.  Also, these examples reiterated the idea that creative global collaboration does not need to be cross continent or far away.  It absolutely can be, and what a wonderful cultural experience that is – the example of a North Carolina school collaborating with a Swedish school for a science project was wonderful – but it can also be what helps to connect communities that are feeling unconnected.  The example shared of schools in Kodiak, AK using digital tools to collaborate with schools on remote islands in the area meant that a communities that felt disconnected were brought together via creative communication and collaboration. Another connection I made was that it is important to use a variety of platforms and resources at times.  There may not be just one ‘thing’ that does it all. The more we are aware of and open to new technologies, the more we are able to combine what we need to implement for it to be personal, purposeful and productive – and most importantly – long lasting and creative.

I think when we connect global collaboration and creative communication together, this connection with others opens up flexibility in creative thinking for students because of different perspectives. In the Edutopia article, The Power of Digital Story, 5 factors are suggested to keep in mind when sharing stories but I believe it would work for any creative communication situation.  

The 5 factors are:

1. Create space for listening

2. Persuade with the head and the heart

3. Lead with the narrative

4. Amplify with images

4. Nurture the Process

5. Understand the tools (Dillon, 2014).

Students of all ages have a desire to communicate and storytelling is a meaningful way to share and learn from others on a variety of topics but science, math, global issues, and more benefit from these factors being kept in mind and can help influence empathy and positive communication within the global and diverse communities we interact with.

https://hinessight.blogs.com/.a/6a00d83451c0aa69e201b8d2c963d2970c-popup

Overall, I hope from this post that you will not stand and stare at all the toothpaste in the aisle and instead grab hold of one, or two or three that could work and start brushing, see what you like best and what makes sense with the vision. Use the tools and resources mentioned to see what is out there that could work for you, your students and the goals you are all working towards.  Shift to something else if it doesn’t. Be inspired by what others have learned from and experienced, add to the resource/project page on Teachers Guide to Global Collaboration when something does work to share with fellow educators. I tend to think I want a clear path that states exactly what I should to do achieve these ISTE standards but what I have come away with is that how it becomes purposeful is that I get to decide.  Instead of blindly searching, let’s look for strong examples and guides that can lead us down the right path and then be ready to forge ahead independently where it makes sense for you and your students.

And finally, don’t forget to floss – there are a lot less choices for what floss to buy so that should be easy.  This would be the ‘do I use a computer or tablet’ question which is much easier to decide!

Resources:

Channel Pro Network (2018). 5 Examples of Collaborative Technology in K-12 Classrooms. Retrieved from https://www.channelpronetwork.com/slideshow/5-examples-collaborative-technology-k-12-classrooms?page=1

Dillon, B. (2014). The power of digital story. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/the-power-of-digital-story-bob-dillon

“ISTE Standards for Students” Retrieved from www.iste.org/

Teachers Guide to Global Collaboration. (2019) Retrieved from https://www.globaledguide.org