A Journey Through Technology

Week 2 Reflection

This week we looked at the relationship between tinkering, hard play, and the growth mindset. My learning was impacted by reading and researching for my blog post this week, as well as reading the comments on my blog and reading Jule’s and Brian’s blogs. I contributed to the learning of others through my blog post and resources, as well as commenting on Jule’s and Brian’s Blogs.

Jule compared and contrasted tinkering, hard play, and the growth mindset in her post this week. She shared a quote that talks about each of these contributes to not only an educational shift, but a societal shift. I think this is huge because there has been a shift in society as a whole in what it means to work hard and be successful. It would be nice if changing how we approach education could help the rest of society change for the better.

Brian gave some examples of what a fixed mindset looks like in students, and also how a growth mindset looks. So often I see student exhibiting traits of a fixed mindset, and Brian’s post got me thinking about what I can do to encourage students to embrace a growth mindset. I think I will be paying much more attention to student behaviors to try and figure out who is fixed and who is already in a growth mindset, and then work on trying to convert them to a growth mindset.

My reading and research this week shows me the positive impact that tinkering, growth mindset, and hard play could have in my classroom. I look forward to learning how to implement these ideas in my classroom.

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Week 2: What is the link between “tinkering”, “hard play”, and the “growth mindset”?

This week is again focused on constructionism, the theory of learning that is focused on “constructing a meaningful product.” (Papert, 1986, quoted in Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle location 815) We are now looking more in depth at “tinkering”, “hard play”, and the “growth mindset”, and how these concepts are linked together. “Tinkering is a mindset – a playful way to approach and solve problems through direct experience, experimentation, and discovery.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle location 839) Tinkering encourages students to approach problems in ways other than the traditional models. (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle location 954) To me this is a less rigid approach that gives students the freedom to solve problems in a way that makes sense to them, even if it isn’t the “right” way to their teacher. But what does tinkering have to do with play?

“When students play, it unleashes their creative side in a way no other activity can.” (Play and Education2017)  If a student is going to take a different approach to solving a problem, creativity will most likely be a large part of that approach. “Play is not a frivolous waste of time. When children are deeply involved in play, they are learning.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013, Kindle location 980) Play can be one way that students begin to tinker, as the results of their play may lead them down a new path to problem solving.

The last point of discussion for this week is the “growth mindset.” Growth mindset refers to “the understanding that abilities and intelligence can be developed.” (The Growth Mindset, 2015) This means that the more effort you put in, the better you can become. So often students get caught up in their failures, convinced that they have no hope of succeeding. Growth mindset helps them see that they can succeed if they only keep at it. This week I’m attending some professional development offered at my district, and my presenter explained growth mindset as, “I can’t do it…yet.” He had heard this from another teacher at a different training, and I think it does a good job of summing up growth mindset.

After looking at each of the concepts this week, I think the link between them is that you can’t have one without the others. Having a growth mindset seems like it would be a necessity in being able to both play and tinker. When kids play, they are practicing their tinkering skills. The nature of tinkering is to keep on trying to find something that works, which is the basis of the growth mindset.

References

Martinez, S. & Stager, G. (2013). Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, And Engineering In The Classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

Play and Education|Lansing Christian School. (2017). Lansing Christian School. Retrieved 25 May 2017, from http://www.lansingchristianschool.org/work-hard-play-hard-5-reasons-play-essential-childs-education/

The Growth Mindset – What is Growth Mindset – Mindset Works. (2015). Mindsetworks.com. Retrieved 25 May 2017, from https://www.mindsetworks.com/Science/Default

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Week 1 Reflection

This week I was introduced to the constructionist learning theory, which has a lot in common with constructivism, which I am in the process of adopting as my main theory of learning in my classroom. I think the maker movement really embodies constructionism, and I am looking forward to learning a lot more about this during our class.

This week I commented on Mariah’s and Brian’s blogs, and Brian and Douglas commented on my post. Mariah wrote that she didn’t believe constructionism was a new theory, but rather it has actually started being used more in classrooms. Brian wrote that he thinks the theory is newer to education, but only because it isn’t commonly used as much in classrooms. I think we all agreed that the theories behind constructionism are not new, but new education movements, such as the make movement, are bringing constructionism to the forefront in education today. I really like a graphic that Brian shared that shows the differences between constructivism and traditional classrooms because I am currently adapting my teaching to the constructivist theory.

I look forward to learning more about constructionism and the make movement throughout this class and hope I can start weaving some constructionist ideas into my classroom next year.

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Week 1: Do you believe Constructionism brings any new ideas to the table as a theory of education? Why or Why not?

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), “[t]he major concepts and theories of learning include behaviourist theories, cognitive psychology, constructivism, social constructivism, experiential learning, multiple intelligence, and situated learning theory and community of practice.” (n.d.) The Peak Performance Center goes on to further explain three of those theories, behaviorism, “[n]ew behaviors or changes in behaviors are acquired through associations between simuli and responses.”, cognitivism, “[i]nformation processing leads to understanding and retention.”, and constructivism, “[w]e construct our own knowledge of the world based on individual experiences.” (The Peak Performance Center, n.d.)

To me, it appears that the traditional educational and classroom models are tied to the cognitivist theory. We bombard students with information, and they process, understand (hopefully), and retain that information. The most appeal of these three theories to me is constructivism, which I have been working to use more in my classroom. “Constructivism emerged in the 1970s and 1980s, giving rise to the idea that learners are not passive recipients of information, but that they actively construct their knowledge in interaction with the environment and through the reorganization of their mental structures.” (UNESCO, n.d.) Students should not be passive in their learning, but should be taking an active role in what and how they are learning. Based on my reading this week, constructionism is most closely related to constructivism.

“Constructionism–the N word as opposed to the V word–shares constructivism’s connotation of learning as “building knowledge structures” irrespective of the circumstances of the learning. It then adds the idea that this happens especially felicitously in a context where the learner is consciously engaged in constructing a public entity, whether it’s a sand castle on the beach or a theory of the universe.” (Papert & Harel, 1991) Based on this description, I think that constructionism does bring new ideas to the table of education. It takes the ideas of constructivism and building your own knowledge, but then extends that one step further to building a physical product. It isn’t just about learning things, but using that knowledge to create something tangible. “The maker ethos values learning through direct experience and the intellectual and social benefits that accrue from creating something shareable.” (Martinez & Stager, 2013)

Resources

Martinez, S. & Stager, G. (2013). Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, And Engineering In The Classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.

Papert, S. & Harel, I. (1991) Constructionism. Ablex Publishing Corporation. Retrieved May 16, 2017, from http://www.papert.org/articles/SituatingConstructionism.html

The Peak Performance Center. (n.d.) Learning Theories. Retreived May 16, 2017 from http://thepeakperformancecenter.com/educational-learning/learning/theories/

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organiziation. (n.d.) Most influential theories of learning. Retrieved May 16, 2017, from http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/strengthening-education-systems/quality-framework/technical-notes/influential-theories-of-learning/ 

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Philosophy of Adaptation

Education is constantly changing. Throughout the years I have spent in education, both as a student and as a teacher, change has been a constant theme. In order to make it through the changes that we encounter, we must be able to adapt and readjust our course so we don’t lose our way through our educational journey. Whether you are a teacher, a student, or a leader, there needs to be a focus on how to best adapt and overcome change. My vision statement for change is “Seek change with a purpose.” Without change we can never hope to improve upon our current methods, but make those changes with a purpose in mind. One of my favorite parts about teaching is reflecting on what worked and what didn’t in my classroom, so I can improve my teaching for the next unit, semester, or even year. By reflecting on myself as a teacher, I open the door to change. “…[C]reative ideas and novel solutions are often generated when the status quo is disrupted.” (Fullan, 2001, p.107) When I disrupt the status quo in my classroom, I am seeking change with a purpose, so that my students get the most out of their time with me.

My plan of adaptation centers around two ideas: helping students adapt to change and helping teachers adapt to change. The first, helping students adapt, occurs in my classroom. In order for students to be able to adapt to change, they need to be exposed to it. “Too often school is a place where creativity is systematically killed, individuality is stamped out, and boredom reigns supreme.” (Burgess, 2012, Kindle Location 797) My classroom needs to be a change for students, different from what they are normally exposed to in school. One way I want to change my classroom to help my students adapt to change is by incorporating knowledge sharing. According to Majid, & Chitra (2013), integrating collaborative learning opportunities in the classroom “could make learning more interactive and engaging.” Knowledge sharing is one of the five components of leadership that Fullan discusses in his book Leading in a Culture of Change (2001), and I think that as leaders we not only need to embody these traits, but also need to instill these traits in those we lead. I am not only a leader for other teachers, but also for the students I interact with on a daily basis.

My plan for helping other teachers adapt to change in my school and my district is to act as an informal leader. “Informal teacher leaders…emerge spontaneously and organically from the teacher ranks.” (Danielson, 2007) As far as I know, there are not any official teacher leader positions in my district, so I think my best choice would be to take an informal role as a leader, starting with other teachers in my school. I want to take things I have learned throughout my degree program and show other teachers how they, and in turn their students, can benefit from current research and new methods. “Research shows that when teachers are empowered to function as autonomous professionals and leaders, this builds a sense of professional confidence and pride that feeds effective teaching practice.” (Berry, Daughtrey, & Wieder, 2010)

Based on my experience this semester, I think that a good starting place as an informal leader would be to act as a mentor to other teachers at my school. “A teacher has greater knowledge than a student; a mentor has greater perspective.” (Cohen, 2012) The past few years I have been taking these classes, I feel that I have been given a “greater perspective”, and now it is my responsibility to share that perspective with my colleagues.

In my vision of seeking change with a purpose, I hope that I can encourage more leadership from other teachers at my school and in my district. “Teacher leaders call others to action and energize them with the aim of improving teaching and learning.” (Danielson, 2007) As teachers, we should not rely solely on our administrators to lead us. “Leadership is the professional work of everyone in a school.” (Lambert, 2002)

References

Berry, B., Daughtrey, A., Wiedner, A. (2010) Teacher Leadership: Leading the Way to Effective Teaching and Learning. Center for Teaching Quality. Retrieved April 13, 2017 from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED509719.pdf

Burgess, D. (2012). Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost your Creativity, and Transform your Life as an Educator. Dave Burgess Consulting. Kindle Edition.

Cohen, P. (2012). The American Scholar: Teaching vs. Mentoring. Theamericanscholar.org. Retrieved 24 March 2017, from https://theamericanscholar.org/teaching-vs-mentoring/#

Danielson, C. (2007) The Many Faces of Leadership. Educational Leadership, 65(1), 14-19. Retrieved April 13, 2017 from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept07/vol65/num01/The-Many-Faces-of-Leadership.aspx

Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc.,U.S. Retrieved from http://egandb.uas.alaska.edu:2081/lib/uasoutheast/reader.action?ppg=17&docID=10842273&tm=1444680173430

Lambert, L. (2002) A Framework for Shared Leadership. Educational Leadership, 59(8), 37049. Retrieved March 27, 2017 from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may02/vol59/num08/A-Framework-for-Shared-Leadership.aspx

Majid, S., Chitra, P.K. (2013). Role of Knowledge Sharing in the Learning Process. Literacy Information and Computer Education Journal, 2(1), 1292-1298. Retrieved April 5, 2017.

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Week 13 Reflection

This week was my week of planning about my philosophy of adaptation. I revisited my posts from throughout the semester, and realized how much we talked about this semester. This made my philosophy a bit harder to organize because there are so many things I want to include, but now I need to figure out the best way to include them. I am very encouraged this week, however, because I know that once I get my philosophy finished, I will have a better idea of what I want to focus on for this next school year. Planning for the next year is one of my favorite things about the end of the year, because it gives me a chance to reflect on the previous year and decide what changes should be made for next year. After this past year of graduate classes, now I have even more to reflect on and consider incorporating into next years classes.

This week, my main way impacting the learning of others was through the Twitter chat. My blog post this week was mainly a first attempt at organizing my thoughts for my philosophy, so I don’t know how much of an impact I really had. Gerald and Natalie both commented on my post, and those will help me as I write my final philosophy this next week.

I read and commented on Sara’s and Gerald’s posts this week. Sara’s post was her entire philosophy of adaptation, which I enjoyed reading. She is also a science teacher, so I tend to find commonalities with her, and this week was no different. One thing that I really liked about her philosophy was that she talked about the disconnect that students have between subjects. They don’t consider that subjects can overlap, so when there is math in science, they tend to say something. I find this happens often in chemistry. On the first day of school, I tell students that chemistry is at least 50% math, and there are always groans when they hear that. Sara’s post talked about how there should be a push to incorporate more classes together using PBL and included some information about a high school called High Tech High. This sounds very interesting to me and I am going to look into this more. It seems like a very different type of school, and maybe that is just what education needs in terms of changing for the better.

Gerald was a bit like me this week. He hadn’t started writing his philosophy, but he was working on organizing his thoughts and ideas in his post. He shared part of his vision statement, which is “Murphy’s Law”. This is so fitting for me because of my recent experience in trying to change my classroom and go paperless for a day. Of course, the Wi-Fi at my school did not want to play nice that day, so the day did not go according to plan. I will never forget that day of craziness, and I think I will always be prepared for “Murphy’s Law” to rear it’s ugly head at the most inopportune time.

I look forward to putting my philosophy together this week, and also getting a chance to read everyone else’s. This semester has flown by so fast, and now comes the fun part of bringing everything I’ve learned the past 13 weeks and organizing it into my philosophy of adaptation.

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Planning My Philosophy of Adaptation

As we wrap up this class, now I need to put everything that we’ve talked about and looked at this semester together. My final philosophy of adaptation will explain how I intend to adapt to change in the classroom, as both a teacher and a leader. This will include a vision statement, a description of how teachers and leaders adapt to change, and a description of how I can plan classroom instruction to assist students in adapting to change.

Right now, my vision statement is centered around making purposeful change. As teachers, we need to constantly be adjusting what we are doing to make sure we are meeting the needs of all of our students. This is very relevant to me right now because I am in the prep-for-next-year mode. I always get a new burst of energy right before school gets out when I examine what worked this year, and what things I need to focus on changing for next year. I always try to keep an open mind and reach out to my colleagues to get new ideas I can try out next year. I could even phrase my vision statement as more of a question: How can we change things for the better?

In terms of being a leader through change, I really need to spend time focusing on the five components of leadership explained by Michael Fullan in Leading in a Culture of Change (2001). I believe that I embody parts of each of the components, but if I can spend more time examining my strengths and weaknesses within each, I will be better prepared to help lead through change. In my post last week, I discussed being an informal teacher leader. At this point, I don’t see myself taking a formal role as a leader in my school, but I am going to be offering my help where it might be needed to show that change isn’t as scary or difficult to navigate as it first appears. Change is inevitable in education and sometimes it really comes down to “sink or swim” on whether or not anyone will make it through those changes. Change takes time, but it also takes the right people who are willing to give the proper time and commitment to the change in order to see success. We need to have the right people on our team to make it through change. Another thing I still need to clarify is how to determine if someone is the right person or not. Just because someone doesn’t agree with me, doesn’t mean they don’t belong on the team.

Helping students adapt to change is a weak area for me. I was never flexible as a student, and despised when things didn’t go according to plan. In science, this can be very difficult, because experiments rarely go as intended, especially the first time. In order for me to help students adapt to change, I need to be better at adapting to change as well. My plan of transitioning to a student-centered classroom could really help with this, because that is a method of learning that many students are not familiar with. Helping them adapt to a change in classroom dynamic could be the magic stepping stone to helping them adapt to change across the board.

Right now I feel like I’m a bit jumbled in how my Philosophy of Adaptation is going to go, but just in writing this I am getting a better idea of how it is going to look. I was reading through all of my blogs for this semester and quickly realized how much I haven’t thought about in a few weeks. I know that when I spend more time revisiting my old posts and references, the pieces will continue falling into place and this jumbled mess will become a much more organized plan.

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Week 12 Reflection

This week we looked at our context in our school and how controlled disruptions and coherence making fit into our leadership role where we are now. I was a bit apprehensive this week, partly because I wasn’t quite sure what was meant by controlled disruption and coherence making, but also because I tend to not want change on a regular basis. That may sound strange considering this whole class has focused on being able to lead through change, but sometimes in education it seems like they are trying to change things too often, which doesn’t really solve much at all. The Twitter chat this week really helped to clarify the question for this week, and after my initial posting, my understanding was clarified even more by reading the comments Tristan and Gerald wrote on my blog. I also read through Tristan’s and Andrea’s blogs this week, which really helped to solidify my understanding. I think I also contributed to the learning of others through my posts in the Twitter chat, by blog posting and resources, and by commenting on Tristan and Andrea’s blogs.

Tristan shared a resource that talked about the common occurrence of schools having too many disturbances without proper support, which causes a lot of frustrations for teachers. This has been my experience so far, for the most part. It seems that districts don’t give new programs much of a chance before they try something new. As soon as I get the hang of one thing, its time to try something new. I don’t think that is the intention of controlled disruption. Controlled disruption would be a lot more useful if teachers had more time to make sense of the disruption before moving on to something else.

Andrea shared her experience in her mentorship as an example of controlled disruption and coherence making. Reading about her experience really helped me to see how I used controlled disruption with my mentee, and also that the entire mentorship was a bit of a controlled disruption for me. Andrea’s post really clarified things at my level right now. Controlled disruption doesn’t have to impact all teachers at one school. Mentorship could be a way to initiate controlled disruption, resulting in coherence making for multiple teachers at once.

This week was a struggle for me to start, but I feel a lot more at ease with the concepts from this week and how I can use them to make myself an effective leader with my peers.

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Week 12: How can understanding of controlled disruption and coherence making impact your leadership of peers at this time, and at this level ?

This week deals with controlled disruption and coherence making and their impact on peer leadership. To start, this really gets me thinking about my context at my school. I am one of the youngest teachers at my high school, which means I have had a very different teaching experience over my 7 years than most of the other teachers I work with. There have been a variety of changes that have happened in education while all of us have been teaching, but I only have a limited grasp of what those changes have been. Some changes have been for the better, while others have not, but still these teachers have persevered. I will say, that many teachers are so tired of the “latest and greatest” thing, that they are often not willing to give new ideas a chance. I see myself as a person who can help other teachers adapt to new changes and help them find the right way to use them in their classroom, based on their needs. Looking more at controlled disruption and coherence making will help me become even more effective as a leader with my peers.

According to Fullan, “…persistent coherence is a dangerous thing.” (2001, p.108) I think of this as a constant lack of change. Everyone gets comfortable where they are, and there is no move towards making any changes. An educational example of this would be teachers using the same lessons from year to year. They get comfortable with what they know, and don’t like to mess with what works. But this doesn’t allow for new or improved lessons to be developed or used. Students could be missing out on possible results from disrupting the flow.

In schools, persistent coherence is usually not an issue at the surface. “In schools…the main problem is not the absence of innovations but the presence of too many disconnected, episodic, piecemeal, superficially adorned projects.” (Fullan, 2001, p.109) this is where disruption comes in. In the 7 years I’ve been in the classroom, I have seen so many different policies and tools presented to teachers, often so close together you barely have a chance to get the hang of one before you have to start using the next. But this is not the kind of disturbance we need to lead through change. We need productive disturbance. “Effective leadership means guiding people through the differences and, indeed, enabling differences to surface.” (Fullan, 2001, p.114) These disturbances are necessary to allow for coherence making, which can help leaders bring their team together to work for a productive solution.

I founds a list of 7 Tips for Leading Your Peers, which I think fits in well with the concepts of controlled disturbance and coherence making. “Having a collaborative spirit helps immensely when you discover that your idea may not be the best idea. As a team player, it’s important to recognize where you can add value when you let your idea go and let the best idea win.” (The John Maxwell Company, 2013) One of my main takeaways from controlled disturbance and coherence making is that it isn’t always the leader that comes up with the best solution. To be a good leader of my peers, I need to work with them to find solutions to the problems we face, whether they result from a controlled disturbance or we already know about them.

Based on my context at school, and my experience being a mentor this semester, I see myself as becoming an informal teacher leader. These “emerge spontaneously and organically from the teacher ranks. Instead of being selected, they take the initiative to address a problem or institute a new program. They have no positional authority; their influence stems from the respect they command from their colleagues through their expertise and practice.” (Danielson, 2007) I hope that I will have the expertise and ability to earn respect from my colleagues as an effective educational leader, not only for the positive impact I could have on my colleagues, but also for the positive impact it could have on the students. “Research shows that when teachers are empowered to function as autonomous professionals and leaders, this builds a sense of professional confidence and pride that feeds effective teaching practice.” (Berry, et. al, 2010)

References

Berry, B., Daughtrey, A., Wiedner, A. (2010) Teacher Leadership: Leading the Way to Effective Teaching and Learning. Center for Teaching Quality. Retrieved April 13, 2017 from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED509719.pdf

Danielson, C. (2007) The Many Faces of Leadership. Educational Leadership, 65(1), 14-19. Retrieved April 13, 2017 from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept07/vol65/num01/The-Many-Faces-of-Leadership.aspx

Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc.,U.S. Retrieved from http://egandb.uas.alaska.edu:2081/lib/uasoutheast/reader.action?ppg=17&docID=10842273&tm=1444680173430

The John Maxwell Company. (2013) 7 Tips for Leading Your Peers. Retrieved April 13, 2017, from http://www.johnmaxwell.com/blog/7-tips-for-leading-your-peers

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Week 11 Reflection

This week was about knowledge creation and sharing, and the role they both play in healthy educational organizations. Some of the best lessons I’ve used in my classroom have come from other teachers. Unfortunately, there are not many chemistry teachers in my district, and we hardly ever get time to collaborate together and share ideas. After this week, I can see how crucial knowledge sharing is to successful educational organizations, and am encouraged by the idea of sharing more knowledge with my colleagues, both in this district and around the country.

This week Gerald, Natalie, and Josie commented on my blog. I read and commented on Tristan and Larissa’s blogs. These interactions, as well as the Twitter session and my research for my blog post, both contributed to my learning and to the learning of my classmates. Tristan shared an interesting quote about how sharing knowledge leads to a “competitive edge” for teachers. If teachers share with each other, they might have more time to work on their teaching skills instead of coming up with lessons. I know that sometimes I feel like I spend too much time trying to develop new lessons when I could be putting more effort into what I actually do in class.

Larissa shared a quote at the beginning of her post that made me think more about why more teachers don’t share: “Collaboration creates equality for all students.” This got me thinking about the reasons that teachers and administrators don’t share and collaborate? It would be interesting to take a survey of the teachers both in my school and my district to see why they don’t share knowledge and collaborate. I know the main obstacle for me is usually time, but I wonder if that is the only reason for everyone.

This week really got me thinking about how I can become a better knowledge sharer, and how I can approach the topic with my administration. I think the Edcamp idea is a great one, and would love to see a version of this sometime for a professional development day either at my school, or even at the district level. I look forward to having opportunities to speak with my administration about this idea, as well as some of the other things we’ve been discussing this semester.

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