Classroom Walkthrough Google Style

Posted by Michael Graham on February 4, 2014

Cartoon person walking with Google Classroom walkthroughs (CWT) give administrators data. This data is important for providing relevant professional development to the teaching staff as well as a good way to be involved more in the classroom. Since we have implemented CWTs we have seen gains, but the data was slow and cumbersome to disaggregate. Paper forms had been the norm, but at the beginning of this year we implemented a Google Form for CWTs. The transition has been spectacular. The data is coming in faster and in real time. I am able to share it with the assistant superintendent and superintendent easily and that gives me justification on how to spend the precious professional development dollars.

 The use of a Google Form for CWTs is not for building administrators who “Cant handle the truth.” The results are live and in your face. As we developed our CWT instrument we thought that we would shine in many areas. The form does not lie. Be prepared to see the truth in the data.

For example checkout some of our data below.

When the data comes back to the spreadsheet Google will automatically create graphs. Follow the steps below to access the Summary of Responses.

  1. Open the associated spreadsheet that collects the form data
  2. Click Form
  3. Click Summary of Responses

As you can tell we need some work on technology integration. It is a slow process for my new school but we are on the right track. I am a new assistant principal that prides myself on my technology integration chops. The data does not lie. I am not having as much impact as I should.

Truth alert! Our English Language Arts teachers have the highest percentage of master’s degrees and national board certification. As administrators we tend to visit the good teachers more to reaffirm our great impact on our teachers as the instructional leader.

In the link below I have shared our CWT instrument with you. Please take some time to evaluate it and modify as necessary. I have outlined some steps so anyone with a Google Account either through a school managed domain (@yourschool.org) or a Google managed (@gmail.com) domain can access.

  1. Click the link here to open the form.
  2. Click on File, then on Make a Copy.
  3. The form is yours to modify!

To find out more about Google Forms and how to use them in the classroom, read my book, Google Apps Meets Common Core published by Corwin.  Also, check out Survey Templates Ready to Administer Using Google Forms right here on portical.org!

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Moonshot Thinking

Posted by Sheila Grady on October 20, 2013

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the Moon near the leg of the Lunar ModuleAt our TICAL cadre meeting last week, we watched the “Moonshot Thinking” video from the Google Solve for X project. Visually and mentally engaging, this video will spawn deep conversations among your colleagues. In celebrating creativity that is the hallmark of great leaps of progress in the human race, it challenges educators to face the question of why the creativity of children decreases as they move through our school system.

Resisting my teacher habit of giving a list of questions to start discussions, I invite you to watch the video for yourself, then check the links below. As you do, picture a child you love and imagine how different their life would be if the creativity and motivation to learn of his/her kindergarten self could still be intact when he/she graduates from high school. I am sure you will know how to present this to your colleagues for discussion.

 

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Wait, wait! Don’t evaluate me.

Posted by James Scoolis on October 5, 2013

Man holding up hands, I have been evaluating teachers for 21 years, all the way back to a time when I was required to assess a teacher’s hygiene and appearance as “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”  Thankfully, we have progressed as a profession.

Charlotte Danielson’s work that synthesized research on effective teaching and put it all together in a rubric form was published in 1996.  It took several years for her work to make its official way to San Luis Obispo, California, where I work as an elementary principal.  I know that for years, many administrators here were unofficially using her work to evaluate the work of teachers.  Eventually, the district made the leap to accept the four domains (planning, classroom environment, instruction, and professional responsibilities) and 32 components.  Just two years ago, we abandoned “satisfactory/unsatisfactory” ratings in favor of “unsatisfactory, basic, proficient and distinguished.”

Last year was our pilot year for collecting data/evidence of teachers’ work as it related to specific components and then scoring with the four level rubric.   Data collection was all done by analog scripting and note-taking.  When it came time for us administrators to write up our evaluations, we were faced with collating and reviewing piles of handwritten feedback cards and two-column legal pad notes.  Hearing the complaints from administrators on increased workload and time commitment, our district purchased a software solution called TeachScape.

Seven uninterrupted hours?

There are three components to this software.  One is a series of videos of teachers teaching with commentaries on how the video evidence relates to the rubric. All of us were required to watch the videos and then pass the assessment piece at the end.  What I didn’t know was that the assessment piece itself requires seven hours of uninterrupted time!  I arrived at this point in the training module a few days before school started.   Well, it’s a month later and somehow those seven uninterrupted hours have eluded me.  Nonetheless, having made it through all the videos, and given my previous experience with the framework, I feel qualified and calibrated at this time.

The second component is a digital communication system for sharing data and observational notes with teachers. Implementation glitches abound.  First of all, it’s tough when the software is not intuitively designed.  You know what I mean?  (Apparently Apple engineers were involved elsewhere when this product was designed.) To their credit, the TeachScape folks are attentive and helpful.  They actually answer the helpline when you call and speak understandable English! But there are terminology problems.  What I call a walk-through is, to TeachScape, apparently something much more structured.  And I am just now trying to figure out why I would have to “schedule” an informal observation—wouldn’t that make it formal’?

Missing modules?

In addition, it seems our district hasn’t purchased all the right modules that allow us to input data. I don’t want to start the arduous process of entering all my handwritten notes and observations in one place and then, at the end of the year, find there are two different systems to collate. These issues may be solved by our new personnel director, who has taken over as the single point of contact for getting questions and glitches addressed.  She calls the helpline on our behalf, and she is learning the system along with us.

TeachScape’s third component?  At this point, I do not know exactly what it does.  Heck, I’m still looking high and low for those seven uninterrupted hours.

How will this all end up? Who will save us?  Will we be saved?  Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Evaluate Me!”  Coming soon!

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Infographics

Posted by Lisa Marie Gonzales on August 25, 2013

Infographic of Infographics
Infographic of Infographics Source: Zabisco

Have you been impressed as I have by the myriad of infographics on sites like Zite, Pinterest and even Facebook? Wow!  So many are impressive, and I assumed professional designers were hard at work designing them. Then I discovered dozens of sites that allow infographics to be made by your average every day administrator, teacher or student.

Not so new

Infographics are those splashy pictures that transform complex principles and data into easy-to-understand graphics. And believe it or not, there is some solid theory around the use of infographics. Go all the way back to 35,000-4,000 BC when cave drawings and other symbols and pictures were used to communicate ideas. Some of these might have looked decorative in nature, but the intent was to prepare training rituals for the young, report the results of daily work (how many deer were killed on the hunt), and other practical purposes. From there, letters emerged that formed language and then graphics. Let’s not forget the work of Leonardo daVinci who worked diligently to chart mathematical, astronomical, and geographical information.

Fast forward to modern technology and you can make your resume come to life in just a few minutes, but let’s not jump head too quickly.

Value

The world of social media, flashy websites, and new apps have pushed us into the information explosion, where some sort of pictorial representations are needed because text overload could do us all in. Think about when you pick up a newspaper (yes, for the sake of this discussion, pick up a newspaper!).  Where do your eyes gravitate?  Headlines?  Article text?  Pictures?  Graphics?  Cartoons?

Research on infographics says that text-and-graphic combinations better transfer meaning than either text or pictures alone.  The combination allows our brains to process information more quickly and are retain it in the long term. Infographics are also great for right and left brain coordination.

Create your own

Ready to try making some infographics of your own to use with with colleagues and students?  Here are some sites I recommend.

Start with Visualize.me, particularly if you have a LinkedIn account. The tool is still in beta, but I have huge expectations for this site as an easy go-to for pictorial representation of a traditional resume.

Simile Widgets (http://www.simile-widgets.org/) is an open source tool you can use to design different types of data visualizations from exhibits to time plots.

Many of us know Tagxedo, but might not consider word clouds to be true infographics.  Yet what’s nice about Tagxedo is its easy of use and the ability to manipulate data into your selected shapes and easily save in different formats and sizes.

Finally, just for fun, Intel’s What About Me? can be used to access your Facebook profile and identify the percentages of time spent posting about certain topics.  Here’s the result from my own Facebook data!

Lisa's
My “What about me?” Infographic
Click image for larger view.

 

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Leaders of the 21st Century

Posted by Sandra Miller on May 28, 2013

The sign on the door today, usually in block capital letters, is the same: PRINCIPAL.  Yet, as I used to say to everyone, “The job is so different now!”  For the 15 years I was a principal, that statement remained true as the role evolved to accommodate new technologies, new ideas, and new requirements.  Never has it been truer than today.Cartoon of 21st century school administrator

Our current digital age is rapidly changing the role of the principal and the roles of all leaders in our schools.

  • Can a principal really be effective without a smart phone?
  • Is a blog or Twitter account necessary to keep parents posted on what’s happening at school?
  • How can leaders make the Internet and appropriate learning technologies available to all students?
  • How can we best provide professional development for teachers tasked with facilitating personalized learning?

It’s a challenging list of questions and it continues to grow.  Today’s leaders—superintendents, assistants, principals, and support personnel of all types—are working to become 21st Century leaders.  National, state, and local conferences (Leadership 3.0, CoSN, CUE, and ISTE come quickly to mind) focus on leading the learning through digital technology.  TICAL provides online resources and free workshops across the state to help leaders meet the new demands.

Now a special, new type of certification is being offered throughout California and elsewhere.  Called Leading Edge Certification, the program focuses on how to effectively utilize technology tools, resources and innovative solutions.  School and district leaders learn critical skills such as how to infuse innovation, create optimal millennial learning environments, develop digital citizenship, and evaluate online and mobile learning programs.

Learn more about TICAL’s certification program that will take place this summer.  Certification is also available through ACSA’s Innovative Technology Academy.

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