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Cory Austen


Antigonish, Canada

Live Curious, Go Beyond_________________


Since beginning my teaching career and working at ASFM I have witnessed a huge shift in technology integration and how we deliver content.  My goal is to really 'go beyond' the tool and find the right balance between what we already know as 'good teaching' and technology integration. This motivates me in my daily work and as I try to figure this out I want to share it with anyone else who is interested!


Areas of expertise: Haiku Learning, ALEKS, Google Apps, Open  Ed Resources, Formative Response  

Tools,  Lesson planning with appropriate tools                                 

    Twitter Handle: @CoryAusten

                Website:


Blended Learning: LMS - 'Wayfinding'

posted Sep 6, 2016, 9:55 AM by Cory Austen   [ updated Sep 15, 2016, 7:35 AM ]




As we work to ‘refine’ Blended Learning (BL) during the 2016-17 school year, the TI team and Digital Teachers have decided to have a monthly BL focus.  September we will be focusing on our Learning Management System (Haiku/Power Learning) and making sure we’re incorporating best practices and providing an optimal learning experience for students.


While poking around I came across the blog post, “How to Make the Most of Your Your Learning Management System, Part 1: Wayfinding”, by  Frankfurt International School and Global Online Academy educator, Kathleen Ralf.  This short but inciteful post challenges us to re-think how we’re organizing and presenting information to students on our classroom site.  She makes a great analogy between our students ability to navigate digital learning spaces (LMS) with how we move through an unknown airport.


“Think about an airport. Most of us have probably flown into a destination where we have never been before. You get to the destination and somehow you manage to find your way... You find the ticket counter, you find baggage claim, you find the toilet, and you find your taxi. The architecture of the building, the lighting, and the signage all point you in the right direction.  How about your classroom site? Can kids figure out where to go? Do you have a structure and visuals that engage them and send them in the right direction? Do you have signs that tell them what to do next?”


Below is Ralf’s reflective blog post in its’ entirety. TI challenges you to pick one aspect of this blog post and apply it to your LMS. Please share and let us know how it goes.  





How to Make the Most of Your Learning Management System, Part 1: Wayfinding

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By: Kathleen Ralf

How many of you have been in this situation?

Student A comes back from being gone on a sports trip and asks, “What did I miss?” You think to yourself, why didn’t the child check the classroom site? Or Student B asks, “I’m going to be gone on Thursday for a sports trip. Will I need to do anything when I’m gone?”

Now, it is perfectly okay for my students to ask, “What did I miss?” But I spend a good deal of time creating online spaces for my students that should make questions like these a thing of the past. And if my students aren’t using my pages, I need to take a close look at what is on my pages. Do they actually communicate what I want them to?

Over the next three weeks, I will be blogging here about how I transformed my classroom sites from Pinterest style blocks of resources that kids never used, to a space where kids could wayfind on their own, interact with each other, and show their understanding.

While I use Haiku Learning to communicate with my students, the concepts I will be discussing are universal to anyone using a learning management system.

Let’s get familiar with the concept of "wayfinding"

Wayfinding is key when we are designing online spaces for kids. Yes, I know they are sitting in your class and you can tell them about what you are doing. But what about later? Most middle school students can barely remember last period, let alone what you said 12 hours ago.

Think about an airport. Most of us have probably flown into a destination where we have never been before. You get to the destination and somehow you manage to find your way around with little to no help. You find the ticket counter, you find baggage claim, you find the toilet, and you find your taxi. The architecture of the building, the lighting, and the signage all point you in the right direction.

How about your classroom site? Can kids figure out where to go? Do you have a structure and visuals that engage them and send them in the right direction? Do you have signs that tell them what to do next?

Here's what my classroom pages used to look like:

screenshot of Haiku Learning page

Kathleen's Haiku Learning page before she made wayfinding improvements.

Take a closer look. Where on the page would a child go if they missed class on Monday? Can a student see what we are going to do on Thursday? Is there anywhere on the page that tells a student how to use the page? And is there anything on the page that a student might interact with and leave his/her mark?

The problem was I didn’t have a clear vision of what my students would need when trying to figure out their homework at 10 o’clock at night.

Now when kids come to my pages they see something like this

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Kathleen's Haiku Learning page after she made wayfinding improvements.

Calendar. They see a calendar. They get a whole picture overview of what we will be doing each day. Of course, the calendar changes. Things happen. Some lessons take longer than I think or less time than I think. Yet, the kids still know what is coming if they want to budget their time more wisely.

Objectives. Students see the objectives of the unit or lesson. The student gets to see what they should know and understand at the end of the unit. Here is where you would place the standards as well. If using AERO or Common Core, kids will want to know what you will be assessing them on.

Order of Lessons: Each day’s lessons are in order down the page. The date of the lesson is clear. There is a visual that relates to the subject or skill we are learning about. There is a description with directions for the assignment. And if it is something they turn in, the due date is highlighted. If the child needs a text or handout for the lesson, that is attached as well.

Use space strategically: Along the side of the page are the discussions, quizzes, and extra resources they can use to gain greater understanding.

Now, these pages are good, but it doesn’t mean my students will use them. I have to do things to make sure they go there, interact, and leave their mark. I'll discuss that more next week.

Other tactics I use to help my students wayfind are:

Start each lesson with your classroom site. Project your page on the whiteboard. Give students instructions for the lesson by using the instructions you have on your page. When they go home that night to finish, they will have a better idea of what to do and where to go to find the information.

Kathleen projecting a Haiku Learning page to her students

Here's Kathleen projecting the lesson on the board.

Give the students an LMS Scavenger Hunt. At the beginning of the semester, give students a series of tasks for them to show you that they know how to find the information they will need. Also, include tasks that show they can participate in Polls, Discussions, and create a WikiProject.

Create a Student Help Desk. Create a discussion block where students can ask questions and seek help from each other. Students are online when we are not. Reward them as well for helping each other by responding to questions in the Help Desk.

How about you? Do you have other tips on how to help your students wayfind? Share them in the Community Forum!

What's next in Making the Most of Your LMS?



YouTube Video


Going Low Tech: #PalletGardenProject

posted Sep 5, 2016, 7:20 AM by Cory Austen   [ updated Sep 5, 2016, 9:29 AM ]







Pallet Garden Build Out


2015/16 Support Team Summary Team Blog Post

posted May 13, 2016, 10:06 AM by Cory Austen

2015/16 Support Team Summary Blog Post


The Technology Integration department at ASFM believes that all students can be engaged in an educational experience that compels them to "Live Curious and Go Beyond" as they discover their own "Moonshots". In our efforts to bring that to reality, we developed four teams within the department; the Support, Innovation, Motivation 3.0, and Marketing teams. Within these teams we focus on projects of various lengths with various members, mostly comprised of our Digital Teachers. As we bring the year to a close we, at the Support team, would like to share a summary of our team’s projects and plans for the 2016/17 school year.  


Map with possible PD opportunities: 3/5 This map was created as a way to provide a list of PD opportunities for DTs and all staff. It was posted in the ASFMLearns website to offer choice on innovative conferences related to education and technology. As a result of having this information, several teachers attended TCEA, NAIS, SXSW, and .EDU.


Next year we would like to build on this and make it more visible to staff and possibly work it into the school-wide PD calendar.


Learning opportunities for DTs: 5/5  A group of teachers and DTs attended the SXSW conference in Austin. Another group of teachers went on a Learning Walk and visited cutting edge schools in San Francisco while attending the NAIS conference. These visits resulted in making connections with other schools and educators who are truly innovating.


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Next year we would like to continue supporting teachers in attending innovative educational conferences and Learning Walks.


Parent Training: 4.5/5 Each year around Open House time, we’ve offered sessions for parents to introduce them to the tools their students will be using and how they can support them. This year, with the roll out of Blended Learning and Haiku, the need for parent training was crucial.  We provided multiple sessions for parents of students in all grades to guide them in creating their parent accounts and know their way around the platform. During parent-teacher conference at MSHS, a table was set up, led by TI and students, to continue supporting parents during this transition year.


Next year we anticipate the need to offer more Haiku training sessions as new parents and families join ASFM. We would like to offer various workshops to parents regarding the tools their students use, digital citizenship, and tech for parents and work in collaboration with ParentU.



BL Launch: 5/5 ASFM started the school year with the rollout of phase 1 of the Blended Learning initiative. It was important to shake the culture of the school and make sure everyone was on board and ready to take on the challenge of redesigning their teaching practices. TI and DTs prepared a big event during orientation week. All staff participated and through fun activities were exposed to ways to blend the six strands of BL: learning management system, collaboration tools, professional learning network, open educational resources, electronic portfolios, and formative response tools.


Next year we will continue to support teachers for year 2 of blended learning at ASFM through several PD sessions throughout the year and our Blended Learning 101 Course.


Promote the Circle of Tools: 3.5/5 TI and a team of digital teachers went through the process of refining our ‘ASFM Circle of Tools’.  In the beginning meetings, it was quite overwhelming as we shared N-12 tools used daily by teachers. The outcome of this process was a consolidation of ASFM tools N-12.  As Brian Hamm says, ‘there's a fine line between choice and confusion’.  When showing and discussing the Circle of Tools with DT’s and teachers, TI has found a sense of relief among teachers when these tools are made clear. It’s important to note these are the tools that ASFM Digital Teachers and TI officially support.  They are also the tools that tend to get higher priority in terms of school bandwidth.  Although these are the official tools, we’re always open to teachers exploring something new and better for student learning.


Blended Learning 101 Course: 4.5/5 During the 2015 teacher orientation, TI leveraged the school-wide Haiku Learning LMS and enrolled all teachers in the Blended Learning 101 Course.  Some teachers even took advantage of this course as it was fully open and operating during the summer holiday.  The Blended Learning 101 Course was made up of 8 units; Blended Learning, Learning Management System, Formative Response Tools, Personal Learning Network, Open  Educational Resources, Collaboration Tools, E-Portfolios and Instructional Strategies.  Each unit was purposefully designed and challenge based in order to help teachers experience a blended learning environment.  At the moment, the course is getting an overhaul to further meet the needs of teachers and our school-wide blended learning goals.  



Innovative Teaching and Learning Support Survey: NA/5 Supporting teachers is a big part of the job for TI.  This year TI has supported teachers in many ways through coaching, drop-ins, and small workshops to name a few. To be more focused and purposeful with support, TI has developed the ‘Innovative Teaching and Learning Support Form’ for all teachers to fill out.  Within the form teachers will find a variety of topics to review and decide which might be most relevant to focus on in support from TI.  Responses will be reviewed and TI will follow up shortly afterwards to discuss different ways TI can best support them.   



ASFM Goes Beyond With Google Expeditions

posted May 5, 2016, 8:12 AM by Cory Austen

ASFM Goes Beyond With Google Expeditions


On Wednesday, April 27th, various ASFM teachers and students got a small taste of

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the classroom of the future.  In 8 half hour sessions, teachers and students went on field trips where no Senda bus has gone before. They visited Mount Everest, The Seven Wonders, the Great Barrier Reef, and the specially adapted animals of the Borneo Rainforest.  All these amazing experiences were made possible through virtual reality (VR) via the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program.


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The Google Expeditions Pioneer Program is a program that is traveling the globe inspiring educators to leverage the power of Google Cardboard and take students on high-quality, guided virtual field trips.  Luckily, ASFM was one of a few schools in Mexico and all of Latin America to be chosen to pilot this innovative technology from Google.  IMG_0510.JPG





Wondering how all this works? Using cheap Google Cardboard headsets, smartphones, and a teacher operated tablet, Google Expeditions lets students experience 360-degree views of places like Aztec and Mayan Ruins, the Great Wall of China, Mars, and the Taj Mahal to name a few.  Students are free to twist, turn and explore independently, but using a tablet screen as a guided tour interface, teachers can point out important sights, add notes all while seeing an overlay of icons showing where each student is looking.  Pretty cool IMG_0070.JPGstuff!  


Although most of the Expeditions seem to be more geared towards elementary and middle school classes, the Career Expeditions could be very useful for high school classes.  Career Expeditions gives students an up-close and personal look at many different careers such as; Chef/Restaurant Owner, Civil Engineer, Coder/Entrepreneur, Metal Artisan, Public Defence Attorney and Pharmacist to name a few.


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Now, of course VR will never replace the true smells and sights of a real field trip, there is no doubt this technology will find it’s way into our classrooms in the near future.  Like any new technology, the real trick will be figuring out how we can use it to not only engage students but to give them an experience that allows for a deeper understanding of that topic.


IMG_0477.JPGTo prepare for the VR world invading our classrooms, the TI department has ordered 60 Google Cardboards to be used during the 2016/17 school year.  Hopefully, Google will have fully released the Expeditions Program by then but if not we will patiently wait while using other VR applications already on the market (Vrse, Youtube 360, Cardboard).  If you’re 

interested in exploring this in your class with your students then contact anyone from the TI department.  


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Developing an 'Innovators Mindset'

posted Apr 5, 2016, 11:23 AM by Cory Austen   [ updated Apr 5, 2016, 11:38 AM ]


Developing an ‘Innovator's Mindset’


Not long ago I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 TCEA educational technology conference in the super hip city of Austin, Texas.  Like any educator attending a  PD conference, I was looking to be inspired and I was looking for practical take-aways I could share and hopefully implement when arriving back at ASFM.  Although I was inspired by various speakers and workshops, there was one particular speaker who really engaged, inspired and left me wanting more.  His name is George Couros, author of ‘Innovator's Mindset’, and here are some takeaways I’d like to share.


  1. Join the PLN - In the connected world we live, learning is ongoing and can happen over space and time.  Since last seeing George Couros speak I’ve been able to build on that initial spark of inspiration by adding his professional blog, “The Principal of Change: Stories of Learning and Leading” to my PLN.  Click here and you too can get  in on the free series on Innovation and Leadership in Education sent directly to your inbox, as well as updates from his blog.

  2. Check out “The Innovator’s Mindset” online guide! - If there are two words that are thrown around A LOT in education these days, they are ‘innovation’ and ‘mindset’.  George Couros first book, “The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity”, gives incite, practical examples and discussion questions on how to develop an ‘Innovator’s Mindset’ and move a school culture forward.  What’s more is George has created an online space on his blog for people to ‘Go Beyond’ the written text.  He explains:


“I wanted to provide this as a space that brings the book to life, and encourage people to go deeper into what’s  in the content, as well as provide links and questions to guide any book chats on the topic.”

                                                                                                                                        - George Couros

                                                                                                                                  

Below I’ve simply copy/pasted his online chapter guides for you to take a look at.  Inside each chapter guide you will find; Chapter Synopsis, Further Reading/Exploration, Further Viewing and Discussion Questions. You can also see the chapter guides on George’s blog by clicking here.   


INTRODUCTION

PART I: INNOVATION IN EDUCATION

Chapter 1: What Innovation Is and Isn’t

Chapter 2: The Innovator’s Mindset

Chapter 3: Characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset

PART II: Laying The Groundwork

Chapter 4: Relationships, Relationships, Relationships

Chapter 5: Learn, Lead, Innovate

Chapter 6: Engage Versus Empower

Chapter 7: Creating a Shared Vision

PART III: Unleashing Talent

Chapter 8: Strengths-Based Leadership

Chapter 9: Powerful Learning First, Technology Second

Chapter 10: Less Is More

Chapter 11: Embracing an Open Culture

Chapter 12: Create Meaningful Learning Experiences for Educators

PART IV: Concluding Thoughts

Chapter 13: Are We There Yet?

Chapter 14: The Biggest Barrier and “Game Changer”to Innovation in Education

3.  Resources for All! - As a division principal in Canada and an Innovative Teacher, Learning and Leadership consultant traveling the world, George has created and curated many great resources which he gratefully shares.  You can find over 30 presentations on various topics as well as workshops he’s presented around the world on topics including; twitter, digital portfolios and digital footprint for students  and leaders.  Some other great resources he has shared include:

Revamping Professional Development

Leadership Development

Myths of Technology Series

Video Resources (Leadership, Innovation, Inspiration, Making Connections and Cool Projects)

Hopefully you find these resources as inspiring and useful as I do.  Since being at the TCEA conference I’ve been able to really deepen my understanding of what an ‘Innovator's Mindset’ is all about and hopefully you can too!


8 Tips to Crush Your Next Presentation

posted Jan 22, 2016, 11:58 AM by Cory Austen

Over the past few days ASFM teachers, admin and parents have had the privilege to spend time with educator, author, edtech consultant and die-hard Mariners fan, Jeff Utecht.  This being his second visit to the ASFM campus we were able to cut to business, bypassing the awkward ‘first date’ type feeling when hosting such a sought after consultant.   Utech’s message to teachers was to continue delivering student centered learning opportunities while parents were encouraged to have open conversations and develop a whole family tech/device agreement with their children.

Utech’s visit concluded with a one-hour session with ASFM’s Digital Teacher team.  Knowing that many of the members would be presenting various workshops and sessions at the upcoming Live Curious, Go Beyond Conference, Utech decided to leave DT’s with some simple but effective ‘Presentation Zen’ tips.  Below is a summary of Jeff Utech’s tried, tested, and true formula to offering an engaging presentation/workshop.


  1. Utecht encourages everyone to take a look at Garr Reynolds book and/or website, ‘Presentation Zen’ and apply these simple yet sophisticated ideas on professional presentation design.  “Rich images, one word, spoken content.”


  1. Coming from a tech consultant this one was a bit of a surprise, Utecht encourages to always create offline first! Jeff explained how staring into the confinements of a presentation template can quickly squash your thought process and creativity.  Get out that pencil and hipster notebook or get some idea paint and get planning on your walls.



3.  Less is always more! When it comes to a single slide design Utecht suggests no more than 5 words (36 font +) per slide, do away with bullet points and use one large image that draws on emotion.  This simple design allows for the audience to focus on what the presenter is saying rather than the screen itself.  It also forces the presenter to be well rehearsed and not bore the audience by reading from the slides.  


4.  Continuing on the overall visual theme, Utecht reminds us to put the rule of thirds into practice with our slides.  This fundamental composition principle will  make your presentation visually well balanced, interesting and dynamic.




5.  Always use black as your slide background. This is especially useful when adding quotes or inserting images that don’t take up the whole page.  Again, this takes the attention off the screen and back to you the presenter. Oh yea, he also suggest to never use anything less than 36 font!






6.  With little such few words and rich visuals, Utecht admits he’s had times where he found himself stuck for words when the next slide comes up.  He shared a great little hack to tackle this problem.  Often times he will add a few reminder words in the bottom left corner of the slide.  The font is  small enough the audience can’t read it but perfect when you need that extra reminder.  


7.  Use handouts!  Utecht highly encourages the use of either paper hands outs or better yet, digital handouts.  The handouts should include all the details (essential questions, break times, end times), shared notes, video links and other resources.  If you can these digital notes can be hosted on a website (see example) for full day workshops or on a google doc for shorter sessions.  The idea is that your presentation should go along perfectly with the handouts.  Again, this allows the participants to focus on the presenter rather than always worrying about taking notes or bookmarking that awesome video they just watched.  


8.  Learning is social! The final point Utecht left DT’s to consider in their presentations was to get people moving and talking throughout the session.  He suggested a think, pair, share  or turn and talk about every 10 minutes if possible.  The more people can share and talk about what they are learning the better.  


Well, hopefully you find this short summary of what it takes to develop and deliver an engaging presentation/workshop useful.  The beauty of these points is they also hold true for students and their presentations.  With Live Curious, Go Beyond just around the corner, feel free to contact the TI Team if you’re looking for support or presentation ideas.   



Resources:


Presentation Zen Website


Pimp Your PowerPoint Presentation


Jeff Utecht



ASFM - <Ca// To Code>

posted Dec 4, 2015, 11:14 AM by Cory Austen

<A Ca// to Code>


Mark your Google Calendars because Computer Science Education Week is December 7-13.  To celebrate this event, students from around the world are invited to participate in one of the largest learning events of the year, Hour of Code!  The video below highlights the breadth of this massive educational event!  






Hour of Code @ ASFM


ASFM students will join tens of millions of students in over 180+ nations in taking a crack at coding. Here are a few examples of how various pockets of ASFM students will participate:


Kinder and Nursery - One of the most fun ways to teach young students about coding requires no tech at all.  The ‘unplugged’ version teaches the fundamental concept of programming as a way to ‘teach’ a machine to complete a task.  In place of fancy apps and computer code we have Mr. Hamm (disguised as a robot) following a set of voice commands and directional arrows ‘coded’ by our youngest learners.  Watching our Tech Director bump into desks and walls may be something worth watching.


Elementary - ASFM students in grades 1-5 will be given a chance to take part and complete Hour of Code within their technology class. They will join millions of other elementary students around the world in what is probably their first introduction to computer science education.  


MS/HS - Mr.s Bertha Cannon’s computer science class and programming club along with the middle school tech club are organizing a week long event to celebrate Computer Science Week.  Check out the informational website designed by six grade students Allan Laiter and Ernesto Vega (contest and prizes included!). Coding a Star Wars galaxy or a Minecraft adventure may serve as a great ‘brain break’ during review week! Also, be sure to check out the ‘Tech Museum’ being offered by the high school computer science class during high school and middle school lunches.  Hour of Code, robotics demos and 3D printing will be the ‘museum’ focus throughout the week.



Why Hour of Code?


We might ask ourselves why jump-in and get caught up in all the hype of Hour of Code? Is there any true value in introducing students to such events? Well, the data doesn’t lie and if we’re preparing our students for the future  then giving them a taste for computer science education seems to be a no brainer.  



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According to the charts above and below it seems we should be doing everything we can to introduce and teach computer science N-12 on a regular basis.  Although not every student will have an interest in computer science, the job market seems to suggest it’s certainly a field worth exploring.



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In a job market that seems to be crying for more computer scientists why do we see so few students in high school taking computer science AP exams? However, it should be noted that ASFM is well ahead of the norm in most American high schools who don’t offer computer science courses or in some cases recognize it as a science/math credit.  



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After digging around it’s also important to note the staggering gender inequalities within computer science related degrees and AP exams written.  Just poke your head in the TI office during middle school lunch and take a look at the gamers and coders.  The numbers very much support the charts below.



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I guess the question to ask is how do we as an institution lower this gender gap and generate more interest for our female students?  Promoting Hour of Code and the programming related activities at the younger grades is one way to foster an interest for our female students.  However, it’s important this curiosity and interest is further supported in the middle and high school years.  With the divisional activities described above it seems ASFM is on the right path and this can only become better with teachers encouragement, support and participation.  Happy coding folks!








ASFM Circle of Tools Explained

posted Nov 9, 2015, 10:07 AM by Cory Austen

Last year TI and a team of digital teachers went through the process of refining our ‘ASFM Circle of Tools’.  In the beginning meetings it was quite overwhelming as we shared N-12 tools used daily by teachers. The outcome of the this process was a consolidation of ASFM tools N-12. Below is a breakdown of these tools into various categories.  


At the top we have what we call the ‘ASFM Circle of Tools Core’.  These tools are used on a daily basis by teachers and students. Understanding and using these tools effectively will be essential while teaching at ASFM.  



The second category organizes all N-12 Open Educational Resources (OER).  A tried, tested and true example of an OER would be your traditional classroom textbook.  Living in a digital world we now know we’re not limited to that textbook any longer.  Whether it’s curating playlists on Youtube or searching the EBSCO database, students and teachers have never had so many resources available to them.   

 

" High-quality OER can save teachers significant time and effort on resource development and advance student learning inside and outside the classroom. Further, open sharing of resources has the potential to fuel collaboration, encourage the improvement of available materials, and aid in the dissemination of best practices." - Edutopia



The third category outlines all ASFM N-12 Formative Response Tools. When incorporated into classroom practice, formative response tools/methods provides information needed to adjust teaching and learning while they are still happening.  By using some of the tools below it is possible to shorten that feedback loop that is crucial for student learning.  



Some teachers at ASFM are using Socrative (online student response system) to instantly gauge student learning or give access to the whole class’s ideas on a given question or topic.  In math classes teachers are using ALEKS (an artificially intelligent assessment and learning system) to supplement their math curriculum. The program uses adaptive questioning to determine exactly what a student knows and doesn’t know in their specific course.  Turnitin is used extensively by English and Socials teachers to provide feedback on essay drafts as well as check for authenticity and plagiarism.  Finally, there are many formative response tools built into our very own Haiku Learning LMS.  Assessments, discussions and wiki projects are just a few to get you started.  


Next we have ASFM N-12 Collaboration Tools.  As educators we all know the importance of collaboration within our classes.  Face to face collaboration can work to strengthen bonds among members and develop social manners and (non) verbal cues.  The digital tools below provide a medium for students to collaborate in the virtual world.  Combining the best of both physical and virtual collaboration with students is invaluable for student learning in 2015.  


 



Finally, we have the ASFM N-12 Personal Learning Network (PLN) tools.  A personal learning network is a group of people you connect with online, from all around the world, with the purpose of sharing ideas, resources, collaborating and learning.  The Connected Educator Month Starter Kit sums it up pretty well as they describe how, ‘...the availability of technology to make connections and to extend learning, the physical boundaries of the past have been erased and the possibilities for connecting and learning have expanded.” Simply put, you ask your students to connect and network in the physical space of your classroom but how are you leveraging the tools below to allow students to connect and network in the digital world?




Hopefully this post has brought to light the official ASFM Circle of Tools.  It’s important to note these are the tools that ASFM Digital Teachers and TI officially support.  They are also the tools that tend to get higher priority in terms of school bandwidth.  Although these are the official tools, we’re always open to teachers exploring something new and better for student learning.  If you ever have a tool that you think is worthy of this list then check out the ‘Procedures for ASFM Official Adoption of New Technology’.



Get Connected ASFM- Going Beyond the Brick and Mortar for Highly Personalized PD

posted Oct 8, 2015, 9:10 AM by Cory Austen   [ updated Oct 9, 2015, 10:15 AM ]

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What does it mean to be a connected educator?  In trying to answer this I thought of a story shared by Jeff Utecht during his visit at ASFM.  Jeff talked about his Grandfather (like many of ours) who was educated until grade 8 and went directly to the workforce.  With no public library in his town, the Grandfathers ‘learning network’ consisted only of the people he worked with on a daily basis.  For us however,  our experience is much different.  We live in a transformational time where we can continuously gain access to a broad network of experts and like minded folk in ways never before imaginable without technology.  Unlike most of our Grandfathers, we can collaborate and contribute to a shared learning experience over space and time.  


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October is Connected Educator Month (CEM).  Powered and led by the American Institute for Research, Powerful Learning Practice and Grunwald Associates LLC, CEM’s driving force is to truly connect educators in professional learning.  You can read more about their mission and goals here.  Now, I can already tell you’re wondering how you can get involved with CEM and gain FREE access to a boatload of resources.  Here are a few ways to get started today on your connected educator journey:


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Plug Yourself In

The beauty of Connected Educator Month is there are literally hundreds of PD events and opportunities happening daily and they are open to anyone. If you’re looking to just dip your toes in I’d suggest simply checking out the CEM website or taking a look at this CEM Starter Kit.  Both places are a great start and will work as a kind of choose your own adventure of personalized professional development.  Maybe you’re more of a thematic ‘big picture’ type and you can explore topics by CEM themes.  If you’re ready to dive in head first then check out the full calendar here and immediately take part in webinars, free online conferences, twitter chats and much more.  



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The Power of the PLN

If only Jeff’s Grandfather had a Twitter account!  Ha, well I’m sure he turned out just fine, however, if you aren’t on Twitter yet, hurry up and sign up!  It will be one of the most impactful steps you take towards becoming a connected educator.  Think of it as a very personalized newspaper where you hand pick the content and writers of all articles.  Once you're on Twitter be sure to checkout the official CEM hashtag by searching for #CE14.  You’ll also want to follow the official Connected Educators handle @edconnectr.  Go ahead and get on this and you can thank me later. You may also want to check out this wealth of other hashtags and handles for connected educators.  





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The next step, getting involved in the edConnectr, ‘an innovative education matchmaking service to help find collaborators, get help, or just connect’. Sign up HERE and and ‘Go Beyond’ the brick and mortar of ASFM as you build connections that have great potential to impact not only your learning but your students learning as well.  Finally, share what you’re doing with our local ASFM community by Tweeting out #asfmconnected.






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