SAMR Flexible PD Course Reflection

The SAMR Course was the second of the Flex PD courses offered for Milaca staff this school year. There were 8 staff which participated including 3 teachers from the 6th grade team. After an initial meeting of everyone, we discussed SAMR as a model for integrating technology at higher levels. Here is a link to the presentation I created and shared with the teachers. It not only provide a background, but was used to frame a discussion about incorporating technology at more meaningful levels. Teachers then were given 4 weeks to plan, implement, and reflect at least once on each level of SAMR.

For most, they discovered that substitution, while the easiest to implement, was least effective at engaging students and promoting higher level thinking skills. All of them seemed to expect this, but at the same time realized that even substitution has its place in the classroom. The augmentation and modification levels also didn't prove to be too difficult for this group of experienced teachers. In their reflections at each level, they discuss how the levels of engagement increased as the integration of technology moved from lower level enhancement to higher level transformations. Redefinition proved to be the trickiest for each to integrate. Mostly because they believed that redefinition requires students to work on an in-depth project, which happens less frequently in their classrooms. Only 4 of the 8 completed an activity or assignment at this level in the 1 month time frame. To me this says, one thing I would do differently next time would be to emphasize how to integrate at the modification and redefinition levels in 1-2 class periods, without the need for long, intricate projects. 

As with the Innovator's Mindset course, I gave a course evaluation at the end of the SAMR Course as well. 6 of the 8 participants completed the survey. Here are some of the results.

All 6 responded at a 4 or 5 level that the SAMR Model challenged my thinking about the role/use of technology in education and encouraged me to think about new and better ways of teaching and learning. Selected comment: "I have ways that I do things and need to see a valid reason to change. This made me think of those reasons."

All 6 responded at a 4 or 5 level that they would be likely to share what they learned about SAMR with another teacher/educator

4/6 responded at a 4 or 5 level that they believe greater levels of integration will have more impact on student learning in their classes. Selected Comment: "This will increase the level and depth of the projects we are doing."

5/6 responded at a level 5 (the other was 4) that they believe this was an appropriate topic for a FlexPD Course.

Only 1/6 responded at a level 4 or 5 that they believed 1 month was an appropriate amount of time to plan, implement, and reflect on each of the levels.

All 6 responded at a level 4 or 5 that they believed the reflections enhanced their learning and growth about the SAMR model and integration of technology.

5/6 responded "Yes" (the other was "Maybe") to the question about whether or not they would take another FlexPD course similar to this.

My favorite "pat myself on my back" comment: "I liked your approach to what we are trying to accomplish in these hours. I liked that you treated us as professionals and trust that we really do want to get better in our profession. When motivated and interested teachers will put in effort and learn because we want to help our students learn more and get the most out of their education. Thanks Jeremy."

Next Steps

Even though the sample size of participants and respondents was much smaller this time, I think the results show that the FlexPD course concept is one that teachers really appreciate and value. This motivates me to offer more like this in the future. I am considering offering this particular course again during second because I think it is something others were interested in, but the timing for the course wasn't right for them. The other part I would change is to allow staff a longer time to complete the course. Surveying staff before deciding on that however, would still be a good idea.

Innovator's Mindset Flex PD Course Reflection

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The book study for Innovator's Mindset was by far the most popular of the Flex PD courses I offered for Milaca Teachers as part of my Digital Learning Leaders Project. 33 staff signed up to be part of it and 22 took an active role in the dialogues and discussions surrounding the different parts of the book. It was so popular, that I am going to offer another book study during the second semester of this year. Below is some of the data from the end our course evaluation.

86.9% rated a 4 or 5: This book challenged my thinking about education and encouraged me to think about new and better ways of teaching and learning.

Selected Comments:

  • "Would I want to be a student in my class?" This is what challenged me/will challenge me the most! I don't know if my answer would always be yes :(
  • I’m not a risk taker and it challenged me to think about change and how important it is because the kids are changing and so is what they need to know in the future.
  • Easy, positive read! Helped me feel I am doing right by my students
  • I feel like it raised the bar for quality, relevant, engaging, purposeful teaching/learning
  • I feel he used 30 pages to say what he could in 5. It was a lot of fluff.

69.9% rated a 4 or 5: How practical and useful was content from this book for what you teach and/or your role in education?

Selected Comments:

  • This book would be practical for anyone in education not just teachers.
  • Real stories & examples
  • The book is both theoretical and practical, theoretical so that it can be applied to any educator and includes practical examples to help spur one's thinking for their own context
  • Slightly difficult in primary grades.

90% rated a 4 or 5: How likely would you be to recommend this book to another teacher/educator?

Selected Comments:

  • The books does get you thinking about what you can change and how it might benefit your students.
  • Some people simply do not want to change, those who do I would recommend it.
  • I wish I would have had this at the beginning of my career
  • Again I feel like it raised the bar for quality, relevant, engaging, purposeful teaching/learning
  • I think this book is good for teachers in the general education setting.

95.7% rated 4 or 5 that the book was an appropriate selection

Only 8.7% rated 4 or 5 that one month was an appropriate amount of time.

91.3% rated 4 or 5 that Google classroom worked well as a tool to deliver the content.

82.6% rated 4 or 5 that the discussion questions were meaningful; 69.5% rated 4 or 5 that the activities were meaningful

78.3% would definitely take another similar FlexPD course; 21.7% were maybe; 0% No

I think these results are extremely positive and mean that we should continue to offer opportunities such as this for teacher to grow and develop professionally. As a result, I will continue to offer future FlexPD courses.

Next Steps:

I think the evaluation results also suggest some areas to develop in the future. Here are some of my next step ideas.

  1. Survey the entire teaching staff to find out what FlexPD opportunities they participated in so far this year, what topics or areas would like like to see future courses developed in, and if there are other people that would be interested in developing and facilitating their own courses.
  2. The book study is a very popular topic. I would like to explore ideas for the next book, which might include getting a bulk purchase rate so it would save people money.
  3. Teacher time is valuable and in short supply. More time needs to be given for teachers to read, digest, and reflect the content of whatever book is chosen.
  4. Continue to promote the positives of Flexible PD. I still hear people complaining about having to use outside of school time to complete it. 

The FlexPD Project

What is Flexible Professional Development? In Milaca, it is an opportunity for teachers to personalize their professional development. Teachers are given 15 hours, two contracted days, to engage in growth opportunities in areas of interest and need. While this learning must take place outside of the contractual teaching day, teachers are being paid for their learning and professional development. We are in our first year of the program. There have definitely been hiccups along the way and missteps to learn from, but to me, possibilities greatly outweigh the needs for improvement.

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In an effort to provide opportunities for staff, I decided to offer three, 7.5 hour FlexPD mini-courses, which focus on areas and topics I thought teachers might be interested in. The concept of the mini-courses originated in discussions with Ashley Protivinsky, @AProtivinsky, my Digital Learning Leaders Coach from TIES, who I am working with as a part of my project to develop and deliver Flexible PD courses to Milaca teachers. As part of my personal growth, I plan to reflect upon each of the offered courses in future posts located in the Digital Learning Leaders Page of my blog.

I decided to kick off the courses with a book study on the best education/teaching book I read in the last year, Innovator’s Mindset, by George Couros. It is a fantastic and inspiring read. The other reason I chose this book was because of the large #IMMOOC (Innovator’s Mindset Massive Open Online Community) group that formed on Facebook, Twitter, and the Couros’s website, http://immooc.org/,  which supported book study participants with ideas on how to connect the content of the book with practical integrations for classroom teachers. Because of this, I was able to borrow heavily from the ideas and prompts discussed online, and relate them to the experiences Milaca teachers share. The second course is a SAMR technology integration course. After an initial meeting with teachers about SAMR, teachers will spend 4 weeks creating, implementing, and reflecting on how they have tried each of the levels in a class with a lesson or activity. The third course is on Flexible Learning Spaces. This one will begin with the sharing of articles, videos, and ideas about Flexible Classroom and School Environments, then it will be a chance to share ideas, with the opportunity for the more daring staff to begin the process of transforming their classrooms to make them better areas for student learning.

Once the courses being offered were decided upon, the next thing I had to consider was facilitation of the course. In Milaca, our staff is familiar using Edmodo and Google Classroom as an LMS. I decided that Google Classroom offered the best opportunities for discussions and collaborations. I divided the Innovator’s Mindset book up into its 4 parts and created prompts for teachers to reply to and to comment on the replies of others. I also plan to use Google Classroom for the other courses being offered. It is an easy platform for teachers to use without much instruction or direction. It is also great for teachers to see how the LMS operates from a student perspective.

Finally, I needed to get teachers to sign up to be a part of the FlexPD mini-courses. To market the market them, I wanted to use a technology tool that teachers might see as useful, so I created an Adobe Spark Page. I entered in some content about each offering, included some visuals, and created links to be used to register for the courses. I then presented the FlexPD course opportunities at staff meetings in both the high school and elementary. Additionally, I have been sending out emails about 1 week before the new classes as a reminder that there is still time to sign up.

I am very excited about the possibilities and I look forward to sharing more results from the project in the future.