This past week, I was challenged to show my work when it came to the prototyping stage of my design project. I chose to share my work on Twitter, but I wanted to reflect deeper here. To recap some, the design project I am working on is to design a professional development model that works for the staff at my school to learn more about technology. At first it seemed like a pretty simple task, but then I dug into the empathy interviews some and realized that my first thoughts were not aligned with what my edtech staff needed.
When I looked deeper into what my edtechs were wanting, I found out that they really needed some time to play around with the student end of the tools. When I was thinking of PD before, I was thinking more teaching how to use the teacher side of things and paralleling student views; essentially helping teachers see how to implement it in the classrooms. But my edtechs don't need that. They need to be able to learn how to do what the students are doing so that they can better help them when they are using the tool in class. That is why I got the idea to give edtechs separate times to play with technology than teachers. Here are the 2 prototypes I have come up with.
The first calendar alternates working with teachers, then working with support staff. The second calendar has time for teachers, time for support staff, and then a time to get together so that they can collaborate. Right now I am leaning toward prototype two because my empathy interviews showed a want for sharing a collaborating (and as a newish teacher, I learn so much from my support staff). During this process, I reached out to others to see what had been successful for them, I was hoping for more responses, but I did get two back that help back some of the ideas I had been having.
I knew that with either schedule I chose, I was going to have to send out a survey to my support staff to see what tools they would want to play around with. I called the survey Technology Playground as when we get together, a lot of it will be that hands on playing with me and another staff member around to guide if needed. IXL, Google Classroom, and Quizlet were among the most popular to play around with, and because of that, I will make sure they are offered more frequently. The ones that were not so popular, Flipgrid and Screencastify, I will sprinkle in along the way so those who want to play can.
I am excited to share my ideas with our Curriculum Coordinator and really bummed that I can't actually try anything out until 2019 starts. This is a problem that I really want to get to the bottom to, and I think the work the I have started will help me tremendously. During this process I also found out that somedays all it take to show your work is a little goal setting, some reading, and oh yeah, even some productive procrastination!
Working with 6th graders, I think that a great way to help them develop empathy in a design project is to interview possible users. However, that also imposes my problem as 6th graders do not have strong interviewing skills. This would be something that we would have to practice before we would be able to use it on a user. I think that I would start out with the questions that they generate, and then show them that by asking how/why questions that they can get a lot more information. I also think that there is power in an online interview, as it helps gather data on what students would want to ask for their deeper questions. I have found in my own empathy process that having the form data has helped me to pick specific users to interview and helped to guide some of my interview questions. The first time we practice our interview skills, I think I would want to approve their questions before hand. Not only will this help make sure that no insensitive questions slip through, but it will also help me identify who may need more help with this skill. After that, I think the next time they would be able to do it in groups, with one of the students being the question checker. I am thinking that using Flipgrid would be a good platform for this, as there is a feature where you can leave your question and the other class can respond on their own time. This would help with any time zone problems.
After reading Act 2 of Ellen Lupton's book Design is Storytelling the two models I chose to use for my empathy work was the Experience Economy and the Emotional Journey. I used the Experience Economy because I wanted to know where I should be aiming to go when teaching technology to teachers. I then used the Emotional Journey because I wanted to try and anticipate some struggles that might come along when teaching.
When it comes to the Experience Economy, student engagement is what we want and is the base for wanting to use technology. SOOOO the product that we give them is computers. When we start using computers, students are either learning to use them on their own, or they are doing simple replacement tasks. However, this doesn't get to the engagement that teachers really want. In order to do that, we need them to experience the technology by making different products and using the technology to help shape their problem solving.
When I started to use this empathy model, I didn't think that it would turn out this way because my challenge is to teach teachers, not students. But, I did realize that people will be in class because this is the ultimate goal when our students use technology.
The Emotional Journey turned out to be more of the process that I thought it would be. I really wanted to think about what some of the low points in the learning would be. That way I could be prepared for them and help teachers get over the dip (because if they keep dipping, they are not going to want to come back to class.) It was during this process that I realized that I am going to need to include a feedback loop and not just from me, but from peers as well.
Next step in my emotion/empathy work is to interview 3 of my peers. I am going to choose these peers from my survey I did in my discover process. I am hoping to interview an edtech, someone who wants a lot of tech interacts, and someone who doesn't need/want as much tech interaction. I am hoping that choosing these 3 paths that I will get a better view into how to shape the class and the learning!
Today I began my week long trip into Digital Citizenship. Around this time each October kicks off digital citizenship week. This year, I decided to embrace this week with open arms and tackle it with my 6th graders.
Everything went well with my first group. We worked through Common Sense Media's Rings of Responsibility unit. While this is scoped towards grades 3-5, I started here as my students are coming up with nothing on this front. Then came my second group. Everything was going fine and then came the question, "what ring does I will not call people mean names" came up, and to one of my more challenging students. What I got back "what if I don't like them and they deserve it?"
Insert jaw drop. I was so excited to be diving into digital citizenship, that I had forgotten that some of my students don't know how to be regular citizens. Some of my students, especially at this age, are so focused on the me. They hurt ME, so that means it is okay if I hurt them back. I am hoping some of these lessons will help them realize the connections, but I see some empathy work in our future.
Stay tuned for day 2!
How do students get to a problem worth solving? I think that the first step to that is to have them list down any problems they might see. I would also pose this question in different ways as they may think of it one way, and not another. Plus, they might start to see patterns. Examples:
"What do you wish the school did?"
"What problems do you see in our school?"
"What are some things you like about school? Dislike?"
I would have students start off with this independently, and then pair up and share. At this stage, students should highlight and circle problems that seem similar to them. Once that step is complete, I would have them report out and record on the whiteboard. Depending on what I was doing, students would then choose which problem to tackle, or vote on one to tackle all together.
This process could work for something that isn't school related as well. Just replace school, with the idea you want them to tackle (world, culture, society).
After this problem creating process, I would more than likely have them create a poll and then do the 4 corners sketch that I did in my previous post.
A need in my school that needs filling is helping coworkers learn about technology and how to use it in their classrooms. Our district doesn't have a technology specialist/integration teacher. Because of this, different classrooms use different levels of technology based on how comfortable the teacher is with it. Many of times I have had colleagues come up to me and ask how to use something or express that they wish they could do more in their classroom with it. However, time becomes an issue and opportunities are missed.
Enter my design project!
The strategy that I used from Design is Storytelling was this four corners continuum. On one line I put the big one, frequency. Some colleagues want more frequent, others was less. Looking at the learning styles of those that showed interest, the other line I chose was passive - interactive. Most colleagues said that they learn best by doing, so I figured that would be a good line to include. I believe that when we hit most frequent and interactive that is the sweet spot for my staff's learning. For me, this would look like a blended environment. It would almost combine all of the other boxes and allow staff to choose their commitment level. Those who only want to pop in and listen can do so, those who want to interact with me and try out new practices can have that too!
After completing this 4 box exercise, I am very excited to start working on the finer details of what a blended learning environment will look like for my staff at my school. I have some more Google Form data to search through, but I think that this is a good start!
After reading one of my classmates posts, one thing that I was left to reflect on in my own practice was this: If no two things in the world are the same, why do we expect our students to produce the same results?
I have always known that no two things are alike, but I had never thought about what the process means in my teaching practice. I have the students fill out the same organizer so that they can all create a similar final project. However, that final project might not fit some students. That is where the practice of choice comes in. I never thought of choice as how it links to, "no two things are the same," but it is true. Different students make choices for different reasons, and when they understand who they are as a learner, they are making the best choices for themselves. So why do we expect them to all make similar projects? Design Thinking opens the end project up to so many things. It is the perfect fit to how, "no two things are the same." As a teacher, I need to start leaning into the uncomfortable because no two of my students are the same and no two students show their learning in exactly the same way. I need to start thinking and leaning toward the SQUISH!
After reading chapter 2 of Steal Like an Artist by: Austin Kleon, there are 3 guiding principles of creating that I was able to draw out.
Principle 2 - "Pretend to be making something until you actually make something"(Kleon pg. 30).
It is okay to not know what you are doing, but give yourself some confidence! Pretend you got it, and it won't seem as hard. One day, you will actually get it!
Principle 3 - Be a Good Thief!
It is okay to steal some information, just be nice about it. Look to multiple people for inspiration. Give credit where credit is do; honor your inspiration (Twitter shoutout anyone?). And make it yours. Start with what your mentors have taught you, but then make it your own. That way they can steal from you!
My name is Jessica Meservey and I am a 6th grade teacher. There is no level that I would rather be teaching and learning with. I currently teach in rural Maine. I love to integrate technology into my classroom as we are 1:1. Find me on Twitter at @MsMeservey.