Context Matters


  • ISTE Coaching Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation, indicator b: Design, develop, and implement technology rich learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.
  • ISTE Student Standard 2: Digital Citizen, indicator a: Students cultivate and manage their digital identity and reputation and are aware of the permanence of their actions in the digital world.
  • ISTE Teacher Standard 4: Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility, indicator c: Promote and model digital etiquette and responsible social interactions related to the use of technology and information

This week’s QUEST has led me to think about ways that I can use ed tech to enhance my professional development. This quarter my focus will be evaluating our Digital Citizenship Program. In my job, I am evaluating an ed tech tool that we are piloting. In reflecting on my project, I decided to combine the two, How can I incorporate Digital Citizenship lessons when giving professional development on our district’s new learning management system.

Retrieved from: https://www.istockphoto.com/vector/three-kids-working-on-computers-doing-homework-gm1150836150-311677221

My district is piloting Microsoft Teams this year. Ten teachers volunteered at the beginning of the school year to use Teams in their classrooms. They were given an professional development opportunity to introduce them to the platform and were promised an additional training prior to the end of the pilot. I have been tasked to visit the classrooms participating in the program to observe the teachers and students and give feedback to the district on how the pilot is going.

What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is a chat-based work space that allows people to collaborate and communicate with each other. Teachers can create teams for their students, schools can create teams for their staff, and teams can be created for PLC’s at your building or throughout your district. Our district has moved all of its curriculum to a team for educators to access. The goal is that students will be able to access their ELA curriculum through a Class Notebook that is housed in teams. Because this is very new to our district and people don’t always embrace change, we have a lot of work to do to teach educators how to effectively use this tool.

3rd grade using Teams

One of the classes that I visit in the pilot is a 3rd grade class. The teacher put the students into learning teams for language arts. These groups are differentiated by reading levels and discreet skill acquisition. While the teacher is working with a group in person, students are in their teams accomplishing learning tasks. The students are not placed in physical groups, rather they are spaced around the room. One thing that surprised me was that students were not getting up and talking to each other or going up to the teacher to interrupt her learning group. If they had a question, they would use the chat feature and ask their group for help. If a student was having difficulty reading the prompts, then they used the immersive reader function to have the material read to them. This class has several newcomers and they had access to the translator if needed. This class was working independently on their tasks and the groups were getting much needed small group time with their teacher. I was in awe!

6th grade Science Team

In all of the classes that I have visited, I have enjoyed the variety of learning activities that were being accomplished using Teams. One of the 6th grade classes that I observed used teams to send his students their science content. He would send them a link to an article and then have the students work collaboratively on a presentation that they would share with other groups. Unlike the 3rd grade group, these students were not allowed to use the chat feature. In the beginning, it was activated but the students abused it by chatting to each other rather than completing work. The students were aware of this and were hopeful that someday they would earn the ability to chat again.

5th grade ELA

This class was one of the last classes that I visited in my pilot rounds. The teacher used teams every now and again, and had changed what he was going to do on paper and adapted it to teams to let me observe his class using the platform. He was using a carousel protocol to get kids to respond to prompts about the text they were reading about rain forests. I thought this was a fantastic idea! I immediately thought about bring this to a PD session to show teachers how they could use teams in a really inventive way. In talking to the students about their experience using teams, I found out that the chat feature was their favorite. In probing deeper the students told me that they use the video chat from home to talk to each other. The kids told me that sometimes the content was not always appropriate. This information really alarmed me. I could just imagine what could happen if kids were not using this tool for good!

As I was filling out my observation forms, and reflecting on all of my visits with the classes, I realized that the district not only has a responsibility to offer professional development to teach teachers about this new tool, they need to offer PD on Digital Citizenship specifically targeting the way students communicate with each other.

So that is where I am now. I have discussed this with my boss and we are working on creating new PD specifically around this topic. In our district, the librarians teach digital citizenship lessons to the students. It is not enough. I think that since teachers are going to be the ones using the LMS with the students, we can’t just rely on the librarians. Digital Citizenship must be taught in context (Culatta, 2017) Teachers, librarians, and parents should be partnering with each other to reinforce the topics taught in school.

I am really excited about this quarter. We are going to do a Program Evaluation. I have chosen to evaluate our Digital Citizenship program. By thinking of DigCit in the context of Teams, this is going to help me develop stronger professional development.


  • Crompton, H. (2015, August 7). Know the ISTE Standards for Coaches: PD and program evaluation. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/explore/ISTE-Standards-in-Action/Know-the-ISTE-Standards-for-Coaches:-PD-and-program-evaluation
  • The ISTE Standards. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards
  • Digital Citizenship. (2019, October 21). Retrieved from https://www.commonsense.org/education/digital-citizenship
  • Zepeda, S. J. (2019). Professional development: what works. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Richard Culatta Keynote ISTE (2017). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9bDwuQC394
Reflecting on EDTC 6105

We spent this quarter working on our Coaching practice while reviewing the ISTE Coaching Standards. I really enjoyed this quarter because we got to practice what we were learning in real-life situations and it corresponded nicely with my new position as a Digital Learning Coach. This quarter, I paired with my last year’s 6th grade colleague. We have always wanted to improve on our ELA curriculum but never had the time while we were both in the classroom.

The unit that we wanted to improve upon was an ELA unit that used the book, Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. In the first lesson, students are asked to look at a photograph and create background information about the Great Depression and how it may be affecting the main character. We have been working with this unit for the past 3 years and each year we have tried to jazz it up.

However, this year we were aided with an amazing document called the Learning Design Matrix (Foltos, p111). This document is super handy in helping educators focus in on how they want to innovate a lesson. My partner and I determined that we wanted our lesson to focus on an engaging task, because we wanted students to:

  • Engage inactive learning
  • Find the topic fascinating, fun, passion arousing, and creativity encouraging
  • Are challenged (but not overwhelmed)
  • Apply what they learn to new, real-life problems or situations- such as Bud’s character in the novel

Although, it is not required to check off every box on the matrix, we found that it checked most of our wish list, so that is why we decided to focus on engaging task. Throughout this process, we were wanting to use a learning management tool such as canvas to deliver the content. As we moved further into the project, I was introduced to Actively Learn and thought that it would be a much better delivery system for our students.

One of the best outcomes from working together was that we were able to curate a list of articles, podcasts, and videos that we could use to bring this information about The Great Depression to our students. Time was something that was hard to come by when we were both in the classroom. Also, because we started 2 1/2 months prior to this lesson needing to be taught, we didn’t have the pressure of a quick turn-around.

Some of the issues that arose during our time working together was that neither of us new how to create an Actively Learn. Next week, our district is going to provide a special professional development on this program. We are going to work over break as best as we can to put together an intro to The Great Depression for our students. Even though, we had a lot of time leading up to this project, we didn’t get to accomplish as much as we would have liked. So my partner and I are going to do a mini-roll out and gather feedback from the students to help us craft a more robust lesson for next year.

Working together with a past co-worker was an amazing experience. She is a 3rd year teacher and has enjoyed that I have stayed in contact and have been able to coach her on this project as well as other things that have come up over this school year. I really hope that we are able to create a project that gives students a real experience that they can identify why Bud and the other characters make the decisions they do in the book. We hope to share it with other 6th grade teachers so that they can bring the Great Depression to life for their students as well.


Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Building Capacity as a Coach

ISTE Coaching Standard 2: Teaching Learning and Assessment

  • f.  Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences

ISTE Coaching Standard 6: Content Knowledge and Professional Growth

  • b. engage in continuous learning to deepen professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions in organizational change and leadership, project management, and adult learning to improve professional practice.
  • c. regularly evaluate and reflect on their professional practice and dispositions to improve and strengthen their ability to effectively model and facilitate tech- enhanced learning experiences.

This week I’m personally looking at this standard in two ways, the first as a coach needing to grow her capacity and secondly, as a coach creating and delivering PD, but not necessarily in this order. My job as a coach is sometimes about coaching teachers and other times is about providing PD. Both skills need to be developed in order to find success.

Learning for Success:

Experienced peer coaches understand that a coach’s professional learning needs to mirror what we know about effective professional development; it needs to be sustained, intensive, and connected to practice. (Foltos, p154) When I think about this profound statement I get a little bit overwhelmed. But, if I break it into parts and remind myself that it takes time and practice to get to this point, I can really reflect on it. Coaches need to keep learning, we need to keep surrounding ourselves around opportunities that will grow our practice.

In order to keep my practice in the forefront, I attend monthly coaches meetings where we practice asking probing questions, we talk to fellow coaches about our successes and our disasters and get support. It is here, in this safe place that I am reminded that we are all going through similar situations and we are all too hard on ourselves. We learn about self-care and about the phases of first year teachers. We are reminded to offer support and remind the teacher that learning to teach is a continual process of purposeful experimentation, (Lipton, Wellman, 2018) which I find ironic, because we coaches are experiencing the same phases.

Retrieved from: http://weac.org/articles/new-teacher-handbook/phases/

Another thing that I do as a coach is connect with other coaches in my field, which is enhancing learning with technology. We have a monthly TOSA meeting that I attend where I can ask about new technologies and how they are being used in their districts. This is a great way to meet and share ideas with people that have similar challenges and ideas as I do. I love that this meeting is hosted by different districts so that we get a real sense about what is going on in our surrounding areas. My district has a makerspace initiative happening in our middle schools and it was a great opportunity to connect with a district that has a program fully formed. I got to visit the school and find out first-hand how their program is successful and also find out some of the challenges that it has had.

Lastly, I try to attend local and national conferences, big and small, to learn about ways tech is being used to enhance learning. It is at conferences that you get to meet new people on a global scale and build relationships and add more tools to my toolbox. These conferences allow me to gain knowledge about new tech, micro-controllers, my pet passion- Makerspaces. These trainings excite me more than anything else and I love to take what I learn and share it with my mentees and staff.

Professional Development:

Retrieved from: https://edtechreview.in/trends-insights/trends/3450-21st-century-professional-development-for-teachers

In my position as a coach, I work with a lot of librarians and teachers. One of my job requirements is too build professional development for the teachers I work with as well as for the larger district. As a shy person, it has taken me a lot of work to become comfortable with this aspect of my job. But, I’m getting there. What helps is my willingness to learn about new things and experiment with them in the classroom and on my own time. As I am building professional development, I have to have authentic ways to show how it can be used with students. I also need to make sure that I am giving teachers enough practice time and support with the new learning.

Retrieved from: https://www.kau-eli.net/off_eli/teacher_pd.html

In preparing for this blog, I looked at a lot of articles that offered advice on what to do to become a better facilitator of professional development. IN thinking of my personal experience, I curated a number of tips that I think have been most helpful to me and some that are great reminders of best practice. The ideas come from Aguilar and Davis, but I have interjected my own spin on them.

1.Plan, Plan, Plan, and Prepare- According to Aguilar, you should spend 2 hours planning for every hour of development that you are offering. This is a step that I have learned through experience to spend more time on. I’m working with tech in different spaces and I need to be sure that I am able to handle the inevitable oops! I also need to consider my audience and prepare activities that they could use in their spaces.

2. Not too Much- Really think about the objectives that you want your audience to walk away being able to do and then backwards plan from there. Of course you can throw in a plethora of standards that can addressed by the technology and activities, but I have learned that you will spend a lot of time teaching the teachers how the tech works. When I am teaching about Flipgrid, a lot of time is spent making the teachers comfortable using it. I like to show them a couple of ways that I have used it with students, but I want to give them time to work with it and figure out ways that they can take it back to class and use the tool effectively.

3. Build on Existing Expertise- Because I am offering PD at the school and district level, I need to know what standards teachers are teaching, as well as know about building and district initiatives so that I can focus my content to work within their realities. When I am working with librarians, I make sure that what I’m teaching will be relevant to them and their students. Digital Citizenship is a huge initiative this year with our district, so making sure that we touch that with the technology aspect is imperative.

4. Ask for Feedback- In order to get more comfortable with getting in front of my peers, I actively encourage my audience to give me feedback. Davis suggests, 5 questions (I have modified that last two to work for me).

  • What did you learn?
  • What worked for you?
  • What didn’t work for you?
  • Ask me a question?
  • How can I support you in developing a lesson in which you can utilize this technology?

Regarding the last two questions: I think asking, What questions or concerns do you have for me? is too passive. Most people skip over this question. Asking them to ask a question is more likely to illicit a response because of it’s active nature. As for the last question, I want to make sure that teachers are successful. Attending just one professional development session, does not make them comfortable trying it out in their class. By having my support, teachers are less overwhelmed- thinking this is just one more thing I have to do, to wow! Someone wants to be there to help me create this wonderful learning opportunity for the students.


  • Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
  • Aguilar, E. (2014, September 18). 10 Tips for Delivering Awesome Professional Development. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/10-tips-delivering-awesome-professional-development-elena-aguilar.
  • Davis, V. (2015, April 15). 8 Top Tips for Highly Effective PD. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/top-tips-highly-effective-pd-vicki-davis.
  • https://id.iste.org/docs/pdfs/20-14_ISTE_Standards-C_PDF.pdf
Improving a Learning Activity

ISTE Standards for Educators 2.d

Model and facilitate effective use of current and emerging digital tools to locate, analyze, evaluate, and use information resources to support research and learning.

This week I was tasked with coaching a fellow educator in improving a learning activity. “Peer coaches work to improve a learning activity that is commonly used in their school…” (Foltos, 2013) I decided to work with my coachee, Gurminder. Prior to being a coach, I was on her 6th grade team. We knew that we wanted to work with the opening lesson of our Module 2 on Bud, Not Buddy. We had taught this lesson 4 years in a row, and each year we tried to jazz it up so that our students would get more out of the lesson. Foltos asks us to consider this question, “What is the context in which this lesson occurs in your curriculum?”

The lesson asks students to view a picture taken in the Great Depression era of two young African American boys. Through discussing this photograph and reading chapter 1 of Bud, Not Buddy, students are supposed to make connections to help them understand what life might be like for Buddy.

During the Great Depression, more than 200,000 vagrant or orphaned children wandered the country as a result of the breakup of their families.
Shahn, Ben. “Homeless children, Natchez, Mississippi.” Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa1997016356/PP/resource/

We have always thought that this lesson misses an opportunity for background knowledge to be built. So we were excited to have this time to transform this lesson. Our plan is to find content that will help engage our students as well as create images and connections to the novel the students are reading. We want to use technology to create something authentic and dynamic for students.

Learning Design Matrix

We took a look at the Learning Design Matrix that was presented to me by Les Foltos, (my professor this quarter). On the matrix there are four categories, Standards-Based Task, Engaging Task, Problem-Based Task, and Technology Enables and Accelerates Learning. Because we have always wanted to enhance this lesson, Gurminder and I gravitated to the Technology Enables and Accelerates Learning.

In the Technology Enables and Accelerates Learning, we selected to three of the bullets to work towards:

  • Gather relevant information, assess its credibility, and organize, analyze, and synthesize information to solve real world problems.
  • Foster student discovery of a concept or construction of their own understanding of a concept.
  • Create knowledge, share and use it with authentic audiences

We focused on these three bullets when thinking about ways to transform the lesson. The intended goal for students is to have a variety of resources available when building their knowledge so that the time period can come to life for them. That meant that we needed to curate a variety of print, video, and audio resources about the Great Depression so that students could build background knowledge and make connections to Bud in the novel, Bud, Not Buddy.

Gurminder and I spent a few days curating resources. The next steps will be to review the material, especially the videos and see how an Actively Learn can be created using this material.

So, this is where we are in the Lesson Improvement process. Stay tuned to next week’s blog to see where Gurminder and I have taken this project.Sources:


  • https://id.iste.org/docs/pdfs/20-14_ISTE_Standards-T_PDF.pdf
  • Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
  • EL Education Curriculum. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://curriculum.eleducation.org/curriculum/ela/2012/grade-6/module-2a/unit-1/lesson-1#techandmm.
Learning First, Tech Second

Technology coaches demonstrate professional
knowledge, skills, and dispositions in content,
pedagogical, and technological areas as well as
adult learning and leadership and are continuously
deepening their knowledge and expertise.

ISTE Coaching Standard 6: Content Knowledge and Professional Growth

If I could pick one ISTE standard that has become a mantra for me throughout this experience of pursuing my masters- it would be this one: Learning First, Tech Second. Towards the beginning of my program, Liz, a member of my cohort taught us this phrase. It has resonated with me since.

Retrieved from: http://www.abcmnews.com/how-technology-is-developing-human-life-rapidly/

You have to be careful to not be blinded by the glitter and wonder that tech brings. You can do so many fun and flashy things with technology. You can light it up, make it spin, animate it, and get a lot of attention for all the cool projects you are doing in your class. The kids are engaged, people want to start coming by to take a look, but it means nothing if the kids aren’t learning content. Liz Kolb, warns, “when technology leads to flawed engagement, students will eventually lose interest because they recognize that the technology is a mere trick and not actually adding value to their understanding of the content.” (2017)

In 2006, Mishra and Kholer from Michigan State developed a framework called TPACK to help educators integrate tech into their classroom. They argued that good teaching requires an understanding of how technology relates to the pedagogy and content. (Kholer, 2012)

TPACK asks educators to use their content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and technology knowledge to guide their students in meeting specific classroom learning goals.

Liz Kolb, 2017

As a coach, it is my job to make sure that when working with teachers, the learning goals are top of mind. What do you want the students to learn? After that is clear, we can discuss how we might use technology to facilitate and or showcase the learning. I am working with a teacher that wants students to learn about the Great Depression. Over the past few years, she has given them a topic and has had them research it and make a poster to show what they have learned. This model has produced learning, however, the learning has been of a singular event that has taken place during the Great Depression. We are working together to create a self paced unit that gives students choice on which way they would like to learn the content. Her goal is that students will build a wealth of knowledge of how the Great Depression was created, the consequences felt by the American people as well as around the world, and the ideas, events, and work that went into stabilizing the economy. As a final project, students will choose how they will share their learning. Below, I will demonstrate how we will use TPACK to inform our lesson design.

Image based on the original on TPACK.org

The first three knowledge areas we need to consider when thinking about this lesson are:

  • Content Knowledge (CK)— What is the scope of learning we want the students to cover? Are we confident in our knowledge of the Great Depression?
  • Pedagogical Knowledge (PK)— Think of our students, what ways do they learn best? Do we need to make accommodations for students? How can we make the content accessible to all learners?
  • Technological Knowledge (TK)— Is there a digital platform that we can use to deliver the content/knowledge to students in a way that meets their learning needs?

Next, how will these areas intersect? (Dylan Rodgers, 2018)

  • Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK)—understanding the best practices for teaching specific content to your specific students.
  • Technological Content Knowledge (TCK)—knowing how the digital tools available to you can enhance or transform the content, how it’s delivered to students, and how your students can interact with it.
  • Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK)—understanding how to use your digital tools as a vehicle to the learning outcomes and experiences you want.

It is in this last three knowledge areas that the real work lives. I found an amazing article called “Grounded” Technology Integration. The authors have taken all of the content areas and broken them down into learning activities complete with digital tools curated to help transform the learning. Below is an example of Social Studies Knowledge Expression activity types that I would like to share with the teacher I am coaching in hopes that these would be excellent ideas for her students to show their knowledge of the Great Depression. What I love about these ideas, is that there are many different ways students can express their learning first, technology second!


  • ISTE Standards for Coaches. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches.
  • Kolb, L. (2017). Learning first, technology second: the educators guide to designing authentic lessons. Portland: International Society for Technology in Education.
  • TPACK.ORG. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://tpack.org/.
  • Schoology. (2018). The TPACK Framework Explained (With Classroom Examples). Retrieved from https://www.schoology.com/blog/tpack-framework-explained.
  • “Grounded” Technology Integration: Instructional Planning … (2010). Jl. of Technology and Teacher Education (2010) 18(4), 573-605 Retrieved from https://activitytypes.wm.edu/HarrisHofer&Others-InstructionalPlanningUsingLATsTaxonomies.pdf.
I Hear You- Protocols for Actively Listening

ISTE Coaching Standard 1- Visionary Leadership

Retrieved from: https://www.articlelist.com/effective-communication-strategy-active-listening.html

This week, we are taking a look at communication and collaboration skills in a coaching relationship. I began the quest with the broad question, what are the protocols used in the coaching relationship? In my last blog, I focused on my first month in my new position as a coach. I gave an overview about the relationships I was building with my “coachees.” This time, I wanted to dive deeper into communication skills and have decided to focus specifically on the actively listening protocol. Below is a clip from the show, Everybody Loves Raymond. I would say that prior to this course and mentor training, this clip mirrored (in loose terms) my understanding of active listening.

Everybody Loves Raymond

What is Actively Listening?

One of the reasons that I want to focus on this protocol is because it is an area that I have struggled with. When speaking to others, I often find myself connecting with what they are talking about and blurt out with my “me too” story. In the coaching role, it is not about you, it is about listening and fully attending to your person. To actively listen, you have to remove you, remove the distractions, lean in and really focus on what the speaker is saying. (Foltos, 2013)

I found a actively listening survey that was adapted from Brownell, and I decided to take it. It breaks down the act of listening into 6 parts; hearing, understanding, evaluating, remembering, interpreting, and responding. I scored lowest in the remembering and understanding. This did not surprise me as I get really nervous when speaking to others, especially those I don’t know well. Instead of asking for clarification when something is not clear, I usually smile and pretend I get it. But I have found that that strategy does not work in coaching. Coaching is about understanding what the needs and purpose of the person you are working with. Below is the HURIER Listening Model breakdown. After taking the Actively Listening quiz, refer to this breakdown for helpful hints on becoming stronger in that listening skill.

Retrieved from: http://amycastro.com/effective-listening-hurier-model/

The HURIER Listening Model developed by Judi Brownell

1. H – Develop Hearing • Do not multi-task when listening—focus entirely on the speaker • Eliminate distractions • Position yourself where it is easy to hear • Postpone listening if you cannot concentrate • Be prepared to listen

2. U – Increase Understanding • Ask for clarification when vocabulary or jargon is unfamiliar • Restate to ensure that you have understood completely • Ask questions to clarify intentions • Distinguish details from the speaker’s main points • Refrain from interrupting the person speaking

3. R – Improve Remembering • Quickly identify good reasons to remember what you hear • Stay calm and focused—stress interferes with memory • Learn short and long term memory techniques • Continuously practice to improve your memory

4. I – Interpret Accurately • Observe and consider the speaker’s nonverbal cues • Listen for emotional messages as well as words • Take the context of the communication into account • Encourage the speaker • Recognize and account for individual differences

5. E – Evaluate Wisely • Listen to the entire message before responding • Apply guidelines of sound reasoning in making judgments • Distinguish emotional from logical appeals • Recognize the influence of your personal bias and values • Differentiate between the ideas presented and the person speaking

6. R – Respond Appropriately • Be aware of your unintentional nonverbal communication • Recognize how your response influences the speaker’s decisions • Distinguish among different types of response—including judgments, empathy, opinions, and questions • Expand your behavioral flexibility—make choices based on the needs of the situation rather than your habits and comfort level

Tips for Better Listening

@Steve Kloyda, 2017

Everyday I am learning about new strategies and tips to become a better listener. Here are a few that I would like to share with you.

  • Taking Notes: This has been a life saver for me in two ways. Before meeting with my “coachee” I look back at my notes from my last meeting so that I am grounded in what we have talked about and I can use it as an entry in our discussion. The second way that this has been helpful is when I am back in my office and I am addressing the topic or finding answers, I make notations on the notes in a different color to help me remember what actions I have taken. I work with 15 different schools and this step has helped me grow my capacity for remembering.
  • NO Me TOO: I have been working on this when working with other teachers. In my 15 years of teaching I have seen a lot and I love to share my experiences. But in the coaching relationship it is not the time to put the focus on the coach. We are there to listen with an open mind and not anticipate what the “coachee” is going to say. I’ve noticed that making this change has really helped me focus on what is being communicated.
  • Pausing and Paraphrasing: This has been crucial in helping build my deficit of understanding. At first it was really awkward, but practice has made it feel more natural for me. My family thought it was silly at first, but my son told me that he feels like I am paying attention to him more. My “coachees” are predominately librarians, and this is the first time that they have had someone “coach” them. At first they were not really excited about giving up 30 minutes twice a month. Now they are emailing, and asking for help, and reaching out to collaborate on PD for their teachers. I’m starting to feel like Raymond in this next clip and it’s a great feeling to have knowing that I am getting better at Actively Listening!


  • Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
  • Brownell, J. (1996). Listening: Attitudes, principles, and skills. Boston: Allyn and Bacon
  • #273: Active Listening [Podcast]. (2018, November 4). Retrieved from https://theprospectingexpert.com/podcast/273-active-listening-podcast/.
  • Active Listening: The Master Key to Effective Communication. (2017, December 29). Retrieved from https://fs.blog/2017/07/active-listening/.
  • Amy Castro. (2017, January 25). Improve your listening in six easy steps with the HURIER model of effective listening. Retrieved from http://amycastro.com/effective-listening-hurier-model/.
  • Learning, L. (n.d.). Public Speaking. Retrieved from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/paris-publicspeaking/chapter/chapter-4-three-as-of-active-listening/.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond. (n.d.). Retrieved from Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aP55nA8fQ9I and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VOubVB4CTU
Tales from a Digital Learning Coach 1 month in…

This week, we are taking a look at ISTE Coaching Standard 1: Visionary Leadership. Specifically, I am concentrating on indicator b: Contribute to the planning, development, communication, implementation, and evaluation of technology-infused strategic plans at the district and school levels.

I have a name plate!

Before I became a coach I was a 6th grade teacher that tried to integrate technology as much as I could. Because of my love of all things tech (and makerspaces) the district asked me to apply for the Digital Learning Coach position. I didn’t know exactly what my position would be, and to be honest, I am still learning as I go. I did have the experience of one year of my masters in Digital Ed under my belt… However, knowing about the ISTE standards and actually applying them to a real life position are two entirely different things. My district sent me to a Coaching Workshop put on by the state, where I learned a lot about active listening, paraphrasing, then and only then could I ask a question. And it had to be a clarifying or probing question.

On the first day of the new job, I got to meet the two other coaches that I would be working with. One used to have this position a few years ago and the other was a librarian for the district and all around tech goddess. So, there I was wondering what I would bring to bring to the table. Luckily, my district believes in life-long learners and they have encouraged me to attend as much as I need. Not only that, but they encourage us to spend 1-2 hours a week on a genius project. So I have had a lot of time and opportunities to learn about coaching.

Building Relationships

Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/2BaGVnE

I was assigned 15 librarians to work with (yes, I am told that is a lot). The first thing I should tell you is, spend the time to build relationships. A large majority of the librarians that I work with didn’t really want to give up 2 plannings a month to meet with me at first. Also, they might have wished they had the other gal who used to be a librarian. I might also add here that the district also changed their library cataloging system and part of my new job was to help them navigate it. Did I mention the other girl, who was a librarian… I had to win some librarians over that was for sure. I found a friend in my office in charge of the new system and she was gracious enough to answer my questions quickly. But what I noticed is that instead of giving me the answer, she was guiding me to the place to find it. Oh my goodness, I was being coached!

You can’t be the Expert

And that is the second lesson I learned about coaching. You can’t be the expert. You have to build capacity in the person you are working with. Effective coaches need to remember that taking on the role of expert can create learned helplessness. (Foltos, 2014) Because my colleague introduced me to the “teams channels” that librarians were discussing issues, I was able to build my understanding in order to have a conversation with them. I still ask questions, but now I am building my capacity.

What did you say? (No, you can’t say it like that!)

Now that we are a little over a month into school, the librarians have worked out most of the kinks with the new system, they are wanting me to help them bring tech to the library. This is my HAPPY PLACE! Microcontrollers, MakerSpaces, Coding, OH MY! But wait. Coaching is not about me. The job of a coach is to support a colleague’s thinking, problem solving, and goal clarification (Lipton, 2018). This is where my coaching workshop (from the summer) skills come in! I have to actively listen to what the teacher is wanting to do. Did I understand her? Paraphrase. If she doesn’t correct me, then I am on the right track.When I feel that I am understanding the situation, I can ask her a probing question to find out her goals for student learning. Probing questions try to get the teacher to think more deeply and begin to solve the problem. (Grove and Frazer)

Putting it into action

I have a librarian that is being encouraged to teach tech in her library space. Through our conversations, I have found that she is teaching a math intervention group this quarter. Together we have talked about the students levels and what outcomes she would like for the group. She wants to connect library research skills with the math content so that students can improve their skill level. Students are going to use different media (book, video, internet) to research a topic and become a master. They are going to go a step further and find out real life applications for the concept as well. After they are ready, they are going to use a form of technology to showcase the topic in order to help teach a classmate. I am going to visit during this time and help where I can and model the technology when needed.


So that is where I am at in the Coaching Cycle. I have met with my librarians and slowly I am learning what their needs are and finding out ways that I can support them with student learning. I think that most of my librarians are not wishing that they had the tech goddess former librarian anymore because they are smiling and reaching out. I am learning it’s not about telling them what to do, its about listening, understanding, and supporting them to improve student learning. And it isn’t all bad! As a Coach, another part of my job is creating and providing Professional Development. This is a place where I get to be the Expert- where I get to bring on the Microcontrollers, Makerspaces, and Coding! Oh MY, I am enjoying this job!


  • Lipton, Laura, and Bruce M. Wellman. Mentoring Matters: a Practical Guide to Learning-Focused Relationships. MiraVia, LCC, 2018.
  • Foltos, Les. “The Secret to Great Coaching: Inquiry Method Helps Teachers Take Ownership of Their Learning.” Journal of Staff Development, vol. 35, June 2014, pp. 28–31. ERIC, https://learningforward.org/docs/default-source/JSD-June-2014/the-secret-to-great-coaching.pdf.
  • Foltos, Les. Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Corwin, 2013.
  • Gann, Kara. “ISTE Standards for Coaches 1: Visionary Leadership.” ISTE, 9 June 2014, https://www.iste.org/explore/ISTE-Standards-in-Action/ISTE-Standards-for-Coaches-1:-Visionary-leadership.
  • Pocket Guide to Probing Questions http://schoolreforminitiative.org/doc/probing_questions_guide.pdf
Community Engagement Project: Amplifying Student Voice Through Flipgrid

For my Community Engagement Project this quarter in EDTC 6104, I have chosen to focus on creating a professional development on the power of using Flipgrid in your classroom. Flipgrid is a tool that allows students to respond to prompts by recording themselves and encourages them to interact with fellow students as well as with the teacher. Earlier this year I was asked if I wanted to present on an Ed Tech Tool for my school district’s back to school conference. I had been dabbling with Flipgrid in my class and I saw how powerful it could be as an alternative way to show student thinking.

I applied to present and was accepted to teach a one hour class on Flipgrid for district teachers, librarians and paraprofessionals. I wanted to make sure that my PD was informative as well as interactive, so I decided to give an overview of the tool, showcase some student examples, give the teachers time to peruse the website and have them participate recording themselves. I wasn’t sure how I would fit it all in, but I went in with the idea that having too much is better than not having enough. Last week I presented at the Talk 2019 Conference and I am going to share my presentation with you below and let you know how things went.

This is the agenda that I made to organize my professional development.
This video showcases authentic classroom stories of amplifying student voice through Flipgrid. From highlighting the power of natural voice in elementary students to building relationships in higher education to transforming dialogue in middle school math, Flipgrid is a powerful platform that enables social learning communities in classrooms around the world.

After giving participants some overview information, I wanted to give them a chance to use the tool. I asked them to introduce themselves to our group by using Flipgrid. I gave them a prompt which you will see on the slide and passed out a page to help them navigate the website. The participants were fairly shy in the beginning and I let them know that this would be how their students might feel.

My next two slides are of student example videos. Rather than showing the two slides, I would like to share a video link of how I used Flipgrid in my class. The video will show you two ways that I have used flipgrid in my class. The examples are of students facilitating a math talk using a fraction square and a flipped learning experience on figurative language. I have received permission from the students as well as their parents to share their work on my blog and in my presentation.

These are some of the ways that I shared how Flipgrid is accessible to all students.
Conference participants were asked to “check out” the Flipgrid website, specifically the Disco Library. They were asked to search ways that they could use the tool in their classrooms based on standards, grade level, and/or subject.
After the work time, participants were asked to share another Flipgrid with us. My plan is to take these ideas and curate a list to share with our district. I will check in with the teachers and see how it went, or if they needed any additional help.
My last slide had links to all of the pages that I used during the conference as well as to some other resources that would help them to get started using Flipgrid with their students. You will find these links listed below under resources.


I had an amazing time at the conference presenting on the tech tool, Flipgrid. I had about 50 participants and the hour was plenty of time for this talk. I went into the the conference knowing that this was just the beginning. I knew I wanted to have follow up sessions where we could dive into more of Flipgrids features, such as the accessibility piece and inviting experts to flipgrid with the class. Another area that I would like to find out more about is sharing what the students are learning with parents. While the participants were worried about recording themselves in the beginning, they got used to it and learned some tricks like, putting a post-it on the camera if you didn’t want to show your face, or covering it with an emoji sticker. Some educators doubled up and recorded themselves together. Participants left excited with some ideas on how they would like to introduce this tool to their class. This was an exciting and scary experience presenting for other educators (my new boss was one of the participants). I would like to continue planning and providing PD for my district and when I feel more comfortable, I would like to apply for a regional conference.


The following are resources that I shared at my presentation.

Using EDMODO to its Fullest Potential

This week, we are focusing on ISTE Coaching Standard 3 Indicator G: Using digital communication tools to communicate locally and globally with parents, peers, and the larger community. Instead of finding a brand new shiny tech tool, I thought that I might dust off one of the ones I use already and see if it can apply to this standard. So let me begin by telling you how I have used it in the past and then follow up with how I can use it in the future.

Learned Helplessness

In my classroom, I got a lot of excuses like: I didn’t write down the homework, so I didn’t know what to do. I forgot my book at school. I didn’t have so and so’s number to work on our project. I wasn’t home to work on my project with so and so. And every time, I replied, “Did you try to solve the problem?” Usually they gave me a blank stare. Then I found Edmodo. Edmodo was a huge solution chamber created for the students to solve their problems. It was really helpful for me as well, because I wasn’t in charge of all of the information- they were.

How I Used Edmodo in My Class

Everyday, I had a student take a picture of the homework and upload it to the site. I posted digital copies of all our work books and links to audio readings of our chapter books. If students were stuck on a topic, I usually posted videos to help them and trained students to post videos that they found helpful. Students used the interface to schedule meet ups or share tips with each other. As far as creativity, the students got to create their own avatar and post about their vacations and share photos with the class. These resources seemed to help the students overcome most of their issues, when they used it. So this is how I have used Edmodo for the last few years. It has been a great tool at getting my students to be self-directed learners.

This is an example of my class folders in Edmodo for the students to click on to find information.

I have done pretty well at using this collaboration tool locally (in my classroom), but can I go globally? Let’s find out.

Global Classrooms

As an extension of the more commonly used term of digital citizenship, global citizenship is about conversations and connections that will help students and teachers collaborate on shared outcomes. (Lindsay, 2019) Teachers can connect with each other through PLN’s (Professional Learning Networks) and create a special class in Edmodo that can connect your students with another classroom. I look at this like instant pen pals. Students could be researching a topic and working with a counterpart to solve a problem. Students become aware of what life is like in other countries and cultures and find out what they have in common. This is a safe way to communicate because everything is visible by the educators. In the video below, a school in Florida was able to connect with a school from Argentina, both through Edmodo and in person.

Globally connected classroom. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=190&v=17mKHFki6MY

International Book Club

Teachers and Librarians can connect with other educators and read a book together. While browsing the Edmodo blog, I found out how a librarian from Alabama was connecting her students to students in France over the love of reading. Through Edmodo, the students were able to learn about each other, practice the language, and see what real-life is like in Alabama and France, bringing them closer together.

Connect with Educators through a PLN

A lot of educators connect with each other on Edmodo. It is a great way to share content and files with like-minded individuals and meet new people. Edmodo has a “search teachers” bar where you can connect with colleagues that you have met at conferences and professional development classes. My teaching team also connects our classes together so that if a student has a question or needs to be moderated, any of us can handle that.


I think using Edmodo as a way for you to connect with your PLC is a great idea. You can add your administrators and support staff so that communication is seamless. Files could be stored and shared in this area for grade level teams. What is extra special about Edmodo, is that you can directly connect your Microsoft Office 365 and/or Google Classroom to the platform. What if your grade level across the school district started sharing what they are doing in the classroom? Teachers could collect and curate lesson plans. How powerful could the learning be then?

Additional Highlights

Edmodo is web-based as well as an IOS/Android mobile platform.

All users have FREE access to Microsoft office. This is great for students, many of whom do not have traditional access from home. In the past year, Edmodo has undergone a redesign and they are tackling SEL (Social Emotional Learning) using an app called Discover. The goal of discover is to empower students to be mindful as they navigate socially-connected educational games, newsfeeds, and meditation activities. Another benefit of this redesign is that parents can sign up for Edmodo easily when the students sign up and teachers are now made aware of that fact. Parents can see the folders that the teacher has created for students as well as what their child is posting.

Some examples of activities you will find on Discover. https://medium.com/edmodoblog/announcing-discover-on-edmodo-e96387a6c4fc

These are just a few ways that Edmodo could be used to collaborate globally with parents, peers and the larger community. For more ideas and resources on how you can use Edmodo in your classroom, check out the Edmodo Blog.


  • Blogger, G. (2016, August 03). How to Encourage and Model Global Citizenship in the Classroom. Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/global_learning/2016/07/how_to_encourage_and_model_global_citizenship_in_the_classroom.html
  • Miller, A. (2015, May 11). Avoiding Learned Helplessness. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/avoiding-learned-helplessness-andrew-miller
  • Teachers. (2019, August 13). Retrieved from https://go.edmodo.com/teachers/
  • Edmodo. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://medium.com/edmodoblog
  • /@edmodo_staff. (2019, May 22). Announcing Discover on Edmodo. Retrieved from https://medium.com/edmodoblog/announcing-discover-on-edmodo-e96387a6c4fc
  • Schools, O. C. (2013, October 25). OCPS | Glenridge Goes Global. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=190&v=17mKHFki6MY
  • ISTE Standards for Coaches. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches
Giving Students a Voice

ISTE Coaching Standards

Coaching Standard 3- Digital Age Learning Environments: Technology coaches create and support effective digital age learning environments to maximize the learning of all students. Indicator b: Maintain and manage a variety of digital tools and resources for teacher and student use in technology-rich learning environments.

How can I help teachers maintain and manage a variety of digital tools and resources that help promote student voice/agency?

This quarter we are not only concentrating on the ISTE Coaching Standards, but we are looking at them through the lens of Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy. The term culturally sustaining requires that our pedagogies be more than responsive of or relevant to the cultural experiences and practices of young people—it requires that they support young people in sustaining the cultural and linguistic competence of their communities while simultaneously offering access to dominant cultural competence. (Paris, 2012) To be honest, I have been struggling a bit in understanding what this looks like in the classroom. That is until I met Selvin at an engineering class I took this week.

Selvin’s Story

Selvin and his mother moved to the United States from Honduras when he was six years old. Selvin had a loving mother who worked hard to support him as best she could. She had to drop out of school at an early age and was unable to help her son with his education. Selvin grew up with modest means.

In sixth grade, Selvin’s math teacher gave the students a culminating project to show their understanding of the math vocabulary. He took his list of words home and decided that he would create a booklet of terms. Selvin looked around his house and thoughtfully used what was available to him, newspapers. He found his math words and symbols and patiently cut them out and glued them down on his notebook paper. Selvin carefully hand-wrote the what the words meant to him and he added color to the booklet with some of his colored pencils.

Selvin was very proud of his work and the effort that he put into the project. He thought for sure that he would earn a “B.” When Selvin arrived at school that morning, he was amazed at all of the projects. He saw over-sized posters, hanging mobiles, and dioramas, some were typed, all were brightly colored. Someone even brought in a cake!

Selvin turned in his project. A week later, the teacher returned their graded projects. As the teacher placed his booklet on his desk- she said to him that it didn’t look like he put much effort in the project. He was devastated with his failing grade. As he told his story, his eyes were welling up with tears. He said that it had taken him a long time to get over that experience.

As we sat their processing the story that he told us, each of us crushed that a teacher had made him feel this way, we asked him if he ever had a teacher that made him feel special? His eyes instantly lit up! Without hesitation he said my first grade teacher, Mrs. Lince. Selvin told us she was always positive and smiling great big smiles. He shared that she empathized with his situation and made him “feel level to everyone else.” Selvin is passionate about sharing his story with educators to ensure that we understand that everyone has a story and it is our job to learn them!

Danez Smith’s Story

One other story I would like to share with you is Danez Smith’s. In his TEDx Talk, he brings to life the power of a question.

To me, this concept of Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy is a huge one to tackle. As I am just beginning to learn about it, I have a created a “working definition” as starting place to make a conscious change in the way I teach students. What I understand Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy to mean is that we need to encourage our students to share their cultures and let them know we value who they are and invite them to express themselves authentically. When students believe their voices matter, they are more likely to be invested and engaged in their schools. (Quaglia, 2015)

So, how do we empower our students?

In the video above, Danez gives us three age appropriate scenarios in which to draw ideas from. All of them begin with a question.

Learning that is characterized by learning agency recognizes learners as active participants in their own learning and engages them in the design of their experiences and the realization of their learning outcomes in ways appropriate for their developmental level. As such, learners have choice and voice in their educational experiences as they progress through competencies. Harnessing his or her own intrinsic motivation to learn, each learner strives to ultimately take full ownership of his or her own learning.

-Education Reimagined, 2015

In my research for this weeks blog, I have come up with a few tech tools that will help level the playing field for your students. All of the tools can work with k-12 and I have shared some example projects (from the cites) that you can use with your students to promote their voice.

  1. Instead of having your students prepare a handwritten poster, have them create an interactive one using Buncee. Buncee offers multiple ways to help students visualize, voice, and communicate their learning – helping build their confidence and engagement. Here is a link showing some ideas of how you can use Buncee in your classroom.
  2. Flipgrid gives students the opportunity to develop voice and to learn how to present themselves online and to use their voice to connect ideas to their own experiences. Here is a link to a k-12 guide on how to use Flipgrid in your classroom.
  3. The visual aspect of comics, posters, and diagrams make Storyboard That an excellent tool for all students, especially English Language Learners. As written language is often difficult for students learning English, this tool helps students master concepts in all areas by scaffolding with images!

Here are a few screen grabs of some ideas that you can use in your classroom to promote student voice/agency.

BUNCEE: For all students, young ones in particular. https://app.edu.buncee.com/ideas-lab
Using Flipgrid for middle grade and older students. https://admin.flipgrid.com/manage/discovery/11873?ns&=&subjects=17&
Storyboard That:Students can storyboard what they are thinking. https://www.storyboardthat.com/blog/e/dialogue-between-two-friends

One last idea to inspire student voice

One last idea that I came across was a film project called Student Voice where students created a short film about based on a theme, ‘Activating Change.’ This is a project that I think students could work collaboratively to produce their stories. Here are three videos created by students that I think were powerful examples of student voice.

Middle Grades Winner
Film Title: In Another’s Shoes
Filmmakers: Trinity Schley, Madison James, Caleb Rackley, Charlie Le and Quang Dinh
Honorable Mention
Film Title: In My Shoes
Filmmakers: Galen Getz, Quinn Getz and Bryce Gauthier
Honorable Mention
Film Title: Split In Two
Filmmakers: Gitanjali Mahapatra 

I imagine that if a student were able to participate using one of these tools to amplify their voice, powerful learning would be happening in your classroom.


  • Paris, D. (2012). Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy. Educational Researcher,41(3), 93-97. doi:10.3102/0013189×12441244
  • Quaglia, R. J. (2015). Student voice: Ensuring a sense of self-worth for your students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
  • Spencer, J., & Juliani, A. J. (2017). Empower: What happens when students own their learning. San Diego?: IMpress.
  • Stevens, K. (2016, April 22). 5-Minute Film Festival: Student Voice and Choice. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/film-fest-student-voice-agency
  • Cooper, R. (2017, November 06). How can educators best promote student agency? Retrieved from https://www.educationdive.com/news/how-can-educators-best-promote-student-agency/508050/
  • Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://studentvoice.org/