Coach Better: Community Engagement

Ever since I completed the Eduro Learning Micro Credential back in June I’ve made a conscious effort to stay connected (in some capacity) with my mentor Kim Confino & the Eduro Learning Team. The unique program was a valuable experience in which, similar to COETAIL, contained loads of personal and practical professional development. Upon completion, I was left wanting more. So here’s my story….


Sharing our Stories

The Coach Micro-credential in itself was great and the regular Google Hangout sessions with my mentor made courses even more tailor-made and practical but, when it ended my school still had no official coaching role. In addition, I would later be told that there were also no immediate plans to add one next academic year. The reality of the situation was that I would most likely still end up moonlighting as a tech coach here at my current school and go back to my day job as a Kindergarten teacher.  Although I was okay with the given situation I still fancied the idea of continuing to develop as a coach and a global collaborator.  Shortly after my initial cohort had ended Kim unveiled some creative ideas to help me stay connected to the Eduro Learning Team and continue to grow professionally. Still hungry for change upon competition, I was enticed by the opportunity do more. Being a part of the first cohort allowed me to move into a new role now that a new group of educators has begun their own learning journey. (Cohort 2)

Back in September, I took part in a video conference with the new cohort.
Speaking from more of an advisory role, I touched on my experience with the program and shared some things that work and what didn’t work

You can review that video below here: 

Leaning on the fundamentals of the COETAIL program, I wanted to continue to explore the potential of utilizing my PLN.

With that in mind, I  decided to play a role in helping get a brand new Twitter chat up and running. The proposed chat would work in conjunction with a  Youtube Channel that the Eduro Team was producing on behind the scenes.  The focus was to help others become better coaches and leverage our network of coachings and connect coaches of any discipline throughout the world through one common hashtag, #coachbetter.

The rest was history…


The Inception of The #Coachbetter Slow Chat

The idea of implementing a Twitter slow chat was a great idea as it provided me with a constant stream of professional development and opportunities to expand and utilize my PLN. I now had found a way to continue learning and growing as a coach all way connecting with others and proposing some interesting questions sparking deep dialogue along the way.


Phase 1: “Slack to the Drawing Board”

Towards the beginning of this venture, I was introduced to a new platform called Slack. It was here where I would begin working closely with  Jana @jpoukka, a current member of the Coach micro credential. Jana and I worked together to align with Kim’s vision with a practical feedback loop that pushes our PLN towards a Youtube Video podcast and then later to a Twitter Slow chat.

Keen to learn more and stay involved Jana and I began harnessing learning and pulling from the video podcast to help us develop new content for the Slow chat.
Below is a snippet of our brainstorming.

 

 

After two chats we reflected on our challenges, choices, and changes as we all looked for ways to improve.  For example, we began with five questions but soon felt as if that was unsustainable with only two people running a weekly chat.

Luckily, it was also around this time our team began to grow.

We were joined by another fellow Eduro Learning graduate Verena @blaho_blaho. This helped us share the workload and provide Jana and I with another person to bounce ideas off of and help enhance our team.

Verena brought in a wealth of knowledge on coaching and relationships. Not to mention she also brought along her own PLN that would soon also be introduced to our chat thus helping our community grow.  To this day we all continue to communicate and feedback to one another on Slack about best possible questions and how continually grow our audience.

Outside of the Google Ecosphere, which takes top prize collaboration and workflow,  Slack is the best platform I’ve used for collaborating, sharing content and ideas.  It simplifies communication so that one can focus on workflow. Also, the ability to add apps such as Google Drive, DropBox, & RSS feeds provide depth and increased productivity. Slack is also the preferred platform for another community engagement project I’m involved in called #PubPDAsia.  I cannot say enough good things about this platform and I’m grateful that I was introduced to it through my COETAIL / Eduro  PLN.

For those new to Slack or those considering learning more about it. I’d suggest you start here. The Definitive Guide to Slack for Organizing: What is Slack, and Should We Use It?


Troubleshooting, Timing, & Teamwork

With the intention to overcome time, space, & teaching loads, the #Coachbetter slow chat team (we gave ourselves that name) set out in the face of adversity to assimilate and make #coachbetter a success. The first obstacle to overcome was time zones. Janna who is based in Germany, Verena who is based in Singapore,  & and Kim and I based out of  Thailand, all agreed that a slow chat worked in our favor. The next obstacle was sustainability and reaching an authentic audience. 

When Verena came along we discussed with Kim the idea of scaling back and attempting making the questions more geared to a wider audience (beyond coaching). We experimented using different hashtags and tagging different PLN members in our photo.  I even attempted to make the tweets more alluring by incorporating some of the visual literacy takeaways  I learned from COETAIL Course 3

As we ironed out the kinks, it was Jana who took the leading role in organizing and allocating us the days to tweet out our questions. This really helped us divide up the workload.

In addition to our new proposed timetable which was communicated over Slack, we also used Google Slides as an additional structure to brainstorm ideas from the podcast, collaborate in real time, and push out the #Coachbetter tweets. Using Canva for the slide background and pre-made cards by Kim we found ourselves collaborating and creating a new Google Slide for each weekly episode of the video podcast.

It took close to three months of learning from our mistakes before we were able to assemble, organize, and produce like the well-oiled machine that is the current #Coachbetter slow chat you see today.  🙂

In the near future, we’ll have the opportunity to speak in depth about the challenge, choices, and changes we’ve endured along the way when the #Coachbetter slow chat team joins Kim on the video podcast for our very own episode! ( Talk about inception!) I’m curious to see how we will promote and push out tweets about this one 🙂

Having said that it will fun and rewarding to reflect on the early day of the chat and even before it’s origin. Taking this vision on board and collectively turning it from theory to practice wasn’t always an easy feat, but everyone onboard continued to persist and pick each other up over the course of the first month which looking back now can be viewed as somewhat turbulent.

In the video podcast, we will all most likely discuss the challenges, peaks, and valleys of collaborating from afar to achieve a common goal so #StayTuned  🙂

Looking back it was Coetail’s course two final project, (which you can read about here) really prepared me for this type of Global Collaboration. If I didn’t gain that necessary experience and work through the challenges and obstacles that that course presented than I would have felt very ill equipt to face those challenges throughout the #Coachbetter  collaborative learning journey.


In the meantime, if you notice the #Coachbetter hashtag in your Twitter newsfeed drop us a line and share your expertise. Each week there is a new video podcast and new slow chat. I am extremely grateful to be a part of this and have thoroughly enjoyed working with Kim, Verena, & Jana.  I personally have found Twitter chats in general to be the best way to keep my finger on the pulse of all things educational and innovative. Now that I am behind the scenes of one that is up and coming, I’m finding it even more rewarding.  Coetail’s collaborative and community-based approach to learning has inspired me to continue to seek out, lean on, and learn from my PLN. Ultimately, it was my experience with COETAIL which allowed me to realize the importance of being an inspired networker and an educator.


 

 

 

Final Wonderings?

What platform do you prefer to use when collaborating and communicating?

What part of Coetail has inspired you the most?

What Course 5 challenges did you face along your own learning journey.

Thanks,
@NicholasKGarvin

Smashing Apps & Flipping the Script with Video

 

  “Ultimately, flipped learning is not about flipping the ‘when and where’ instruction is delivered; it’s about flipping the attention away from the teacher and toward the learner.”

– Brian Bennett 


Flip the Switch and Flip the Script

I recently participated in a World Read Aloud lead by with the assistance of 28 other teachers.  Sean tweeted out the link to a Google Slide where teachers could each read a page of the story and then record themselves reading their page on Flipgrid. I’ve always been keen to jump aboard global collaboration projects and I’ve to learn more about Flipgrid for a long time, so I decided to give it a go. After a bit of rehearsal, I recorded my first Flipgrid video. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to use. Also, it felt great to take part in such a cool experience with so many other educators. By the time the story was finished, there were 30 teachers covering 6 continents & 224,355 km pg to pg! Have a look and listen below!

This experience not only provided me with #FlipgridFever but also inspired me to think up different ways that I could use the app or a combination of multiple apps in my Kindergarten classroom. I want to make the learning age appropriate and provide them with an authentic audience. It was then when I realized that Flipgrid might be useful for our guided reading groups. Being that I teach Kindergarten I knew that combination of something new with something familiar would have to first be scaffolded.   I’ll start small and make it relatable to the guided reading routine they already know.  In similar fashion to how I took part in the World Read Aloud, each one of my students will read and record a page of their guided reading book. The story in its entirety will be uploaded to Flipgrid and saved in a video format. At first, we’ll begin by using the reading groups within our class. Then we will expand outward and merge with the other Kindergarten classroom.

I’ve already discussed this plan with my colleague. Our collective plan is to organize the leveled reading groups from both classes to encourage cross-classroom collaboration and increase the number of recorded e-books.  Once finished, the video can then be uploaded to Book Creator where students can collectively create and add images from the story. Eventually, the students can save and upload their final product to SeeSaw.  This Book Creator +SeeSaw  will provide my students with a wide authentic audience and allow them to work together and with students from another class. They will also be using their digital skills acquired throughout the year to navigate communication and creation apps such as Book Creator and SeeSaw.  Once uploaded to their SeeSaw journals the students can seek feedback from family members and seek to reflect on and refine their work.


Reflecting upon Reflecting

As an Early Years teacher,  I need to be flexible, responsive. reflective, and adaptable. This mantra is simply the nature of Kindergarten. Using student reflections to guide my classroom teaching and lesson planning has always been a massive cornerstone of my educational philosophy.  Now, with the likes of SeeSaw, Flipgird and Book Creator, I’m able to provide my students with the proper tools to do the same thing with their learning that I’m currently doing in Coetail with mine. Having a blog to look back on has been a wonderful reflection tool for me, it’s allowed me the possibility to create, reflect, refine and my communication skills. It’s also allowed me to experience and work through ideas that may not have ever come to fruition if it weren’t for the feedback and influence of others.  So, having said that, I’d like to have some form of archived media that will allow my students to generate the same benefits.  The select media that I believe would be the most effective, given the age of my students,  is video.

For all students, the power of video, specifically when used in combination of digital tools such as SeeSaw and now Flipgrid will allow them to reflect on how far they have come on their individual learning journey. In this specific case it Kindergarten student’s reading journey.  The use of video and the ability to record, rewatch a and share these videos also provide them with the authentic audience, this being both their peers and parents. The ability to give and receive feedback on SeeSaw has been an ongoing process that we have been establishing all year in my classroom. The parents are really buying into it and in turn, it’s motivating my students thus creating the perfect feedback loop for everyone involved.   

These specific book recordings provide students with a powerful learning opportunity to showcase growth as well as provide objective evidence for everyone to reflect upon. Looking at my own practice, my professional blog has been a very powerful tool and an evolving reflective learning journal that has helped me grow as an educator. Like my students, when they look back on their SeeSaw learning journals, I’m able to do the same with my Coetail experience.  I’m able to see how my ideas, writings, and communication skills have evolved from my initial blog post to now. I too participate in that same feedback loop, as my students and parents do.  Thanks to other members of this cohort and anyone else who comes across this blog on social media, I’m able to reach an authentic audience and receive authentic and meaningful feedback.  That same feedback loop has encouraged and inspired me to try to new things, take risks, and remix ideas or concepts so that they can fit into my Kindergarten classroom, like what I did after getting inspired by the @worldreadalouds idea.


Kinder Created Content Libraries

Once merged with our guided reading program, the videos take on a whole new level of importance. They can be shared, saved, and reviewed as we begin to create classroom e-book library.  As the students move up to different reading levels they will be placed in a different group and can record another story within their new group. This will also provide parents with evidence of their oral language, reading fluency, and comprehension skills. It will also serve as a digital learning database showcasing student grow and persevering individual content knowledge that can be used to help other students of varying reading levels. 

After some scaffolding and practice of blending together our tech and literacy skills, I can begin to embed the use of videos into other daily aspects of our curriculum. I know that a full on flipped classroom approach would not work for me due to the age level of my students, however, perhaps a partial flip or somersault classroom would. My main goal is to create student-made content libraries that extend beyond a single discipline. I’d like to include phonics and Math lessons and allow my students to help me co-create something similar to Khan Academy.  Keeping in mind the flipped philosophy and the age of my students I’ll need to modify it into something that meets the needs of my students and their situation. Here’s a video by Dan Spencer explaining the benefits of creating a digital content library for students.

First, I will start by creating a few phonics and math lessons of my own and record them on the iPad using Flipgrid. Following the same procedure as our guided reading recordings, over time, I will hand over that responsibility to my students. The end result will show not only collection of Kinder e-books read in their respective leveled groups but also the beginning foundation of other transdisciplinary learned content. 


A Personalized Classroom

As teachers, we’re now equipped with more tools than ever to help promote personalized learning.  A simple Google search can bring about a plethora of ideas and articles on how to transform your classroom.  For example, here’s access a Google doc with a massive collection of Flipped Classroom resources.  Beyond the catchy phrase, it’s important to note that a Flipped classroom is a mindset and not simply a method. With unlimited amounts of potential in this age of information, it’s vital that we as teachers remain willing to adapt and adopt that mindset by taking creative risks that continue to enhance and inspire learning. Salman Khan did this as he harnessed the potential of today’s digital tools and combined it with vision. The result shook up the entire education system and revolutionized student learning. It was years ago when I first encountered Salman Khan’s TED talk and I remember being inspired. It was weeks ago that I was inspired once again by Sean Ford’s @worldreadalouds idea.  I’ve come to believe that inspiration breeds innovation when coupled with the right resources and the right mindset.


Final Wonderings

What feedback in the form of thoughts, questions, or concerns do you have on the idea of me embarking on this venture?

What is the best use of classroom time?

What experience do you have with a flipped or blended classroom approach?

Thanks!

@NicholasKGarvin

Remixing The Art of Storytelling

For sale: baby shoes, never worn. 

The following six words have been attributed to Ernest Hemingway and his concept of flash fiction by telling a story with the minimum amount of words possible.

Hemmingway may have changed the game with his six-word novel, showcasing his art of storytelling but, Hemmingway never had access to emojis. Could you imagine the vividness?  What if we remix Hemmingway’s initial challenge and state the question “Can you tell a story using only 6 emojis?” Let’s think about that one…. could you?  I bet you can. I bet you’ve semi-accidentally accomplished this in the past without thinking much about it.  Similar to how video killed the radio star, the emoji along with memes, vlogs, vines, and video uploads have nearly obliterated text and completely remixed the art of storytelling. 

I proposed this emoji questions to my Kindergarten students when they were tasked with explaining their holiday adventures using only emojis.  Can you tell a story using only emojis??

What resulted were very detailed and thorough recounts that were not only fun for others to decipher but engaging and exciting for my students to create.  From the perspective of a Kindergartner, visuals allow for more depth and enhance their stories sevenfold.  The act of choosing their emojis also made for a fun and level playing field where both ESL students and native English speakers could fully express themselves.  It was here when I realized how much of the world is moving in the same direction, towards embracing visuals. From hieroglyphics to emojis; we’ve circumvented all the way back around.   🙂

If you’ve needed more proof that the world is moving towards visuals just look at Facebook’s  1 billion dollar purchase of Instagram. They know that this generation is becoming increasingly interested in producing its own visual content. With the likes of social media, mobile devices, photos, and videos the entire landscape has changed and we have completely remixed the way we consume (and produce stories.) And it’s not just a trend, there is a biological factor that lies deep within our love for visuals.  We’re are much more wired for visuals than we are oral storytelling or print on a page. David Jakes touches on this a bit in his opening paragraph of this blog post titled “Towards a Framework for Visual Literacy Learning.” when he makes the internet analogy of “a dial-up connection from the ear to the brain and broadband from the eye to the brain.” David also came up with awesome ideas of using other mediums such as Google Earth,  DNATube and or StartYourTube.com and to incorporate visual literacy.

The ability to navigate and create on more than one platform is exactly what our students are now doing in this new remix culture. The meme is a great example of this as is video blogging. Nobody wants to be a Hollywood movie star anyone. Ask anyone under the age of 15 and they’ll tell you.  They all want to be a Youtuber. Many of them already are. Video Blogging has been so successful that Youtube has installed a Creators Academy which teaches the basics of editing, sharing and thumbnailing.


Modern Versatility & Shareability with Filmora

Before becoming a teacher, my original university major was in Mass Media and Telecommunications, so it goes without saying that I have found feeling for creating and editing video content.  Although I started my video editing venture with the traditional analog AB roll, that has long been ruled obsolete. Looking back now it seems like such an archaic way to create a piece of work. Once you’ve spent hours creating it, don’t even think about sharing it with others unless you bring your VHS tape to their house and politely ask to use their VCR.  

Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Panasonic_AJ-D350_20020110.jpg

Flash forward some 15  years later and now it’s easier than ever to produce a film.  So much so that some have even been shot and edited solely on their smartphones.  These days loads of people gravitate towards iMovie, however, for the past three years, I’ve been using a software called Wondershare Filmora.   Far from the AB roll I began on, this iMovie alternative is inexpensive, open sourced, and extremely easy to use. The fact that it works on Windows, Mac, & mobile devices make it already more versatile than iMovie. Filmora has many other advantages over iMovie. So much so that about a year back, I presented this Google Slide during a Speed Geeking session at my previous school.  Have a look! 

I’ve have used videos in which I’ve created from Filmora in the classroom on multiple occasions. Whether it is for reflection, assessments, or simply to celebrate and document learning,  the use of videos have always been a cornerstone of my teaching practice.  This one, which has already been shared on Youtube,  was a way for me to document our EY inquiry into making paper.


The other video below was shown at a Primary School assembly. Its purpose was to emphasize the concept of perspective by showcasing what it “a day in the life” of an early years student looks like. 


The Timelapse video below showcases an example of some of the large ongoing projects that my preschoolers took on during our inquiry into outdoor learning spaces.


My most recent video was created earlier this week.  Its purpose was to celebrate Multi-cultural Day and the diversity of my Kindergarten students at UWC Thailand. 

I plan to upload this video onto SeeSaw to show parents and use it as a reflection piece to show students once they return from mid-term break.

No matter the purpose, images, and videos to me have always felt like the most authentic mediums for showcasing and representing student learning. It’s great for assessments, reflections, and provocations. When the controls are handed over to the students, creativity, student voice, and a plethora of digital skills ensue.


Final Wonderings

With all of the excellent and innovating ways teachers are using videos in the classroom,  with the likes of Flipgrid, SeeSaw, Bookcreator & Youtube,  I’m curious to know what ways you embed and promote the use videos to enhance learning in your classroom?

Also, are you on team iMovie or do you have another personal favorite when it comes to video editing software?