Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Getting to Distinguised via Digital Literacy

Today, as I watched a student-created video (created on the student's own time), it was clear to me that the literacy skills our students need today (and are developing on their own) go so far beyond what our teachers are comfortable with in the classroom. How do instructional technology mentors and coaches make that message clear to educators?

Reading, writing, speaking, and listening have a whole new meaning.

Since our educators in Pennsylvania are using the Danielson Framework for Teaching, I started thinking about digital literacy from that perspective. Let's look at what Danielson says about when a teacher is considered Distinguished

(NOTE: The references below are from Pages in the PDF: 23, 27, 31, 35, 47, 59, 71, 77, 83, 87)

Danielson: Outcomes are differentiated, represent high-level learning, permit viable methods of assessment, and reflect several different types of learning. 

  •  I see digital tools written all over that.

Danielson: A teacher’s knowledge of resources is extensive. Teachers must engage students in high-level cognitive activity with opportunity for student choice.  

  • Movie? Podcast? Slides? Painting? Writing an article for an authentic audience? All of these could be teacher resources and/or provide student choice.

Danielson: Assessments should have evidence of student contribution; methodologies should be adapted for individual students. 

  • Why should all students be assessed the same way every time? Why not offer them an opportunity to communicate what they've learned in a variety of ways? Give students the chance to figure out an appropriate way to demonstrate their learning and justify their decision-making.

Danielson: Classroom culture should be a cognitively busy place with high expectations for ALL students with an expectation of HARD work. 

  • Watching this student's video certainly showed LOTS of hard work. This kid did it in his spare time. Why? He wanted to. The project was authentic. He was having fun. 

Danielson: Students assume responsibility for high quality. Students formulate the questions and challenge one another’s thinking, so that all voices are heard. 

  • When students are working on a media project, what would it look like if the students defined the rubric and had to determine what high quality looks like? Suppose they used digital tools to question each other and challenge each other's thinking? A back channel? Twitter hashtag?

Danielson: Students must have time to reflect and consolidate their thinking, so that they can be self-assessing and monitoring their own progress. Instruction should be differentiated to clear up misunderstandings, and teachers should use an extensive repertoire of instructional strategies.

  • Formative assessment tools abound in the world of digital tools. The trick is to use them to re-think instruction. How can students monitor their own learning? How can immediate feedback be given? Tools such as Office 365, SkyDrive, and GoogleDocs provide teachers with immediate access to student work. In OneNote, the ability to write with a stylus directly on the document, insert audio/and video comments into the notebook and give the students immediate access to your comments is a game changer.

As Instructional Mentors and Coaches working with educators, I believe we need to communicate the relationship between getting to distinguished and digital literacy.
(NOTE: These references are from Pages in the PDF: 23, 27, 31, 35, 47, 59, 71, 77, 83, 87)

The digital tools that our students have access to at home (and sometimes at school) provide them with the tools and opportunity for cognitive sweat. When is it going to happen in EVERY classroom? My note: Digital tools are not necessary to collaborate, self-regulate, problem solve, construct knowledge, and communicate; however, they certainly help. Deep breath.

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