My Learning Diary On MENTEP MOOC By Anna Laghigna
I live in Udine, a small town in Italy situated to the north-east of Venice.
In my opinion BYOD can prove more efficient if our focus is on developing 21st century skills. By bringing their own devices, students can simultaneously work on the same task. Nearpod, for example, is an excellent tool to share multimedia materials with the class, but there are plenty of free, online tools in the Cloud that can be used to record lessons and share information with everybody in class, even to collaborate remotely.
I feel this is an authentic challenge for today’s teachers. I understand that it is important for my own professional development, but also in order to find new ways of meeting my students’ needs. Integrating technology in the classroom is for sure a good way to innovate teaching and have a positive impact on my students’ learning.
I like the idea of using e-portfolios. My own blog is sort of an e-portfolio for myself, in which I record and upload examples of my students’ final projects. In the very end, I think that they are also a record of my own work.
A couple of years ago I had my students keeping their own blogs. My goal was to provide them with a tool through which they could metacognitively reflect on what they had learnt and then be able to compare it with the initial stages of their learning, see where they have developed new competences, and identify areas for improvement or further learning.
I have recently tried to integrate more games-based learning in my teaching. I guess it can be efficiently used also for teachers. My only concern is that playing is immersive and therefore quite time-consuming!
Anytime I introduce a new topic or design a new activity I first ask myself this question: “If I were one of my students, would I enjoy doing this activity?”
I think it is very important to reflect on the impact that our teaching will have on our students. I always try to adapt to their needs.
I absolutely need my students’ feedback: they are the ones who can benefit or be negatively affected by my teaching.
Especially when we are trying to innovate and integrate technology in our teaching practice, we need to hear constructive comments in order to feel reassured that what we are doing is actually producing a positive impact on the kids.
What's more, asking our students for feedback shows that we care for them and that we are listening!
I always finish my lessons asking if they had enjoyed such and such activity. Or, if they have found useful that particular tool. Sometimes I launch a poll on Edmodo and ask them to provide anonymous feedback.
At the end of the year I also assign my students an anonymous questionnaire and ask them to evaluate my teaching through rubrics. They have always done that very seriously and have provided me with some very useful tips, which I could never ever have thought about without them.
At the beginning, you do not grasp the purpose of so much work. Assessing can be very time-consuming. If you are doing that for a peer, you first need to delve into his/her teaching context and try to figure out how the lesson plan or teaching activity can be improved. That’s not easy if you are doing it seriously.
Moreover, one is often worried about hurting other people’s feelings. We are obviously used to evaluating our students and are not that willing to accept other people’s criticism. However, it is from constructive feedback that we can learn and improve.
As Caroline reports in her video introduction to Module 3, many teachers on the course said that they would like to engage in self and peer assessment on a regular basis, but there are various obstacles: a heavy work-load and lack of time; a lack of self-confidence and a fear of criticism; and a non-encouraging school environment that doesn’t always encourage reflection or collaboration.
I'm looking forward to discovering new resources, rubrics and online assessment tools that are specifically targeted at teachers with the aim of helping them reflect on their technology enhanced teaching skills.
The Teacher Mentor is a free, online service for teachers aimed at guiding them in their self-reflection about how they use technology for teaching and learning. It is based on the Self-Review Framework offered by the National Association of Advisors for Computers in Education in the UK.
There are 4 areas:
- Pedagogy and ICT;
- Digital Production;
- Digital Communication;
- and Digital Judgement.
Within each area, there are 3 to 4 sub-areas. For example, under the area of Digital Judgement there are the following sub-areas: privacy, ethics, intellectual property rights and source evaluation.
At the end of the self-reflection survey, the system informs you of the level you are at in each sub-area, and offers you advice on the next steps to take to improve your level.
The framework is based on a 5-level scale of digital competence. By completing the survey, teachers can identify the stage of the process they are at, and what they need to learn to reach a higher level of competence. Each level (from 1 for beginners to 5 for advanced) contains several statements concerning teachers’ knowledge, skills and attitudes in relation to a particular aspect of technology-enhanced learning.
Also available are graphs in different formats which visually illustrate in which areas you have a particular strength or need for improvement. The survey results are saved, so that you can go back at any time and review it. Teachers are encouraged then to re-take the survey once they have had the chance to implement the advice offered so they can see how much progress they have made.
These are my reflections on the MENTOR self-assessment tool
What is useful and less useful about it?
It's been the first time for me to use a self-assessment tool for teachers. I have often used rubrics to evaluate my students performance as well as for peer assessment, but never applied the same technique to myself if not on Moocs.
It was definitely useful, although a bit abstract. Rubrics for students are generally more specific and task-based. I appreciated the fact that this tool aims at encouraging self reflection, but it probably remains too general and does not actually gauge the level of digital competence through simulations or in real teaching scenarios.
What did you find difficult or unclear, and why do you think that is?
The survey was not particularly difficult nor time-consuming. However, it was not very challenging, either. All is based on mere reading, with very little interactivity. Rubrics are quite long and detailed, with several overlapping statements. I would prefer shorter items, and yes/no questions that could clearly identify the level of competence achieved by a teacher.
It would have been really interesting to try out also the Greek system, which is apparently based on questions more than rubrics. I think their focus on simple questions and complex “stories” to describe authentic situations in the classroom could be a more objective approach to effective assessment.
Were you surprised at the levels you reached?
Not really, also because there is no expected surprise. The survey is meant to be a subjective reflection and it obviously lacks objective measuring. I was, however, surprised by the report and the encouraging suggestions provided. Honestly, I have never seen myself as a resource for my school, but for my students!
Did you find the advice offered useful?
Yes, to some extent! The invitation to make myself available to my school administration is easier said than done in Italian schools. Taking up an active role and being a mentor to other teachers sounds risky to me, as it might not be well received by some fellow teachers. Innovators are not that welcome in Italian schools! Newbies in particular are supposed to keep a low profile, at least in the beginning!
On the other hand, I found the advice to participate in national and international projects as quite relevant to my present state. After many years of continuous learning, it's probably time for me to get involved in international cooperation and a wider network of colleagues. I feel I might also be ready to take up a leading role.
What will you concretely now do in order to act on this advice to improve your level?
I will continue to share my knowledge with other teachers. This is something I have always tried to do through my blog, on which there is already a whole page dedicated to spreading inspiring ideas for teaching. I feel, however, that one had better not insist with others if they are still so skeptical and resist anything that sounds new!
I am aware that teaching others how to use digital resources will be inspiring also for me. I will try to offer my services also outside my school.
Set yourself a target by when you will implement these steps and retake the survey to see if you have improved your level.
I have been thinking of entering eTwinning for quite a long time. What has stopped me so far is that I have changed school almost every year. I will also try to use my teacher connections on Edmodo to start short-term projects with other schools abroad. This is my first target! As for the others, I don't really know... too many factors are involved, including Italian notorious, non-encouraging bureaucracy.
Similar self-assessment tools for teachers
Tiina Sarisalmi suggested a tool that is currently used in Finland. Cristina Ivaldi sourced also a presentation on Slideshare. Thank you both.
Design Science is different from Science in the sense that in Science you're thinking in terms of explaining the world, Design Science is trying to make the world a better place really.
What a fascinating, inspiring vision of teaching!
I completely agree! It is probably also one of the reasons why most of us love teaching! Doesn'it echo anything in your mind?
The Learning Designer encourages teachers to "articulate their pedagogy. For each bit of activity that you get the learner to do you have to categorise it as being one of six types of learning.
There is a drop- down menu through which teachers can design if their students are:
- learning through acquisition,
- learning through discussion,
- learning through investigation,
- learning through practice,
- learning through production or
- learning through collaboration.
The pie chart offers a visual representation of how balanced activities are! If you realize for example that you are dedicating too long to acquisition and not enough to collaborative learning, you can decide that you want to add more of that to your lesson plan.
The pie chart shows if activities are well proportioned.
I find that the specific colour coding is very useful because it makes you aware of where your time is going. It helps me reflect more clearly on the type of learning experience that I am creating for my students.
I would like to get my students to learn in a more collaborative way. I will try to design more and more my lesson with the aim to empower them and make them more independent, also through online learning activities, i.e. Flipped Classroom. I agree with Diana when she says that:
If you get your students discussing things online prior to coming to the class, then they're doing something which puts them in a much better position to make the best use of the class based activity then they would have if they were just sitting reading something.
Diana's top tips to carry out effective peer reviews?
- Use different rubrics
- Make sure that the lesson plan has a good, well defined, learning outcome
- Check that the learning outcome is well aligned with the activities that have been designed and also with the assessment of those activities.
- Look for what kind of feed-back the students are going to get.
- How good is that feed-back? Who are they getting it from? Is it from a teacher? Are they getting it from another student? Is it self-assessment, is it something coming back from a computer program?
- If the students are really capable of doing the designed activities or whether they should be led in more gradually.
As part of their preparation for the ESOL First Certificate, they are learning how to write a review. Instead of having simply write reviews, I have asked them to create TACKK webpages on their favourite film, complete with some copyright-friendly images and film trailer. Learning by Doing has been the perfect occasion to teach them also about Creative Commons licenses and fair use in web content creation.
They are working on their projects these days. So there is still a lot to be done!
They are also peer assessing each other, using an online rubric which I have created on Google Forms.
Their response is amazing!
Peer Reviewing fosters active learning!
They are learning collaboratively and exchanging valuable feedback! It is unbelievable!
After hearing the phrase peer review repeated at least a hundred times during this Mooc, I decided to make an extensive experiment in class. It's far exceeding my expectations!
- This is authentic communication in the foreign language;
- it continues beyond classroom walls;
- it helps develop team spirit and build up self esteem among teenagers;
- it integrates the use of various digital tools and eLearning;
- it is a way to introduce complex issues like digital integrity and digital citizenship.
- It helps students develop 21st century skills through collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, responsibility, etc