Global Citizenship Learning @AIS-R

Here it is! My first ever iMovie. I hope this summarizes Global Citizenship Learning this year at AIS-R in a way it deserves!

After creating my final video for this course, I can say that our school has transformed this year in its understanding of Global Citizenship and I feel that I have been a positive contributor towards this outcome. The amount of evidence of learning and understanding I had to go through to create a video was very overwhelming because of all that was shared so far this year. I honestly feel that I would need a video that would be closer to an hour to a give true justification of how much work our teachers and students put into their learning.

 

With regards to our goals with Global Citizenship learning this year, I feel that it is clear that we accomplishing what we set out for and beyond. How engaged the students have been throughout the process and their efforts towards increasing their understanding has went beyond expectations and I am excited to see where it will go next. Students and teachers have moved towards a much more global mindset and are looking to take action on issues they care about and making sure that action is as sustainable as they can make it because they want their action to make a real difference.  

 

Technology has played a key role in making this all possible. The collaboration on google docs, creating videos and presentations through research have been very effective ways for all students, teachers and administrators to communicate. Also, students having the ability to connect with real organizations that are already deeply involved in Global Citizenship awareness and action online, has been a very helpful part of this process. This allowed students and teachers to see where they can start in order to contribute and things they can do to make a difference. Tech has been a very efficient way for students to get ideas and get involved.

 
This process has not only been very beneficial for the students, but also for the teachers and administrators. I personally have learned a ton this year and my understanding of Global Citizenship learning has increased exponentially. It has been a great learning experience being a leader in this area as well, and I am also excited for my next steps towards contributing with continuing to deepening our understanding at AIS-R.  

Who Needs Face to Face These Days Anyway?

Being in my new role as Middle School Assistant Principal this year has given me a great opportunity to work with different leaders from different divisions of the school and has allowed me the opportunity to become a part of the ‘big’ community picture at AIS-R. This has also led to a great opportunity for me to learn effective ways to communicate in an online community. Working with other administrators and teachers in different divisions can lead to be difficult when working on big projects and becomes even more challenging when working with students in other divisions. Timings are different and everyone is very busy with their normal day to day work and routines. This can make it difficult to organize the amount of face to face discussion needed to fulfill all the requirements and details of the amazing projects we’ve worked on as a school this year.

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Under these circumstances, Google Docs has become an extremely effective tool with all of its amazing capabilities that allow highly effective online collaboration and discussion. For all the project teams and task forces I have worked with this year, using Google Docs has allowed me to become an involved collaborator and contributor in the many online communities I have been a part of. HERE is one example of a Google Doc I was involved with that was a key part if the process that was a key component in constructing a large school wide project that was designed to showcase the everyday life at our school. This project was large scale and had more moving parts and detail than any other project I have ever been a part of.

 

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I truly believe that without having access to the technology used in organizing and communicating within this project, it would have never have been as rich and complex as it was. I think many others would also agree with this statement. Having an online document to both work from, visualize from and clearly communicate from, live from anywhere allows us to accomplish major task as an online community. 

Using Google Docs has been my primary source of online collaboration in my new administrative role this year, but as I continue to become more literate with Google Docs and see it’s effectiveness, I am also looking to embrace more opportunities with online communities in order to enhance my learning and communication as an Educator. I am also in the beginning stages of growing my PLN with Twitter and as I get more involved I am seeing how creating an online network will help me generate many more thoughts and ideas that will help me continue to develop Global Citizenship understanding at AIS-R. Here are some examples of how I have begun to use Twitter to help promote Global Citizenship thinking at my school and also get my name out into the digital world with my involvement in Problem Based Learning in Mathematics at a NESA conference. This is a next step that this CoeTail course has helped me commit to and I am excited to see where it will take my learning. 

Thus Far…

Creating a video that captures the essence of where our school is with our Global Citizenship learning has become a far more daunting task than I originally thought. Where do I start!? All of the great things we have done so far this year has been overwhelming to sift through and… oh yeah, I have to do quite a bit to get my video editing skills up to par as well.

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Developing my final project has come with great timing since, with all the hard work our faculty and staff has done, our school has just received its International Certification from the Council of International Schools. They base this on how far our school has come with embedding global citizenship its culture. Finally being able to step back and reflect on where we are at this point, I feel that everyone is blown away at the work we’ve done. I also get the luxury of feeling like a high contributor and am very excited about all that I have learned this year. This makes me, although nervous, about my final project, also excited to put a glimpse of all we’ve done together in a snapshot so new teachers and students can see what they will also be able to get involved in at this school.
A few examples of the many highlights that are giving me ideas to include are, our school’s biggest project of the year #thisismyschool, which encapsulates all that we do in a very creative and global way, our TEDx event, where many of our students created thought provoking talks and our global citizenship student panel, where students discussed many of their thoughts towards global citizenship and the benefits and challenges of becoming global citizens. Once again, these are just to highlight a few of the many amazing things our school has accomplished this year and I am looking forward to spreading the amazingness.

Shining a Light on Global Citizenship

My final project for my CoeTail course will be to create a video that tells the story of Global Citizenship at AIS-R. As an administrator at AIS-R I have had the opportunity this year, to play a role in the development of Global Citizenship within the school culture, which is something that I feel has now been established as a foundation and will continue to build in the years to come. As an international school it is only relevant that we, as a school community, take on our responsibilities of modeling being active global citizens as well as embedding this into our school mission and vision. This is a key component to ensure our students are exposed to and given the opportunity to develop the understandings, skills, values, and mindset involved in becoming a global citizens themselves. My favorite quote from Robert Fulgham states, “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” Here is the UBS Planner I used to assist with delivery of the lessons and goals for Global Citizenship learning this year.

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Being a member of the AIS-R community has allowed me to be a part of a tremendous team of teachers, administrators and students who certainly took the idea of embedding Global Citizenship into our school culture to a level above and beyond. This being said, I feel that capturing all of this great work and allowing other teachers and students who are becoming members of our community a glimpse of the aspect of our school could be very helpful as part of the orientation process. It will paint a picture of what they can expect coming into our school in terms of Global Citizenship.

It will be a very difficult task taking all that has happened and putting it all together in a video that is clear and paints the proper picture of what has taken place this year. However, in the end, I hope I can accomplish something valuable that contributes to the ongoing success of our school community.

Course 4 Final Project

For my Course 5 final project, I am still deciding on two possible options and since I’m now an administrator I’m finding that coming up with a project is a little more tricky. Considering this, I am inviting lots of feedback and suggestions from anyone who reads this post. The first option, and one that I am leaning towards the most, has to do with our Global Citizenship initiative at AISR this year. As the Middle School Assistant Principal, I have taken on the majority of the responsibility for our Advisory program, which we are striving to make more meaningful and purposeful. Along with this, I have also become part of a project team that is focusing on creating lessons and activities to build awareness about global issues and understanding towards Global Citizenship. So far I have made it a priority to create activities and lessons for Advisory classes to build awareness and the feedback has been pretty positive. My thoughts for the project would be to continue this and try to take the learning and involvement from the students to the next level.

How I envision doing this would be to use the following two learning goals for both our students and teachers:

  • Teachers will understand that learners come to the classroom with valuable knowledge and skills based on their individual experiences and cultures
  • Students will understand that improving their critical thinking, problem solving, perspective-taking and research skills fosters the mindset, skills and values of global citizenship
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Both of these goals are taken directly from UNESCO and I feel that they fit in perfectly with what we have learned in CoeTail so far. To meet these goals effectively, teachers will need to play the role of facilitator and students will need to use technology to demonstrate their ability to improve their understanding of global citizenship, using both forms of PBL. Using global issues as the main idea for this learning also brings ‘Challenge Based Learning’ into play. According to NMC this could be used as a multidisciplinary approach towards reaching these learning goals that would encourage students to use technology they use in a very purposeful way. It would enable them to investigating and possibly even taking action with real world problems they will be learning about. Using technology, students will also create products that reflect their understandings of Global Citizenship based on the UNESCO themes.

Considering these goals will be targeted during advisory class, brings a couple of challenges. First, the advisory class is only 25 minutes long, which will make it more difficult for students to engage with their project and be productive on a daily basis. Secondly, I will need to facilitate almost entirely digitally from my end, which will be a new challenge for me.

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The second possibility for a final project would involve creating infographics based on current existing documents created by our administration and teachers. The purpose of this project would be to use technology skills from the CoeTail course and apply them at our school to make use of the benefits of infographics and their visual appeal. Having the infographics available will help faculty, staff and students absorb information quicker and more efficiently. I feel that doing this will be highly beneficial for our faculty and staff because of their busy jobs and lifestyles. Sometimes reading through a large document can be very time consuming and involve a lot of searching. Having the infographics available would allow for quick and convenient process of information which would be a great time saver and also, I feel that less searching would need to be done since the infographics would allow you a quick scan to see what information you needed to access based on visuals. An example I already envision could be the visa process for new teachers getting into Saudi Arabia. There is a ton of documentation and information involved with this and I think an infographic could simplify this.

In this case I could can both, my colleagues and the students as students to be involved in the process. For my colleagues, I would have them select which documents they would like to see transformed and if enough like the products I could do some in-house PD to show how to do it as they go through the process and learn themselves with other documents. The only challenge I see with this, of course, is time. For the students, it would be a similar idea and I would work closely with our middle school technology teacher to teach and facilitate the idea of creating infographics to help with general information and learning all around the school. An example I can see happening already involves our new middle school garden. I am thinking, instead of those just involved with the use of the garden knowing and learning how it works we could have infographics around the garden explaining what is happening with the planting and growing process.

Any feedback for these choices would be greatly appreciated to help choose which project I should focus on! Looking forward to seeing some great results!  

I need a Tech Break

Since devices first began ‘streaming’ into the classrooms, teachers have been continuously dealing with new and more challenging ways to manage the classroom. The phones were the first issue, but that seemed very simple. “Just don’t let me see them or hear them”, was how I first dealt with this and it worked for the most part. However, there would always be a phone that ‘dung’ or rang no matter how hard you would try, and when it happened, it was a big deal and big distraction. It didn’t take me long to realize that this strategy was not effective and the best attitude to take towards the increased amount of technology making it’s way into the classroom was acceptance. Last year in the classroom, when a phone ‘dung’ or rang, I would just ignore it if we were in the middle of a good discussion or make a joke about it when appropriate and there never seemed to be any big distraction. It was just part of how the classroom looked and sounded now. Of course there needs to be expectations in place for technology use in schools and classrooms, but I think we need to bring the line back a few notches if we wish to save ourselves the insanity of it all.  

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This week’s articles discuss many great ideas towards our ‘acceptance’ of technology playing a major role in classrooms and managing it effectively. First off, I believe the idea of acceptance is no longer even negotiable considering how much learning has increased because of technology. A great point comes from the article, ‘Would a Laptop for Everybody Help?’ by Liz Dwyer shows how a school in Main, closed the gap between students from low income backgrounds and wealthier backgrounds by equally providing access to information. She uses an example that, If a low-income student is assigned a research paper, without a laptop and internet access she has to rely on her school or local public library which may not have as many up to date or accessible resources.

What is also a newer importance at schools, because of the integration of technology, is that we help students learn how to manage their own abilities to use technology responsibly and as a tool for learning. Yokohama International school is making this a priority with not only the students, but by partnering with the parents as well. They are coming together to help students with strategies and ideas of how to manage their own use of technology. The article. ‘Living with Laptops’ by Kim Cofino states, “In the end, we’re working towards each student developing their own self control, and an appropriate level of balance that works for them and their family. To do so, we would like to work as a team: parents, school and students.”

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Finally, I found the idea of tech breaks very interesting. Typically, schools and parents feel that students spend too much time on their devices. However, in Larry Rosen’s article, ‘How a “tech break” can help students refocus’. He says that because of this it is beneficial and even necessary to allow tech breaks in class and “Instead of resisting the urge to text, check Facebook or watch a YouTube video, just do it. That’s right: Cure the tech disorder with a dose of more technology!”. I’m interested to see if this idea can possibly lead to any sort of debate.

Does the Curriculum Limit Learning?

I think the big question regarding this week’s topic is not, ‘will education change due to technology?’, because I think it surely has and that it is. The question in my mind is, ‘why is it changing so slowly?’. In the video below, Dr. Madhav Chavan makes a very good point by suggesting that we are merely using technology as a tool to match with our linearly designed educational system. Whereas, technology itself is not linear which creates conflict between the two. He finishes his explanation with this great quote, “right now, the technology is only a helper in the current, inefficient system”.

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I feel that watching this video answers my question above, along with this week’s assignment question as well. To answer the question, ‘will education change due to technology?’ I now see the answer as, ‘if we as educators allow it to’. And to answer my question, I believe the educational system is moving so slowly because we are only using technology to support a very linear and limiting curriculum, instead of the opposite. Let’s think for a little bit about how we use technology (for the most part) in our classrooms. We use it to; record videos and capture images, to create fancy posters and engaging presentations, give students real time feedback, do quick extensive research, etc… All great things in my opinion, but now that I think about it, all really just demonstrating understanding of the curriculum standards in techie ways that make it just a tool to support the (pretty much) same system that had always been in place.

 

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What do we do then, if we really want to take advantage of this opportunity for students? As stated in the article, ‘The Classroom Is Obsolete: It’s Time for Something New’ By Prakash Nair, “The classroom is a relic, left over from the Industrial Revolution, which required a large workforce with very basic skills. Classroom-based education lags far behind when measured against its ability to deliver the creative and agile workforce that the 21st century demands.” So another question I have based on this, is ‘what is the purpose of school now?’.
A new aspect of education that I feel can fit into this is Problem-Based learning, which I think is a start. It’s fun and engaging to start class with a problem and give the student the time to find the answer, while they use the internet and work and learn from others. This is a very debatable scenario, but it’s starting to make sense that we could just pose problems for student and allow them to learn while solving it. A teacher could be the one who asks the students good questions and prompts them to reflect. A teacher could also be great at giving feedback. Do we really need to teach kids basic Math or could we just engage them with a problem or task that forces them to want to learn and therefore, learn how to learn? Could this be the start?

Information at your Fingertips

This week’s topic is one that I have become very interested in, not only because of its logic, but because it is now how I experience a much more effective way of learning personally. Over the course of a year I learned how to play guitar well enough to play in a band that is now being offered payment for gigs. Could I have done that going to an instructor in person? Not sure, but I am convinced not.

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Today’s level of technology has created a huge shift in the educations system. The only problem is that the education system itself is shifting extremely slow compared to technology. Technology now offers the educational system new ways to make use of in-school time. However, it is not uncommon to walk into a classroom and see a teacher spending large amounts of time communicating knowledge that is available online in many different formats. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve witnessed teachers delivering very engaging and meaningful lessons that involved a great amount of student participation and learning. However, I still think we can take these skills that teachers have and use technology along side to create even more time engaging, empowering and challenging students. As stated in the article, ‘A Flipped Classroom Model: A Full Picture’, by Jackie Gerstein, The advantage of the flipped classroom is that the content that is often the theoretical/lecture-based component of the lesson, becomes more easily accessed and controlled by the learner. What this means for teachers is that they can do more of what they want to during class time that involves engagement and interaction with the learners.

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It also states in her article that ‘One of the major, evidenced-based advantages of the use of video is that learners have control over the media with the ability to review parts that are misunderstood, which need further reinforcement, and/or those parts that are of particular interest.’ This point directly connects back to my introductory statement about how I was able to learn very efficiently and effectively by continuously pausing, rewinding and starting video-based lessons at my own pace in order to take control over learning the content being covered in the lesson. Doing this not only placed the lesson at the speed I needed, but it also allowed me to practice with application that worked best for my own needs. This would not work  as well with an instructor and in a full class setting. I’m pretty sure if the amount of times I paused and rewound the video would probably be a little frustrating to the instructor in person and definitely to the others in my class who were at a much higher level than me. Then, after I am able to practice what is easily accessible at home, I can go to band practice, engage with actually playing songs and problem solve and communicate with my other band members which has done wonders towards accelerating my skills.

I will end with this quote I liked from this week’s Connected Principles article, “Why do we, in the status quo,  replicate in person in our classrooms what is easily available elsewhere, the content delivery/skill modeling, and then have kids apply their learning to difficult problems at home, without us there to help?” I think it’s because how unfamiliar and messy this would be when we first implement this as part of a classroom routine. However, I also think that once students get used to this and using class time as means to play with the content and understandings, we will start seeing more motivation and engagement with students in the classroom.

The More Ways to Learn, The Merrier

In order to understand how to apply Problem, Project and Challenge based learning it is important to understand what the three are actually looking to achieve in the classroom. In their article, ‘Introduction to Problem Based Learning’, BEI’s definition of Project-Based learning is that it is a teaching method that engages students in learning knowledge and skills through an inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and tasks.

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Problem-Based Learning is defined by ‘The Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning’ as a method of teaching many different kinds of skills and where student engagement contributes both directly and indirectly to achievement aroused by the problem itself. The problem engages the student, arouses interest and motivation, and the child learns as a result of being intrigued.

 

Finally, Challenge based learning, which is new term to me is, defined by NMC as “a multidisciplinary approach to education that encourages students to leverage the technology they use in their daily lives to solve real world problems and think critically about how to apply what they learn. What is also included in CBL is a technological approach to that it is clearly designed to enhance learning with its framework which involves, ‘Engaging’ with the community through ‘Investigation’, and most importantly, ‘Taking Action’.

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Reflecting on these practices comes at a perfect time, since a big focus at our school this year is Global Citizenship, which is where I see CBL fitting in perfectly. I feel that in order to enhance our understanding of Global Citizenship, we can have many discussions, but embedding the idea into the curriculum itself I feel is where the most authentic and powerful learning will take place. In order to this, we need to use all three aspects of Projects, Problem-based and Challenge-based learning together. To summarize, we could set up learning targets that engaged students authentically, by allowing them to inquire about global and local problems of their interest. They would then need to use technology to investigate, gather data, and apply what they are learning to take action and communicate solutions.
What does the planning template for this look like?

Technology as a Catalyst in Learning

As an educator who feels like they are working hard to keep up with using technology to enhance both student and teacher learning, I feel that the SAMR model is a great evaluation tool towards my efforts and effectiveness with technology integration. Also, as stated in the 2011 summer technology blog, ‘Beyond Substitution: The SAMR Model’, “The model aims to enable teachers to design, develop, and integrate digital learning experiences that utilize technology to transform learning experiences to lead to high levels of  achievement for students”. With this in mind, I can use this not only to evaluate myself during the implementation process, but also aim to assess if following this model really can enhance student learning if implemented properly.

 

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Google Docs has become streamlined at my school in place of Microsoft Word. At first, seems like a change that doesn’t make sense since we are doing away with a processing system that we have all become very familiar with, to take on another. Why replace one system with another that does the same thing? I now see that these thoughts were only aligned with the ‘substitution’ phase that has no effect on improving student learning. However, after working with Google Docs and becoming more aware of all its functionalities, students and teachers can do much more together than what could be done with other word processors. For example, as a teacher, I am able to collaborate with students and students can collaborate with one another outside the classroom in real time using the chat and commenting functions. Also, teachers can give detailed, quick feedback using these functions outside the classroom as well, which takes us from ‘substitution’ phase to ‘augmentation’ phase and beyond, depending on where you want go with the specific task and who the students are going to be connecting with outside the classroom.

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Doing this as one example is key, as it supports what is stated in the edutopia article, ‘What is Successful Technology Integration’, Where in order to do this successfully, “it must support four key components of learning: active engagement, participation in groups, frequent interaction and feedback, and connection to real-world experts.” I believe it is also not only important to note this, but also that as education continues to reinvent itself and move very quickly from teacher as gatekeeper of knowledge to facilitator and guide of student learning and developing 21st century skills, such as communication and problem solving. As the Forbes article ‘The Single Best Idea for Reforming K-12 Education’ To do this we need to use technology to enable and inspire students to learn so as to spark their energies and talents.