Developing Teachers as Leaders

Teacher laughing as she undergoes supervision and evaluation

One of the main responsibilities of being an administrator in the K-12 education setting is to evaluate the performance of faculty and staff. Understanding the importance the role supervision and evaluation plays in the development of teacher leaders is vital to the culture of the school in which the practice is being utilized. In the Graduate Programs in Education at the University of New England, students in the Educational Leadership focus area, and specifically the Supervision and Evaluation course, are provided the opportunity to share some of the key takeaways they’ve learned from the process of evaluating their own colleagues. Findings from Student Feedback A central theme that surfaced from this student feedback is that communication is integral to the supervision and evaluation process. Students repeatedly reflected on multi-directional communication as a foundational approach to effective supervision and evaluation planning and implementation. Students also stated post observation conferences as one of the biggest levers for change. Within their own work… Read More >

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Webb's Depth of Knowledge (DOK)

Depth of Knowledge

In the world of curriculum development and student assessment, there are many models that inform our work. Each model supports the design of relevant, engaging, and rigorous learning experiences. While Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy has served as the “go to” framework since the 1950s, it’s Norman L. Webb’s Depth of Knowledge system that has caught the attention of K-12 educators since the late 90s. His work continues to grow in popularity in higher education instruction as well. What is Depth of Knowledge? In short, Depth of Knowledge (DOK) is a framework for classifying content complexity in relation to the level and kind of mental demand that’s put on a learner to answer a question, solve a problem or to create a product. This work takes a different approach to learning frameworks than Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bloom’s work focuses on student action, the “what” of learning. DOK focuses more on the “how”. Depth of Knowledge (DOK) Levels provide a vocabulary and a frame of reference… Read More >

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Learning Styles: How we engage with the world

Reflective posture

If you have been following this blog, just a few months ago, we wrote about common learning styles and what effect they have on learners and teaching methods and practices, and that to a large extent these are not well-evidenced in either science or practice, but for some reason have a wide acceptance. Today, we are tackling a different take on learning styles – rather learning preferences in ways we interact with the world along the continuum of how we do things (processing) and how we perceive things (think or feel, the perception continuum) as developed by Kolb and further modified by others. I started doing research on reflective practice – one of many topics I am interested in! – and it eventually led me (should I say took me all the way back) to this source, which I found quite tangible. Reflective practice is an important process (practice) in professional and personal growth which starts with describing and identifying the… Read More >

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Creating Effective Writing Assignments: The Discourse Community Framework

Crumpled note paper

Using the writing process – often a complex, messy and mysterious process for students – is crucial for graduate level success. Students not only need to grapple with understanding course concepts, they must be able to express them professionally and intelligently. Well-designed writing prompts, with the addition of writing support, can provide the extra guidance many students need. Anne Beaufort, in her text College Writing and Beyond: A New Framework for University Writing Instructions, has researched and developed a relevant framework for creating graduate-level assignments based on a “discourse community” concept. Assignments created with this framework can help students better understand the social work community/program context of their writing. Beaufort addresses four types of knowledge in assignment design: subject matter, genre, audience, and the writing process. Although most prompts used in this graduate program do already include these four types of knowledge in some way, Beaufort’s framework provides a fresh look at facilitating more sophisticated written work from students. Subject Matter:… Read More >

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CAST: About Universal Design for Learning

CAST: About Universal Design for Learning. We at MSW are very ambitious about making sure that our course design offers learning opportunities to diverse students, not the proverbial “middle”, or only fully-abled English as-a-native-language speaking students. By including additional content formats (transcripts for videos and audio, alternate text for images for example), we open opportunities for students who may either need assistance with the language itself, can’t hear very well or simply don’t have the time to listen to the spoken track and prefer reading a transcript and making notes in the margins, which increases their productivity and adds meaning to their interaction with the material. Any digital text can also be searched quickly for particular terms, which again improves efficiency. In addition to making our content accessible, if we follow UDL, we will have opportunities for students to engage with the content in different ways – and possibly engage with different content as well. We should also offer a variety of… Read More >

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Assignment Scaffolding for Faculty and Student Success - A Recorded Webinar

Scaffolding Webinar

The College of Graduate and Professional Studies, the Center for the Enrichment of Teaching and Learning, and the Student Academic Success Center, came together to weigh in on the benefits of assignment and course scaffolding, as discussed in the video below.

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Gamification - An Implementation of Immersive Role Playing

Illustration of a man collecting coins as he goes up ladders to signify gamification

Former colleagues of mine, Robert Prince and Owen Guthrie of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, developed a journalism course wherein the professor constructed the lesson plan to mimic the internal organization of a struggling newspaper. The students in the course were new hires looking to climb the professional ladder he’d constructed for them, from intern all the way up to Editor-in-Chief. Students covered different subjects and wrote articles in a variety of forms in order to fulfill the obligations of their current position at the paper while, at the same time, meeting certain requirements for promotion. At the end of the course, student success was evident in how high a position at the made-up newspaper he or she had achieved. As was covered in a previous post, one of the principal ambitions of gamification is to design professional and educational processes with heightened consciousness of what motivates engagement. The models for engagement are drawn, with good reason, from games. Games are entirely focused… Read More >

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Gamification: The Bartle Test

Bartle Test

In academia, “Gamification” is the (lately hyped) practice of applying game design to instructional design. The basic idea behind it is that well designed games motivate players to spend inordinate amounts of time learning the system of the game and boatloads of extra lives and respawns trying to beat/win/“game” the game. If one were to effectively align the artificial system of a game with the real-world process of learning a specific subject, perhaps students would be equally as motivated to learn as they are to study the 100,000 pages of content on the World of Warcraft wiki. Class is already a game, of course. Generally speaking, most teachers know to scaffold the large “boss” challenges (tests, final papers, etc.) with smaller, “minion” challenges (quizzes, discussion, etc.) so that students have familiarized themselves with the tools they’ve been provided and the environment in which they’re working before they’re flung headlong into ultimate assessment. For the most part, educators understand implicitly the… Read More >

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Instruments, and the Craft, of Feedback

feedback

Feedback is a craft, and like any craft it is simultaneously distinct from and defined by the tools we use to practice it. Quality feedback can go through any communicative medium—text message; youtube comments section; a waxed string strung tautly between two paper cups—because the properties of good feedback are universal… Good feedback is honest Good feedback is encouraging Good feedback is mindful of its own context relative to the course’s Learning Objectives, and also Good feedback is mindful of the unique context created between the course, the student, and yourself (perhaps by connecting the specific assignment to which it responds to other examples of the student’s work, that student’s personal life, or even your own personal life) …though it never hurts to use the right tools for the job. That’s not a great list. The properties of good feedback are so subjective…maybe it would be better to ask y’all to list some of the properties you consider most important… Read More >

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Tips and Practices for Creating Effective Online Learning Experiences

iPad and teapot

If you have an hour, you will enjoy spending it going through this BB/QMa Conrad presentation on Tips and Best Practices to Create Effective Online Learning Experiences. It’s straightforward and clean, and addresses the following concepts: The Instructional Design Process (Formulate Objectives/Competencies>>Develop Assessment>>Specify Content and Strategies>>Choose Tools) tips on dealing with each the 21st Century Learner skills 10 Core Learning Principles Guiding Design 10 Best Practices of Online Teaching 4 phases of a course If an hour is too daunting, I have an easy alternative for you, the slideshow presentation. Enjoy! Any time you have an idea or a question that others might benefit from learning about, shoot me an email and we will make it happen!

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