This is the second year for me taking the DEL program at Seattle Pacific University. This quarter we learned from Dr. Foltos and Dr. Wicks on how to be a productive tech coach and what essential coaching skills determine the effect and success of peer coaching. We have an incredible opportunity to practice the coaching skills of communication, collaboration and lesson design in the peer coaching project with one colleague to co-plan a lesson or unit to increase the engagement, enable authentic learning and technology integration to accelerate student learning.
In this project, my partner is a high school teacher who has been teaching the innovative laser cutter design for more than 5 years. Students learn how to use AutoCAD to draw the design and print out the artifacts from the laser cutter. Since the district standard has been modified, fostering the 21st-century skills has been required as the future academic direction. Empowering students to construct knowledge through collaborative and authentic learning with technical support as the learning goals need to be achieved in this class. The teacher wants me to help him to transform his class into one reference to the new standard.
Deepen Understand the Needs
In our first coaching meeting, he briefly talked about his expectations and needs. The one is he wants to find a way to track students’ learning progress which can help him to provide personalized learning to make sure nobody left behind. The other expectation is that he wants to leverage appropriate digital tools to meet the district learning goals. I didn’t interrupt him and wrote down key points in my notebook during the meeting. I did paragraphing to make sure I understood everything he talked about. I was so excited and bursting to tell him my ideas and suggestions on how to improve his class. He refused some of them because they are impossible implemented in his situation. This meeting had to be wrapped up because of his tight schedule.
In the following meetings, I tried to probe many questions on his current situation (digital equality, school environment, available digital tools, class schedule, and his expectation). Such as have you tried any approach to track student’s progress; does every student have equal access to the laptop after school; have you ever thought that which part your students can have collaboration… He shared more details and I began to create a clearer image of this class. We finally decided to co-plan one specific unit to improve by using technology to develop student 21st-century skills.
I analyzed his current lesson plan and learning activities using the Learning Design Matrix to get a clear direction for improvement. I extended the new standard and unit learning objectives into several elements and offer some suggestions which are possible to implement in his class. When we worked so hard together toward the same goals, our trust was building up. As our partnership growing, I realized our collaboration and communication is getting better and more smoothly.
Setup Norms for Meetings
During peer coaching, I tried my best to provide him a flexible schedule for both formal and informal communication to give us more opportunities to exchange ideas due to his intensive work schedule. And we set up several norms that can help our coaching to be effectively and efficiently.
1. No interrupt during meetings (mute the cellphone, put a sign on the office door…)
2. No side talk
3. Stay on agenda for the meetings
4. Probe questions
5. Bring up ideas
6. Start and end the meetings on time
7. Available for informal communication (Flexible schedule)
8. Focus on improving student learning, not technology its own
Co-Plan the Unit—Make a Cube
Students will learn how to use AutoCAD to design a cube and print the planar designs out from the laser cutter and make a cube by real material considering the thickness. Students will construct knowledge through collaborative and authentic learning to deeply understand how to design by leveraging appropriate technology tools.
Improve Learning Activities using Learning Design Matrix
Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes
In this improved unit, each team’s digital portfolio and blog or SharePoint site are solid learning evidence to assess their learning outcomes. And each student’s design of the parts and interaction history in a team collaborative document will be the learning evidence for the individual.
In this unit, students have an authentic learning project to make a donation box for different places that engage and motivate students to enjoy the whole design process from meaningful learning activities. They step out of the classroom to interview the different people who will take responsibility for the donation boxes and collect useful information (size, requisite, preferences…) to draft their designs. It will cultivate their tolerant on iteration, serious attitude on accuracy, and innovative on design. The technology tools facilitate students to have more opportunities to collaborate and communicate with team members and peers which is paving the path for students to practice digital skills of the 21stcentury.
My partner and I are both happy and honor the precious peer coaching opportunity which gave us a chance to immerse in meaningful and effective collaboration to enhance students learning. I created a rubric for evaluating the effect of technology and student cognition growing by the SAMR model and Bloom’s which will be also helpful for his future technology integration.