1. Sue Allen
  2. https://mmsa.org/2016/09/sue-allen-ph-d/
  3. Senior Research Scientist
  4. Transforming rural communities: Virtual instructional coaching in afterschool and library programs
  5. www.mmsa.org/acres
  6. Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance
  1. Scott Byrd
  2. https://mmsa.org/2017/01/scott-byrd-ph-d/
  3. Researcher
  4. Transforming rural communities: Virtual instructional coaching in afterschool and library programs
  5. www.mmsa.org/acres
  1. Perrin Chick
  2. STEM Education Specialist
  3. Transforming rural communities: Virtual instructional coaching in afterschool and library programs
  4. www.mmsa.org/acres
  5. Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance
  1. Lynn Farrin
  2. STEM Education Specialist
  3. Transforming rural communities: Virtual instructional coaching in afterschool and library programs
  4. www.mmsa.org/acres
  5. Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance
  1. Hannah Lakin
  2. https://mmsa.org/projects/acres/
  3. STEM Education Specialist
  4. Transforming rural communities: Virtual instructional coaching in afterschool and library programs
  5. www.mmsa.org/acres
  6. Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance
Facilitators’
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Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Sue Allen

    Sue Allen

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 4, 2020 | 09:38 p.m.

    Welcome to our video!  It highlights some of the roles, challenges, and responsibilities of afterschool providers, particularly those in rural areas. These folks are some of the most dedicated educators in our nation, and are increasingly being called on to engage youth in their programs in STEM activities, regardless of their own degree of comfort or background in STEM.

    Our project offers high-quality professional development, using an approach that is highly social and interactive. Fully virtual mini-courses help to build connections among afterschool providers as they reflect on videos of each other’s teaching practices, with a supportive coach.

    A recurring challenge of the project is to make PD relevant to a broad range of afterschool curricula, and brief enough to be a realistic option for professionals who often have little to no time for paid PD in their schedules.

    With COVID-19, there’s now an explosion of interest in virtual learning. Our team has become very skilled in leveraging Zoom as a multi-faceted learning platform, and we welcome questions or discussion on that topic too.

    What the video doesn’t show is that we also work closely with  library staff, especially in rural areas. One lesson we learned is that these two professional groups may be easily brought together in mixed cohorts that enjoy learning together and from each other.

    (www.mmsa.org/acres  or email  acres@mmsa.org)

  • Icon for: Elizabeth Kollmann

    Elizabeth Kollmann

    Researcher
    May 5, 2020 | 01:12 p.m.

    This seems like a very valuable tool for afterschool educators. What specific STEM skills are you trying to build among participants?

     
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    Alex DeCiccio
    Marianne Dunne
  • Icon for: Sue Allen

    Sue Allen

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 5, 2020 | 01:36 p.m.

    Thanks Elizabeth, great question.

    The first skill is how to ask purposeful questions (defined as open-ended, aligned with learning goals, encouraging youth to clarify & deepen their thinking, and think with others). This one is based on Sarah Michael' Talk Moves. Other skills are: using science and engineering practices, giving youth voice and choice in their learning, providing relevance / building STEM identity, and doing formative evaluation. We also have a new math practices module, based on interest from the field. The skills build on research findings and best practices in the field (including groups like Click2Science, Dimensions of Success, etc.)

    All of these are generic enough to be applied to any activity (at least, that's the goal - a focus on any particular STEM content would be too limiting).

     
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    Perrin Teal Sullivan
    Alex DeCiccio
    Marianne Dunne
  • Icon for: Alex DeCiccio

    Alex DeCiccio

    Media and Production Specialist
    May 6, 2020 | 12:41 a.m.

    What a great way to create more energy around the school environment that helps students and teachers engage with learning outside of the traditional school setting.

    As a follow up to the thread above and considering your distributed model enabled through video conferencing, do you envision any ways to further or broaden the connections being developed for building STEM identity?

    In a more broad sense, what does the follow up look like after educators complete their challenge of filming a presenting a newly acquired skill?

    thank you!

  • Icon for: Perrin Chick

    Perrin Chick

    Co-Presenter
    May 8, 2020 | 08:07 a.m.

    Greetings Alex. Thank you for your comment.

    I'll address your question about STEM ID first. One of the STEM facilitation skills we directly address through our ACRES work is how to Nurture STEM Identity and Make Career Connections. Within this ACRES module, we work with educators to talk about how you can use photo-elicitation activities consistently to engage youth in STEM Identity lessons. We model how to use videos too. We also share resources about how to effectively connect with STEM professionals in afterschool programs. Educators reflect on their practice and share their strategies and struggles during our live remote coaching sessions. This is one of our most popular modules and also translates well when we present at conferences.

     

    And then to address your question about following up on recording their skills. Within an ACRES cohort, we meet three times. The first session is a skill session. We model the skill, look at the skill in others (through videos), and do hands-on activities related to the skill. The educators then go back to their programs and practice the skill and ideally record themselves doing the skill. We meet two additional times to share and reflect on personal videos and to talk with cohort members about the skill. These coaching sessions are rich opportunities for educators to talk about challenges with others and to learn from a STEM  coach. Many educators go on to other cohorts to learn new skills too and to receive coaching on their practice.

    I hope that answers your questions. Please reach out if you need more details.

     
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    Alex DeCiccio
  • Icon for: Sue Allen

    Sue Allen

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 8, 2020 | 08:30 a.m.

    Hi Alex, thanks for the great questions.

    It sounds as if you may have some suggestions for broadening the STEM identity skill beyond the online modules - we'd love to hear, even if it’s beyond the scope of what we can do in this particular project.

    We bundle RIC into one module (relevance, identity, careers). One of our activities that's been very popular is one that asks youth to connect the activity to STEM careers, not just current ones but careers they can imagine in the future, to get their imaginations engaged around their own trajectories. That can be integrated into almost any activity.

    You asked about follow up. At the end of each module we encourage them to submit their videos (or new ones if they prefer) to the National Afterschool Association’s new STEM Microcredentialing Program. We work closely with Heidi Ham at NAA to connect our modules to the appropriate micro-credential so that participants can be acknowledged for showing skill proficiency, not just “seat time” in our courses but evidence that they can apply the skill.

     
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    Alex DeCiccio
  • Icon for: Alex DeCiccio

    Alex DeCiccio

    Media and Production Specialist
    May 10, 2020 | 06:35 p.m.

    Thanks Sue and Perrin for both of the thoughtful responses. I’m really impressed (first showcase) with how this event is encouraging these kinds of dialogue. Simply wonderful, educational, and inspirational.

    My training is by no means in this field yet I’ve been playing inside or on the fringes within this space for roughly ten years. I find it so fascinating that the concepts you apply and learn from as you deploy these strategies and capacity building techniques are similar to what we strive for in storytelling. I have many questions about connecting toidentities within audience. In my training within media studies - mostly documentary style filmmaking and photography - I see so much overlap in how we craft stories yet without these educational specific details. It’s just so cool to learn from people like yourselves. I would like to restate that if you would be open to chatting offline, I would be happy to arrange a meeting and pester you with curiosity driven questions!

     
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    Perrin Teal Sullivan
  • Icon for: Cheryl Canova

    Cheryl Canova

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 5, 2020 | 11:14 a.m.

    I like this idea.   Great way for educators to collaborate and share ideas that work!   I am from a small rural county in Florida, so this is an idea and program I would like to learn more about.   Is this an all volunteer program or are the teachers paid for participating? Do they receive credit for PD?

  • Icon for: Lynn Farrin

    Lynn Farrin

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 12:22 p.m.

    Great question! Right now educators are receiving a stipend for participating in the research components of the program and also are issued contact hours. We also have offered an option for educators to earn graduate credit. 

  • May 5, 2020 | 11:29 a.m.

    I'm really impressed with your work-- primarily your reach. This is a creative, sustainable way to bring OST programming to rural areas. We aim to expand our rural reach and would love to learn from you. Kudos!

  • Icon for: Perrin Chick

    Perrin Chick

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 01:38 p.m.

    Christine we would love to talk with you more about how we have worked to reach rural audiences over the last four years. One tip we have learned from engaging rural audiences is this: it is often helpful to have a champion in the area vouch for you and network with you and it takes time to build trust and meaningful connections.

  • May 5, 2020 | 11:55 a.m.

    Wonderful project and video! It gives me lots to think about as we are planning to do virtual PD this summer for high school science teachers for our Data Clubs project. I love how interactive and engaging it seems your virtual PD sessions are. Definitely a model for us to follow as we move more and more PD online in the age of COVID-19.

  • Icon for: Perrin Chick

    Perrin Chick

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 01:44 p.m.

    Jacob, thanks for engaging in our discussion. We have been helping educators across the country think about how to virtualize their offerings recently, in addition to coaching afterschool educators. We have presented on this very topic at several National Conferences. We do hands-on activities, like building water filters with educators. Ice breakers are my personal favorite tool, but we also use the polling feature of Zoom and rely on break out rooms for small group discussions. We wrote an article called Beyond the Webinar that might be an interesting read for you https://www.niost.org/Afterschool-Matters-Spring-2019/beyond-the-webinar

     
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    Alex DeCiccio
    Emily Weiss
    Keliann LaConte
    Jacob Sagrans
  • May 5, 2020 | 02:28 p.m.

    Thank you for this helpful resource Perrin!

     
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    Perrin Chick
  • Icon for: Leigh Peake

    Leigh Peake

    Informal Educator
    May 5, 2020 | 12:10 p.m.

    I was struck by the joyfulness of this video, particularly since sharing video of practice with peers is sure to inspire trepidation. It speaks to the trust you've built in your group(s). I am curious whether you've been able to maintain some sense of community during this time when informal educators across the country are furloughed etc.? I suspect what you've built is proving an invaluable dose of security for your participants amidst that chaos. Thanks for the video and the great work!

  • Icon for: Scott Byrd

    Scott Byrd

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 01:01 p.m.

    Hi Leigh, others can speak to the sense of community in the current era--definitely we are finding increased interest and demand for the sessions given the lack of time constraints for some educators now and the emerging familiarity with zoom and other virtual platforms. But, elements like trust and social bonding are key to unpacking some of the research that we have been doing in the project; especially related to giving and receiving feedback which is so valuable in short-term, learning encounters where participants may not know each other. The coaches are really skilled at setting the right environment for those exchanges--safe and brave--we sometimes call it.

     
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    Keliann LaConte
  • Icon for: Elizabeth Childs

    Elizabeth Childs

    Informal Educator
    May 5, 2020 | 12:45 p.m.

     I was really like the idea of how we can use outside resources that is right there at our fingers tips...This information is useful

  • Icon for: Gail Scowcroft

    Gail Scowcroft

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 5, 2020 | 01:16 p.m.

    Dear Sue, Perrin, and Team Members: I am delighted to learn about your project. I have been saying for decades that informal science educators greatly need PD opportunities, especially those is smaller institutions. Your virtual PD is an awesome idea, requiring far fewer resources to bring the educators together and allowing you a much broader geographic reach. Are you focuing on specific STEM disciplines or on more general pedagogical practices?

  • Icon for: Sue Allen

    Sue Allen

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 5, 2020 | 01:49 p.m.

    Thanks Gail, I responded to a similar question above... definitely a small set of powerful pedagogical practices. We've been delighted with how relevant they seem to be to a broad swath of providers - we've had a few participants say they wish they were in grade-specific groups, but mostly the approach is surprisingly robust with respect to youth age, and expertise of educator.

  • Icon for: Susan Kowalski

    Susan Kowalski

    Researcher
    May 5, 2020 | 01:21 p.m.

    I am so happy to have learned about your project. You mentioned that the PD sessions are fairly short to ensure that time is not a barrier to participation. How long are the sessions? Do teachers attend more than one? I'm also curious about the connections between school library staff and the teachers. What are some of the ways they support one another?

  • Icon for: Hannah Lakin

    Hannah Lakin

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 01:34 p.m.

    Hi Susan,

    Thanks for your interest and your questions! ACRES Educators take part in three 2-hour sessions per module, where each module focuses on a specific STEM facilitation skill. Over the course of the module they learn strategies and reflect on videos of their practice. We usually spread out the sessions over a few weeks so that participants have the chance to reflect on their learning and capture a video of their practice between sessions. After they have done the three sessions, they can choose to do another module (there are seven) which would be three more sessions. We're finding that three sessions allows for a group to build cohesion, while also giving them time to enact the feedback they receive from their peers. 

    As for library and afterschool educators supporting one another, we've seen them sharing ideas for STEM programming and providing feedback on one another's practice. We've even heard of folks who have stayed in touch far beyond their participation in ACRES!

  • Icon for: Sue Allen

    Sue Allen

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 5, 2020 | 01:59 p.m.

    If people are interested in experiencing the model we are still open for registration - afterschool providers and library staff can just sign up on our website.  http://www.mmsa.org/acres

    or you can email acres@mmsa.org to chat with us - we also custom-design courses for groups, and folks who already know each other.

     
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    Alex DeCiccio
  • Icon for: Jan Mokros

    Jan Mokros

    Researcher
    May 5, 2020 | 02:59 p.m.

    Great project, and as others have mentioned, it is especially timely!  The comment at the end about overcoming isolation is poignant.  The project has lots of important lessons for staff development with teachers, whether they are in-school, out-of-school, or in increasingly common "in between" spaces where you can't plan on being together physically. Thanks for the suggestions about ice-breakers and how to share pointers with participants about using virtual technologies!  

  • Icon for: Chelsea Carnes

    Chelsea Carnes

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 5, 2020 | 03:38 p.m.

    What a great project. I feel like this cohort-style professional development could be useful for maaaaany careers, but I love that you are offering it to rural after school educators who are often overlooked. Are they paid for the time they spend in the PD groups? As an educator and the director of a youth summer program in Florida, I can attest that there is such a push to sneak STEM skills into whatever you are teaching, regardless of your own training. I see the need for preparing students to succeed in STEM, but more opportunities like this are needed to train educators in how best to teach it and present it, otherwise we are sort of shooting ourselves in the foot, as poorly delivered STEM curriculum can further disinterest our students in these subjects.

  • Icon for: Keliann LaConte

    Keliann LaConte

    Informal Educator
    May 5, 2020 | 04:23 p.m.

    It's wonderful to see the dynamic conversations and energy that you are able to cultivate during ACRES virtual sessions! Scott, I also like the phrase you mentioned for encouraging these conversations: "safe and brave."

  • Icon for: Shellie Banfield

    Shellie Banfield

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 5, 2020 | 06:14 p.m.

    Wow.... I love that this focuses on after-school programming. YES.... learning happens everywhere and providing these educators a place to connect, grow, and learn is really wonderful!  Great work!

  • Icon for: Emily Weiss

    Emily Weiss

    PI Improving Practice Together
    May 5, 2020 | 06:21 p.m.

    Great video! We're about to take a summer leadership institute with an existing cohort of teacher leaders online. I'm part of the Reflecting on Practice community, which has been helping me think about that, but it's really great to see others doing it well. As we start to develop our summer program, I'd love to talk to you--I'm sure I will have questions for you. Also great to see you, Perrin! I hope you're doing well.

  • Icon for: Perrin Chick

    Perrin Chick

    Co-Presenter
    May 7, 2020 | 05:18 p.m.

    Emily there sounds like there is a lot of overlap between our projects. I hope we can connect and talk about strategies for engagement and for virtualizing offerings. My email is pchick@mmsa.org. Looking forward to collaborating and connecting.

     
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    Emily Weiss
  • May 6, 2020 | 02:36 a.m.

    Hi Sue,

    What fun to see this approach to supporting informal learning educators. We are interested in what you have learned about Zoom workshops as we plan for our meetings this summer? 

    Marcia

  • Icon for: Sue Allen

    Sue Allen

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 6, 2020 | 06:51 p.m.

    Hi Marcia,

    Nice to see you, and thanks for your interest.

    One surprisingly common practice our coaches have discovered is that people converting PD to zoom often talk at people in ways (and for lengths of time) they would never consider if the situation was in-person. Using zoom for a passive webinar is just a terrible waste of the medium, which has the potential for multiple streams and formats of communication at the same time (conversations, multiple chats, breakouts etc.) We wrote a paper for afterschool providers that shares some basic features of our approach. 

    Brasili, A. & Allen, S. (2019). Beyond the webinar: Dynamic online STEM professional development. Afterschool Matters, 29, 9-16.

    That said, mastering the medium turns out to be much more complex than one might think at first glance - after years of doing this our coaches have become extremely skilled at the nuances of supporting social interaction and trouble-shooting, while simultaneously providing the PD activities. It's hugely challenging for someone new to it. 

     

     
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    Larry Bell
  • Small default profile

    Joyce Tugel

    May 6, 2020 | 09:49 a.m.

    What an excellent example of quality professional development in a ‘learn, practice, apply’ approach that’s embedded in the workplace, and can be transferred to a variety of  lessons and activities!

  • Icon for: Sue Allen

    Sue Allen

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 6, 2020 | 12:16 p.m.

    Thanks Joyce! And thanks for being the Founding Coach in the program and designing most of the activity structures we still use.

  • Icon for: Jared Carter

    Jared Carter

    EQuIPD Grant Instructional Specialist
    May 6, 2020 | 11:45 a.m.

    Wonderful video, thank you for sharing. I also appreciate the "Beyond the Webinar" resource you shared in a previous response. I see that you recommend leaving video on during meetings to pick up on nonverbal cues among other reasons, but I wonder if you encounter bandwidth limitations or other issues with rural internet connections. My colleagues and I have resorted to turning off participant videos in Zoom so the audio is still intelligible, but I recognize that it is a sacrifice. Do you have any tips?

  • Icon for: Lynn Farrin

    Lynn Farrin

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 12:06 p.m.

    We also occasionally encounter bandwidth issues and use that same strategy of having participants off their videos at times. Since we review a lot of videos of practice in the modules, anther thing we've learned is how to watch videos 'together.' Rather than use the 'share screen feature' it's more effective to share the url of the clip in the chat then having each person turn off their audio and video to watch the clip on their own devices, and then come back together for conversation. It helps to prevent lag and with bandwidth challenges. 

  • May 6, 2020 | 12:45 p.m.

    Great work! I love the way you are incorporating reflection into what you are doing. Can you say more about what you mean by noticing? Why might "noticing" be important for the learning and increased skill development you are aiming for? 

  • Icon for: Sue Allen

    Sue Allen

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 6, 2020 | 06:36 p.m.

    Great question, thanks Catherine. 

    We're using the concept of "professional noticing" taken mostly from the math education literature (Miriam Sherin and others) that shows many teachers struggle to identify relevant events in their classrooms, given the enormous complexity of what's going on. In our case, we're using a noticing task as an evaluation tool to see whether our participants become more likely to notice our target STEM skills when viewing another person's video (pre vs post). It's a low bar assessment, in the sense that just recognizing an opportunity to use a skill doesn't mean you can use the skill yourself, but if you can't even recognize the opportunity in a real-world situation then that's a major barrier to improving your own practice.

    For example, before taking the course, an afterschool provider might notice in a video how the youth are grouped, the nature of the space, and the variety of materials available to the youth during the activity. After the course, they would (hopefully) notice whether the facilitator's questions were open-ended, and whether they provided enough wait-time to let the youth respond.

  • Icon for: Scott Byrd

    Scott Byrd

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 01:30 p.m.

    Hi Catherine! So great to see you here! Sue can speak more to this, but one of the elements we focus on in our research is how educators see or recognize the skill and are able to communicate about that skill (requires literacy and terminology around the skill itself) combined with the change in their practice and ability to facilitate that practice--hunch is that these two learning processes happen in concert during and after an ACRES cohort. We have developed a few instruments to capture these changes--we could chat about these offline if you are interested. 

  • Icon for: Dave Miller

    Dave Miller

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 7, 2020 | 08:19 a.m.

    Interesting project!  Sounds as if there's significant potential (and perhaps you're after-school providers are already doing this) to bring authentic science and math elements and experiences from every-day life and work into these virtual experiences and build an archive, or library, across time, of these experiences that can be the rich, connected experiences that we need for connecting concepts to real-world. Would be interested in hearing more about this potential of your project.

    I'm also making a connection with a project going on at my own institution. Project SyncON was part of the 2019 SFA, and there seem to be some natural intersections between the two projects.

    Thanks for sharing your work, here!

  • May 10, 2020 | 10:51 a.m.

    Hi Sue and team.  And Dave, thank you for making this connection to our project (we did not submit a video this year, but thank you for linking to last year's!).  We would definitely love to connect at some point.  We are in the final year of our current project designing, implementing, and researching online professional development in mathematics for middle grades teachers in rural schools, and have submitted a new project to NSF to support math coaches in rural districts across the country.  Lots of connections to your work.  We will reach out!

  • Icon for: Martin Storksdieck

    Martin Storksdieck

    Facilitator
    May 7, 2020 | 08:38 a.m.

    This is a wonderful and needed project. I am glad it gets a lot of attention. What have you found out about the degree to which the educators are able to transfer the skills they learn during the PD into their instructional practice?

  • Icon for: Scott Byrd

    Scott Byrd

    Co-Presenter
    May 7, 2020 | 12:39 p.m.

    Hi Martin!

    Thanks for that question. First, it's a short exposure time--about 5-6 hours over three sessions, and we ask them to practice between the sessions. Second, we've deployed a few instruments to measure the ability to recognize and describe the skills--we call them script improvement or noticing tasks. Currently, we recently started follow-up interviews (for some participants a year or more has passed) to determine how they have incorporated the skills into their practice over time. We have found (post participation) increases in noticing specific indicators (or scripts) related to wait-time, open-ended questions, following-up with students. Additionally, our follow-up interviews are starting to find much deeper integration of purposeful questioning strategies over time; and, not just for STEM content but spilling over into other content areas. 

     
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    Jackie DeLisi
  • Icon for: Martin Storksdieck

    Martin Storksdieck

    Facilitator
    May 8, 2020 | 11:48 a.m.

    Those are encouraging results, Scott. I assume that participants value these skills and want to improve them as part of their professional identity. There is always this balancing act between deficit and asset: "yes, you do this already, and yes, being you means wanting to do better all the time..." 

  • Icon for: Sarah Dunton

    Sarah Dunton

    Researcher
    May 7, 2020 | 10:40 a.m.

    Thank you for sharing your work on virtual PD in informal STEM education. Your video does a great job capturing the need for virtual STEM PD and depth of the work of informal educators in rural Maine and beyond. What do you see as the next phases of your research and/or the growth of this project? 

  • Icon for: Sue Allen

    Sue Allen

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 7, 2020 | 02:25 p.m.

    Hi Sarah, thanks for your comment and question. We're hoping to scale up the project in various ways, including supporting new coaches, extending the model to urban afterschools (who often face many similar challenges of resources, transport, etc.) and also scaling up the library component, because many libraries are moving more into informal programming of various kinds. More broadly, we’re thinking our model of deep online learning (highly social and engaging) could help educators who are relatively new to the medium to be more effective, irrespective of their specific learning goals.

     

  • Icon for: Jackie DeLisi

    Jackie DeLisi

    Researcher
    May 7, 2020 | 12:03 p.m.

    This is a great project! I'm excited to see a project that addresses PD for rural educators. Can say more about your research and the outcomes you're examining? Also, I can imagine that your program might increase educators' confidence for teaching. Have you examined this as an outcome? 

  • Icon for: Scott Byrd

    Scott Byrd

    Co-Presenter
    May 7, 2020 | 12:49 p.m.

    Hi Jackie, 

    Great question! We definitely capture self-reported confidence changes on not just instructional practice and the skill itself but also the process of giving and receiving feedback to peers and the coach. We call it a hybrid model in that it combines instructional coaching with elements of a PLC in a virtual format. Thus, we are attempting to track those dynamics to tease out the impacts of the elements as well as the short and long term changes in practices. Some of these methods are described above with Martin related to noticing and describing the skill, but we are now attempting to follow-up with participants to determine integration over time and examining pathways for individuals and organizations that have had more involvement with ACRES over time. For example, why might someone take a few modules then decide to become a coach? How do organizations integrate the trainings into part of their PD regimes? 

     
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    Jackie DeLisi
  • Icon for: Deanna Buckley

    Deanna Buckley

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 7, 2020 | 07:33 p.m.

    This seems like a powerful project - how do you find new participants? 

  • Icon for: Perrin Chick

    Perrin Chick

    Co-Presenter
    May 8, 2020 | 08:19 a.m.

    Deanna,

    Recruitment of participants is a challenge we have been documenting over the course of the project. Our research team keeps track of how people heard about ACRES and how likely they are to recommend it to others. We also document our recruitment conversations and referrals. Mostly though we work closely with Out-of-School Networks, both state-level networks like the Missouri Afterschool Network or the Alaska Afterschool Network and with entities like 4H and Association of Rural and Small Libraries. With rural educators specifically networking and word of mouth recommendations are very powerful.   

  • Icon for: Preeti Gupta

    Preeti Gupta

    Facilitator
    May 7, 2020 | 08:25 p.m.

    Thank you for such great questions and answers. Can you describe some challenges you face, even now, with getting participants to develop specific noticing skills? In other words, are some skills more challenging to develop than others?

  • Icon for: Lynn Farrin

    Lynn Farrin

    Co-Presenter
    May 8, 2020 | 10:16 a.m.

    Preeti, 

    Developing the skill of asking purposeful questions is definitely one that take a lot of practice and we think of it as a continuous work in progress. An example of a more challenging skill to develop is one around helping facilitators shift the sense making and question asking to youth, in other words getting all minds on in a rich way rather than having the dialogue be back and forth between facilitator and youth. 

  • Icon for: Andrew Coppens

    Andrew Coppens

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 8, 2020 | 09:39 a.m.

    Thanks for this wonderful video and work. I'm especially encouraged by the focus on leveraging the strengths and opportunities of rural communities, where "STEM" is often already widespread but can be hard to recognize from the vantage point of more curricularized approaches. You emphasis on reflecting on educators' roles and skills in supporting learning reminded me of this project (here too), which I've long admired and seems to share some similar commitments. Kudos!

  • Icon for: Perrin Chick

    Perrin Chick

    Co-Presenter
    May 8, 2020 | 03:00 p.m.

    Andrew thank you for passing along that link and reference.

  • Icon for: Nickolay Hristov

    Nickolay Hristov

    Facilitator
    May 8, 2020 | 10:01 a.m.

    I enjoyed watching the video and learning about the project!  Resourceful discussion as well (the “Beyond the Webinar” reference was particularly helpful as I find myself with my hands full with new expectations for quality online content delivery and cultivation of meaningful experiences).  Unlike most of us in the past two months, the online format of your model is not an accident; it was there by design.  While most of us would just love to get our students back in the classroom, that is not and cannot be the case for you.  What are you missing the most in the online, virtual format, either as an advancement in technology or needed culture of practice? 

  • Icon for: Sue Allen

    Sue Allen

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 12, 2020 | 09:15 a.m.

    Hi Nickolay, 

    I've been thinking about your questions and comments as well. A few thoughts:

    Yes to your point about the value of hybrid models (in-person and virtual).  We use hybrid models as well, when feasible, for the reasons you point out. This particular project is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with fully virtual PD because for many rural educators the distances make in-person meetings unrealistic, so it’s an equity issue.

     In terms of your question about future developments of videoconferencing, and the perils of powerpoint, that’s fascinating to ponder. I think a more optimistic parallel might be websites; when they first arrived, designers were all over the map, but over time they settled into some recognizable patterns (familiar categories in tabs at the top, navigational structures, shorter hyperlinked pages, etc. etc.) while at the same time leaving enough flexibility for lots of creativity. I can imagine videoconferencing being similar: settling into standards for how you name & introduce yourself, norms of turn-taking & handling conversational threads, self-troubleshooting, etc. while still giving lots of fluidity in the discourse & activities. I would expect an increase in side-conversations via chat, with new norms there too, as a way to try to ameliorate the limitations of one single conversation. I would expect increasing norms of “hey person X, can we chat about this in a breakout room for a few minutes?” to replicate the kinds of informal chats that are so easy in person. (I tried this in a recent NSF panel and it worked pretty well). And I think we’ll get more comfortable with looking away from screens and moving around while still using audio to listen & communicate. That’s already been happening for some years in virtual orgs, where folks work quietly in their rooms and let others pop in, or have breakfast together with no particular agenda. And I would guess that one way people will break out of the square portal on their face is to explicitly include their contexts more. We already do that quite deliberately with ice-breakers where we invite people to show us their work spaces, or to share what sorts of things are most likely to interrupt us – cats, construction noises, etc. (Perrin’s great idea), all as ways to legitimize the larger context and try to build relationships a bit more easily from the beginning. We're also pushing the boundaries on joint physical interactivity, in the sense that we have remote participants building an engineering project jointly, working as a team to brainstorm and build and iterate, which feels a lot like the fun and informal process we miss so much. 

    Oh, and I suspect we’ll see increasing emphasis on discussions and reduced emphasis on presentations (which can readily be shared as text or video prior to the meeting), rather like the “flipped classrooms” in the school world.

    What do others think?

  • Icon for: Nickolay Hristov

    Nickolay Hristov

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2020 | 04:02 p.m.

    Hi Sue, I am delighted that you pondered these questions and added your thoughts here as I think they are very insightful and important to contribute to the conversation.

    I was also happy to see your analogy with the web; I agree, it has gone through a similar evolution of technology and practice as what we are witnessing now with online learning and can serve as a useful bearing in navigating unavoidably turbulent times ahead.

    As I pointed out in the exchange with Perrin, I took a particular interest in your project not only because it is original, needed, timely and impactful in its own right, but also because I personally faced some of the very same issues that you tackle in your work - as a higher ed faculty whose classrooms was unexpectedly shaken but also as part of the iSWOOP project designed to re-envision the national park experience.  I think we share several of the challenges and opportunities to reach distant audiences in an impactful fashion and could learn from each other in substantive and meaningful ways.  You can learn more about the project at www.iswoopparks.com as well as see a playful take and more than one behind the scenes moments from the 5-year evolution of the project through the series of 3-minute submissions here on this forum in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

    Congratulations about the terrific project and presentation and best wishes to you and your Team!

  • Icon for: Perrin Chick

    Perrin Chick

    Co-Presenter
    May 8, 2020 | 03:37 p.m.

    Nickolay- Thank you for your thoughtful question. As an ACRES coach, there is rarely a moment I wish I was facilitating a group in-person. Other AcRES coaches may chime in and share what they are missing, as my list is the opposite.

    When I present in-person workshops, I often find myself discouraged by small group sizes or disappointed when people have to back out at the last moment. There were occasions when I would have to weigh the cost/benefits of conducting an in-person workshop. I hate telling people we are going to cancel a workshop because of low enrollment because I know those few people still want and need the support.  Group sizes of 6 to 10 people are really rich in a virtual format, but I can easily scale down to 2  people or scale up to groups of 20 plus people in our format without having to spend a dime more.

    I love that I never have to choose between being there for my own family and conducting a workshop at their ideal time. In our model, I am not driving anywhere, so I can be home for dinner with my family and then facilitate a cohort at 6:30PM at night to meet the needs of afterschool educators who are busy during the day and immediately after school.

    I like seeing people's cats walk across the screen. I appreciate people's resiliency when I see them juggle ACRES PD and their own kids' needs. I have had drinks with my cohort members, eaten dinner with them, seen inside their teaching space and offices, helped them troubleshoot computer issues, and even had people cry during a session (due to the enormity of COVID19 and trying to connect with their youth). I feel like the way ACRES is set up and due to the multiple points of contact, we have with educators, that bonding virtually happens often and consistently. I just love it for so many reasons.

    I, of course, wish all of our educators had access to strong internet, but we have developed many workarounds.  There are occasions when we turn off their video or have them call in. There are times we give them videos to watch on their own, and then just come together to talk about what we saw. I have even had afterschool educators in my ACRES cohort so appreciative of this PD that they will take it from their car, sitting outside of a Dunkin Donuts just to get good wifi.

    The ACRES team has helped and listened to many educators as they pivot and turn during COVID19. Remote engagement feels very different when, as you say, it is by design and everyone comes to the session wanting to connect in this format and because it is sometimes the only format available to them due to busy lives, and limited funding.

     

  • Icon for: Nickolay Hristov

    Nickolay Hristov

    Facilitator
    May 9, 2020 | 03:55 p.m.

    Thank you for the inspired response, Perrin!  The sentiment and sensibility of the perspectives that you share are not lost on me.

    As I look for similar feedback and integrate with my own experiences, I find myself wondering, is it possible for Zoom (and the likes) to turn into the Power Point of the past 15-20 years? In that case, without taking from the remarkable communication potential of the platform in itself, years if not decades went by before the likes of Tufte, Nussbaumer Knaflic and Duarte (amongst many others) broadly rejected the bullet-point style and templated presentations used with ubiquity from the corporate meeting rooms to the classroom and non-profit gatherings.  To the points of purposeful design in shaping information exchange, as the vehicle for learning, knowledge and action, are there sensibilities and awareness that we should invoke now as we shape powerful and potentially transformative precedents?

    I also reflect on the points of ease, accessibility, scalability and quality/value (in a very general sense).  For the sake of the thought exercise, I am wondering - could online learning turn into the Walmart of shopping?  Accessible, big, cheap and 24/7 but… we know the rest of the stereotype.  Or is it, that we have learned from past successes and failures with transformative technologies and practices and it is not bulleted slides that we are putting together now even as we reach new audiences in ways that were not possible before.

    Your points suggest that there is subtlety and a personal touch in these interactions and inherent flexibility and resilience in the platforms and models that far exceed the apparent limitations of the camera and screen.  This is encouraging to hear and I am delighted with your work as we inevitably rely on it as one of the first and few studies and programs.  We should move forward without overgeneralizing from a few specific cases, be mindful of the differences between formal and informal learning settings and I continue to wonder if, in these formative times, a hybrid approach that leans on the well-established subtleties and nuances of in-person interaction can be leveraged to lead to better long-term practices with online learning as well.  I also know that, as experts and practitioners, we can be proactive and discerning in designing new technical capabilities informed by our best sensibilities and data rather than economic forces alone.  The frenzy of excitement about VR from just a few years ago, that has largely been tampered more recently, is still fresh in our minds.  Playful and visionary, yet mindful experimentation, is likely the best mechanism going forward.

    The challenges and opportunities of online vs. in-person learning is on a lot of folks’ mind right now.  I would love to hear your further thoughts and I invite others to join as well.  Thank you for thinking through these possibilities with me and congrats on a terrific program and presentation! 

  • Icon for: Perrin Chick

    Perrin Chick

    Co-Presenter
    May 11, 2020 | 10:33 a.m.

    Nickolay- I appreciate your questions and perspectives. I am normally more of a talker than a typer. I will try to address your questions and comments, but I am also happy to connect live and have a conversation about this.  ( In-fact that is at the heart of ACRES- connecting to learn from and listen to individuals.)

    There is absolutely the potential to have remote engagement go the way of boring powerpoints and "Walmart". We see it happening already. I often use this analogy- If we are teaching remotely, you need to think of yourself as an accordion player and really think about when it makes sense to bring people together and infuse energy into the group and when does it make sense to let the participants spread out a bit. To be effective, we have to thoughtful as to when does it makes sense to be asynchronous and synchronous.

    The platform of Zoom can be very exhausting for presenters and participants. If done well, you should be talking to all participants and responding to their visual cues and online chats. In many ways, it can feel even more exhausting than an in-person event, because you are always troubleshooting the tech and trying to move past the barriers of the screen. As presenters, you should be sharing information ahead of time, so conversations are rich when you meet and then sending follow up communication too, so conversations continue. You need to use breakout rooms and polls not only to get participants to connect, but also so you as the presenter can gather your thoughts in anticipation of what is to come next in the session. Just presenting information can be done in a video. Just sharing slides, can be done through google. Just asking for people to put questions in the chat at the end of a session, is a webinar and certainly serves a role and can be easily recorded and shared.  Using Zoom and video conferencing to be live and to truly connect is different though. It requires participants and facilitators to exist in a safe but brave space as we call it- it can make everyone feel very vulnerable too unless it is also a very supportive environment.

    There is so much we could discuss related to informal and formal learning settings and the professional development that is or is not offered. I personally can't wait to reflect back on how classroom educators and out-of-school educators and even PD providers changed and adapted during COVID19. I can say it has been fascinating for me to see remote engagement from my daughter's middle school perspective and from the perspective of my husband who teaches Building Trades in a CTE program and then to contrast it those situations with out-of school educators like museums, and nature centers and 21st CCLC centers. So much to shift through and so much to think about as we look forward.

    I hope these comments address your questions and wonderings. Again happy to connect and talk more about them.

     

     

     

     

     
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    Lynn Farrin
  • Icon for: Nickolay Hristov

    Nickolay Hristov

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2020 | 03:42 p.m.

    Thank you for your thoughtful response, Perrin.  It has been very helpful and your additional perspectives give further depth and scope to the conversation that might be helpful to others as well.  I would very much like to accept your offer to continue the conversation, rightfully and inevitably online, for the time being but also, possibly, one day, in person with your entire team on my way to UMaine-Orono or Acadia National Park for one of our existing projects.  I spent 5 years as a student in Orono in the late 90s so it has been delightful to hear of a project with national impact from a place that is very dear to me.  Congratulations, once again about the terrific project and presentation and I am very much looking forward to continuing the conversation!

  • Icon for: Larry Bell

    Larry Bell

    Informal Educator
    May 8, 2020 | 10:31 p.m.

    Sue, it's exciting to see this information about your great project. Like many others our ChemAttitudes project has a supplement to do PD workshops for chemists and the pandemic has us shifting from in-person at-round-tables workshops to an online environment using Zoom, Slack, and the NISE Net website. We just launched the a set of asynchronous prep activities today with the first Zoom meeting in two weeks. So it's great to see your video and read the conversation above. Liz (Kollmann) who is leading the research on our project went right to your presentation on Tuesday to ask your first question. It's great to learn from your project.

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    Sue Allen

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 11, 2020 | 07:04 p.m.

    Thanks Larry, we're all learning from each other!

  • Icon for: Natasha Cooke-Nieves

    Natasha Cooke-Nieves

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 9, 2020 | 10:16 a.m.

    Great job of first seeing the need and then creating a community of afterschool teacher practitioners. In this current age of remote learning, you were at the forefront bringing everyone from afar together. It might be also helpful to see what the actual PD sesion lools like and some more detail of the activities you provided. I love that the members reflected on bideo and had a silly ocebreaker!

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    Perrin Chick

    Co-Presenter
    May 11, 2020 | 09:42 a.m.

    Greetings Natasha

    I would be happy to share with you our coach's materials if you wanted to meet over Zoom. We have all of the modules written up and created a Learning Management system to help us train future coaches. We have a collection of videos ready to share that showcase what our sessions look like over three-course of the three sessions together. You can also check out our website to see the descriptions of the skills. https://mmsa.org/projects/acres/

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    Margo Murphy

    K-12 Teacher
    May 10, 2020 | 07:38 a.m.

    Excellent Work!!

     
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    Perrin Chick
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    Jeff Hayward

    Researcher
    May 10, 2020 | 10:10 p.m.

    Loved the idea of observing other after-school educators to discuss the skills they were using, independent of the content. 

     
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    Alex DeCiccio
    Perrin Chick
  • Icon for: Hannah Lakin

    Hannah Lakin

    Co-Presenter
    May 12, 2020 | 01:14 p.m.

    Thank you, Jeff! We have heard from some participants that focusing on the STEM facilitation skills, rather than specific content, has helped them facilitate learning in other areas beyond STEM as well. Let us know if you have any questions or ideas you'd like to discuss further.

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    Heidi Carlone

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 12, 2020 | 10:39 a.m.

     Dear Sue and Team,

    This work was timely before now, but wow-- very timely now, too. As my team and I consider how to facilitate meaningful professional development virtually, we will be checking out this work more closely. I love the practice-based approaches to professional learning, the ways you reach large populations of educators, and the focus on out-of-school/after school educators in rural areas. Great work!

  • Icon for: Hannah Lakin

    Hannah Lakin

    Co-Presenter
    May 12, 2020 | 01:21 p.m.

    Thanks, Heidi! I don't think we had any idea how applicable this would be to this current moment when we started, but we have certainly used a lot of the lessons from this project to help keep us connected in meaningful ways during the pandemic.  Let us know if you'd like to discuss anything further as you think about going virtual, and check out our recent paper if you haven't already.

    Brasili, A. & Allen, S. (2019). Beyond the webinar: Dynamic online STEM professional development. Afterschool Matters, 29, 9-16.

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    Hope Parker

    K-12 Administrator
    May 12, 2020 | 04:45 p.m.

    Great idea! I love that this model brings so many groups together in a safe and growth mindset focused environment. Being able to connect with like-minded professionals, learn, test and reflect is great not only for professional development but a powerful reminder of how the cycle of learning should go for our students as well! Growing up in a rural area myself we had little access to these types of ideas/resources, a program like this would have been incredibly valuable to both formal and informal teachers! 

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    David Horwitz

    Informal Educator
    May 12, 2020 | 04:48 p.m.

    Great video and project! As everyone knows, it's difficult to teach STEM activity facilitation virtually. It's great to see how engaged your educators are using Zoom. I'm curious if you're teaching virtual STEM facilitation virtually too. That is, are you training educators to virtually facilitate STEM activities with students? Or are you training aftershcool educators for when they return in-person to the school? Essentially, are any afterschool programs running virtually and, if so, are you training educators or how to conduct distance learning via your modules? Thanks!

  • Icon for: Sue Allen

    Sue Allen

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 12, 2020 | 07:29 p.m.

    Hi David,

    Great question. We could create a module with that particular focus if that’s what the afterschool providers need – so far we’ve been offering informal sessions where anyone can come and share their situation and needs, and we support them in any way we can. But we’re also letting the dust settle a bit to see if the field commits to doing virtual activities with their youth – many people have simply lost their jobs or have other priorities than STEM.

    Certainly participants in our regular courses get comfortable using and troubleshooting Zoom, so that’s one skill they can use if they’re doing anything virtually. And one early trend we're quite excited about is that some of the participants, when asked whether they could bring in videos of their work with youth, spontaneously bring in videos of zoom sessions they've conducted and recorded in their virtual programs. That's great because it opens the door to discussing facilitation in a fully virtual context. 

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