Episode # 56

Student Feedback with Dr. Kim Given

May 9, 2024

About This Episode

On this episode, Kara & Caryn speak with Dr. Kim Given, the strategic plan and innovation coordinator for Indian Hill schools, about the importance of getting feedback from your students about what does (and does not) work for them in the classroom.


Dr. Kim Given

Kim has been an educator and professional learning facilitator for 35 years. She currently works at Indian Hill with educators, students, and families as a gifted intervention specialist, program leader, and professional learning coordinator. She’s also been teaching at Xavier University since 2007, focusing on programs for gifted students including an online course supporting educators to leverage technology to personalize learning for gifted learners.



Caryn: Today we’re talking to Dr. Kim Gibbon, the strategic plan and innovation coordinator for Indian Hill schools. Kim, welcome. Thank you so much for talking to us today. Hi, I’m really excited to be here. So we always start by asking our guests to tell us a little bit about our, their journey into education and how you kind of ended up doing what you’re doing, where you’re doing it.


Dr. Kim Given: so I was not the typical kid who knew they wanted to be a teacher. I went to college undecided and then my roommate decided to go into elementary education. So I’m like, oh, that looks like fun. I’ll do that. Sounds good. And so just like, from that, like, happened stands a weird beginning. I.

Accidentally found my calling. I absolutely 100 percent loved [00:01:00] it. So I’ve been teaching for 35 years. And in that time, I’ve taught 2nd grade. I’ve taught 3rd grade. I’ve worked with students specifically on technology. I have been a technology, integration specialists. So I’ve helped teachers to use technology in their classroom.

And then I decided, Ooh, I learned a lot of stuff. I need to go back in the classroom. So my next era, I’m Taylor Swift, right? Yes. My next era was about 17 years of working as a gifted intervention specialist and I get to pull out program in the middle of school. And that was a project based learning class.

And I learned every used everything that I had learned. In educational technology in that class. And I’m going to talk a little bit about that, about some of the pain points. Maybe people can learn the stakes that I made and using educational tech. After that there’s this thing called COVID that happened.

And we were trying to make wise and safe decisions for students. And [00:02:00] we had some students that were going to learn from home and some students that were going to come to school. And we were trying to figure out how to limit movement of kids. So we were. You know, inadvertently, I’m having more opportunity for kids to get sick.

So we shut down a lot of our special programming, which included the gift of programming for that year.

Kara: And

Dr. Kim Given: we pulled those people and put them into other roles. So some of our fabulous innovation coaching people came from the gifted world and they did that during COVID and are still doing that work and doing great.

Great, great things with professional learning in our district. But my role was to run our online K through 12 gifted school at which was about 20 percent of our population. And again, like I always pair the thinking of educational technology with early adopters and failing forward. And I mean, in that role, I felt I had permission to experiment in order to bring hope and joy to people, to try and think about what does learning look like at home?

And like kindergarten as well as high school, like, what does that look like? So we spent a [00:03:00] year of that kind of hopes to expand that and continue building an online school, but our district is so small, it really was not feasible for us to be able to support teachers and leading those classes.

And what we did learn was putting kids online was not the answer. We needed live people to run classes online in order for it to work well. So from there, so this is what happened when you asked an old person What their journey has been, it’s long.

Caryn: No, we like this is exactly what we want. Yes.

Dr. Kim Given: From there, we decided in the midst of all that mess to start a strategic plan.

And our superintendent Kurt Konecki was very. Super visionary and realized that it doesn’t matter what’s happening at the moment. We need to give people hope and something to work towards and to be innovative. And so out of that, we started our strategic plan process, which is the first time that I’ve ever been a part of a strategic plan that impacted classroom practice.

So my role [00:04:00] currently is to kind of help connect the dots. I work in professional learning. I work with principals and teacher leaders to plan how can we make sure that we are preparing our students for tomorrow and we’ve got great teaching learning that happens right now. But what are the additional practices that we have not yet systematized K through 12 to really, really leverage the learning that kids are doing and educational technology has a big part of that.

So that’s what I’m doing now. That’s a little. A bit of my journey over the last 35 years.

Kara: I’m curious too, like when in that journey did you decide to get your PhD?

Dr. Kim Given: Oh yeah. Well that’s super interesting in that a friend of mine talked me into going to UC again, like, I just let these friends like decide what my future path is going to be.

They’re just placing your life early. Yeah, yeah. So a friend of mine convinced me to apply to UC in, I think, 2016 to start a doctoral program. And I’ve been wanting to kind of do some [00:05:00] advanced learning work. And at that point was teaching the gifted pullout program, but also doing a lot of professional learning planning in the district.

I run our mentoring program as we have new teachers come in. So She and I started together and we thought, okay, this is a good way for us to kind of, you know, we’re ready for, for something new, for something different. And then maybe six months later, she met her future husband and decided that her lifelong project was going to be to start a family.

So she did not stay in the program because she had bigger fish to fry. Of course.

Kara: Yeah.

Dr. Kim Given: And I found, I thought it was just. Going to be a box to check. I found that I really enjoyed the learning process in that format and it totally changed how I looked at working gifted learners, like the way that we’re focusing right now on student agency and having kids have choice in their learning.

I was not a model student in K through 12 education. I think my parents were a little worried about me there for a while in high school. No, but I. [00:06:00] I’ve firsthand experienced what it feels like when you have autonomy and direction and choice intrinsically located in your learning. And then it reminded me why some of our gifted learners are sometimes also our behavioral friends, or like, they’re not, they’re underachieving.

Yeah. So it really kind of helped me understand from a new perspective. So.

Kara: Wow. That is

Dr. Kim Given: when I got my doctorate. Yeah.

Kara: That’s really cool though.

Dr. Kim Given: Yeah.

Kara: You had, like, you started with kind of like an accountability buddy.

Dr. Kim Given: Yes. I, part of it was just to get me to finish. I am a great beginner of things. I am not always a great finisher of things.

So finishing that doctorate was, was great. It took six years. It took a while.

Caryn: Nothing wrong with that. It’s hard. And when you’re somebody that I feel like needs structure and deadlines and you are not used to imposing your own structure and deadlines, I think that can be really challenging. How do you define the true

Kara: value of [00:07:00] educational technology in the classroom and what factors should educators consider when evaluating its effectiveness?

Dr. Kim Given: Oh, that’s such a great question. Yeah. And I’m going to start off by admitting that when I was in the classroom with students they may have suffered something that I call techno schizophrenia because every new tool that I found, I was really excited about and we tried them all. I think we’ve all sometimes have like the same tool that was accomplished the same thing or different tools that would accomplish the same thing.

And I was making them try them all. Gotcha. Data testing. Right, so, like, don’t recommend that. So what I have learned, especially I think what’s good for gifted students is good for all students. But what I learned in working with gifted students was that. If your technology you’re using is not leveraging learning for all students, if it’s not breaking down barriers between your little isolated classroom and the rest [00:08:00] of the world, if it’s not connecting you authentically to real learning, if it’s not increasing the depth and complexity of the learning.

It’s not worth using. So it’s really important that technology be able to be an equalizer, allow all kids to access curriculum at a deep level, as well as an expander. Like how can technology help students to further what’s possible, how they think about themselves and further what’s possible for them in their pathway long term?

And I just am a big fan of all the ISTE work. And the work that they’re doing to try and help educators understand this. I just feel like sometimes we think about technology as something we just have to do. And while I think, don’t think it’s optional, I think everybody needs to do it. It is important that we use it in a way that really is a liberator for learners.

Kara: Yeah, for sure. Well, and too, it, it needs, it does, [00:09:00] it needs to add something. It needs to add that value to it. Otherwise it is kind of like, what’s the point? Yeah.

Caryn: Yeah. Just one more thing. Yep.

Kara: Yeah. And there are so many valuable ways to use it. But what do you think are some common misconceptions that educators may encounter when integrating technology into their teaching practices?

And I think. Some of that goes toward that of the, Ooh, this looks cool.

Dr. Kim Given: Yes. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. Many ways to do it incorrectly for me, that’s how it’s been. I would say that one assumption that I’m thinking a lot about, I mean, when I was working as a professional developer of educators in using ed tech, I mean, It was in the late 90s in the early 2000s.

It was a long time ago. And yet the tenants are the same. So we assume that there would be this magical point in time when teachers would come [00:10:00] out of their teacher preparation courses. Ready to use technology appropriately with students and that is not the case because personal use of technology is not the same as Educational and pedagogical use of technology, right?

So that’s one assumption that I was really for kind of Coaches and administrators to be thinking about is that you have to actively support Educators and learning how to use technology well in the classroom. I think another assumption is is that there’s there’s 2 sides to it. 1 is that it has to be hard and a lot of work to integrate technology.

Well, I don’t think that that’s true, especially if you’re discerning in which technologies you’re integrating and that another assumption is that it’s optional. I don’t believe it’s optional. I think in today’s day and age, everybody needs to be using technology both to differentiate for every single learner and also to connect learners outside of the.

Kara: Also, do you think that as educators, we make [00:11:00] assumptions that students know more about technology than they actually do when it comes to Either the use of, or maybe even like troubleshooting or problem solving.

Dr. Kim Given: Yeah, because it’s so true. It reminds me of when I was taught to teach math with little ones, and that when we would use manipulatives in the math class, if you were smart, you had a whole time for kids to explore before you expected them to use them as tools.

And I think the same is true of technology. You have to give kids a chance to explore before you’re using tools and you need to celebrate and support students who do natively love it and master it to be supporters of other kids. Like, allow that troubleshooting to happen, but you can’t assume that kids are going to use it.

Well, appropriately, and if you’re adding that layer of complexity onto an assignment and the, [00:12:00] the thinking and the work is also complex, you’re going to, it’s not going to go well. Yeah, you need like 1 layer of hard and whatever it is that you’re doing with kids, either, either the technology is new or the learning is super deep.

Or the output or product is something that pushes kids in a different way. And like, you can integrate that into a project, but not in one lesson, in my opinion.

Kara: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Cause I’m, I’m always curious about you know, people that will make comments of young adults, like coming into, you know, the job place and how they assume that they’re great using technologies and yet really, you know, They’re learning that those skills aren’t necessarily intuitive because what they’re using technology for on a personal level.

is, you know, pretty simplistic in a sense, right? You know, it’s a lot of like [00:13:00] tapping or swiping or what, you know, it’s not like like a deeper, I guess, skills.



Kara: How can educators ensure that the educational technologies they choose align with their instructional goals and pedagogical approaches?

Dr. Kim Given: That’s [00:14:00] really great question. And I think When I think back to my own practice, this may be a step I skipped. As I was just like, Ooh, that looks like fun. I want to do that.

So as is implied in the question, you have to really think about what’s your pedagogy, what’s your content you’re trying to teach does the technology, not just like a line, like I need a fun way for kids to review something. What does it allow kids to do differently because you’re using the technology?

Is it because it allows for you to better personalize learning experience? Does it allow for kids to have the kind of differentiation that they need? Does it connect kids with new opportunities to think about the content differently? If it doesn’t do those things, it may not be worth it. There’s a lot to be said about wanting to do something fun in the classroom to engage learners.

You know, I’m thinking about this week, we’re doing testing. And so I know that what teachers are doing [00:15:00] when the times when kids are finished testing is not introducing new content. What they are doing is helping kids to engage with one another in fun ways. But when you’re spending more time planning to use the technology, then the impact is giving you, it may not be worth it.

An example I can think of is there’s been a lot of excitement around tools that allow for kids to easily review and gamify, getting ready for assessments things like Kahoot, things like, oh, I can’t remember. There’s a quiz kit.

Caryn: Oh, yeah. And

Dr. Kim Given: those definitely have their place. And what I love about them is once a teacher makes them, they’re accessible to the kids whenever they need them.

So that’s a real strength, but a limitation is if that’s the only way kids learn how to review or, or be able to demonstrate their learning, it’s pretty simplistic, it’s not getting at the deeper critical thinking that we really want for kids to have. And [00:16:00] so it may not be the only tool that a teacher would employ and it’s not worth, like, Converting your whole curriculum to be tested with, you know, quizzes or whatever, you

Kara: know, I feel like too oftentimes technology, if it’s utilized properly, has.

the chance to reach those different kinds of learning needs, you know, for specific learners. So yeah, just keeping it in the pedagogy of things. That’s a sidebar. Anyway, what strategies do you recommend for effectively assessing the impact of educational technology on student engagement and achievement?

Now I’m really curious about this one.

Dr. Kim Given: Well, again. When I was in the classroom, I did not do a great job of this. I mean, there would be informal feedback as you always get from middle schoolers. Ooh, that was really fun. Or don’t do that again. So [00:17:00] honest. They are but I think the first step is be intentional and gather assessing the impact and not just assessing.

Like, I think there’s an element of student feedback that needs to happen. Students need to be, you know, a part of the discussion about the way in which classes are taught. But additionally, what is the student performance on authentic assessment? Do you find that it’s better because you’ve used the technology or is it more limited?

What is the time that you invested in using the technology? And what was the progress of the learner in using the technology? So I would say an example of a good situation is that if you are incorporating technology as a part of maybe a problem based learning unit, that’s going to take a different amount of time, class time, than direct instruction.

Kara: Yeah,

Dr. Kim Given: right. However, it’s also likely going to [00:18:00] ensure that students take more away from the learning and engage their brain differently than direct instruction. So time is not the single indicator. It is a piece of the, you know, calculation you need to do as an educator about whether using the technology is worth the time if it engages students.

Students more deeply with the content or skill, and they, the outcome then should be that they are able to perform at a higher level, demonstrating that they have learned more than without the technology. Then the technology is worth the time and effort.

Kara: I don’t know if it’s like a time thing when you’re in the classroom, and you.

are just, I don’t know. I feel like I was always looking for different ways to try things. Yeah. You know, or like you just kind of intuitively know your students and you’re like, Ooh, I don’t think that worked well for them. Right. So then you’re like, how can I shift? But keeping track of that or tracking that for learning outcomes isn’t always [00:19:00] necessarily

Dr. Kim Given: top of mind.

Yeah, right. Because you got to plan for the next day. I mean, stuff moves on. So I, I do think that One of the greatest gifts I had as an educator was teaching a class. It was a semester class. So my cycles of iteration were tighter than in a typical year long class that allowed me to have, like, less groundhog effect of where I was repeating the same things and not getting the results that I wanted because I had forgotten before.

But if you can add to your practice that there’s a systemic way that you’re capturing. The strengths and limitations of the technology you’re using, it’s going to just really empower your planning in the future. It is worth, you know, whatever strategy works for people just taking a quick note, you know, However you want to capture that, it will help with planning.

It’s, it is a facet of the planning process in my opinion.

Kara: Yeah, that’s for, yeah, that’s for sure. And I, I think too, you know, when you try technologies and they don’t work [00:20:00] on, you know, then yeah, you’re immediately reevaluating. Okay. Was this really worth my time seeing that it didn’t work? Like I thought it was going to kind of a thing too.

Dr. Kim Given: Well, and also to like, yes. And like, if you have a coach or a partner that you can work with, it might be that it needs to be tried differently or that, you know, either the kids need more training first or that you as an educator need to think about it differently. So there are certainly lots of things that were ed tech related that I gave up on.

But I think, and that’s okay, that’s like a good choice as long as you’re not missing out on something that could work with a little bit of tweaking. So it’s kind of that design thinking mindset.

Kara: Yeah,

Dr. Kim Given: for sure.

Kara: Okay. So how do you think that current educational technology trends will shape the future of teaching and learning?

Yeah, we know a big trend right now is the [00:21:00] Yeah. So even though it’s existed and been around for a

Dr. Kim Given: long time, long time, suddenly it seems to be a thing. Yes. That along with phone use bans. So I have a few thoughts. Yes. First of all, I, I tend to be a little Pollyanna, a little optimistic about things.

When I first started getting super excited about the possibility of using technology in the classroom with students, it was at the dawn of like, internet use in schools. I mean, again. Experienced been around a long time, right? So the same arguments and fears were in place of how is this going to change teaching and learning?

And does it need to change teaching and learning? And are our kids suddenly going to become lazy because they have access to all these things at their fingertips instead of going to the library and using microfiche, like, [00:22:00] you know, and honestly, It was the same argument when calculators came out. Oh

Caryn: yeah.

Dr. Kim Given: That’s the end of anybody thinking about being a good mathematician because there’s a calculator. And what I have learned in that cycle is that if you can approach these tools with critical thoughts and include kids in the work you’re going to do better. Banning them is not a solution because kids will get access to outside of school or sometimes inside of school, depending on how good they’re.

Firewall work around strategies are but we can’t really expect kids to make good choices with technologies if we’re not teaching them to use the tools properly. And again, the standards are, that’s at the heart of that work. I, I just really think, because I’m optimistic about the ways in which we can shift as an educational I don’t know.

Organization institution. Yeah. If we embrace with caution [00:23:00] the ways in which I should change the way we teach and learn. So, like, there’s, there’s a revolution on the horizon that we need to think about how we teach writing differently. in order for kids to both utilize the power of that tool and as it continues to evolve, and still learn how to put together a logical argument that is defensible and based on real facts and all the rest.

Kara: Look at things as a friend instead of a foe. You know, how can we get along with this friend? Yes.

Dr. Kim Given: And honestly, we can use the friend’s collaboration work too.

Kara: Yeah. Well, we’re glad that you were willing to talk to us.

Dr. Kim Given: Yeah.

Caryn: Thank you. Thank you so much. [00:24:00]