Thursday, November 12, 2015

It's Time to Open Your Doors

If you have not noticed lately, education is under attack and those of us in the education profession have nobody to blame but ourselves.Today, we educate more students at a higher level and face greater challenges than ever before in the history of schooling--yet we spend little time showing the public what we do. Instead, we invite our students into our schools each day and work magic behind closed doors and leave the public to believe that classrooms operate just as they did 20, 30, or 40 years ago. We need to open our doors and show that schools are different. We need to put our students out in front where they can show just how amazing they are. Each time I am in a situation where adults interact with kids in an educational setting, the adults walk away stunned by the level of work, creativity, and ability that is demonstrated in our classrooms. If we want the attacks on education to end, it's time to stop letting people believe in an outdated image of our schools.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

What do students think of your tech?

Are you asking your students for their perspectives of the programs and technology you provide to enhance learning? This recentpost by Audrey Mullen, a sophomore in California, provides a too-common look into the high school experience in the 21st Century Classroom. I recently had a conversation with a student who was frustrated with a program that adapted the level of questioning based on her success. She had always been the first to complete her work and master concepts, but now the target kept moving higher based on her mastery of concepts. From her perspective, this was creating a more difficult school experience. How frequently do we listen to these student voices and, when we do, are we reflecting on, or even changing, our practices? Are we having conversations with students about the choices we make and why we believe they are appropriate? As we continue to adopt more technology, instructional changes happen at a quicker pace. Involving students in discussions about those changes can help us achieve better results and help us reach our goals.

Cross Posted in the T&L Newsletter

K12 Blueprint Chromebook Resources

If a school is moving to 1:1 and expecting students to use a single device all day, I believe it’s essential that district leaders live with the same device first. In 2012, I began modeling this by using a Chromebook exclusively for my job. After working effectively in this environment, I was confident that students could, as well. In the past year, Chromebooks have become the top device purchased by schools for reasons explained in the new eBook Less Waiting, More Learning with Intel-Based Chromebooks. In addition to this eBook, K-12 Blueprint offers several great resources for “going Chrome,” including a Chromebooks page and a blog where educators such as Alice Keeler and Kyle Pace share their expertise. Learn what it takes to advance to the next level of technology-powered education on K-12 Blueprint from a team of incredible educators. 

Cross-Posted to the K12Blueprint Blog

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Season for Growth

We have arrived at the time of the year where everyone is finally back in school. Some are just starting this week, while others have been back for almost a month. With back to school comes a season of change, where leaves turn colors and crops are ready. Just this past weekend, we enjoyed the fall harvest by taking the family apple picking. One of my favorite moments during this time is showing my kids that when you turn the apple upside down, you can see the remnants of the flower that became the apple. Day after day, that bud was given what it needed to grow and now, in September, it has become something entirely new. This small flower developed into a source of energy. This lesson applies to the classroom as well. Good teachers know that all of their efforts will be worth it because of the bounty at the end. Make sure you give your students everything they need to grow into sources of energy that will evolve from the delicate flowers that sit in your classroom today.

Cross-Posted from the Technology & Learning Newsletter

Monday, July 13, 2015

5 More Lessons from ISTE

Beyond the many specific lessons educators took back with them from #ISTE2015, I observed the following big-picture trends that indicated some major shifts in thinking in K-12 edtech:

• Sessions on tools are lame and should be avoided. The days of telling people where to click in sessions are no longer valuable. There are YouTube videos for that now. Show me what you are doing with it and how it impacts instruction. Even better, show me what your students are doing with it. Have your students come tell me about it--in person, virtually, or on video.

We are entering the age of the instructional coach. Schools are finally figuring out that tools are only good if your teachers are using them effectively. Coaching will be an area where we invest a lot of time and energy over the next 5 years. Tools to help with coaching are starting to heat up too.

Stories are gathering importance. Yes, testing is here to stay, but leaders and communities want to hear how you and your school are making a difference in student's lives. Start documenting and sharing these stories. Also, gather the stories of your teachers that are making this happen.

Devices matter, labels don't. Nobody really cares what brand of device you are using any more. As long as it connects to the web, you can support it, it can be sustained and every student has one - you have a tool. Now what?

Now what? As more schools are getting to a point where they have reliable tools and pathways to the Internet, they are trying to figure out how to go beyond basic student use and spark innovative change in the classroom while measuring success. See #2 and #3 above.

Cross Posted from the Technology and Learning Newsletter

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Set a Date to Show You Still Care

Welcome to the end of the school year--the last final weeks until your students go out to whatever comes next: the next grade, college, or work-life. I believe there are two things you should invest your time in during these final weeks: reflecting and challenging. Although this time of the year is insanely busy, take some time to reflect on what you accomplished this year and take some satisfaction in your success. Sketch out some notes on how to keep improving into the next year. Challenge yourself to head into the next few months laying groundwork for taking your craft to the next level. Then challenge those around you to do the same. Provide opportunities for your students, or those you supervise, to reflect, provide feedback, and set goals. Then open up your digital calendar or task list and pick a day in the fall when you are going to follow up. Then next fall, reach out to those you influenced this year to double your impact. Those 4th graders are going to be amazed when their 3rd grade teacher checks in on the status of their personal challenge. As the school year ends find ways to reflect, challenge, and continue to grow through the rest of this year and into the next to keep showing that you care.

Cross Posted from Tech and Learning Newsletter

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ingredients for Leading for Transformative Change

On May 8th Tech Learning Live Chicago comes to the Lincolnshire Marriott. Among the many other topics being presented at this one-day conference, I will be co-moderating a session that will look at “Leading for Transformative Change.” I will join a group of district leaders who will discuss the ideas, people, and resources needed to spark movements that result in new directions for schools. It is interesting to see how similar and different these mixtures can be. Over the past five years, under the leadership of Dr. Ken Wallace, our schools have helped lead the way in becoming a successful 1:1 Chromebook school district. As we have progressed, we have been active in sharing our successes and challenges through hosting site visits, sharing our resources, and presenting at conferences. In all of these interactions, I’ve learned that no school has the same formula to create a successful 1:1 program. Each has its own set of transformative ingredients to find success. However, there is one constant ingredient for transformation: the power of the learning demonstrated by students. I am amazed by how well kids can react, respond, and adapt to nearly any new situation. For all of the time we spend preparing for worst-case scenarios in 1:1 settings, few of us can imagine the learning opportunities students can encounter under the direction of an excellent teacher. I am often left wondering if we actually get in the way of the most transformative factor in our schools--our kids.

Cross Posted in the Tech & Learning Newsletter