Extending learning w/ global collaboration – Middle School Art

One of my favorite things as a coach is to work with a teacher and then see them take the initiative. Last year as part of my COETAIL final project I collaborated with our middle school art teacher (Lindsay) to create a unit based around photography using the Design Cycle. One of the most powerful pieces of the unit (IMHO) was the connection we made with Brian & Yuko of Photohoku. As part of their inquiring & analyzing, students created questions for Brian & Yuko. We then did a Google Hangout with them and the students were able to talk to them in real-time. The students loved it.

Fast-forward 4 months to the current school year. Lindsay approached me for details on how to use Google Hangouts to connect with an expert. The students were learning about the Volumes of Design and she had arranged for a collaboration with Jodi Harvey-Brown (Statement of Inquiry: Our interpretation through time and space facilitates change.). We decided on a Hangout On Air so that students could re-watch the discussion whenever they needed to. I didn’t do any of the planning – just the technical details to help it be a success for the students. [Luckily I had presented on Google Hangouts in Michigan this summer and had some resources readily available. Google Hangouts On Air can be tricky!]

Lindsay arranged with the other 8th grade teachers so that all of her students could be in the classroom for this special event. Students created questions in advance and Lindsay sent them to Jodi so she had a heads-up. During the hangout, students asked her questions in order to help them create their own book sculptures. The event was yet another reminder of how meaningful & powerful it can be to connect our students to experts around the world. Teachers no longer need to be the sage on the stage – they simply need to help students safely connect to other people who have knowledge or skills of value.

[If I had to do it over again, the only thing I would change is discussing the norms of this type of activity with students before beginning. Many of the students had never been involved in something like this and weren't really sure how to act. I also think it would have been helpful to explain a few features of Hangouts prior to starting.]

Burning Questions Protocol

At Learning 2.014 in Africa this year I was a cohort facilitator of the Middle/High School Tech Leaders cohort with Sol. Leading up to the conference and during our first meeting it was our job to collect ‘burning questions’, desired takeaways or goals for the conference from our cohort members. During our second meeting 24 hours later, at about the half way point of the conference, our goal was to process together what we had learned and how we might use it in our situations – we were trying to answer our own questions based on the conference. Our fearless leader, Nick Kwan, suggested that we use a simple protocol similar to Final Word to facilitate our discussion.  As a recent convert to Critical Friends Groups and protocols, I was on board!

During our first meeting, Sol and I created a Google Doc for our cohort notes. We made a table in the document for our cohort’s ‘burning questions.’ We asked our cohort to then go into the document and vote for their top 3 ‘burning questions’ during the next 24 hours (or vote for it as an unconference session). At the next meeting we ‘discussed’ the 3 most popular questions. Sol and I took notes during the process so that everyone could listen instead of try to process all the information immediately. This process was probably the most worthwhile of the cohort time (and maybe conference!).

When I came back to school, I was telling our curriculum coordinator (and CFG coach) about the protocol. She was preparing for our staff PD day at the time and there was time built in for cohorts to process the information learned during the first 2.5 hours of the meetings. We decided to create a Burning Questions protocol based on my experience at Learning 2. It was a little different at our school but I thought it went well. Some takeaways:

  • We needed more space. We had all the cohorts in the auditorium. It was too much going on. In the future the cohorts should be split into different (smaller) areas.
  • It needs to be clear that the questions are conceptual or debatable. It also went better at Learning 2 when we had the questions compiled before the learning started.
  • We should have reiterated the purpose of the protocol.
  • We have done the Compass Points activity with our staff. It would have been worthwhile to remind them of how different people process and interact.

The protocol that Christina and I adapted is below. Feel free to contact either of us if you have questions!

A summer of #UKSTL

This summer was the first time in a long time that I had classes during the summer. It was tough! But I found a way to stay motivated (even while relaxing on a lake in Northern Michigan with family and enjoying local brews).

ELS 620: Leading Action Research

This was my second class with Jayson Richardson. I’ve found him to be the most challenging professor I’ve had in the UKSTL program so far. And I started this class a month late. Luckily Jayson is also the most responsive and open-minded prof I’ve had. He pushes me to my limit but I always seem to learn the most. Funny how that works.

This class was my introduction to action research. Once I understood that action research is all about coming up with what you can affect, it went pretty smoothly. I had the pleasure of writing my first annotated bibliography, my second lit review, a scholar-practitioner platform and my culminating action research proposal. I also engaged in great discussions with the other members of my class. I really enjoy learning and growing with the people in my program.

Once again the lit review was demanding but completely worth it. I kinda maybe actually sorta like to write lit reviews…I end up learning a ton and being able to process all the research in a way that I applicable to me.

Probably the most difficult piece of the course for me was the scholar-practitioner platform. I lost count of how many times I had to rework and tweek this document.

One of the most difficult aspects of the course for me was deciding on which aspect I could actually change in my position. I don’t have consistent and direct contact with students so I couldn’t focus on anything with student learning. The one thing I do have a relative amount of control over is the technology PD at my school. After participating in a Critical Friends Group last year I thought it would be interesting to facilitate a CFG with a focus on tech integration. My lit review proved helpful in refining my ideas for my proposal. I was quite adamant about having a small group of willing & eager teachers to work with, not just anyone or everyone. Below are my elevator speech and my entire proposal. My research officially starts this week so I’m eager to see how it goes.


EDL 663: Leadership for School Program Improvement

In 663 we focused on ISTE Admin Standard 3 and professional development with Justin Bathon. Justin is extremely passionate about quality professional development so this was the perfect course for him to teach. I really enjoy discussing PD with him. Our two big projects for the semester were a Personal Professional Development Plan and a Staff Professional Development Plan. These forced me to take the time to intentionally plan out how I would develop myself and staff this year.


Wanted: Suggestions for school stakeholder tech survey

We just finished up our MSA re-accreditation in the spring. Our newly formed Technology Committee has been tasked with addressing the issues that were brought up surrounding technology. We need:

a 3 to 5 year IT plan to be developed with input from stakeholders. The plan would include benchmarks/specific tasks to complete, projected cost for ongoing purchasing, and maintenance of current and future technology. Once the plan has been approved, it would be shared with all stakeholders.

To this end we have started brainstorming ideas for a technology survey that will be given to all school stakeholders (students, teachers, staff, admin, parents).

Instead of completely reinventing the wheel, we’d love input about other surveys that exist or questions that you (or your school) have used in the past. Please leave a comment or suggestion on this brainstorm that we’ve started. Any and all input is much APPRECIATED!

Finally a little #GAFE in my life!

After just over 2 years in this position (and almost 2 as a Google Edu Trainer) I’ve finally been granted the permission to run a GAFE pilot! I was just scrolling through my blog posts and can’t believe I haven’t blogged about this yet…I’m pretty pumped!

At the beginning of the year several teachers approached me wanting to use Google Apps in their classrooms. We currently have Office 365 and I wasn’t sure how the proposal of a GAFE pilot would fly with the principals. From my view we had a couple options: a) tell the teachers no and they do it anyway (without support) or b) pilot the use of GAFE in select classrooms and give them support. The principals agreed that option b was probably smarter. The one restriction I was given is that we cannot (yet) use our own GAFE domain. Instead students will be using their school provided email addresses to create Google accounts. The principals asked me to write up a short statement to document the process. I collaborated with our curriculum coordinator (Christina) in order to include our school objectives.

During the last month, we’ve been hard at work getting our pilot started! I’ve been co-teaching in classrooms getting the students signed up with Google accounts and introducing them to Google Apps. For students under 13, we are teaching them how to be safe while setting up their account and then asking their parents to sit down with them to sign up. We’re teaching all students that this is a ‘professional’ space for them to create and collaborate. A little digital citizenship never hurt anyone!

I’ve had a lot of fun in classes introducing students (and teachers!) to some of the features of Google Apps. They’ve been amazed at the possibilities for collaboration and started experimenting – a couple students started playing tic-tac-toe using a shared Google Drawing. Working in an IB school gives GAFE a whole new meaning. When exploring the additional apps that can be connected to Drive, we discussed that this is the perfect place for them to go when their teachers ask them to show their learning but don’t specify how. I’m especially excited to see how year 4 MYP Design students use the new tools at their disposal.

As we dive more into the pilot, I’ll keep updating :) EXCITED!

p.s. This post was made possible by @wordpressdotcom. Yesterday I tweeted that I had lost this post while using Waltz and the new interface. It didn’t save in my drafts and was nowhere to be found! I was pretty bummed. Until WordPress tweeted back…and low & behold there was my long lost post! Another reason that being connected and Twitter are #awesome.

#Learning2 – like no other

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A week ago I was exploring the poster sessions at Learning 2 in Addis Ababa and getting ready for our 2nd MS/HS Tech Leader/Coach cohort meeting. Now that I’m sitting in my office in Kuwait, my trip to Ethiopia seems surreal. Like most people, sometimes my day to day work-life gets boring, old and I forget why I’m doing this. Learning 2 helped me remember what I’m passionate about. Being around like-minded international educators with whom I could discuss burning questions and collaborate was inspiring, energizing and inspiring. Can’t everyday be a Learning 2 day?!

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I arrived early Wednesday morning from Kuwait with 30 hours to spare before the conference began (direct flights only happen a couple times a week). After navigating to my hotel, I headed to the International Community School to meet up with the Learning 2 Leaders. If I hadn’t been alone I might have been brave enough to explore the city but that will have to wait for another trip. My extra time in Addis allowed me to see the behind the scenes of being a L2 Leader…it’s not for the weak! But thus began my love affair with how this conference differed from others – all Leaders arrived 48 hours before the conference started to collaborate and ‘perfect’ their Extended Sessions and L2 Talks. The professional growth and collaboration that the Leaders are exposed to is quite impressive.

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The professional growth and collaboration that ALL participants are exposed to is impressive. From start to finish, this conference was like no other. My biggest takeaways weren’t necessarily what I learned from a speaker or presenter…but the people I met and the conversations I had. Going alone to a conference took me outside my comfort zone – I get my energy from being around people but I’m not the most outgoing in situations where I don’t know people. Fortunately, it felt like I knew people thanks to my PLN. Although I’d never met anyone in person before I was able to hug people when greeting them for the first time because it sure feels like I know them. Twitter and COETAIL have that power.

I originally planned on just attending the conference. For awhile I toyed around with also presenting a 1-hour workshop. In the end I ended up being a Cohort Facilitator. Luckily I didn’t present because I lost my voice on Wednesday and I’m still working to get it back to 100%! No one at Learning 2 knows what I actually sound like…just my gravely, sexy voice ;). The Cohort experience was by far my favorite. We were about 12 tech leaders/coaches from around the world who gather together and asked burning questions. And then we answered them. I would have been happy just sitting in a room all day with my cohort and solving world (education) problems.

I don’t really have many words for the conference. Just wow. Between my cohort, the L2 Talks, the extended sessions (my notes), the unconference discussions (our COETAIL meetup!), the food and the evening activities (read: drinks!) – it was just as epic as I thought it would be. ICS has a gorgeous campus (with tortoises!). It rained just enough to keep me happy but not too wet. The weather was nice and cool (quite a contrast from Kuwait!). The coffee smelled amazing.

Instead of more words from me, check out the #Learning2 InstagramTwitter feeds (they’ll start populating with #L2Asia soon!), the L2Africa Flickr page, the Facebook page, Doug Johnson’s pictures and Jeff Utecht’s latest post. [One picture exists to prove that I was actually there.] I probably tweeted more in the 4 days at Learning 2 than I have all year.

Learning 2 was an experience I’ll always keep with me. If I could, I’d attend every one for the rest of time. Learning2Asia is next weekend…and next year Learning2Europe and Learning2MiddleEast are set to start (keep an eye out for the applications)! Hopefully in the future I’ll even get to attend a Learning2Mars!

[If you want a more personal perspective on my time in Ethiopia, check out my other blog.]

I’m a #COETAIL graduate

Three semesters, five classes and one really late update about my final project…and I officially finished up my graduate certificate in May!

My portfolio:
Course 1
Course 2
Course 3
Course 4
Course 5

My final project: We integrated the Design Cycle into a 7th grade visual arts class (unit planner). Students chose to either increase tourism to or decrease littering in Kuwait by creating a social media campaign using photography. Students used Tumblr as their Design Folder. I provided them with information and modeled their Design Folder using my own Tumblr. We found that TO-DO lists were essential for the students in order to help them create their own Folder. For some of the students, it was the first time they were really diving into Design so we tried to scaffold it for them. [full follow-up post]

My biggest takeaway: The network. The COETAIL reach is constantly expanding. I’m currently at Learning 2.014 in Addis Ababa and finally meeting people face to face (a little ironic that I’m writing my final COETAIL posts while sitting in the same room as the co-founders). But it feels like I’ve known them for so much longer. The “COETAIL effect” is real. And it’s now available in the US! If you’re looking to join an innovative community of educators all over the world committed to learning…what are you waiting for?

Semester 2 of #UKSTL

WAY back in May I finished up my second semester of my MEd in School Technology Leadership with the University of Kentucky. As soon as the UK semester was over, I started a 4-week category 2 International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (IB MYP) Design training. I’ve become pretty good at keeping myself BUSY!

ELS 616: Leadership for School as Inclusive Community

This class sounded awesome and I was pretty excited. The parent population at our school isn’t super involved and I was really looking forward to learning how to involve both parents and the community in a deeper way. Unfortunately the class was a little disappointing. Blackboard (or how it’s setup at UK) was a disappointment after using Canvas. And the professor may have taken on a little too much. However she was extremely willing to work with us and adapt the final assignment to fit our needs.

Our first assignment was a snapshot of our school. It was interesting for me to dive a little deeper into the statistics at our school. And realize that it’s much harder to find out stats about private international schools than it is public schools in the States. I also had fun creating this with Prezi – I tried to use Prezi for it’s strengths and not simply shove a regular presentation into Prezi format. [It won't embed :(]

Our second assignment was about the stakeholders at AIS. This was a great reminder that a successful technology initiative includes a shared vision that includes all stakeholders.

My final project morphed into a 1:1 parent engagement action plan. I was able to tailor this to my school and my needs and I really enjoyed coming up with a plan for how I would have implemented our 1:1 program if I had been in charge (at least the parent engagement piece of it).

EDL 662: Digital Age Learning and Technology Leadership

A great title…that also ended up being a great class. The focus was on ISTE Standard 2 for Administrators. I had Dr. John Nash in the fall for Quantitative Methods but it was easy to tell that this class better matched his passions. As always there was a lot of great discussion on Canvas.

One of our first assignments was an autoethnography. I’d never done one before and it ended up being a beneficial experience forcing me to really think about WHY I am who I am.

I also created two 60-second PD lessons (in the form of podcasts) about two of the terms from the educational technology standards glossary. My original goal was to use TouchCast for the social media one but it didn’t work out with the devices I had available to me.

Our final assignment was to conduct a “point-in-time critical analysis of how technology is being used by students, teachers, and administrators in their school(s) or institution” using Standard 3 (Teaching & Assessing for Learning) of the AdvancEd Quality Standards for School.

#CISDGcamp14 – worth it!

Many months ago Jeff and I got an email from my mom. The Calhoun Intermediate School District (where she works & in my hometown of Battle Creek, MI) was planning a 3-day Google based PD event in July. Since we’d presented at previous Summits and I was a newly minted Google Certified Trainer, she thought we might like to present. She put us in touch with Mike Oswalt and away we went!

Fast forward 3 months. It’s July and I’m in full summer mode, sitting at a cottage on a lake in Northern Michigan with my family. Figuring out my presentations and getting pumped to “work” was not my idea of fun! Camp started on Monday and boy was I exhausted Monday night! After this post I’ll be back in summer (with 6 graduate credits) mode ;). The three days of Camp were pretty awesome. We met lots of new people, had fun presenting about things we love and got some great compliments. I presented 2 different sessions a total of 9 times in 3 days…they kept me busy! But the food was FANTASTIC and it was one of the most organized conferences I’ve been to. Imagine – teachers in the middle of their summers excited about learning! Crazy right?!

I slightly updated Harnessing the Power of Google: Collaboration and now I’m pretty sure it’s a tried and true session – I’ve done it 11 times at 3 different conferences! This works MUCH better as a 4-hour workshop but I really stress to teachers that I’m going to inundate them with info and then give them all my contact info for the future. I really like the style of a little show-and-tell and then having the attendees work and explore.

Hangouts & Chat was a new one for me but we had a lot of fun! My main goal was to have attendees participate in their first Hangout On Air and then experiment with Hangouts so that they would be comfortable to use them with their students. This was the first time that I’ve started a session with a survey to see what the attendees want to accomplish. I had an idea of what I wanted but I could be quite flexible the way I had set up the session. Luckily most people responded that they wanted what I had planned! It was a hands-on session and I provided links to resources they could check out later with ideas for actually using Hangouts in their classroom. I was really dreading this session but by the 3rd time I presented it I was quite happy with it!

Already looking forward to “working” in the summer of 2015 ;)

I’m a Critical Friend!

Since September I have participated in a Critical Friends Group at my school (with our coach Christina). It’s been a great experience to get to know, grow and collaborate with a small group of teachers. I would consider professional learning a weakness at our school so it’s been an enriching experience to be around people who share my professional values. We’ve met about once a month and used a variety of protocols to examine and enhance our practice. I’ve also participated in several protocols during school divisional meetings.

Today I facilitated my first protocol! Our MS principal (Dave) wanted a productive way for his staff to reflect on their weekly team meetings. I pre-conferenced with Christina and we decided on a Back to the Future Protocol. Dave is currently away on a site-visit so he wasn’t able to present. I subbed steps 1-3 with a list of questions Dave had thought of. Usually this protocol is done with 3 pieces of large butcher paper and the faciliator writes down what the group is saying. My handwriting isn’t awesome and I can type way faster than I can write. Also, I wanted something that would be easily shareable and would stick around (not be in the way or thrown away). I created a Google Spreadsheet and hoped for the best!

I gave the shortened link (view only) to all the participants in the protocol so they could follow along and see whichever of the sheets they wanted (on iPads they had to refresh to see the updates). On the classroom computer & projector, I kept the Projected Future sheet so they could always be reminded of what they were aiming for. I brought my Chromebook to the meetings so I could move around and edit whichever sheet I needed to be on.

The protocol went really well :). My experience presenting at conferences has made me comfortable in front of my peers. Plus protocols aren’t about me or my ideas…they’re about what the presenter wants accomplished. I was just the facilitator. During the debrief I specifically asked what they thought about using the Spreadsheet instead of butcher paper…they much preferred it! They liked that it was professional and didn’t make them feel like elementary teachers ;). I’ll be running another one for a different team on Sunday so I’m hoping it goes just as smoothly! [It did!]

I’ve created a template of the Back to the Future document so that anyone can view it and copy it…would love to hear how it works for you and if there are any improvements that I can make!