Strategic Implementation of Technology

Our general workflow integrates digital devices.  If you think about your day, how often are you checking the internet, using your cell phone, or using digital programs that support your work?  A lot!  Students expect this type of experience at school.  Who wouldn’t?  No longer are teachers the keepers of information and knowledge.  Our reach is now vast.  Classrooms are extended across the globe and information is at our fingertips.

So how do we integrate all of this technology in a powerful, relevant manner that is safe and impactful?

  1. Have a plan.  At times, the funding of districts dictates the timing of purchases.  The devices roll in, but what is next?  It is important to have a thorough plan for teachers to ready their classrooms for devices.  A classroom implementation guide will help foster the shift in practice and physical spaces.  
  2. Prepare your teachers.   In preparation, be sure that teachers engage in meaningful personalized professional development.  Allow teachers to have choice and voice in their learning to prepare them to teach and facilitate a digital classroom.  
  3. Prepare your students.  Prepare students by engaging in activities to support routines and learning with devices.  DO NOT ASSUME students know everything about digital devices because they were born in the digital age.  Contrary, students may know a lot about SnapChat, but little on navigating in Google Apps.  Student Bootcamps scheduled for the first couple of weeks help build foundational skills that will support learning throughout the year.
  4. Foster safety.  Digital Citizenship has moved from acceptance to responsibility.  It is our duty to support healthy online living, just as we do for face-to-face living.  Build activities into your character and/or PBIS programs.  Teach and reteach.  We would rather students fail and learn in a guided environment, then to fail and suffer permanent damage.  Be sure to foster a digital citizenship curriculum where everyone in the building is a steward of its lessons.  Take a look at
  5. Make it count. Using technology for technology’s sake is so passe.  Co-construct learning experiences with students and let them pick the appropriate tool to achieve the learning outcomes.  Meaningful use of devices equals appropriate use of devices.  You will see student engagement and achievement increase with relevant use of devices.  Check out the SAMR, TPACK, and Triple E models for more impactful implementation guidance.
  6. Make connections.  Experience is the base for making connections to learning.  Reach out to experts, classrooms in another country, and virtual field trips.  Try a virtual reality experience. Enable students to explore through technology to promote growth and “ah-ha” moments.  Also, creating or expanding a Personal Learning Network(PLN) is extremely effective for professional growth and finding those global connections!

Now with all of that said, take baby steps and celebrate along the way.  Our students need and desire learning experiences that are personalized and relevant.  We got this!!

High Five

We are back at it.  My husband works year round is as always perplexed with the idea of closure and ramping up again.  That is just part of our professional rhythm.  With the new start, comes new faces, goals, and systems.  Our only constant in education is change.  We recognize change is imminent because of this rhythm.

Change is exciting and brings growth and opportunity.  It also can cause anxiety and stress.  What if you created a “High Five” list that helped you get through the year?  Let’s take a look at some suggestions:

  1. Invest in you as a learner.  Check out this book:

    “We have to realize that in a world filled with data, when facts and figures flow as freely as water, when even cars are driving themselves, we have to be able to acquire new forms of expertise quickly and effectively,” he writes. “Learning to learn is what experts call the “ultimate survival tool,” one of the most important talents of the modern era, the skill that precedes all other skills. Because once you know how to learn, you can learn almost anything, and as a society, we need much richer forms of education, where information and knowledge work to foster the problem-solving skills that ultimately matter.”

  2. With that – Fill your cup:  When I was in college, I asked my teacher how she liked teaching our drawing class.  She said she loved it, but was left empty of ideas for her own work because of giving, giving, giving to her students.  In education, we often give so much that we are left as empty vessels.  Find one topic you are passionate about and be a learner.  This may be through YouTube – subscribe to a channel that can teach you about a passion of yours.  My current favorite is the TED channel because I learn about so many different topics and people.  Follow a favorite uplifting blog and/or find a podcast to listen to on your way to work.  This can keep you going throughout the year and fill your vessel.
  3. Connect, connect, connect.  The human race innately has a need to belong.  Foster that need by reaching out to those who are around you for support.  Positive face-to-face connection can offer new ideas and comfort during your day.  Enhance your connection by building your Professional Learning Network.  Online platforms such as Twitter, Google + Communities, and Facebook offer multiple ways to get involved with groups of interest.  Try a Twitter Chat and connect with educators who have similar interests and goals.  Really-try it, you will like it!
  4.  Check out the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club:  Angela Watson is a teacher who felt her life heavy on the teacher prep side and too light on the personal side.  She started this support club to help teachers work more efficiently to trim off some of the late hours teachers put in.
  5. Tune up your sense of humor!  I have a new director and his first presentation was full of funny memes and video clips.  He also brought in an improv group who had us belly rolling.  This was one of the best starts of the year, not only because of the endorphin release but of the common experience we could share among the now and veteran staff.  Try out improv in the classroom.  Add funny video clips to your presentations.  It will lift you and your students!life-is-better-when-youre-laughing-quote-3

Keep you “High Five” posted to remind yourself to take care of you so you can take care of others!


New School Year Resolutions

It is 9pm and the heat from the day is still rising off the blacktop.  I drag my feet through the parking lot and heave open the glass door and sidestep out of the way of two sweaty bodies.  Why am I here?  Goals, I mutter.  I eventually made it to the woman’s workout room and eye the elliptical I will be tackling.

Summer, just like the New Year, is a time to reflect on the past and to look forward to what is to come.  In education, we are exhausted in June, but by August 1, we start having school dreams, and then realize it’s time to make our “new school year resolution” and start creating goals for the new school year.

What are your goals?  One of my fav books I read this year is the End of Average:  How we Succeed in a World of Sameness by Todd Rose.  After this read, my passion for creating conditions where the individual characteristics are celebrated and student love to learn was on fire, and I knew my goals would include the influence of Rose’s words.  This quote is the impetus for my change:

Adobe Spark (3)

Ugh…we cannot let the education system continue to “round out kids!”  We have to do something about this.  Next, I had to dig into the “usual” — what can go?  In the past, I taught at a great elementary school that had wonderful intentions for its learning community.  But I was told, ”  Beth, you can do it all!  You no longer have a plate, you have a platter.”  We all want to be able to do everything, but we know that in order to something well, we need to clear some clutter off the plate (not just enlarge the plate to a platter).

Adobe Spark (2)

Check out this article from EdTech Update for examples of “old” to “new” practices that can help spur a resolution and support future-ready students.  For example:

1. Personalization

The Old: Administer assessment, evaluate performance, report performance, then–maybe–make crude adjustments the best you can

The New: Identifying, prioritizing, and evaluating data for each student individually–in real time

The Difference: Precision

Because my position encompasses the support of many districts, my goal will be to support and influence as many decision-makers to build student-centered learning environments.

What will your new school year resolution be?  Have you read a book or blog, seen a movie (like Lion), attended a conference, had a great conversation, or participated in a twitterchat that made reflect on your practice?  Now is the time to make the change.

I have not organized my music playlists yet (another goal), so I search for popular music videos on YouTube.  My workout on the elliptical is grueling, but I  perk up when the song “Glorious” by Macklemore (featuring Skylar Grey) pops up on my iPhone. Check out that video – we should live in the moment everyday…and live out our resolutions.

Circle of Influence

I did it!  I actually am writing a blog.  Blog writers, such as by George Couros and A.J. Juliani have empowered me to start writing.  You should, too!  Just a warning…this is all about ideas.  I am not an accomplished writer and I do not have an editor outside of Grammarly.

My blog is called Circle ED.  Why?  Funny actually…ideas of titles were rolling around in my head for weeks.  I was reflecting on a recent switch I have made in my career.  I was a Director of Instructional Technology in Madison, WI for the past 3 years, Director of Instructional Technology in a smaller district for 2 years, and in education for a total of 23 years.  Working in a large, political district with high stakes built on systems and standards (watch Jennie Magiera’s Ted Talk)  had a toll my motivation to innovate. This quote by George got me through:

Aside from innovating within the box,  I have a strong desire to make a difference and have a wider circle of influence.

I needed to define what that meant to me.  I found a resource from Choosing Change explaining the circle of influence based on Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.   It said:

By focusing attention and energy on our circle of influence, we become increasingly proactive. The energy we expend is enlarging; each little victory motivates us to find new ways of exerting influence.

 And so our circle of influence expands. It often happens that, in widening our circle of influence, we also widen our circle of concern. It becomes worth caring about some of the really challenging things in our world if we learn we can influence them. It can be incredibly liberating to realize that, in choosing how to respond to circumstances, we affect those circumstances.

The stars aligned when CESA 2 was looking for a Digital Learning leader to support 74 districts with innovative strategies to transform learning.  YAY!  My circle of influence can expand and widen that circle of concern, as well, to conquer some of the educational barriers to bring more “Power to the Pupil” (Jennie Magiera).

Now you say, Beth- you can influence others on social media, and I do truly believe in that.  Like I said, I have my favs on Twitter, Google+, blogs, and podcasts, AND that is the reason to start blogging.  But I really like to see the influence on people’s faces — the ah-ha moments, the breakthroughs, the “I can do it!” moments.

So back to the title.  The name of this blog is Circle ED because I am hoping that the circle of innovative and transformative influence can ripple far and wide.  The funny part is that my initials are ED (Elizabeth Doreen) as well.  So circle with me, ripple ideas out, and let’s learn together!