A Gift for Administrators

Recently a twitter feed introduced a concept that is quickly taking notice in the world of education. It is called PLAYDATES: People Learning and Asking Y: Digital Age Teacher Exploration. I recently presented this concept to middle school leadership focusing their PLAY time on Google Forms and how they can be used to support data collection and reflection. Each form listed below supports a leadership standard with performance criteria. PLC 1

Administrator Quarter Reflections
I would greatly appreciate your anonymous feedback on how I am meeting your needs as an instructional leader. I plan to use the data to reflect on my practices and make any necessary adjustments.
MCPS Leadership Standard V, Criterion II, V

Instructional Check
We would like for you to take a moment to reflect on the instructional needs in the department that you lead through the following lenses: Equity, Engagement, Universal Design Learning (UDL), Classroom Management, Common Core/Literacy Curriculum, Strengths of Collaborative Planning, Concerns in Collaborative Planning, and Grading and Reporting. Please consider your team as a whole when answering these questions and be prepared to discuss individual teacher’s strengths and needs when you meet with your department’s admin.
MCPS Leadership Standard I, Criterion VI; Standard II, Criterion II

Reflection Questions for Evaluation
MCPS has identified you as being in your evaluation cycle this school year. The report will reflect information about you from the PGS Teaching Standards. This survey is meant to gather information about Standards 5 and 6.
MCPS Leadership Standard II, Criterion VII

Resource Teacher Survey
The purpose of this survey is for the RT to receive feedback from those that they supervise and utilize the results for continued professional growth and department support. The survey responses are anonymous.
MCPS Leadership Standard II, Criterion VII

Student Engagement
Research has shown that when students are engaged they become active participants of their learning experience which converts the experience from compliance to transformation. This survey allows the observer to view the learning experience from the student’s perspective.
MCPS Leadership Standard I, Criterion VI; Standard II, Criterion II

Teacher Survey for Student Engagement
Research has shown that when students are engaged they become active participants of their learning experience which converts the experience from compliance to transformation. This survey allows the observer to view the learning experience from the teacher’s perspective.
MCPS Leadership Standard I, Criterion VI; Standard II, Criterion II

Daily Student Behavior Checklist
The student’s educational team provides daily feedback for the behaviors listed in the Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP).
MCPS Leadership Standard II, Criterion VII

Daily Student Intervention Plan
The student’s educational team provides daily feedback for the interventions needed in class to assist the student in achieving. The data from this survey can be used to determine next steps (Documentation of Intervention for Educational Management Team meeting).
MCPS Leadership Standard II, Criterion VII



Reflect not Relive

Learn from the past live in the present plan for the future.” – Audrey Farrell

Often in life we have moments of reflection. We make lists of goals we hope to achieve
and may even think of the promises that have yet to be fulfilled. Even further, we tend
to think about obstacles that may have prevented or delayed us from achieving our goal.
By reflecting, we should take the opportunity to think about what we learned and what
can be done in the future to get the desired outcome or perhaps even enhance the final
outcome. In the occupation of teaching, we should always look for ways to improve
student learning and collaboratively working together to obtain that goal no matter what
the obstacle.

Reflection from course #1
UBD final project

Supporting Google Documents
Discussion Questions
PDSA Approach
Tiered Model Approach
ORID Approach

I am always looking for ways to extend my learning and welcome any feedback that will
assist me in going from good to great and on a good day, from great to exceptional! 🙂

Caught in the Net

In creating lessons for 7th grade advisories on Digital Citizenship Melinda and I had mostly relied on the information from Common Sense Media. When writing a reflection on our current efforts, I stumbled upon an article that offered items that will surely be infused with the work we are doing. The article, “10 Interactive Lessons by Google on Digital Citizenship,” offers lessons that range from cyberbullying to copyright. I will pause here to say that in pitching our idea our co-workers also asked for additional resources in copyright, especially when it comes to images. As stated in the article, “The killer feature for this curriculum is the extra features that come with each video. There are slides perfect for presentations, guidelines for teachers, and even an entire YouTube channel of related videos that should be of interest to anyone looking to teach about digital citizenship.”

In reviewing the comments posted to this blog, I noted that one stated that YouTube was blocked at their school. Let’s take a second to pause for the cause. Is having this type of safety net keeping students away from danger or keeping valuable information away from students? In blocking this resource when will we as educators have the opportunity to teach students how to use it for purposes that are beneficial?

I once again am thankful that I work in an educational institution that not only sees the value of technology but also wholeheartedly supports it. We do provide a net in the form of teaching our students how to correctly and responsibly use the World Wide Web. We are teaching them to be informed consumers and conscientious creators.

Are we doing the D.E.W.?

When thinking of how I was going to approach this blog post, I had to first ask myself, “What are tools? Why do we use them?” If I could reflect upon the many tools I have used which is not too vast (hammer, screw driver, and drill), I could then understand the purpose they served. Likewise when reflecting on the many tools I have used while in this profession, I understand that they too serve a purpose – to get information across to an audience for the purpose of learning or support of learning more effectively and efficiently.

Mark Prensky in his article, “Shaping Tech for the Classroom,” makes some very valid points. What of the four are occurring in most classrooms today?

  • Dabbling.
  • Doing old things in old ways.
  • Doing old things in new ways.
  • Doing new things in new ways.

How have we addressed the technology that is available to students like instant messaging, twitter, cell phones, the use of Wikipedia as a source, just to name a few? Are we more scared of the potential danger if not used properly versus venturing out and teaching students, who are digital natives how to use them properly?

Another point in the article that rings true with me is this, “How many of these new ways will ever be integrated into our instruction — or even understood by educators? If we want to move the useful adoption of technology forward, it is crucial for educators to learn to listen, to observe, to ask, and to try all the new methods their students have already figured out, and do so regularly. For the digital age, we need new curricula, new organization, new architecture, new teaching, new student assessments, new parental connections, new administration procedures, and many other elements. What we’re talking about is invention — new things in new ways. Change is the order of the day in our kids’ 21st-century lives. It ought to be the order of the day in their schools as well. Not only would students welcome it, they will soon demand it.”

Are we going through the motions in education or are we Delivering Education with the Wisdom that the way our students learn are different and therefore, we must take a different approach.

Get a Grip

Get a Grip

During the last school year, I was honored and humbled to go outside of my comfort zone and go rafting down the Ganga River with a group of energetic eighth graders. I was not alone in being new to this water sport and the newbies on this adventure paid close attention to the directions that were given, of the most being, never let go of your t-grip. The t-grip was used to help navigate the raft and if need be could be your “life line” back to the raft should you fall out. I spent the next few days of this adventure following directions, never letting go of my t-grip!

Do we as educators have a grip on the skills our students will need in the 21st century? Are we teaching them how to merely survive or teaching them to thrive? Are we taking the technology tools that are currently available and using them to our advantage? For instance, what is our stance on smartphones in Education?

Jeff Dunn, in his article, “The 60-Second Guide to Smartphones in Education” highlights some facts that education today must acknowledge:

• Ownership of smartphones continues to rise at a brisk pace
• Smartphone owners download between 50 and 80 apps each
• Students studying using smartphones are three times more likely to track their progress
• Flashcards and self-quizzes are popular: more than 70% of students use this type of app
• Most students use the built-in apps a lot. The calculator, notepad, and camera all play critical roles.

What are we doing to embrace what is already entering our classrooms, what is at the fingertips of most students? How are we empowering them and their parents to make learning more meaningful and relevant to today? How are we training our students to engage with their global community? Students today have more opportunities then those of yester year to make an impact earlier on in life. Why not provide them with the tools to think critically, collaboratively, and problem solve while we can be around to facilitate and support their learning?

This is Where it’s At

I grew up in the era of hip-hop and a song that was often played was Black Sheep’s “The Choice is Yours.” The chorus line, “You can get with this, or you can get with that. I think you’ll get with this, for this is where it’s at.” I know it is not correct English but I will go ahead and ask for forgiveness for the title of this blog post and for stating that education must effectively, practically, and authentically embed technology because this is where we’re at. On a side note, you may be thinking, what does this photo have to do with this post? While vacationing I watched this bird wait out on this pier for endless hours. Other birds would come and go but seemingly this did not faze the bird. Could it be that the bird too, for another reason has made the same proclamation, “This is where it’s at?”

How many times have you heard, “Keep it real,” or “I’m just keeping it real?” Everyone and maybe even more so kids today want the experience of the real thing. How do we as educators give them a real experience with technology when curriculum already surpasses the calendar? When I think of technology, I think of the provision of doing things faster and maybe even better but is that always the case and if it is how are going to adapt what is currently our standard curriculum?

My background is in special education so to some extent I have had to be jack-of-all-trades and master of known. I wonder how technology will impact the research process. One efficient tool that I have already seen is a quick way to cite sources. No longer does a student have to know APA or MLA format. How will we address quoting sources when they are embedded links? In higher mathematics students use graphing calculators. What does an educator do when the use of this technology is on their smart phone, which is an item that most schools require you to have stowed during the school day? In my background of special education what assistive technologies are thought of as accommodations or modifications?

Another question I have is how will technology be used to level the playing field, a point that was raised in the article, Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project.

“These are not privileged youth who are growing up in the Silicon Valley households of start-up capitalists. Instead, they are working-class kids who embody the street smarts of how to hustle for money. Raised in a context where economic constraints remain part and parcel of child-hood and the experience of growing up, they were able to translate their interest in tinkering and messing around into financial ventures that gave them a taste of what it might be like to pursue their own self-directed careers. While these kinds of youths are a small minority among those we encountered, they demonstrate the ways in which messing around can function as a
transitional genre that leads to more sustained engagements with media and technology.”

How wonderful is that?

As we continue into this journey of the unknown in the world of technological possibilities, I think it is important that we continue to look to research and the experts in the field. Organizations like the Center for Media Literacy (CML) have done and are continue to do the work so that educators can focus on how to infuse the pedagogy, curriculum, and tried technology in a most efficient and effective way.

Relax, Relate, Release

You may be thinking, why all the alliteration? Well I would like to think that it is a great way to make a connection with the message you are trying to relay. It also worked when creating a way to pitch the idea of hosting a digital citizenship camp throughout a school year through advisory.

I am fortunate to work in an environment that is receptive to learning and growing. This year the middle school community welcomed the opportunity to go one-to-one with iPads. With this humongous undertaking, came tremendous opportunities to learn and grow. In reflecting upon how we could continue to best support our learning environment, we realized that it would be beneficial to have focused lessons throughout the year. The lessons will be modeled using the framework from Commonsense Media. In sharing our ideas our co-workers were able to:

Relax in knowing lessons were going to be created to address the learning needs of students.

Relate to the latest research and tools available for digital citizenship.

Be better equipped to release our students into the world of digital citizenship as responsible consumers and contributors.