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



Getting Googled!

I will admit I am a HUGE Google user and fan so when the opportunity presented itself for me to learn more on how to “Get Googled,” I jumped!

photo (3)

Thank you Suan Yeo for wowwing AES educators once again! Stay tuned for more on my googleling experience. For now, enjoy Youtube’s 2012 in review.

ACS 7th Annual Conference on Learning Differences

I truly appreciate the opportunity to present at the 7th Annual conference for Learning Differences for Athens Community Schools. Participants had the opportunity to gain information that they can implement with their students or share with their colleagues. More importantly the experience of sharing ideas and thoughts enriched my professional life.

D.R.I.V.E. Differentiation (Develop Relative, Innovative, Valuable, & Exciting Learning Opportunities) by Brown, Katrina J.,

Workshop Description
D.R.I.V.E. Differentiation is a workshop that will allow attendees to develop relative, innovative, valuable, and exciting learning opportunities for diverse learners. Through various activities attendees will be provided with an established purpose for differentiated instruction and how attainable it is while infusing critical thinking. Attendees will be asked to define differentiation and a form of differentiation called tiering, identify strengths and challenges in planning and implementing differentiated instruction, identify important aspects and concepts of differentiation and tiering, and consider options for differentiating and tiering assignments.

Additionally attendees will receive the information needed to address common questions asked by students, parents, and colleagues regarding differentiated instruction. This workshop provides the opportunity to investigate whether current practices in the classroom, school, or school system meet the needs of diverse learners. Attendees will also receive tools that will initiate the creation of opportunities for more differentiated instruction. Within this workshop opportunities will be provided to design and carryout activities that can be shared with teams, departments, and the school so that as one drives instruction they can D.R.I.V.E. differentiation.

Workshop Learning Objectives

(what participants should learn/take away from the presentation or workshop):
• Define differentiation and tiering
• Identify strengths and challenges in planning and implementing differentiated instruction
• Identify important aspects and concepts of differentiation and tiering
• Consider options for differentiating and tiering assignments

Aha Aesthetics!

Artistic while articulate is what the eye likes and perhaps for some what the brain needs. Increasingly more our society is becoming stimulated by visuals around the clock. With the invention of PPT in the late 1980’s presentations went from boring overheads to on screen sensations especially with the inventions of moving texts and the ability to add sound. Now that more than three decades have gone by there is a need for presentations from mundane to marvelous. Presentations need to be subtle and sleek while at the same time articulating a fact or facts that are appealing and attractive which has been termed “Presentation Zen.”

No longer should audiences be subjected to how many words one can fit on a screen. Rather, audiences should be inspired by the information one presents. Another way to achieve this is through PechaKucha. Other than a fun word to pronounce, PechaKucha is what I define as picturesque knowledge. Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham created the 20 x 20 (20 seconds per slide to total 20 slides) presentation format in 2003. They realized that architects as they put it “talk too much” and thought this problem was not only specific to this profession. Good PechaKucha can be described as “presentations uncover the unexpected – unexpected talent and unexpected ideas.”

With the unexpected comes the uncertain, meaning one does not always know what goes into creating a work of art whether it be a composition, movie, or art. Kevin Kelly sums it up perfectly, “It is easier to read a book than to write one; easier to listen to a song than to compose one; easier to attend a play than to produce one.” The required products for this course taught me that creativity required one more important aspect, time. In further reflection of the courses presented so far for this certification, creativity cannot be compromised whether referring to copyright and licensure.

As the society continues to increase visual influence whether it is for school, business, and/or social networking, it is imperative that we view with critical thinking skills. So far this blog has posted articles on digital citizenship and cyber safety. A new introduction to the information gained is media literacy. The Media Literacy Project of New Mexico has outlined the following components of media literacy skills:

– Develop critical thinking skills
– Understand how media messages shape our culture and society
– Identify target marketing strategies
– Recognize what the media maker wants us to believe or do
– Name the techniques of persuasion used
– Recognize bias, spin, misinformation, and lies
– Discover the parts of the story that are not being told
– Evaluate media messages based on our own experiences, skills, beliefs, and values
– Create and distribute our own media messages
– Advocate for a changed media system

The above mentioned skills are those that should be infused in digital citizenship programs for students and adults. Why? I go back to the statement that our society seemingly is on a course to increase visual media and we have to be equipped to filter fact from fiction thus equaling more aha moments.

Photography Citations:
Image: savit keawtavee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image: Dino De Luca / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are you seeing crystal C.L.E.A.R.?

“Great leaders are those who ‘look out the window’ when things go right and attribute their success to the hard work of their team.  While when things go badly they ‘look in the mirror’ and consider what they personally could have done differently to have created better results.” – Jim Collins.

I am sure administrators at all levels have had their mixture of both window and mirror days and as we continue to learn and grow in this digital age, it is imperative that we keep our window and mirrors free from the smudges that can occur as a result of missteps in cyber-space.  What you are about to view are suggestions to get your message as an educational leader out crystal C.L.E.A.R.:

(Communication, Literacy, Etiquette, Access & Security, and Rights & Responsibilities).


Standard I: Educational leaders are committed to creating a culture of clear communication.

Standard II: Educational leaders are responsible for promoting digital literacy.

Standard III: Educational leaders are role models for exhibiting and expecting the use of digital etiquette.

Standard IV: Educational leaders are accountable for ensuring access and security.

Standard V: Educational leaders promote responsibility and the reward of rights.


To view document click here, K. Brown Final Project CLEAR

A Piece of the Puzzle

Collaboration is most definitely the piece of the puzzle that is needed in any organization who wishes to go from good to great.  In fact in May 2004, Richard DuFour authored, “Professional Learning Communities at Work.”  In his book DuFour describes PLC’s and provides an outline as to how schools and all major stakeholders can achieve the benefits of collaboration.   DuFour states, “To create a professional learning community, focus on learning rather than teaching, work collaboratively, and hold yourself accountable for results.” The one, and I believe ultimate way I can collaborate with my professional peers, is by supporting the atmosphere of creativity and collaboration.

The image chosen for this post displays uniqueness, collectivity, unity, and while yes, collaboration.  Within any organization you have individuals who possess a myriad of personality traits.  Journey if you will into this photo and meet the individuals who are in attendance at today’s PLC on Updating Technology at Anywhere School System, Universe and see how all of them use each others perspective to work collaboratively.

Mr. Mellow-Yellow calls the meeting to order and raises the discussion question for the hour, “What is needed to bring our school system’s technology up to date and what professional development is needed to facilitate this process?  Mr. Green aka GROUCHY quickly responded, “It is always changing so why bother?”  Ms. Red who is known for RESPECTING everyone’s opinion quickly retorts, “Yes Mr. Green but why not create an environment that creates powerful on-line experiences?” Mr. Brown known to his colleagues as b squared (BRIGHT and BRILLIANT) says, “Life as citizens of the web can be liberating and empowering, but also deserves some self-education.  It will be in our best interest if we not only educate our staff and students, but the parents as well.”  Mrs. Orange, Mrs. OPEN-MINDED herself, replies, “We also need to think about what the web is, and what it might become. What kinds of features and applications would we, as users, find fun, useful or even indispensable?” Mr. Lime better known as Mr. LAZY speaks his mind, “This sounds like a whole lot of work.  I mean constantly updating not only the technology but our skills too?”  Ms. Lavender, LOYAL to the cause of being a life-long learner responds, “If you are speaking about web apps, they update themselves automatically, so there’s always just one version: the latest version, with all the newest features and improvements.” Mrs. Cloud known as the COURAGEOUS one amongst her peers weighs in.  She says, “I believe that we need to make sure our students and staff have the latest technology.  We are talking about preparing learners for the 21-century and it is our job to make sure they are prepared.  And how are we going to prepare them if we do not know ourselves?”  Mr. Purple aka PRUDENT seconds her notion only after adding, “Most of us don’t realize how much an old and out-of-date web browser can negatively impact our online lives, particularly our online safety.”  Mr. Blue who is often in the land of BEWILDERMENT says with a look of exhaustion, “This all seems like so much to tackle. Where do we begin?”  Mr. Mellow-Yellow who had been keeping an account of everyone’s concerns summarized, “For the most part I believe most of us see the importance of having the latest technology accessible to students and staff as well as training.  I appreciate and acknowledge the concerns we may encounter in moving forward. Recently a website was shared with me that speaks if not confirms the concerns I heard around the room today,  I would like everyone to visit the site, http://www.20thingsilearned.com/en-US/foreword/2 and be prepared to discuss your own aha moment when we meet next week.

The exchange you just read was a fetal attempt to combine the benefits of working collaboratively with the many personalities any organization possess while addressing the wonderful world web.

Whose Job is it Anyways?

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. once said, “I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty.”  So, whose responsibility is it to teach students the weight yet worth of these words – the village in which that student resides.   The first lesson of cyber-safety should of course come from home; for that is where the technology is usually housed and in most cases paid.  The article ‘Teens, kindness and cruelty on social network Sites’ offer parents a Parents Things to Do List on Cyber Safety as it relates to their responsibility in keeping their child safe or shall I say safer in cyberspace.  The article goes on to say, “Parents are the most often cited source of advice and the biggest influence on teens’ understanding of appropriate and inappropriate digital behavior. Parents are also responsible for keeping their teens safe online and offline and have a number of tools at their disposal to do so.”  The second lesson should come from school where educators can instruct students on how to use the Internet appropriately as it relates to completing assignments.  The third and continued lesson should come from the partnership between home and school as they communicate best practices, school policies, and student responsibility and rights.

My former post offered many opportunities to speak on the third and continued lesson and I often wondered if the first lesson had been skipped altogether.  The events that occur in the cyber world, mostly outside of the school day become reality during school hours.  What may have started out as a parent’s responsibility soon becomes the schools, and the school’s policies often leave students and sometimes parents speaking on the violation of rights.  I experienced countless scenarios involving not only social media gone wrong, but cases of parent’s texting or calling students during the school day.

So, whose job it anyways?  It is the job of responsible adults such as a child’s parents and school educators.  If they are not the village that teaches students how to stay safe, students will enter a village of people waiting to do them harm.