#Ties13 Sparks and Action

Part of my experience with TIES is also taking away actionable items to begin implementing right away.  Its been a great experience and I am  so fortunate to have connected and collaborated with so many new friends, old friends, colleagues, and above all my #byrondlc team.  It is leaders like these,  with their own  individual  brilliance and passion for improving our schools – that makes me love to come to work EVERY DAY.


Byron Digital Learning Coaches making last minute preso edits for Tuesday sessions

Here are a couple of my take aways from the conference.  I have many ideas, some can be implemented now, while others will take some time.  Hoping these sparks will materialize…

  • Remind staff about  iTunes U – Huge resource in Apple Distinguished Educators (Beyond campus ) as well as many other nuggets of personalized PD opportunities! (Spark via Ryan Cox )

  • Develop more Student led PD/sharing/collaboration opportunities (Spark via Ryan Cox).  Had a engaging conversation with #byrondlc team. Janelle, Katie, Matt, Josh, Josh, Andy, Amber, and Holly about this concept and I think it could very well be a game changer. Maybe even to help promote more growth mindsets! – 1st potential opportunity – Student Led Amended day based on exciting projects done in the classrooms in every building.

  • “Top Gun” training for  Innovative teacher leaders – Design a training day for very high flyer educators…  (maybe pair up with another school or two)  (Spark via Ryan Cox)  While it is important that our innovators are connected – there is something to be said bout the ability to hop in a car and be able to connect within a couple of hours.  While my virtual PLN is incredibly valuable – I find I have become to value those 1 or 2 times I get to connect with them IRL. (In real life)  There are just some things you will not (or should not) discuss online or in web conferences.  Is it possible to connect MN innovative educators via grade level/subject area? Is it needed? Stay tuned!

  • Create formal pd learning environments that are very collaborative in nature.  (21st century assessments) based on framework in which participants explore and participate together. ( Spark via Tom Brandt and Andrea Wilson Vazquez)  One of my favorite things to do is observe others present information.  Tom and Andrea did a great job facilitating a very engaging environment.  I will be honest – the 3 hours FLEW by and the conversations at my table were very rich.  Between the excellent prompts, the self paced (or group paced) activities, and the self chosen pathways… This was not your typical 3 hour PD.   I have GOT to learn how to master this type of PD.   I appreciated the loose structure, and appreciated even more – the opportunity for us to learn from each other.  (As well as from Tom and Andrea!)

  • We need to come up with a formalized mechanism to share innovation happening in our classrooms.  This is a challenge.  This year, my professional growth plan includes visiting teacher classrooms to observe technology integration in action.  Within my visits this year, I have come to  realize – we have so many teachers doing amazing things and no one knows about it.  George Couros shared at his session – to go from pockets of innovation to a culture of innovation you must have 2 things – 1) the willingness for an individual to learn and 2) mass sharing.  Even with individual learning, there has to be a growth mindset to do so and no fear of failure.   A short Tweet conversation later that night lead me to realize that many principals also have a significant role in this too.  I decided to post the question out to the #ties13 group.  Here is the twitter discussion with Farmington principal Jason Berg.

    twitter discussion image

    Twitter discussion with Jason Berg

    The problem of sharing is a problem.  The last 2 days, several of our coaches presented their experiences at TIES13 and our own staff and administrators havent even seen their work!!!  (PS they were awesome!)

    As for the “sharing” we need an intuitive system.  While this is somewhat related the idea of the  Connected Educator Academy – I think there are things we can do now that wouldn’t be too intrusive.  Google Communities has a huge potential because of its tie with Google Apps for Education.  It also has the ability to be private – to our domain only.  I like how you are notified within your email account when there is something new.  Innovation brings a special buzz…  an internal buzz is contagious.  More thoughts to come. One great idea that was shared by Kristin Daniels was an idea for Sharification.  Experience points (XP) for sharing.  We could have competitions, leaderboards, ect.  Needs to be manageable however.

  • Do a site visit to East Carver County school district.  “We will know we are successful when we no longer categorize our kids”  Have you ever went into a TIES session expecting to learn a few basics about a topic?  Well, 10 minutes into the East Carver Count personalized student learning presentation, I could hardly contain my excitement.  First of all, what they have done there has totally challenged any status quo of what we call school.  I will be honest. I am jealous.  They started this discussion in 2007.  We began our discussion last year.  In a nutshell, flexible groups, flexible grades, flexible schools.  They also differentiate teachers based on strengths.  I think what is so intriguing, is the roadblocks they have overcome and my realization of roadblocks we have yet to challenge.  I was very impressed with the openness and collaboration of the administration team.   (Spark via Brenda Vogds, June Johnson, Brian Beresford)

  • Create a virtual Digital Coach pair share  (Spark by Neil Andruschak and Casey Rutherford and #byrondlc team. Janelle Groehler, Katie Krueger, Matt Weyers, JoshBurton, Josh Bernards, Andy Pethan, Amber Aslakson, and Holly Vos)  We decided to take a break from the formal sessions and skip the Tuesday Keynote. (GASP, Its True!)  Instead, a group of us sat down and talked about coaching and the direction of PD in our schools.  Such brain power! So many of us are working on similar strategies and ideas and have overcome challenges.  We could learn from each other!  Ideas sparked about opportunities for coaches to virtual observe other coaches in PD sessions.  I also have to wonder…with 12 DLCs in my district – would it be valuable for our DLCs to observe and experiences sessions in other buildings?  I know my experience with our PK-K staff has been invaluable for me. I need to do visits in other buildings as well!  (Goal for the remainder of 2014!)

  • Connect our teachers and administrators!  So this weekend I worked on mapping out The Connected Educator Academy.  I have been working on this idea for some time.  From conversations to implementation, I am looking forward to collaborating with Kasson Mantorville  Tomi Swanson and Kelly Braun and my Curriculum Director Donita Stepan to roll this out between our districts as a small pilot.  There may be other integrationalists that want to participate.  My hopes is to ramp it up by this summer if others are willing to jump in and help..  Between  conversations with Kasson, the Gamification session and 21st century learning session, and the Leader Edge Certification Course (my portfolio) – this has been on my mind for MONTHS!  Here is the map I created over the weekend….  (Still in draft mode)  Creating a map is a great step in gamifying learning!

    The Connected Educator Academy

    The Connected Educator Academy

  • Gamify 1 PD day.  – First of all. Wow.  I have never understood what gamification was.  I thought – it was how a teacher could have students create games, or play games in a classroom. But after learning from Chris Hesselbein it really is a design way of thinking in delivering your curriculum.  I was hoping to do something  Jan 20 which is right now scheduled to be an internal edcamp.  However, I may rethink this because of timing.   At any rate, here is my plan for a 1 day gamified event– ready to ready to implement.  I’d also like to  consider gamifying our entire DLC process but it would be great to have a short pilot on a 1 day PD day first to understand how to best facilitate this and how the staff react to it.  I know my reaction was very engaged.  WOW Moment.    The  #byrondlc team would need to be involved in the pilot as well as any other further development of it within the DLC process.

  • I would love to expand project based learning at BPS.  I feel pretty fortunate that I was able to spend an entire afternoon with Suzie Boss learning about Project Based learning and Technology Integration.  It was mind boggling what she has been able to observe in schools all over the world.  While we have made an initial start to introduce PBL on a district wide scale – I think it would be great to provide further training on how to do this.  Right now, there is discussion between a few DLCs and I to create a hybrid course and roll it out during our academy this summer, pilot it, fix it up – then present the training at TIES next year during a pre-conference workshop.  (Maybe even give the course away to all participants!)  One of the things I took away from the time with Suzie is that there is alot of misconceptions of what PBL is and I think if we should consider the framework that has been provided by the Buck Institute.  The concept map for this course needs to happen soon.  Before I forget everything I have been able to learn.  One last thing I need to do – check out/share  Glocalization and Quad blogging.  Cool terms. Cool global project ideas.

Quotes I heard in presentations worth mentioning

  • “We need to show reverence for the past but not live it!” – From Prensky
  • The smartest person in the room…is the room.” – Couros
  • “True change will not be top down, or bottom up. It needs to be “all hands on deck!”  – Couros
  • “Kids wouldn’t wait for a blogging workshop – Adults should not either!” –  Couros
  • “Freedom is actually a bigger game than power.  Power is control, Freedom is about what you can unleash.” – Courous
  • “Biggest shift for educators using technology is not skill set, its MINDSET” – Couros
  • “We have to start our learning with things that kids care about!   Especially problems with GLOBAL significance”  – S Boss
  • “Q) How long should PBL take?  A) Long enough – should not be rushed.!” – S Boss
  • “We will know we are successful when we no longer categorize our kids” – East Carver County Team
  • it’s complacency that is EDU’s enemy…  Hegna (My realization after all my learning)

Most awesome risk taking video EVER! 

Girl on Ski Jump


  1. I was really skeptical about the gamified PD. After letting it settle a couple days, I think that offering multiple pathways to awesome and rewarding each of those pathways, similar to your diagram, could offer differentiation and ways to reach a high level at a targeted number of things (or those that want to push themselves might try to max out every category and “beat the game”). It could be really neat.

  2. Thanks for sharing! It’s always intriguing to hear the takeaways that others leave with after a couple of days of such rich and engaging learning. I’ve been looking through tweets and blog posts the last couple of days and learning from what others have learned 🙂

    As you move forward, I know Spring Lake Park would LOVE to be a part of collaborating…especially on sparks #3, #5, and #7 (aka Top Gun, sharing, and coach collaborations). The more ways we can channel our collective expertise and passion, the better.

  3. Thanks for the feedback Elizabeth. I will certainly keep you in the loop on those items. I think the pair/share coaching idea may just start off as an virtual discussion to just talk about challenges that coaches- but could lead into the other items… observe others to learn and improve coaching skills. Would love the opportunity to collaborate more often with SLP!

  4. Andy, Sweet. I have some details to work out and would love for your input (as well as the other DLCs or anyone form that matter) on the process.

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