Digital Leadership with @E_Sheninger

This past week, I was fortunate to spend an entire day with Eric Sheninger at a workshop session called Digital Leadership.  I have been a follower of Eric’s for some time, watched his Ted Talk and read his Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times book. (which is now signed!)  But, I have never had the opportunity to hear him speak.  SO, when I found out he was coming to Rochester, MN and would have a whole day session –  I was in!

He provided incredible insights on how he was able to lead his school, New Milford High School a small high school with 600+ kids in New Jersey, with high diversity, little or no technology to become a  nationally recognized school and greatly improving test scores and graduation rates.  Below are my key takeaways!

No more excuses
An early turning point in the transformation was a  “Stop Making Excuses” mindset and it had an enormous effect on New Milford’s culture.  Because  “If it’s important to you, you will find a way.  If not, you will find an excuse!”

Accountability QuoteAccountability
Of everything that Eric shared that day, this was probably the most the biggest takeaway for me.   Eric shared that he observed EVERY teacher in his school 5 times per year.  Two were officially scheduled observations while 3 were unannounced.  His classroom look fors:

  • Clear learning objectives/outcomes
  • Student-centered as opposed to teacher-centered
  • Construction of new knowledge
  • Acquisition and application of essential skills
  • Creation of a learning artifact
  • Assessment – evidence of higher order thinking skills
  • Student Feedback

If he did not observe something in action, he would email his teachers and they would have so much time to provide the information. This would include learner artifacts and the standards they were aligned to.  One of my favorite quotes from his session – “I collect assessments, not lesson plans”.  I would have to guess the conversations around learning would be incredibly powerful with the data/evidence!

The collection of digital artifacts were beneficial for his educators too, as all educators have e-portfolios and are provided time (on the job) to work on their ePortfolios.  To do this, Sheninger eliminated non-instructional “duty-time”.  “We do not need $45/hr cafeteria monitors”.  Instead, he opted to provide team time and time for educators to reflect on their practice.

Eric did share that this observation model did not start right away.  I believe it wasn’t until year  3 or 4 into his transformational instructional design process.  This also was about how much time it took for the diffusion of this instructional design to happen. (Refer to diffusion of innovation)

Rigor, Relevance, and Innovation

Sheninger also shared the Relevance Instructional Design Framework developed by the International Center for Leadership in Education. (Sheninger now works for them).

Rigor and Relevance Framework

 While we have been focusing on deeper learning this year, what I like about this framework is it provides a scaffold of these types of learning environments.  Sheninger said while our goal should be to get our students to quadrant D, it is impossible to reside there at all times. In my opinion, It is also not fair to kids to provide them with an education that never allows them to move out of Quadrant A.   As I was perusing the leadered website, I did stumble on the rubric that aligns with the framework. Question to self – Could this align to our scale work? Should this framework be used in my Real World Learning design course?

Questions to reflect on… what do assessments look like in each quadrant?  My guess, as you move from quadrant to quadrant, the assessments move from knowledge-based assessments (quizzes/tests) to performance-based assessments. Eric did share one such project from his school and the rubric to match!  I believe all students in his HS had ePortfolios.  We should not only use student ePortfolios to show what they know… but show what they understand.   Evidence and reflection will be key.

Be sure to read Will Dagget’s research around this framework. (pdf)  My favorite quote from this whitepaper:

The value of state assessments is undeniable, but we cannot view them as the definition of academic excellence. Unfortunately, many of those in education do. When assessment is viewed as the end goal or finish line,
the test itself becomes a barrier to high levels of student achievement. However, if curriculum, instruction, and relevant learning become the focus, the tests will take care of themselves.


We need to “marry innovation with achievement when we look at instructional design”.  While we are always seeking to engage our students, engagement does not automatically equate to learning.  I have been guilty of this numerous times.  I get excited by shiny things but at the end of the day, if our students are not learning our objectives, we are wasting valuable instructional time.  It’s important to continually assess their understanding.  Can learning be fun? Absolutely!  But we need to keep the lessons/activities learner and learning focused!  

What do you want students to do with technology?As for technology, there is no doubt it can amplify and accelerate learning vs.  “water it down”.  Instead, we should ask ourselves how can technology be used to support sound student-centered pedagogy?

If leadership doesn’t get it – it’s not going to happen. This includes leaders in classrooms, schools, districts! Eric did a very good job modeling tools and effective practices during this session.  When I think of PD, this is the biggest improvement needed in our schools. I rarely see people MODEL effective technology with effective PD design.  RARELY.  While I feel good about the district side PD we tried this year, (post)  we need to challenge ourselves improve PD in our districts – modeling is key!

Note to self – use/model mentimeter and check out these tools that were shared during this session. (below)

All in all it was a fantastic day of learning, conversations, and reflection! Below is the storified tweets from this session.  How will this newly aquired information be applied, assimilated, or adapted???? Well…that is to be  continued!

Reflections of Deeper Learning PD

This reflection will serve as an artifact to meet my goals this year to improve my leadership presence and deepen my understanding of today’s educational environment.

A little backgroundJohn Dewey Reflection Quote

As shared in an earlier post, our district-wide PD efforts this year have been focused on deeper learning.  Deeper learning first and foremost aligns to priorities 1 -4 of our district’s strategic plan.  It also aligns to the Marzano Framework and PLC work educators have focused on in the past 3 years. (determining critical ELOs, creating common assessment, and scale work).

Our district goal was to implement a K-12 ePortfolio system that captures deeper learning.  (Official goal – 100% of all teachers will CREATE or REDESIGN and IMPLEMENT at least 3 lesson plans per year that inspire learners to achieve at high levels as measured by student ePortfolio artifacts.)  This work also aligns with Marzano Framework Domain 1 Element 12 and 22.  

Our process over the year

We began our process in August (Day 1) introducing the district deeper learning protocol (DLP), that was inspired the Trudacot work of Scott Mcleod and Julie Graber.  Staff were provided time to design or re-design lessons that met at least 1 of the facets of the DLP.  As a district, we collected their personal action plans and would meet again in October. Staff were to collect student artifacts and share their work with others.  Here is a snapshot example of our October day.
On March 17 we had our last PD day.  It comprised of a celebration of sharing of their last redesign lesson, ePortfolio Artifacts, a Teachmeet session led by Byron Educators, and finally a crowdsourced slideshow of our staff’s next Big Ideas!  This is a great document to showcase what our staff learned and how they would apply their learning in future lessons!

Reflections from the March PD day

Overall.  It was a great morning.  Celebrating our educators’ work by focusing on student artifacts was very powerful.  Many educators shared (in our feedback survey) how impressed they were with what other teachers were doing. Then to move to the Teachmeet also proved to be beneficial.  We need more opportunities for our educators to learn from one another.  Making the invisible – visible (student artifacts, teachers sharing) is proving to have an influence on our educators – especially when you review the IDEAs that were generated after the sessions.

PD Design.  If we believe deeper learning can benefit students – we should model deeper learning strategies in PD.  From the Deeper Learning protocol, I believe we modeled learner agency, embedded opportunities for collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking (in the form of reflection) and relevance both in the topic and audience.

The role of ePortfolios. Since our move to a k-12 ePortfolio system (SeeSaw for grades K-5 and Google Sites for 6-12) the making of teaching and learning visible is very powerful.  Rolling out the ePortoflios has not been perfect. While we have had a few hiccups (will explain in future post), I feel it has been successful – especially for year 1. We certainly have work to do to improve implementation (as results from our survey) BUT I do believe that it is tools like ePortfolios that will help us capture the power of the deeper learning, student growth, and being college – career – life ready.

Modeling Failure. I had plenty opportunities to model failure that day.  When I arrived at 6:45am , I was welcomed with a “The Wifi is down”.  Ugh.  Having a pd day (dependent on technology) and the district wifi is down is never a good sign.   But the show must go on!  I turned on my mobile hotspot, and turned the keys over to the techs (to work with the engineer to solve the problem).  During the presentation, I was interrupted several times (by calendar notifications, phone call from our enginner, ect).  The final near fatal fail – was tripping over the projector cart power cable and watching the cart weeble and wobble nearly tipping the projector and my laptop over. Could it get any worse? I was almost afraid to ask!  Luckily the wifi was back up before the teachmeet session, (VM server issue) and the technology fails disappeared. Thank you Matt and Matt!

Prizes. While prizes are viewed as extrinsic… they do make the desire to participate a little more fun!  We gave away 1 BreakoutEDU kit and 2 wireless keyboard/track pads. LIVE Drawings for prizes were based on participating in the IDEA activity.  (used flippity.net and Google Forms)

Artifacts from the day!  I always appreciate photo’s and videos that capture the learning process. Next time, I would like to interview a few folks about this experience as it is happening.

 

 

Technology as the accelerator in learning

This post was originally published to MASA Leaders Forum Spring Newsletter (PDF). Since the original posting, I have also included artifacts of the learning experience. Enjoy!

As you look at 1:1 student device implementation plans across MN, equitable access to technology is usually a driving goal.  It’s important.  If our kids do not have access to technology (with high-speed bandwidth) we cannot provide the visionary education of our future.  However, getting devices into the hands of our students is only one piece of the puzzle.  Michael Fullan is quoted as saying, “Pedagogy is the driver, technology is the accelerator”.   If we are truly going to get the most bang, for all of our tech spending bucks, we must continue to focus on learning and how technology can support, accelerate and amplify it.

We know that classrooms that solely rely on didactic teaching (one size fits all – I lecture you listen) does not work for all kids. Simply digitizing these classrooms will not improve results either.  While putting content online may provide 24-7 access – if students are still only left to memorize or regurgitate the facts from videos/resources, learning will have very little chance of being deep and lasting.

Student-centered instructional design is a great avenue for learning today with today’s tools.  Below are examples of pedagogical best practices that support learner-centered instruction.

  • Clear learning goals
  • Student choice and voice
  • Assessment of, for, as learning
  • Feedback – student:student,  teacher:student,  student:teacher
  • Collaborative learning groups
  • Active/authentic learning
  • Metacognition

I have had the opportunity to observe many powerful learning experiences, designed by educators, who continue to drive innovation to engage students and deepen learning.  One such story comes to mind from this past fall.  

@ByronDigCit Twitter Profile

Twitter profile @ByronDigCit managed by 8th grade students

In 8th grade, ELA teachers @JanelleGroehler and @Mrs_Ausman4 asked their students “How can we, as 8th graders, educate our community on the importance of a positive digital footprint?”  In collaborative groups, the students selected target audiences and presented their project ideas to a team (teachers, principal, and other students) for feedback.  Once they received the green light, students began working on their project and would conference with their teachers on a bi-weekly basis to receive formative feedback on their projects as well as to check for understanding of lesson outcomes.  All projects would come to life during Digital Citizenship Week in October.  All students were required to research and then advocate for positive footprint for a variety of audiences. Some students presented to elementary students; others presented to high school or middle school students.  One team presented to district parents and another presented to staff.  The social media team created accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to share their message and share the work of their fellow students.  Other collaborative projects included a game called “Byron Go” with a digital citizenship theme, the development of an online video game, newsletters to email, creating a coloring book with a story and original artwork for elementary students, and posting public service announcements via Youtube, etc. The culminating event was a project by several student groups that created a school wide retreat with digital footprint theme-based activities for their peers. (ex 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

After the project was complete, students posted their learning artifacts to their ePortfolios and were provided prompts to reflect on their learning.  After observing the work of our students, I believe many of our kids already have resume ready artifacts and experiences as 8th graders! Imagine if these students were able to continue to build upon and master these skills over the next 4-5 years?

While there are were numerous ELA standards embedded and assessed in this project – how well do you think students met the following essential learning outcome?  I can produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. It will be important, as with any innovation, that we don’t get so caught up in the excitement of the innovation, that we forget to assess the learning target(s) we set out to teach our students.

As I reflect on this project, pedagogy clearly was the driver. Educators were able to take their standards and make them come to life for their students.   I observed very high student engagement, especially during the Digital Citizenship Week, when all of the work of our students came to fruition.  Why? Because their work mattered.  Not just to their teachers or classmates but to their local and digital communities.

So what about technology? In what ways did technology accelerate or amplify student learning?  If you were to remove technology from this project, would it have had the same success?  If this project would have been more didactic aka lecture, listen, worksheet, test would it have had the same lasting results? I will let you come to your own conclusions.

Don’t get me wrong. I still believe there is a place for lectures, there is a place for worksheets (not packet after packet!), and there are ways to design INCREDIBLE active learning experiences that require no technology at all.  We cannot dismiss the powerful face to face learning strategies that still work today, but we also cannot ignore the opportunities that technology brings to learning either.  It’s about balance and trying to unlock the art and science of today’s teaching and learning!
One final thought –  It’s important to also reflect on the culture of the classroom, school, and district that allowed this powerful learning experience to happen. As with any innovation, there is a degree of risk and uncertainty. What if this fails? Well, what if it doesn’t? Even if it does fail, what does revision 2, 3, 4 look like for our students? Within a culture of learning and innovation, there must be a high degree of trust and transparency between administrators, teachers, and students.  No matter what role we have in education, we must continue to support and foster a culture that allows powerful learning experiences for our students to happen.

Influencer

In my current grad class through Winona State University, Innovative Instructional Leadership, my students having been studying the diffusion of innovation, discussing/reflecting on leadership traits and applying design thinking strategies to create solutions to identified problems.

Influencer: The new science of leading changeAn activity we are working on right now – is a jigsaw of the book Influencer: The new science of leading change.  While I am writing this post -first for my students – I also felt it was worthy to post to my blog for my own reflection and opportunity for feedback from my PLN.

This book provides leaders, established or emerging (this means you students!), insight on how lead successful change.  This is not change for the sake of change.  Remember, our last face to face IDEATION session indicated nearly half a whiteboard of challenges from the perspective of students, teachers, and administrators.

Design thinking defining/ideation with #wsucohort1 – Feb 22, 2017

Chapter 2 highlights that there are 3 keys to influence:

  1. Focus and Measure
  2. Find Vital Behaviors
  3. Engage all 6 sources of influence – Personal, Social, and Structural Motivation and abilities.

Focus and measurement is crucial.  You have to have measures of where you are – and goals of where you are going.  Then measure again. What were the results?

Side Thought:
For many districts, the big measures tend to be test scores and as districts transition to personalized/project-based environments, I do believe, that we can give students great learning experiences (authentic/relevant) and still increase test scores.  It has been so fun to see classrooms that are actively applying these new pedagogies.

From Michael Fullan’s, A Rich Seam

One mistake that I have seen (that I have also been guilty of) is focusing and getting so excited about the innovation – that the original learning goals get lost. We need to make sure we focus on our standards and continually assess our students meeting and exceeding those standards. This will help determine when we may need to provide extra support for our struggling learners.

But…. I see the need for other measures beyond test scores.  Of course, there are surveys and observations (as seen in a report http://bit.ly/531Snapshot) But I am not sure this is enough.  I would really love to understand the district/school measures that go beyond test scores and are extremely effective.

Vital Behaviors. What are the behaviors in an organization that drive results? What are the vital actions that drive change?  What are the vital actions that are “culture busters”?

Side thought: Once we have clear and compelling goals – how often do we find and share those stories of change and success?  Stories can have an amazing impact on an organization/culture.  On the other hand, how often are we willing to address those culture busters? Often, we let behaviors continue because of the fear of confrontation.

The 6 sources of influence.  How do we motivate or enable a vital behavior to reach our desired goals?  Motivation – one’s desire to make the change.  Ability – one’s talent, skill, knowledge to do so.  How often have our students not “reached their potential” due to motivation?  Or how often have we seen students create great strides due to a huge increase of motivation?  How do WE react to change when a change is imminent? Can I do it?  Will I do it? Why should I do it?

These domains are further divided into 3 subgroups – personal, social and structural.  “These three sources of influence reflect and separate highly developed literatures: psychology, social psychology, and organization theory.” (p 69).

It is these 3 sources of influences that are jigsawed and will be shared upon our next f2f day as teams of students will be delivering short but quality PD to their peers (not sit and get PD!).

It’s important to think and reflect on these influences as both a leader within your classroom and a leader within your school or community.  Not all will be equivocally useful -but will offer ideas to support revisions to solution prototypes!  When reading this book it’s important consider our role as an influencers and our role to influence other influencers!

 

The Tech Director’s 360 Survey

Back in July, I blogged about the need for me, a tech director of a small school district in MN,  to be more transparent.  Below is an update of my progress.

Earn your leadership every day.

Image Credit – quoteaddicts.com

The other part of my goals this year was to develop a 360 survey.  After much thought – I decided I wanted to focus on leadership traits.  I combined some of the Cosn Framework with statements from Survey Connect’s  – Sample Question Library to create a draft of my 360 tool.

I am looking for YOUR feedback on my DRAFT Tech Director’s 360 Feedback Survey.   I hope to have a mix of district leadership, educators, and support staff provide me with feedback sometime in Feb. So what do you think about the survey?  Is this too much? Too little? What am I missing?

Google Classroom – A differentiated experience

Today I am facilitating a f2f PD session around Google classroom and wanted to do a quick reflection before my next session.

Knowing we have users with different abilities, I decided to do a 1 question survey – to find out how comfortable our staff is with the tool.  Below is the results of this survey.

Results of Survey

 

 

 

 

 

I was surprised at how many staff had already adopted the tool.  I also recognized – that the Spray and pray – One size fits all PD session was not going to suffice to be adequate to all of our teachers’ needs.  And so, I decided to use Google Classroom (blended learning) and stations – to differentiate this experience for our teachers.

We also are going down the road of standards-based learning in our district.  Last year teachers determined their course ELO’s (Essential learner outcomes) based on standards. They also started creating scales (building on 1-4 model) to show the progression of learning those critical ELOs. For those of you who have adopted Marzano – you should be very familiar with this.

However, I wanted to also model this idea of progression, (a path to mastery) and create learning experiences to go along with it and differentiate the experience.  Having observed Daily 5 station work in the elementary school – I decided to create stations within my classroom for the day and test it out with adults.  Here is my concept idea.  Please feel free to comment or make suggestions to make this better.

I also wanted to try to create an experience where the learners also had access to personal TV screens (after my visit in Burnsville a few weeks ago)

2016-12-16-10-05-04How did it go?

My 1st session was a great learning experience and by the second session, I felt I was getting better at it.  The opportunity to use technology (like Google classroom or any other LMS) to blend this experience was invaluable.   Also, providing direct instruction to those who needed it (small groups vs large group) also helped.

I also wanted to do a 360 recording of this video so I could have some time to observe myself as well.  First 2 sessions did not work, Hopefully, I will get a recording soon – I will add it to this post if it works!

Stay Tuned!

My trip to #One91: Reflections of Classroom/School Design

Last Friday, I was fortunate to participate in Google’s ExploreEDU event, held at Burnsville High School in Burnsville MN.  Part of the agenda,  that day, was to take a tour of Burnsville’s new facility.  This was a big draw for me.  I had heard about their career pathways and their newly designed learning spaces… and decided to take the opportunity to see it with my very own eyes!

Career Center

The career center is an integral part of the Career Pathway program.  Whether they are learning about careers/colleges/ or going on Google Expeditions (career AND college) the space is used independently and with classes.  Understanding the students interests and passions are essential to student success within the program.

 

Typical Classroom

Check out this snapshot of a Burnsville classroom.  No more sage on the stage.  Teachers can either stream content to all 6 TVs or students can collaborate with each other using their group TV.  The furniture in classrooms is very flexible and powered. They have floor to ceiling windows and many of the teachers were using the glass to write notes.  It’s also very easy to observe learning activies this way.  Beside every TV was a whiteboard (NOT SMART BOARD) for further STUDENT collaboration/notes/ideation.  Just a side note – Burnsville recently went 1:1 with Chromebooks.  One point of feedback I heard – was the pickup for the devices was 10 minutes long.  Impressive!

Flexible Spaces outside of classrooms

I will be honest, the space outside of the classrooms was pretty cool too.  I really liked that moon shaped sofa, with standing desks or tall stools behind it.  Again, there is an ability to connect to a large TV screen to and give presentations. Check out the cool furniture and use of space!  (Self directed space – that seemed to give students plenty of autonomy)

 

Certified Nursing Assistant Classroom/Lab

Here is a classroom that is used to certify nursing assistants.  It combines the classroom with the “hospital” lab.  Students going down this route would also have to have 20+ hours of clinicals at a local nursing home before receiving their CNA certification.

 

Cafeteria/Kitchen/Culinary Lab

The Cafeteria/Kitchen area had a very upscale feel to it.  Check out the digital signage in the kitchen as well as the large commons area.  I am guestimating 15-20 TVs.  This space is also used by students in the culinary arts pathway and students get to use the professional kitchen as a lab area.

CNC/PLTW/Engineering

And finally, I was very impressed with the CNC/PLTW/Engineering area.  Between the labs, classroom space, and flexible space inside the classroom space – it was amazing!  The students had access to industry standard equipment.  In the last video, we actually stopped by to speak to some students who just helped the local credit union re-brand their company.  How awesome!  I also learned that the credit union was also going to be setting up shop in the high school.

Final Reflections

Within the pathway program the district is being very progressive in trying to continually provide students with:

  • College credit
  • Industry level certifications
  • Student internships
  • Business partnerships (some of these partnerships also provide grant $)

Example of Pathways

One of the roadblocks ( I have heard in the past) is that sometimes these pathways “LOCK” students into a particular path.  That is not the case in Burnsville.  For instance, let’s say that a student has an interest in a health career.  Then, after going through the CNA class, the student decides they really do not like the nursing experience.  Students could select other options like  business administration in health.  See the latest indeed.com job search for the Mayo Clinic as there are so many health careers that are beyond nurses, doctors, ect.  I like this flexibilty. I also assume, they can hop over to another pathway all together!

The big picture to remember- is that Burnsville students are going to have a more real world – authentic learning experiences in high school, BEFORE they decide to go to college or step into a career.  I can not tell you how important this is especially when you consider the success rate of college students, the amount of student debt students may have upon graduating.  (See my past blog post about the parents perspective of innovation)  If students decide to go the career route – they will already have some serious resume experiences and certifications that will give them a “one up” on the competition.

This was incredibly inspiring – as someone who works in education and as a parent! Way to go Burnsville – for paving the way for the future of High Schools in MN!

As Real World Learning Design comes to a close…

This semester,  I designed and facilitated a graduate level course called Real World Learning Design.  It is course 4 in a series of 5 in WSU’s Innovative Instructional Leadership Certificate program.

Lets get real.

Last night, my students presented their findings from the semester.    I have streamed our final presentations  online before, but frankly, that has not been good enough.  We might be lucky to get 1 maybe 2 viewers at any given time.  Just randomly tweeting out YouTube Live links does not automatically equate to an audience.  (and an audience that will remain with you for over 2+ hours)

Picture of presentation

@Mrs_Ausman4 and her students on Digital Citizenship

We discussed, as a class, that “audience” is an important characteristic of  “Real World Learning” design.   I decided, in efforts to model this, to find an authentic audience for our teachers’ presentations. We needed people who cared (beyond our classroom) about what our educators were doing. While we still were streaming this event via YouTube live (for both a digital audience AND to capture and archive the learning artifact) we also had a live f2f audience that included our superintendent, director of curriculum instruction and assessment, our high school principal, instructional coaches, our school board chair, and representatives from higher ed (graduate level prof and teacher prep prof).  These are people who are curious about the work we are doing and genuinely care about what is happening in our classrooms. Presenting work to an authentic audience has a tendency to improve the student’s quality of work (from the elementary student to the grad student).

I will admit, as the RSVPs of attendance started coming in… I also became nervous.The audience also included my peers, my superintendent, my board chair.    Did I do a good enough job to support these educators? What if the presentations do not go well, what does that say about me? About my course design? My facilitation?  That lasted a while… and then I came back to my senses.  I know these teachers. I know the quality of their work. I know the passion for their kids and their profession.  They got this.

Below is the video of their presentations.  It’s over 2 hours long but is so worth the watch.  It is a great artifact for me as well.  It is something I can refer back to later, it is something I can potentially show future students.  It is will serve as an ePortfolio artifact for me.

It’s hard to tell from the video, but as the stories and journeys were unfolding,  there was a certain level of excitement in the room — Both from the other teachers  (this was the first time they heard their classmates present) and the audience.  Now, imagine how you would feel if your superintendent was live tweeting your presentations with comments like below?  I appreciated it immensely!

 

What will be the impact of having the right people in the room, hearing the story of our educators? Time will tell.  But the buzz did not stop last night and the conversation continued today.  Regardless of what happens next, I am very proud of the work of these educators and more importantly the learning experiences they created for our students.  WTG!

My reflections on the course design/facilitation

It sucked.  Yes, I said it.  While my students produced some excellent work  – the course needs some significant improvement.  Below are my reflections for the next go around:

  • Problem 1.  Course design is completely flexible and totally open on day 1 of class.  That means, I have to have all resources, activities, assignments, and proHouston we have a problemgress report templates done before day 1. While there are due dates there still is quite a bit of flexibility for students to do as much or as little as they want, and revise accordingly. (my students love this kind of flexibility) There are flaws to this.  #1 being how do you fix problems of the course, while in the course live and your students are all over the place within the content?  The added online component also makes it difficult to revise in a completely open course.
  • Problem 2. This course lacked s:s collaboration and communication.  While my face to face sessions was some of my best designed so far (One of my personal goals is creating engaging f2f PD) the online collaboration was missing.  There were no discussions between our 3 face to face meetings. As this can be a very complex topic for some educators, there was a need to discuss with others and come to a mutual understanding of RWL.  And with the problem of #1…Trying to schedule a discussion (that was not previously scheduled in an OLL course) was not going to work.
  • Problem 3.  I introduced design thinking in this course.  I LOVE IT.  It was fun to see an activity I did in one of my F2F sessions, tried, applied and tweeted out by my students in MS and HS classes the next week!  However, there was a clear disconnect btw the design thinking activities and the RWL work.  I think it all has to do with timing and  deadlines within the course.  On a positive note, I know what needs fixing and I loved facilitating this work. Could be applicable in multiple areas in my job as prof and dir. of technology!
  • Problem 4. We need a good book. And discuss it.  I have lots of resources but in the course – but I think a book study could be very beneficial.  Right now – I am thinking either Tony Wagners – Most Likely to Succeed or Yong Zhao’s World Class Learners.  If you are aware of any good reads… I would appreciate it!
  • Problem 5. I need to re-evaluate course objectives and make sure course resources/activities are aligned.  Focus on specifically on objective 1 and 3.
    1. Connect students and core content to organizations, professionals, and community members and provide rigorous authentic learning and career/life oriented experiences
    2. Evaluate roles in education where teachers become activators and co-learners who model “learning to learn”
    3. Explore and unpack 21st-century skills and habits of mind to model and foster with today’s learners
    4. Assess the impact of real world design on student learning and motivation
  • IDEA –   Continue to re-evaluate the Mindset, motivation, and self-directed learning course and continue to promote in future courses. We need to come back to that language and discussion often.
  • IDEA – Last night one of my students presented her project which was a series of mini projects.  I actually am wondering if the idea of sprints, could be a great way to take small steps to RWL or even a great way to try something small before going a little deeper with it.  Or be an entirely different path for a user?
  • IDEA – How about streaming the presentation on the districts FB page?  Or maybe even inviting the entire community…. Hmmm.
  • IDEA – Build in a feedback loop for teachers designing their lessons.  Might be beneficial if they have a draft, and they actually pitch the idea to the cohort for feedback.
  • IDEA – I need a PLC.  I have  a PLN, but I am so jealous of educators that have a good support group to discuss learning and strategies around courses.  Now, I am not saying  members of my PLN could not become my PLC but I need to create a support group specific to course design.  You interested? I would be happy to give you feedback on your designs as well.  Let’s not work in silos! Reply to this post or DM me via twitter (@jenhegna). My next course (and FINAL) is Innovative Instructional Leadership…Starts January.
  • Disclaimer – This was attempt #1 of this course so I do have to cut myself a little slack. The first version of anything is not as good as subsequent versions.  With one son’s graduation and my other son’s wedding, bringing on a new building in my district and being short 1 tech at the start of the school year… I was drowning.  But I had to ship what I thought was a decent course.  While I am being very critical of my work (as I should) my feedback from my cohort is very positive.

    “You force reflection and deep thought with your assignments. You don’t tell us what to do, but instead require that we think long enough to tell ourselves. This is true across all courses, but I felt it most in this one.”

  • “Project challenged me to go outside of my comfort zone.”

  • “I thought the result of this course was beneficial to me as a professional and will certainly help my thought processes when meeting the needs or learners.”

  • Now that the reflection is done, I look forward to revising the course into RWL 2.0.  Stay tuned!

    Let the shipping begin

    Image Credit Book Delights – WordPress.com

A new approach to the “PD Day”

If I die - Staff Meeting

I will be honest,  I have led some bad PD in my day. I have read powerpoint slides, provided “click here, click there” how to sessions, all of which have been a one-time, one-size fits all approach.  Did my participants learn? How do I know they learned?  (both questions, I failed to ask – or maybe was afraid to ask?)

On the other side of the gamut (things I am more proud of) I have co-facilitated district edcamps, provided short Just In Time Training (JITT) sessions (small group),  coached educators 1:1, and am currently facilitating a cohort model  through the Innovative Instructional Leadership Program.

This year our district goal is:

100% of all teachers will CREATE or REDESIGN and IMPLEMENT at least 3 lesson plans per year that inspire learners to achieve at high levels as measured by student ePortfolio artifacts.

October 19, 2016, was day 2 (of 4) to help support educators in this process.  As we (instructional coaches/curriculum director/myself) were designing the activities we wanted to model good instructional practices.  We know a day of sit and get does not work in our classrooms, why would we incorporate this on our PD day?

In our PD sessions, have been focusing on personalized and deeper learning that engage/empower kids.  We are using a Deeper Learning Protocol (DLP) based on the works of Scott McLeod (McLeod) and Julie Graber (@jgraber). (Called Trudacot)

Our October 19 agenda with results/evidence:

TableTop Group

Our Workgroup Table Toppers!

1 – Create District Teams Our first decision was to create district teams with representation of 2 educators from each level (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12) We also wanted to mix disciplines.   Our teachers are with PLCs on a weekly basis. We wanted the opportunity for them to connect with other educators and learn about their implementation and results.    We felt this would be a great opportunity to build cross district relationships and could potentially lead to new sparks!

2 – High energy starter – We started the day with an epic game of Rock, Paper, Scissors – tied to Growth Mindset  (Thank you George Couros for the idea!)

And the winner is…

3. Lesson Speed Dating –  Educators shared examples/artifacts of student work from created/redesigned  lesson plans.  We kicked it off this activity with 1 teacher from each building sharing what they implemented in their classroom to the entire staff. Then, within our groups, we did 3 rounds of sharing (each 8 minutes a piece)

Script to help guide the discussion
My lesson was…
My area of focus from the DLP was…
What I observed/assessed in student learning (ELO) success was…
What I observed in regards to student engagement was…
If I focus on this DLP area again, I would…
Questions or Comments?

Short Video in Speed Date in Action

While this focused heavily on the innovative things our educators did to deepen learning and engage/empower kids it was important to also highlight the learning.   After the speed date was done, we  had all staff analyze the following artifact with these questions:

  • What facets of the DLP does this artifact integrate?
  • Does this artifact show evidence that the student has met the essential learning outcome? (I Can Statement)
Artifact snapshot

This is an example of an 8th-grade artifact (In ELA) who emailed me earlier that week for some support on a digital citizenship project they were working on.

 

4. Going Deeper into the DLP ( In this activity, we wanted to give educators a blended learning experience with plenty of voice/choice, to study and create a learning artifact regarding a single DLP Facet.  We had 15 groups and assigned 3 groups to each facet. (Facets we focused on: Authenticity/Relevancy, Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, Deeper Thinking).  Below are the instructions we used for this activity.  This will allow you to see the activity looked like (Built on Google Sites)

We allowed educators to choose their learning space.  I observed during the reading portion and video watching portion – some educators chose to sit independently (away from group) while others decided to do everything together. (Both AOK!) Only 1 group chose to sit in rows!screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-6-44-30-pm

Educators were to make a digital learning artifact that represented what they understood about their assigned facet. (We provide NO How to’s here)  We also recognized opportunities to build artifacts (not digital) to represent their knowledge.  Included was a small maker table if they chose that path!

Our little maker table!

Our little maker table!

 

The last portion of this activity was to do a Gallery walk and reflect on the learning experience.  Since everyone had access to the padlet, the workgroups began looking at what everyone else had created.  (which is a great formative assessment for us)  It was fun to see the creative ideas come through!  Some created mindmaps, slideshows, videos, screencasts, drew posters and took pics), ect.  It would have been fun to do another short speed date – first with each Facet teams to share their creation and then the teams select 1 project to go to be presented to the district group. However, we simply ran out of time.  (We may revive this idea, the next time we meet)

We also circled back to the growth mindset conversation we started with, and asked educators to take a silent moment to reflect… did they ever have a fixed mindset moment during this experience? Did they ever observe a team member in a fixed mindset?  Growth Mindset

5. Work time to recreate/design lesson to be implemented and student artifacts to be collected by the next PD day in January.   We gave educators approximately 2 hours to do their own creative lesson planning.  Educators then, submit a broad scope of their lesson re-design and include ELOs and DLP Facets they will be using.  Coaches will follow up with staff throughout the next several months.

6. Evaluate our Lesson – We wanted teachers to evaluate our lesson.  (Google Form)  Right now a little over 40% of  educators provided feedback.  Many reported they liked the groupings and enjoyed the sharing of lessons and ideas. By far the great improvement we need is to give more time to share and create!

We also are sitting at a little over  70% engagement rate. I WISH we had comparison data to sit and get PD!  But unfortunately, we don’t.  However, we do plan on taking feedback from our educators and improving the professional development day in January!

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-7-10-23-pm

Final Reflection

I am very happy with the result of our efforts and felt we met our goals.

Did we give our educators a different  district-wide PD experience? YES!   One that has multiple activities that activated multiple senses?  YES!

Did we go beyond reading powerpoint slides and give educators an applied experience that made learning visible? Assessable? With their peers?  YES. YES. YES.

Did our lesson include opportunities for learner voice/choice? Collaboration? Communication? Deeper Thinking? Creativity? Integrate meaningful technology?  Again All YES!  However, some were to a greater degree than others.

Do we need to improve for the next time? YES!  We are far from done and are already brainstorming for PD # 3 in January!

What are some awesome things you have done on PD days in your district? Share your ideas or provide feedback to this post!

Note: This blog post is in direct correlation and will serve as evidence of my 2016-17 professional goals:

Design Thinking in Instructional Design

I have been intrigued with design thinking for some time.  Several years ago, we visited Shattuck School’s (Faribault MN) We Create center.  School leaders shared they had created their learning space (oh my it was wonderful) using the design thinking process.  Last year, we took a trip to the Mayo Clinic Center of Innovation and I  learned how they were using the concept to create innovative products/processes/systems/spaces to better serve their patients  Their motto – Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast.

Think Big, Start Slow, Move Fast!

Think Big, Start Slow, Move Fast! – Mayo Clinic Center of Innovation’s motto!

 

What I love the most about design thinking, is the human-centered approach. Through empathy interviews and observations, teams define problems (some not clearly visible) and ideate solutions based on  those findings.  Then, create a prototype of a solution to test with customers.    This process is utilized by all types of companies/organizations  – from health care to entrepreneurs.

This fall,  I am an adjunct prof in a graduate level course called Real World Learning Design.  Realizing that companies/organizations were using this methodology to innovate and solve problems (or create new products)  – I wondered – could I embed this methodology into my course?   I learned that schools were using the approach to redesign learning spaces. Could the same process be used to redesign learning? After all, shouldn’t students be at the center of our instructional design?

So, I did ton of reading over the summer.  First with Tim Brown’s book Change by Design, then with John Spencer and  A.J. Juliani’s book Launch.  I curated a huge bookmark folder of online resources and lurked #DTk12chat.  Then I stumbled on Stanford’s d.school’s Crash Course and other materials!  Having never participated in a design thinking experience, this provided an excellent roadmap to applying it into my course. (not just as a facilitator – but as a learner with my students!) Did I mention they have a creative commons license on their materials? Thank you d.school!

The past 3 weeks, my students (teachers) completed empathy interviews with their students around learning.  The key point to empathy interviews, leave your assumptions and bias at the door.  You need to go into the interview with a “beginner’s mindset” and not lead students into answers.

Teachers also observed their students outside of their classroom . It was eye-opening for some of my teachers to go into other classrooms and to watch their students. For some, they might be more engaged in one classroom – for others – maybe there was an obvious disconnect.  Led to questions… Why?

Fast forward to tonight.  As the stories came out, it was apparent we had quite a few common themes in all of the interviews.  (From grade 2 to high school) The first pic below is what we found as common themes.

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2016-10-05-17-13-09 2016-10-05-17-13-13
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Dear Teachers!

2016-10-05-20-24-49 Design thinking pictures

 

Some improvements I would like to make the next go around:

  • First F2F day, my students need collaborative time to create questions.  (maybe at least 4 common questions).
  • Have students send me at least the first interview for feedback.  Most of my students either recorded videos or podcasts of their videos.  There were times where they would “lead” students to answers and I believe getting feedback would make the experience better for the students
  • On the second f2f day, I need to create time constraints.  We probably spent too much time sharing our empathy maps/findings when we could have spent ideating and creating solutions. I would also like to explore different ideation strategies.  We also did not have time to go in and refine, refine, refine.
  • I am not sure I am happy with the timing.  Some of my students have already started the implementation of the lessons.  But, I still think there are opportunities to interject what is learned into experiences/activities with tweaks.  (I had one student share, how he began to change things already based on what he learned from his students.)
  • I need to either bring norms to the table OR create norms with the class.  Like – No “Ya Buts” when ideating.  Have signals for when people do so.  When other ideas emerge – let people go off and work out ideas.
  • I love the new “learning lab” space in our HS.  I think we should consider making it even more collaborative and functional.

One of my big aha’s is how design thinking is directly correlated with all of the Innovator’s Mindset characteristics.  I feel I have a deeper understanding – especially the traits of empathetic, observant, and problem finders after this teaching/learning experience.

George Couros - 8 Characteristics of the I nnovator's Mindset

George Couros – 8 Characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset

 

Next Steps
Teachers will be designing and implementing learning experiences based on their definition of real world learning. They also will have an opportunity to take what they learned through their empathy interviews and implement  (their learning design prototypes) within their students.   They will collect student evidence of learning, get feedback and analyze and present their results.  I can’t wait!

Overall, I am very satisfied with the turnout.  Could it be better – absolutely!  I will definitely be using again in my next course – Innovative Instructional Leadership.

Evidence of Impact:
Here are a few of my student’s blog posts after going through the empathy interview process.  What I value the most about these posts – is their thoughts and desires to get to know their students better, to build upon teacher:student relationships and design better learning student-centered experiences.

 

One last note, since my cohort actually meets in my school – we decided to leave all of our materials up for our other teachers to see and invited them to share their ideas.  (with post-its and all!)  The more transparent we can be with our learning, the more opportunities there are for everyone to learn!

Dear Teachers