Steven Strogatz: Doing Math in Public

Dear Math picture

Image via

Today I stumbled on a video Steven Stogratz – Doing Math in Public – via Cornell University. I typically don’t watch people talk about math but I find this video very interesting. I happen to be one of those people, who did fairly well in my math courses in high school and even college, but alway had a hard time understanding the application of upper level math. I could work through and solve equations, and  pass tests – but I never understood how I could actually apply it to the real world.

The video then lead me to Steven’s New York Times Blog series, The Elements of Math.  The reaction to his posts, by the public, were very supportive. There  are over 500 comments on his first post – From Fish to Infinity where he also shares why he was writing this series:

“Crazy as it sounds, over the next several weeks… I’ll be writing about the elements of mathematics, from pre-school to grad school, for anyone out there who’d like to have a second chance at the subject — but this time from an adult perspective. It’s not intended to be remedial. The goal is to give you a better feeling for what math is all about and why it’s so enthralling to those who get it. So, let’s begin with pre-school…”

Steven then created another 6 part series called Me, Myself, and Math. In which showcases math in real world scenarios. First post shares how math is related to  baby cowlicks and finger prints. I certainly did not understand those things had a mathematical explanation for existence, did you?

Again, the reaction to Steven’s work via blog comments and Twitter is interesting… by many people who are not mathematicians – like yours truly.  He has over 10K followers and shares many references to math in real world situations.  I am not sure where Steven’s resources could by used with K12 students. (I am not a subject matter expert in Math) but it does make  me to wonder… could some of his blog posts, scenarios, tweets lead to opportunities for real world dialog with students?  He is definitely fascinating and has one new follower! 🙂

Check out his Twitter Account –

Learn. Share. Innovate. Inspire

In Start with Why, Simon Sinek writes,

“The role of the leader is not to come up with all of the great ideas. The role of the leader is to create an environment in which great ideas can happen.” ( p. 99)

I am extremely excited to share a few components of our district’s new roadmap.  Over the past 6 months, we have been meeting and collecting feedback from our community, our staff, and our students.  We’ve heard about things we have done very well, heard about areas we need to improve, and listened to ideas that will take us into the future!  From this work, a new 5 year strategic plan has been developed.  This may be some of the MOST invigorating work I have been a part of!

Our Mission Statement:  Learn. Share. Innovate. Inspire.

I have to admit, I feel these 4 words encompass who I am and why I come to work every day.  These 4 words ARE my passion.  Yes, some days are better than others – but as I reflect on our culture at Byron – I think this statement   delivers on why we do the business we do.  In education, our main objective is our clients, our students – but I also feel these words should connect equally with our staff and our community as well.

Our Vision

By 2018, Byron Public Schools will be recognized as a leading, renowned school system in the world by:

  • Challenging the status quo and developing new norms for education
  • Leveraging real world tools & skills to develop a passion for learning
  • Developing students that demonstrate outstanding character
  • Creating a safe school environment that is happy, healthy & caring
  • Utilizing purposeful technology to develop 21st century learning and skills.

These are some very powerful statements and I believe my district can achieve all of them.  I will say, for my personal perspective that the first statement really hits the nail on the head.  We can not continue to provide traditional education in a digitized world.  It doesnt make sense.   Just today I was able to see Will Richardson’s slides from his #ISTE13 keynote presentation.  While I was not physically at ISTE this year, this slide deck certainly struck a very deep chord with me!  I believe our district is on the right track!


We also have 7 new priorities of focus.


  1. Personalize learning for all students
  2. Promote and provide applied learning experiences within the school and community
  3. Develop well-rounded students in the areas of character, community, and academics
  4. Ignite and inspire students to explore their passions and share their talents
  5. Maximize the personal and professional potential of all staff
  6. Maintain excellence in resource management


While I feel we have COLLECTIVELY created our Why in our mission and some of the What in our vision statements – Our priorities will help us develop the How.  Teams of district stakeholders will be creating action plans under each priority.  It was very difficult for me to choose what team to be on because I was inspired by so many !  In the end, I chose to partner with others and form a team  around Priority 4 – Ignite and inspire students to explore their passions and share their talents.

 A little bit about our Priority 4 journey.  It was important for our team to understand the ideas around passionate learning.  It is a concept that has recently received quite a bit of recognition – especially in the twitterverse and blogosphere.   I felt it was important to introduce the team to the concept  so I created my top 10 resource  list  for our team to review prior to our 1st meeting.

Hegna’s top 10 resources to support Passion Based Learning

  1.  (Watch the student Valedictorian speech)

  2. Hack Schooling – 13 year old Ted Talk –

  3. Guidelines for Passion Based Learning – by Angela Maiers

  4. 20% Classroom (Video) by Kevin Brookhouser

  5. User Generated Education by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

  6. Stillwater Public Schools – T Need for Passion

  7. Edutopia Passion Based Learning by Aisissa Ramirez

  8. Stop Stealing Dreams – Seth Godin Ted Talk –

  9. Gallup Results – Student engagement decreases with each year

  10. Washington Post – If Students designed their own school it would look like this

We had great discussions and really had to stretch our minds.  Since then, some of our “blue sky” ideas have   formulated into action steps and measures.   We are almost there!  I am so excited!  With any change (especially in edu) there will be  roadblocks we will have to conquer.    We WILL FAIL.  But we will also WIN.  I can not wait to begin to walk the talk.  We have had a tremendous amount of planning, planning, planning.  But now  Its GO TIME!

Walk the Talk

Image Credit =

Expanding 1:1 iPads in our district

I am very excited to announce that our school board has formally approved our plan to expand our 1:1 iPad (Project Bears21) initiative to include grades 7-12 for the Fall of 2013.  While 1:1’s are popping up all over the place – I feel there are 2 unique components to our plan that may differ from others and would love your feedback.

Financing 1:1. 

We have decided to blend our 1:1 with several options for parents.  Below are the options that parents will have. While we will have some record keeping to do (thinking of tracking through either our helpdesk system (asset management) or our SIS – Infinite Campus).

Cost of the iPad

  • iPad 2 – $380
  • Case – $40 – Case is the ruggedized Griffin Survivor Case.
  • Apps – $50 – The district will purchase the apps, but will be “owned” by the family.
  • Total cost = $470
 Options for parents
  • Option 1 – Leasing Directly with Apple. (Grade 7-12) –  In this option, the district would sign up for the lease and make payments on an annual basis.  The district would require a $40 yearly insurance fee from parents ($35 for those eligible for reduced lunch, $30 for those eligible for free lunch) per student/device with a family cap of $120 per year.  Parents would be responsible to pay the district for this option. At the end of the lease the district would essentially own the device but would turn the devices back to the company for a $100 trade up.
  • Option 2 – Invest for Learning. (Grade 7-11) – In this option the district would partner 50/50 with the parents.  Parents would be required to pay the leasing company their share of the lease (could be yearly, quarterly, monthly).  Total cost to parents would be approximately $121/year/device.  At the end of the lease, the parent could buy out the lease (for each device) for $20. The iPad would then be owned by the parent.
  • Option 3 – Bring Your Own iPad2 (BYOi) (iPad2 or better). (Grades 9-12)  – In this option, the parent already owns the device.  The district would provide approximately $50 in apps per student.  The parent must agree to enroll the device into the district’s mobile device manager (This is how we will provide the student with paid apps).  The parent assumes all insurance/maintenance of the device.

Professional Development to support 1:1.

It was a plan by 1:1 plan by Northfield Public Schools (pdf) that really captured our eye.  They included 4 year staff development plan based on the SAMR model of technology integration by Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura.  We have adapted that idea and created our own model.    While I feel we have quite a few teacher that will blow past the SAM levels of the SAMR in year 1- we need to recognize that not all our teachers are at the same skillset.  This plan looks at ensuring classroom transformation in ALL classrooms within 3 years.  Sometimes, you have to go slow to go fast and we do not want to leave any classroom behind!

Below is a video that highlights our plan for PD in preparation for implementation this fall. We also will be developing /providing plans for job embedded PD for the school year as well.  Again, would love to hear your feedback!

Currently we have approximately 155 iPads for grade 7 students.  Since we want all devices to be on the same schedule, we are going to take those ipads, as well as other “loose” ipads in our high school and expand more mobile carts for teachers in grade K-6.  This is an interim plan to build the skillset and capacity within our teachers as we look to expand the 1:1 concept in the lower grade levels as well.

More information coming soon!

My “this needs attention” response…

My district is going to be going through a new planning process to develop a strategic plan for our schools for the next 5 years.  Staff were asked to share several things the district was doing well – and several things we needed more attention.    Here is my “this needs attention” response;

The traditional idea of school needs to be thrown out and rebuilt from scratch based on today’s global economy. We focus TOO much on testing and not enough on cultivating our kid’s passions and talents. Our kids need real world problem-based interdisciplinary experiences vs. the Sit & Get and memorize what you have learned education. This would require a PD overhaul and time built into the system for our staff. Learning for our students and staff should be to be personalized and individualized based on their skill-set/goals. I would love to see a model that brings Google’s 80/20 into education where teachers have more freedom to explore new teaching strategies/innovation and students explore their passions. We should focus more on the mastery of competencies and less on grades. Our system of grade levels, summer’s off, and bells and schedules is not conducive to the real world! And finally we need to do more to ensure every child and BPS is not only healthy but happy.

What do you think? What else should I have added?

Like us on Facebook

Hooray!  My district now has an official fan page on Facebook. (  We are very excited about this opportunity to first give our students, parents, alumni, and community an opportunity to see what it is like to be a student/staff member in our district. We also feel that it will give a more personalized tour of the culture of our district to potentially attract new students and new talented staff.

FB picture

Planning for Facebook

While we had “parked” our pages for each school some time ago, it was decided, by our communications committee, that we needed to contain all of our district into 1 page.  Because we are a smaller district (1850 students) , it would be much easier to maintain and parents would not need to like multiple pages thus receiving too many updates or duplicate information.

We decided that administering FB would not be the job of a single employee – but we would spread the Facebook facilitation (FB Admins) to key people in each building.  (Mix of secretaries and media staff)  These individuals typically have a pretty good grasp of what is happening in our buildings and things that are worthy of spotlighting on our fan page.  It was important that we keep the Facebook page up to date AND  it was important that we NOT  blast our followers with too many status updates.  We decided to do an update  at least  1 time per day with  a max of 2 each day.  Each building FB admin  picked a day of the week that they would update the page.  If there were specific questions from our fans, they would answer on an as needed basis.

Several weeks ago, we did our FB Admin training.  Now,  it is NOT difficult to do an FB update.  However, the majority of our time was spent discussing how to protect the personal FB profiles of our FB admins.  We went into the privacy settings of their personal FB profiles, and talked about what those settings actually mean.  We also talked about appropriate use of the tool and making sure they understood that even thought they had access to comment and interact with their personal friends, it probably is not a good idea.  Every like, friend comment is logged and timestamped in FB.  Posting personal comments at 9:30 am on a work day will not look good when you are supposed to be working.  But to interact with stakeholders on our fan page is AOK!

Next we spent some time discussing what we actually would be posting on the site to be sure we really showcase our district’s culture.  Below are some ideas that were shared in post How Schools Can Use Facebook to Build an Online Community by Mashable.

PHOTOS – Photos are an excellent way to showcase school culture. A school may choose to use photos to highlight a variety of aspects of the school, including:

  •     Students exhibiting values the school encourages
  •     Celebrations of student work
  •     Field trips
  •     Experiential learning activities
  •     Assemblies or school-wide celebrations
  •     Recognition of individual students for excellence

VIDEOS – Videos can be an incredible way for a school to personalize its online presence and actually demonstrate what it is that makes it special. A school may add videos that showcase a lot of different things, including:

  •     A variety of learning, including different subjects and age groups
  •     Assemblies or school-wide events
  •     Community meetings
  •     High caliber teaching and student engagement
  •     Students, teachers, and members of the community discussing what makes the school special
  •     Share songs, chants, or cheers that are used as a part of school culture or academics
  •     Sporting events

After comparing FB fan pages from districts in the area as well as the state, we really wanted to make sure that our posts included pictures and videos. There are simply some things you can not capture with text alone. This actually excited our FB facilitators as they wanted to go out, visit classrooms, and take pictures of our culture in action.  We will also allow pics and stories to be submitted by our staff to the FB facilitators. We decided that only those with FB admin privileges would be allowed to post on our fan page.  See the image below for specific page settings and reasons they are set that way.

Facebook Fan Page security settings


Whats Next?

We will be lifting the ban on Facebook for all of our staff.  We will be lifting the ban on Facebook for our high school students.  (HOORAY) We will be doing some formal/informal training of all staff (most likely flipped PD) about how to secure profiles and also how to utilize FB appropriately as a teaching/learning/communication tool.  I am also hoping to work with teachers about how we can teach our students to appropriately use this tool and all other social media tools.  We do have a district scope and sequence for Internet safety (and developing students appropriate digital footprint) and hopefully we will have the ability to showcase and teach good use of the tool!

At the time I wrote this blog, we only had 173 likes.  Most of these likes came from the either word of mouth or the nature of social media.  We will be marketing that we now have a FB fan page through other district communications.  I also added a Like us social plugin front and center on our district website.  We will be monitoring our likes, we will monitor our FB insights.  The analytics of FB are outstanding and if you have a FB fan page I highly recommend you check them out!  Here is a snippit of ours!  173 Likes has a potential of reaching 29, 529 friends of our fans!

Screenshot of our Facebook Insights. (analytics for FB)

The perfect recipe for school innovation

This week we were visited by the Stanford Research Institute and they are doing a case study on Byron High School.  As you may, or may not know, Byron High school won the 2011 Intel School of Distinction award for their innovative math program.  The experience was amazing and the opportunity – exciting.  (See my capture of the moment we won – BEWARE turn down your speakers)

This could be viewed as a breakthrough moment for our district as it was highly publicized and our math department opened their doors to other schools wanting to learn from them.  The school innovation flywheel began to spiral.  Since the award in 2011, we have had many “break throughs” in education innovation including Hybrid Learning, ePortfolios for all students grades 7-12, Our first annual Innovation Fair, 1:1 iPad Pilots in Grade  7 as well a few 1:1 carts (K, 2, and FACS) and the addition of the Digital Learning Coach this year a “flipped PD” edtech coaching model.

I was asked – What was it that led your district to this exciting journey?  Hmmm.  I really couldnt pinpoint it.   We have always had moments here in Byron that have been considered innovative.  We went completely wireless in the district and gave every teacher a laptop in 2002.  In 2005 we  created a 3 year tech plan that included SMART boards in every classroom. We built a new High School in 2006.  Data Coaches came in 2007 and in 2008 we began our PLC journey as well as our Online Learning committee.  In 2009 we migrated to Infinite Campus and in 2010 we adopted Google Apps for Education (my personal favorite prior to winning Intel SODA).

We have had many schools come and visit us  in the last year.  When they do, we often hear comments like –   I wish we could “bottle this up” (our culture) and bring it back to our districts.  And then we hear about the roadblocks and challenges face.  Our administrators are not on board. Our Tech director is a Network NaziOur Teacher contracts/climate would never support these ideas.   I believe that in the problems other describe – lies the answer to the culture of innovation in our district.

BPS did not magically arrive to this wonderful place overnight.  I believe the partnership between our board/administrators, tech, teachers, and community is what has helped our success in edtech innovation. Its ok to have new ideas and challenge the status quo.  Our leaders remove barriers that stifle innovation (THIS IS BIG).  Most of the most innovative ideas we have had – have not been a top down initiative.  Teachers are allowed to take risks and lets face it – with risk comes failures.  And its ok to fail – as long as you learn from it.  Sometimes great ideas don’t work perfectly the first time around…. As a tech director I find that taking time to listen, reflect, and help resolve the issues… will improve outcomes for my teachers.

It is also important to listen to ideas around you.  (I use Twitter for my outside of Byron idea catcher)  Good ideas deserve your attention.  Whether they are online, in a school district down the road, or ESPECIALLY  in a classroom down the hall – sometime an idea just needs to be shared or encouraged to make it happen. Teachers that know they have their tech director and administration in their corner – are going to feel much more confident and  empowered.  And these empowered teachers have an amazing effect on  students and their learning.

I am not sure if this is the perfect recipe for school innovation.  But it certainly has helped move our district forward.

Image Credit –



Thinking about edtech PD…

Spent the past couple of days at our state Memo Conference learning from leaders from all over our state and nation!  While there was a tremendous amount of sessions to choose from, I decided to focus on sessions that revolved around 1:1, BYOD, Flipped Learning, and anything iPad. Within each of these sessions, I also asked alot of questions – specifically in the area of professional development.

We are at a cross road in our district.  We currently have a BYOD at our high school, but we also have a 1:1 iPad pilot in our 7th grade.  From my observation, the iPad project has not only been embraced more by our teachers and students but it also appears to be far more transformative than the BYOD project.  Yet, when I heard other districts share their BYOD  stories – I had to make my own comparisons.   What did we miss?  I knew teacher training was an issue in the BYOD program – probably because there was none.  Staff were left to figure it out on their own.

The next day,  I attended another  BYOD session in which the presenters (Josh Swanson and Jennifer Wykle)  shared a slide for managing complex change.   It was a lightbulb moment.  I could pretty much plug every complex initiative we have ever had into the table and recognize when we did something well, all of the areas under the “change” box were sufficient.  Yet, I could also plug in others – that were not so successful or were very slow moving (including BYOD) and pinpoint the main issue.

Educational Origami

Adapted from –

I also heard many not so happy stories from audience members who were really struggling in their districts.  By far, frustration was very common. Below are comments that I heard.

  • We have a 1:1 and the Network is not sufficient
  • We are not able to collaborate outside of our LMS (no wiki’s, edmodo, blogs, ect)
  • My district blocks YouTube
  • My district wont adopt Google Apps (to assist with iPad workflow)
  • I have to do all of the support on the iPad carts and dont have time to help other teachers
  • We have no money to continue the 1:1 effort
  • We do not have adequate technical support.
  • etc. etc…

One of the things that I have done during our 1:1 initiative, is to meet weekly with our teachers.  This has been very helpful – especially when considering expanding 1:1 to future grade levels.  When we meet, we first discuss wins – Some of which are exciting and game changing for our teachers and students!  We also discuss challenges.  I need to LISTEN.  How can I help remove the road blocks?  Sometimes it is a process issue and other times it is working with the staff to come up with work-arounds or even new solutions.  As the weeks go by, it seems we are talking more wins than challenges – and it is necessary to provide our staff with the resources to be successful.

Other PD highlights/Resources to explore

  •  Student Led Tech Conferences – Might try this during our Middle School parent/teacher conferences with ipads
  • Florida Technology Integration Matrix – Use this to assess our projects/classrooms?
  • SAMR –  The model allows educators to select appropriate tools, plan their usage, and design metrics for results as part of a single integrated process.
  • The earlier you can give your staff iPads, the better! (prior to 1:1)
  • 1/2 hour before/after school sessions.  (short sessions around an idea/tool to support learning) ( Give CEU’s)
  • 10 minute sessions.  – I was thinking of doing APPY Tuesday.  Introduce an app with examples/samples of how to use – including workflow.  This could also be flipped!
  • Find your tech champions to experiment – lead.  (Can be a digital learning coach or other tech saavy teacher)

Use of Video

Kristin Daniels, tech integrationalist for Stillwater, has identified 4 ways in which they use video to flip learning (PD) as well as archive and share successes.  This is very important and I, as well as my Digital Learning Coaches (DLC),  need to be sure we are using video in a similar way.  (time permitting)

  1. Proactive – prepare staff for a project, introduce technology
  2. Reactive – something that happens and need react.  When something goes awry – you can develop vids to assist the teacher
  3. Spontaneous  – capture the learning as it happens, archive
  4. Celebrate Student work – tug at the heartstrings of our staff, parents, community. IMHO, these are the very big wins we need to  push out to community to validate effective technology use.  (Via Facebook or Twitter – post on front of the website)

What I  like about 3 and 4 is that it will help spread  edtech ideas around formally/ informally – and may entice new teachers to try new things. Conversations matter – and I seen quite a few videos of student work.  Also – note to self – look at Camtasia for the DLC’s to produce quality vids.  (right now we use Screencastomatic – which I love)

 Help our staff develop their own personal learning network (PLN)

All keynoters  for the conference had developed an extensive PLN using Twitter and other tools.  (Shannon Miller, Kathy Schrock, and Gail Lovely – learned soooo much from these individuals)   I need NEED to spread and encourage TWITTER (first) to more of our teachers and administrators.  I want to first start with my digital learning coaches – and then move to the rest of the staff.   I love Twitter and have had some fantastic learning opportunities and discussions because of it!  Not only is it cheaper than formal learning (see below) it is also very personalized and will allow our staff to connect with other educators, authors, experts all over the globe!  Which could, in turn, give our students some global experiences!

Summer 2012 – Recap

It is the last day of August just before the nice 3 day labor day weekend. I have a few minutes before tasks and I thought I would be a good time to reflect on my summer! (with the district)  My edtech summer can basically be summed up in 3 words: Infrastructure, Devices, and Development.


This was certainly a year for infrastructure upgrades!  In preparation and planning for 1:1 and PLD it was apparent we needed the infrastructure to support these devices.

  • Internet Bandwidth – Upgraded from 45MB to 100MB pipe to the Internet.  Our plans are that we may have to double every year to support online learning in our classrooms.
  • Access Points.  We have nearly doubled our coverage in our schools and have upgraded many of our AP’s to the Cisco Aironet 3600i AP’s. More throughput and coverage for more devices at longer distances.  Also will be upgradable when the new AC standard comes out!
  • Apple Mobile Device Manager Server – With a 1:1 7th grade program we needed to be able to control and monitor the devices remotely.  Right now, I think the Apple’s server will do – but I am always looking for other alternatives.  I am already planning for “what happens next year” and adding additional iPad 1:1 grade levels.
  • More POE switches – We needed to add Power Over Ethernet switches (1GB) in several of our buildings to support the additional APs.
  • Wireless Lan Controller #2 – We needed another controller (50 client) to support our additional AP’s.
  • Moodle Server – Our district made the jump to the latest version of Moodle. 2.3 from 1.9.  The interface is different -but also much improved.  We also can easily integrate cloud storage from Google Apps, Dropbox, – which will be critical for the classroom workflow when using iPads or other PLDs.
  • PRI Circuits.  We have moved our phone system from many many spendy analog lines to 2 PRI circuits saving us thousands of dollars each year, including no more long distance bills.
  • Asset Management – We now have the ability to track our inventory through our helpdesk system.  We started the year tracking iPads but plan on putting every device in the system and associate them with users/classrooms.   No more spreadsheets – YEAH!


Even though this felt like a year for iPad deployment, we also had quite a few desktop and laptops we deployed.  We still have some needs for our curricular programs to have desktops. And as of now – we also have to ensure we have spots available for testing!  However, word out on the street is that our State testing program may be creating an APP for the iPad. If/When that happens, I do believe the idea of a “computer lab” will be antiquated and current replacement funding will be studies to support more 1:1.

  • 3 Computer labs (Project Lead the Way and 2 Business Labs)
  • 360 + iPads
  • Approx 12 laptops (new hires/replacement schedule)


We can not forget that people need to not only need to know how to RUN the devices we have given them – but also how to effectively integrate them into their classrooms.

  • iPad Training for 1:1 teachers – We have several 1:1 pilots happening in our district.  1 cart in Kindergarten classroom, 1 cart in a 2nd grade classroom, 1 cart in a high school FACS classroom, and a 1:1 in 7th grade – We had Jenn Nelson of Eden Prairie come down 3 days to help faciliate training/discussions in using the iPads in a 1:1 environment.  I think the toughest scenario will be utilizing the iPads in a multi-user environment (FACS)  They simply are not made to be multi-user devices.  At any rate – we needed to prepare our staff for these devices.
  • eLearning Certification – I have developed a 6 week certification program for district teachers who want to teach online or develop hybrid courses for our district. We now have a board approved process in which teachers must follow before being allowed to teach hybrid.  It starts with the certification. This course is not just about how to do Moodle (even though they will learn how to do Moodle)  – it is more about how to facilitate online learning –  Developing quality online resources, activities, and assessments according to course objectives while building collaboration among students is the main focus of this course.  They have a peer review sample ready to go upon completing the course.
  • Bears Professional Growth Academy – Another great academy took place this year!  Attendance is between 60- 70% of Byron Teachers that VOLUNTARILY attend. Right now we have accumulated over 1300 hours of PD for our staff as well as others from other districts  Check out our PGA archive!
  • Digital Learning Coaches – Of all the projects we have accomplished this year – I would have to say I am MOST excited about this one.  We have always done a very good job preparing our teachers for technology, but not a good job helping with the implementation.  This is our answer to what others call “Tech Integrationalists”.   Here is the video “all call” I sent to my staff and we were fortunate to have quite a response from district teachers!  We plan on utilizing the FlippedPD idea and were fortunate to have Kristin Daniels and Wayne Feller (StillWater Public Schools) to help kick off the coach training!  I have some incredibly eager teachers who are very engaged on helping EVERY classroom (PK-12) effectively integrate technology to support teaching and learning!  We started the school year with a visit to every school share the processin developing our own teacher Digital Learning Network.  It was AWESOME and one of my PROUDEST moments for the district!

    Goodby Summer!
    Photo Credit –


I sincerely hope all of the summer of installs and planning pay off – and this school year is one of my best….EVER~!

iPads, Moodle, and the “Paperless” Classroom Workflow

Today we updated our sandbox Moodle server so that I could begin testing (and training) on the new system.  We will be officially transitioning our production Moodle to 2.3 this summer.  This couldn’t come at a better time.  As my previous post indicated, we will be piloting iPads in grade 7 and several elementary classrooms.

One of the very cool things about Moodle 2.2+ is that it integrates EASILY with Dropbox. This will assist teachers as they develop a “paperless” classroom with the iPad and Students will now be able to submit iPad created assignments to Moodle.  We have discussed sharing Dropbox folders and creating write only Dropbox folders. Why is this Moodle workflow option worth considering? The answer is easy…  Moodle helps with file organization of student submitted work. It also allows for a more organized way of providing private feedback to students.

Imagine – a math teacher posts a PDF of a worksheet for students to complete.  Previously students would print, do, and submit via paper/pencil.  Now students can download PDF,  open in PaperPort notes (or any other PDF writing app), write electronically on it with the iPad, save to Dropbox, and upload to Moodle.  Below is my thoughts of how this workflow would be implemented. (click image to see full size)



There is also the integration of Google Docs – however it is a little “hokey”.  (Yet works – but you do not have access to your folders?)  I am hopeful – HOPEFUL – that the iOS Google Drive is available by the start of school.  (fingers crossed – Julyish!)  I am thinking Drive  may eliminate students having to create a dropbox account. Students will already have Drive accounts via our districts Google Apps for Education integration. I am also hoping with Google Drive -that the Google Docs works better.  It is a bummer that docs is very basic on the iPad and does not allow for real-time collaboration.  Oh – and Google Presentation isnt even an option!

Below is a screenshot from the iPad in Moodle.  Students click Dropbox and easily navigate to the file (PDF, Jpg,  ePub, and even Doc, PPT, XLS).  Save it – and submit.  It is timestamped and ready to be graded!  Teachers can access via computer or iPad and then provide feedback about the assignment if appropriate.  Students can easily see what they have submitted, and what they need to complete because of the timestamp.  I think its a good option and we are going to GO FOR IT!

Moodle 2.2


Here we go….1:1 with iPads!

Its official, after the board meeting last night we were approved to pilot 1:1 iPads in our classrooms next year.  We have selected grade 7 (will go home with students) as well as several elementary classrooms (will stay in classroom on carts).

We are going to do some major infrastructure upgrades this summer to support our district moving in this direction.  We are upgrading our Internet bandwidth from 40mb to 100mb (with thoughts of doubling every year).  We will be doubling our access points district wide.  We also will be upgrading our connections between buildings from 1 GB to 10 GB.  We most likely will also install a new lion server to support and manage these devices as well as the apple/iPhone configurator.  I won’t lie – the management of the devices is so new and different it can be a little overwhelming… but I refuse to be the road block in moving forward in this project!

Training for our teachers in this project begins this Thursday!  One thing about the 7th grade team, is that they have all been “online certified” and have already digitized their curriculum – mostly via Moodle and Google Apps.  Last night our teachers demonstrated some great apps as well as the evolution of textbooks over the the apple TV.  Every classroom will have this device (Apple TV)  installed and will work nicely with their current multimedia systems.  I will be honest, if this existed several years ago – I am not certain we would have invested in the interactive white boards like we have.

While we have been planning planning and planning for this project (for months now) I thankful for districts,  like Minnetonka, that have put ALL their information out on the web.  This has really been helpful when developing our own plans including expectations and policy adjustments.  No one ever wants to reinvent the wheel do they?

I thought I would share the goals and measures of this project.  I am proud to say this has been a collaborative effort and our teachers have really stepped up to the plate in helping us with the planning.  It is their leadership that will drive the current and future success of this program!

Goals of this project

  1. Prepare thoughtful, collaborative and creative students that can problem solve and think critically about global issues
  2. Utilize innovative strategies for the delivery of rigorous and relevant curricula in an effort to increase higher order thinking skills
  3. Increase student achievement and engagement
  4. Develop customized, individualized content to meet each student’s unique learning needs
  5. Improve the efficiency and efficacy of classroom instruction


Goal Measure
Increase Collaboration
  • Number of teacher developed lessons that incorporate global collaboration (right now 0)
  • Survey – Teacher, Parent, Student
  • MDE Instructional Practice Survey
Increase Higher Order Thinking Skills
  • Number of student developed projects/artifacts (ePortfolio evaluation) (8 right now)
  • Number of student developed projects/artifacts that are developed for a global audience (ePortfolio evaluation)
  • Survey – Teacher, Parent, Student
  • MDE Instructional Practice Survey
Improve Student Achievement & Engagement
  • Increase student attendance
  • GSH % attendance – decrease?
  • Survey – Teacher, Parent, Student
  • Reduction of  students needing interventions
  • Increased time on task (teacher survey)
  • Reduction of course failure rates
  • Decrease # of Missing/late Assignments (gradebook)
 Individualized Instruction/Feedback
  • Adoption, frequency, and utilization of classroom response technologies (teacher survey)
  • # of Moodle courses/content
Improve Efficiency and Savings
  • Decrease Printing by 50% at designated grade levels
  • No Planners
  • Decrease Student Supply list
  • Lower Textbook Costs (no ecology books)