Embarking on 2020

It’s hard to believe that we are embarking on the year 2020. I can remember writing our very first technology plan and thinking of 2020 as something mythical, magical, or even George Jetsonian! We have introduced many tools, apps, and devices into our system. Some have remained and have improved over the years while others have gone by the wayside. What has never gone by the wayside? Awesome teachers who have designed awesome student learning experiences. (with or without technology)

Byron's Profile of a Graduate

Byron’s Profile of a Graduate

Our Profile of a Graduate is exciting work and our C’s are at the forefront of what we do. Core knowledge is still critical as is the foundational knowledge of our content/curriculum. But in a Siri, Alexa, Hey Google world… what our students know, what they know how to do, and how they learn is crucial in the year 2020 and beyond.

When learning experiences are authentic, our Profile of a Graduate (PoG) C’S will be a natural byproduct of the learning. Typically the more rigorous and relevant the learning task becomes, the more authentic and meaningful it is to the student.

Utilizing the Rigorous and Relevant Framework, we have created a few driving questions for you to consider when designing deeper learning experiences.

Driving Questions around Rigor, Relevance, and Audience

Graphic via @plugusin

What about technology? Technology can be very powerful tool especially as tasks become more authentic. At our students’ fingertips, it provides them with a plethora of resources, research, and data they can use to analyze, interpret, evaluate and make informed decisions. It allows them to communicate their creative ideas, research, solutions, and thinking. It can provide them with tools to collaborate and seek feedback in the classroom, down the hall, or across the continent from students, teachers, and experts.

Technology can also play a significant role in citizenship and character as well. In 2020 and beyond, our students’ digital footprints are going to matter even more than today. They will have to grow comfortable in showcasing who they are and what they can do. They will need to learn how to network and find people to make them better through critical feedback. And finally, they can use technology to create solutions from real-world problems and inform and inspire others to act!

However, technology is NOT a silver bullet.

Author Johns Spencers shares (Nov 2019),
“ If we want to prepare our students for this future, we shouldn’t focus on the solely future. As a teacher, I’ve seen the promise of interactive whiteboards, personalized learning programs, and one-to-one netbooks to revolutionize education. Years later, many of these gadgets are now obsolete.

But certain strategies will never be obsolete. Deep conversations. Meaningful collaboration. Epic projects. Creative thinking. Curiosity. These are the strategies that will help students become adaptable, nimble, and able to iterate. If they can think divergently and make connections between unrelated ideas, they’ll actually anticipate change more quickly. This idea is at the heart of vintage innovation.”

Check out his latest video – Vintage Innovation to learn how the past practices with new ideas and tools can merge into something wonderful!

2019… Its a Wrap: Documenting OF, FOR, and AS learning!

On Monday, I will be sharing with the school board my goals and accomplishments for the 2018-19 school year.  I have had a good year.  Actually, may just be one of the best years of my entire 23-year career!  Below is the presentation that I will be sharing that demonstrates some fairly significant milestones for 2019.

Jen Hegna – 2019 Goals <—- Click this to expand presentation With hyperlinked artifacts

At the same time, I am currently reading a book by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano and Janet Hail called A Guide to Documenting Learning: Making thinking visible, meaningful, shareable, and amplified.  With our Profile of a Graduate (PoG) rollout next year,  ePortfolios is one of the core principals to meet our district’s PoG. (see below)  While we have had K-12 ePortfolio’s for several years, the implementation has not been as good as I had hoped.  Next year, we are implementing a new ePortfolio system for grades 6-12 (WordPress).   One of my goals for 2019-20 is to Revisit and refine ePortfolio’s 6-12, provide training,  and make standard practice.   I felt it was time to look for resources that could help improve the system/process and I do believe this book is a keeper!

Core Principals to meet our HS Profile of a Graduate

BHS – Core Principles to meet the District’s Profile of a Graduate


To apply some of what I am reading, I am going to use my Goal Work (evidence of learning) with the process of documenting OF, FOR, and AS learning to better make my thinking and learning visible.

Iceberg pIcture

Simply documenting the evidence of learning is what is seen. However, there is power in the thinking and the process that led to that evidence or what will happen because of that learning evidence. How do we make the invisible visible?

Documenting OF learning:  Focuses on the product and attempts to answer these following questions: (p. 6)

  • What did the learner do?
  • What was the result of learning?

My Goal Work – Document OF Learning:
Within my evidence of learning (preso), I have 8 goals listed.  For each of those goals, I have created a slide that documents the evidence of meeting those goals.  Its been a busy but good year of learning!  As you go through the presentation, you will see the results of my work that includes statistics (data), websites, documents, infographics, presentations, and videos.  While you might assume there was depth in thinking and learning when creating each artifact – without the context of what I did, why I did it, it only scratches the surface of my learning.  The authors share that at this level- it feels like busy work.  <—– Hint this is incredibly important for the rollout of next year.  We have reflection built into our ePortfolio – but this little tidbit might help with buy-in. Will be critical for training!

Taxonomy of Reflection

A Taxonomy of Reflection by Peter Pappas

Documenting FOR Learning: Focuses on the interpretation of learning -(p.8)
“This type of learning asks learners to interpret, reflect on, and connect artifacts along a learning journey this type of documentation makes visible that which the learners are not even aware of and provides time to interact with and examine artifacts to make connections and discover trends.”

  • How is what I am learning now related to something I have previously learned
  • How will this learning influence and inform future learning?
  • Why do I accept this artifact as evidence of my learning process and progress?
  • How could someone else learn from my experience – both failures and my successes?
  • What would I need to do to best capture my learning today and at the end of the year related to ____ for me to see and hear evidence of my growth over time?

My Goal Work – Document FOR Learning:

We have a very exciting vision of education in Byron that is going to provide our students with experiences I wish I would have had, my kids could have had (they all have graduated) but maybe, just maybe, my grandkids WILL  have.  The arrows are aligning to that vision and systemic changes are being formed.  This is big.  Aligning arrows.  Having a strategic plan, and then requiring buildings/departments to create goals to meet those priorities seems simple right? It’s not that simple.  Just having a strategic plan on the wall without creating action plans to meet your vision will most likely leave you with pockets of innovation. Where some students get to have the experiences your strategic plan desires. But what about ALL students?  And having the Technology Plan goals in the District Operation Plan? BINGO.

Over this past year, I have been working to improve my communication skills – specifically around our district’s branding/storytelling.  I have produced a boatload of content this year.  Writing grants, press releases, graphics, videos, marketing materials, websites, presentations all highlighted in my goal presentation.  I can Canva like a boss! But I also have been working with tools like Final Cut Pro, Illustrator, Photoshop, ect.  I’d like to get better at Illustrator and the Adobe Production tools.  I would like to get to advanced levels of Final Cut Pro.    I have some video ideas in the works and will continue to challenge myself!  My final reflection about communication?  Clarity.   Going down the path of implementing our Profile of a Graduate is complex – will need a variety of materials to explain the process.  I tried this with our BHS PoG plan.  However, this still is fairly complex for the general public and will require more materials – like video – to help with the key messages.

For the first time ever, I will be presenting my goals to the board.  Yes, that makes us accountable!  However, I  also intended on publishing my goal work online. I appreciate getting feedback and learning from others and feel I can also contribute to the learning of others.  Well, audience certainly matters – even for tech directors – and I wanted to demonstrate some of the branding skills within my goal presentation.

Document AS Learning: focuses on the learning process and attempts to answer the following questions: (p. 11)

  • What is worthy of being looked for and captured during this learning opportunity?
  • What media platforms and tools will provide the maximum effect for capturing, reflecting on, curating, sharing, and amplifying my personal learning or the evidence of other’s learning?
  • How can my/our thinking be best-conveyed visibly and audibly when considering the audiences who will be experiencing my shared and amplified learning?
The Metacognition Cycle - via John Spencer

The Metacognition Cycle – via John Spencer – http://www.spencerauthor.com/metacognition/


My Goal Work – Document AS Learning:
As I shared, I have a goal next year around ePortfolios.  I want to revamp the rollout/training with our new blog system  Right now, I am learning about documenting learning to meet that goal for NEXT year.   As I was reading the text, I kept on thinking about my current goals, and how I could apply this thinking to my own work.  As I shared earlier – I knew I was going to publicly post my goals, why not knock out 2 birds with one post!  🙂   Because I need feedback on my thinking, I chose my blog to help amplify my learning.  I will be publicly tweeting this out, tagging a few of my friends, tagging the authors of this book, and utilizing the hashtag #document4learning to find others who may be reading this book as well.  Eventually, this thinking is going to be moved into some sort of PD – Target August!.


So there you have it!  Its been a great year but there is still so much work to do.  I believe this post demonstrates my understanding of documenting of, for, and as learning.  If not, please reach out to me! All in all, this has been a great exercise in thinking and I need to pause, think, publish more often. Hmmm. Maybe podcast?

Looking forward to 2020!


Tolisano, Silvia Rosenthal., and Janet A. Hale. A Guide to Documenting Learning: Making Thinking Visible, Meaningful, Shareable, and Amplified. Corwin, 2018.

Dusting off my blog…Reflections of #Ties18

Leaving the #TIES18 conference after a 3 day PD high is both exhilarating and exhausting.  Your brain is ON and thinking/discussing/reflecting at all times. I had so many ideas, I felt it was time to dust off the blog, and jot a few of them here.

Design Thinking/Entrepreneurship
via @wilsandrea and @MarthaSRush
Resource – bit.ly/maketechmatter

Ideation phase in Design Thinking

The ideation phase to our design thinking problem


This year I have been on a design thinking mission! Any chance I can learn about it, observe others facilitate it, I am in!  The majority of participants in the room, just happened to be coaches/admin talking about the struggles of trying to get teachers to integrate more technology or maker type spaces.  Some shared challenges with their leadership in having the vision to help guide their buildings/schools. Others shared that they had not been recognized for the work they were already doing (not the Rah Rah type recognition, just any feedback from their admin or peers).  We talked about influence, and in what ways could a person (no matter where they were in the organization) could help influence others. (whether they be peers or admin).  We came up with some fairly cool prototype ideas.  One was a website with VR video, student interviews, and artifacts of work for others to see.  This is actually a tangible idea….

ACTION: This whole conversation reminded me of my own work/goals this year and I want to get stories out for others to see. Can I get a story out by the time we go to break? I am going to try!  Also, use some of the DT thinking strategies with our Byron Innovation Team!!!

Grid Method of Mastery-Based Learning
Did not attend a session…side convo!

– I was perusing the #ties18 hashtag when I came across a tweet by @charlieborak with a picture of a butterfly and a tweet about some sort of grid method.  

Well, of course, I was curious and started asking questions!  Charlie lead me to  and their team   I decided to check their website out.  Little did I know, with a simple login, I would gain access to some free intro materials to their method.  When I see personalized learning, I often hear of “playlists”.  The grid takes it up a notch by scaffolding different layers of WEBBs DOK with learning targets. It provides a personalized pace and students are allowed to move along the continuum as they need.  Students that struggle, can receive more time with the teacher on basic concepts to assist them in their education. It is chock-full of assessment and feedback opportunities with the teacher. (or peer assessment too) Students must achieve a certain “score/percentage” on the final “mastery check” before moving to the next level of learning.  I am wondering – what would happen if you mixed this up further with some student choice as well?  I think you could also design this as a hyperdoc too!

The irony of this learning (starting with Charlie’s tweet) was that I happened to be in the same class with him (and his team) the next day. I picked their brains!  They emailed me a few more resources and it was awesome! Mind you, I have never met Charlie until TIES.  I would not have known this new strategy if it wasn’t for the tweet of his session experience – nor would it sparked the convo of this amazing idea.  The power of melding the F2F convos with the online convo is incredible!

Action: Share with CIA team,  our Blended Learning Cohort, and a few others that might be interested in seeing!  Maybe even try to design my own PD type activity using the grid?

Empower EVERY Educator to Redefine PD
via @Jbormann3 

What a fantastic session this was.  I did a ton of reflecting of our current district-wide PD (with our own form of personalization) with the ideas presented at the session. We had a number of discussions about mindset and that mindset and belief systems need to be addressed before foregoing any big change.   Big takeaways – If we focus on extrinsic motivators- our PD system most likely will not be sustainable.  Find ways to connect intrinsics into your PD.

Action: Share with the leadership team the posters I got from this presentation. Share with CIA team at our next coaching meeting!

Digital Leadership @jcasatodd
Resource – http://bit.ly/2EbbTyW

I met Jennifer several years ago virtually in a Voxer Book study around George Couros’s book – The innovator’s Mindset.  Ever since then, I have admired her from afar!  She is doing so many great things – when I seen she had a 3 hours session on Sunday… I knew I had to sign up!

When we think about digital leadership, we usually think about adults.  However, this session was about the digital leadership of our students and ways we can empower them to develop their own positive digital footprint!

Digital Leadership Continuum

Digital Leadership Continuum


She did not disappoint!  I loved how she gave us a slideshow with edit access so we could add our own experiences, ideas, findings!  She talked a little bit, gave us a quick overview of a few slides, and then let us have time to explore. We would reflect and repeat.  This woman has a WEALTH of awesome ideas, resources and amazing things she has seen and done.   I need to do a deep dive into her slideshow as there are things I can CERTAINLY share with others….especially in our Real World Learning design cohort!

One of the resources that I specifically appreciated with a digital citizenship planning guide GEM created by Alec Couros (yes, George’s brother).  The rubrics in it are fantastic and this is perfect timing as we are developing our 3-year tech plan and citizenship is one of the things that is at the top of my list!

Action: Share the planning guide with the district tech team,  8th grade ELA teachers.  Continue to design and try to integrate a Student Communications Intern (11-12 student) in Byron.  I would like to figure out how I can get this to go 2nd semester! Stay tuned!

Other worthy notes…


@JCasap provided us with a fantastic keynote!  He has had an amazing career!  Helped launch Google Apps for Education and Chromebooks for Education. WOW!  Everything he shared with us reaffirmed our Profile of a Graduate Work.  Below are a couple of my Tweets that struck a chord and I want to refer back to! My tweet below is staggering. I will definitely be continuing to advocate for computer science in our schools!

And other quotes worth noting… “Our current education system is a single player sport but we live in a team based economy”

“We are 19 years into the 21st century…. we know the 21st-century skills list! We need to ask Students what problem do you want to solve? What is your angle on that problem? What is the knowledge skills and abilities you need to solve that problem?”

“Change happens gradually, than suddenly. We are in the suddenly part.”


And finally, I also wanted to include my notes from @spencerideas session.  As we think about measuring our C’s we need to make sure we don’t harm the very thing we are trying to cultivate…IE – grading Creativity.  Here was a quick self evaluation that was design during the session.  (needs work)

Action: Refer back to this as we move further in the development of our POG graduation requirement. Share with the appropriate leaders.


Even though I didn’t get to see his session – Sean Beaverson shared an AWESOME resource of his Favorite Google things.

Action: I need to review this for my own self PD! Possibly share a few things with our Google Educator Cohort!


And Finally!

Some of my MN PLN friends ( – and yours truly- were interviewed over the weekend. The video was featured before Monday’s keynote.  Even though I was way out of my comfort zone…Had to share it to my blog!

Just because it’s transformative… doesn’t mean its deep!

I happened to participate in an online conversation today about SAMR in which members of that group were collaborating and submitting artifacts based on the SAMR model of technology integration. I think this is important. As schools are investing in technology, we want to make sure our teachers and students understand how to use tech and the new opportunities that can “transform” learning.

SAMR Model

SAMR is a model of technology integration developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura

As a tech director and a self-proclaimed innovator, technology and the potential for transformation excite me. Technology can alter the way we do things and create new efficiencies and opportunities. Technology can also be engaging! For many – tinkering with new gadgets and ideas and trying to figure them out is fun.

VIP to Remember.  When designing/observing rich learning experiences using technology, we need to keep a keen eye on what the student actually knows and understands. Sometimes technology integration that could be considered “transformative” can also have student learning (thinking!)  at the low end of cognitive levels.

For example, let’s say you have a small group of students collaborating on Google Slides and then recording a video presentation(on any given topic) and “sharing with the world”.  Transformative right? But, if all they are doing is Googling, copy/pasting, adding a few Google images and reading slides (or notes from their iPads/Chromebooks/devices) – I wonder how much they actually know/understand of the original learning objective? Collaborative Yes. Creative. Maybe. Deep Learning? Not so sure.

If the task goes beyond low level of copy/paste research and actually requires higher order thinking (like Level 3 and 4 of Webbs Depth of Knowledge) AND uses upper levels of  SAMR… now we are talking about exciting transformation!

Webbs depth of knowledge levels

So let’s go back to that simple research project example and ask some What If questions to see if we can improve the original project and move learning up the cognitive domains.

Instead of students simply researching a topic and organizing some basic facts – what if students had to make a decision based on their research? (Level 2 – Skill Concept) What if they had to debate and defend their decision? (Level 3 – Strategic Reasoning) Or what if students had to raise awareness, advocate for an issue, or take action on problems they found from their research? What if they were to design/implement a solution to a problem that they have found? (Level 4 – Extended Reasoning)

It basically boils down to this… If we are going to take the time to “redefine” our learning tasks through the innovative use of technology – let’s  make sure we are also deepening the understanding of our learning objective(s). We will certainly get more “learning bang” for our “technology buck”!

Looking to try something new? Consider #Hyperdocs

I sent this out in an email to our teachers tonight.  Thought I would share it with you too!  Maybe you can consider doing the same with your educators!

Dear Teachers,

I wanted to share a few resources around Hyperdocs.  What is a #hyperdoc? = It essentially is a digital interactive lesson/activity designed using Google Docs, Slides, or Maps.  These docs are then shared with students using tools like QR codes, Google Classroom, email, Moodle, Website, Ect.

Here is an example of a typical template that you can easily make a copy of and begin editing with your own resources.

Hyperdoc vs Doc with links

Image via http://teachitwithtech.weebly.com/hyperdocs.html

One of my favorite bloggers – Jennifer Gonzalez aka Cult of Pedagogy shares, on her blog, the opportunities #hyperdocs can bring to the classroom.  (read it here)

More more more!!!
Here is a Google Drive folder FULL of #hypedoc activities/lessons ready for the taking and ready for your own edits…organized by subject.

Use them as whole class activities. Use them to differentiate learning via abilities/interests, or use them as one of your stations!

Remember to add the folder to your drive, you will also receive updates as new #hyperdocs are added.

If you have any other questions – please let me know!


PS – IDEA –  One possible extension or lesson activity is to have students create their own hyperdocs as evidence of learning.

P.S.S – Follow Teachers Give Teachers and/or watch the #hyperdoc hashtag on twitter for other educators who are donating their lessons for free!


The journey continues: Deeper Learning – Year 2

We are continuing our journey to learn, work, and apply deeper learning as a district.  (Year 2) This past Monday, during our PD day, we stayed the course and teachers brought deeper learning artifacts to share/discuss/reflect on.  We also introduced metacognition/reflection strategies to use with students.  Our equity coach, Andrea Laning,  provided equity training for our staff. While I am only reflecting on the deeper learning portion of the day, I do see the the connections of equity and deeper learning – especially when you think about personalized learning.  But that will be a future post!

We are also in year 2 with our district’s adoption of K-12 ePortfolios.  Currently, we are using SeeSaw in grades K-5 and Google Sites in grades 6-12. The ePortfolio is turning out to be an excellent measurement tool for students to:

  • Demonstrate deeper learning and the skills, knowledge, and experiences acquired by that learning  – maybe even dispositions?
  • Demonstrate short and long-term growth
  • Showcase 21st-century competencies (Ours = Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, Community Service, and Careers) embedded in learning IN and OUTSIDE of school
  • Make thinking/learning/skills visible
  • Become independent, self-directed thinkers and learners

We kicked off the day with several educators (from each of our buildings) to showcase student learning artifacts!  We then had some time to discuss/reflect on what we saw and heard from those short presentations as well as our own deep learning digital artifacts.

Deeper Learning Reflection Quesitons

Year 2 – Deeper Learning Reflection Questions


Our educators submitted their artifacts (via Google Forms) and reflected on them based on the questions above.  OH MY.  It is this that gets me really excited because, at a district level, we can see all of the great things our teachers are doing as well as the great things our students are learning!

Are we there yet? No.  However, I now have a measure.  56.6 % of our teachers feel their artifacts either meets or exceeds deeper learning.

The written reflections about the experience were incredible.  They included thinking about “all” students achieving at high levels, as well as thinking about the engagement of all students.  The majority of educators also had great insights on how they could improve the experience the next time.  Right now, this information is only available to our admin and coaches. I honestly think it would be valuable for all educators to see this and the learning potential could be HUGE!

Part 2 – Metacognition/Reflection

The second part of the deeper learning portion of the day – was to focus on Metacognition/Reflection.  Instead of lecturing and front-loading the information, we flipped it and had participants read or research on the topic, discuss it, and more importantly THINK about it.  They discussed and posted to our Mentimeter form. (PS cool tool)


I designed a thinking map (using Googlel Draw) for this activity so that our educators to somewhat document their understanding of the topic that included some thinking prompts.  that one could either draw or submit via Google Drive.  Some of them even tweeted it out!



We collected thinking maps from all of our staff.  Our intent, as with any formative assessment, is to follow up and provide feedback to our teachers.  We also will use the information we have collected, to better differentiate the next PD day in January.  Deliverables – Teachers are to bring a deeper learning student artifact that also has a  quality student reflection.

Modified presentation from Nov 6

Some considerations for improvement

  • Timing and activities.  Some of the activities might have seemed rushed.  But, I am happy to have modeled metacognition/reflection (thinking map, survey) through this experience!
  • Be clear about the learning target
  • More collaborative activities – including collaboration outside of team/plcs – cross building!
  • Have a high energy starter.
  • Google doc artifacts that were shared – needed “everyone with the link can view”.
  • Can we flip some content?
  • Differentiate!  Now that we have collected some formative assessments, I believe we will be able to do that better.
  • Share artifact submissions/ reflection across the district with teachers.



New Year, Same Goals – Part 1

Tonight, as trick or treating comes to an end, I have been reflecting on my professional goals for this school year.  Last year, I had 3:

  1. Increase my leadership presence in and outside of my district
  2. Deepen Understanding of today’s educational environment
  3. Determine future of 1:1 devices

After sifting through my goals and evidence (below) I have decided to stick with these goals for another year.  

Leadership Presence Wheel

Image Credit – http://www.oracoaching.com/executive-coaching/

Goal 1 – Improve my leadership presence

I am not sure I will ever fully “arrive” with this goal but I know I can always continue to improve.  As I reflect back on what I did to learn/sharpen my skills I certainly feel I had a successful attempt last year!  

Action Steps

Meet and connect with peers and colleagues.  I will be honest, I am needing connection and networking right now… I actually am craving it.  Last year, I felt hyperconnected both f2f and online.  This year is different for me. The startup of the school year does not lend itself to allow for networking.  My personal life was certainly more chaotic than normal.  I miss #wsucohort1 and the regular conversations, debates, ideas, and action that came from that group.  I recognized missing connections this month when I was chatting about personalized learning with @travislape or visiting @katiemorlock and talking about student agency.  Or chatting with a steering team at WSU about the future of the ed leadership program and numerous convos with teachers and coaches in my district.

  1. Shadow 3 leaders in their field.  I would also like to shadow a  leader outside of education.  Maybe an entrepreneur?
  2. Attend MASA Executive Development Committee meetings
  3. Attend TI meetings both in SE MN and in the Metro Area
  4. Continue to build PLN.  Seek out and be active in a few more twitter chats! Both formal and informal!
  5. Continue walkthrus with coaches/principals – I would love to see 100% of classrooms.  (At least beat my goal last year of 25%)
  6. Personalized Learning Training Cohort (Both Leaders and Teachers)
  7. Connect 1:1 on a regular basis with a team of educators.  I have a desire to connect with educators to first and foremost learn and grow.  From my 360, as well as my own self-analysis, I need to learn what best practices and innovation (with or without tech) looks like in our schools and especially our lower grades.  However, my dream would be to have a couple of go to people in each building.  Interested?

Powerup Communication Skills.  

  1. Share strategies and success stories.  This year, 3 -5 grade has been added to our 1:1 program. We have migrated to Chromebooks in our HS. We are on year 2 of our ePortfolio adoption.  As we continue down the road of deeper learning and innovation, I would like to figure out a way to regular communicate strategies and success effectively.  I feel I do a fairly good job with Twitter – but I am missing quite a few educators if that is my main method.  I am actually curious about using a blog/vlog similar what @AndyLeiser used.  (USing SeeSaw Blogs)   https://blog.seesaw.me/200tips/#!/  Stay tuned!
  2. Continue to design and develop PD. I hate Sit and Get. Looking for innovative models I can use with both large groups 120+, medium groups 30+, and small groups 5-10. Model. Model. Model.
  3. Continue to build and practice coaching skills. Model. Model. Model.
  4. Explore co-teaching?
  5. Continue to blog.  Minimum monthly.  Don’t always try and write a book!
  6. Define and communicate my city on the hill. One of my favorite quotes my 360 was “Make sure to clearly define your “city on a hill” that you are trying to get to. Develop a path to get there and help people see how they can get on the path and move the same direction. Also, make sure that you are not overextending yourself in so many different areas. Make sure that the teams you are on feel supported by you since you are the one with many of the solutions they need.”  I have since created a scale that helps define a vision for technology.   I believe with the connections and learning (above) it will help me to understand if this vision is actually applicable in all grade levels.  We have included it in our walkthru observation tool as well.  This at least will provide a measure of where we are as a district.  And more importantly, is our PD efforts making a difference?
    Student Learning Tech Enabled
    Passive Learning – Students passively learning (reading, listening to lecture, watching videos provided by teacher) Student use of technology – Passive – Students begin to use technology tools to build upon prior knowledge and construct meaning. (Reading, Watching online Videos, Taking Notes)


    Drill and Practice Learning – Students use manipulatives, flashcards, worksheets, etc. to practice skills or memorize concepts. Student use of technology – Drill and Practice – Students manipulate technology tools to practice skills and/or memorize concepts. (Can be app based manipulatives, formative assessments, digital worksheet practice)


    Active Learning – Students create artifacts, of their own design, to construct deeper understanding and make learning/thinking visible to their teacher/classroom. (Creating, Critically thinking, Collaborating, Communicating) Student use of technology – Active – Students make connections with technology tools or design digital artifacts  to construct deeper understanding and make learning/thinking visible to their teacher/classroom (Creating, Critically thinking, Collaborating, Communicating)


    Transformative Learning – Students create complex artifacts, of their own design,  from real-world problems, to raise awareness, publish works, advocate for an issue, or take action on real-world problems for audiences outside of the classroom. Student use of technology – Transformative  – Students create complex digital artifacts, of their own design, from real-world problems and use technology to raise awareness, publish works, advocate for an issue, or take action on problems for audiences outside of the classroom.



If I am successful with my action plan, I believe I could improve the outcomes of my 360 survey.  I also feel I can improve several survey questions in our 2016 21st Century Instructional Practices study.  Specifically, I would like to see 5% to 10 %   improvements in these areas:

  • Teachers in our 1:1 classrooms providing more authentic learning experiences – From 48% of classrooms to 58% of classrooms.
  • 35 % of Students (in 1:1) reported that they have NEVER created digital products/artifacts of their own design – I would like to decrease that number to 30%

Increase the number of people who consider my communication skills and stakeholder centered leadership as strengths or exceptional strengths by 5 %.

I will follow up with another post at a later date about the following goals.  Stay tuned!

  • Deepen Understanding of today’s educational environment
  • Determine future of 1:1 devices



2016-17 Goals/Evidence

Improving my leadership presence (GOAL)

Deepen understanding of today’s educational environment (Goal)

GOAL 3 – Determine future of 1:1 devices at Byron Public Schools

  • Evaluate current state of technology and 21st-century instruction practice
    • EvidenceCompleted Spring 2016
    • Tech Committee Work, Surveys, Timelines, Board Presentation
    • Result – Added Intermediate School to our 1:1 (with iPads) and switched to Chromebooks in the HS.  We now have devices 1:1 in grades 3-12.  However, access in only a single step! (reflection/publication to MASA Newsletter)

Results from my 360 Feedback Survey

Praise makes you feel good, critique makes you better.

Image credit – http://www.quotemaster.org/critical+feedback

One of my goals this year was to design a 360 Leadership Feedback Survey and implement it with stakeholders in our district.  This was no easy task as there really isn’t templates out there for school district tech directors!  I first looked at Marzano’s district leader assessment and found I felt very disconnected from it.   I extremely appreciated my superintendent giving me full autonomy to design my own.  In his words, “This survey belongs to you Jen, what is it you want to know so that you can improve and grow?”  I will admit, there are many things I want to know, to become better at what I do – but – I needed the survey to be brief and so I settled in on things that were most important to me.  (Click here to see a copy of the survey)

  • Vision
  • Leading People
  • Leading with Integrity
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Innovation
  • Stakeholder Centeredness
  • Results Driven

It was important to select key stakeholders as I needed a wide group of people to get the best feedback.  I wanted evaluators with varying degree of technology experience.  I also wanted to make sure opinion leaders from each stakeholder group was selected. Some I work with directly on a regular basis, others I work more indirectly.  50 people were selected from the educators, administrators, and support staff groups. I had 49 provide feedback.  32 Teachers, 8 administrators, and 9 support staff from across buildings, grade levels, and disciplines. To put this in perspective…it’s approximately 25% of our staff at Byron Public Schools.

First and foremost, I have to say this can be a little scary…to have multiple people evaluate you and your work.  (vs a single supervisor/superintendent)  But, this evaluation was for me and I had to have the right mindset to accept feedback (both positive and critical) in order to grow professionally.  I also knew that I was going to be completely transparent in this process and that included posting the results here, on my blog.

I was extremely humbled by the positive comments I received from all employee groups.  I truly feel valued by the district.  I also appreciate the concrete ideas I received to become a better leader.  I never once felt blindsided by remarks and I want to personally thank all who provided feedback.


I feel good about these results and the direction I need to go.  While vision and innovation are my strengths, I have some work to do in stakeholder focus/communication.  Below are the results from the survey with key remarks for improvement by each employee group.  If you are reading this post and have some strategies of how you would proceed – feel free to reply to this post, tweet, email, ect!  My plans are to continue to reflect on this and create a personal action plan over the summer.

From  Administrators:

  • “Make sure to clearly define your “city on a hill” that you are trying to get to. Develop a path to get there and help people see how they can get on the path and move the same direction. Also, make sure that you are not overextending yourself in so many different areas. Make sure that the teams you are on feel supported by you since you are the one with many of the solutions they need.”
  • “Keep working in the classrooms to build more support for change and skill development with teachers. How do you get more research-driven practices in the classroom in front of students?”
  • “Your strength is your vision. You know what you want. What may be difficult for you is figuring out how to put that vision into action. My best advice would be to do more PD.”

From Support Staff:  

  • “We have come to realize that professional development is extremely critical and are making every effort to personalize our teachers and students experiences.  Do Not FORGET SUPPORT STAFF.”
  • “Parents and teachers have been wanting education and tools for iPad safety and regulation. Continue making steps toward offering that.”

From Teachers:

  • Jen does have a passion for what she does. However, sometimes her ideas and implementation can be very difficult and or not feasible in the classroom setting. Pushing teachers out of their comfort zone is a good thing…challenge the status quo and continue to push for excellence. Her biggest challenge that she faces is effectively communicating with teachers. Having her get into the classrooms and develop strategies with the teachers would be great to see(Co-teach). I am not sure if she is ever interested in teaching students (k-12), but being in front of a classroom puts a different perspective on ideas and implementation than those that are not.”
  • “The top area of focus for improvement is to make sure that all staff members have an equal opportunity for collaboration.”
  • Stakeholder-centered leadership. Many of things that are brought to us to learn do not apply very much in the younger age groups. Maybe if she sees more of that side, it would help her help the early childhood teachers or K-5.”
  • “Continue to work towards creating a standard when it comes to resources everybody uses. Perhaps define the standard, communicate expectations (Google apps), and implement checkpoints to be sure all are using the products. This would ensure a consistency of medium for student learning and keep the technology integration focused on student learning. – – I think the director has excellent vision and direction!”
  • “Communicating vision and plans with others — sometimes it is hard to keep up. Helping all individuals feel valued, not just key players.”



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.