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!

Thinking about online learning and Web 2.0

I had an aha moment on Tuesday.  I am about mid way through facilitating my eLearning Certification course and realized my course needed updating… again.   I have revised this course numerous times and have come to realize – course revision is never done.

1st Revision – Throughout my course  I have flipped learning resources, I have online resources (for fully oll classes) but I do not have hybrid resources. Everyone who attends my course come for different reasons and  hybrid learning is a becoming a high demand, at least in our high school.  While many of the resources for fully OLL apply to hybrid learning – I do feel, I need to provide options for educators.  That way they can choose their own path.  (Speaking of choosing their own path – I always encourage educators to bring their own research and resources to the table for discussion).

Its time to do some weeding.  I  recognize that some of my resources – are 10-12 years old. Are they still applicable?  Maybe yes.   Maybe no.  Its time to review my resources so that my course is fresh and more importantly – relevant.

2nd Revision – I had a Google Hangout with Dave Eisenmann (@DaveEisenmann) regarding  a presentation we are doing at the Ties Conference this December – 1:1 Implementation: Professional Development Beyond Year One.  It’s been a while since I have reflected on all of the ways we try to provide staff opportunities to receive PD/Coaching to support their integration.  One of the goals we have, is to increase the transformative learning opportunities in our classrooms.  This is based on the SAMR model.  I reflected again on my eLearning certification course.  No mention of SAMR and very little reference to Apps.  I have oodles of Web 2.0 options – but in a 1:1 iPad district – it sure would make sense to reference learning/assessment opportunities with iPad apps.

I made a few minor adjustments now and intend to make a major one after I am done facilitating this course..  In my Assessment Unit, teachers create activities/assessments based on learning objectives and upper level Blooms Taxonomy in Moodle.  We have a couple of other activities that build up to this moment so  I added the following resources to support those activities.  I scoured the Internet to find the perfect resource.  So many app resources (like the top 1000 apps for schools- YIKES) but settled on finding resources that were more specific to my unit.  I eventually will generate my own  list – but was satisfied with the links/resources below.

Below is a graphic that I saw a few weeks ago… another resource for my course!  I always try to blend resources to include images, videos, text, podcasts, ect and this infographic is perfect for what I hope to accomplish in my course.

Using iPad apps for real world learning epxperiences

Image Credit – Ipad 4 Schools – http://ipad4schools.org/2013/07/13/making-ipad-kids-think-big/

 3rd Revision (possibly) – I am wondering if the word Online Learning and Web2.0 should be eliminated from my course.  They seem to be some what dated.  I remember reading a tweet – “Can we stop calling it Online Learning – and just call it learning?”  (No reference).  I think that goes the same with Web 2.0.   Web 2.0 sites and Apps are just learning tools.  Maybe its time to stop segregating technology tools with analog tools.  What do you think?

Synthesizing #memo10 – Ideas to take home

Reflections from Memo

Day 1 of the Memo conference, and I have been completely energized.  The day started out with an excellent keynote by Buffy Hamilton (@buffyjhamilton), the Unquiet Librarian.  Her message – “Beyond Balance; participatory librarianship for creating , connecting, conversing, and contributing” was highly engaging and motivating. (I tried embedding -didnt work..sniff)

Even though her target audience was media specialists, I found that much, or I should say most, of what she shared could be incorporated in any classroom, school, or district.  “Where does the library live? What are the physical and virtual spaces like?” – led me to think about our classrooms  and schools.  How do we build effective virtual spaces and more importantly how do we cultivate participatory learning in these spaces?  In her library, there is a sense of shared ownership of learning between her students and staff. Her goal – build on passions. Shouldn’t we also be cultivating this in our schools?

Her ideas to get started – map out your vision – literally. (please note learning environments on her map – thumbs up!)  I think I would like to try this technique with our district technology committee to assist with technology planning.  However, why stop there? This technique could be done in any classroom, department, committee, school, or district.  As we develop our plans, goals, vision – it is the follow thru that has the planning worthwhile.  “DOING vs. PLANNING” is taking your vision, your plan, and putting it into action.  Make sure your planning and visioning has plenty of input/approval from stakeholders (shared conversations)  – because when it is time to “walk the talk” it’s those folks that will need to help you deliver the vision.


Next on my schedule… demonstration and discussion about eBooks by Dawn Nelson (@dawnrnelson) and Lin Salisbury.  I have to admit I am behind in understanding the opportunities with this technology and this was a great session to get me up to speed.  My take aways… library’s can purchase an ebook and share it simultaneously with up to 6 devices. (Barnes and Noble Nook or Amazon Kindle)  You then check out the device to the student. Within these books you can annotate, search, and even add audio (at a fee). There are a considerable amount of FREE ebooks and nooks are compatible with ePub.  Prices for Nooks start at $149.

What gets a little “muddy” is managing this.  Problems = 1 login account per 6 devices. Having 30 devices would require 5 separate accounts. Purchasing books is also a challenge.  BN only accepts credit cards and this has caused some issues in business offices.  One alternative is gift cards – but this is also a problem with school auditors.  The SCARIEST problem shared, (that left me shaking in my shoes) was that the Nooks are directly linked to your account and credit card AND as of right now, there is no password protection! OUCH! The workaround… librarians will put the nook in airplane mode which will not give the nook access to the internet.  However – how long before the student figures out how to take to turn the Internet back on? Hello Shopping Spree!   Management and security seem to be a problem right now but I am sure BN will eventually figure out a way to make it work better. I really like the idea so that leads me to wonder about the iPad?  From what I understand  – there are apps for BN or Amazon or a bazillion other useful programs.  I don’t have an iPad yet – I think its time.  Still waiting on the Google Pad. Hurry up already!

Another session with Buffy

“Strategies for Keeping Up with (Almost Everything)”. It was a no brainer…after the excellent keynote in the morning, that I was going to attend a session with Buffy Hamilton.  One of my goals this year is to help our staff develop their own personal learning networks (PLNs).  This session was perfect timing!  I love the title “Strategies for Keeping Up” ! Instead of a title like “Creating a PLN”, which can appear to be another new thing, and extra… this title makes developing a PLN to be more helpful to organize and manage information.  Some takeaways…” “Walk before you Run”.

Looking or explaining my PLN may look very scary for staff.

However, starting small and  “cultivating their passions” is key.  It is also beneficial to show the tools to help them organize information. Google Reader, iGoogle, Netvibes, ect…(personal note – I need to master iGoogle!)  Even if they do not want to share their thoughts publicly (tweet, blog) in this case…it is OK to be a “lurker”.

Presenting with Doug

Next I was privileged to co Present “To Friend or Not to Friend: A guide for Teachers Using Social and Educational Networking Sites” with the  Blue Skunk Blogger Doug Johnson (@BlueSkunkBlog).  Even though I was extremely nervous, the audience made me feel very comfortable. They were receptive to our presentation and there was a great exchange of dialog/ideas. Yeah – I learned too!   My take away from this experience/presentation.  First of all – Doug is a master presenter. He has a great talent in engaging conversation with the audience, and making it interactive.  This is something I need to continue to work on – instead of “showering the crowd” with information, it is more influential to guide them into conclusions based on ideas and information. (guide on the side vs sage on the stage)

My other take away…is that districts still continue to have problems with sites being blocked in their districts. Youtube is blocked, Wikis are blocked, Blogs are blocked, Social Networks are blocked. Sometimes it is the settings on the filter, but most seem to blame the  “Network Gestapo”.  CIPA is usually the excuse given to block sites. But take note – CIPA only requires that schools (who apply for erate funds for Internet) require schools to block sites that are: obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors (for computers that are accessed by minors).  Creating a classroom blog, wiki, or youtube channel is NOT HARMFUL TO MINORS.  Blocking these sites is a DETRIMENT to education and your students learning is being hampered.  Classroom innovation and transformation will never happen without access to these tools.  My advice, devise a team (include students), and a plan targeting the educational value (include baby steps). Showcase the innovation in other districts aka…what is NOT happening in your district.  Don’t stop at the Gestapo if you get turned down. Your administration and board may be much more receptive.  Booster Clubs and PTA can be also be effective.  Please do not give up the battle!

Here are a couple of youtube channels for your Bag of Tricks

Hanging with District 287

I’ll be honest. Being it was almost 3pm and after a day of total engagement, I wasn’t sure that I was going to get much out of “Stimulate your district’s Online Courses” with John Fila and Mike Smart (@moodleshare).  I was soooo wrong. Talk about save the best for last!  Right now our district is at a pivotal transition.  Moodle has made an entry in our district and we are beginning to develop blended moodle courses as well as fully online courses.  The course design techniques shared as well as the FREE courses/units (aligned to MN or National standards) were AMAZING.  A little background…District 287 received an E2T2 grant and had around 80 teachers apply to develop courses and units (after being trained). These teachers were from all grade levels and subject areas. What is very nice about the free units/courses is that you can go in and preview the content and then decide to download what you like.  Eventually the plan is to make them available at the Minnesota Learning Commons.

As for the design techniques – I can’t explain how excited I was to see this.  We have all heard of Presentation Zen but I have never witnessed Moodle Zen.  Stunning graphics and visually appealing.  No scroll of death!  There is a trick to it –I think between working with labels and hiding topics, (moodle terms) is how they do it.  They also have a very good eye for media design. They are now developing Minnesota Licensure courses for their staff to take.  They have a wonderful orientation course required of all their students. (they believe their success rates have gone up because of this requirements).  Hey John and Mike – you guys need a whole day session OR an online class that I can enroll in to learn this.  It is very unique and needs to be shared!  Where do I sign up????? Oh by the way – in their district they have a position called “Innovation Coaches”.  This is like a duty for a teacher or a .1 position in every building.  What an empowering position that must be!