This past week my grad students (in course Connected Educator, Connected Classroom) began blogging and self assessing their current connectedness.  I decided it was a good time for me to do my own reflection and current practice with my personal learning network.

A brief PLN history.  It’s ironic, I stumbled on an old blog post of mine called My Reflection on Blogs from 2009 that  was an assignment during MY Grad program from the University of Wisconsin Stout – eLearning graduate certificate program.  In the post, I talk about my thoughts of blogs – and how boring mine was, how I appreciated blogs with opinions and a strong author’s voice.  Still true today.   But what I absolutely loved – was a concept map I created of where my PLN was at that moment.

Jen Hegna - PLN - Year 2009Jen Hegna – PLN – Jan. 2009


Social networks and wiki’s were a big deal for me back then.  I was lurker, learner, contributor of these types of networks had created and facilitated these types of networks for my school and groups I was associated with.  I also subscribed to discussion boards that would be delivered to my email.  The H-NetEdtech board was my favorite and would have new content delivered nearly every day.  I had a few blogs I subscribed to and learned from on a regular basis as well as podcasts. I had an iPod, but it was not wireless  – to download new content the iPod needed to be tethered to a computer. I had a SMART phone – but I believe it was sort of Palm Pilot that was cool (at the time) because I could have my calendar on it (again, after a tethered sync) and email!  Whoo HOO! While I felt I had an established PLN.  My future desires was to work with Twitter and Second Life to support my learning.

Second Life never really panned out for me. It was something I was investigating during my masters degree.  It was cool, you could meet and chat face to face with people and you could go visiting and building other destinations.  (Reminds me a lot of minecraft today)

Twitter on the other would become a significant part of my learning. I decided to search for my very first tweet.  Not the most clever tweet now was it?  But that tweet would become the first of 15, 400 tweets (as of Jan 26 – around midnight!)  Sometime late fall of 2009 or early 2010 – I received my first TRUE Smart phone.  I believe it was a Motorola Droid (of some sort).  This changed things and mobile learning became an essential part of my growth!

My First Tweet

My First Tweet

Snapshot of Twitter

Snapshot of Twitter – 1/26/15

My PLN today.

Twitter. Twitter is my primary learning tool of choice.  What was once a wish, is now my reality.  I have gone through all the phases of twitter use and today, twitter is just what I do.  Participating and moderating in Twitter chats has really created new learning connections for me.  My top – most favorite chat is #mnlead on Sunday nights at 7pm CST.  I also enjoy #plearnchat on Mondays and lurk and learn from a ton of other hashtags that fill my tweetdeck columns. Some of my favorites today – #makered, #pblchat, #sblchat, #leadwithgiants, #sunchat, #divergED, #tosachat, #satchat, #designthinking.  (there are many more!)  Frequency of use – I use twitter every day, multiple times a day but mostly at night and on weekends. I use it to learn and have conversations with other people on learning journeys. I use it to share ideas and share great things  I see in my district.  Its a regular part of my routine.

Social Networks. Nings and wiki’s have been replaced by Facebook and Google+ Communities.  I do have a Facebook account BUT I use it primarily for personal use.  Recently, I have been joining groups on FB.  Some of my favorites – TTOG (teachers throw out grades)  Hack Learning, and my newest group BreakoutEdu.  I also “LIKE” pages like Edutopia, Teachthought, and Mindshift because I enjoy a little “sprinkling” of PD on my personal wall about educational innovations.  Google+ communities is used less frequently but  there is great potential in connecting. I also like how it integrates with Google Apps and Gmail.  I have created a few Google communities but haven’t been the best facilitator. It really shouldn’t be about me – it should be about the group – but sometimes we need people to keep the convo going.  I probably should try to bring some life back to them.  Frequency of use – I use Facebook every day – usually early morning and at night because of the personal connections to family/friends. Google communities are used sporadically several times per week.

Video Conferencing.  I don’t remember the last time I used Skype (literally – I think it has been at least 2 years).  My new video platforms of choice – Google Hangouts (GHO) and Periscope.   I also love Google Hangouts on Air as a way to stream video live and it records to Youtube.  Here is a recent hangout I did with Kim Hurd (@khurdhorst) in taking a tour of her classroom!  We had approximately 9 people watching it live and asking questions.  I think the best part of this tool is that it archives to YouTube so I can share it out, review it later.  Something I wish Periscope would do as the streams only last for 24 hours. So- you have to remember to save your videos to your camera after recording – and then upload them to YouTube later.  I was playing around with my phone – there may be a setting within my Google Backup that will allow me to save periscope videos to my Google Account.  Fingers crossed.  Frequency of use – I use both google hangouts and periscope on a weekly basis.  I have weekly team meetings using GHO. I do watch several periscopes a week (just because I am notified via my phone).  But actually facilitating a GHO or publishing a periscope – is probably a couple times per month.

Blogs. Reading and subscribing to Blogs that make me think are  daily routine for me.  I use Feedly to track all of my content.  The majority of my content consists of educational leadership and edtech with a sprinkling of entrepreneurs and business blogs.   For the blogs I REALLY like – I will subscribe via email just because I am in my email – much more frequently than feedly.  Blogs that I read that spark my interest will usually get tweeted out to my pln.  Frequency of use – Nightly/Weekends.  As for writing blogs – this is sporadic and is a big area in which I want to improve.

Voxer. One of my newest PLN favorites is Voxer.  I will admit – I didn’t like it at first and took some time for me to get use to. Twitter is transparent and open.  You can jump in and out of conversations with other folks and its totally OK.  Voxer – is a little less open but allows people to get deeper with conversations.   I believe this can improve the relationships of the participants.  My first voxer group was MN Educators on Voxer and it took me some time to figure out the communication norms.  From what I understand – in my short 7 mos of true PLN voxer experiences – conversations may change from time to time – but everyone tends to discuss and contribute to the same topic.  Its very awkward when people randomly come into the conversation with topics outside of the scope of the convo.  I have been that random person – and its helpful to listen/read the past posts to know the topic at hand.  Check out these other Voxer Norms via Tammy Neil (@TG_Neil) Frequency of use – Daily, multiple times a day.  Mostly before and after work on my 25 minute commute.

I still am connected to a couple of email groups, I subscribe to Youtube content, have a LinkedIn account, and do follow great people and pin great things on Pinterest. From time to time – I will even pick up the old telephone or meet my PLN at a f2f conference or edcamp!  If I had to guess – all in all I spend an average of 7-12 hours each week on my professional growth.  Some weeks less – some weeks more.  Sometimes its a couple of minutes – other times it hours (like writing this blog post over the course of 3 days).  I am not saying that this is a good amount of time and effort spent on learning –  but some time towards my growth is going to be better than no time towards my growth.

While this is where I am today – I certainly have hopeful goals of where I want to be.  But that – is for a future post!

PLN Image

Image Credit –

Influence and Personalized Gamified PD

Over the break I decided to take some time and read Influencer: The new science of leading change.

In the book, the authors share 3 keys to influence change.

  • Focus and measure – have crystal clear goals AND good frequent measures
  • Find vital behaviors – Don’t spend time and effort on wrong behaviors – instead draw out underused behaviors, risk takers, positive deviants and culture busters!
  • Engage all 6 sources of influence (Image below).

Throughout this book I did quite a bit of self-reflection on my role in influencing and achieving our district’s strategic plan and  technology plan.

One support program, that kept crossing my mind, was a new program created this year called BearsPD.  It is personalized, gamified, and has a social twist.  While it is still in its infancy, it is having having an effect on learning in my district.  We have had over 50% of our teachers participate thus far.   It provides choice and voice in learning through 4 tracks – iPad Playdates, Google Apps for Education, Innovation, and Creative Pedagogies.  Teachers can earn badges and points for their participation in a program.  These points will then go into a drawing for prizes (up to $2000 classroom innovation shopping spree).

The following badges have been aligned to our district’s vision  – Learn. Share. Innovate. Inspire.

  • Level 1 – Learn Badge – 1 pt – Attend a session. (just show up)
  • Level 2 – Share Badge – 3pt – Share what you know (share teacher evidence)
  • Level 3 – Innovate Badge – Integrate into the classroom (share student evidence)
  • Level 4 – Inspire Badge  – Teach others about what you have done (through presentation, blogging, ect)

You can learn more about the program by reviewing the following slide deck.

So how does this relate to influence?  In the book, the authors share that you need to target SEVERAL (not just one) of the 6 keys of influence.  The following are ways  BearsPD aligns to these keys.

Personal Motivation.  In the book, the authors share 4 tactics to make them “love what they hate”.  1) Choice 2) Create direct experiences 3) Tell Stories 4) Make it a game.  In this program, teachers have complete choice of what they want to learn and how far they want to take the learning.  We have also gamified it to add a little “friendly competition”.

Please note – We track everything via Google Apps for Education (Google Forms/Sheets). A BIG thank you @kmgriswold1 for helping us set this up. We are using  addons like Autocrat and FormMule as well as a whole ton of formulas I never knew existed until now!  I hope to gain better skills in advanced use of Google Apps as it is an incredibly powerful tool and very VERY efficient when setup correctly.

Personal Ability.  While this program is about improving the personal abilities of our staff, participants can also request follow up from our coaches.  Most sessions are short (1/2 hour to 1hour) and frequent – at least monthly.  I wish I could do more – but my schedule just will not allow for it!

Please Note – In the book, the authors also mention feedback – specifically “Provide immediate feedback around a clear standard” (p.128).  This leads me to wonder if future revisions of this program should include 1 track that educators focus on all year long to give better feedback.  We are going to work on perfecting this with our Google Apps rollout and basic competencies.

Building Graph

Example of social influence by building

Social Motivation. We have a leaderboard that tracks and counts the badges of individuals as well as the badges by building and by PLC/Grade level.  Once per month, teachers are emailed their progress reports.  On the progress report it has their personal progress (points/badges earned) as well as the number of  points of the district leader, the points of the building leader, and the points of each team.  Also, when a participant submit digital evidence and it is approved, the participant and principal are emailed their approval with the digital evidence.  Eventually I would love to tweet these or have a newsletter with the ideas to have it be even more social.

Please note: the conversations we have with teachers are  growth mindset oriented.  We know that things will not work all the time. That is OK.  The more we can model this at a social level – the better! Also, the book highlights to engage your opinion leaders to help with social motivation.  Opinion leaders are not always the lead innovators.  The idea of this program is based on meeting the skill of each individual participant. We want all to have a great learning experience!

Social Ability. The final badge – Inspire –  encourages sharing.  Through blogging, presentations, staff sessions –  participants can share what they have learned.  At some point, I hope to have more staff lead sessions within this program.  (time is an issue)  It is incredibly powerful to have educators model their learning in front of their peers.

Structural Motivation.   Dan Pink is the master of motivation and has shared that true motivation goes beyond carrots and sticks. (reward and punishment) Instead, what people want is purpose, mastery, and autonomy.  When PD does not have these 3 criteria are it tends to fail miserably.  No voice. No choice. One time sit and get. No follow up. No follow thru. No direction of what’s next.  In this program, rewards are given (through badging and points) by recognizing the behavior we want to see.  Show up – 1pt. Try it yourself 3pts. Integrate it in the classroom 5pts.  Share your results/learning with others (Inspire) 7pts.

Worth a watch – Dan Pink: Drive – the surprising truth of what motivates us. (10:47)

Structural Ability.  This is the area where system improvements could be made.  Right now, this program is voluntary.  The way it works, is I clear my calendar for the day and hangout in a building.  Teachers can drop in before/after school or during their preps/lunch.  If I only had more time – this could be so much better.   The other thing we have not done yet – is flip some of this learning.  That is something I DO have control of.  Finding the best way to do this is and have the time in developing is something I aim to do by the end of the year.  This would be a great way to model blended learning!

And a little more.  One benefit I did not see coming was establishing (or re-establishing) relationships with our staff.  Right now, much of the iPad playdates are lead by me and our continuous improvement coaches.  While sessions only last around 1/2 hour – 1 hour, I have had the opportunity to have great conversations with teachers. These conversations are leading to opportunities for me to learn/observe awesome things in the classroom.  Visibility, trust, and building relationships – also great influential qualities I aim to improve over the year!

Day 1: Connected Educator, Connected Classroom

Today was the first f2f day of Connected Educator, Connected Classroom.  This is course 2 of a series of 5 graduate level courses in our new Innovative Instructional Leadership Program with Winona State University.  We meet 3 days (beginning, middle, and end – for 4 hours) f2f and the rest of the time is spent online.

PLN pic

Connected Educator Sketchnote – via @sylviaducksworth

There are 5 big goals in this course:

  • I am a connected
  • My classroom is connected
  • I influence others to connect
  • I am an active/contributing member in this cohort
  • My evidence and reflections prove I have met course objectives (ePortfolio)

I will admit.  I am very excited about this course.  Excited first because I can’t wait to see what the products, processes, and opportunities these educators in our class create, implement, analyze, and reflect on.  I have seen the amazing work of these educators – and you can too by clicking on their ePortfolios.  (Check out their Blended Learning Artifacts)

2015-16 Innovative Instructional Leadership Cohort!

Another reason for excitement with this course is that I am doing my own innovating as course facilitator.

#1 – I have eliminated grades in this course.   Yes. Grades.  I was inspired to try this after learning a few of our teachers in my district were going down this path.  I have been reading the books and blogs by @markbarnes19, and @mrssackstein, AND lurking, learning and participating in #TTOG (teacher throw out grades) groups via Facebook and Twitter.  Instead, the course is chalk full of self assessment where students maintain their own progress reports.  (see template here)  Most activities are on a 5 points scale.  Below is an example of a generic scale.  When my students submit their work, I will provide them feedback.  If we agree on the score, we are golden!  If not, we may need to have a short conference to discuss.  At the end, when all work is completed and evaluated – we will have a f2f conference to discuss their final grade.  This is the grade that will be posted to the college.  Please note – I was up front about this with my S’s as we discussed how learning would be assessed.

Generic Scale

#2  Besides a few scheduled twitter chats, this course is completely open! Teachers can go in and out of each module. They can work ahead or catch up.  They can revise all they want – to produce the best learning products to get the best results!  My students can also propose new activities/evidences if they have another idea – even better than mine.  I do have a few deadlines – just to check for progress as some of the projects are significant and will need quite a bit of pre-planning before implementation.  For instance, they need to develop a personal growth plan to create/expand their PLN.  They need to create a lesson plan to implement a global learning experience in their classroom.  They also will create an action plan to influence others (colleagues) to become connected.  Once plans are created and self assessed, they are put into action and implemented, evidence is collected, analyzed, and reflected on their ePortfolios.

Speaking of evidence – Below are 2 samples I shared during our f2f session today to showcase evidence of the “journey”.  To me, the journey is just as important (if not more) than the result.  I assured my students, if you do not get the result you want, that is OK!  What did you learn? What can you do better next time?

Evidence via @DonWettrick – the metacognition in this video is incredible!

Evidence via principal @dellwein – 8th grade middle school students doing live collaboration with students from Norway using padlet.

Both of these examples were found via my PLN (twitter or periscope) and serve as excellent samples of students during the learning journey.  I do want end products too – but the journey is just as important!

One of the things my students will have to do (under the target – I am connected) is create a blog to use for or I should say AS learning.  I have a few prompts for them to respond to, as well as providing flexibility in topics.  As promised, I also will be modeling the use of reflection through blogs and hope to blog just as many times as my students.  ( I need this anyways as its one of my professional new year’s resolutions!)

PS – the PechaFlickr icebreaker was so much fun!

Petcha Flickr Activity

Petcha Flickr Activity – an impromptu way of story telling and getting the creative juices flowing!


Giving back to my PLN!

Picture at awards

2015 Minnesota Technology Leader Award. December 14, 2015

On Monday, December 14, I  received the 2015  Minnesota Technology Leader award at the TIES technology conference in Minneapolis.  Its  a very humbling and exciting experience to be recognized for my accomplishments with Byron Public Schools.   So many congratulations from district members. So many congratulations from my peers and PLN via social media!  Words can not express the gratitude I feel to all who have influenced me and supported me through my journey.  (And I have so much more to do!)

One of my recent accomplishments is to be working with Winona State University (WSU)  in the development of the Innovative Instructional Leadership Certificate Program.  This is a graduate level certificate and can be an “emphasis” area in WSU’s M.S. Education Leadership Program.


Innovative Instructional Leadership Certification – COURSE OVERVIEW –

Throughout this process,  I always had the intent of putting an creative commons license on my work.  Many districts across our state do not have the resources to develop these types of courses or the resources to pay for this type of training.   Other entities, like higher ed teacher prep programs, regional trainers, ect are also free to use however little or much they need from my course.  My goal, develop the courses, have a cohort go through them, and then publish the courses for others to use, adapt, and share alike!

What better time, than the day I received my award, to give the 1st course away.

I just finished course 1 of 5  and I am extremely happy with the outcome!  You can check out my learner’s ePortfolios to see some of the paths they chose to take.

If you want to take a look at the course (or download), Blended Learning Environments, please visit by going to  Use the guest login to access.   Any questions? Feel free to reach me at @jenhegna!


Model, Model, Model!

Second take away from #TIES15 this year.  Model, Model, Model.  Too often, there are expectations for educators to accomplish things in their classrooms, when they have yet to experiences them as learners!

I was VERY fortunate to be on a team with Matt Hillman (@mahillman), Michelle Ament (@mlament) and Rachel Gorton (@raztech ) for a session called Pathway to Personalized Professional Development.   One of the things we decided to do, as a team, was to provide participants choice in what they would learn.  So, upon coming into the session, participants would make a choice, based on a 1 minute or less pitch by us – the facilitators. We would then take our groups and split up.  After about 20 minutes of showcasing our ideas, we did a jigsaw so members of our groups had an opportunity to learn from members of other groups.   We brought the group together for a whole group conversation – and follow up with a call to action Flipgrid. (I believe we ran out of time for this activity feel free to add your ideas now!)

Group Picture

Pathways to Personalized Professional Development Team!

While I have much to share about my topic – Differentiating PD (future post) – the point I want to make is the way we rolled with this session. I have participated in Jigsaw activities, but I have never facilitated PD like this.    What a great way to model good learning strategies.  I will certainly take this back to my district and use it with my own staff when the opportunity arises.

In November, at the New Prague Blended Learning Conference – I decided to do something a little different with one of my sessions. I BLENDED it.  Yes, it was a f2f session, but at the last minute – I decided to do a blended lesson using this presentation  At the very beginning, I shared with the audience, I had never done this before.  This was true.  I also shared I had my own thoughts this would crash and burn.  Also true – my fixed mindset nagging at me!  (also incredibly important to model!)

At first, the majority of the participants were not excited about this idea.  I shared – I am here to push you out of your comfort zones and besides this is the Blended Learning conference!  And then….it was MAGIC!  The participants really got into it. My only request – they had to complete Module 1, and then they could choose what module interest them next.  They had choice in where (location) they participated.  My only request,  I wanted to be in eyeshot.   They were in the classroom, out in the halls, sitting on the floor, or sitting on the stairs.  As they went through the lessons, discussions, I walked around, monitored, answering questions.  I had a chance to talk with EVERYONE!  I also wanted to get their feedback – thoughts beyond the formative assessments I had built into the lessons?  From my observation, the engagement was very high and the hour seemed like minutes! We finalized our session with an big group discussion.

Photo collage

Pictures from my Blended Session

So that brings me to today.   The last week or so, I have been running sessions around formative assessment tools with teachers.  Its been quite successful as we have conversations about opportunities the tools have to better inform instruction.  But, how often,do  we, as technology directors, model good use of technology with our leadership teams?   Formative assessment tools can be incredible to help differentiate and bring discussions deeper within our meetings.  Many times in large group staff meetings, only a few will speak up (or monopolize) the discussions.  These tools can provide everyone a voice.

So, today I introduced AND had our team do a Socrative Quiz (around a topic relevant to us) and demonstrated the opportunity of Edpuzzle as a flipped meeting tool.    The dialog was rich and hopefully the tools were seen as helpful for them to use with staff to better differentiate their own staff meetings.  (I should have done an exit ticket!)

The point is this.  Talking the talk is fine, but we ALL need to experiences how technology can be meaningful and drive deeper learning/discussion.  If we expect our classrooms to be using the tools, we should also be modeling the effective use at technology (as well as good learning design) at the school/district level too.

And so, #mnlead!  This CTA is accomplished!  (I hope to do this in future meetings as well)


My call to action after participating in #mnlead chat at #ties15







#Mindblown 3D printing – One of many TIES takeaways

Here is an  email I wrote to staff today about something I saw at our Ties 2015 Conference.  After I did it, I felt it was a good artifact to post on my blog too!  How do you share what you are learning?  In doing this again, I probably wont write what I learned in an email – and instead write and direct them to my blog.  No need to copy/paste then and I know our email boxes are inundated with tons of things. But, I also want to use email to spark interest from those who might not usually click that next link.  🙂

Warning – I was blown away when seeing this. Wanted to give you an opportunity to see what is “out there”.  Feel free to ignore from this point on if your not interested!
Ok – I may have sparked some curiosity.  Good!
I wanted to share one of my learning experiences from the TIES conference around 3D printing this past weekend.
I took this video in one of my Makerspace sessions. It is a scanner, attached to an IPad that will make help make things we see into 3D objects.  Its short and sweet – but you can see how easy it is.

Below is the replica of what Tami  (@brasst) created this morning.  While this is cool….it even gets more awesome  – so keep reading after the picture!
Inline image 1
So why does this matter?
As we think of engineering opportunities for kids to re-engineer objects we use every day is amazing.  I also learned from our keynote presenter Sylvia Martinez (@smartinez) that museums, across the globe,  are doing 3D scans of their artifacts – so schools could literally download and print a bone from a tyrannosaurus rex, or download and print the primitive tools created by Neanderthals, or sculptures carved by Michalengeo, You can also “print” and blow up micro tiny things – like molecules.  Talk about hands on access to primary materials!
But what is even more heart felt is opportunities for people to print Prosthetics for those who have lost a limb, an arm, ect.  for a much reduced cost.
Check out this ted talk describing the project!
So there you have it!  I wanted to share one of my earning experience with you!
Just to let you know we ARE exploring 3D printers right now as we begin to design our MakerSpace space type concepts in each of our buildings.

My Growth Plan: Goal 1 – Evaluation of iPads in Instruction

Goal vs Wish

Image Credit –

I have decided to blog about my professional growth goals and plans for the 2015-16 school year.   This will be a series of posts over the next week or so.  it’s important for me to be completely transparent  on what I am working on and what I hope to accomplish this year.   I know all of my ideas will not work.  Some may fail miserably. Others will be successful!  I need to have a place for my ideas and thoughts to go back to reference and reflect on. I am going to use this space as an opportunity to talk about things that work, things that do not work and professional successes and struggles.  We can all certainly learn from each other! And because this blog is public there is also opportunity for others to provide me feedback.  While I might be able to take all feedback into consideration – I do appreciate it – especially feedback that makes me think!

All of the items within these posts are highlighted in our district’s Technology Plan that was approved this past June (2015).  While technology plans are no longer a requirement for MN Schools receiving erate – I happen to actually like our plan.  It is Board approved, aligned to our strategic plan, and will assist my department on keeping focus of goals and action plans.

Below are a few more goals I will be working on this year!
  • Goal 2 – Create, implement and monitor a personalized model of pd that align to strategic plan and district initiatives
  • Goal 3 -Plan/create/monitor Makerspace learning environments in our K-12 media centers
  • Goal 4 – Technology planning for new PK-2 building – Byron Primary School
  • Goal 5 – What do I want to be when I grow up: My own professional growth needs to be a better technology leader

Goal 1: Evaluate the effectiveness of technology in our schools/classrooms including 1:1 classrooms

This is year 3 of our 1:1 iPad  initiative.  (I am wondering when I can get rid of the words 1:1 iPad initiative? Maybe when we are full 1:1 and its just how we do business in our schools??)  When we started our journey, we created a 4 year plan with dreams of considerable transformation in our classrooms.  Some classrooms have really moved the needle.  Our “pockets of innovation” have grown considerably.  Yet these are only the classrooms I know about.

I have been evaluating my surveys.  They are mediocre at best.  I have some great questions while others are not so great. We all should know by now, that a shiny new tool isn’t what improves/transforms instruction. While I do have some links to pedagogy in the  survey – there is GAPING holes where improvements can be made.    I know changing the questions is not usually good practice, especially for longterm goals, but if I am not receiving good data – its not effective anyways.

I know more today than I did yesterday.
How did I come to this conclusion?  Over the last couple of years I have grown professionally in the area of understanding what good instruction looks like in the digital age.  There are reasons for this:

  1. I have a seat at the cabinet level and we have many conversations about instruction. Some  discussions with the full group, others small group or 1 on 1.
  2. I have been able to see good instruction with (and without) devices in action.  I love to be invited into classrooms to observe learning and am fortunate I get an occasional invite from teachers to be witness to this!
  3. Because this is an area I want to grow, this year I have done “walk-abouts” with principals.  The dialog I have with principals afterwards is very rich in helping with understanding (more to come later)
  4. I have done my own self-directed learning  in this area too.  I am reading books about it, discussing with colleagues, peers, and coaches,  joining twitter chats about topics, subscribing to blogs and periscopes (my new fav) and voxer chats.
  5. I am trying to get better at modeling what I have learned.
  6. I try to talk/share more about learning than I do about the device or digital learning.

SO, I have some work to do and need to create a plan to rework surveys and communicate results.  Of course, the input we receive from our surveys are invaluable and will help with future action plans.    We need to compare where we were and where we are today with our implementation/progress. This is a difficult task because it could continue to evolve as we learn about these new environments. I do have some reservations because right now, this is still putting iPads and digital learning as “separate”.  One day, I have dreams where this is not separate – instead part of our overall strategic planning surveys.   But I do understand the need to provide data to show we are making progress.   Below is a proposed timeline to get this goal completed with the end result being reported to school board by January board meeting

  • Evaluate/Redesign Surveys for Parents, Students, Teachers – Drafts complete by 11/30
  • Chat with building principals and create survey timelines (for parents, students, teachers) 12/2
  • Complete Surveys by 12/15
  • Data Analysis complete by 12/22
  • Develop presentation and potential new action plans (include visible samples of classroom transformation)
  • Present to the board in January –  1/19
Move the needle

Move the Needle towards success Image Credit –

Beyond the evaluation – thoughts on change leadership

It is important that we need to continue to evaluate whether or not we are making progress towards the goals we set out to accomplish with the integration of these devices/environments- (or lets face it any transformational change we intend to make in or organizations)  As I reflect on the original goals of our program, we certainly were going down the right path towards the vision of our district!

Goals from original plan in 2013

  • Improve the efficiency and efficacy of classroom instruction
  • Prepare thoughtful, collaborative, and creative students who problem solve and think critically about global issues
  • Develop customized, individualized content to meet each student’s unique learning needs
  • Increase student engagement
  • Utilize innovative strategies for the delivery of rigorous and relevant curricula

But we must face facts.  Just putting ipads in the hands of our students will not make our goals come to life!  Our original plan had a great year 1 plan.  While there is always area for improvement, we did very well on the preparation of  implementation.  We had supports in place to continually revisit and support our teachers.

Where I fell short was continuing to make connections to this initiative with other district initiatives and state mandates. This is no easy task.  I am sure there are many districts that feel “over – initiated”. Year 2 was a struggle.  State mandates had taken up all district PD time. Because teachers had so much to learn about our new evaluation process I made the decision to “take a back seat” with digital learning for at least the 1st semester.  Not a wise decision and now unfortunately 1:1 iPads /digital learning was viewed as “one more thing to do”.  I had plenty of opportunities to intervene but I did not have the confidence I have today about the process. Why the confidence today?  See I know more today than I did yesterday above.

Lesson learned.

So here it is – Year 3 and time for my wakeup call.  (see graphic below) We are trying some things this year that appear to be working.  (at least that is what the data is telling us).  I will plan on sharing those ideas in the next post –  Goal 2 – Create, implement and monitor a personalized model of pd that align to strategic plan and district initiatives


Transformational Change - Beware of pitfalls


Linking my goals to national competencies and district plans. What am I missing?

MARZANO District Leadership Competency

Data driven progress monitoring – The district leader ensures data are analyzed, interpreted, and used to regularly monitor the progress toward district, school, and individual student goals

COSN Competencies

Data Management – Manage the establishment and maintenance of systems and tools for gathering, mining, integrating, and reporting data in usable and meaningful ways to produce an information culture in which data management is critical to strategic planning

Strategic Planning – Have a high-level view across the school system and work with instructional and technical teams to identify steps needed to transform the technology vision into a long-range plan, complete with specific goals, objectives, and action plans.

Byron Strategic Plan: Maintain excellence in resource management

Byron Technology Plan: Harness the power of technology to support, enhance, and amplify student centered learning.

Lets get crazy! Reflections from Kevin Honeycutt’s Keynote!

On the Wednesday of MEA weekend,  we were very fortunate, through our local collaborative – Zumbro Education District, to have Kevin Honeycutt (@kevinhoneycutt) come to SE MN and present to several school districts.  It has been a couple of days since that presentation, and I felt compelled to take some time to reflect on the day!

Honeycutt totally reaffirmed everything I believe in the potential of “school”.    Sometimes work in EDU can make things so cloudy, confusing.  Sometimes things that shouldn’t matter get in the way of things that should.  Sometimes things seem so complex, so unattainable, you even begin to doubt yourself.  It’s hard to put into words what the keynote provided me.  I needed it.  It helped me reconnect with My Why.  

 The notes, tweets (#zedrocks2015), pics (selfies) etc do not do this keynote justice.  Kevin shared many stories of how he inspired his students to rise above problems and challenges.   Stories where he was able to connect with students and engage them through use of authentic and relevant learning experiences.  His title”Tools and Tactics in the 21st Century” may have led one to think workshop was going to be about technology (unfortunately still  viewed as extra in many schools) but instead this was about students and learning and the endless opportunities we have to connect with them and inspire them!   And what was exciting? Our entire staff was there!  If anyone left that room – uninspired – they need to seriously have an edu “soul selfie” reality check.  I heard so much feedback from staff ready to put themselves “out there” for the sake of our kids. All kids.  The energy in the room was awesome. I was so engaged, hours seemed like minutes.

 I have been at the TIES conference (MN Tech Conference) with a small group of teachers through similar keynotes.  Simon Sinek, Sir Ken Robinson, Tony Wagner, Yong Zhao.  This was just as inspiring as all of those talks – with a couple of exceptions:

  1. These stories came directly from the classroom – Kevin’s classroom.  He shared stories of self perseverance and grit both personally, professionally as an educator.  Because of this, and his belief in ALL students, he made an incredible impact on kids… his students.   What he shared is obtainable.  Where there is a will, there is a way!
  2. Everyone (my teachers and administrators) was in the room! HOORAY!  Thanks ZED!

Take aways for me –

  1. We can’t afford to have “secret geniuses” in our classrooms. We have so much talent. So much talent that we can learn from right in the walls of our schools.  I sincerely believe, in every room, every teacher has talent they can bring to the table!  Yet some teachers are fearful of sharing.  Many times fearful of sharing with their own peers, their own teams. Many times the “crazy ones” (Kevin referred to – see video below) are left to quietly innovate in their classrooms.  Why? I honestly think it’s a mindset issue.  Instead of feeling threatened by the success of others – Shouldnt we be inspired to learn from one another?  And to the educators who feel they have no one to turn to, lets talk about helping you create your personal learning network (PLN).  There is a whole lot of crazies out there just waiting to support you and celebrate your work!  (Including this crazy  – @jenhegna

    Growth vs. Fixed Mindset

    Growth vs. Fixed Mindset Image Credit –

  2. Administrators and Teachers need to spread (and be supported/encouraged) their messages and stories of what is working with kids. On top of that –  add the student voice to these successes and people will listen. We need to get our parents talking, our communities talking  because  politicians don’t get it and because they are policy makers they drastically need to be educated! Spreading these message of great teaching – has never been easier.  Within minutes – anyone of us can publish a story.   Anyone can start a movement!
  3. The last take away was “we need to bend to system to fit our kids, not bend kids to fit our system”.  There is a lot of depth  in that quote.  What are the passions and talents of our kids?  How can we connect those to curriculum?  There should not be a one shot one way of showing what kids know.  Our kids have incredible talents and passions (that we can hopefully cultivate to talents).  Let’s make learning real and relevant for them.  Killer App of the 21st century? Learning to Love to Learn!


 Are you ready to get a little crazy? 


My Why…

Our district administrative team was at a leadership training today with several districts from MN.  Towards the end the day, We watched Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” video.  It had been a while since I had seen it, but good to reflect upon the vision of our district.

As a homework assignment, we were to reflect on our why.  Why are we in the positions were are in? Why do we come to work everyday? And what is our why (vision) for education?

Below is a few things that drive me. That I believe to my core….

  1. Foster self-directed learners who persevere through difficulties.
  2. Engage learners in authentic tasks to create authentic products for an authentic audience.
  3. Develop student leaders with global and empathetic view of the world who actively act upon problems we face today and tomorrow.
  4. Personalize the education of our children to meet core curriculum as well as their passions and interests.
  5. Create a culture of shared leadership and learning in our organization’s system to provide 1-4 that engages all stakeholders.
A graphic of My Why...

A graphic of My Why…


I know this probably sounds like a lot of fluff but this keeps me up at night.  My why keeps me coming to work even when times get tough and it would so much easier to quit. As a tech director, you would think I would focus on technology – and trust me – I do have a passion for tech, but it has taken me years to realize that focus is not about technology – rather focus on those relevant tasks and let technology amplify….

  • Amplify learning
  • Amplify student voice/choice
  • Amplify our students’ opportunities to make a positive impact in our world.

So, what am I missing?  I would love to hear your WHY.

School Leaders: What does your digital footprint say about you? Your school?

Over the next couple of weeks our leadership team is leaving room on our weekly agenda to discuss  DIY PD with twitter as well as sharing our district’s story using social media.  What is our brand? Who is telling our story? How does social media impact our story?  What does my digital footprint say about me as a professional?

To start, I sent a short google form and asked team members to share their professional interests and current twitter use.   I took the time and selected  hashtags that would be relevant to them. As for their Twitter use (below)  I could care less if someone is a beginner… this isn’t an evaluative question – this is a question to guide learning.  My goal – to get all of our team at a level 3.

1 – Beginner – I am fairly new to twitter and I may know some features, but not all features. It still is a little bit of a mystery to me.

2 – Developing –  I know the basics of twitter. I can follow, retweet, tweet, reply, send pictures. Hashtags may still be a little of a mystery to me. I understand there is potential to support my growth – I am just not sure I am there yet.

3 – Proficient – I have a personal learning network that is tailored to my needs. I not only listen and learn, but contribute back to my network. I use twitter on a regular basis to support my growth and use it to showcase the passions and talents of others.

4 – Innovating – I can provide PD around Twitter.  Twitter is just part of my DNA

5 Stages of Twitter Use

5 Stages of Twitter Use

Brad Gustafson’s post “For the Kids” is an excellent way to start a social media conversation as well as taking some time observing his school’s #GWGREATS hashtag. On a personal note, I love LOVE learning about all of the great things our teachers and more importantly students are learning about.  I think its our important for our community as well. While we do have a successful facebook page –  it is manned by a few.  Twitter and hashtags can allow anyone to contribute!

Here are just a few guiding questions (and a few of my thoughts) to start your conversation with instructional leaders:

  • How do you personalize your learning ? When one properly creates their personal learning network (PLN), learning can happen when and where you need it.  Twitter has become the most positive PLC anyone could ever ask for.  I have been fortunate to connect with others (tweeps) to learn personally/professionally  but more importantly to create opportunities for our staff and students to learn.  This takes time – but so so worth it!
  • Who will model good use?  Whether you like it or not kids, as early as 9 or 10, are signing up for social media accounts.  Who do they look for? People they know.  I would much rather have my child  follow a teacher/admin who models and is developing a good digital footprint than some of the pop who has little or no moral intentions.   And even if they do follow those pop stars (you know they will) we can provide opportunities to model good use of technology.
  • Who is telling our story? Branding (AKA TELLING OUR STORY) our schools is a great way to share with our community about how we learn, share, innovate, and inspire our staff and kids.  Its a great way to cross-pollinate ideas from classroom to classroom, building to building or district to district. I also find it great to keep up to date.  Just this past weekend I was watching our #cybears hashtag to keep track of the progress of our robotics team!  We have a great facebook page – however it is only managed by a few.  Using twitter and a hashtag – allows anyone to contribute to our story – including students.
  • How do we continue to seek talented staff? How do we attract families to our community? As more and more people use social media to interact or learn – they also will use it to shop for jobs and schools.  We want families to seek Byron as a great place to educate their kids. We want talented staff in our district. Our schools footprint should be transparent and show why Byron is a great place to work and learn!  For school leaders…. our personal profiles should indicate we are great people to work for/with.

Here is an agenda I used the other day.  Feel free to tweak and use with your own teams.   If you have other ideas -share them out!