My “this needs attention” response…

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

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

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

Like us on Facebook

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

FB picture

Planning for Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook Fan Page security settings


Whats Next?

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

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

Screenshot of our Facebook Insights. (analytics for FB)

The perfect recipe for school innovation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit –



Thinking about edtech PD…

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

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

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

Educational Origami

Adapted from –

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

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

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

Other PD highlights/Resources to explore

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

Use of Video

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

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

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

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

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

Summer 2012 – Recap

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

    Goodby Summer!
    Photo Credit –


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

iPads, Moodle, and the “Paperless” Classroom Workflow

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

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

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



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

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

Moodle 2.2


Here we go….1:1 with iPads!

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

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

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

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

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

Goals of this project

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


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

Summer Staff Development Budget – Reinstated

FundingWOOT WOOT! Tonight, I left my district Staff Development committee meeting totally thrilled!  My full summer academy budget from several years ago (previously cut in half), has been reinstated.  So, the brainstorming begins…. Here are some possibilities that I am tooling in my head.  Would love to hear feedback and other ideas!

  1. eLearning – Flipped, hybrids, fully online – Whether it is learning how to create 24/7  learning objects to developing  fully online courses, we need to break “school” learning from our classroom’s traditional 4 walls.  We have received some great recognition of our Flipped Math/No textbooks curriculum…It makes sense that we continue to  expand it to other classrooms or schools.
  2. Moblile Learning – iPods, IPads, BYOD – we have them all and we need a better understanding on how to integrate them into our classrooms.  According to a recent (HS) survey, 80% of our students have a device, yet only 22% of our classrooms allow them on a regular basis.  We need to understand their potential.  Of course, increasing the amount of online content will help  – but I feel we need to showcase the possibilities of using these devices to create learning artifacts vs. just passively watching videos or surfing the web.  The biggest challenge, finding/understanding apps/sites that are endpoint independent.  They are out there – we just need to put them in our “bag o tricks”.  Possibly find a MN expert to visit?
  3. Collaboration – At the top of this list is Google Apps for Education. While there are tons and TONS of cool and collaborative things that can happen in our classrooms…there is just as many time savers and opportunities to collaborate in our offices.  Right behind GAFE is social media and Web 2.0. So many tools, so little time.  Leaving with just 1 tool, is enough to begin the transformation of a classroom.  I might have to steal @Mark Garrison’s 50 sites in 50 minutes idea…. Or better yet – invite him. (Hmmm)
  4. PLN –  Why wait for district sponsored events to learn? There are many opportunities for us to connect to learning opportunities when we are ready to learn…  Not to mention, we can connect and collaborate with some fantastic people!  (and I certainly have – thank you PLN!)
  5. IWB – I know,  I know, not everyone is on the IWB bandwagon, but we have already spent the $ and have them installed in our classrooms. We need to improve our staffs use of these devices. Truly finding ways to make them Interactive (with students vs. the Sage on the Stage) is worth looking into.  Also looking at specialized training according to subject area.  Special Ed, Early Childhood, elementary math, reading, science – as well as effectively incorporating them at the MS and HS.
  6. Other possibilities… Utilizing Formative Assessments, Improving Reading, Math, Science instruction, Differentiation, RTI, PLCs.  Not all of our academy sessions solely focused on technology – so these are some opportunities.     I would LOVE to hear of MN experts who I could possibly connect with on these topics to have them come for a visit!

Below is the data I collect every year after our academy.  Thought it was appropriate to share.  I really would like to see the Teacher Lesson/PLPs increased.  Maybe the extra $ will help support that goal.  I also want to expand online learning opportunities – Anytime, anywhere learning is very appealing  – especially with busy summer schedules.  Here are the offerings from last year

Academy Data

Bears Professional Growth Academy 2012 will be August 7-9. Well at least the f2f opportunities.  Looking forward to another great summer of learning!

Hybrid learning: Claiming our digital space

Its official, tonight our school board approved a pilot in which several of our high school teachers will be developing and implementing Hybrid courses.  Whats more exciting, is that we will be starting as early as this quarter! Last summer, my principal and I attended Claiming your digital space:Developing an Online Program for Your District.  I have to say, after leaving that day, it was like I had an digital epiphany.  We have been dabbling in online learning for several years and have some great things going. We have teachers that have been certified (through a 5-6 week online course) to provide fully online courses. (so, we dont lose our students to other online programs)  Our math department developed their own Moodle curriclum and was implementing Flipped classroom techniques and getting great recognition and gains in academic achievement!

Balancing OLL with F2F learningBut new opportunities arose, to develop our program further, when we were awarded 4 TPC Interns from an Innovative Winona State teaching program. While 1st semester is spent with these individuals as a typical student teacher mentor, during 2nd semester the interns “take over” the classes.  This frees up a tremendous amount of time for the mentor – allowing our district to use their time elsewhere.  (Big win for Winona and Big win for us!)

Seeing the writing on the wall, a couple of our teachers decided to begin developing content early this school year.  Imagine the excitement I felt when I coordinated the first official meeting last week (to address the registration guide deadlines and possibly needing Hybrid language) and the teachers were ready to PILOT now, this quarter.  And tonight, only 4 days later, we are getting board approval to move forward!  We will still  focus on course development 2nd semester, but to have some pilots started this quarter, to learn from, is going to be very beneficial!

The statistics are clear. Online/hybrid learning is certainly on the rise.  I am excited to say, our plan is coming together and I do believe we will claim our space when it comes to online learning!  Stay tuned!

“Hanging Out” and learning about #flippedPD

Today I was fortunate to have my very first Google+ Hangout experience with brilliant,  passionate and inspirational tech integrationalists from Stillwater  and Edina Public Schools.

It was fun to “hang out” with Kristin Daniels (@kadaniels), Wayne Feller (@fellbop), Heather Wells (@technovinci), and  Michael Walker (@micwalker) and discuss our districts implementation of flipped classrooms.

First impressions of G+ Hangout – is it is fun, easy to use.   The quality was fairly good – even though there were a couple of hiccups where the video would freeze or we would temporarily lose audio.  For the most part – there is a tremendous amount of potential with hangout and I honestly need to give this technology further consideration.  I wonder where this leaves skype?

It was somewhat ironic our paths crossed. Just this week in the Pioneer Press – Stillwater and Byron were both mentioned as using the Flipped or Reverse classroom techniques in their classrooms.  While there has been quite a bit of buzz about this approach and the benefits for student learning, it was a tweet by Kristin Daniels that really sparked my interest, “…we are starting “flipped pd” where we work closely with teachers on personalized projects..” Flipped PD – makes so much sense to me – why on earth did I not think of it?

If you think of a traditional f2f professional development – About a third of your participants are high flyers – they are either 3 steps ahead of you OR are bored to death, waiting for the other participants to catch up.  You have the middle third, who are following along, engaged, and hopefully learning.  Then you have the bottom third, that are lost or confused and taking more of your time as a facilitator to catch them up – then you have to work with the rest of the class.  Sound familiar?

A couple of things that Stillwater is doing with Flipped PD really resonated with me! First of all, when teachers select their PD offerings, they are shown finished best practice samples of projects that have been developed by other teachers.  Not only does this engage potential participants, but it also is a great way to share (reward?) the work of that others have accomplished for the district.  Included in the offering is a type of recipe card, or plan of what educators need in order to accomplish the project.

The training videos and materials are hosted within Moodle, and are available to teachers when they are ready to learn.  Face to face sessions are organized in small groups and teachers are able to ask further questions and get support.  Staff also develop ILPs – individual learning plans (via Google Docs templates) that is a running reflective record of their learning.  If you would like learn more about this ideas – the Stillwater staff are blogging every day about their journey!  Definitely something I will be watching!