Monday, April 28, 2014

Connecting Teaching, Learning, & Leadership

Notes from an Webinar 4/28/14
Dr. Joe Mazza
Director of Connected Teaching, Learning & Leadership
North Penn School District

Dr. Mazza just took on his position in December. He is a project manager, promoting connected teaching, learning, & leadership.

He is trying to bring Admin, Educators, Parents, Students, Community, & School Board together in a transparent way. Eighteen schools and 13,000+ students.

Dr. Mazza showed us this video to give an idea of what connected educators can do with Twitter:

Twitter in D123 from OLHD123 on Vimeo.

What does it mean to "be connected?"

  • You have taken control of your own learning
  • You have made the decision to be a public learner, swimming through social media waters using tools like Twitter, Google+, Linked In, blogs, etc.
  • You understand & embrace the fact you are role-modeling for kids with every post, tweet, blog, and digital footprint you make.
  • You try to contribute as much as you take from your Personal Learning Network (PLN)
  • You are committed to paying it forward with your connectivity, being a resource for others, and building capacity with your own learning community.
Dr. Mazza was the Lead Learner at Knapp Elementary School. (He got rid of the word principal so kids would understand better that we never stop learning!) 

5 Keys to Connected Teaching, Learning, & Leadership
  • Transparency as a cultural norm
  • Leadership that encourages innovation, edu-risk-taking, and finds ways to say "yes."
  • Evolution of policies around connectivity for all.
  • Collaborative transparency across stakeholders
  • Curation, anytime-anywhere learning opportunities, infusion of PLN-like culture of sharing among organization
  • Offline AND Online - Offline culture will be AMPLIFIED online. Develop core beliefs everyone can agree on for communication.
  • GLASS WALLS > Brick & mortar. Share your story.
  • Tweeting minutes, notes, inservice learning events with follow-up posts.
  • "The smartest person in the room IS THE ROOM." At the end of the day, it's about all the different perspectives you gain for the best interest of the kids.


  • Embracing "Lead Learner" mentality.
  • Finding ways to "say yes" to stakeholders.
  • Role modeling edu-risks, global collaboration, hashtag participation.
  • Blurring lines between local and global PLN
    • Ex: Use PLN to connect with classes all over the world for mystery Skype, etc
  • Built to protect organization or encourage innovation on the part of all stakeholders?
  • Who has a consistent seat at the policy table?
  • Seeing through the lens of students, teachers, parents, leaders. How much time does edtech leadership spend gaining perspective?
  • Student voice as a key to meeting their evolving needs.

Collaborative Transparency
  • Some 2-way communications tools: TodaysMeet, Google Aps, Evernote, Google+, Facebook, PollEverywhere, Livestreaming, Blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram
  • Newest collaboration tool for Joe - Voxer
    • Voxer a tool that allows you to send audio messages, text messages, and pictures.
    • Joe demoed Voxer with educational leader friends of his. They spoke to him through his phone. It's like a walkie-talkie across the Internet!
    • He learned about Voxer from students, now uses it personally!
Anytime, Anywhere Learning for All
  • Recognizing organizational hashtags, chats for "credit"
  • Flipped faculty meetings, learning opportunities for students, staff, & community
  • School/District EdCamps & ParentCamps - go to to learn more!
  • Online Courses (e.g. Twitter 101 for Parents & Educators) 
  • Ideas: PD in the car, to start PLC/Leadership Meetings, PTA/PTO/HSA Mtgs
  • #PTchat Radio, #EdTechChat Radio, and more!
  • NP-EDcast - Joe captures the great things going on in his school district.
Project Manager for Connected Teaching, Learning & Leadership
  • Full job descriptions at
  • Dot connector
  • Capacity-builder
  • Hand-holder
  • Innovation coach
  • #nped - North Penn School District, Sharing Our Learning 24/7/365
K-12 Lead Learner Role
  • Tweet, RT, Favorite, #FF
  • Blog, podcast, vide
  • Community forums
  • Offer staff dev, webinars, eCourses, Un-conferences
  • Curation of teaching, learning, & ledership resources
  • Inform, Communicate, Solicit feedback, celebrate successes
  • Light "innovation fires"

Every Educator an Innovator - A blog post Joe has coming out soon at Edutopia
  • Maximize Today - Be More Effective & Efficient Tomorrow

Questions from the Audience:
  • How do you deal with pushback? - Pushback happens for a reason. See it as a part of the process and work through the reluctance.
  • Wondering about safety? Tools to ensure only student and parent access? - In Joe's district, they work for transparency. But they do not send out student names on social media. They do get parent permission to share student photos and work on media and are strict to respect what parents want.
  • Curation for professional learning - One of Joe's schools uses Storify to collect all of the Tweets sent out with their hashtag and then sends it to families once a week. For families without connectivity, they print it out and send it home. So no one is left out. Meet families where they are.
  • Curation for professional learning - also uses and sets it up to search for key terms related to school/district goals. This creates an overview for teachers to look at when they have time.

Final thought from Joe: Don't wait to have conversations in your schools and districts about these topics until the summer or September - start having them now!

All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Finding Content for Reteaching, Blending, and Flipping

Online content means you can learn anywhere, with anyone!
Photo by familymwr used under a creative commons license
Recently I had a wonderful conversation with my district's high school educational technologist, Kristin Thompson, about apps and online tools that could be used for formative assessment and reteaching of concepts. We talked about using a tool like Socrative or InfuseLearning to get a quick feel for where students are in their learning, and then apps like Explain Everything, Educreations, or ShowMe which teachers can use to create video tutorials based on learning needs.

In the hopes that at some point we might get to provide some professional development on this topic, I added that we should expose teachers to methods for finding those video tutorials without having to create them all themselves.

First, don't forget that some of the best experts on your content reside in your own classroom. Whenever possible, I believe students should be given opportunities to teach what they know to their peers. Any educator knows that deep learning of content really happens when you have to break it apart and teach it to others. Creation of video tutorials as summative assessments for students can easily serve two purposes:

  • Students can demonstrate that they really do understand the content.
  • The videos created can become part of a library that can be used for teaching, reteaching, and review - even in future school years if appropriate. With collaboration between teachers, a library could be built by students and teachers from multiple classrooms and schools.

Second, don't forget there are a lot of learning resources and tutorials already out there. Teachers do not always have to create all of the content they need themselves. We started brainstorming a list of places that teachers can find content for re-teaching, and I realized these resources would also be valuable for anyone practicing blended or flipped learning. Here's the list we came up with in a short time of brainstorming:
  • Discovery Education - If your school or district subscribes to Discovery Education for online video, you have a fabulous library of resources at your fingertips! You can now search for content that has been aligned to state standards.
  • Texas Education on iTunesU - Kid2Kid videos and other resources. Other states and numerous universities and school districts also have iTunesU channels you can explore.
  • – Standards search available right on the home page for math and science resources
  • Club Academia – student created tutorials
  • Khan Academy
  • SchoolTube - You can search SchoolTube for existing content, or create a channel of your own to upload original educational material. One of the high schools in the district where I work has a channel with some great math and foreign language videos.
  • YouTube – Bookmark reputable/high quality learning channels (like the Amoeba Sisters) when you find them rather than just doing general searches all the time.
  • ShowMe -  Existing tutorials created using the ShowMe app
  • Educreations - Existing  tutorials created using the Educreations app (which is FREE for iOS!)

These were ideas we came up with in a fairly brief brainstorming session. I know there are numerous high quality content repositories out there that could be added to this list. YOU are the expert on this! I invite you to share your high quality resources in the comments so we can all learn together.

All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Notes from Leadership for the Digital Age with Alan November - Day 2

Notes from day 2 of  TASA's Leadership for the Digital Age with Alan November. For my notes on Day 1 of this academy, which took place January 15, 2014, click here.

Notes from the Discussion

We no longer have to go to school if we want to learn.

edX - MOOC site, courses are all free, people who teach the courses are from Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, University of Texas, etc. (Click here to see all of them.)

Coursera is another option for higher ed MOOCS.

November's son is taking courses through edX and will get an associate's degree from Harvard. Student needs 32 credits from another university, and 32 credits from Harvard. More info on Harvard online degree programs and certificates.

Students can graduate from high school with dual credit then get the rest of their college experience entirely online.

Swivl - Apparatus that lets you use an iPad to video record a lecture or presentation. Moves the camera to follow presenter around the room. (Use for teachers and students! Imagine sharing student presentations to the world!)

High school library prediction - Librarians will become resources to help students find online courses. Part of function of library will be to become an online learning center.

Close to 10% of students got into MIT by excelling in a MOOC. Did not go through traditional admissions process as we know it. For example, this young man from Mongolia.

Are we going to prevent, ignore, or encourage students getting college credit for nothing?

We should be advertising these opportunities to students!

Number one skill for being successful in learning: the ability to self-assess
Number one skill for being successful in teaching: ability to give quality feedback on student work.

When focusing on 1:1, iPads, etc: Focus on teaching teachers to give better feedback and students to self-assess instead of the technology. A participant in the room shared about an 8th grade Engilsh teacher using Google docs and going paperless - students walk in and go immediately to their Chromebooks because they want to see the feedback the teacher has given them. Now it is spreading because of the quality of teacher feedback.

Districts Sharing Ideas

Be positive with feedback! What you can say:
  • I like that because...
  • Have you thought about...
  • I have a resource for you...
Distict #1: Principal of an elementary school shared that as part of their 1:1 initiative, they want to create a bank of lessons created by students based on which Alan shared last time.
Speaking of, the 17 year old creator of wants to give away her shell to any school that wants to use it, and then will link all of the shells together to make a global network of student lessons. 
Good apps for creating tutorials: Explain Everything, Screen Chomp, Educreations
District #2:  Revisiting their BYOD initiative. They brought in a panel of students to ask about their experience with BYOD. They videoed the students responses so they can use it in further PD with their administrators and teachers. Some students did not know that they were allowed to bring devices even three years after the initiative began. In other places it's off and running. It was found they were using it more at the middle schools than at the high schools.
Lessons learned from above district: Don't jump in to quickly. Pick teachers who are already strong in their content. If you push teachers to do things before they are ready, it can be detrimental to them and their students. Also, realize teachers who have been successful in the current system, with high test scores, etc, may be more resistant.
District #3: Next Generation Digital Classroom - moving away from laptops and desktops. Have narrowed down to four vendors to try iPads, Android tablets, Windows 8 tablets, Chromebooks. Teachers are applying to be the one teacher per school who pilots the devices at their campus, plus 8 librarians across the district. Goals based on Project Red and SAMR. Pilot will be evaluated for what tech works and doesn't, learning environment/classroom space to incorporate best instructional practice, and PD needs, all of which will be approached from an action research standpoint. Teachers will write their own questions and goals that they want to meet each fall and spring. They will complete video showcases at the end of each year to use as a resource for curating best practices through the project and informing future steps across the district.
  • November suggests Stratosphere which talks about how to evaluate technology projects.
District #4: Instituting a technology apps elective for middle school students next year. (Have only had fine arts electives up to this point.) In individual classrooms, teachers are working with students who are ahead of the rest of the class to create a library of tutorials for other students. In library they are using stop motion technology to develop stories. Doing cross-curricular projects with students in other grades. Also starting a middle school coding class.

  • Another participant suggested which has a middle school coding curriculum
  • November suggested Scratch; you can start with other kids' created programs and tweak them instead of starting from scratch (ha ha no pun intended!)
  • November's podcast of an interview with Dr. Mitch Resnik, creator of Scratch.
District #5: Kindergarten teachers started class Twitter accounts! Here is Mrs. Cook's Twitter. They follow other Kinder classes and have connected with a class in Korea.

More Discussion Notes

November suggests no more technology workshops. Integrate the technology into core content PD. Also tell teachers principal will show up 30, 60, and 90 days after PD to look for specific strategies that were communicated in the workshop. Example: Working toward self assessment of math. Are teachers using Wolfram Alpha, Khan Academy, Think Through Math, etc when principal observes. Then assess if the staff development paid off based on student achievement data. Workshop needs measurable goals, follow-up, and results based on data.  The key is the principal holding teachers accountable.

Often, the technology coordinator/director is reporting to the WRONG person. Org charts need to change.

November advises superintendents to have a student advisory panel that they meet with them once a month. Ask them things like:

  • What's the best thing technology has done for your learning?
  • Is there anything you've learned with technology that you could have done without technology?
  • What are you doing outside of school on your own that helps you learn?
Are we showing kids how to do really good searching? Ask them to find an image representing American History. They will get this. But with a tweak, we can show them how to get this or this.

Key to getting workshops/PD to have effect in classroom: Have the workshop presenter/leader come and teach an actual class with actual students. All teachers watch the workshop leader run the class. Important for modeling classroom management. Make sure to debrief afterwards. (Can also use Swivl or something like it to record and archive master teachers.)

Here's an idea to empower kids: Let them lead workshops for their peers. For example, an after-school club for using Minecraft to create virtual environments. Check out this Egyptian Pyramid! (NOTE: Teacher does not need to know how to use Minecraft to let kids use it for producing a project.)

November says if he could teach teachers ONE thing, it would be how to be life-long learners with today's tools. Twitter is his favorite tool for professional learning. Every teacher should be following teachers who are sharing what they are doing. Then, if you are lucky, all of your teachers will have a blog. Use every bit of social media that you can. Pinterest. Instagram. Diigo.

November makes his doctoral students join Diigo and participate in a Diigo group he created for them. Now he can see what they are researching and reading and the students can see what each other is reading and they can converse about it. Can set it to email you when people add bookmarks. (Great way to build community among faculty.) Here is November's Diigo library. (And here is mine. I LOVE Diigo!)
Leaders should be creating community using tools like Diigo groups!
PD Tip - Start with something teachers love to teach instead of a tool the presenter thinks is cool. Example: Tweak one of their favorite lessons. Hint: Look for hashtags that will help them get more info for the assignment. You can teach people the mechanics of a tool, but you also need to help them make connections to their curriculum. Give it context. Start with the question: "What's your favorite assignment? Let's redo it."

Principals need to make heroes out of their teachers. Start a podcast where you interview them and get them to tell their stories!

Homework Before Day 3 in May

The First Five Days - What would you do in the first five days of school to teach kids how to learn to learn?

All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.