2019-20: Creating and Sharing Instructional Technology Professional Learning Goals

CREATING THE GOAL/PLAN:

In my role as Digital Integration Specialist at a large high school, one of my responsibilities (and privileges) is helping to set goals for the school and a professional development plan for our 108 teachers.  This process is always a little daunting. It also varies each year depending on our administrators, district goals, number of new teachers, my Technology Teacher Leaders and the amount of time we are given for instructional technology professional development.

Creating these goals and plan is something I start thinking in the spring each year.  This spring, our teachers had three opportunities to give feedback related to instructional technology.  One was a district-wide survey through BrightBytes. Students and parents also took this survey, so it gave us a lot of good data.  Teachers completed Google Docs reflections on their 2018-19 instructional technology work as part of our April technology day. They also completed an End of the Year Instructional Technology Google Form to share what worked best for them, how they chose to get help and what they’d like to see for next year (along with other questions).

So this summer, I sat down with all of that data and just read through it (a few times). I looked for common themes and places to start when planning.  2019-20 will be our 7th year as a 1:1 school (4 years with iPads and now our 3rd year of Chromebooks). Many of our teachers are strong in their implementation of instructional technology to help meet their standards and help students learn.  We have had approximately 40 new teachers in the last 3 years. Some come to us with a strong foundation in instructional technology while others are brand new to a 1:1 environment.   

As for time, we will be working with a little less time for PD than we have had in the past.  Since I started this job in the 2013-14 school year we have been fortunate to have 7-8 hours of dedicated instructional tech PD each year (usually once a month on our delayed Wednesday mornings).  This year in an effort to provide more common planning time for teachers, we’ve cut back on sessions dedicated to instructional technology professional learning.

As I was planning for 2019-20 I also thought about the teacher technology course I taught last year:  Authentic Technology Integration and Instructional Design ( #D5AuthTech ). Each semester I had a group of teachers from throughout the district take this intermediate/advanced course for graduate credit and/or technology proficiency.  Teachers shared amazing lessons and ideas during this course, and I knew I wanted to take some of those ideas and apply them to our general instructional tech PD.

My main takeaway from both BrightBytes and my #D5AuthTech course was a focus on the 4 Cs: communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.  We have talked about these in our PD the past, but they have not been the central focus of our PD. When I talked to my new Assistant Principal for Instruction, this idea fit right in with other school and district goals – she was excited.  When the Technology Teacher Leaders and I met for back to school planning I shared my ideas with them and we figured out some of the details. I love working with a dedicated team!

So for 19-20 our instructional technology PD goal is to provide all teachers with professional learning opportunities tied to the 4 Cs.   

SHARING THE PLAN:

I was excited to share this idea with our teachers. I knew I needed to introduce our plan in a way that would model and reinforce communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.  I had 30 minutes at a faculty meeting this past week and wanted to make it count.

I create a Pear Deck with some quick information for our teachers.  I wanted to let them know where this idea had come from and that we had listened to their suggestions.  Our plan is designed to:

  • Support & improve teaching and learning
  • Connect with standards, data teams, SLOs, etc.
  • Recognize best practices & teacher knowledge
  • Respect individuals
  • Provide choice
  • Build on last 7 years

I shared a lightning-fast look back at our some of our focal points over the last seven years including:

  • ISTE Standards for Students & Educators
  • TPACK & SAMR
  • Profile of the SC Graduate
  • Bloom’s & Webb’s DOK
  • Google Classroom for communication
  • Using technology to support reflection

Then I rolled out our new 4 Cs logos and asked teachers to choose one area where they felt most confident (star) and one where they wanted to grow (heart).  They were to think about the 4 Cs in relation their students needs and how instructional technology can help meet these needs. With Pear Deck they simply “dragged their icons” and then I was able to show their responses to the whole group.  It did not surprise me that their icons were all over the place. That fits right in with our faculty and their great breadth of knowledge and the strength that comes from recognizing their differences.

Then it was time for action!  Instead of telling them about which days we’d be doing which activities and what resources are available to them for professional learning, I created a digital BreakoutEDU game.  They were in groups of 3-4 and had 10 minutes to complete 6 locks. All of the locks were tied to a new Instructional Technology website I’d created this summer. The site is full of resources for teachers and also has pages dedicated to our PD goals, the 4 Cs and our professional learning opportunities.

This was our first faculty breakout, and I was not sure what to expect.  I have taught about digital breakouts at conferences and had large group participate, but I was not sure how it would go over at 4:30 on a Tuesday afternoon after a full day of teaching.  But our teachers were great and they jumped right in. Most groups broke out in the 10 minutes.

I’m glad our teachers were able to experience a digital breakout and see how it’s great for introducing new information or reviewing material already learned. And talk about needing the 4 Cs! All 4 were evident as teams worked together.

So, what’s next?  We’ll focus over the next two months on resources related to communication and collaboration.  Then we’ll move to creativity and critical thinking (although they are, of course, often intertwined).  In the spring, teachers will have even more ways to learn – podcasts, e-learning, in person PD, #Comeseemeteach and more.  Then they’ll get to decide how they want to share what they’ve learned. Teachers will get to earn badges for each of the 4 Cs by sharing how they used instructional technology to help their students.  

I can’t wait to see what great teaching and learning happens in 2019-20 at Dutch Fork High!

☀️ Summer Teaching and Learning ☀️

Although summer is coming to an end and we are busy with back to school work, I wanted to take a little time to think about the professional learning opportunities I had this summer.  I’m thankful to have had such variety in my summer.

In June I was able to share what I love at two conferences:  SC Midlands Summit hosted by Richland Two and SC Education Business Summit.  

Held the second week of June, SC Midlands Summit is a conference filled with SC educators who have just wrapped up the school year but are already looking ahead.  I have presented at this conference several years and always appreciate the people who attend my sessions. This year was no different. I led a session about Digital Breakouts and the educators came ready to participate and learn.  

I also was able to attend other sessions and meet a few of my Twitter PLN in person. Making in-person connections with people I follow and respect online is a great part of summer conferences.

At SC Education and Business Summit (EBS) I presented the Digital Breakouts session twice and a session on maximizing Google Chrome.  It was my first year at EBS and a nice opportunity to connect with new educators as well as see a few familiar faces. I am impressed that these educators are committed to preparing our students for the workforce.  My session attendees were full of energy (and a little competitive with those breakouts!). It makes me so happy to think that something I shared might help others this coming school year and beyond.

In July I was part of our District 5 LeaD5 professional development days.  These days deserve their own blog post because they were an incredible chance to learn, grow and plan together.  I appreciate that our district invests in its own people and recognizes the talent and skills our teachers have to share.  I also appreciate the staff in my own school who I met with in the last few weeks to plan for this coming school year.

Besides conferences or in person opportunities, the summer was also filled with professional reading, listening and online learning.  

I had a chance to read Tech with Heart and EdRenaline Rush and re-read Learning Transformed – all of which I’d recommend!  I also have more great education books to finish (the list keeps growing).

I also caught up on some podcasts. Teaching with Keating and Shukes & Giff were probably my summer favorites, but there are so many good ones out there.  Check out http://www.edupodcastnetwork.com/ for suggestions.  

I also enjoyed the online Teach with Tech conference – 3 days packed full of mini-sessions on a variety of edtech topics.  I’m glad I paid to have the option to go back and watch the videos since there were more sessions than I could keep up with.  

And on top of the more “formal” types of learning, following dedicated educators on Twitter allows for numerous opportunities to grow.  I learn so much from the little and big things people share on Twitter.

While I technically did not “work” from June 10-August 13 this summer, I don’t think I could ever truly take a summer “off.”  When you love learning like educators do, learning goes on all year round. I always want to learn more so I can be better at my job and help more people. 

I’m even more ready to start 2019-20 school year because of the opportunities I’ve had this summer.

Leading with Purpose: What is your WHY? Keynote by Thomas Murray

Last week I attended and presented at the South Carolina Midlands Summit (@SCMSummit) hosted by the fabulous instructional technology team in Richland District Two.  I loved the sessions I attended (and probably need a separate post about them), but I think my best decision at the conference was to attend an extended 2 hour session with Tom Murray called “Leading with Purpose.”

6/12/19 with Tom Murray @SCMSummit


I met Tom in 2017 when he came to our school district as a part of Future Ready Schools (read more about Future Ready at https://futureready.org/).  After that visit, I also bought his book co-authored with Eric SheningerLearning Transformed: 8 Keys to Designing Tomorrow’s Schools Today. I already knew and loved Eric’s work from FETC.  Learning Transformed is an awesome read for any educator. I also love connecting with both of these educators on Twitter – @Thomascmurray  and @E_Sheninger .

But back to last week.  

Like many educators, I was tired and overwhelmed. Tired after a busy school year that ended the Friday before.  Overwhelmed thinking about all I need to do this summer to make sure my teachers, staff and students have a great 2019-20 school year. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get out of Tom’s session, but I knew I’d enjoy it.  And did I ever. It was JUST what this tired and overwhelmed educator needed the first week of summer break.

Tom started us with the most important question of all – WHY?  What drives you? What is your why?

He gave us time to think, reflect, and write about this.  As I sat writing for several minutes I found that I could feel some of the tension leave me.  Just spending time refocusing on my why helped me drown out some of the noise I often let overwhelm me when I think about my role in my school.

My stream of consciousness writing included:

  • Make a difference
  • Be a person who makes something (anything) better for someone else: easier, more meaningful, more engaging, more fun
  • Help people feel success and create new things
  • Help people be their best selves
  • Keep growing and challenging myself
  • Encourage others to grow
  • Reach new people

What a gift it was to have the time to stop and think.  Thank you, Tom.

The rest of his session was just as amazing.  Tom talked about leaders vs managers and how both are important.  He encouraged us to balance the time we spend working in each of these roles.  As someone who can immerse myself in the managerial part of my job, I needed the reminder.

Throughout the session, Tom built in intentional time for reflection and for talking to others.  I was able to meet and share with a few assistant principals and teachers attending from other districts.  

Tom also focused on relationships and how we build them in our schools.  He challenged us to reach out to someone in our school building and thank them for the work they do every day (PS – Tom – I sent my note today!).  Tom also talked about how every faculty meeting is an opportunity to model your expectations and build relationships. We did two brief get to know each other activities that I look forward to bringing back to my school.  

The last thing from Tom’s session that I want to mention here is Tom’s discussion about fear.  He reminded us that the best things in life are on the other side of fear. He shared a video of Will Smith telling a story about the fear he had leading up to the first time he went skydiving.  That story stuck with me. Why are we more afraid before the scary thing than we are after or during? What could we accomplish if we faced our fears? And no – no skydiving for me any time soon!

If we are clear in our WHY, we can Face Everything And Rise.

Thank you, Tom, for an inspiring morning that was just what this tired and overwhelmed educator needed!

Teamwork is the dreamwork

Anyone who knows me knows I like to be organized, and I like to be in charge. I think and plan WAY ahead and like systems and clear processes. I think these traits are part of what make me good at my job as a Digital Integration Specialist. But what’s made me better at my job over the last 6 years is being willing to get help and work with a larger team.

I am so fortunate to work with people in my school and in my district who are smart, passionate, and committed to making learning the best experience it can be for our students. This includes co-teaching with classroom teachers, working alongside our administrators, and helping our support staff. I also am part of a team of district Digital Integration Specialists – #FabuDIS5 . We are all incredibly dedicated to what we do and the talent in the group amazes me.

But for today’s reflections and celebration, I’d like to focus on the DFHS Technology Teacher Leaders (TTLs). These are full-time classroom teachers who also work to help train and support our teachers with all aspects of educational technology. Each year interested teachers participate in a rigorous application process (technology skills test, interview and recommendations). Once selected each TTL serves a 2 year “term.” We have 5 TTLs at our school each year.

Our first Tech Team – Kate Mewborne, Julie Vandiver, Justin Jones, Barry Lindler, Molly Dawson and me.

I started as a Technology Teacher Leader (TTL) in the 2012-13 school year. I was part of an incredible team led by Julie Vandiver. This was the year leading up to our 1:1 iPad rollout, and this team worked hard to get teachers ready to embrace this new technology. We spent a lot of time on the practical “how-to” part of iPads, but also tried to include the “whys” and help teachers what might be possible with technology.

Since then, each year, we’ve had a team of 5 classroom teachers and one Digital Integration Specialist (me) to lead our school in instructional technology planning, goal setting and training. And I have to say I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. We’ve been able to do so much more than I ever could have done as just one person. We’ve reached more content areas, more levels of students, and more teachers working together as a team.

2018-19 Technology Teacher Leaders: Rebecca Valencia, Brittany Holden, me, Kate Mewborne, Molly Dawson, and Jennifer Gray.

I wish I could put my hands on photos from each of those teams right now, but I can’t. Still, each member of this team over the years has played an important role. We have challenged each other and ourselves to BE better and DO better. We see ourselves as servant leaders dedicated to helping our teachers and students however we can.

Recently, I had the privilege of notifying the newest TTLS that they had been selected. I am SO EXCITED about our new team (as, truthfully, I am each year, since each year’s team has its own strengths and its own energy.) The new 2019-20 TTLs joined us for our final 2018-19 meeting. I can’t wait to see what this group does next year!

Inviting the “Real World” In

Friday was one of those days that makes you excited and proud to be an educator – especially at my school.  I had a chance to be a part of three different, yet important, learning opportunities. As I started to tweet about them on Friday, I realized, 280 characters would not do them justice. I needed a blog post.

Opportunity #1 – Learning from our Graduates @ClassroomMosaic @barrylindler

Ben & Tyler – Classroom Mosaic Founders

Barry Lindler, our Computer Science teacher, invited two of his former students back to Dutch Fork to talk to his Computer Programming 2 Honors students.  Ben Gustafson & Tyler Smith learned computer programming while at DFHS and started their own company right out of high school. Read their story at https://welcome.classroommosaic.com/about.  On Friday, Ben and Tyler shared their journey with our students including early drafts and iterations of the classroom observation software.  But what I liked best was learning from their experiences and the advice they gave our students. One thing Ben said really stuck with me: “There is no better way to learn to do something than to start to try to do it.”  Which leads me to opportunity #2 . . .

#2 – Skype Call with Paul Chavez @Chavez_Fndn  @Zorro_Platead0  @Skype

Sra Emily Arroyo, one of our Spanish teachers, is taking my Authentic Technology Integration and Instructional Design graduate course. As part of that class, the teachers must try some sort of video call as a way to increase communication.  Sra Arroyo decided that since today, March 31st, is Cesar Chavez Day, she would reach out to the Chavez foundation (https://chavezfoundation.org/) and ask them to talk to her Spanish 2 students about Chavez and his activism.  The foundation said yes, and even better, Sra Arroyo emailed with Cesar Chavez’s grandson and found out her class would get to Skype with Paul Chavez, Cesar Chavez’s son!  Sra Arroyo was SO excited.

Paul Chavez, Cesar Chavez’s son, talks to Spanish 2 students #CesarChavezDay

Before Friday, we made sure the technology was ready.  Everything went great on the day of the call. Paul Chavez spoke to the students and answered their questions for almost 30 minutes.  His message was one of hope and perseverance. Despite the incredibly different situations, I found myself noticing similarities between his words and those of Ben and Tyler.  Chavez reminded the students that every person can make a difference and that you only fail when you give up. Which leads me to opportunity #3. . .

#3 – AP Research Capstone Presentations @CollegeBoard @MrsBHolden

AP Research Practice Presentations

Tomorrow, our first group of AP Research students will present their final projects.  These presentations will be recorded and sent to College Board as the final pieces in what has been a year long process.  On Friday, Brittany Holden, their AP Research teacher, invited parents and teachers into our media center to give the students one last chance to present their ideas before the “big day.”  These students and the research they have done are amazing. Their topics are as diverse as the students themselves. A few examples include, “The Effect Of Emulsion Properties On The Delivery Of Resveratrol,” “The Madden Julian Oscillation and Eyewall Replacement Cycles,” and “The Use of Demographic Information to Predict an Individual’s Opinion on Felon Disenfranchisement in the United States.”  Wow! Besides the students’ confidence in themselves and their research, I also loved that parents and others were able to be involved, ask questions and give feedback.

When I think about Friday as a whole, I am thankful for my job and the teachers and students I get to work with everyday.  I am also thankful for the opportunities these teachers (and many others at our school) provide our students; they provide chances for them to learn from the “real world.”  And, finally, I am thankful that the message these students heard on Friday was that hard work matters and that they can make amazing things happen. This is one of the most important lessons in education.

Teamwork & Personalized PD

For our March PD, our administration asked us to offer our instructional technology professional development during teachers’ planning periods instead of on our delayed Wednesday morning time. I love to try something different, but I was concerned about teachers’ reception to meeting during planning periods. Our 110 teachers are already pulled in so many directions during this time each day, so I knew I had to make the PD meaningful and relevant. I am thankful that I have a team of 5 full-time teachers who also work as Technology Teacher Leaders (TTLs) to help create meaningful PD experiences for our teachers.

  • Step 1 – Survey our teachers. This year’s instructional tech PD sessions have offered choice and they have tied to our school focus on reflection. For March, I wanted to expand beyond reflection. So we created a Google Form with a few simple questions – some multiple choice, but also an open-ended question asking them what they’d like to learn about or a problem they’d like us to try to help solve.
  • Step 2 – Review results of our form. The TTLs and I met during the part of an in-service day to review the results. We sorted them by block and looked at what skills/tools our teachers most wanted to learn about. We also looked at whether they were more interested in taking a deep dive into a single tool/strategy or learning about several tools.
  • Step 3 – Create a schedule. It was clear that our teachers had varied needs and wanted different things out of our PD time. We chose the most popular requests for each of the 4 blocks and decided we would offer 2 “Learn” sessions each planning period – where a TTL or myself would lead a group. In a “Learn” sessions we would teach about a tool and its application with plenty of time for questions and some time for them to try the tool themselves. To meet the needs of the other teachers who really just wanted time to explore on their own, we decided to create resources for those teachers to use during our PD day.
Our Google Slides PD Resource for our Tech PD day. All of the bottom icons were linked to Google Doc resources for our teachers.
  • Step 4 – Create resources. I love to read about edtech resources and applications and have gathered many resources – mostly collected in Evernote, our school’s internal website, and Google Drive. We wanted to gather the resources into one place for this PD. Each TTL took a topic (or 2) and created a one page Google Doc of resources and suggestions. I created the remaining resources. We then made those Docs viewable inside our district. I created a one page Google Slides with the schedule for the Learn sessions and then icons for each of the Explore options. By using the “Publish to the web” option in Slides, this became a simple “flier” for our day with interactive links.
  • Step 5 – PD Day! Thanks to a donation from our pep club, we had snacks and some door prizes each block throughout the day. Teachers came to our Media Center during their 85 minute planning period for 45 minutes of tech PD time. They could chose to attend one of the Learn sessions or find a spot in the rest of the Media Center to explore resources, collaborate and create. At least one member of our instructional tech team was available to help those who chose to explore.
One teacher’s reflection via Google Drawings
  • Step 6 – Collect Feedback. At our school, we run all PD through “Zone” Google Classroom groups – teachers are divided into 4 groups based on the administrator who oversees their department. I created a simple Google Drawing for them to write about their learning: “something you learned or liked from today’s Tech PD time,” “something you plan to try to do as a result of today’s Tech PD,” and “something you’d like help with or something we could plan for a future PD.” I chose a Drawing instead of our usual forms, so they could have some experience with a new tool and see possibilities for the “make each student a copy” feature in Google Classroom.

Based on the comments during our PD and the responses in the Google Drawings, the day was mostly a success. Teachers found ways tools like Google Forms, Sites, Slides, Screencastify, and Adobe Spark could help them and their students meet their learning goals. I love being able to provide choice for teachers in their professional learning.

A day like this would not be possible without a great team of leaders who work together to create meaningful PD and teachers who are willing to learn and explore and continuously improve their teaching to meet the needs of all students.

#DFHSPride #Pridein5

From PD to Practice – SMART Suite

The first Wednesday morning of April was our monthly instructional technology professional development time.  Like we did in February, I arranged for a variety of teachers to share a tool or type of integration in short sessions (11 minutes).  We had 3 sessions in a row and teachers went to whatever sessions interested them.

Here are the sessions we offered:

Sessions

I shared SMART Learning Suite Online and some of the SMART Activities teachers can use for review, assessment and/or engagement.

For these quick sessions, I created two activities for my teachers to participate in as students: “Shout it Out” and “Monster Quiz.”  Teacher joined my room and tried these two activities.

SMARTech

The teachers who attended commented that they could see many different ways to use these and the other activities.  We talked about how using activities like “Shout it Out” give all students a chance to offer feedback.

Today, a teacher who attended one of the sessions stopped me in the hall.  She was so excited because she used “Shout it Out” as part of a discussion, and it worked so well.  She told me that all students shared ideas in all three of her categories (including the students who do not normally participate).  She was so appreciative of having a chance to learn something during a PD session that she could quickly use in her classroom – and something that helped engage her students and get feedback from all of them.

She also shared that she’d thought about not trying SMART Suite because she wasn’t sure how it would work and it was an important lesson.  But then she pushed herself to try something new because she knew it had potential to improve her lesson.  Kudos to her!

I am thankful this teacher shared her successes with me. I appreciate her enthusiasm and her willingness to try something new!  And if it hadn’t worked well this time, that would have been okay too – she would have taken a chance to help improve her classroom.  What more can we ask for from our teachers.

PD to Practice – Just how it should be!  #PDtoPractice