Over the winter break, I truly took a break from work.  That included a break from Twitter, education reading, and podcast listening for most of the time as well.  I felt like I needed the time for myself and my family. It was completely worth it.

As January 1 approached and I spent a little time online, I noticed many people tweeting about their 2020 #oneword.  

I love the #oneword concept and have incorporated it into a graduate course I teach.  I love trying to find a word or phrase that can encompass a goal and give you focus.  

As I read through different words from people around the world, I started to wonder what my new word should be for 2020.  What do I want to focus on? Should I wait until summer to pick a word? (As a teacher back to school time can be a more natural goal-setting time than Jan 1).

But then I remembered that I already had a #oneword! 

Hmmm – seems like I might have lost my focus if I forgot I had a #oneword!  I scrolled through my blog to try to find my #oneword only to realize that I had not written a post about it – but I had made a graphic in Adobe Spark and posted it on Twitter.   (Note: I did write a post about my 2018 word – positive).

My 2019-20 #oneword is CONNECTIONS – and now I’m writing a blog post about it!

My #oneword – Made with Adobe Spark

I am also going to print two copies of my graphic – one for my home office and one for my school desk – so I can refer to it more often.  But even though I haven’t kept the #oneword front and center, I realize I have been focusing on CONNECTIONS. I guess CONNECTIONS was a natural fit for my year.

To me, choosing the word CONNECTIONS was about trying to improve CONNECTIONS between:

  • Me and my DFHS colleagues
  • Me and our DFHS students
  • Me and District 5 colleagues
  • Me and educators outside of my physical community – yeah PLN!
  • Our technology goals and school/pedagogy goals
  • Various content areas
  • My goals and how I spend my time

While I can always work to improve CONNECTIONS, I’m happy with what I’ve been able to do so far this school year in this area.

Some of the opportunities I’ve had to strengthen CONNECTIONS since the summer include:

  • Working with my Technology Teacher Leaders (TTLs) and teachers in all departments in our school both one-on-one and in teams
  • Working side-by-side with students at iCare (our school technology help desk) and in numerous classes
  • Collaborating with other Digital Integration Specialists through co-teaching a social media graduate course, starting our #Listenin5 podcast, and through District 5 #LeaD5 professional development 
  • Traveling to TCEA in Austin to work with educators on the first steps of ISTE Educator Certification
  • Participating in Twitter chats and other Twitter conversations with people from around the world.
  • Collaborating with my Assistant Principal for Instruction and my TTL team to create connected instructional technology PD opportunities for our teachers

What a year 2019-20 has been so far!  I can’t wait to build even more authentic CONNECTIONS in the second half of the year.

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


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.   


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
  • 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!