Follow by Email

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Professional Development and - Students?

Professional Development - learning for teachers - should take students into account not just as the "targets" or recipients of what teachers will put in place in the classroom - but - as the active participants in a school wide learning community including teacher PD.  What might this mean?

Students are the largest stakeholder in schools or districts by measure of numbers and impact on their lives and their future. Yet they are routinely not brought into planning, decision-making, and thinking and even being informed about the integral components that will impact them for the rest of their lives.

Recently I worked with a school district in Missouri helping them design their PD program and brought up the idea of students as co-learners, even teachers, and as consultants in the design of how and what their teachers might learn.  Schools are using students in meaningful ways as co-learners and as teachers at The Urban School in San Francisco, and with many schools employing GenYes - just for instance.

Why not bring students into PD design, into your planning and goals, into sessions with teachers, why not have them learn along with the teachers?  If students need to know inquiry-based learning and how to ask deeper and more meaningful questions - and if your teachers need to create classroom goals that are deep and meaningful - why not combine this so that teachers and students consider deeply overarching important questions and goals - together.  If your school or district establishes yearlong goals   which are incorporated into teaching - have a student group that helps plan and create the content that will be taught.

Let students see "behind the curtain" that teachers are learners, too. Let teachers openly share with their students what they are learning about and ask students questions about how they view this learning and their suggestions for improvement.  Teachers can tell students that they never stop learning and give examples and bring up some of their "homework" and ask students how they might approach some ideas.

We speak of Learning Communities and Learning Environments - yet we just assume that students are already members of these communities because they are the targeted learners.  Take them out of the "end result" position and put them closer to all the learners actively engaged in the activities of planning and co-constructing knowledge.  You will be surprised at how much they know and what they are thinking about - and how engaged they will likely be with the process.

Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay run the excellent Flat Classroom Project which you can join with your students.  But how will your school flatten all learning so that students are more than the end recipients and instead move up to a place of full participation in a vibrant learning community of all children and adults - including PD?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Conferences That Work - And Why I'm Loving This Book

I am reading this book Conferences that Work - Creating Events That People Love by Adrian Segar.  I've known Adrian for quite a while since attending the excellent edACCESS conference for the first time while an IT director at an independent school some time ago.  I'd seen the book in pdf version when Adrian asked me and several others to give feedback, I thought it was great then, now think it's even better in print (and check out the Web site as well which is descriptive and will start your creative juices flowing.)

However I'm not planning a conference right now, I'm redesigning a 2-day workshop Middle and High School teachers in Iowa at a school district about to go 1-to-1.  Why would the idea of peer conferences be applicable for a workshop of teachers?  Because, frankly, most PD (professional development) does not deliver what teachers and administrators want - real learning, understanding, and applicability to the point of meaningful replication in the classroom.  And also while we're being honest here, I am becoming less and less interested in the stand-and-deliver version of presentations - keynoting, presenting face-front sessions, watch me and I'll show you things and hope to make it fun and exciting and also try to involve you.

I want everyone to get their hands dirty myself included and to experience what adult learners need - practical ideas they can use, mediated by their own needs, opportunities to do and not just view, time to try and experiment and experience possibilities, metacognitive time to discuss what they are learning and what they are grappling with, and something they will come away with and have to use again at the end.

So thank you Adrian for an excellent book the elements of which will be included in a future workshop for me, even though it won't be a "conference" per se.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

#iste11 - ISTE 2011 - Trends I noticed

I've been going to ISTE since about 1998 or so, have presented at maybe 7 or 8. It has been interesting seeing it grow and change and to take note of what seems to be trending every year.

This year I noticed back channels in just about every session (oh except that one where they gave us pieces of paper from a notebook to write down our questions which were then collected), hashtags to follow, QR Codes (which I am particularly intrigued by), iPads everywhere used by attendees and as raffle items, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) discussions rather than just providing laptops, flash mobs, and pretty good to excellent keynotes. The Blogger Cafe was cramped and too small imho but still where great things were discussed, the poster sessions with students was bigger than previously (yay!) and had great presentations such as by Kristin Sigler and her awesome students, the book section was larger (yay!) and comfortable shoes were de rigueur because of how many buildings were involved and how long it took to walk from one place to another (passing time needed perhaps!) I saw some great sessions including a panel of PA coaches from the Classrooms for the Future project and it was wonderful to see Holly Jobe from PA and lead of the aforementioned CFF, who is so talented and experienced yet ever gracious and humble, take the stage as ISTE president.

I am continually inspired by the energy and innovation of my fellow educators. It is why I stay in this space and why I am continually inspired.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Knitting Your Own Bones

I will be leaving soon for the drive to Philadelphia where I teach a grad class entitled "Emerging Technologies for the Classroom and Corporation" (GRIT550 at Chestnut Hill College). In addition to the great pleasure it is for me to get to know the hard-working adult teachers and other professionals who take the class, and to hear their ideas, it keeps me dwelling in K-12, new technologies, and what is happening in areas needing instructional technology. This is in addition to my full-time job now as Product Manager at which also keeps me in the K-12 space along with managing and leading teams in how products are envisioned, designed, programmed, rolled out, implemented, assessed, and scaled up for the market.

But back to GRIT550. One of the themes of this class is to "knit your own bones." This is an old-fashioned phrase my mother used. The idea is that when you break your arm, doctors do not go in and operate (usually) but instead immobilize the arm with a cast so that the bones themselves will heal and eventually "knit" and one day your arm will be okay. An x-ray will show that there was a break but for most intents and purposes, your arm is now healed and usable.

This applies to learning technology because if you knit your own bones, find ways to solve your own problems and issues, don't get the "answer" (e.g. surgery - or having the professor or someone else tell you precisely what to do and how to do it) you have now grown and expanded and you own the new bone you grew yourself. Like with the x-ray evidence, you can relate in detail to others what it took to grow this new "bone"/technology or other knowledge.

So instead of giving a step-by-step tutorial with everyone taking notes while I show how to use Wikispaces, Weebly, Glogster, or Google sites (the four tools they may chose from for the project which has components due during the course) everyone must learn the tool through the online help or another source. If students get stuck, I ask that everyone go to 1. the help for the tool 2. your PLN (and part of the class is choosing and expanding your PLN) 3. another student 4. "the Google" or another search vehicle. Of course I am to be asked as well but often that results in my posing questions about 1., 2., 3., and 4. with some more suggestions about PLN sources of help.

And an x-ray of my "bones" will show evidence of years and years of knitting as well.

Monday, March 28, 2011

1-to-1: The Next Generation

I am hoping to get 1-to-1 schools or districts to respond to my survey 1-to-1: The Next Generation. Results will be used for a blog post here; at and at the Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation. Thanks if you can participate - feel free to forward to others as well.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Just got off a conference call with a school district in Wisconsin. One of the topics was sustainability of 1-to-1 programs and my first thought was "funding" - that if the program isn't funded year after year and if the people, resources, hardware and infrastructure don't have the financial support to move forward, the program will languish and possibly fail.

But this school district brought up the sustainability of Professional Development. The light bulb went off in my head.

Here's a possible sustainability list:

1. Funding (hardware, software, applications, infrastructure, resources, support, people)
2. Professional Development - most schools/districts will have an initial "let's get going" PD plan with all attention on teachers and the classroom - but how is this maintained/refreshed year after year? If after say 4 years the school/district has 25% new teachers and maybe another 10% teaching something different - can the remaining 65% of teachers who benefitted from the initial PD carry it forward? Without a plan - doubtful.
3. Leadership - again after several years leaders will move on or move to other spots - do the administrators and teacher leaders still have the initial goals still clearly in focus?
4. Goals - do the initial goals still work and are they sustainable as it or do they need a refresh, update, clarification
5. Measurement - if the goals need refreshing so will the metrics
6. Tech support staff - skills, goals, etc. Has there been turnover in the people supporting the program and if so how have they been brought onboard?

Many schools/districts get high grades on the rollout because so much attention, time, resources, and money is involved. Sustainability needs to also be considered. Your rollout plan ought to also have a Sustainaibility Plan.