I love science fiction. Growing up, Star Trek and Star Wars were activities I looked forward to watching. In fact, even today, every time our family does "family paint night", I always paint something with a Star Wars character on it. Science fiction brings us a curiosity of what could be. Think about the technologies that are shown in the shows and movies of Star Trek. Some things seem really far off today, some not so much. That tele-communicator that Captain Kirk held in the series looks less futuristic than our new iPhones today.
Technology has a symptom of having exponential change. Just look at this list of the largest companies by market value. The differences between 2011 and 2017 are incredible. We are in the midst of a cultural shift in society. Which brings me to how do we prepare for this shift?
As an educator, how do we build a learning environment that prepares kids for jobs that don't exist?
We have to look at education as the vehicle for the future. That begins with the classroom and working our way up through the system. Recently, I led a session in our District Leadership Team meeting that focused on the classroom. We used a design thinking process to identify problems we see in the current classroom setup.
I started the empathy portion of the session with an experience in the HoloLens, an augmented reality device. Eileen Heller had some content that gave the user a flyover of today and present some history around Rome. To give everyone an experience, we wirelessly displayed the what the person saw on the large screen for everyone.
It was important for us to set the curiosity stage for what could be, just as watching Star Wars and Star Trek did for me as a kid. So we watched this video excerpt by Futurist Edie Weiner on the Future of Work at the Australia Summit 2018. Here is a link to the full video.
From there we went into a process of identifying some of the problems, empathize, the first part of the design thinking process. We watched two videos of classroom interactions, one very traditional, and one that was still traditional but involved some differences in classroom setup. We watched both videos for a couple of minutes and then filled out a Padlet of reflection questions:
Those reflections ended our first session. The second session was to define what could be. This was fun. We went through a series of questions, the first coming from an idea I got from the book, Humanizing the Education Machine.
The introduction of the smart phone, and particularly the iPhone had a profound impact on society. Combine that with the introduction of social media, and culture began to change because of communication. Each and every person gets this, because they personally relate to it.
We used this activity to help reflect on what the classroom characteristics should be. It was important not to begin to make suggestions as we still haven't progressed across the design thinking process yet. But some of the identified characteristics that we aligned to the same Pedagogical, Environment, Engagement activity we did in the empathy activity included:
I am in the process of creating our next activity for the ideate area of design thinking process. We will begin to think about space and time in the classroom. Space and Time is a gear of the Future Ready Framework that many states, districts, and schools align to.
It is so important to redesign that learning experience as we know:
On the Book: Humanizing the Education Machine
This book helped me personally identify my own differences with my kids. It is so easy to say, "Well when I grew up..." Loved this quote from Chapter 10:
Great book, here are my quotures from each chapter. Well worth the read to help ignite a spark to prepare our students for what is next.
One chapter a day. That has been the challenge for this book and nineteen others. Many times it is easy, the focus is strong, and sometimes the chapter is like an eight-course meal, tough to get through. Throughout these books, we have started some processes and traditions. OneNote is used to create notes, most of which we type out particular phrases and highlights that influence and interest us. We also create what we call "quotures," the phrase(s) that stood out to us from each chapter. Then we tweet it sharing our experience with the greater community on our journey through each book.
This particular book is one of four books introduced to us by our new Superintendent, Dr. Cheryl Logan. Each book built upon the fundamentals of leadership, highlighting the importance of relationship building, but each being unique in their approach.
In Chapter 3, Kim outlined superstars and rock stars. Immediately, I knew where I fit personally. If a challenge isn't there, I get bored. It has been a perspective that I have had for quite some time, and contributes to my learning growth. I have personal procedures and routines down and had to when we moved up to Omaha:
"Be relentlessly insistent on bringing your fullest and best self to work—and taking it back home again."
Work/Life balance for me is not realistic. It doesn't fit my personality or work ethic. Work-life integration as outlined in this book, more represents how I personally have approached it. This does present some challenges to the people that I lead, and will describe further below.
As a Leader
The last couple of books we have read have really emphasized the power of relationships in leadership. I love this quote from Jim Knight's Better Conversations book:
Many times, especially in the technology environment of constant change, end users believe something is being done to them. Being a technology leader, I observe this from time to time. As we subscribe our collaboration services to cloud environments such as Microsoft, Google, etc., we relinquish some of that authority of change to whatever platform you utilize. Doesn't seem too empathetic, does it? It is so essential as leaders, no matter what industry you are in, to introduce empathy into your daily activity. It isn't easy. A couple of weeks ago right in the beginning of our ERP go-live, I decided to go to a location where a significant process change that would affect hundreds of users in that building, specifically first thing in the morning. I spent two hours each day assisting those users first hand, listening to them, and understanding their frustration through that change. I needed to do that to know where they were coming from. It helped me to explain to our project team more accurately and with more emphasis on where we needed to focus and to care about the effect of the change. Kim talks about caring quite a bit through the book is characterized by this quoture by Eileen with great clarity:
The whole IMS team that I get the opportunity to lead is amazing. We do such great work. Probably one of my favorite memories just happened this week. At our principal's meeting, heavy agenda items were delivered through the meeting, but behind the scenes, our work was happening. The whole meeting agenda, presentations, etc. were being handled in Microsoft Teams for the first time, and incredible data dashboards were being shown the last agenda. We were behind the scenes of all of it. As a department, I couldn't be happier with our progress. We have an incredible staff, and their effort shows as it is weaved throughout everything we do as a district. Kim says it right in Chapter 1:
An interactive look at our technology progress from the video reflection
Kimball Scott had a special section in "Radical Candor" for "How to Use this Book" and explained that it provided a step-by-step approach for building Radically Candid relationships with your direct reports. I don't have any direct reports. My view going into this book will be very different from Rob's. I looked back on my life for a time that I had direct reports as a boss and other than a random management role at McDonald's in high school and a summer camp manager role in college, I had no experience as a boss. Scott shared in the book that your key responsibility as a boss is: to guide your team to achieve results. When I was part way through the book, I realized many of the strategies she provided aligned to my role as a teacher with my direct reports being my students. I couldn't hire nor fire them, but there are a number of similarities to what she suggests to get someone to perform at their best. Specifically she shared strategies for building relationships to get to know each direct report personally. To find out what motivates them. She suggested having one-on-one conversations about their lives to see where big life changes occurred as that was a window into what motivates them. As you learn more about them, you can do goal setting with them and provide feedback. These are all strategies a classroom teacher employs when working with students to perform. The skills gained as a teacher does not guarantee the aptitude to be an effective boss, but it does give a level of experience that can translate.
Below is an excerpt from Chapter 3:
To keep a team cohesive, you need both rock stars and superstars, she explained.
Rock stars are solid as a rock.
Superstars, on the other hand, need to be challenged and given new opportunities to grow constantly.
This statement really made me explore my role on our instructional technology training team. I shifted back and forth on if I would be a "rockstar" or a "superstar". There is great value in both on a team. I know that I like to be challenged and given new opportunities to grow, but I also know I'm solid on my focus to stay on our team. I'm not looking for opportunities outside of it yet in the short term 3-5 or even 10 years. When I look further, I wonder if I would like an opportunity to grow beyond and serve in a role with direct reports? She did state, "Not every superstar wants to manage." This year I was accepted into a leadership cohort in our district called LAUNCH that provides opportunities to learn skills needed for a role in administration. I felt this book was a good first tiptoe into that world. It gave practical examples, allowed me to look at what the role of a boss entails, and assured me that no matter how hard or lonely it may feel, it can also be greatly rewarding. I'm not sure where I will land in the future, but for now I will stay curious and seek growth.
From every book we have had a chance to read, it has created a deep space of reflection. I look for ways it connects to my past, current, and future life. I notice little nuggets of each book guiding how I handle situations. In the video below, I share a story of two scenarios that the strategies in Radical Candor helped me through this week. Specifically how Kimball Scott explains being "radically candid":
"Radical Candor™ is the ability to Challenge Directly and show you Care Personally at the same time. Radical Candor will help you and all the people you work with do the best work of your lives and build the best relationships of your career."
Relationships are core to the learning process and are woven into every classroom in Omaha Public Schools. It is no different in the workplace. This book provides excellent insight into the power of that engagement and what steps you can take as a leader or any other position you encompass. The best part of this book is the experience Kim Scott brings to the table, her accomplishments and what she sees as her challenges. A great read for anyone, in any position.
Feedback loops are extremely important in any sized organization. In education, and particularly in the classroom, we use them to check and affirm understanding that is manageable and focused on our learning targets. In leadership, these loops provide specific, non-evaluative feedback information to assist in decision making processes.
In Omaha Public Schools, one of the foundational programs for collaboration is Microsoft Teams. I have posted previously about Microsoft Teams and won’t go into its power to utilize the power of conversation through the use of artifacts.
Within this platform, two applications come to mind when it comes to interacting with feedback. The first is Microsoft Forms. Forms allow just about any user to create a user friendly, mobile ready, form that outputs into an Excel Online spreadsheet. Feature rich, it allows for branching, adding artifacts to questions such as videos and pictures, and real time results. Teachers can use it for quizzes, formative assessments, and surveys. You can take this experience one step further by utilizing Microsoft Flow to extend it’s capabilities.
As you can see above, I have extended two particular form capabilities with Microsoft Flow. One feeds multiple email lists based upon the drop down selection used in the form to direct the recipient of the form information. The other flow transports the form information to multiple entities based upon the needs identified within the form. Check out the form templates that are already available and ready to setup via Microsoft Flow.
Next is my favorite. If you want to take feedback to another level, look no further than Flipgrid. A couple of months ago, Microsoft purchased the platform and made it free to everyone. A media rich platform, Flipgrid offers the ability to gather feedback via video. As a tool for teaching modern communication skills, Flipgrid is nothing short of brilliant. Students can watch and hear themselves, and they’re in complete control–they can re-record themselves as many times as they want before they upload their response to the grid. This summer I decided to engage our Verizon Innovative Schools with a Flipgrid to share the experience of using an iPad exclusively as their primary device for the whole week.
As you can see by my Flipgrid above, everything presented in an organized grid – which makes it highly visual, easy to navigate, and assess. Using video makes the participants engage differently, in a way that makes you think about thinking. Utilizing the social media talents of our society today, it breathes new life into typically a mundane process. What can I say but that I have the Flipgrid Fever. Using the two above tools, you can boost production of feedback loops to provide the necessary information for your classroom or district.
Device experiences have come a long way. I remember back in the day before the proliferation of wifi, our laptops were just large heavy bricks and had to be wired or hooked in to dial up to get internet. With the introduction of wifi, cellular data, and mobile devices with modern operating systems that with a moments touch can install a treasure trove of apps that can do everything from ordering your favorite food, Starbucks coffee, and listen to the latest music released as it comes out, our experience on devices have changed. We expect specific experiences out of the gate. As technologies evolve with artificial intelligence, augmented reality, the Internet of Things, and increased bandwidth with 5G rolling out next year, the inputs by which we interact will differ significantly. We will speak more to our devices, and we will gesture more, our visible landscapes will be augmented with artifacts to assist us. In a previous blog post, I explain my movement from mac to surface platform; this was a transition mostly due to the desire to digital ink. That input created for me the ability to bring context to content and amplify my use of OneNote.
I have been on my Surface Pro now for a couple of years. Love it. Recently, Microsoft released a Surface Go, and Friday I got my hands on the smaller device that is student focused. I want to understand the experience authentically, so I will be utilizing this device for a period to get a feel for what students will encounter. As you can see above, it is smaller than the Surface Pro and resembles the size of an iPad. The device was enrolled in our Azure tenant and added to InTune for Education before being handed to me. By the way, if you haven't experienced a login with an Azure bound device, it is incredibly faster than a traditional Active Directory-bound device. The device straight out of the gate was snappy. I decided to see what it could do so I hooked it up to my Surface dock and see if it could drive two 24 inch monitors.
Playing a YouTube video on display 1, interacting with OneNote on display 2, and a browser session on display 3. No freezing, no stutter, or struggle with all of this processing at once. All of the Office applications and Windows Store apps function as they would on my Surface Pro.
I decided to see how the battery would hold up. I would want to challenge it to what would happen in a typical school day. Friday around 2 pm, I took it off the dock which I was testing. It was at about 80% capacity when I undocked it. Saturday, I watched Back to School Live Microsoft EDU event on it in our living room. Saturday afternoon, started writing this blog post and managed my email before putting it to sleep in the evening. Sunday (today) I worked on building a design thinking course in OneNote, read my daily news and information via Flipboard, and finished this blog post all on the Surface Go. No issues, performance was excellent, and the only thing I had to figure out was how to enable the Windows Ink Workspace icon for the taskbar as it wasn't activated when I received it. After three days with this device, I can say it would give an exceptional student experience while delivering that muli-input ability with digital inking. I still haven't charged the device yet as I am finishing this blog post. I will continue to use this device through this month and document the experience via my bulb app district blog/portfolio site.
I love basketball. Every March I'm like a kid in a candy store. My favorite player is Michael Jordan. My dog is named MJ, I have about 20+ pairs of Air Jordans, and my basement is covered with posters dating back to the 90s. My favorite commercial of all time, you guessed it: (not the original, but I like this one better)
This time of year always reminds me of basketball. We set up so many "plays" which I call systems that incorporate the best game "student experience" to generate high engaging learning environments. It never turns out exactly the way you vision for it to; every leader knows that. This year we have an incredible amount of initiatives being deployed, those include:
All of these initiatives require incredible planning, professional development, and effort. It is like a full court press. Yesterday we welcomed nearly 400 new teachers to Omaha Public Schools in our New Teachers Institute and today was our Leadership Kickoff all held at Baxter Arena. Incredible messages were shared, and a twinkle of new vision for what the future holds from our new Superintendent, Dr. Cheryl Logan. Is it busy? You betcha. But I love it, just like I love basketball.
The summer months have started. It is always a transition time for all of us. A time to reflect, a time to process, a time to recharge, and a time to get ready to start another year. When you have kids, even when you aren't in the education sector, you tend to operate around your kid's schedule. In one week we will fly to San Diego for some vacation, but mainly to watch Bailey, my youngest daughter, play volleyball. It will be filled with hiking in the mornings, chilling on the beach, and well, volleyball. This month is also a month of transition. Mr. Evans, who has spent the last five years here in Omaha Public Schools transforming the district, will be retiring. Dr. Logan is transitioning here to Omaha, moving from the Philidelphia/Maryland region. This transition feels so much better than the turmoil that resulted in three candidates backing out of the Superintendent's position one year ago.
Dr. Logan suggested a couple of books for Executive Council to read for our professional development. If you read my blog posts, you know I love to read, #1ChapterADay usually. Primal Leadership has been the first on the list. If I had to summarize the book, I would say it is a deep dive into the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership. It breaks emotional intelligence down into four domains: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. What I enjoyed about the book was it introduced some great examples and breaks the content down into bite-sized portions, what I call "brain food." Below are my bite sized reflections of each chapter broken down into a graphic or what I call a "quoture."
Where does this fit me personally?
If I had to place where my strengths fit into the leadership repertoire, in chapter four, I would select visionary and an equal mixture of democratic and affiliative. Just take a look at my Gallup Strengthsfinder:
The combinations of futuristic and strategic lend themselves to the visionary type of leadership. Throw in woo, and you begin to see the linking of an affiliative kind of leadership. I think if you mix strategic and woo you would see democratic, but if you look at my entire ten strengthsfinder strengths, relationship strength is not one of them.
In closing, this was a great read. As the chapters continued, the content drove deeper into meaning and connections within yourself and how you approach and engage with others. Chapter one of this book delivers it best:
Since we started with our planned obsolescence strategy a couple of years ago in Omaha Public Schools, we have been looking for ways to provide digital equity and access. This was outlined in our strategic plan and resonates across our learning environment now and in the future. Over the past couple of years, through budget cuts, we have tried to find alternative ways to assist in our device deployments. This past year, we came close to deploying 18,000 devices to students across our secondary schools. Through that process, we stumbled upon the Verizon Innovative Learning Initiative, through Digital Promise. This initiative provides devices and internet access through Verizon's LTE data network that targets the digital equity and access pieces by delivering access anywhere, anytime.
The VILs Initiative is unique in that it supplies professional development, planning assistance, as well as resources and funding to provide an instructional technology trainer coupled with an iPad 1:1 for students and staff. In our first planning year, I can see that it is the most intentional, comprehensive initiative I have ever been a part of with a corporate grant/partnership.
Both Norris Middle School and Marrs Magnet Middle School were selected to cohort 5 of the VILs Initiative. Through these cohorts, you have a community of veteran schools and new schools chosen from across the nation that contributes to the success rate of these implementations. Below is a photo of our implementation meeting held in Dallas with Digital Promise and the cohort schools.
Throughout this initiative, I have thought what the student experience would be. In discussion with the school leadership, we thought it would be great to experience a week through the lens of the student experience. This past week we started with a challenge to utilize the iPad as our primary device. Each day we would reflect using Flipgrid to document the journey. Below is the flipgrid with the video reflections.
Our iPad Challenge
I think I learned through that journey that as leaders to bring some empathy and understanding to the student experience, we sometimes need to experience the same environment. It is great to model and provide solutions and ideas so that staff and students feel supported. This week was challenging but an inspiring experience at the same time. I know we will have some fantastic nuggets of excellence coming from both Norris and Marrs as they learn from great practitioners and deliver devices for high technology learners.
About this time each year, I take some time to reflect; my view is around the school year since my career focuses on K-12 education. I struggled with the title of this blog including the term "pride". I remember sitting in church, listening to preachers toss it around like it was the fastest way to a hot place. I wanted to focus on the word pride since the term identifies the amount of transition happening both personally and professionally in my life. Webster’s Dictionary lists two definitions for the word pride — and two that could not be more opposing. The first is “inordinate self-esteem/ conceit.” The second? “A reasonable or justifiable self-respect.”
It turns out that pride does come in two characteristics. One can give you the impulse and courage to become the best variant of yourself. This type of authentic pride comes from hard work and is the variant we will use in this post. Next, I will share some areas I am proud of this year, starting with my kids.
If you were to ask me 22 years ago that I would be married with three children, I would say you are crazy. Today, I am happily married nearly 22 years, and this month my middle child graduates high school. Our family environment doesn't come without some hard work on everyone's part. My daughters have worked through the transition of moving to a new state and took on a tremendous amount of life change.
Last week, Aiyana completed the Lincoln Half Marathon with me even after going to prom the night before. In a couple of weeks, she will graduate from Omaha Central High School. She has worked so hard at what she wants to become. She persevered through a back injury that could have been devastating to her volleyball contributions. She worked through them and won the Varsity Female Player of the Season her junior year. After she graduates, she will continue at Metro Community College with a full scholarship. One thing I have learned with my kids, what we get right and what we get wrong does not ultimately determine who our children become. Our children’s futures aren’t wholly dependent on our ability to perfectly orchestrate their lives.
I have now been in education for 19 years. Time flies. If I were to highlight the person that has influenced me most over the years, one person stands out.
Leadership plays a vital role in education. This year will be my 13th year working for Mark Evans. Mark brings so much to the table as far as leadership. He understands that a leader develops the talent around himself. One thing that defines Mark is his desire to "do what's best for students"; this is his brand, and if you spend even five minutes with him, you will hear this phrase. Mark is approachable and able to hold a conversation with any staff member without intimidating them. He has transformed any district he has led. By far, no one has taught me more about leadership than him. What we have done in Omaha Public Schools is a direct reflection of the leadership he has brought. You will still see his fingerprint in the district from the initiatives and leadership he has brought to Omaha Public Schools. Here are some points of pride district wide we have seen through his leadership lens. These highlight items since the 2016-17 school year and do not reflect many of our accomplishments as a district during the 2017-18 school year.
Center for Digtial Education Large District Summit:
I love to learn, but it hasn't always been this way. I blame technology. I think there was a time when I started bringing technology "projects" home and I would tell my wife Amanda, this won't be in the kitchen area for long, promise. It was sometime during my stint in the military that curiosity started some intrinsic motivation to learn. Since then, it really hasn't stopped. Now it is more organized, back and forth through reading books, articles, and blogs. Retaining and having access to what I learn always moves back to these attributes: save, search, share. That learning lives in a OneNote Notebook called BrainFuel.
At a district level, OneNote is foundational. We use it to manage Executive Council meetings, project organization within Microsoft Project Online, and staff notebooks for multi-level collaboration. That model of collaboration - Content Library "broadcast" (one to many), one to one, and Collaboration Space (many to many) works at the district level and in the classroom. That experience, mixed with the flexibility of handwritten, audio, video, typed, clipped, tagged, linked in a white space, create an environment that anyone could use.
What is disruption?
In the education world there are really two "new years" that we encounter. The one we all celebrate on January 1st and the start of a new school year. Both are a great time to reflect on the last...
My experience with disruption...
What industries are about to get disrupted?
Disruption in Education
Digital Disruption in the Classroom- Eileen's Perspective
Nick's classroom had gone through some changes both in the physical environment with flexible seating opportunities, and the addition of laptops for each student. August 2017, Nick's students were greeted with the newly renovated learning space, but they did not have devices. November 2017, the students in Nick's students went 1:1 with the addition of devices to the AP program. I asked him to share how the transition to devices had been a "disruption" in his classroom in regards to instruction and learning both positively and negatively.
Traditional work flow for my students has also been disrupted. Up until this school year, on-line resources such as Class Notebook have mostly been used as a backup source, “missed class? Check the class notebook for the notes, etc…”, whereas now the Class Notebook and Teams are their primary source of notes, assignments, homework and resources. For some of my students, this disruption has been a net benefit as the old way of distributing handouts and packets meant more paper to lose track of, but now everything is organized in one place. For other students, this disruption has caused an increase in forgetting about assignments or materials because they do have them as physical reminders.
The other disruption that can occur when the technology isn’t working is that it can disrupt a train of thought. My Advanced Placement students become frustrated when the technology isn’t working and it can deter them from continuing to work hard or derail their critical thinking.
Overall, the disruptions from technology are outweighed by the benefits. I am eager to see test results and overall achievement compared to last year without the technology."- Nick Wennstedt
- Meticulous planning for device organization and processing of devices
- Strong base of digital citizenship skills employed and embedded in lessons
- Student led tech support within the classroom or the building
- Teacher receives device first to build skills for instruction and model usage
- Allowing students to learn from students
- Asking for support from our training team with implementation
- Communicating with parents the changes and benefits on learning
- Connecting with other educators that have been through a digital disruption
This was actually the second time reading it...
Just how different is this landscape?
Right now we have many twenty-first-century schools with twentieth-century learning.
Quotures I created along this journey...
- The way we learn—and the way we teach students even the most basic skills—must reflect and capitalize on the technology, information, and people we have access to today.
- We can’t base the way we teach on how we were taught because
- a) we have powerful opportunities at our fingertips, and
- b) the way many of today’s teachers were taught wasn’t effective for all students, even when we were in school.
- a) we have powerful opportunities at our fingertips, and
- My hope is that the future teachers of the world will not recreate what this generation has done but make something far better that is relevant for that generation.
In The Workplace And Home
Balance With Technology
What A Year
With ISTE behind us, it's fun to reflect on the event that it was. You knew it was going to be big when Richard Culatta shared that registrations for ISTE had reached over 21,000. ISTE...
Our Growth As a District
Immersive classroom experience in Microsoft Teams rolling out to Office 365 for Education customers worldwide |
Microsoft Teams is poised to empower students, educators and staff virtually everywhere, with new features rolling out across 181 markets and in 25 different languages. The latest experiences in Microsoft Teams , the digital hub for teachers and students in Office 365 for Education, are designed to help schools achieve more together: by fostering deeply engaged classrooms, strengthening professional learning communities, and tailoring more effective school communication.
- There was no iPhone or iPad
- Social Media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, etc.
- Facebook was still only available for college students
- Mobile apps and the abundance of software wasn't readily available
- The technology around website design wasn't incorporating features such as material design and evolving to your view according to the device you are utilizing
Omaha Public Schools Transformation Through Technology
My Family's Growth
This activity of blogging has been transformative. This will be my 53rd blog post this year. I started blogging January 2017 with the thought I would use this mechanism to reflect on my journey so far. It has increased my writing ability and served as a reminder of the importance of taking a second every so often to reflect and document - thoughts, views, processes that occur personally, in my family, and with our district.
What's In Store For 2018?
Excellence Through Equity
From Chapter 4:
- "Critical care units are generally staffed with the best medical problem solvers."
- "However, I have never seen a good doctor limit or deny a patient high-quality care because he or she has refused to change his or her diet or shun bad habits."
- "Unfortunately, some educators may review a student's data and make quick recommendations without carefully considering the long-term consequences for the student."
- "Too often, we apply interventions with no intent or possibility of correcting or improving the ailment."
- ISTE Standards for Students for Research and Information Fluency
- Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information. Students (a) plan strategies to guide inquiry; (b) locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media; (c) evaluate and select information sources and digital tools; and (d) process data and report results.
- "The four simple strategies—
- (a) commit to listen,
- (b) make sure your partner is the speaker,
- (c) pause before you speak and ask, “will my comment open up or close down this conversation?” and
- (d) don’t interrupt—provided challenge enough.
- Stephen Covey described the importance of listening as a way of understanding another’s paradigm."
It all boils down to relationships....
- "Dialogue is a back-and-forth conversation that enables mutual learning, and there is no need for me to learn when I know it all already. "
- "A dialogical conversation is something we co-construct with others so everyone in the conversation can learn and grow."
A Personal Approach
Remember To Evolve With Technology
Digital Inking isn't new. I remember in the mid 90's messing with an Apple Newton that had a stylus and a program called Calligrapher that introduced hand writing recognition. Later when Personal...
A District or Systems Approach
Define Best Practice For Your Environment
In today's world, we operate as a society outside of the walls of our schools, our businesses, and our homes. The access to mobile devices has expanded our social and professional lives, many times blurring the lines between work and home. Technology has been front of state in the lives of students born between 1982 and 2002.
I chose to write about collaboration because of its increasing usage in our everyday space. Society is changing. My kids interact with a much larger circle of influence than I did growing up. Digital literacy and social media is an inseparable and powerful combination.
- Becoming the "how" inside of the Best Instructional Practices Handbook in two ways. It is important to note that our district guides our educators in lesson development with the yearly release of our "Best Instructional Practices Handbook"
We will incorporate into that guide by:
- Transforming the typical binder style into a OneNote Notebook with lesson templates and pacing guides
- Incorporating best practices around the tools within the handbook - both in instructional technology and 21st Century Learning Design strategies.
- A systemic App Approval Process for Apps and Hardware
Being Introduced To Technology
- Personal Computer
- Artificial Intelligence
What it has been like for my kids....
I am old but not that old....Yet.
Passion & Empathy
As a part of our 5 year Strategic Plan , the district wanted to change the approach of our persistently low achieving schools. Through Mr. Evans leadership, the decision was made to look at high technology strategies to engage teachers, students, and community.
Enough about the bus... Let's talk about students
This is a whole-community effort
We visited Wakonda Elementary's Open House on September 14th as our first "official" event. Our goals going into the evening were two-fold: (1) To test out basic logistics, like connecting devices to...
My Evolution In Computing
Digital Inking isn't new. I remember in the mid 90's messing with an Apple Newton that had a stylus and a program called Calligrapher that introduced hand writing recognition. Later when Personal...
Why Did I Pick The Samsung Note 8?
In the end, will I stay with the Note 8. Yes for this year. Only time will tell if I stay. I can say that if Apple were to make the iPhone X with the Apple pencil compatible, I might reconsider. I do miss the apps that I used to use with my iPhone. However most of the apps that are frequently used are cross platform. The biggest reason I moved was the desire to engage with my smartphone the same way I engage with my Surface Pro tablet. That has mostly been driven by OneNote.
#1 It is more secure
While it appears like a simple measure, single sign-on may dramatically reduce the amount of typing and tapping you do on a mobile phone. Now, when Mrs. Smith wants to read her mail using a web browser, she typically navigates to a webpage like https://www.office.com. For a federated Office 365 domain, Microsoft will not ask for a username and password to log in, but instead redirect the browser to the Identity Provider for authentication.
#2 It saves time
As K-12 and Higher Ed institutions continue their journey from print to digital learning resources, they face a considerable efficiency obstacle - an overwhelming number of usernames and passwords. This Guidebook shows how using Single Sign-on (SSO) helps overcome login challenges and creates efficient access.
#3 It gives focus
#4 It provides a different highway for information
This causes traffic related problems as you can see. No matter what kind of traffic traverses down the network, they have the same contention. The same path. Network security isn't a priority. It isn't aware of identities either.
With Identity Services Engine, the network is identity aware. It is device aware. It is also medium aware - voice, video, data, etc. It also creates paths for downloadable access control lists for security. Simplified access across wired, wireless and virtual private network connections. Policies are cascaded across all types of access points and enforced by software-defined segmentation. This is what we are moving to. It allows for BYOD and 1:1 district deployed environments to act on the same networks.
Let Me Clarify. I'm Inexperienced In This Area.
So Where Does This Fit In The Classroom?
- Most districts can't respond effectively to the rapid rate of change in technology
- Digital Literacy skills are not a part of ongoing professional development growth in staff
- Culture is changing because of technology and policy change doesn't keep up
Create An Innovation Ring
- 1.1.2 - Increase the amount of real-world connections, project-based learning opportunities, and higher order thinking activities both inside and outside of the classroom.
- 2.2.1 - Provide content that is meaningful, engaging, and relevant to all students:
- Include opportunities for creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.
- Develop opportunities for authentic, project-based, and service learning.
- Provide multiple options for student learning (such as face-to-face instruction, blended learning, distance learning, virtual learning, and experiential learning).
- 2.2.6 - Utilize technology to deliver and enhance curricular experiences:
- Ensure equitable access to technology resources for staff and students (see Principle 4, Objective 1).
- Provide professional development on the effective use of technology for district staff (see Principle 3, Objective 4).
- Determine program/technology support to be used for credit recovery.
- Provide appropriate staff with ongoing training and modeling in using individual devices for student accommodations.
- 3.2.1 - Provide varied opportunities for professional development:
- Embed professional development during the school day.
- Utilize alternative scheduling scenarios to increase opportunities for professional development.
- Continue to provide high-quality professional development opportunities through Curriculum Days, the OPS Teaching and Learning Institute, and other district and state level training opportunities.
- Continue to expand professional learning opportunities in partnership with post-secondary and college (credit and non-credit) continuing education programs.
- Involve teachers in multi-year professional development opportunities and/or extension activities. • Involve teachers and staff in the planning and facilitating of professional development opportunities.
- 3.4.2 - Develop, deliver, and assess the effectiveness of targeted technology professional development for administrators, teacher leaders, and teachers:
- Employ a three-pronged approach to professional learning:
- Use of technology and equipment.
- Use of technology and equipment in an educational setting.
- Specific application of the technology and resources within the district curriculum.
- Provide professional learning appropriate to the level of technological expertise of the participant.
- Provide professional learning for coaches who support teachers with teaching and learning strategies to ensure the efficient integration of technology into the classroom.
- Provide resources to support the implementation of new and existing technology or new application of technology in the classroom. • Provide just-in-time learning opportunities to assist staff having difficulties with various aspects of software or hardware use.
- Offer professional learning via multiple formats and learning styles.
- Provide resources needed to research and deliver quality curriculum-specific technology options proven to accelerate student understanding and learning. •
- Provide principals with professional learning on the culture, resources, and support required in a school to integrate technology into the teaching and learning environment.
- Employ a three-pronged approach to professional learning:
- 3.4.3 - Develop, deliver, and assess the effectiveness of targeted professional development for technology staff members:
- Provide training that could include contracts with vendors of new and existing technology equipment and software.
- Provide professional development for IT staff in the area of project management and its implementation at the district level.
- Provide continuous learning opportunities with various aspects of software or hardware use to encourage, grow, and retain a highly functional technology staff.
- 4.1.2 - Develop a priority-based technology process:
- Ensure equitable access to current technology and cost-effective classroom tools to support 21st century literacy, virtual learning, and personalized instruction:
- Devise and implement a technology acquisition and refreshment program that provides current teaching tools.
- Maximize vendor affiliation partnerships to acquire approved devices at reduced costs.
- Implement a school-technology-environment scorecard that prioritizes equipment needs within the learning environment and assists with decision-making.
- Ensure the technology infrastructure supports an efficient and equitable distribution of digital resources.
- Ensure availability of and streamlined access to relevant data systems for all district staff.
- Ensure equitable access to current technology and cost-effective classroom tools to support 21st century literacy, virtual learning, and personalized instruction:
- 4.1.3 - Provide a technology infrastructure that enables the district to achieve its educational outcomes and operational efficiency:
- Upgrade and expand the district’s network capabilities to meet educational and operational requirements.
- Expand broadband access to address equitable online assessment, classroom learning, and technology integration.
- Ensure all schools are wirelessly enabled to support instructional needs.
- Converge network-based services to Cloud and Internet protocol where functionally and economically practical.
- Provide centralized technology-support personnel and operation protocols that support and encourage collaborative teaching, learning, and business activities equitably across all buildings.
- Use existing programs/hardware when available that satisfy the necessary business requirements instead of purchasing new technology.
- Create a structured pilot program for non-standard hardware/software.
- 4.3.4 - Conduct periodic assessments of customer satisfaction of technology hardware, access, and support, and modify support, systems, and programs as indicated.
- 7.1.4 - Launch an effort to publicize positive district and school events.
- Planned Obsolescence - If you don't have the ability to bring digital equity and access first and foremost, it will be a stumbling block. If you talk with my staff, they will say this is the most important initiative in my leadership here at Omaha Public Schools. I highlight our Planned Obsolescence efforts in this blog post.
- #OPSMIE - Our Innovation Academy has been a great mechanism for change in Omaha Public Schools. The Microsoft Innovative Educator Program (MIE) began in fall of 2014, following the adoption of the Microsoft Office 365 system. It's initial purpose was to provide professional development for OPS staff as they transitioned from the previous email system, First Class, to the Office 365 system, creating a train-the-trainer model. It quickly evolved into a program that provided teachers with much needed professional development in instructional technology. This professional development has helped to enhance a deeper pedagogy of integrating technology into the classroom as the district embraces more instructional technology opportunities.
#OPSITL - The Instructional Technology Leadership Cohort is a joint partnership program between technology and library services that focuses on teacher leadership in the area of technology. This cohort focuses on the following target educators: school librarians, Microsoft Innovative Educators, along with any K-12 classroom educators. This program was primarily created out of the need to evolve the role of the librarian, however it has evolved over the last couple of years. Those completing the cohort should be able to:
- Facilitate and train administrators and teacher colleagues in best instructional practices in a blended learning environment
- Integrate technology, digital tools and pedagogy into curriculum areas for instructional improvement and growth
- Collaborate and co-teach effectively to ensure that the Nebraska Multiple Literacies standards are being incorporated into the curriculum using current technologies
- Model and deliver digital citizenship skills and safe online behaviors
- Tech Standards Committee - This group is made up of parents, technology integration specialists, administrators and other curriculum experts. The student voice in this group comes from our Students of Voice group. These are juniors and seniors from each of the high schools in our district that meets once a month. One of the processes that I would like to highlight that the tech standards committee is in charge of is our App Approval Tool. Since the summer of 2016, Omaha Public Schools has been working with Microsoft and Common Sense Education to develop a resource which can help school districts determine what their life-cycle of adoption is. In January of 2017, Omaha Public Schools released the App Standards Management Tool (also known as the App Approval Tool) for district use. You can read more about that process here.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
Types of Collaboration
When you look at collaboration in both the Class and Staff Notebook platform, you can broadcast information (one to many), you can fully collaborate (many to many), and you can work 1:1. OneNote Staff and Class Notebook offer these through an easy interface to distribute and manage content. This brings to my mind the idea if you manage content based upon how you collaborate, you might argue there is no need for the traditional file and folder structure day to day that you would see in a traditional file share. I think this is an excellent way of:
- Managing content by tagging specific content
- Searching based upon importance and categories
- Setting tasks and to do tags
- Summarize the tags to a OneNote Page
Rob... You said this was about Microsoft Teams? Where does it fit in?
- Studies in neuroscience have indicated that students traditionally forget most of the information they were taught while in school.
- These studies indicate that simply shoving factual information into our students' brains is a long-term waste of time and resources.
- Very rarely do students have the opportunity to follow their passions, explore their interests, and engage in personal and authentic learning opportunities
What are we doing? Everybody knows. Why are we doing it? Everybody knows. But when it comes to this third question of "Where do I fit in?" -- this is where things get interesting. I had to ask myself this question when I came into my role in Omaha Public Schools. Fortunately, I was able to be a part of a technology audit that gave me a blueprint to figure out where I fit in the district with my role.
I want to encourage you to do something that is very, very time consuming but it may be one of the most helpful exercises you ever work through as a leader, especially as it relates to understanding your critical role in light of what you doing and why you are doing it. I challenge you to create for you, and to create for your people, a one-sentence job description. What does this mean?
As you think about the people in your department, school or district, even if they don't answer to you, create one-sentence job descriptions that instantly lets everyone know exactly why each person is there, doing what they do. Here's why it's important: because it is simple. In the midst of the complexity, crisis and deadlines, your team needs to understand what you think their critical roles are, as well as what your personal critical role is. If you do not clarify this for people who look up to you, they will generally do whatever comes next and what they feel you think is most important in the moment. Once you have developed your one-sentence job descriptions, start telling your story.
Really good leaders make sure their message is communicated, that they are in the trenches with the rest of the district, telling the story. This motivates people. Mark does a great job of visiting every building each year. He is one of the most approachable people you will ever meet. He motivates. A motivated team can achieve anything they want. We set our own limitations, we set our own objectives. A clear message from leadership that we are in this together, we will arrive together, we will win together, we will fail together is a powerful message that every district would love to hear. Bringing others along with you, and shoulder-to-shoulder viewing of that vision versus nose-to-nose trying to convince people, makes a magical, literally magical environment to achieve goals. Through that magic, you can see the highest student achievement in district history, pass the largest bond issue in Nebraska history, and see the first virtual school in Nebraska history. All things that come through clarity in your message and vision.
These posts are personal. They are not reflective of the Omaha Public Schools District.