Tuesday, June 19, 2018

CETL Certification

I earned this handy, dandy badge a couple months ago. It's a CETL Certification, which says I'm a Certified Educational Technology Leader. That's a mouthful, and a year ago, I would have said, "No way, I could never pass that test." I had been introduced to the COSN network, casually, on one of those casual BCPS 10 hour summer workdays.  I brushed it off as as "Yeah, right" possibility because my knowledge of the vastness that is technology leadership was not on my radar, at all.  Fast-forward to fall of 2017, and NCDPI announces that there is a partnership with COSN to provide a 2 day course, as well as the testing for CETL Certification. Lucky me, I got signed up, and found myself in Wake county for training in January. What a whirlwind of information; two straight days of information overload! At the conclusion of the training days we'd had about 4 weeks to study, as the test was scheduled for February 28th. I spent lots of time working through all the material, mostly early morning sessions before my kids were awake, and I tested myself in many free moments using Quizlet, and pre-made sets. I knew the vocabulary pretty darn well, all 400ish terms that I studied.  I memorized acronym after acronym, and felt both prepared and scared out of my mind when test day rolled around.

If you have been a part of a proctored exam recently, you know the feeling of stress, dread, nausea, and anticipation.  This test is 115 questions, with only 2 hours to take it. That timer, is menacing! I read, and reread, and read, and marked questions to return to.  I marked 30ish to review, and I bet more than half of them I changed my initial answers.  I submitted with mere seconds, more nervous than when I first walked into the testing session.

I will always remember Marlo standing behind me as I got my test result. She knew I passed before I did.  I was in shock! No doubt, the hardest test I've ever taken.  Every minute of hard work paid off.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Staff Meeting = Play Time

For the past four years the North Carolina Digital Leaders Coaching Network (NCDLCN) has been a driving force in my growth as a coach.  I have been able to grow my professional network, stretch my thinking, grow through reflection, and put new ideas into practice.  The most recent NCDLCN session I participated in was an alumni session focussed on the concept of design thinking.  I didn't exactly know what I was getting into, but I knew that I would learn something new, be with my people, and have a blast. That I did.

As part of the design thinking process each participant was paired with another to work through the process.  The best part of this partnership, was two-fold; my partner was Delaine, one of my mentees from the 2016-2017 cohort, and the purpose of the design thinking process we were to work through was to solve our partner's problem!  This was so powerful!  I love helping people solve their problems, mine, not-so-much.  

At the end of our two day challenge, Delaine identified a solution to my problem, and gave me a gift.  See below:

My gift from Delaine, a solution.

So, Delaine said I need to help my teachers play, laugh, and flip out, build trust, and then do the work.  She nailed the solution to the problem I didn't realize I had.  We needed to build a culture of teamwork, but before we can work together efficiently, we need to establish some foundational relationships.  These relationships must branch out past our grade-level hallways in order to be fruitful!

Enter the Uno Tournament staff meeting. I did some research and gathered some fun tidbits to share with my principals, you can find it here.  I got commitments from 2 of my principals, which I considered a win!

I created a Google Slides presentation to share with the staff, before and after, designed the tournament bracket, and picked up some prizes along with 8 decks of UNO cards.  

The outcome: The folks that were able to stay for the meeting had a blast!!  We saw personalities that don't normally emerge from day-to-day business.  The competition was fierce and laughing was infectious. More than one staff member stopped me to thank me for the experience!  

Now, was it an incredible experience for everyone? No.  You can't please them all.  However, I feel like the experience was a valuable one for everyone.  Fun and games do belong in the work-place, and especially in schools.  I think everyone could walk away from our tournament feeling a little lighter, and a little less stressed.  

Now, the ultimate goal of this tournament was to get folks into each others classrooms. I followed up the next day with an email to the staff inviting them to visit the classrooms of the other three players from their original table.  I suggested that they visit this classroom within 2-3 weeks of our game.  I will be following up with them after the break to see what they learned from their colleagues.

I'll be running UNO Tournament #2 at another school this week, I'll be sure to add my findings in an update to this post.

Hope my fellow 'NCDLCN Design Thinkers' are making progress on their ideas.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Summer Reading and Google Sites

Summer time means summer reading!  I love seeing what other people are reading, sharing what I've read, and getting book recommendations from friends.  This morning I put together a very simple Google Site to display my summer reading, and thought I'd share a quick walk-through on how to do it!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Digital Breakout Creation/testing

This adventure in learning began when one of my 6th grade science teachers approached me prior to spring break wanting to plan a BreakoutEDU game. She wanted a game based on the unit her students were wrapping up, Plants and Ecosystems.  I searched the BreakoutEDU webpage without luck, and decided we'd have to create something to fit the needs of her and her students. 

We met together and she was able to walk me through a good bit of the material, and we were able to bounce some puzzle ideas off one another.  She wanted to cover the cycles that take place in an ecosystem; water cycle, carbon cycle, photosynthesis, and pollination to name a few.  She also wanted to include different types of biomes, as well as a variety of flowering plants. Identifying the parts of a plant and symbiotic relationships rounded out our discussion that day.

After our meeting I tried to get to work on designing puzzles to match our chosen topics, but my wheels were spinning, and I really lacked direction and motivation.  I'm not sure how long I sat in that funk, but as soon as my backstory started to come into focus, the puzzles started writing themselves.  I decided to write the game from the perspective of plants and animals in an ecosystem, and telling their stories through social-media puzzles.  

Symbiotic relationships correlated to a Facebook relationship status.  The food chain worked with song titles on Spotify.  Snapchat fit with labeling plant parts, and counting Instagram likes in specific plant photographs made sense.  The directional arrow paired with tweets about plant processes worked perfectly. I was also able to create a text conversation that proved to be so simple it was challenging.

I was so excited for game day, that I was awake before my alarm had gone off. I just knew that the student would LOVE the game I had designed.  Boy, was I in for a rude awakening.  I'm not sure if my puzzles were just that difficult, or the student just struggled to make the connections, but the first class was difficult.  No-one broke out, and several didn't even open a single lock. Afterwards, I had time to recreate and adapt some puzzles so that the game would be more appropriate for the students.  The next classes were still a struggle, but were also slightly more successful.  At the end of the day I felt quite defeated, but my colleague assured me that the game was solid, and it was the students that really needed to apply themselves more in order to achieve success.  I created a digital version of the game over the weekend and shared it with her so that her students could have another shot at the puzzles.

I have since tweaked the game even more, rewriting some of the clues to be a bit more to the point.  I do believe I created something that was a bit too advanced for those sixth graders.  

I have a group of 6th graders trying the digital version of the game tomorrow. I'm eager to see how they do and get feedback from them so that I can continue to improve the game.  I really did enjoy creating it, and I hope the students can enjoy working through it.

Want to try the game?  Click the link below:


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

See a need, fill a need...

Recently, my family was gifted the movie, "Robots" and we watched it a handful of times, and the line, "See a need, fill a need" is one that resonated with me.  I believe that as educators we see lots of needs on a daily basis, but the filling of needs may be an area where we need some improvement.

I got the opportunity to really live out the "See a need, fill a need" idea in our final meeting with our Burke County Global Educators Cohort (BCGEC). We kicked off our session with a Gripe Jam activity.  Jennie Magiera had shared this activity at NCTIES during her PD is not a 4 Letter Word session.  The Gripe Jam activity is a great way to think about challenges that we face as individuals, and then collectively brainstorm ways to address the challenges.

One of the collaborative conversations that took place as a result of our Gripe Jam was a need for a collection of technology resources that could be categorized and searched in order find an appropriate tool for a task. Using a collection of resources created by, Donna Wells, a fellow ITF, I created an Awesome Table view and hosted it on a Google Site, along with a Google Form for teachers to complete in order to suggest a resource that should be included. You can check out the site here: https://sites.google.com/burke.k12.nc.us/techtools/home

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Power in Asking for Help...

I have the great opportunity to work with a team of fabulous people that I love to help, anyway I can.  This group of people was integral in helping me learn a very important lesson about asking for help.  Together, we participated in an escape room session in which we failed, because we didn't ask for a hint when we needed it.  

I was adamant during the session that we could do it, without help, and yet in the end I left feeling like a failure.  In my mind, asking for help was an indication of weakness, and weakness is not good.  However, in the 'debrief' on the way home, I realized that had we asked for help we probably would have been successful, and would have felt pretty darn good about ourselves.  

That was an eye opening lesson for me.  In the past I have rarely asked for help.  It was a personality flaw of mine, that goes along with my stubbornness, perfectionism, and procrastination... While these traits have helped me to strive to always do my best, in my own time, they are often traits that have caused my relationships (both coaching and personal) to fail to flourish like they could.

More and more I am learning about the power in asking for and receiving help from others.  I have seen my relationships grow and flourish through this very simple, genuine act.  While it often makes me feel vulnerable to ask, the feeling of gratitude and overall happiness when help is given far outweighs the vulnerability

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Classroom Tweets by your Students

In an effort to get more and more of our teachers engaged in Twitter, our district has created many resources for teachers to utilize to get started.  These resources include a Twitter #pdchallenge, an ideas list, a 20 day challenge, and a Twitter drive.  We have also shared a resource created by +Alice Keeler which you can find here which enables students to tweet from a teacher account with supervision.

This sheet is awesome, and I've taken it a step further to be more manageable for students on mobile devices by attaching a simple Google form to the sheet and using the CopyDown Add-on.  See below for some instructions if you want to try it out!

First, make a copy of this Google Form.  Click here, and then click "Copy"

Rename the form if you'd like and then click on the 'Responses' tab and the spreadsheet icon to 'create a new spreadsheet' and click 'Create'

Your spreadsheet is going to need just a few modifications to get it up and running, but first you will need to submit the form for the first time.  So, enter a name, a simple test tweet, and the hashtag you will want your students to use.

Once you have that info on your sheet you will need to add the formulas to make it work.

You can view a sample of the sheet here.

These cells need editing: 

E2: =if(C2="","", len(C2))

F2: =if(C2="","",hyperlink("http://twitter.com/home?status="&C2&" via "&B2&" %23"&$G$1,"Click Here to Tweet"))

G1: =right($D$2,LEN($D$2)-1)

Now that your sheet is complete with formulas you will need to configure the CopyDown add-on.  On your Google Sheet window click 'Add-ons' and 'Get Add-ons' if you don't have CopyDown already added.  Once installed go back to 'Add-ons' and select 'CopyDown' and 'CopyDown settings.'

Toggle the switch to 'On' and save settings.  It should look like this:

One more step!  You can get a pre-filled form URL to share with your students that already has your hashtag set!  To do this go to your live form and click the 3 dots button in the upper right corner, then select 'Get pre-filled link'

Fill in the 'Hashtag' question with the hashtag you want your students to use, and click submit, then copy the link that you see at the top of the form.  It will look like this:

This is the link you will want to share with your students via QR code, or posted in Google Classroom, or shortened URL.  You can bookmark to browsers, or add it to the home screen of mobile devices.  

Now, as a teacher, you can preview tweets via the spreadsheet and 'Click to Tweet!'

Happy Tweeting!

Sample Student Tweets:

CETL Certification

I earned this handy, dandy badge a couple months ago. It's a CETL Certification, which says I'm a Certified Educational Technology L...