Monday, May 18, 2015

Episode 1-Technology Integration

Episode 1-Technology Integration

We are all busy but...

As the school year is winding down, I have been reminded of just how much educators care about their students.  #Wyoedchat, just passed its two year  anniversary a few months back. In that time, the conversation has encompassed more and more of Wyoming's educational leaders.

What this chat represents, is an unparalleled excitement for continual learning and growing as a group.  I would be remiss if I didn't point out a few examples of just how dedicated this group is.

#Wyoedchat takes place on Sundays at 8pm.  Educators take the time, out of the weekend, to  recharge their batteries and get fired up for the coming week.  They feed off of each others ideas and challenges. As a result, our students benefit.

As year two has rolled on, we have multiple teachers, administrators, students and parent groups not only joining in, but leading, or co-hosting chats.  This group isn't just about participating, its about leading from within.

A few specific examples that speak to this group representing all that is good about education:

The #wyoedchat Tweetup started in Casper at the Spring School Improvement conference.
 Lets first define a tweetup, this is simply a get face-to-face get together of people who either want to learn about how to do a an #edchat or who want to connect real people with the conversations they already have had.  This tweetup led to Park 6 hosting tweetups from their board room.
Each one had new teachers and administrators, taking time on their weekend to learn and share.  Next up was the Cheyenne teachers taking the reigns and hosing their own tweetup from the library of Anderson Elementary.  Each of these events has been small, educator organized chances to get together and learn and share with each other.

Often leaders lead with "do as i say not as I do" but I am proud to say the leader for the Wyoming Department of Education doesn't act that way.  Jillian Balow, the Superintendent of Education for the State of Wyoming, not only regularly attends and participates in #wyoedchat, she chose to attend a tweetup.  After what can only be described as a very busy week, (it included a quick trip to China to visit their schools, get back and give an address at the University of Wyoming commencement), Jillian still found time to tuck her kiddos in and attend a tweetup at Anderson Elementary in Cheyenne.


So what does this tell us about educators and leaders.  We are all busy but the great ones seem to find time, in many ways, to keep learning and growing.




Friday, June 20, 2014

Tech prepared teachers!

What does a tech prepared teacher look like?   The DailyGenius has a popular visual that highlights some good ideas.
I believe there is a simpler answer for us to ponder.
A tech savvy or tech literate or tech competent teacher has a few obvious traits.

Sense of humor!
Using technology in a classroom environment is ALWAYS going to have bumps in the road.  I like to think back to teachers that had chalk all over them and didn't know it.  What about a step back further, lithograph ink on hands and the desk.  My point is this.  Learning is messy and we all know that.  Technology is no different, the hiccups are part of the fun and a tech savvy teacher can laugh about it and share that fun mentality with their class as well.

Are you inquisitive?
This is a key component for teachers that want to tech competent.  Its about seeing the world outside of schools and asking questions.  Everywhere we go there is technology being used to change the world.  Starting with restaurants, Wal Mart, our cars, the doctors office, and the list goes on and on.  The more aware we become of the world around us, the more questions we should be asking about why they do that and what is coming next.  The more teachers see how technology is being used in the world their students are heading into the relevant it becomes to incorporate it in the classroom.  The more we understand its real life applications the more opportunities we will find.

Dont mind letting someone else drive.
If control is a major characteristic of a classroom it will be hard to have authentic technology implementation.  The idea that the room is smarter than the individual but with technology it goes to another level.  The expert today (student or teacher) can and will be quickly humbled tomorrow.  The idea of catching a greased pig ( i had to work in a Wyoming analogy) is a great way to understand this.  I can catch that slippery pig by myself but it becomes much easier with a few quick footed team members.  The skills that some teacher will bring is being able to catch a glimpse of possibilities and than trusting students enough to show them new possibilities.


If tech isn't frustrating us than we most likely aren't moving forward.

What does a tech savvy teacher look like to you??

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

#wyoedchat a year under its belt, and many stories to tell.

A year ago the #WYOEDCHAT discussion took off. And what a year it has been.
With a relatively small state there was no expectation as to how many of the approximately 7800 public school educators in Wyoming would participate.  What we learned was the similar mantra of edcamps, the ones who are there are the right ones. Tim Foley ( @Tim_Foley) and I took the plunge to see what could happen.

Finding a day to start on was the first obstacle, and Sunday it became.  So first thing that speaks volumes about the #wyoedchat participants is they are not just giving up time but they're giving up weekend time to talk education.

Next adventure was what grade level would find this the most beneficial.  All! We have elementary, we have middle school, high school, college, board members, administrators, students, journalist and department of education participants, that have all taken part in our weekly chats.

What would we talk about? In our first year we have tried to discuss lots of educational topics with our own special Wyoming flavor. We have tackled....Summer PD, collaboration, tech tools, TED videos, Games in schools, Digital Citizenship, Goals and planning, STEM,  Millennials,  Common Core, Risk Taking,  Tough questions, homework, activities, Parent engagement,  Gender challenges in school, Google, Media and schools, Lifelong learning, Community Resources, Nutrition, Dropouts...and some that I left out (https://storify.com/jpk38)  

In the last year we have seen the start of #mtedchat, #idedchat & #sdedchat.  All of these discussions continue to help educators build from within the expertise of our neighbors. Special shout out to @cristama, @triscicurious, @averyteach, @travislape, & @lenessakeehn for helping build and fan the regional edchat flames.  
 
A #wyoedchat book study was born through a partnership with WYTECC and @Wyotigger.  What better book to start with than Open by David Price.  

Our Wyoming Twitter list is pushing 200 so we have lots of contributors that can be brought into our discussion.  As our neighbor chats grow we look for more opportunities to share our discussions and make new friends.  And with education still finding headlines, we look to write our own story about just how great education can be. 
I look forward to another year of possibilities.
 
What has #wyoedchat (or our neighboring chats) meant to you? 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Life as I know it...

After spending my entire career working with students and outside time helping educators, my roles will change.

The focus of my time will be helping teachers feel more comfortable with embedding technology in their classes.  This role has so many possibilities that it keeps me up at night with excitement.  No more wondering what if, its time to answer with how can we.

The chance to help bring parents into the tech literate fold is equally challenging endeavor as well.  The opportunity to work closely with parents in a non-threatening way will be an awesome challenge.


Helping students run with their skills and potentially lead us on this journey will be the frosting on this new job.  Finding avenues to empower, learn and guide across grade levels and building will be an awesome challenge.

The comment that has been made, "we are glad to have teacher as the Technology Director" has been made multiple times in my first few days and with that comes big expectations.   Without a great PLN  and all the great people I will get to work with there is no way it will all be accomplished.

I am lucky to have great people who have mentored me as well as all of those around now to help.

My question to all of you is this, What are the big three things I should focus on in the first three months as the Director of Instructional Technology?  (thanks for any ideas before we start)




Monday, June 16, 2014

ISTE Secrets

As I prepare for the next chapter of ISTE I can't help but think about the big three things I wish I would have known the first time I attended.

Number 1:  Everyone should have their twitter handle on their clothing.  It makes it easier to connect.  There are so many good conversations that you stumble upon or over hear and the ability to add those people to your network is the main reason for attending.  Options.  Sharpie on your name badge!  Hat with your handle on the back.  Or my Favorite...get your own twitter shirt made.

Number 2:  Talk to every person you sit next to.  From the flight to Atlanta, to sessions, to waiting to get a seat at restaurant, to the group getting ready to sing at the Edtech Karoke party...dont be bashful.  Find there story and share yours.  Than refer back to number one.

Number 3: Bring a two power strips.  One for the hotel room because they will not have enough outlets for all the devices.  Second one is all about making connections.  The person with power strips makes lots of friends.  This will again open more chances to connect with your fellow educators.  Its also a huge benefit to be able to keep your devices powered without worrying about not plugging in quick enough.


Simple advice to help us prepare for an awesome conference in Atlanta.  Hope to see lots of twitter handles and power strips everywhere.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lessons from my Dad

My dad has been gone for just over a year and on this Fathers day I hope to put into words what some of the lessons I think my dad taught me to help make me be a better person today.

My dad was a mechanic and the first thing he wanted me to know, was knowing what jobs you didn't enjoy would help you find a path down a good road quicker.   I learned quick that there were countless task, in any job, and where you focus your time and energy will impact how good of job you do.

My dad was all about humility.  Being good at something was easy but being the best was just out of reach.  Now to a teenager, this was tough because there were lots of time I thought I was the best and my dad was quick to point out a flaw in a shot or away someone else was ranked higher, but as an adult this is invaluable.  My dad wasn't trying to be a downer, he was helping me understand that being great at anything was a never ending process.  Be humble because there is always more work to do and more people to work with.

Blow of steam!  I remember countless times where the fish were not biting.  I distinctively remember arranging river rocks on the bank of the Yellowstone river to make a comfortable place to take a nap because i was soooo bored fishing with my dad.  Boy what I would give for one of those days back.  As time has gone on and my passion for fishing has developed...I get it!  This was and is a healthy way to get away and forget about the world for awhile.  Its not about the number of fish you catch, its more often about the people you are with and the world and scenery you see (that sometimes we forget to enjoy).

My dad, like all of us dads and teachers, learned along the way.  We must take the good lessons we have learned from our past and try to find a way to pass them on.  I am no expert but I am a better person, dad and teacher because of the time my dad shared with me.

Happy Fathers Day!

Thanks Dad!