Monday, December 12, 2016

Storyboard That

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Pimp Your Blogger & Student Friendly Settings

Book me for a Google Hangout if you need support or want to brainstorm/trouble-shoot.
Blogger recently went through a subtle update, these Slide reflect the changes to the User Interface (UI).

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Updated: Twitter Feed on Your Blogger

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I wrote a post about how to place a Twitter Feed on your Blogger. OK, it wasn't that long ago -- it was 2013 and it wasn't in a galaxy far, far away, because it happened here on planet earth, but it seemed like a nice way to introduce my updated version of putting a Twitter feed on your Blogger. The original post has 43K+ views and 294 comments to date. It has been by far the most important blog post I have ever written traffic-wise. And then it happened, two weeks ago, someone made a rather snarky comment on the post.
I'm not sure why Patricia Heil thinks that I should continue updating a blog post from over three years ago, but she does and after I though about it, I decided she was correct. It is time for an update to the original post. So for all you users of Twitter and Blogger, here is the updated version of How to put a Twitter Feed on your Blogger. Enjoy!

Your journey is going to start by logging in to your Twitter account and going to Setting.

In Settings go to Widgets and Create New.

You will type in the URL of the account you want to follow with your feed.

I prefer the Embedded Timeline, but you can choose the other one.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Part 5: Avoiding the Professional Blind Spot

You must realize from the beginning that just because something comes easy to you doesn't mean it comes easy to others. Because of this fact, you should never make someone feel inferior because they learn slower or because they are interested in different things. We have a tendency to be incredibly patient with students, but not patient with colleagues. If you want to be an effective support person, you will need to avoid the professional blind spot and tame your tongue.

I remember when I first started in EdTech, I was humble because I didn't have a computer science degree. I was working in someone else's field in a sense. The most negative interactions I had as an EdTech person have generally been with computer science people, but not CS teachers -- with IT Admin. I don't want to paint all IT Admin the same way, because I have meet and worked with some amazing IT people. But there are some folks in IT, as there are in any subject, who seem to want to look down on others. Nothing will kill a program faster than people feeling pushed away by negative attitudes and experiences. I've had teachers tell me that they didn't want work with Mr./Ms. X because of his/her attitude/sarcasm/negativity. You need to respect people and appreciate their abilities, even if those abilities are low by your standards. You are building capacity; not everyone has it when you start with them.

I remember one conference I attended and in the first session it seemed that everything was blocked. We had no access to social media at all. I went to Twitter, my go to for sharing my learning and was blocked. Facebook -- blocked. Edmodo -- blocked. EDMODO! I approached the conference presenter about the problem and he said that everything was blocked. He was concerned because the first thing he wanted to show us was Edmodo. He then pointed me to one of the conference attendees who was the IT Admin for the school where the conference was being held. I walked over and introduced myself and asked about Twitter. The conversation went something like this...

Me: Hi! I'm Tim from ____ school and I noticed Twitter is blocked. (in a pleasant and unassuming tone)
IT Guy: Yes, it is. (short and curt)
Me: Would it be possible to unblock it? (still being pleasant)
IT Guy: Why? (now snotty)
Me: I'd like to tweet about the conference. (continuing to be pleasant, but struggling)
IT Guy: Tweet about the conference? (sarcasm and some eye rolling)
Me: Yes. I like to share my learning with my PLN. (more forceful now)
IT Guy: I'll look into it. Give me a few minutes. (sort of a strange look on his face; I think he realized that he was out numbered in the room or something)

It was like I fell into an episode of the IT Crowd. Surreal and bizarre. I realized later that I was a threat to his little kingdom. He was the authority on computers and Internet at his school and was very used to having others simply go along with his decisions and rules, so someone questioning that was a challenge and a threat to the status quo, which he usually crushed with sarcasm and rudeness. When it didn't work, he wasn't sure what to do. Within five minutes, I was on Twitter and Edmodo. To this guy's credit, by the end of the two day conference, he seemed like a changed person. I think the openness of other educators and fresh ideas expanded his mind. He was asking our team about social media that we allowed (everything) and how teachers were using it. He learned that he had things he could learn from us and that is the secret to avoiding the professional blind spot. Remember that other people may not have the level of skill that you have in a certain discipline, but they may have great ideas about the field anyway. When you are helping someone build capacity, keep your ears open and you may find that you learn something surprising and new. At the very least, you will learn more patience and that is something valuable.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Part 4: Let's Talk about Accountability

If your position or department has recently be created, you have some serious work cut out for you. In a previous post, I mentioned getting runs on the board to build your brand within the school. Even if your department or position is clearly defined and has been around awhile, you should still track your time. There are several apps on the market for doing this, but I decided to build my own with a Form. The link is to a copy of the Time Taker Form, I only ask that you create your own copy and then edit and adjust as you need. The Form allows me to record, what type of work I do, who I do it with, how long it takes, and notes to explain in detail what was done.

I was once involved in a rather heated debate about using this Form with a colleague. His argument was that our positions were created and therefore our time and work was understood and did not require defending. I, on the other hand, felt that our positions had been created, but that management did it on a leap of faith; they really had zero idea about what we did or how we did it. Tracking our time was a way to show what type of work we did and how much time that work took. A visible way to describe our role as an EdTech Department.

In the end, we agreed to disagree about that matter, but I still feel that tracking your time is a valuable tool. Especially if you are planning to request more time, money, and/or staff for your team. Believe me -- administrators and school boards are going to ask why you need more. If you can't physically show them, you aren't going to get more time, money, or staff. Tracking your time is doing yourself a favor; plus, it provides that all important component of accountability. If being accountable frightens you, you should stop working in education; you should especially quit working in EdTech. This is a job for self motivated people who get things done, not for lazy lumps.

First, you should provide more than one type of data. Second, you should share this information with your Admin Team and review it. Draw conclusions from it; use it to suggest trends and problems that can be solved. We use student data to drive instruction; we should use perforemce data to make decisions about funding and staffing. 

If you look at the results I have from Term 1 of SY2016-17, you see that some interesting information comes to light very quickly. I spend a great deal of my time focused on the
entire school (40.4%). After that high school (20.6%), middle school (16.9%), and First Program (FP; 10.4%) get my time in that order. This opens up questions as to why? Am I upable to help FP enough? Are FP teachers not requesting my support? How can we better serve FP? What type of support do they need?

You can also see that the majority of my time is spent creating & building (23.4%) and planning & research (25.9%). This makes a lot of sense considering the department didn't exist before. We are in a building phase and the department's role is being defined, but what should the trend be next year? Will the focus continue being creating & building and planning & research, or will it change to focus on co-teaching & co-planning? What direction do we want to move in as a school? Strategic thinking starts with looking at data and dicussing it, reflecting on it, and analyzing it. This leads to informed decision making on the institutional level.

The histogram provides more interesting information. The vast majority of my time is spent in activities and meetings that last less than 60 minutes. What you don't see in the chart, but you can understand from the spreadsheet, is that multiple short times are being used to complete tasks, which suggests that long periods of time to sit and focus on one project are actually difficult to come by in my day. This is only after one term! Imagine what we will have to look at after one year.

Part 3: Everybody's Cheerleader

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Building an EdTech Department part 3: Everybody's Cheerleader

You don't have to be an extroverted, overly optimistic person to do this job, but it certainly helps. I have met and observed introverts who are amazing EdTech support people, but it seems to lend itself more easily to extroverts. It is a people-person job. You are continually involved in communication and interaction with other students, teachers, and administrators. Being outgoing helps to create relationships and build bonds easily. I believe my introverted friends would argue that those relationships are often surface level. They feel that the relationships they build over time are more profound and transformational. This could be true; I've seen my introverted colleagues accomplish some amazing work with teachers that I felt couldn't get to the next level. Conversely, I have helped teachers get to the next level as well. In the end, it probably comes down to passion for the job more than personality types -- but I still think that being an extrovert gives me a leg up with breaking the ice quickly with people. Breaking the ice quickly is vitally important when working in a new position or department. 

As far as being optimistic goes, you need to be everybody's cheerleader; especially at the beginning of the position or department. Make sure to point out good examples of technology integration from your faculty at meetings. Everybody loves to be recognized for their efforts and it builds a community based on celebrating achievements of faculty members. You would be surprised how empowering that is for teachers; to be recognized for their skills and learning. Remember -- we are learners, too! But who is acknowledging our efforts; our triumphs over adversity; our acquired skills. Many teachers are isolated in their classrooms because when they go to meetings, all they hear about are new initiatives, new mandates, new headaches -- they need to hear something positive! They need something that isn't, "You need to do this blah, blah, blah; you need to do that blah, blah, blah; we need to improve blah, blah, blah; the recent test results show blah, blah, blah." Don't get me wrong, those things are important as well, but you need to nurture the souls of teachers as well as get work done. Unfortunately too many administrators don't make the effort to appreciate faculty members in front of an audience of their peers.  If you don't regularly attend division or department meetings, make appointments with the division principals/department heads to join their meetings and highlight good work. It only requires a few minutes, but it makes a lasting impact. Optimism is contagious! Spread it like the plague...
Part 2: Getting Runs on the Board

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Building an EdTech Department part 2: Relationships -- Getting Runs on the Board

If your department and/or position is new, nobody understands what you do. They don't really know what your position or department does and quite frankly they are too busy to find out on their own. It isn't part of the culture of the school, so your first real job is to make it part of the culture. This will not happen on its own -- you must work at it. You need to win some hearts and minds. You do this by getting some runs on the board. 

The first thing that you must understand about being an EdTech Specialist (Technology Integration Specialist or Technology coach) is that you MUST build solid relationships with people and departments in your school. The first step in this process is to "get some runs on the board" as my friend Ben Summerton would say. You need to make some positive traction. Go out of your way to help people; be friendly; be helpful; be positive; be energetic; be industrious; be innovative; be open. You will annoy some people, but you will make more friends than enemies. It is the old, "You attract more bees with sugar than vinegar" approach and it works. The goal is to build an environment, a culture, of asking for help and learning new things. People become more innovative when they feel valued and supported and your position is a support position. Besides, the more people ask for help, the busier you will be and it will justify your position in the eyes of the admin team. This is especially important if you are a department of one. If you have the title of director or coordinator for a department of one, establish the need for your department. Find new ways to help the school community. Offer professional develop, make tutorial videos, create a blog, use a Google Classroom to share information, use technology to spread the word about what you can offer people.
Here are some real-life examples for you.
  • Cruise the halls! Stop in on people who are having prep time. Just ask if they need any help. Most will say no, but some people will ask questions. Being friendly isn't a crime.
  • I go out of my way to help PE and the Fine Arts department, because they usually get ignored. They love feeling like they matter to you. Care goes a long ways.
  • I go out of my way to help elementary teachers, because they are usually working the hardest. They love knowing that you you respect their work and how difficult their jobs really are to do.
  • Do jobs that aren't in your job description. A teacher was looking for help with her projector. It isn't my job, but I helped her. Showing you are willing to make something better for someone builds trust.
  • Two teachers wanted to make a proposal for the school to purchase a 3D printer. They asked for some support looking for information about different printers -- the cost of the printers, what type of filament they use, how many print jobs can be done with a kilogram of filament. I could have easily pushed this back to them, but I did it. Besides, I'd like to have a 3D printer available at school. They're cool!
  • I helped an elderly faculty member organize items on her computer. Again, it wasn't my job. I could have easily pushed back, but people need to believe they can seek help from you. Later she had me help her students make short music videos. By being supportive, I made more work for myself.
  • I've arranged special training specifically for a department. These people could have came to one of my regularly schedule professional development sessions on the same topic, but they wanted to be together to work collaboratively on a project while using the technology tool, so I did it.
  • Another administrator was struggling to power wash his division's Chromebook computers, I jumped in to help out. The two hours of my Saturday cut his burden in half and created solidarity.
  • I also keep records of the types of jobs I do, how long they take, and who I worked with. This helps the rest of the admin team visual my position and work. I do this with a simple Google Form. You can find the form with this link. Please make a copy before editing.
Get runs on the board and people will notice. Show you care and people will notice. Be industrious!

Part 1: Building an EdTech Department

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Building an EdTech Department part 1

Back in 2007-08, Rich Boerner, the high school principal at KIS at the time, asked me if I would be up to being a half-time EdTech Specialist for the coming school year. At the time, there really wasn't a definition of the role; furthermore, I was also going to be the half-time middle school Dean of Students, which was a position created because the business office felt a full-time associate principal position wasn't necessary yet. Two half-time jobs. Anyone who has ever held two half-time jobs will be able to confirm that it is really like two and a half jobs, but I marched down the road anyway with Greg Israel, who was also going to be a half-time EdTech in the high school while also teaching two sections of Psychology. Bruce Roadside joined KIS as the EdTech Coordinator and we were on the road. Little did I know then, we would be part of the group of people who would define what an EdTech Specialist (Technology Integration Specialist) was going to be. 

When I ran across this jpeg of the What Can a Technology Integration Specialist do for You? I was delighted to see that the ideas and beliefs that many of the early adaptors became the definition of the role. I've also been delighted to see the growth in the field with so many amazing people who engage in this type of work. No blog post I could write could capture all the important names in the field of EdTech, but some people who I have worked with directly or influenced me are listed here: Kim Cofino, Steve Katz, Ben Summerton, David Gran, Mike Boll, Rob Newberry, Tyler Sherwood, and many more that I won't take the time to mention here and now.

But what I have noticed over the years, is that although the role has been defined, the method as not. Several people have done good work in defining coaching/mentoring, but no one as really set out the way you build an EdTech department from the ground up. How you take nothing and build something with it. People become EdTech Specialist or Technology Integration Specialist, but then what? How does one go about making the change in a school? What road map to success can be followed? Well friends, that is where this blog will be heading over the next few months. I intend to build the playbook of how to go from the title of EdTech Specialist to a successful department that influences change within a school. I sincerely hope that many of you will join me on this journey and even feel like contributing. The blog posts will cover various topics that I have found to be vital to the success of an EdTech program within a school. The final product will be a book that explains exactly how one goes about setting up a department and making it work. This will not be a philosophical guide, but rather a nuts-and-bolts how to guide.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Google Classroom in 12 Slides

A short presentation about Google Classroom for folks new to it. Please feel free to use, but please give me credit for it. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Spaces -- Google's new group work space

When I saw a Tweet from Larry Ferlazzo (@larryferlazzo) talking about a new product from Google, I quickly jumped in the water to try it out with the members of the old KIS EdTech team: Ben Summerton (@bensummerton), Steve Katz (@stevekatz), Art Shultz (@artshultz13), and Chris Bernhardi (@chrisbernhardi). The first few minutes of use was enough to convince me that it would be a very useful collaboration tool. Imagine that Wikispaces and Ning got married and had a child together -- that would be Spaces. The UI is very clean and dead simple to use. I have included two screen shots to help show what Spaces can do. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

18 Months of Free Energy -- Thanks Best Sunshine!

We still have $64.20 in credit with the CUC thanks to Best Sunshine.
When Best Sunshine wanted to received the blessing of the people of the CNMI to open an casino on Saipan, they were promising to make a positive difference in the lives of the people and the island. Many people were opposed to the casino and it was placed on the ballot. Before that important election, Best Sunshine gave the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation $10 million dollars to distribute to residential customers. At the time, our share was $635.71. It was placed in our account back in October, 2014 and the election was in November the same year. Since that time, we have not had to pay for our power and we still have some credit left. We are leaving island in June and I'm actually not sure we will finish the $64.20 we have left in our account. We rarely use the air conditioner (known as aircon on the island) and we shower at Club Elan in the Hyatt because we are members. We basically run two fans and a couple of lights in the evening, which translates to not much power usage as you can see in the photo of our bill. Some people said that the money was a bribe to buy the election. They could be right; they could be wrong; all I know is that we haven't paid for power in 18 months. Will the casino ultimately be a positive impact on the island? Only time will tell us that story.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Twitter in Educator Professional Development

First, a short historical perspective on this survey. Back in 2011, while part of the EdTech Team that developed the Fish Bowl, I wrote a blog post on the same topic. Unfortunately, Posterous shut down and that particular blog post was lost in an internet blackhole. I do, however, roughly remember the data gathered, but not exactly. What I do clearly recall from 2011 is that I received about the same number of responses (30), but the percentage of educators who felt that Twitter was a part of their professional development (70% in 2011) and the percentage of educators who felt that Twitter was a useful tool for professional development (50% in 2011) have both jumped in 2016. Second, there is an obvious bias that should be mentioned up front. Bias: I sent this survey on Twitter, which automatically means people who use Twitter are going to respond more than anyone esle. I did also post it on Facebook to an educational group I'm part of (Apple Educators), on LinkedIn, and on Google+, so other nets were cast into the vast ocean of the internet, but Twitter users were clearly more likely to respond.

With those items out of the way, here are the results of the survey.
Question one: I use Twitter as part of my professional development. Of the 30 respondents, 93.4% chose Agree or Strongly Agree.

Question two: I find Twitter useful as a professional development tool. Of the 30 respondents, 93.3% chose Agree or Strongly Agree. Although this question is similar to the first one, there is a subtle difference between the two questions. Question one asks if it is used by the person in professional development and the second question asks if the person finds it useful. This points to the users not doing it because they are being told to use Twitter, but because they personally find it useful. This once again help us to understand that Twitter is a grassroots form of professional development that educators use and enjoy, as opposed to a mandated form of professional development.

Question three: The third question didn't exist on my original survey back in 2011, but I thought it would be good to begin to understand exactly what educators do with Twitter that makes them feel that Twitter helps and/or empowers them with their professional development. The results showed that most (96.7%) share links to content. 80% engage in discussions and following hashtags on topics of interest. 70% use Twitter as a tool to curate content and 43.3% answer surveys (thanks to those people). 13.3% engage in "other" activities. Next survey, I will begin to catalog what "other" activities educators do on Twitter.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Educational Leadership: 5 (Good) Ways to Talk About Data

The November issue of Educational Leadership was titled Doing Data Right. Of course, as educators we should be doing our best to improve instruction and assessment with data informing our choices, but it is a much easier thing to say than to do. One of the featured articles (5 (Good) Ways to Talk About Data) in the issues dealt specifically with how to move a school in the right direction with regard to working with data. The research that has been conducted about professional learning communities suggests that this five components are necessary to have data drive instruction and assessment of student learning.

  • Component 1: Students are the shared responsibility of everyone.
    • All of the students go to the same school, no matter the age -- take ownership and be involved. In my experience, this matter can be dealt with by vertical teams. The more teachers from various grade levels know each other, the more they seem to feel joint responsibility over all students. In the article, it was specifically pointed out that a team should take responsibility for everyones success and failure. This helps build trust.
  • Component 2: Conversations about data include healthy disagreement.
    • The key word is healthy. People need to be able to talk about what the data means and how it should be used. These discussions will involve differing opinions, but everyone must act professionally and with trust. 
  • Component 3: Conversations about data engender trust rather than suspicion.
    • Principals and teachers need to work together. The data shouldn't be used to point the finger, but to better understand how improvements can be made.
  • Component 4: Data teams take a solution-oriented process.
    • Focusing on the solution, rather than the problem. Looking at the data and asking, "What can we do better?" "How can we teach or assess better?"
  • Component 5: Data teams know what they're expected to accomplish.
    • Clear guidelines for what needs to be accomplished, but also room to explore the data and the conclusions. The article pointed out some examples where they witnessed teams trying to complete all the questions, rather than really thinking about the answers/solutions. On the other extreme, there were some teams that didn't seem to have any clear guidelines on what should be done. You need to have structure, but not so much that it becomes busy work for teachers.
Datnow, Amanda, and Vicki Park. "5 (Good) Ways to Talk About Data."Educational Leadership Nov.     2015: 10-15. Web.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Run Away Train -- The Second Semester

The fact of the matter is that the second semester of school is filled with too many things to do. It is a simple truth that has been made worse this year because of typhoon Soudelor. Yes, I said it! The typhoon from August is still having an impact on the school year. Some activities that were usually in the fall have now found themselves located in the spring semester and the spring semester was already over booked. It is amazing to me that something that happened clear back in August is still lingering in the background of our lives on Saipan. Although some activities got move to a full spring semester, some other things simply got canceled for the year. The MISO Soccer season has apparently fell victim to Soudelor; they have canceled it for the year. Many seasons for sports have been reduced or cut for the year.

Our spring semester at SIS looks like the following list of activities:

  • January: Beginning of the second semester
  • February: Health Heart Walk and NHS/NJHS Induction Ceremony
  • March: End of the 3rd Quarter and Spring Break
  • April: Prance (prom) and the Spring Musical
  • May: AP Exams, SAT10 Exams, Graduation
  • June: Grade 8 Promotion and End of the 4th Quarter.

During these months there is also middle school girls' and boys' basketball, high school girls' and boys' basketball, (usually) soccer, and Track & Field. Also the academic competitions of Mock Trial, NFL/NJFL, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Math Court, and Junior Achievement are happening. And to top it all off, we are heading into an accreditation cycle with WASC.