Saturday, October 22, 2011

#Rockstar Meme: 1 Year Blogging Anniversary

I was recently invited by an amazing woman, Joan Young, to participate in the #Rockstar Meme -- How Blogging Rocked Your World. This is such an honor, and the timing couldn't be better as I celebrate my first year anniversary of blogging.

Why blogging?

Blogging helps me reflect, process, and focus, which provides clarity. I think in brainstorms, adding ideas and eliminating others as I rule them out. The process I go through to write a post helps me decipher ideas and connect new meaning, leaving me with a sense of calmness and closure.

Expected blogging benefits

It's expected to be an organized place to keep notes on my learning. Saving time is another expectation because I spend much of my time answering emails about tech integration. So, it helps to post it on my blog.

Unexpected blogging benefits

I didn't realize the connections that evolve from blogging. Until nine months ago, the only blog I followed was my best friend's. The change happened when I stumbled upon a Tweet about the Edublogs Teacher Challenge, which pretty much opened Pandora's box in such a great way.

Connected and inspired

I thrive when I'm having fun learning, creating things, connecting, and making a difference in the lives of students and teachers. My batteries recharge when I'm around others who have the same passion.

Blogging connects me with innovative and passionate educators. I go to their blogs over and over because of the inspiration they give me. They recharge my batteries.

The #Rockstar Meme

Created with Sketchpad & Aviary

Those who inspire me the most through blogging are the #Rockstars that I'm passing the meme baton to:
This meme, started by Miguel Guhlin, is about how blogging rocks your world. The typical meme expectations are to link back and comment on the originator's post, and pass the meme baton to five others.

I believe memes are for recognizing others as inspiration, and it's not actually expected they write a post.

Final thoughts

If you want to be inspired, I highly recommend the five bloggers I named because they are #Rockstars!
  • Who are your #Rockstars?
  • How does blogging rock your world? 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Creating 21st Century Classrooms

Teching it Up K-12 -- Success Stories, Part 3

In Part 2 of "Teching it Up K-12 -- Success Stories," originally presented at the Arizona CIO/CTO Forum 2011, we focused on developing a learning culture through peer coaching.  In Part 3, we focus on 21st century learning, blogging, and PLN.

Pedagogical Shift

There is a pedagogy shift happening in our district. Teachers are focusing on their learners. They are connecting beyond the four walls of their classrooms for an authentic purpose, relevant to their learners. Students are creating products as part of their learning, rather than it being just another hoop to jump through.

As our teachers become 21st century learners, they push themselves to the next step. For us, the Edublogs Teacher Challenges and Student Challenges have been catalysts in this process.

Edublogs Teacher Challenge

Image attributed to Edublogs
The Edublogs Teacher Challenges build teachers' skills in web 2.0 tools with the support of a global community working through the challenges together. By piggy-backing on their free professional development, we build a learning network side-by-side with one another, and around the globe.

Edublogs Student Challenge

The Edublogs Student Challenge is a global blogging challenge for individual student blogs and class blogs. There are 10 weeks of challenges that occur twice a year: September and again in March. Through these challenges, students (and teachers) learn about digital citizenship in an authentic setting, while learning how to improve their blogging and commenting skills.

Blogs in AJUSD

Students are motivated and engaged because blogging allows them to connect with others in an authentic context. It allows them to continue their conversations about what they are learning and seeing in the world, while practicing appropriate online behavior and digital citizenship.

AJUSD Blogs on PhotoPeach

Building PLN

Blogging is one way to build PLN. It allows us to share resources; build momentum; it connects us with others; thereby, allowing us to support one another.

Final remarks

I'm thankful our technology department keeps educational sites filtered and accessible, a decision based on pedagogical ideologies.
  • How does 21st century learning affect your students?
  • How are you becoming a 21st century learner? 
  • How does your technology department's decisions reflect their pedagogical ideologies?
Special thanks to Sue Wyatt, for her dedication in organizing the Student Blogging Challenges. Thanks to Sue Waters and Ronnie Burt  for their commitment to teachers through the Teacher Challenges. Thanks to Jon Castelhano, for making excellent pedagogical choices that empower learners. Thanks to all of the AJUSD teachers for their passion in education.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Grow a Learning Culture through Peer Coaching

Teching it Up K-12 -- Success Stories, Part 2

In Part 1 of "Teching it Up K-12 -- Success Stories," originally presented at the Arizona CIO/CTO Forum 2011, we focused on the importance of a learning-centric vision. Our focus for Part 2 was developing a learning culture through peer coaching.

Serving others through Peer Coaching

With all the professional development needed to sustain one-to-one, PBL, 21st century learning, and individualized instruction, we turned to the Microsoft Peer Coaching model developed by the Peer-Ed team.

The beauty of Peer-Ed's training modules was the adaptability to our district's vision. To highlight the "collaboration" role of peer coaches, we called them "collaboration coaches."

Collaboration Coaching, Catalyst for Culture Shift

We tapped into full time teachers as our collaboration coaches. They focused on creating a 21st century learning environment in their own classrooms, while also working with a small group of teachers for increased collaboration.

Doors started opening because teachers understood the expectations of collaborating, sharing ideas, and resources focused on 21st century learning. As a result, the culture shifted to a learning and sharing culture.

Coaching Culture in One to One

The eight coaches at Cactus Canyon Junior High also had the added role of navigating the changes of becoming a one-to-one environment.

Pedagogy & D.I.

Staff development focused on pedagogy and differentiated instruction with technology infused in it.

For example, instead of talking about how to use Google Forms, we discussed formative assessment and checking for understanding. After brainstorming various ways to use Google Forms as formatives, we created our own.

PLC -- the mini PDs

Some people learned web 2.0 tools quickly, while others needed ongoing, mini professional developments. Voluntary 30 minute trainings were offered once a week. This gave teachers a chance to try it out in their classrooms, with the comfort of knowing there'd be continued followup.

The teachers were so responsive to learning shoulder-to-shoulder, they expanded to four days of voluntary PD, completely ran by the coaches. They became a learning community, there to support one another. Awesome!

Final remarks

Collaboration Coaching built capacity. It's a shared leadership model that fostered a supportive learning community.
  • How do you grow, develop, and nurture a learning community?
  • How do you improve the learning culture and climate at your school, classroom, or PLN?

In Part 3, we will focus on 21st century learning, blogging, and PLN.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Teching it Up K-12 -- Success Stories, Part 1

We see districts who have an established learning culture, and their classrooms are filled with authentic learning experiences. How did they get there?

Our story

Jon Castelhano and I have the privilege of presenting at the Arizona CIO/CTO Forum 2011 on October 6th. We are going to share how our district closed the door on the 20th century and opened 21st century student-centered classrooms. Our district started teching up the classrooms with engaging, standards-based, student-centered learning, despite the financial climate we are in.

The next three posts will share about our journey, and some of the key game-changers for us.

The focus and the vision

Our district focuses on our learners. We ask, what's good for our learners? What do they want? What can we do to improve their education? If you listen to their answers, they will tell you about our vision.


Those in leadership roles in the district believe in building relationships as the foundation for working together towards our 21st century learning-centered goals.

Our decisions reflect our vision. For example, despite having to close two schools due to decreased enrollment, we are moving forward with one-to-one environments and opportunities. Why? To prepare our students for their future.

  • How do your decisions reflect your goals and vision?
  • What would your students share about their favorite things they learn in the classroom?