5th Graders ~ October 2013 ~ What have you learned about responsible technology use?

OK 5th graders!

You have been getting lots of information on how to use and handle your minis responsibly.

Now I get to weigh in! Over the first few days you have your mini home, I would like you to do some thinking, both independently and with your family, about the responsibilities of working in the online world.   I will ask you to think about being safe, being responsible, and being healthy while living a bit in the online world.  The Road Rules for school apply no matter where you are. You are a Robinson student whether you are at 803 Couch or on YOUR couch (ha ha, get it?!)

Please watch this short video on Online Citizenship with a parent, or another adult family member. Please let me know you have viewed the video by COMMENTING with your answers to the following questions: (Please respond with only your first name, or initials, and your teachers name).

After watching the video, please answer at least two of the following questions in a well formulated response to me. I will grade you on the 5th grade rubrics for writing below: click on them to make them bigger.

5th Grade Writing Attitude and Behaviors

5th grade Writing Rubric Selections

  • How will you and your parents monitor your use of technology?   When do you know you have enough “screen time?”
  • Is there such thing as too much technology?  What does that look like?
  • What advice do you give to your classmates about how to act responsibly online? How will you interrupt if you see someone you know acting irresponsibly online?
  • What are some examples of what it looks like to RESPECT YOURSELF, OTHERS, LEARNING and the ENVIRONMENT while working with your own device?

As we do in blog posts, please end your comment with a QUESTION to keep the conversation going. Then, go back and find two other posts to respond to and answer their question.

Enjoy the video!  What other topics might you suggest I have other kids write on as we move forward with ipads in other grades?


Stepping it up a notch….

I just read a blog post by Lisa Dabbs, whom I have recently started following on  Twitter (@teachingwithsoul). In her post Breakaway Monday, she challenges all of us to write. Not just to do lists or updated calendars or staff memos: WRITE.  

She brings up a good point; as a teacher and a district staff developer, I wrote A LOT. I wrote newsletters, funny notes, reflections for different grad classes, lesson plans, press releases, heck I was even published at one point.   As an administrator I find my writing becoming more and more….busy.  More busy,than substantive. This is a bummer for me, because I have always found clarity when I can actually sit down and start dumping language on paper.  My writing during the school year, and I swear, maybe I just noticed it more last year has turned into reminders, fast replies. How fast can I hit send?  

So, I publicly proclaim to return to what I know to be true: writing helps me find clarity.  

I have to laugh at a recollection to support this. Some may find totally wacko but we had a lice outbreak at my school in May. Not an epidemic.  (Although, that word was tossed around by angst filled family members). We had a Girl Scout troop that went on a weekend camp out, a hockey team that went away to a tournament, various sleepovers etc. that congealed into the perfect storm of creepy crawlers.  One of our district policies is to send home a very legal’ish letter explaining to parents how not gross lice are  (um, yeah) and how anyone can get them etc.  It is dry, on letter head and I have to sign it.  You know what? This time, I didn’t want to sign it. My families were upset and wanted to know everything was going to be ok.  This letter did not help them. So, I dumped the letter and wrote my own. In fact, I ended up writing three and e-blasting them to all parents and staff, three days in a row.   I went to my core and I wrote for them.

I went personal: my kid has had lice. Twice.  I was mortified too, but we survived.

I went humorous: I listed the home remedies I have heard of from people. (Seriously, I need to write a book).

I went practical: I listed all the fun ways lice can be transferred from head to head like sharing bike helmets.

I went to the community: If we were going to get rid of this, we all had to work together. 

And the responses I got back were 100% positive. Not thrilled with the situation, but still very thankful that I was keeping it real and helping families see that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

What’s the point? Well, writing helped not only me, but my families. I felt better because I felt like I was doing SOMETHING besides combing through hair, and my families felt better because I was showing some empathy.

When do you write for others? When do you write for yourself?


Online Citizenship ~ Mrs. Sisul’s thoughts!

OK 5th grader!

You have been getting lots of information on how to use and handle your minis responsibly. Now I get to weigh in! Before you can take your minis home, I would like you to do some thinking, independently and with your family, about the responsibilities of working in the online world. The Road Rules for school apply no matter where you are. You are a Robinson student whether you are at 803 Couch or on YOUR couch (ha ha, get it?!)

Please watch this short video on Online Citizenship with a parent, or another adult family member. Please let me know you have viewed the video by COMMENTING with your answers to the following questions: (Please respond with only your first name, or initials, and your teachers name).

What did this video on Online Citizenship “bring up” for you and your co-viewer? What did you discuss?

Which Road Rules MOST apply to online citizenship? How?

What advice do you give to your classmates about how to act responsibly online? How will you interrupt if you see someone you know acting irresponsibly online?

What questions do you have for me, or Mrs. Bearden or Mrs. Hong?

Thanks everyone! Let me know if I can help as well!

Hurry up and wait!

You might notice that I have been on  hiatus from my reflections on our journey.  Truly, since my last post Follow Up to Mrs.  Driscoll’s Class, I have continued observing my teachers make their own meaning with the technology currently available to them. More and more teachers are checking out our currently limited number of Ipads for small groups and I continue to learn from my staff on how to integrate technology meaningfully to enhance MY instruction. (This quarter, I valiantly but comically, worked to use a document camera to review progress monitoring charts with grade levels. Who knew it needed to be on “video,” to NOT be fuzzy? Thanks Mrs. LeSeure!)

So, lots going on in  a purposeful time of “mucking around,” with technology. As word of our  1:1 evolution has become more real, I have heard comments from staff about their anticipation of having access to more digital devices. Rather than trepidation, I hear optimism and excitement. Sure, the unknown still creates some angst, but the energy is high. Again, a shout out to my district for honoring teachers and staff by putting Ipads into our hands FIRST so we can climb to our own level of efficacy before tossing our kids into the boat with us.

Two big steps forward happened last week, the week before our Spring Break. One is documented below! As I mentioned in an earlier post, the two teachers who are leading our “scout” are members of the district’s Technology Leadership Group.  Jennifer  and Genie didn’t quite know what they were getting into when I drafted them to be our representatives, but they are troopers and tech-ees to the core!  The TLG are the folks who will be each receiving a classroom set of Ipad Minis to work with for the fourth quarter of school. While Jen and Genie have been working with their Ipads, they were given their Mini last week. Of course, it was a meeting I had to miss, so they had to send me pictures and ask if I was jealous! Heck yes


Follow Up to Mrs. Driscoll’s class!

Yesterday I celebrated Mrs. Driscoll for her work nudging herself along the Stages of Concern by using her Ipad with a reflection app to teach the kids how to publish on Pages, while at the same time showing them some ins and outs of the device. Today, I was invited back in, to watch the kids in action.  What do you predict I saw?  Yep, the kids were indeed publishing with incredible proficiency.  But, what gave Kim and I goosebumps was watching the collaboration. It was more than the typical neighborly, “let me show you,” kind of conversation. We saw kids authentically reaching out to help their classmates make their work better.  If you know elementary kids, you know that this is different.

As I watched Abby and Leila, I was struck by the very organic conversation and partnership that had bubbled up.  I honestly don’t even know who was helping who because it was such an even give and take. What I do know is that as a result of their conversation, BOTH girls work was enhanced.


Similar “give and takes” happened all over the classroom as kids looked up from their own work and reached out to help their classmates succeed.

One question we have batted around a bit in my district, is will kids detach from one another as they become attached to their device? Over and over again, we have heard from other educators….just wait! The collaboration will be there and it will be even better (in my interpretation, more authentic). Granted, the kids were collaborating on how to make their finished work better, so yes, the bells and whistles of Pages, but I’m telling you….they were in it not for themselves, but for their peers and keep in mind, it was their first day with the Ipads.  My fingers are crossed….

What has been your experience watching kids collaborate (or not!) with personal devices?

CBAM ~ Stages of Concern in Action!

CBAM ~ Stages of Concern in Action!

In case you were thinking I was making up how awesome my staff is, I wanted to share a tidbit I happened upon today. It was great timing as my post yesterday was on the Concerns Based Adoption Model and adult learners. Today as I strolled through a second grade class, I happened upon a teacher who has been wiggling around in Stage 3 (management!) and caught her as she took a step out into utilizing her Ipad with kids.

Kim is a great example of …”well, what the heck,I’ll try it…,” a really fun quality in a teacher! She has been making great use of her IPad as we had asked her to ~ living it, getting to know it, getting comfortable doing it. However, knowing her, I was not surprised when I walked in and saw her using her Ipad for the kids, with a reflection app on the ActivBoard, to engage them in a new (to them) way to publish. As she was showing the kids some of the ins and outs of Pages from her Ipad, they were able to watch her navigate the Ipad as she explained a bit about Pages and then were pumped when she told them they were going to check out an Ipad from the library for them all to use. They would even be able to present their writing form the Ipad with the reflection app….just like her! Student engagement,anyone?

As a leader, I celebrated her leap! As a learner, I asked her where she thought she was operating on CBAM. She very quickly responded ~ Level 3. When I probed as to why, she came back with a new number….2.5! (Not my intent by the way.) Kim’s reasoning made me smile: I feel like I am beginning to wonder how this will affect my classroom, but I also feel like the 3 is partly me because I am getting things ready and jumping in with experimenting with them more than just thinking about it . . . I don’t know is this a 2???

Based upon her response, what level would you suggest she is operating within?

Adult Learners ~ No Big Deal, right? Wrong!

Yes, our 1 to 1 Ipad initiative is for our students. But, before we can put Ipads into the hands of 451 kids, we as adults have some more learning and growing to do. As leader of my building, I consider my staff to be my students, and just as when I was teaching 6 and 7 year olds, all of them are unique and wonderful and need something just a little different than their neighbor. I love teaching!

I think we do ourselves and our adult learners a disservice when we assume that just because they are “grown ups,” they all learn alike. They are all ready to have their paradigms nudged. They will happily soak up and internalize all the good professional learning we have to share. When we do that, we do not value the background of our adult learners, what they bring to the table, their learning style, their worries, their hopes, their fears, their excitement, their optimism, their ideas.

Teachers especially, I think, are asked to turn on a dime; embrace this strategy, start using that assessment, change to these standards…change is a constant in our profession, and my friends, change is hard. But it doesn’t have to be. I am a fan and believe in the work and logic of Shirley Hord and the Concerns Based Adoption Model and as we plan ahead for 1 to 1 roll out at my school, it is a framework I refer to often. CBAM has three components: Stages of Concern, Levels of Use and Innovation Configurations. Even as I considered who were the two pilot teachers to launch the 1 to 1 work this Spring with just their two classes (See blog post A Long Time Coming) the CBAM Stages of Concern and Levels of Use models informed the invitation.

As a leader, it is one tool I use to support my staff through change, whether it be a change from “the district,” or change they are making in their practice on their own, the model is one that helps me keep things in perspective. In turn, I think I am a better coach (and sometimes straight up administrator) when I acknowledge where people fall on the continuum.

With apologies to Shirley Hord for any inaccuracies in my interpretation, I consider the model like this:

An adult learner who has no knowledge of a change initiative (for whatever reason) is considered at level 0 of the initiative. My job as a leader at this stage, is to provide information in a safe, non-threatening way in order to nudge people to the Informational stage (Level 1). At this point, individuals would like to know more about the initiative, but are not ready to try anything new. (Consider this the “handing-out-an-article,” stage of the work). At Level 2, individuals begin to wonder how the initiative will impact them, personally, and at Level 3 they are in a very mechanical stage of dealing with the “Stuff,” managing materials, getting things ready etc. (think about first year teachers and their many,many late nights getting “stuff,” ready).

So, they have been messing with the materials, managing the “Stuff” and suddenly they have found their way. Behold….Level 4! Consequence! At this level, individuals in the initiative find themselves beginning to reflect more on the impact of the initiative on their learners: How is my use affecting learners? How can I refine it to have more impact? These questions lead them to seek out others for that much needed collaboration and BAM, we are at Level 5 : Collaboration. (ok, if only there was BAM!). Does it get any better than that? You bet, because the final stage of concern is Level 6, the level of Refocusing. I know folks have hit this level when they come to me with ideas on how to make the initiative even better.

Knowing this, at what stage do you predict I was shooting for with the pilot teachers I invited? What characteristics was I looking for?

1:1 with kids….what are the first steps?

As I mentioned in my first post (ever, I might add) I hope that my reflections on our journey can be helpful to others who are contemplating this incredible evolution or who are like me, and find themselves in the midst of it as a leader.  I think it’s important  to share some background steps my district provided for us at the school sites. This link will take you to a ppt slide show that includes a summary of how we got to January 25….the Board of Education meeting where the history and subsequent pilot were rolled out and approval was requested. The slide you would want to notice if you want some steps from the district perspective is slide 2.

Other items of note in the summary/history are:

  • a “field trip” to Springfield, Illinois (3 hours or so from St. Louis). Springfield Public Schools are currently implementing a 1:1 initiative. My colleagues who attended were so impressed with the evidence they saw in  Springfield. Kudos to Springfield!
  • you can read about the WHY of Ipads on slide 10 ~ we are actually going ahead with the Mini’s, rather than straight up Ipads. I guess I need to get more proficient with my thumbs!
  • You can also read our plan to gather evidence of success of the pilot.  This is on slide 16.

One thing that  Springfield shared, and we had already jumped on, was their wish that they had put Ipads into the hands of teachers FIRST, well ahead of the kids. That makes sense. Imagine being told you were going to need to modify your teaching and planning using this fabulous new tool that you were going to get at the same time as the kids. Imagine learning the tech at the same time in the kids. Who are we kidding? The kids would be light years ahead of some of us, if we didn’t already have the technology on our own.   Can you just feel the angst of teachers as they worked to not feel inept in front of their students, tried to muddle through questions from the kids, learn apps, figure out how to stop the stupid thing from rotating every time you turned it (spoken from experience).  What would the learning be like for the kids?  Not so great…. or at least, it would happen at a much slower rate.

My district is led by wise people, who also rely on other wise people around the table. One incredibly smart move they made was to put an Ipad into EVERY teachers hands one full year before anticipated student implementation. You heard me….every teacher.   I cannot speak to the roll out and technical end of this massive distribution last summer, but I can speak to the real life, day to day reactions of teachers in my building.






Folks were provided the device, and an overview Professional Development session to get them started and then given permission to LIVE WITH THE IPAD. Get to know it, get to know how it works, work at your pace, ask questions in the safety of your comfort zone at your school and see where it takes you. And ~ oh the places we have gone. Without the pressure of having to integrate with children ASAP, my staff is now at an incredible proficiency level, and it’s only been one semester.  And when I say proficient, I mean more than finding cool apps.  We use Ipads at data meetings, Professional Development sessions, team meetings, coaching sessions, classroom observations, to collect footage of kids to use for problem solving…you get the idea.

As  leader, it was nothing I mandated, nothing I started monitoring.  I modeled, I was excited and I celebrated when I saw the Ipads being used to do something we already did…better.  They are becoming a part of our culture, rather than an imposed HAVE TO. IMG_0278

The result:  We are building our own capacity.

Input encouraged:

How have you used Ipads used by teachers and/or teacher teams? How do you as a leader encourage, nudge and support along the way?

A long time coming…

As I noted above, I hope to document the journey of my school, Robinson Elementary, as we move towards a 1 to 1 device environment.  But, it did not start with us. In fact, it didn’t even start recently.   Conversations, mini-pilots, teacher roll outs have been going on for 3 years and all led to a presentation to our Board of Education last week, January 25.  You can read the report here and also click to see the video of the smart team of folks presenting and answering questions from the board.

I am picking up the story from the day after the vote; the point at which my school enters the pilot.  We will begin with two dynamic teacher leaders who are members of our district Technology Leaders Group and who will test the waters of this initiative for us. They are well respected on our staff, well read learners, innovative in their practice,  and risk takers. I will introduce you to them shortly and explain some more about the WHY of the pilot. I think inviting the right people to pilot is key to an initiative such as this.

Any input for me?

What do you think of when you consider who might be the best to pilot an initiative? How do you help teacher leaders, who might know they are teacher leaders, evolve into teacher leaders? (wordy enough for you?)

What do you think of the presentation to our board? Does it answer questions for you or raise more?

So, how the heck do you start this work?

This blog is my attempt at leading by example, jumping in with both feet, taking a leap, running a risk, putting myself out there….all those things I hope for, dream of and nudge my staff of elementary school teachers to do. So why don’t I know how to start?  Well, let’s start with the WHY.

My point in starting this blog is to document the journey of my elementary school, Robinson Elementary,  to a 1 to 1 device environment.  It is exciting to me as someone who has finally figured out that our kids A. learn differently B. have different needs than we did as kids and C. are going to lead us in a world that is far different even the world today. (That epiphany was a big day…you should have been there!)

So, here I am , ready to lead a staff into teaching in a 1 to 1 environment.  Well, hopefully, ready….I went researching…I looked for examples….I wanted to find places that had it figured out so I could learn from others. I wanted to ask questions, look for exemplars and hook my teachers up with others.  I wanted to find a fellow elementary administrator who has walked the walk so I could borrow plays from her playbook.  I have come to realize that for true examples of 1 to 1, the examples are few and far between. (Forgive me if you are reading this and are THE shining example, please contact me! )

I get it. There is a huge financial investment (Kudos to KSD for taking this on!) as well as so many questions to work through (Do they go home with kids? Kindergarten….really? What about breakage? What if the kids know more about technology than staff?) But one of the reasons I love my school district is this commitment which to me is also a commitment to educational equity. My district is committing to leveling the playing field so all of our students have equal access. I owe it to all of my kids to try and stay maybe a step ahead.

Some questions for those who have found this digital wanna-be:

If you are working in a 1 to 1 environment, what were some steps you considered before launching in with your staff?  What devices are you  using (we will be using Ipad-Minis).  What are the pit falls?  What advice can you give me?

If you are not working in a 1 to 1 environment, what might you suggest I consider?  What am I not thinking about?