Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nonplussed--doesn't happen to me often (but it probably should)

Last week, I returned from the Lausanne Laptop Institute in Memphis. This is always one of my favorite conferences when I go--it's well organized, the sessions are long enough not to feel rushed, and the presenters are always prepared and are masters in their areas. http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

While at the institute, I live-blogged many of the presentations I attended. One of my blogs caught the attention of the keynote, Jeff Utecht. This is a conference with a pretty lively back channel and I ran into some trouble with monitoring the twitter feed and keeping up with my liveblog. Thank goodness for Bill Campbell @billcamp who stepped in to manage the twitter feed.

I'm working on a post about the value of the backchannel (not yet finished) when I realized that I had more readers of my live blogs (either live or later) of the sessions I attended, including the keynote, than I did attendees at my presentations. I'm a bit nonplussed about this fact. Could it be that I have more to contribute as a reporter than as a presenter?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jeff Utecht The Changing Nature of Communication

Session Summary: Being a leader in the 21st Century means going beyond e-mail and newsletters into the new digital world of communicating with parents and students. Understanding that society today wants information in short and more frequent bursts is the first step in utilizing tools that allow you to communicate using the new web. This presentation demonstrates and discusses the different ways schools and school leaders can harness the power of the Internet to communicate with their school communities

Elizabeth Hellfant at Laptop Institute

Elizabeth Helfant TPACK and SAMR as Evaluative, Unifying, and Goal-Setting Framework.

Monday, July 11, 2011

There's an App for That

Julene Reed, Dir. of Academic Tech., St. George's Indep. School was so good this morning, I thought I'd come back for more!

QR Codes, connecting the physical and digital worlds with Jeff Utecht

I decided this one was too good an opportunity to pass up.


Session on EBooks

Laptop Institute 2011

I'm back at the Laptop Institute at Lausanne this year. I missed the conference last year and it feels great to be back!

Jeff Utecht (@jutecht) is giving the keynote and I'll be liveblogging. . .surprise.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Women who lead

On Tuesday, June 21, 2011, I'll have the chance to discuss a fascinating question with a small group of women from other NC independent schools. Why aren’t more women moving up the ranks of leadership in independent school communities to become school heads?

The question was posed in the opening of an article in the Fall 2010 edition of Independent School Leadership by Susan Feibelman and Martha Haakmat titled: A Gendered Experience.

When I read the article, I discussed it with a number of other women working in independent schools. I can only imagine that many others did the same. Shortly afterwards, in December, a TED talk (embedded at the end of this post) by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg titled Why we have too few women leaders went viral, at least among the same group. Sandberg looks at why a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions -- and offers 3 powerful pieces of advice to women.

Sandberg alludes to some cultural factors that Feibelman and Haakmat describe in their article:

The low number of women leaders, it turns out, is directly connected to cultural attitudes toward women as leaders.

Two women with successful school headships in their careers will keynote this gathering of women interested in learning more about leadership in independent schools. They are:

Sandra Adams, Former Head of Summit School

Doreen Kelly, Head of Ravenscroft School

As is my wont, I'll be liveblogging the keynote addresses and possibly some of the later sessions as well, right here, starting at 9:15.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ode to Pink

Both of my daughters love the color pink. We recently moved, and they had a hand in helping to decorate their new room. It came as no surprise to me that their room is now pinkified--pink curtains, drapes, throw pillows, wall art. . . you name it, it's pink.

I'm (professionally) infatuated with another shade of pink these days. Dan Pink's Drive. When I read A Whole New Mind, the first of Pink's books to come to my attention, I will admit to being a little underwhelmed. Why it was pleasantly put together, I didn't feel that I learned anything new from AWNM. I had a completely different experience while reading Drive. Yes, Drive referenced and distilled the work of others I'd already read, most notably Carol Dweck's thought-provoking work published in Mindset. However, in Drive, Pink put his thoughts about what motivates us (people, humanity, etc)together in a way that gets the people in my school talking on a high level about topics such as motivation, assessment, student autonomy. . . conversations well worth having.

One nice thing about Drive is that Pink and others have done some of the work to help get conversations going with a group. His Two Questions video is perfect for opening a discussion.

Two questions that can change your life from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

At my school, we felt like the second question was not one we wanted to encourage. I'll talk more about that more in another post in the future.

Once the group has discussed the first video, it is worth seeing this collection of responses made by people from around the world to the prompt "what's your sentence."

Who knows--as a group, you may be inspired to make your own video of sentences. We've started our own--there's much more to come.

Finally, if anyone read the book a while back and needs a brief refresher/overview, I highly recommend these two videos:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

NAIS Annual Conference

I'm so excited to be attending the NAIS Annual Conference again this year. Thanks to Jason Ramsden of Ravenscroft School, I'm able to live blog the sessions I attend. Those are hosted on another blog, and I'd welcome visitors, comments, observations, etc.

So far, the conference has been exciting and invigorating. I've already had one big take-away. Peter Gow showed Beaver Country Day School's new teacher wiki. I don't have the link yet, but I think everyone in the room is planning to go home and set one up at their school. The site includes short video welcomes from key people at the school, links to information about books that have been all faculty reads recently, and a host of other information that takes a while to learn when one is new, such as a BCDS lexicon.

This post will definitely be edited later today to include links!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What if we taught spelling with adaptive expertise in mind?

What if we taught spelling with adaptive expertise in mind?

Such an approach would incorporate Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development along with the best practices of differentiation and would include the habits of mind associated with adaptive expertise.

We would begin with the end in mind. Students would learn common orthological spelling patterns in sequential order; learning to apply the patterns they know when they encounter words in their writing that they want to include, but are uncertain how to spell.

According to Invernizzi, Johnston, Bear et. al, each student should be working to master a spelling pattern s/he is “using but confusing.” Such a spelling program will be differentiated and developmentally appropriate for each learner in the classroom.

What would this look like in practice?

Step One: Each class would take a developmental spelling inventory to determine groupings for spelling instruction.

Step Two: Word study units for each group of students based on their developmental stage of spelling. Typically, there are 4 or 5 groups in a classroom of 20 students. Word study includes reading and writing activities such as word sorts, games, and writing activities. The words included follow the spelling patterns being studied. At this point in the fully differentiated classroom, each student would move at his/her own pace. In a partially differentiated classroom, groups would progress together, but students would move between groups depending on ongoing formative assessment.

Step Three: A summative assessment of each student’s ability to use the pattern s/he studied. This assessment should include words that students have and have not seen before but that follow the same patterns as those studied. This will allow students to demonstrate mastery and adaptive expertise. For example, if the student was learning to spell words with r controlled vowels, word study might include words such as fir and fur. During the assessment, the word furry would appear. A sentence might be “my pet cat is very furry.” Students who have mastered fir and fur should be able to generalize that the new word is spelled with the letter u.

In sum, students demonstrate mastery of a pattern before moving on to study a new pattern. There is no abandonment of skills not mastered. No student spends time studying patterns s/he has already mastered.

Sounds simple. Why is it so hard?

Preparing for NAIS

Wow--in just two days I am heading up I85 to the NAIS annual conference. I've set up liveblogs at http://cannonpep.blogspot.com/, which is the blog that the teachers at my school are familiar with. However, it is certainly not an exclusive group--anyone is welcome!

I've spent this weekend getting ready for the sessions I'm leading or, in the case of the panel I'm moderating, sessions where I just need to stay out of the way and feed the panel questions. This is going to be a great conference!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pick your popsicle?

This past week, my daughter caught some kind of viral bug. At one point, I offered her a choice of popsicles as part of the campaign to keep her from getting dehydrated. Her response left me nonplussed. She looked in the box and mused aloud "Well, I threw up a green one. I saw some orange in my puke the other time, so I guess I'll pick purple."

Fortunately, the purple stayed down.

Lately, I'm collecting stories that happen in my life and trying to think how I can use them or make them meaningful. This one got me thinking about faculty development. How?

All to often, teachers approach faculty development "choices" the same way my daughter approached the popsicle box. Which ones haven't already been, well, nauseating.

Why? That takes me back to Dan Pink's Purpose, Mastery, Autonomy.

The experiment I did recently with unstructured time for faculty developmentwas well-received, but I'm not sure what the results are going to be. That's okay. For a while. The waiting is tough. But, that's what I'll have to do.

Wouldn't it have been easier just to make everyone "learn" about something I picked for 3 hours with a series of moderately engaging or entertaining activities? Then I wouldn't be waiting. . .

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Look out--PD coming!

Tonight's inaugural #isedchat addressed the question: "What does successful professional development look like at your school?"

I missed the chat--7pm with two little kids in the house is just not twitter chat friendly. So, I perused the thread tonight with a goal in mind. What should we do at school for our next scheduled PD time?

Periodically we have a half day for professional development at our school. I've been thinking about our upcoming day for a while now, and here's what I've come up with. This stems in part from the thinking that led to the "why are we teaching this stuff" post.

Now, what with being a fan of stealing, I mean researching, others' ideas, I went looking for someone who'd tried this and blogged about it. Bingo! Lyn Hilt, a K-6 principal in Pennsylvania who blogs at The Principal's Posts gave the teachers at her school time for self directed learning. Not a free day, but a day with purpose and accountability, and autonomy. Her description of how she organized the day inspired me.

Here's part of the email message I wrote to the other deans and the division director:

I've been thinking about this day. Here's what I'd like to propose:

Implementing a form of the Google 20% time. There's been a lot written
about this since Dan Pink mentioned it in Drive and his speech. We
could ask folks ahead of time what they needed to learn more about.
Some groups might naturally emerge. I would work to provide resources
for those who need them. We could also put together a "sit and get" for
those who insist. The big part is that 20% time still has some
accountability. Participants are supposed to DELIVER at the end of
their time. What would that delivery look like at Cannon? I am
thinking the delivery would be in small groups spread throughout campus,
with one of us in each group.

I suggested some reading on the concept of 20% time:

From Dan Pink:

One school leader's experience:

Let's see what they say!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Why are we teaching this stuff?

I follow with avid interest the musings and ideas of leaders in the Independent Curriculum Group. The NY Times article about changes to the AP.

Great--I'm reading good stuff. Now what am I going to do about it?? That's the question I'm asking myself. Because if I'm not doing anything about it. . .

On Connected Principals, Dave Truss wrote a brilliant post Less is more. Teach less, learn more. I left a comment and he wrote me back--causing that thrill that happens when a nobody like me gets a comment from someone who is a somebody. DT is the creator of the Brave New World Wide Web Video seen by just about everybody.

In our exchange (I had an exchange w/ Dave Truss!) I thought of something that made me realize it was time to blog. We must be wary of teaching kids that the academic grindstone is the way to ensure life-long success. That is clearly not true for many now. But, to break that grindstone for students, we’ll have to free the teachers first.

What are the essentials?

Give teachers time to collaborate and learn. I can do that. But it isn't just about time. Given time, even good teachers will often fill it with the tasks of teaching rather than expanding their own thinking. "There are so many papers to grade. If I have more time, I can read each draft as well as the final copy to help students be better writers." What do we need besides time? How do we create an expectation of learning and collaborating in that time?

Access to resources that expand teachers' worlds and provide tools for collaboration. I admit it, I'm a professional media junkie. I want to drag more folks into my world. I need to make sure that I'm not neglecting other realms though. Why on earth do teachers have to buy books about learning with their own money? Where are the professional libraries at most schools? How old are the books in them? Do teachers read and discuss books as part of their professional day or is that supposed to be done "on your own time?"

Authentic accountability. What if each teacher set some indicators to show how s/he has grown as a learner at the beginning of the school year and was evaluated with those in mind? Some schools approach teacher evaluation this way, how does it work?

Finally, that 20% time Daniel Pink espouses (see video below). Started (?) by Google, educators have been talking about it. we keep hearing about. Do we give teachers and students 20% time? How about 10%? 5%?