Monday, September 16, 2013

Schools should help students become...CONFIDENT

In reading Chris Lehmann’s blog reflecting back on his session at ISTE (, I liked the format and prompts he used to generate ideas and discussion, especially, “In 10 words or less, Schools should help students become…”

I used this prompt at a recent Grand Forks Public Schools Educational Enhancement Team (E.E.T.) meeting.  Membership on the team includes superintendent, assistant superintendent, curriculum, technology, and CTE directors, some building principals and teachers, parents, university representatives, and students.  The purpose of the E.E.T. is to:
  • Continuously improve the quality of the learning experiences for all student offered by the Grand Forks Public School District.
  • Ensure maintenance of high academic standards.
  • Provide feedback to the school district’s Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment, and Professional Development Committee relative to its work.
  • Provide feedback to the AdvancEd District Committee relative to its work.
  • Read various educational research-based articles supplied by the E.E.T. chairperson and engage in subsequent conversation.
Technology was the agenda item for the most recent meeting.  So, I started with the prompt, “In 10 words or less…Schools should help students become…” As the members shared their answers with the group, here are some of the responses:
  • Ready to be productive and fulfill their dreams
  •  Ready to begin their next chapter after high school
  • Motivated, responsible, and independent learners who contribute positively to society
  • Well-educated citizens who are prepared for the world
  • Informed, engaged, critically-thinking citizens who seek opportunities for learning
  • Critical thinkers, collaborators, communicators, creators, career and college ready
  • Individually motivated and successful through learning

These were all excellent words and concepts that we strive for on a daily basis.  Continuing to move around the room, one member said succinctly, “college and career ready,” and made note that he answered in only 4 words.  Not to be outdone, another member followed, “successful in life,” and pointed out the three-word answer.  I wondered, would anyone have a more succinct answer?  The only student present at the meeting had yet to report.  Her answer: “confident,” a one-word answer.  What a great answer!  Schools should help students become CONFIDENT.  Confidence means and relates to so many things.  Confident to:
  • learn
  • ask questions
  • prepare for a future career
  • earn a post high school degree or training
  • be a positive citizen
  • participate in extra-curricular activities
  • work with other people
  • communicate with others
  • make a difference
  • think outside the box
  • challenge the status quo

Are we preparing students to do well on standardized tests and or we are preparing our students to be confident in all they do?  Are we still teaching students as we have done in the past or are we instilling confidence to dream big?  If all students leave Grand Forks Public Schools with confidence in their future, we know we have lived up to our mission of: “Providing an environment of educational excellence that engages all learners to develop their maximum potential for community and global success.”

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

4C the Future

As I thought about starting my first blog, I thought extensively about a title for my blog and how it would best relate to my position as technology director.  I am continually focused on student engagement through the use of technology, so the title would have to reflect my work and passion.  Similarly, I am focused on the priority of our district’s strategic plan; “Emphasize 21st Century instructional practices which foster student academic engagement.”  Although I do struggle with the term “21st Century Learning,” the related goal and strategies are excellent for the direction necessary as we continue to move forward.

·      Promote the utilization of appropriate technology tools to enhance the teaching and learning process.
·      Research new and emerging instructional technology.
·      Provide professional development for administrative and instructional staff.
·      Implement 1:1 Student Personal Digital Device Project.

My struggle with the term “21st Century Learning/Education” is because we are 13 years into the 21st Century.  It is a bit of a paradox if we are striving for a 21st Century education, while at the same time feeling as if we are trying to catch up.   Everything we do should be focused on “looking ahead” instead of back to the year 2000.  Lydia Dobyns wrote an excellent article in the January 10, 2013 edition of The Huffington Post titled; “A ‘21st Century’ Education is SO Last Century.”  Lydia makes several points about what education needs more of; relevancy, rigor, engagement, application, and value.

My blog title is: “4C the Future,” referring to the 4 C’s of 21st Century Learning (Creativity, Critical Thinking Collaboration, and Communication).  21st Century is still implied, but not stated.  I believe the title is vision focused as we continue to strive for the ideal learning environment and situation for all of our students.  Additionally, our technology department has adopted the motto “4C the Future” and is used in informational sites developed by the Curriculum Technology Partners.

Hopefully, all we do to integrate technology into the curriculum focuses on Foreseeing the Future (4C) and incorporates Creativity, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, and Communication.  As we start this new school year, we will continue to work towards an education in which ALL students are engaged, eager to learn, and prepared for their future.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

First Blog - Blog is Ready to Go

After much time spent fretting over the layout and design, my first blog is ready to go and long overdue.  My delay also came with wondering; “why would anyone care what I have to say?”  The past couple of years, I have learned so much from what others had to say through Twitter and blogs.  In return I have neglected the other half of professional learning; sharing something.  Thanks to a retweet by Darin King (@darinking) and response from Kelli Tannehill (@kt1207) in reference to a blog post by Dean Shareski (@shareski); “Professional Development is Not That Complicated.”  Also, thanks to blog posts by Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) “11 Things You Should Know About Blogging” and George Couros (@gcouros) “What should a networked educational leader tweet about” for their information and inspiration to get started.

I made the transition from high school associate principal to district technology director about 1 year ago, so I will share all things technology and 21st century learning in future blog posts.  Attention to detail is always important to me, but I may encounter some bumps in the road as I start my new blog.  I know that the bumps will become learning experiences.  Isn’t that what education is all about?  I would expect both teachers and students to take risks and learn from their successes and failures.  With all that said, my first blog post is complete with more to come.