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What makes a quality STEM activity? Find out in 5 days!

Hope you’ll join Mike Anderson and me for our K12Online presentation on October 30!

Technology grants for Iowa teachers

Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency is working with the CenturyLink Foundation to award technology grants to Iowa teachers. As we said on our web site,

The goal of this grant program is to fund INNOVATIVE uses of digital learning tools by students and educators. Don’t just tell us you ‘need some iPads.’ Dream bigger than electronic worksheets. And please, please, please don’t send us a proposal describing how your students need drill-and-kill apps or software.

We’re looking for visionary, not replicative. We’re looking for 10X thinking, not 10% thinking. Tell us what your students are going to do with the digital learning tools and why it will be incredible. Describe for us why your students can’t make a difference in their learning and the world around them without these funds. Speak to our hearts as well as our minds and sell us a vision of learning and teaching that’s inspiring and amazing! What will your moonshot be?

Got a great idea worth funding? Visit the CenturyLink Teachers & Technology Grant Program web site to learn more. The deadline is January 2, 2015.

CenturyLink logo

Prairie Lakes AEA Logo

I read blocked blogs

I read blocked blogs

It’s Banned Books Week. I oppose censorship and support students’ and educators’ freedom to read. Do you?

Does that extend to all of those blogs and other web sites that your schools are filtering and blocking categorically?

FREADOM. Celebrate the right to read.

Rethink. Redesign. LEAD.

Our first collaboration with the Morgridge Family Foundation. Only 20 spaces available!

Rethink. Redesign. Lead.

Calling all bloggers! – Leadership Day 2014

August 15 is the 8th anniversary of my blog. So, once again, I’m inviting everyone who’s interested to help me celebrate by participating in Leadership Day 2014!

Over the past 7 years, we’ve had nearly 500 Leadership Day posts. That’s awesome because, to paraphrase what I said seven years ago,

many of our school leaders (principals, superintendents, central office administrators) need help when it comes to digital technologies. A lot of help, to be honest. As I’ve noted again and again on this blog, most school administrators are still struggling with

  • what it means to prepare students for the digital, global world in which we now live;
  • how to recognize, evaluate, and facilitate effective technology usage by students and teachers;
  • what appropriate technology support structures (e.g., budget, staffing, infrastructure, training) look like or how to implement them;
  • how to utilize modern technologies to facilitate communication with internal and external stakeholders;
  • the ways in which learning technologies can improve student learning outcomes;
  • how to utilize technology systems to make their organizations more efficient and effective;
  • and so on…

Administrators’ lack of knowledge is not entirely their fault. Many of them didn’t grow up with computers. Other than basic management or data analysis technologies, many are not using digital tools or online systems on a regular basis. Few have received training from their employers or their university preparation programs on how to use, think about, or be a leader regarding digital technologies.

So let’s help.

How to participate

  1. On Friday, August 15, 2014, blog about whatever you like related to effective digital leadership in schools: successes, challenges, reflections, needs, wants, resources, ideas, etc. Write a letter to the administrators in your area. Post a top ten list. Make a podcast or a video or a voice-narrated presentation. Highlight a local success or challenge. Recommend some readings. Create an app, game, or simulation. Draw a cartoon. Do an interview of a successful technology leader. Respond to some of the questions below or make up your own. If you participated in years past, post a follow-up reflection. Whatever strikes you.
  2. The official hashtag is #leadershipday14
  3. TO ENSURE THAT WE CAN FIND YOUR POST, please complete the online submission form (also available below) AFTER you post, including a short teaser that will drive traffic to your post. Everyone then will be able to see your post in the complete list of submissions. If you want to link back to this post or leave a link to yours in the comment area, that’s okay too!

Some prompts to spark your thinking

  • What do effective P-12 technology leaders do? What actions and behaviors can you point to that make them effective leaders in the area of technology?
  • Do administrators have to be technology-savvy themselves in order to be effective technology leaders in their organizations?
  • What are some tangible, concrete, realistic steps that administrators can take to move their school organizations forward?
  • What are some tangible, concrete, realistic steps that can be taken to move administrators themselves forward? Given the unrelenting pressures that they face and their ever-increasing time demands, what are some things that administrators can do to become more knowledgeable and skilled in the area of technology leadership?
  • Perhaps using ISTE’s Standards for Administrators (formerly the NETS-A) as a starting point, what are the absolutely critical skills or abilities that administrators need to be effective technology leaders?
  • What strengths and deficiencies are present in ISTE’s Standards for Administrators?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges and barriers to administrators being better technology leaders (and how do we address them)?
  • What are some of the lessons that we have learned over the past year(s) regarding technology leadership?
  • What is a technology tool that would be extremely useful for a busy administrator (i.e., one he or she probably isn’t using now)?
  • What should busy administrators be reading (or watching) that would help them be better technology leaders? What are some other resources that would help them be better technology leaders?
  • How can administrators best structure necessary conversations with internal or external stakeholders regarding technology?
  • How should administrators balance enablement with safety, risk with reward, fear with empowerment?
  • When it comes to P-12 technology leadership, where do we need new knowledge, understanding, training, or research?
  • What are (or might be) some successful models of technology leadership training for school administrators?
  • How might preservice preparation programs for administrators better incorporate elements of technology leadership?
  • When you think of (in)effective P-12 technology leadership, what comes to mind?

Here are the 491 ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT posts from the past seven years (491!)

A badge for your blog or web site

This year’s badge is themed around harnessing powerful ideas. Click on the image to get the full-size version. Feel free to use it as desired!

Leadership Day 2014

I hope you will join us for this important day because, I promise you, if the leaders don’t get it, it’s not going to happen.

Participant checklist

Not sure I’m ever going to understand the Bammys…

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Live blogging Oskaloosa High School’s experiences at the FIRST Championships

For the next few days I am turning over my blog to a high school student!

Molly Bleything is a student at Oskaloosa High School here in Iowa. Her after-school robotics team, the Sock Monkeys, was one of three from the state to make it to the national FIRST Championships this week. Molly will be sharing her team’s experiences in St. Louis.

Here are a couple of videos chronicling the Sock Monkey’s early successes:

And here is a short article that Molly wrote a few days ago:

Hey guys! We are Team 4443: The Sock Monkeys. We are from Oskaloosa, Iowa and we are part of the robotics club at our high school. The other part of the club is Team 3608: The Ninjaneers. The Sock Monkeys team consists of sophomores (10th graders) and older. The Ninjaneers consist of freshman (9th graders) and younger. We do not have an official team sponsor. What makes our team unique is the different ideas, logic, and people that are on it and contribute to it. All of us see things differently, so the amount of opinions/ideas is massive! A big challenge that we had to overcome is our scoop design. At competitions, one of our tables in the pit has all of the scoop designs we’ve used throughout this season. The team has changed the design three or fours times since we made the first design out of cardboard. The continuous improvement is awesome and we are now done re-making it. It’s painted blue – like our shirts – and ready to go for competition.

We as a team have done several unique things. For starters, one of our present seniors and a 2013 high school graduate made a Rubik’s cube solver over the summer. And yes – it does actually solve the cube. We have also made a balancing “segway” robot. It balances and keeps itself upright by driving forward and backwards in tiny amounts. Often times during competitions, you can find the guys in the pits putting stuff on top of the NXT to show how much it can actually hold and stay upright. It brings a lot of attention and people often get a good laugh out of it! None of our team members have had any serious injuries during the robotics season. At least, none that have happened that involve robotics. At the end of the day, we are pretty regular nerds.

One story about our team this season…I have a great one! At the 2nd qualifier (for us, it was in Ottumwa IA), we were not supposed to continue on to state. After a lot of emails, a written letter, and the coach having a conversation with us, we were offered the opportunity to go and compete at state. All of us were really surprised and happy. To be honest, no one was expecting to get anything out of state, or to be one of the greats, but during alliance selections, we were picked.

All of us started clapping, cheering, and we were really excited. After what seemed like thousands of matches, we had won state by alliance! Afterwards, we got back and everything was crazy for a while. We had a lot of meetings, where a LOT of to-do lists were made and we set a lot of goals for ourselves. A big concern was money and how we were going to be able to pay for the trip to state. So, the Sock Monkeys hosted a bake sale during parent teacher conferences. The bake sale went over really well and with that money, and the money that was donated to us through free will donations and other various ways, we were finally ready to go.

Super Regionals arrived. The team had figured as a whole that we weren’t going to come back home with anything to brag about… but while we didn’t win any trophies, we came home with an invitation to the World Championship. Although all of us were really excited and happy, Super Regionals was a reality check for us. At Super Regionals we made it to the semi-finals and right before lunch break, we competed in a match. During the match, a rule was broken. The team that we played with and the third team in our finalist alliance stood in the question box. After lunch break and a twenty minute delay, we were granted a rematch. Sadly, we lost the rematch, but this time we lost fair and square. Super Regionals was a great experience for us.

We and another team had scored the highest at the event with a total of 389 points. We were six points away from beating the all-time world record! We (and another team) had also scored the highest in our division with a total of 353 points. We knew that we had done our best, fought for what was right, and enjoyed every second. We were prepared to go home that day. All of us had said good job to one another and to the other teams. Right before closing ceremonies started, they called out four team members to go down on the floor. Logan, Kazuki (both drivers), Collin (coach) and I ( ___) went to the floor.

Rebecca Whitaker was the one who made the announcement as to who was moving on and who wasn’t. She got up on the podium and started off by saying, “Twenty-five teams will be moving on today!” The crowd went wild and then Kazuki turned to us and whispered, “We have a chance.” The whole arena fell extremely quiet and, let me tell you, you could almost feel the intensity. I swear that you could’ve heard a pen drop. She had gotten to the twentieth team advancing and all of us were eager. I kept checking the stands to watch my teammates there. They were all so still. Then she said, “….team number 4443, The Sock Monkeys..” All of us screamed and went crazy! It was all absolutely amazing. Immediately afterwards, our teammates ran down the stairs and we all hugged and high-five’d one another.

We loaded up our gear and went home after that. We were greeted by family members, teachers, friends, reporters for the paper, and Mrs. Eveland. There was confetti, signs, laughs and lots of pictures. The picture above is the one that our local news system took. The dots all over us are pieces of confetti. Kazuki (our only senior this year) told a local news source that this was one of the best days of his life. Now, we are eight days away from the World Championship. Considering we weren’t even supposed to make it to state, I would say we are doing great! This is honestly one of my favorite stories to tell about this season and it gives me goose bumps writing it. I am so happy and so proud of all of us.

I hope that you will wish the team good fortune and will interact with Molly as she blogs here. You also can follow their Twitter account, @4443SockMonkeys. Go Sock Monkeys!

Join us for the Thinking Out Loud Show, Episode 1

Evan Scherr is launching a new online series called The Thinking Out Loud Show. The guests for Episode 1.1 are Eric Sheninger, Joe Mazza, and myself. The topic is Leadership in Education. We’ll be talking about all types of leadership: administrators, students, teachers, and even parents!

Hope you’ll join us this Thursday at 8pm Eastern. See Evan’s Thinking Out Loud Show page for more info. Happy viewing!

UPDATE: Did you miss the show? The webinar archive is now available!

Twitter rotation curation: I am @plaea

PLAEA Twitter @mcleod @plaea

In the grand tradition of Sweden (@sweden), Ireland (@ireland), New Zealand (@peopleofnz), Malaysia (@twt_malaysia), Italy (@i_am_italy), Australia (@weareaustralia), Mexico (@curatorsmexico), Ukraine (@weareukraine), Pakistan (@iam_pakistan), and others, this week I am Prairie Lakes AEA (@plaea)!

Follow along for updates. I’ll also be using the #plaea hashtag. This week I’m…

  • seeing 1:1 classrooms in Jewell, Iowa;
  • visiting the Freshman Academy in Spirit Lake, Iowa (which focuses on problem-based learning);
  • joining district educators for a tour of New Tech High School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota;
  • participating in a meeting of district technology coordinators in Fort Dodge, Iowa;
  • attending my monthly meet up as a member of the Ankeny (Iowa) Community Schools’ Technology Leadership Team;
  • visiting Bettendorf (Iowa) High School (principal is @casas_jimmy!);
  • speaking at the annual President’s Reception of the Quad City Engineering and Science Council (Moline, Illinois);
  • attending parent-teacher conferences at Ames (Iowa) High School and Ames Middle School;
  • cheering for the Ames High girls swim team as it tries for its 4th straight state championship;

and much, much more. Woo hoo!

Here are a few more links on ‘rotation curation.’ What fun could you have with this idea in your school or district?!

2013 PLAEA Twitter

Two awesome tech leadership webinars for our Connected Educator Month book club

McLeod Lehmann book

At 7pm Eastern on Monday, October 28, we launch the fourth and final Connected Educator Month book club. Contributors Joyce Valenza, Kevin Jarrett, Richard Byrne, Kristin Hokanson, and Stephanie Sandifer will join Chris Lehmann, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, and myself for a 1-hour online discussion of technology leadership issues. We will discuss topics from our book, What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media, as well as anything else that we or our audience brings up. Please join us!

At 7pm Eastern on Monday, December 2, our book club will conclude with a second webinar. Joining Sheryl and I that evening will be Doug Johnson, Steve Dembo, Dean Shareski, David Jakes, and Pamela Livingston. Hope you’ll join us for that one too!

And, in between, we’ll be talking about the book in our online discussion space. Learn more about the book club and sign up to participate with us. See you online!

[It’s been a good month for our book. Not only did the U.S. Department of Education pick our book to be one of the four featured for Connected Educator Month, last week the Illinois Principals Association offered a copy to every attendee at its annual conference. Woo hoo!]

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