Books I read in April 2022

Equity Centered Trauma Informed EducationBooks I finished reading (or rereading) in April 2022…

I finished all 15 books of The Wheel of Time series (again). Whew!

Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education is another incredibly strong contender for best book I’ll read in 2022. I learned a LOT.

Hope you’re reading something fun too!

2022 Play ball!

2022 Play ball!

If you didn’t know, I’m a huge baseball fan (Go Twins!). This year I’m particularly excited because I have not one but TWO fantasy baseball leagues. Woo hoo!

The first season of BlogBall started way back in 2008. All educators, all ‘edubloggers’ (thus the league name). We added a second league in 2009, and then a third league in 2010. That turned out to be too many, so we consolidated back to one league and have been going strong ever since. Most of the managers in BlogBall22 have been around since those early days. I’m grateful for their loyalty and dedication. They’re an awesome bunch of humans and baseball fans!

BlogBall22

  • Bayou Buffalos, Vinnie Vrotny
  • Buckeye Ballers, Toby Fischer
  • CAM Cougars, Dominic Giegerich
  • Dutch’s Detroiters, Rick Heitmeyer
  • Good Trouble, Jon Becker (last year’s champ)
  • Greyhounds, John Spencer
  • Let’s Play Two, Bob Dillon
  • Maineiacs, Harold Shaw
  • Optimistic Mets Fan, Reshan Richards
  • Technauts, Joe Bires
  • TheBrewz, Jeremy Brueck
  • Twinkies, Scott McLeod

This year I thought it might be fun to try a second league again. I started reaching out to folks and… voila!

Rounding for Home 22

  • All 4 Shifts, Guy Ryan
  • Chad’s Crazy Crew, Chad Lehman
  • Eephus Pitch, Aaron Hogan
  • Impossible Dreamers, Patrick Larkin
  • Juuuust a Bit Outside, Scott McLeod
  • The Moonlight Grahams, Donnie Piercey
  • Nesi’s Quicks, Chris Nesi
  • Papi’s Green Monsters, Cale Birk
  • Sandlot Success, AJ Bianco
  • Who Needs Pants?, Dean Shareski
  • Windfield Wants Noise, Jason Buccheri
  • You Down With CBT?, Dave Quinn

We don’t play for money. Just bragging rights… You’re forewarned: I probably will post occasional updates here throughout the season.

Today is Opening Day. Play ball!

Books I read in March 2022

Changing the SubjectBooks I finished reading (or rereading) in March 2022…

Changing the Subject is my early contender for best book I’ll read in 2022. I love it so much!

Hope you’re reading something fun too!

ISTE Certification 02

[Sharing my ISTE Certification journey…]

ISTE logoISTE Certification has kept me busy! Despite my familiarity with all of the ISTE Standards, I have found that I am thinking much more deeply about the ISTE Standards for Educators as I go through this process with my cohort (which I appreciate)…

One of our activities asked us to reflect on the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines. Here’s some of what I wrote:

ENGAGEMENT
UDL Guideline(s): Recruiting Interest, Sustaining Effort & Persistence, Self Regulation
Tool(s): Blogging platforms such as WordPress or Squarespace

I believe in technology tools that have low floors, high ceilings, and wide walls (i.e., they are relatively easy to learn but have extraordinary, open-ended, and wide-ranging power). One such tool for me when it comes to the UDL principle of Engagement is a blog. Blogs allow learners and creators to do almost anything, particularly if they use a more powerful, self-hosted platform such as WordPress or Squarespace. The ability of blogs to host almost any kind of media that we wish (text, audio, video, images, charts, tables, diagrams, hyperlinks) in almost any configuration that we wish (see, e.g., the wide variety of blog templates) means that they are infinitely customizable. Accordingly, learners and creators can make their blog anything that they wish. This capacity taps directly into the Engagement guideline of Recruiting Interest because it ‘optimizes individual choice and autonomy.’ Similarly, the interactive nature of blogs (e.g., hyperlinks, pingbacks, comments, embedding of social media feeds, RSS subscription) highlights the Engagement guideline of Sustaining Effort and Persistence because it ‘fosters collaboration and community.’ Blogs can be deeply reflective tools that also foster visibility, sharing, contribution, and connection, which aligns directly with the Engagement guideline of Self Regulation and its emphasis on self-assessment, reflection, and motivation.

 

REPRESENTATION
UDL Guideline(s): Perception, Language & Symbols, and Comprehension
Tool(s): Presentation software such as Apple Keynote, Microsoft PowerPoint, or Google Slides

I believe in technology tools that have low floors, high ceilings, and wide walls (i.e., they are relatively easy to learn but have extraordinary, open-ended, and wide-ranging power). An underutilized tool for the UDL principle of Representation is presentation software such as Keynote, PowerPoint, or Google Slides. As I work with my graduate students – some of whom are differently abled than their educator peers – I have found that presentation software creates an open ‘green field’ of possibility. Students can use text. They can use images. They can create lines, diagrams, charts, tables, timelines, and concept maps. They can embed audio or video. They can tap into various color schemes, fonts, and transparency. They can tap into the power of layering, grouping, animations, and transitions. Together, these simple-to-learn capabilities that we often take for granted in presentation software can be used in incredibly diverse ways to represent any topic, idea, or concept that we wish with as much complexity as we wish. Recent examples of this in our own cohort include our introductions and our ISTE Standards for Educators jigsaw activity. These examples illustrate how a simple set of tools can create phenomenally-powerful and divergent opportunities to share what we know, can do, and have learned. The capabilities inherent in presentation software allow us to check off the boxes in essentially every subcategory of Representation (i.e., Perception, Language & Symbols, and Comprehension).

 

ACTION & EXPRESSION
Guideline(s): Executive Functions
Tool(s): Google Sheets

I believe in technology tools that have low floors, high ceilings, and wide walls (i.e., they are relatively easy to learn but have extraordinary, open-ended, and wide-ranging power). For the UDL Principle of Action & Expression, I chose to focus on one particular guideline, Executive Functions. For the past few years, I have been making my own interactive templates in Google Sheets. My students – or workshop participants – can go directly to a template that I have made and interact in a variety of ways with content, questions, or each other. I like that Google Sheets creates a different URL for each tab, and I can configure and merge the rows, columns, cell entries, formulae, auto-calculations, and conditional formatting into almost any format I wish. My principal licensure students and I use them routinely to work on thorny leadership problems of practice and systemic school and district redesign concerns. I also like that with a quick mouse click students can see each others’ responses as well if they are on a different tab rather than a shared one. I can even hide sections of the template and reveal them later for additional consideration. The possibilities are nearly endless for individual or small group, collaborative work, and the shared, online nature of the tool allows for easy access and easy archiving of our thinking work together. All of this connects directly to the Executive Functions checkpoints related to goal-setting, planning, strategy development, managing information and resources, and monitoring progress.

Nothing earth-shattering here, but I enjoyed the opportunity to think a little more about this!

Books I read in January 2022

Escape PodBooks I finished reading (or rereading) in January 2022…

Hope you’re reading something fun too!

ISTE Certification 01

[I decided to make some new investments in my own learning this semester. One of the ways that I’m doing that is to try and become ISTE-certified. I’ve had a longtime relationship with ISTE. When we created the nation’s first graduate program designed to prepare a technology-savvy school administrator at the University of Minnesota (way back in 2003!), ISTE was one of our most important partners in that work. I served on the initial advisory board for ISTE’s Standards for Education Leaders (back then, they were the NETS-A) and in 2016 I received ISTE’s global Award for Outstanding Leadership. I have worked with ISTE in a number of other service and professional learning roles and currently am serving as one of ISTE’s Community Leaders. All that said, I never have worked toward ISTE certification until now. I’ll be sharing my thoughts and experiences as I go through the certification program this year…]

ISTE logoI’m part of an awesome cohort. We represent a variety of job roles and responsibilities across multiple states and several countries, including both P-12 and postsecondary. I already can tell that I’m going to learn a lot from the other members of my cohort. We meet face-to-face every few weeks and also engage together in a number of asynchronous learning activities. So far we’ve met once and have been assigned to some small groups.

Our early work has been focused on grounding ourselves in course expectations, assignments and deadlines, and introducing ourselves to each other and the ISTE Standards for Educators. ISTE also has invited us to reflect on what it means to be part of an online professional learning network.

One of our first activities asked us to reflect on some of our understandings, strengths, and challenges related to the ISTE Standards for Educators. Here’s some of what I wrote:

I orient toward design thinking so am probably most confident with Standards 5a, 5b, 5c, and 6c because they emphasize the (re)design process. I spend a lot of time redesigning lessons and units with P-12 teachers, instructional coaches, and principals. I also have done a great deal of program design work at the university level, including recently redesigning our principal licensure program at CU Denver. I’m also confident in Standards 2a and 2b because I’m a school leadership professor who works with school leaders all around the world on designing and implementing new visions for learning and implementation structures for deeper learning, greater student agency, more authentic work, and rich technology infusion. As a university faculty member who tries hard to integrate technology into my teaching, I think I’m doing a decent job with Standards 6a, 6c, and 7a. My students tell me that they appreciate my efforts in this area. Finally, I’m a strong user of social media tools and online platforms and have a large global professional learning network (so Standard 1b!).

As a university school leadership professor, I don’t deal too much with data, data privacy, copyright, coding, computational thinking, and other more IT-oriented and/or media literacy concerns. Accordingly, Standards 3c, 3d, and 6b aren’t really in my day-to-day domain. Standard 7c is hard for me simply because I have seen technology systems used too often to reinforce low-level factual recall, procedural regurgitation, and assessment and I am adamantly opposed to those traditional practices dominating the deeper learning practices that we should be implementing instead.

I’ve been using ed tech since the mid-1990s. I’ve seen a number of learning and productivity technologies come and go, so I think I’m a pretty savvy consumer of new tools and their affordances (or their lack thereof) and the mindsets that underlie them. I’m familiar with and am a regular user of a larger number of digital tools, including some old standbys like RSS and blogs that I think still have value in today’s social media-oriented world. I’m an unafraid and unapologetic learner and am looking forward to living in community with – and being stretched by – the other folks in this certification cohort.

My primary implementation struggle is time. As a research university faculty member who also happens to care deeply about my teaching, those often conflict with each other in regard to institutional expectations and reward systems. Now that I’ve been promoted to Full Professor, I’m hoping that I can spend more time on what I want, not what the university wants!

I’m looking forward to my continued learning and growth in this certification process as I work to strengthen my understandings of learning technologies and meaningful classroom integration. I’m also interested in the logistics of how ISTE structures and facilitates this course and am hoping to pick up some good tips for my own blended instruction. 

More reflections from me in the weeks and months to come!

The best books I read in 2021

Difference makingI read some great (and not so great) books in 2021! Here are my top few (and why)…

My top book for 2021 is Difference Making at the Heart of Learning, by Tom Vander Ark & Emily Liebtag. Tom and Emily describe how students can make positive impacts in their local, online, and global communities NOW, not later after they graduate from high school or college. The real-world, authentic, contributory work that students are doing is incredibly inspiring. We need more learning opportunities like these because they help our learners find meaning and relevance in their schooling experience. The book has countless examples of this work in action and has given me numerous ideas to talk about with school leaders (as well as a bunch of new schools to investigate further!). 

Right behind Difference Making at the Heart of Learning for me was The Power of Place, also by Tom Vander Ark and Emily Liebtag (and Nate McClennen). The Power of Place focuses on community-embedded partnerships, service learning, and impact projects and is a very nice complement to Difference Making at the Heart of Learning. New schooling models are showing us how to make learning more meaningful and impactful, if we are willing to follow the paths that these schools are blazing. I can’t recommend these two books highly enough.

I am a former Social Studies teacher and attorney, and current school law instructor. Accordingly, I care quite a bit about the health of our American democracy. Right now we see a number of extant challenges to some very basic political precepts that we have taken for granted for far too long (for instance, voting rights, the peaceful transfer of government control, and the ability of Congress to actually get anything done, just to name a few). In his book, The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It, Robert Reich describes quite clearly how our current political, judicial, and basic governance processes are all working for the moneyed few, not the general American public. Reich shows us how nearly every decision made in government benefits those who are wealthy, not average citizens, making the United States a democracy in name but an oligarchy in reality. Wealth and political inequality right now are greater than they have been in a century. If you want to know why so many American citizens are rightfully angry that their economic, health, and political interests aren’t being addressed by the people whom they elected to represent them, read this book. It’s an eye-opener…

I also discovered some new science fiction authors this past year. I can’t believe I hadn’t somehow heard of Marko Kloos before November of 2021! His series, The Palladium Wars, consists of three books so far: Aftershocks, Ballistic, and Citadel. I enjoyed them thoroughly and am hoping that more will follow.

I also thought Acheron Inheritance by Ken Lozito was just plain fun and am looking forward to the rest of that series. Additionally, on the fantasy front, I enjoyed re-reading all of Michael Sullivan’s books in both the Riyria Revelations and Riyria Chronicles series. And now I’m diving back into Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series for the fourth time, which also has been a blast…

Hope you’re reading something fun too!

Books I read in December 2021

Difference makingBooks I finished reading (or rereading) in December 2021…

Hope you’re reading something fun too!

TOTAL FOR 2021 = 90 books

* Some of you have asked. This is my fourth time reading through the Wheel of Time series…