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

rethink. redesign. go.

Back in May I shared our process at Prairie Lakes AEA for hiring our new technology integration team. Well, now our team has a new blog, rethink. redesign.


We’re just getting started, but we’ve spent a lot of time over the past few weeks talking about who we we want to be, what we’re going to be about, and how we’re going to do our business. Here’s our thinking behind our new name (and our work)…

#dreambigger. #designforit. #perpetualbeta. That pretty much sums up the work of my team and what we’ll be discussing on our blog. We hope that many of you will join us.

Want to work with us? Learn more about our core beliefs and processes. See how we’re using the Influencer framework to help guide our design work. Get in touch!

Do the right work

24 principals in a big room on Tuesday…

Do we know what ‘the right work’ is? Can we identify it and label it? Can we tell the difference between ends and means? Between desired outcomes and strategies? PLCs, Common Core, RTI, concept-based instruction, PBIS, 1:1, and Daily 5 are NOT the end goal, they’re just strategies and mechanisms to get us from here to there. Engaged learners, quality facilitating, and rigorous curriculum get us closer…


Can we create time and structures that allow us to do the right work? Do, plan, delegate, eliminate. What do we do that falls into each of these boxes? More importantly, what can/should we move into ‘delegate’ and ‘eliminate?’ WHY IS THIS SO HARD FOR US? As Jeff Herzberg notes, we’re awfully expensive cafeteria monitors (and substitute teacher finders and class schedulers and bus duty monitors and …).

And then it gets really hard. What are our own immunities to change? What is stopping us from changing what we KNOW we need to change about our own work? And by the time we’re done, we’re stating some big (testable) assumptions:

  • I assume that if I do have honest conversations, then my teachers won’t “like” me and then they’ll lose faith in my leadership ability.
  • I assume that if I do delegate the way I need to in order to be a strong educational leader, then building morale will spiral on a downward path because of the notion that I am being lazy and not doing my job.
  • I assume that if I’m not in the flow of information, then I will lose my sense of power and be just another person going through the motions.
  • I assume that if I ask people to make meeting appointments [instead of just popping into my office], then they will think I am stuck up and will think that I don’t think they matter. Ending in they won’t like me.
  • I assume that if my staff knew that I didn’t know everything about our initiatives, then they would lose respect for me. It would change how they view me as their leader.
  • I assume that if I do not [personally] take on all of those duties that could be delegated, then certain parts of the school day will be chaotic and this will be a reflection of me as a leader.
  • I assume that if I do force change and push the envelope, then I will lose credibility with our staff.
  • I assume that if I force too much change, alienate staff, or go against prevailing culture, then I will be seen as a liability and my position will be eliminated.

A powerful day of reflection, conversation, and internal interrogation. Thank you, Troyce Fisher.

Image credit: Painful, Ben Raynal


EdCampIowa logoI am delighted to announce EdCampIowa, Iowa’s first cross-state unconference! EdCampIowa West will be hosted by Prairie Lakes AEA at the Buena Vista University Forum in Storm Lake. EdCampIowa East will be hosted by Bettendorf High School. Both locations will run on Saturday, February 16, from 8:30am to 3:30pm. Our hashtag will be #EdCampIowa.

What’s an EdCamp, you say? EdCamps are unlike any other workshop or conference that you’ve probably attended. EdCamp sessions are created by the attendees in the morning. The rest of the day is spent in conversation around the topics identified by participants.

If this sounds strange to you, it’s likely because you’re used to a different model, one in which the agenda and sessions are determined ahead of time. The challenge of traditional workshops or conferences is that you didn’t get to pick the sessions, someone else did. As such, they may or may not meet your learning needs. At an EdCamp, participants, not planners, determine the sessions so they’re much more likely to be targeted, relevant, and timely. ‘Voting with your feet’ also is strongly encouraged, so you can (and should) quickly leave one session for another if it’s not meeting your learning needs. Since all EdCamp sessions are facilitated discussions that tap into the collective wisdom of attendees rather than ‘sit and get’ presentations directed by outside experts, EdCamps always turn out to be incredible, energizing days of conversation.

How do you know if you’re right for EdCampIowa? If these types of questions resonate with you, you’re a prime candidate:

  • What if we didn’t have class periods?
  • How can we help kids think more deeply?
  • Are high school diplomas and university degrees still necessary for credentialing?
  • What is getting in the way of us changing faster?
  • How can preschool and elementary students use digital tools in powerful ways?
  • What if we didn’t ignore that most of the time students are bored?
  • What might school look like if students were in charge of teaching at least 20% of the time?
  • Do we really need grades?
  • How can we better facilitate school-university partnerships?
  • Are tablets or Chromebooks viable 1:1 devices?
  • What has to go in order to make competency-based student progression work?
  • In a multimedia world, what is the future of reading?
  • and many, many more… (see the EdCampIowa web site!)

We hope that you will join us on February 16 for an amazing day of discussion and learning. We promise that you will leave with many great ideas, excited to take action back home! Registration is FREE, lunch will be provided, and we’ll have Internet access for any electronic device that you bring along. Please encourage your students, staff, school board, parents, legislators, and community members to participate too. Everyone is welcome at an EdCamp!

More information is available at Sign up soon. Only 200 slots at each location!

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