Featured interview in K-12 EdTech Magazine

Featured interview in K-12 EdTech Magazine

I had the honor of being the featured interview in the Winter 2024 issue of K-12 EdTech Magazine. Here are a couple of quotes from the article:

Keep asking the question, technology for the purpose of what? How you answer that question depends on your learning model. If your learning model is about teachers transmitting low-level knowledge with students regurgitating back factual recall, then your technology adoption and decision-making will revolve around that learning model.

AND

I think there’s a huge difference between viewing the student computer as a curriculum and content delivery device versus a student empowerment device. That shapes how we think about not only technologies but also professional development for teachers.

And I think what we see is that we spend most of that time focusing on the old traditional model of learning and teaching instead of how we do what we really need to do for the kids of today and beyond, and we seem to be fighting really hard to use today’s technology to replicate 1970s education.

Happy reading!

Pretending at support for technology integration

Pretending at support for technology integration

I saw this post a while back in an educational technology forum:

I have been given roughly an hour for PD on January 4th to work with teachers on anything that I’d like. I rotate between 7 sites pre-k to 12th grade, but I will be working with 4th grade-12th grade teachers on this date. My boss mostly likes for me to introduce new tools to teachers during these opportunities. We have been focusing on Canva the last few months while we try to transition back to students creating work rather than the teacher worksheets, etc., that we used a lot of during the pandemic.

All of that to say, what would you use this time for? Should I show teachers how to be better organized with Google Keep/Tasks, find a free new tool for them to use in the classroom? Do you have any free project based EdTech tools that you love?

This was my reply:

Just wanted to say how sorry I am that you only are given 1 hour (a whole 60 minutes!) to do this important work. You and your educators deserve more systemic and strategic supports and investment than this. 😢 I’m tempted to say that, with this little time, it really doesn’t matter what you do because the likelihood of it being impactful is fairly low?

Good luck.

Let’s be clear: this is a big red flag that this school is just pretending at technology integration and coaching. They’re not devoting substantive time, effort, energy, or support toward robust technology integration. They’re not thoughtfully building upon prior work. It’s simply “Here’s a random hour. Do whatever you want. Maybe you could show teachers some new tools that probably won’t get used?” Does it really matter what this technology integration coach does? Not under these conditions…

This is the pattern in way too many schools. This isn’t the poor coach’s fault. This is a failure of leadership. It’s wishful thinking disguised as professional development, and it’s yet another example of a school that’s going through the motions instead of engaging in meaningful, long-term, thoughtful improvement. These wasted opportunities in schools just make me sad…

Your thoughts?

Image credit: Wish, Ben Chun

The 4 Shifts Protocol in Kentucky

The Commonwealth of Kentucky has leaned hard into the 4 Shifts Protocol to support its schools’ technology integration and instructional redesign work. Over 650(!) Digital Learning Coaches (DLCs) across the state have received a copy of Harnessing Technology for Deeper Learning and are working with their local educators to use the protocol to redesign lessons and units for deeper learning, greater student agency, more authentic work, and rich technology infusion.

Although many thousands of educators and schools across the globe are using the 4 Shifts Protocol, I believe that Kentucky currently is the largest single deployment of this redesign work. Kentucky also is investing heavily in project-based learning, and the protocol is a nice bridging mechanism and support for that complex work.

Julie Graber and I are grateful that the protocol has been useful to so many educators in so many places. Kentucky (and others), please let me know what I can do to support this work. Happy to chat or visit anytime!

2022 KYSTE 01

2022 KYSTE 02

2022 KYSTE 03

The 4 Shifts Protocol in Bismarck

It’s always gratifying to see your resources being used by educators. I’ve worked with the Bismarck Public Schools multiple times on leadership, vision, and instructional design for deeper learning (and we featured Legacy High School in Leadership for Deeper Learning). They’ve got an amazing group of educators there and I always love to see what they’re up to… Thanks for sharing, Tanna!

2022 Bismarck

Technology for the purpose of WHAT?

This year I am serving as both an ISTE Ambassador and an ISTE Community Leader (in addition to some other ISTE volunteer work). Recently I had the pleasure of publishing a post on ISTE’s blog titled Before Using School Technology, Know Your EdTech Purpose. In that post, I connected the ISTE Standards for Students and the 4 Shifts Protocol. Here’s an excerpt:

2022 ISTE blog post excerpt

Hope the post is useful to you. As always, please stay in touch as I can be of support to your instructional redesign, technology integration, and leadership/innovation needs.

Happy reading!

4 Shifts Protocol sessions at InnEdCO 2022

InnEdCO 2022This year there are not one… not two… but THREE 4 Shifts Protocol sessions at the annual InnEdCO conference!

I do a basic introductory workshop on Monday. Gina and Robbi have created a fabulous workshop and I can’t wait to see their session in action on Tuesday. Then I will try and extend all of this work even further during my Wednesday workshop. Descriptions are below…

 

Monday, June 13

Redesigning for deeper learning and student engagement [2-hour workshop]
Scott McLeod

Many schools have created future-ready vision statements and college- and career-ready profiles of a graduate. But most schools still are struggling to transition their day-to-day classroom instruction to include more critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and other ‘future-ready’ student competencies in ways that are substantive, meaningful, and aligned to those vision statements and graduate profiles.

This workshop focuses on how to redesign classroom instruction for future-ready learning. We will use the free 4 Shifts Protocol to redesign lessons, units, and other instructional activities together for deeper learning, greater student agency, more authentic work, and rich technology infusion. The protocol contains concrete, specific ‘look fors’ and ‘think abouts’ that allow educators, coaches, and instructional leaders to shift students’ instructional work in deeper, more robust directions. The protocol is a useful complement to SAMR, TPACK, Triple E, and other frameworks that schools may be using, and also is an excellent capacity-building bridge to more complex inquiry and PBL projects.

This active, hands-on workshop is intended for teachers, instructional / technology coaches, and school leaders who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and dive into this important instructional redesign work!

 

Tuesday, June 14

A permanent pivot: [Re]design your lessons [2-hour workshop]
Gina Francalancia-Cancienne & Robbi Makely

This session incorporates Dr. Scott McLeod’s 4 Shifts Protocol and is designed to introduce teachers to practical skills to (re)design lessons focusing on deeper learning, greater student agency, more authentic work, and rich technology infusion. Teachers will learn to recognize the four shifts, evaluate ways to personalize the four shifts, (re)design a lesson, and use the four shifts to permanently pivot to incorporating the shifts into future.

This session is targeted for teachers PK-12, special education, literacy programs, gifted and talented classrooms, instructional coaches, and administrators.

 

Wednesday, June 15

Using blended learning structures to facilitate deeper learning [2-hour workshop]
Scott McLeod

New technologies give us new possibilities. In this workshop we will identify several different blended learning structures and how they might be used to facilitate students’ deeper learning, greater student agency, and more authentic, real world work. Station rotations, genius hours, flipped classrooms, flex models, and other blended learning strategies can create powerful pathways for our children. Bring a computer and come prepared to roll up your sleeves and engage in some active (re)design discussions!

This active, hands-on workshop is intended for teachers, instructional / technology coaches, and school leaders who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and dive into this important instructional redesign work!

 

Hope you’ll join us for one or all of these sessions!

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!

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!