A Month Later…

It’s been a month since I finished my Master’s and what have I been doing?  Well, I have rested.  A LOT! Doing a Master’s nonstop for 18 months can be a pretty draining experience, to say the least.  The reading, the learning, the applying.  More reading, more learning, more applying!

I have also embarked on my latest journey as a digital educator.  My grant for 18 Ipads for my Kindergarten classroom was fufilled and I received them right before Spring Break.  I’d like to say I’ve been using them nonstop.  But that would be untrue.  First I had to get them all in their cases and labeled sufficiently.  Since these are just Kindergarten Ipads, I felt like they needed to be marked accordingly.


Then, I had to wait on our district tech people to come set them up.  I have to say the turn around on that was one day.  They are awesome and came out and set up all 18 at one time!

So why haven’t I been using them daily? Life.  Testing.  Report cards.  Field trips.  Today was the first day that every child used the Ipads in some way during reading time.   My dog group used them to practice writing sight words in the Doodle Buddy app and my cat group used them to practice sounding out words in the same app.


My partner teacher has also used them this week in Power Hour for more enrichment.  I have marked articles and You Tube videos that I need to read to start getting some good ideas.  I have started earning badges in the Apple Teacher program for Ipads.  Now I just need time and inspiration.  I plan on attending the Technology for Tots conference this summer to get more ideas and inspiration.  In the near future, we hope to be using them so much that the technology disappears in our classroom and the focus is on the learning.  For now, they are all excited about our Ipads and I heard today I am “the best teacher ever.”  Oh, if that were only true!   Untitled

Posted in In my classroom

My DLL Journey


I’m a kindergarten teacher so my visual representation of my journey would of course include emoji’s.  These emoji’s show how I was feeling throughout the process or the different hats I was wearing throughout my journey.  Enjoy!


When I first began this journey, I really didn’t know what to expect.  I had been out of school for about 20 years, and a lot has changed since then, especially with technology.  I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was a teacher.  We used pay phones back then to keep in touch.  My laptop that I got my last year of college was used only as a word processor, as internet connections weren’t even a thing yet.  Fast forward 20 years where my first class was Concepts of Educational Technology.  This is where I first encountered the COVA approach, I just didn’t know it yet.  COVA stands for choice, ownership, voice, and authentic assignments.  This means that we were going to be deciding what our focus was going to be throughout the program, what projects we were interested in, and what format to present our work in.  I was immediately overwhelmed with the assignments, the structure, the posting on discussion boards.  I have never done a class online, so there was that too.  I wasn’t sure if I had made the right choice, and several times I just wanted to throw in the towel and give up before I invested too much money to turn back.  Somehow, I made it through the course, feeling like I was in a fog the entire time.  When I turned in the assignments, I had no idea if I was even on the right track, whether I had even addressed the assignments.  I wasn’t using the rubrics that were provided to help facilitate my learning.  Yet. 

The next part of my journey was the Portfolio course.  This couldn’t have come at a better time for me.  It was a chance to decompress from the previous course, and learn to manage all my upset from not knowing what I was doing.  I was given the opportunity to upload all my work from the previous course, and given 5 weeks to get myself back together.  This was a much needed time for me in my journey.  By not having any pressing assignments for 5 weeks, except to organize myself and create my portfolio, I had the opportunity to explore the format of the previous course more thoroughly and discovered many key things that would help me in the future, such as the rubrics. 

By my third course, Disruptive Innovation in Education, I was beginning to feel much more comfortable with the format of the online course.  It was in this course that I began to feel the demands of time.  This class had us reading the entire book Disrupting Class.  That was a lot more higher level reading than I had done in a very long time.  It was a challenge to keep up with.  I did enjoy coming to my idea for “Appy Hour” during this time.   I was also pretty overwhelmed with the literature review process.  I think that is where being out of school for so long became a huge disadvantage.  Again, I began to feel like I was lost and drowning, spending my entire weekends just trying to catch up.  This was probably the class that I found the most challenging as most of the content was a bit more business based and I wasn’t really good at making those connections.  This class also challenged me in that it went against what I had always done, which was go with the flow and not make waves.

After Christmas break that first year, I felt refreshed and renewed.  I took time to read ahead over the break so I didn’t feel like I was always running to catch up.  The first course of the Spring was Leading Organizational Change.  I had no idea what I was getting into with this course.  I was still struggling to feel like I was on the same page with my professor, still needing those clear boundaries and instructions.  This course was not going to be comfortable for me at all.  I was taking my innovation plan, and fleshing it out in all these different formats.  I had to come up with my “why” in a time that I could barely tell you what I was supposed to be doing.  I wasn’t quite as low as I was after the first class, but I was still struggling to feel like I was a productive member of the class.  It was probably in this class that I realized that I was going to have to trust in my instincts and do what felt right for me.  There weren’t going to be any examples of what my projects were supposed to look like.  I was going to have to do my best and be at peace with the results.  I feel like this is when my stubbornness kicked in and I just put my head down and started working nonstop.

By the second class of the Spring, Creating Significant Learning Environments, I was starting to hit my stride a bit.  Again, this class couldn’t have come at a better time.  I really enjoyed all the looking at learning that we did in this class, and the Carol Dweck Mindset theories were my favorite.  I have always used some of her strategies with my own children and it was nice to have a background on why it was good.  I was still struggling with working on my innovation plan that was included in this course, but I was beginning to connect all the pieces in my mind so it was making more sense.  I was beginning to understand the COVA approach, although I still didn’t know it’s name. I was telling anyone around me how much I was enjoying my program and having the freedom to control what I was doing.  We had had several “Appy Hour” sessions at this point so I had some really good information to begin building out my idea and changing things that weren’t working. 

The final class of the Spring was Digital Learning in Global and Local Contexts.  This was a good class for me to practice my ability to research and look through information to find what was applicable to what I was doing.  This was the point where I started to really grow and change my innovation plan based on research and things that I was reading.  It wasn’t simply about what worked and didn’t anymore.  I had articles and readings to back up what I wanted to do and why I wanted to do it.  This was also the time that I was introduced to Nancy Duarte’s “Resonate”.  I really enjoyed reading her work on how to present things.  I still find myself referring to her work when creating presentations both for Lamar and my everyday life.  That was a pretty profound piece of learning for me.

After a short break, I entered in to my first and only Summer sessions.  I knew these were going to be less stressful just because of the fact that I wasn’t working.  I did have a second foot surgery for the year early on but it really made it easier because I had a reason to focus on my work and stay at home.  This was the course Assessing Digital Learning and Instruction.  Or as I referred to it as the measurement course.  I wish this course had fallen during the school year so I could have implemented the measuring right away.  The fact that I couldn’t made it a bit harder when I went back in the fall.  I really enjoyed the book How to Measure Anything and found the reading fascinating.  Of course, I again was not working so had more time to sit around and read.  It was during this course that I began to change the focus of “Appy Hour” a little more and to find ways to show that people were changing their practices because of their attendance.  Coming up with a measurement strategy was quite challenging, I am not going to lie.  I have never been much of a math person, so figuring out the logistics and the math to the “Appy Hour” measurement was not my favorite part.  I do know the value in measurement now, so that is a plus.  

The next course was a sharp 180 degrees from all my other courses so far at Lamar.  It was the course on Digital Citizenship.  I probably learned the most real world information in this course, especially as a parent of a teen and a pre-teen.  We were given very specific assignments and very easy to follow directions.  I found it very easy to get ahead in this class, both because of summer break and because it was very much about following directions and completing very specific assignments.  I found this to be a nice little break from the COVA approach, with all of us working on basically the same assignments.  At the same time, I really feel like the information that I got from this course might have. been the most relevant to my life as a parent.  Knowing about all the different parts of digital citizenship and being aware of all the components is a very powerful tool.  I enjoyed all of the reading in this course, although it was a pretty heavy load, and I plan on going back and rereading these books again to get more information.  I feel like this is where I kind of hit my feeling of being in the “home stretch”.  I began to feel like nothing could really stop me at this point, as I was so close to finishing my degree.

My first course of the second fall semester was Resources in the Digital Environment.  This was one of my favorite courses because it forced me way outside of my comfort zone in publishing a piece of my work (or at least trying).  My work was not published but I am still exploring other places to send it out to who might.  This was also the course that I began to see a change in myself as a digital educator, which was apparent in my work and how I was able to use different tools with ease a year after almost having a meltdown in my first class.  I began to feel more confident in what I was saying and doing, like a real Master’s candidate should.  I didn’t find making the connection back to my innovation plan at all hard in this course, which might have been the first time that I was able to put things together pretty easily. 

My next course was the Instructional Design in Online Learning.  This was another favorite course for me, as I have always been very interested in online learning.  The only way I would ever teach older kids would be through this format I think.  I have had some experience with Schoology learning management system with my kids so it was an interesting experience for me to look at it more from the instructors side than the student’s side.  This was also a class where my feeling of accomplishment took a pretty big hit when no one in my building signed up for my online “Appy Hour” course at it’s completion.  I wished I was a tech liaison at this point, that I could offer some sort of real incentive.  Jean’s passes don’t just seem to be cutting it anymore, even though wearing jeans any other day of the week than Friday seems to always have been an good starting point.  I really feel more in tune with what it takes to create an online course, and tried to use the COVA approach throughout my course. 

The last course of the Fall was the most anticipated course for me.  It was on Selected Topics, but our instructors choose Professional Development as our focus.  Because my innovation plan dealt with professional development, it made sense that I would find this very useful.  This was where I decided to revamp “Appy Hour” again (if I had another one that is) and make it less sit and get and more move and do.  I think that although we tried not to, we still did most of the talking and sharing at our events.  It was in this class that I realized the importance of changing that.  It was also in this course that I was able to get my administrators attention with all of the work that I have been doing.  I choose a current PD session that my school already did to change, and presented my suggestions for changes to my administration.  I am happy to say that they are supposed to implement several of the changes in the next school year.  I felt recharged again, and began to feel like people were beginning to take me seriously.  After a career of being looked over for every job promotion that I went for, that felt pretty good.  Hopefully my luck can carry over and I will soon be able to land a more leadership position.

My final class was this Capstone course.  Honestly, I was looking forward to this because I am a big believer in reflection.  When I heard that we would be doing a great deal of reflection, I was so excited.  I find that reflection is what helps me make sense of the world around me.  It helps me become a better teacher, mother, wife, and friend.  I think that this program has done so much more for me than given me a degree.  I think that I have become much more confident in my beliefs, and more confident in my abilities.  I now know that I have to change peoples hearts and their minds will follow.  I know that I can do anything I set my mind to, no matter how old I am or how much I feel like the world around me is falling apart.  I am changed forever by this program.  I am forever changed by the professors that I have had, and the experiences that I have had.  I have new friends from different places and job titles than me.  I have people who are respected in their field who believe in me and see me for who I am.  I feel very blessed to have been in the first class to finish the DLL program.  The next part of my journey is to continue to pursue a leadership position.  What I found out through this process is that I love to help teachers find out ways to leverage technology in their classrooms.  I’m not sure what that will look like, a tech position or some sort of teaching position, but I am looking forward to finding out. 

Books I enjoyed in my DLL program

  • Disrupting class: How disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns by Clayton Christensen
  • Influencer: The new science of leading change by Joseph Grenney (not an easy read)
  • A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the age of the quick fix by Edwin Friedman (this was deep)
  • Mindset:  The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
  • Understanding By Design by Wiggins and McTighe
  • Resonate by Nancy Duarte (http://www.duarte.com/book/resonate-legacy/)
  • How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business by Douglas Hubbard
  • Bullying beyond the schoolyard: Preventing and responding to cyberbullying by Hinduja and Patchin
  • Digital Citizenship in Schools by Mike Ribble
  • Teaching in a Digital Age:  Guideline for Designing Teaching and Learning by T. Bates (Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/)
  • Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson
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Posted in Capstone

My Innovation Project

My innovation project for my Master’s at Lamar University is called “Appy Hour” and it took shape over the last 18 months, growing and changing along the way.  I can’t take credit for the title, as I have seen it online, but my “Appy Hour” was created just for my campus, Moore Elementary.  What I have seen at Moore is that we have a large population of teachers who aren’t all that comfortable with using technology in the classroom on a regular basis.  They really are exemplary teachers, but a bit more “old school” than some other places.  I gathered from many conversations that I had throughout the building, that several of them weren’t even comfortable with using technology in their daily life outside of school, and that was adding more of a barrier to them using it during the school day.  So, “Appy Hour” was born, a chance for us to meet in an informal setting and talk about apps that we use in our daily life and in our classroom. 


I started implementing my idea pretty much right after it’s creation.  That was probably one of my first mistakes.  Not the implementation, but not waiting to get further along in the process of creating and tweaking the idea.  I am not a really patient person though, and diving in has always been my preferred method of doing anything.  I also burn out quickly, which came about towards the end of my journey, but more on that later.  My principal was very supportive of my idea, and even allowed me to give staff development credits for the sessions that we held.  The push back that I felt was more the push back of time.  I had many people interested in attending and in the idea in general, but fitting another piece into their already busy lives was not going to happen.  It is worth noting that I had the biggest turnout of about 15 teachers on the day I was able to offer it during our “workday”. 

What I realized right away, within minutes of having my first session last December, is that there are some people in my building who are very interested in leveraging technology in the classroom but they are lacking the skills to do it effectively.  My co-teacher, who helps me run “Appy Hour”, and I came to the realization that we were going to have to show teachers on our campus things that we were able to do in our Kindergarten classroom, using technology.  By using our own rooms as examples, where 5 year olds could use technology to do some amazing things, we felt like others might want to follow.  It seemed like a good plan but like all best laid plans, there were some definite bumps in the road.  Part of our issues stem from the idea that many teachers, in general, think that Kindergarten is maybe a little less academic than other grade levels.  When presenting ideas, we would often encounter that look that says “because you have time, you can do these things.”  What most teachers don’t understand is that Kindergarten is the first grade of the past.  The things that we are asked to do in our classrooms is beyond their years many times.  Gone are the days of home centers and play grocery stores, and they have been replaced with “workstations” that have the children working hard all day. 

We had 4 sessions that Spring, and the same people attended most of them.  Were they going back and using the ideas? We hoped they were.  Towards the end of that Spring semester is when I was in the Measurement class.  Finally, a chance to see if what we were doing was making a difference.  What I learned through my measurement was that people could be motivated to talk about what were sharing for a chance to win an iPad party, but actually using a tool in their classroom was much more challenging.  We had one participant actually go back and use a tool that we talked about, “Plickers”, in her second grade classroom.  It was at that point that the frustration began to set in and “Appy Hour” began to shift it’s focus.

This past Fall, I was able to present my “Appy Hour” idea at our district technology conference.  Not having a simulation, but actually the idea behind it and what we were doing at our campus.  We had many people interested, but it remains to be seen at this time if anyone actually went back and implemented any parts of it on their campus.  Again, a slight kick to the ego, and “Appy Hour” suffered for it.  I was very hesitant to have any sessions that Fall, with the push back that I experienced before.  But we were able to successfully have a “Appmazing Race” where our participants were able to complete tasks using apps.  I feel like this was really the most fun we have been able to have and it really addresses the idea of not just sitting by passively and listening about apps, but instead using them in real time to complete tasks.  I hoped to continue this idea for the rest of the fall.  Then October happened.  At my school October is the craziest month of the year, with Book Character Pumpkins, Pumpkin Carving, Hawk Fest, and many other time consuming activities. 


The next transformation of my innovation idea was the online course, which I felt like could breathe new life into my idea.  All the complaints about no time or ability to stay after school could be addressed by having a self-paced “Appy Hour” available to the staff.  I spent hours upon hours trying to make the course a very open ended course that anyone could work on, no matter their level.  When I finally put it out to the staff, not one person joined the class.  I know we are all busy so I didn’t worry too much about it.  But what I realize now, looking back, was it made me want to avoid the project for some time.  I have a pretty tough skin, and I like to be out there on the front lines of education, trying new things.  But subconsciously, I shut down on my idea.  I could still write about it, come up with ideas for the next session, and even have discussions about it with my co-teacher.  But I could not bring myself to schedule a session.  It reminded me so much of a conversation that I had with my technology teacher about how she could not beg people to come to trainings and how she thought it was interesting how many stops I would pull out to get people to join my sessions.  She was often the source of my frustration during the evolution of “Appy Hour”, only attending one session and being a bit critical in the process.  We offered free iPad parties, fed them, and anything else we could think of.  I was a bit put off when she said that, but now I realize I was doing a lot of leg work to get people to show up to these sessions.  All while having the support of my administration in my building by allowing me to have the sessions but not having them present for all but one session.  All while running my kindergarten classroom and balancing my own family commitments. 

Fast forward to last month, when someone in my building asked me when I was going to have another “Appy Hour” session.  I don’t think I have heard any person ask that this school year.  All of a sudden, I felt a new energy.  If I can change one classroom, or one teachers ideas of using technology to leverage learning in their room, I am creating that change that I wanted to create.  No, it’s not on the scale that I planned on in the beginning.  I’m not running a district “Appy Hour,” and I am not fielding technology and app related questions all day.  But I am trying.  And one of the most important lessons that I have learned through my innovation plan is trying is better than not trying.  Doing what I do, being who I am, is the one tool that I can use to implement change in my building.  I have also learned that although I will graduate with a degree in Digital Learning and Leading, it should be called a degree in Changing People Hearts and Minds.  It’s not about the technology at all.  It’s all about getting people to see what needs to be changed in their world, and doing something about it.  I believe that “Appy Hour” will continue to grow and change throughout my career.  I hope it becomes all that I dreamed it could.  If not, I feel it will be the fire inside of me to create the next big innovation project.  And that’s not such a bad thing. 



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Posted in Capstone

COVA Approach

This journey that I have been on the last 17 months has changed my professional life forever.  I look at what I do with kids in an entirely different way now than I did before beginning the DLL program at Lamar University.  This masters program was, initially, a way for me to quiet my restlessness with my current job.  I have taught Kindergarten and first grade for a total of almost 21 years.  Everyday, I ask myself is this all that I was meant to do.  Not that I am unhappy with my choices.  I cherish every child that I have been a teacher to.  But, as in most professions, sometimes people get a little restless.  This program was my chance to add to what I already do, to improve on my technology use in the classroom.

The first class was where I was first introduced to the COVA approach.  COVA stands for choice, ownership, voice, and authentic projects. I went in to the program expecting to be handed expectations and assignments to complete, without any real input from me.  That is the typical master’s experience.  Right away, I was thrown into a constant state of discomfort.  Not discomfort because I am afraid of hard work or putting myself out there.  Discomfort because as a teacher for the last 20 years, I was not given the choice of what I wanted to learn professionally for the most part.  The district chooses what they want us to do on staff development days.  We only really have choice on our own time.  So here I was given some very broad assignments with all these choices of how to turn them in and what tools to use to create them.  I had a really hard time wrapping my mind around the lack of, at the time I considered, direction. I considered quitting many times in that first 5 weeks.  I questioned if I was too old for this.  I questioned if I was tech savvy enough to be able to complete the assignments.  I questioned if being out of school as long as I have put me at a disadvantage.  I questioned everything.  One of my first published entries into my Eportfolio shows how uncomfortable I am in this process.  The writing was very stiff and sort of uninspired, at least compared to where I ended up. 

Throughout the program, I was challenged to choose what I wanted to work on, to take ownership of my own ideas, to create projects that I could use in my classroom or work environment right away.  I was challenged to step outside my comfort zone at least once a five week period and share my ideas with others in my organization.  I was taking this idea that I had, Appy Hour, and adjusting it at every turn, with every failure, and asked to  make it better and more relevant.   


As the program moved on, I became more comfortable with the COVA approach.  It is much easier for me to fight for something that I created, from the ground up.  I have more passion when talking about Appy Hour than any program I ever been asked to implement in or out of the classroom.  It is like my child.  I have grown it from infancy, guided it through the hard parts, and learned what to do to have it be successful.

The COVA approach has also encouraged us to initiate change in our organization.  That is something that I have never had a hard time doing.  Complaining about how things need to be changed, coming up with ideas, has never been a weakness for me.  But this approach, giving me a way to create a vehicle to promote change at my school has given me the voice that I never really felt like I had before.  This program, and focusing on my own choices, has taught me so much about how to promote change.  Even something that I did not enjoy as much, such as literature reviews, have taught me so much about how to show people the evidence that is out there about why we might need change.  I have never been much of a researcher but I feel very prepared now to back up what I say with research every step of the way. 

My innovation project, Appy Hour, created throughout this program is a much more authentic piece of learning for me than something that a professor could have chosen for me.  With each class, we took our project and fleshed it out, from how to measure our success to how create an online version of it.  This project is more important to me than most things I’ve done in my career.  I have been implementing it, off and on, for over a year, and it is still growing and changing.  I have no intention of ending it with the end of this program.  I am hoping with a change in my position, I might be able to make this idea more far reaching than it is at this point.  I have a feeling I will be playing around with my innovation project for the rest of my career. 


This approach to choice and authentic learning aligns with my teaching philosophy.  Unfortunately, it is a lot of work to have students working on all different projects so I don’t see it being something that many people are going to be able to get on board with, especially with the younger students.  I hope to implement more choice, voice, and ownership in my classrooms with the addition of 18 iPads that I won a grant for in December.  I can see during our research unit, having small groups of students creating different representations of what we have learned about our animals.  I can see some creating Chatterpix and sharing their facts.  I can see some choosing a book creator and making a book about what we have learned.  I can even see some budding filmmakers in my classroom making a video to share what they have learned.  The opportunities with the COVA approach are endless.  It is just about getting out of the box that we have ourselves in as teachers.  The students never really wanted to be in that box to begin with so getting out will be easy for them. 

The biggest challenge I see in my future, with using the COVA approach more in my classroom, is getting the other teachers onboard with what I am doing.  Again, time is going to be a big deciding factor.  I know it takes our professors a significant amount of time to mark our work because we are all doing different things.  I can see others around me complaining about that.  I think the key will be telling others about how profoundly this experience has changed me, a 43 year old adult.  And if it can change me that much, just imagine what it could do for children.  Kids who just want to have their ideas heard.  Which really should be one of our goals.  We should want to have students who can think outside the box and show their thinking in any number of ways.  That is, in my opinion, what is going to get them the jobs they desire in the future.  We are no longer a society where we want everyone to do the same thing in the same way.  We desperately need innovators.  Our children will be much more prepared for that role if we give them choice, ownership, voice, and authenticity in their learning. By using the next opportunity that has presented itself to me, the IPads for our kindergarten classrooms, I hope to be the kind of person who does prepare children for the world that they are growing up in, not the world that I grew up in.  As my Appy Hour tshirt says…


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Posted in Capstone

The Final Plan

The last 5 weeks, I have been working on a plan to modify an existing practice at my school we call “Curriculum Committees”.  I have taken what we currently have in place, which is a great way for teachers to learn from each other, and changed a few components to reflect Gullamhussein’s 5 Principles of Professional Learning.  You can read her research here  if you are interested in all the research and numbers behind her ideas.

When I was thinking of a PL (professional learning) idea, I immediately went to something that we already do because I know the faculty and administration are more comfortable with “tweeking” something that is already in place than just starting over with something new.  My first step in the quest was to create my presentation.  I used Google slides, a tool that I wasn’t as familiar with, to challenge myself to use something that I can use with both Windows and Mac.  I sat down with my principal and went through the presentation last week, and she was on board with many of the ideas that I suggested to make these presentations more effective.  Big sigh of relief there!

The next step, was to come up with an outline and timeline for what I was suggesting.  So I planned out the 2017-2018 Curriculum Committee sessions.  Most of the work I did before the conversation, so I did go back and edit based on the discussion that we had during my presentation.  My principal had some good questions which helped me narrow my focus quite a bit.  There were also some “sticking points” that we decided that we might have to work out in the course of the learning.

The final piece of the puzzle was to get the resources that I would need together to implement the plan.  As some of the areas are still very loosely planned, I am sure I will have to add to my resources.  I hope to at least some parts of this plan implemented in the next school year.  I believe that I am being a voice for the other teachers on my campus, saying what others are not always comfortable saying, about the state of our PL.  I am happy to take on that job, as long as I can.

At first, I felt like all the pieces of this plan were kind of a lot of busy work, but now having gone through it and actually trying to implement it, I see that it was all necessary to achieve my bigger goal of changing what PL looks like on my campus for the better.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my plan.  Look for updates towards the end of this school year when I hope we can finalize some of the arrangement.



Gullamhussein, A. (n.d.). Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Testing. Retrieved December 15, 2016, from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Staffingstudents/Teaching-the-Teachers-Effective-Professional-Development-in-an-Era-of-High-Stakes-Accountability/Teaching-the-Teachers-Full-Report.pdf


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Posted in Professional Learning

Outline/Timeline – Professional Learning

This week we were asked to create an outline and timeline to show our professional learning idea and some of the details that we needed to think about when looking at creating our plan.  It was hard to come up with a format at first, but once I put that aside and just started to put my ideas on paper, it came together in a format that will work for me.  I hope you enjoy reading through what I’ve come up with.  As usual, if you have any ideas or comments to help me out, please leave me a comment.


  • Big hairy audacious goal for the revamped Curriculum Committee PresentationsTo complete a year of professional learning that reflects the use of key principles of effective professional learning and creates an environment that is supportive and collaborative in encouraging teachers to try new ideas in all areas of curriculum.  This goal will be measured by the occurrence of teachers asking for further information or help after the presentations.  

    Goal       Assessment Learning

    Use 5 Principles of Effective PL Presentations address 5 Principles – reflect on if it did afterwards
    1. Teachers need to be trained in the awareness of the 5 principles and how to implement them in presentations
    2. Use planning sheet while coming up with presentation (backward design or 3 column table)
    Use collaboration tools Presentations utilized collaboration both during planning and during the presentation
    1. Look at different collaboration tools for presentation
    2. Decide together what works best
    Provide support for others during implementation Teachers go out and support implementation of ideas – share experiences with each others during the final reflection meeting in May.  
    1. Request help in scheduling time to support teachers.
    2. Contact teachers who request help and find out what their needs are.  

    Before presenting this outline, it is necessary to understand the current Curriculum Committee presentation format at my school.  Once a month, we are required to attend the presentation of ideas by our 5 curriculum committees (3 one month, 2 the next, alternating throughout the year).  We are assigned these committees by our Administration in August.  We break into 3 or 2 groups, depending on the month, and rotate through the 20 minute sessions of PL given by our colleagues on a subject of their choice within their curriculum area.  We register for this through our district workshop system and instructor notes are made available.  

    I am proposing a revision to the current practice.  I am asking our Administration to change the following current practices:  

    1. Allow teachers to choose their own committee based on interest
    2. Train members on the 5 key principles of effective PL given by Gulamhussein in her research (see resources).
    3. Have the committees choose one or two focuses for all their presentations (ex.  Reading-guided reading, Technology- blended learning) instead of letting teachers present whatever they want.
    4. Build in more collaboration and more opportunities for modeling/mentoring for the teachers when they want to implement a new idea. Build in the idea of “buddies” that hold each other accountable for implementation.  


    • Each of the 5 key principles will be addressed throughout the year of presentations.  The Principal and AP will need to be introduced to and trained about these 5 principles before the end of the current school year or over the summer.  This can be done in a variety of ways.  The report will be made accessible to them during the presentation.  I would also like to share many of the videos that we have viewed during this class, especially the ones about collaboration.  It is important that they have a very good understanding of the principles, as they will train the Committee heads and the other support personnel who will be needed throughout the year to give support to teachers.  
    • The key principles will be used every planning session by the committee head and the presenters to make sure that they are doing their very best to hit on all five and make the PL the most effective it can be.  If needed, the Principal and AP will be available to help them negotiate or come up with ideas.  


    • Collaboration will be built into the Curriculum Committee Presentations in various ways.  The first example would be the Principal and the AP collaborating with the committee heads to explain the 5 key principles.  If they are comfortable with the idea, I would offer to do the trainings.  
    • The head of the committee and the presenters for that month will collaborate during the planning session to create a PL that is as effective as possible.
    • During each presentation, the presenters will be encouraged to include collaboration among the attendees as much as possible.
    • The Principal and AP will encourage collaboration during grade level PLC’s when having the teachers plan what they want to try to implement and what support they will need.
    • The committees are asked to collaborate in May on what they want to implement the next year and what support they will need to do so.
    • The Principal, AP, PF’s, counselor, and any support personnel needed will collaborate with the committee heads, the presenters, the grade level teams, and each other throughout the year to support implementation and help make time for modeling and mentoring for the teachers.  


    • The Principal and AP will be in charge of training the committee heads and fostering collaboration throughout the year.  They will also be in charge of the coordination of scheduling opportunities, if requested by the teachers, for modeling and mentoring opportunities.  They will make assign a support person to videotape each presentation and upload it to the S drive for the presenters who are unable to view other meetings.  They will encourage implementation and help manage conversations about implementation during the PLC meetings held every 6 weeks.  
    • The PF’s and Tech Liaison will be trained by the Principal and AP(or myself) on the 5 key principles of effective PL.  They will be available during planning sessions to help the committee heads and presenters come up with ideas if needed in their area of expertise.  They will be available to cover classrooms so that teachers can go out and observe if they have requested that support.  They will be the liaisons with the school district for any curriculum questions or concerns that may arise from implementation.
    • The committee head will be responsible for training each group of presenters on their committee when it is their turn to present the 5 key principles of effective PL.  They will sit in on the planning meeting and they will fill in the planning sheet to make sure that all 5 areas are addressed.  They will let the Administration know if any special materials are needed for the presentation or the implementation of an idea.  They will seek out help during the planning stages if needed from the PF’s or the Tech Liaison.  
    • The committee members will present an idea one time during the year.  They will help decide the one or two areas that their committee will focus on.  They will choose a committee that they feel very passionate about, regardless of their primary teaching assignment.  They will come to all meetings prepared with ideas but also with an open mind to doing PL “differently” than they have before. They will attend the other committee presentations and alert the Administration if they would like support in implementing ideas that they have seen and what support they will need.  The presenters will be open to any requests by teachers to model or mentor in what they have presented, with some help scheduling the logistics by the support staff.  


    • The audience for this PL is classroom teachers in a K-4 setting.  They may teach only one subject or all subjects, depending on their assignments.  They will need adequate support both in their presentations and also in implementing any ideas that were presented to them.


    • Presenters will be encouraged and trained how to use a backward design model when planning their presentations.  They will be trained on this design model in one of the beginning of the year staff development sessions (see resources for a Prezi, article, and template).  


    • A rough timeline is included in a different document to follow this one.
    • This PL will occur in the 2017-2018 school year, from August until May.
    • There will be monthly presentations by different committees on Thursday.  


    2017-2018 Timeline

    August – Principal and AP go over new format of PL.  Teachers choose their committees based on their interest.  Committees meet and decide on the head of the committee, who will be trained in the 5 steps of effective PL.  Committee also chooses one area of focus for the year (ex:  Reading might do guided reading, technology might do blended learning).  The committee then delegates the remaining jobs (paperwork person, communications person, technology person, etc…)

    August – Principal and AP (or myself) train the committee heads in the 5 steps of effective PL.  They will give a planning sheet created by the leadership team to help them plan and incorporate all 5 principles.  

    September – 1st meeting – Planning meeting for the first group of committees that will present (Science, Technology, Math).  The group will choose the first presenters. The head of the committee is in charge of filling in the planning sheet and helping the teachers brainstorm ways to incorporate the 5 principles in their presentations.

    September – 2nd meeting – Group 1 will present for 20 minutes each.  Teachers who are not presenting or are in group 2 will move through the presentations according to their committee assignments.   Teachers who are interested in observing or being mentored may contact the head of the committee that they need.  The head of the committee will contact the principal to arrange coverage for classes so that modeling and/or mentoring can occur if requested.  All attendees will fill out google form survey.  The presentations will be filmed and made available on the S drive for any teachers who were presenting in group 1 and were not able to rotate through the presentations.

    October – 1st meeting – Planning meeting for the second group of committees that will present. ( Reading, Writing).  The group will choose the first presenters.  The head of the committee is in charge of filling in the planning sheet and helping the teachers brainstorm ways to incorporate the 5 principles in their presentations.

    October – 2nd meeting – Group 2 will present for 20 minutes each.  Teachers who are not presenting or are in group 1 will move through the presentations according to their committee assignments.   Teachers who are interested in observing or being mentored may contact the head of the committee that they need.  The head of the committee will contact the principal to arrange coverage for classes so that modeling and/or mentoring can occur if requested.  All attendees will fill out google form survey.  The presentations will be filmed and made available on the S drive for any teachers who were presenting in group 2 and were not able to rotate through the presentations.

    The same format will be followed November through April, rotating Group 1 and Group 2.  The meetings can be combined or shortened as everyone gets used to the 5 principals.  

    May – This will be a debriefing of the years PL.  The committees will meet and will begin to brainstorm what they want to implement the following school year and what support they will need from Administration.  A list will be made and given to Administration so they can work on it over the summer.  

    **Teachers are also going to be encouraged during their grade level PLC’s to begin implementation of anything they have seen that they think will be beneficial to them.  The principal, AP, peer facilitators, and counselor, along with any support personnel who may be applicable (ex. Computer) should also be invited to the PLC if they will be needed to help support the implementation.  When a teacher is interested in implementing, they are encouraged to fill out an Implementation Needs form (created by principal and AP and myself) to map out the support that they will be needing, and to make sure that everyone that needs to be made aware of needs is kept in the loop.  

    ***I did present this to my administration and did make a few changes.  They were open to several changes but expressed concern about some of the changes creating a hierarchy (they like us all to be equals).  There was also some question of if videotaped presentations would be utilized, because district ones were not.  I reassured her if the trainings were as good as they could be with the 5 Principles, people would want to go back and view them again (or for the first time if they aren’t available).  We also need to address equal workload for the committee members to take some of the load of the head.  If the head is responsible for training, others should be responsible for paperwork, communication, etc.  

    Resources for introducing Backward design

  • What is Backward design? – presentation with videos
  • Why Backward is Best – article about backward design
  • Backward Design Templates
  • 3 Column Table Template

Resources for training about Gullamhussein’s 5 Principles

Collaboration/Presentation tools

Growth Mindset Resources


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Professional Learning Presentation

What a journey I have had in the last year.  My original innovation idea was “Appy Hour,” showing apps and how they are used in everyday living to increase the comfort level of them being used in the classroom.  Implementing this innovation plan has really made me focus more on professional learning and how to make it more effective in our profession.  So although my innovation plan is mentioned in my presentation, it was more what I learned from it that pushed me towards my idea of a change I think would benefit my campus. 

 When thinking about the primary PL on my campus, I came up with an innovation that started several years ago by our current administration called Curriculum Committees.  At the time, we were placed on a committee and we took turns presenting to the staff in small group sessions every other month.  I think it was innovative because it was less “sit and get” than your typical faculty meeting.  I also liked the idea of us being the experts.  Fast forward to year three and now I see some changes that can be made to make it much better and stronger.  So, my presentation really focuses on the current practice at my school and how to assess it using Gulamhussein’s 5 Principles for Effective Professional Learning.  I do reference my “Appy Hour” idea in the presentation, but in a more what I had to change kind of way than using it as an example. 

 I feel like this approach is so relevant in our profession because there is so much professional learning out there that,with a few adjustments, could be so engaging and beneficial to teachers.  I don’t really see the point in reinventing the wheel, so to speak.  By showing how one campus can take a current PL plan and adjust it to address the 5 principles, hopefully the task wouldn’t seem so daunting to other campuses.

 The idea that I had for the changes to our current PL did grow and change while I was creating my presentation.   I had to take into account the why of my plan, to engage the teachers in a more effective professional learning situation.   I also had to walk that fine line of being encouraging and not critical of current practices.  I feel like adding in elements to the presentation,  such as the report being accessible by clicking on the picture, makes it more beneficial for my administration.  I tried to include a few videos, for interest and information, and put in brainstorming sessions after each principle to make the administration more active participants in the changes.   I paid really close attention to using the Google slides not as a platform for a lot of information, but as a catalyst for the discussion that I would have during the presentation.  Many of my ideas can’t be seen until you access the notes for each slide.  

 I did try to find a video on active learning that would really drive the point across that what is good for students is good for teachers as learners too. I feel like seeing the ideas in the video format will make it more memorable and impactful.  I chose this particular principle because I feel like this is an area that we need to focus on the most.  The video I used at the end of the presentation was really to just drive home my point that change is good and that innovation is scary, but necessary, especially in our profession. 

I did use a tool that is somewhat new to me, Google Slides.  I am more of a Powerpoint person but since I am switching to a more Mac based platform to show versatality in my technology use, I needed a tool that I could use interchangeably.  I found it very easy to use on either platform and I even learned how to make a screenshot on the Mac.  The one thing that I missed was the ability to add audio, which I was going to do for the purposes of putting this on my Eportfolio.  That said,  it is important when viewing this video on my Eportfolio, or WordPress, that you click on the gear to open up the options.  Then, view presenter notes to see more of what I would talk about during the actual presentation. 

 I hope you enjoy my presentation.  It was simple but I really tried to focus in on the information shared in the class by Nancy Duarte and Presentation Zen about what makes a good presentation. 



Duarte, N. (2013). Resonate: Present visual stories that transform audiences. John Wiley & Sons.          An online media version of Resonate can be accessed for free at http://resonate.duarte.com/#!page0

Duarte, N. (2013). How to Tell a Story. Retrieved November 25, 2016, from https://youtu.be/9JrRQ1oQWQk

 Duarte, N. (2013). How to Create Better Visual Presentations. Retrieved November 25, 2016, from https://youtu.be/so9EJoQJc-0

 Gulamhussein, A. (2013). Teaching the Teachers Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability. Center for Public Education. Retrieved from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Staffingstudents/Teaching-the-Teachers-Effective-Professional-Development-in-an-Era-of-High-Stakes-Accountability/Teaching-the-Teachers-Full-Report.pdf

 How Presentation Zen Fixed My Bad PowerPoints. (2013, September 16). Retrieved November 25, 2016, from https://youtu.be/vkrl1j0IW-c

 Phillips, D. (2014). How to avoid death By PowerPoint.  Retrieved November 25, 2016, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iwpi1Lm6dFo

 Reynolds, G. (2013). Presentation zen design: simple design principles and techniques to enhance your presentations. New Riders.



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Final reflection on Online Course

Online professional development is becoming more necessary to reach teachers on many campuses.  With the increase in paperwork and the demand for more and more data to support what is seen in the classroom, teachers need a more flexible way to learn what they need to know to serve the children in their classrooms.  There is little to no time any more for teacher’s to go out and learn new ideas or new ways of doing things unless they are willing to sacrifice time with their families.  Pair that with the general resistance there is to change, and the need for quality online PD is more apparent.   The online “Appy Hour” course was developed with those needs in mind.

The online course focuses mainly on the learning theories of constructivism and connectivism.  Bates states that discussion forums and projects are keys to constructivist learning (2015).  Every week of the course that has been created has a discussion piece and some kind of project or creation for the teacher’s to complete.  By focusing on learning by doing, the teachers will come away with real skills that they can apply in their classrooms immediately.  Several of the projects will be able to be used in the classroom, as they were designed for the learner to use a current topic in their classroom to construct the assignment around.  There is a slight connectivism reference in that the instructor is the facilitator, and the individual learners are creating their own learning through their choices in projects.  The open ended projects were designed just for this reason. There is also a great deal of experiential learning in this online course.  Using the learning by doing idea, teachers will have more knowledge on what can be used in their classrooms in the future and how they can apply it to what they are doing right now. By making the course less memorization and regurgitation, the learning will be more likely to be applied in the future.

There are many course instructional designs that can be used when creating an online course.  The ADDIE model is one design model that many designers use when creating a course.  ADDIE stands for analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate.  This model is useful in more complex subjects and should be encouraged to be used when the subject matter is very complex to make sure the learning is effective.   It wasn’t very useful in the design of this professional development class, though there were pieces of it that were considered in the course design.  Design was very important to the creation of this class, and will be discussed further below.  Evaluation is a key to any kind of teaching, and will be included in the online course also.  The online collaborative learning model is another example of a course design.  This model encourage students to work together to create learning.  The “Appy Hour” course did use some components of this model, especially when looking at using a discussion for each week.  Competency based learning is showing skill completion by the learner.  Although general skills are addressed in each week of the course, there is not one specific right or wrong way of doing things, so this kind of learning is not addressed directly in the course.

The main instructional design used when creating this course was the UBD design, created by Wiggins and McTighe.  The course was designed in a backwards model, looking at the desired outcomes first, then looking at the activities and materials that would be needed to achieve those outcomes.  The course was designed with the more concise three column model, which can be accessed here..   By creating the course in this way, there is a sense of clarity and organization that is necessary for a fully online course.  Each week was able to be laid out with a specific area in mind, and the learner was given many resources to examine before completing their project.  By deciding on the general assessment first, the course was laid out in a way that was very clear about the areas being addressed.  This model is a very effective way to plan a course, online or not, because it keeps the focus on the end goal first, not on all the activities that can be found to teach a concept.  By keeping the end in mind, there is not more focus put on getting to the end goal with numerous and sometimes unnecessary activities.

Bates states that there are key skills that all learners will need in the digital age (2015).  These include knowledge management, IT skills, interpersonal communication, lifelong learning, flexibility, and collaborative learning.  To address these skills with students, first teachers must master these skills for themselves.  The online course created not only has teachers practicing some of these skills in the actual course, it gives them current information on some of these skills and how to use them in their classrooms with students.  It is impossible for teachers to give the students the skills necessary for their future if they don’t understand or have them either.

Online learning is becoming more and more prevalent in our society.  Whether used for convenience or for geography reasons, online learning is one way that all people can be reached.  There is so much information out in the world, through open access and creative commons, students can become directors of their own learning instead of driving to a campus and hearing what an instructor thinks is the most important information.  As online learning becomes more common, and it moves down from universities to public school districts starting to experiment with it, professional development on how to use online courses and how to create the content is going to be more necessary than ever.   Online learning is not taking what we already do in the classroom and recording it to go online, but an entirely different way of designing learning.   If teachers are not given the necessary professional development to do this in an appropriate way, then we are doing a disservice to the students.  My online course is just the tip of the iceberg in showing different ways to increase learning in the classroom.  If instructors learn even one new way of creating content or engaging students, then that can be applied to creating more effective online learning for students.

By studying the different ways of creating online classes, the different theories behind online learning, and by looking at media in a different way, applying this knowledge in the classroom should be quite easy.  Reading the INACOL report on standards for online classes, I was given a reference point to look at any future online learning that I will create, for adults or children.   Knowing what the skills that are needed in the future, as a teacher of young children, I will be able to show using these skills as an adult and talk the children through why I used the skills.  For example, instead of looking up an answer to a question ahead of time, I will look up the information in front of the students, while talking through the different ways of accessing knowledge and how to find quality information on the internet.  Doing this at a young age will make these kinds of skills a natural response instead of having students have to learn this later in their education.  The study of the different kinds of media, and how students learn the best, can be applied both in my kindergarten classroom and my online course.  I don’t think adults are much different than 5 year olds when it comes to what is the more engaging way to learn new information.  By using richer media, and by keeping in mind what is more appropriate for the particular learning goal, many of the skills learned while creating this online course can be translated to any professional experience.


Bates, A.W. (2015). Teaching in a digital age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning.Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/

Wiggins, G. (2005). Overview of UbD & the Design Template – grantwiggins.org. Retrieved November 6, 2016, from http://www.grantwiggins.org/documents/UbDQuikvue1005.pdf


National Standards for Quality Online Courses – iNACOL. (2011). Retrieved November 6, 2016, from http://www.inacol.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/national-standards-for-quality-online-courses-v2.pdf


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Appy Hour – the complete course

This week I finished uploading resources and coming up with all the finishing touches for my 5 week online version of “Appy Hour”.  I hope to send it out to the staff at my school this week and we will see if I get any takers.

I have enjoyed this process of creating an online course.  I think it has given me a background in something that I have not had a chance to experience which is more of a blended/flipped learning platform.  I have never worked in a LMS before, so that experience was very useful.  In the future, as I pursue more of a technology position, being able to construct online courses can only be more of a selling point.

Next week, I will be reflecting on this course and some of the materials that I have used.  Hopefully, my next post will contain a wealth of information for anyone who is thinking about creating an online course.


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Work smarter, not harder

I can honestly say, this week, I did not work smarter.  I have loaded all my resources, only to choose to load them all again because I wanted to have proper references for each.  I have only done Weeks 1, 2, and 3 in my online “Appy Hour” course and I am already learning that a fully online course demands much more organization and preplanning than my in person meetings.  I can bounce of attendees and their questions during a meeting, but I need to make sure I’ve tried to answer any questions that might pop up ahead of time in my course.

I am really enjoying the book that we are reading for this course.  It is a valuable source of information and I plan on going back to read it again when this degree is finished.  You can access this open source textbook here.

I could see myself, in the future, being a creator of online courses in my school district, and really enjoying it.  It would combine my love of curriculum and technology in such an interesting way.

Hopefully next week, after some input from my professor, I will be able to tweek the previous weeks and finish out my online course with a bang!


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