mccoyderek

Using Infographics in Our Schools

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I love infographics. I make a point to share an interesting infographic to my PLN everyday. As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t a better way to share lots of information in a more concise and interesting display. Its robust and eye-catching.

Steven Weber, @curriculumblog, an active member of my PLN, shared this newly created infographic by his school district Chapel Hill-Carborro City Schools, @chccs. Instead of reading about this district’s information on fact sheet, you can get a great visual experience while reading over some of district’s essential details.They say presentation is everything – in this case, presentation keeps the reader engaged and more likely to retain some of the more pertinent information about this district. Years ago, Steven shared an infographic of similar design from the school he served as principal. It was a great visual and though it was years ago, I still remember my impression from the visual design.

Power of Infographics for School Branding

There is incredible opportunity for schools to use infographics to help promote the great things that happen in schools. When I read the CHCCS infographic, I immediately thought of some banners our school could [and will] create to share some cool, great things we have going on:

  • What middle school is about, strategies for successful transition, study habits
  • Achievement facts;
  • Explanation of the BYOD policy
  • Instead of sharing a stale pdf summary of school improvement goals, , get creative with an infographic;
  • Highlights sports achievements;
  • Explanation of electives, intramurals;
  • Showoff your student/staff of the month;
  • Profile your teachers during Teacher Appreciation Month;
  • Create some great visual on your school’s unique instructional goals i.e., 1:1, blended learning, PBL, focus on literacy, etc.

Promoting our positive school brand is a consistent part of our jobs as school leaders. In addition to committing to spreading the positive word, we have to make sure we are using the language, visuals and tools that help our stakeholders understand our message and take away the important details of our message. Infographics help mitigate the educational jargon, make the data more relatable, and add some essential personalization that our community will buy into.

“If you don’t tell your story, someone will tell a story.”

Resource

5 Infographics to Teach You How to Easily Make Infographics in Powerpoint

#edcampldr NC – Connecting and Learning to Improve Leading

Edcamp LeadershipJuly 10, 2015 promises to be a historic day of learning and connecting for North Carolina educators!

Friday July 10th, we are hosting the first ever Edcamp for School Leaders! Edcamps are not new to North Carolina – for years, dedicated educators have been coordinating and hosting these ‘unconferences’ across our great state. These edcamps have brought in educators from different school districts to share, connect and ultimately help others improve the learning and teaching in all our schools. Talk to any participants in these edcamps and they will tell you that these experiences have been incredibly valuable and significant to their personal/professional development.

Edcamp Leadership NC [held Friday July 10 at the @FridayInstitue] is the first of its kind in NC and we have some great reasons to be excited:

This is a first NC unconference targeted for school leaders across the state. Make no mistake, ALL are welcome to this great day of learning but we want to especially create an opportunity for school and district level leaders to start and participate in change discussions that will help their districts and schools;

  • Edcamp Leadership NC is one of many edcamp leaderships held across the nation! There will be many edcamps held that week on the same days, sharing and connecting virtually;
  • We are glad to announce that the esteemed Dr. June Atkinson, our State Superintendent, will join us for this event;
  • As always, there will be many great educators there, looking to connect, grow and learn.

Get Smart Resources:
– To learn more about what an edcamp is, check out this short video. It’s a great 90 seconds take on the value of this informal conference.
– Kristin Swanson, who’s credited for started edcamps, wrote a blogpost for Edutopia about the benefits and genius design of edcamps.

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Read about Edcamp Leadership here and our efforts to impact edcators worldwide [yep, there is an edcamp leadership Santiago Chile] with this multi-site, same day event!

As a principal, I know its difficult to find conversations or trainings that will help make a difference for my students and teachers, particularly that will fit my specific needs. Edcamps are a great way to personalize your learning and development. Instead of picking your learning from a menu, you have the opportunity to design a talk special for you. What we often find is that there are others who share your specific questions, needs and thoughts. Come to Edcamp Leadership NC and start a conversation in a breakout session, continue it in the hallway, form a relationship with a colleague and take back some information or challenging discussions that well help us all build schools and classrooms our students need and that our teachers will be on fire to work and lead in!

Visit our site and register here!

Strategies for Coaching Teachers to Use Formative Assessment Tools

Formative assessments are an essential part of instructional design.Did my students learn anything? Ways to find out.

Formative assessments give teachers a glance at the level of understanding students have of a particular topic being taught. We like to focus on the value formative assessments bring in determining if something needs to be retaught, taught in a different way or if we can accelerate on an upcoming. These are some valuable teaching points that have to be incorporated into lessons and planned regularly to make an impact on learning. The reason we are in schools is to help kids learn and planning for these regular glimpses helps us know if we are reaching kids.

Vicki Davis, @coolcatteacher, wrote a great post ‘5 Fantastic, Fast Formative Assessment Tools.” She succinctly captures the true purpose and need for formative assessments – ‘Formative assessment is done as students are learning. Summative assessment is at the end.

I recently sat in on a planning session with some teachers and we had a great discussion about the upcoming activities they were developing for students. In the natural flow of the conversation, a teacher mentioned that she would do ‘some kind of assessment’ one day to see if they understood. Our instructional coach asked a couple of great extending questions to get this teacher to not just give this a cursory thought to assessing but to really think about the teaching that had been done and what we wanted the learning to look like – these would help her in creating a good formative assessment.  The assessment we talked about that day was some verbal cues she would ask the group,

I encourage you to read Vicki’s post! Its a great resource that goes into good descriptive detail about some of the great digital tools out there we can use for getting a picture of the learning in the room. Some of these tools are some of my favorites to use with staff as we conduct meetings and trainings.

Getting teachers to understand the value of formative assessments is step one, seeing them used in classrooms is the critical next step. There are a numerous resources on formative assessments on the web and you can have these talks with your teachers and staff. But there is particular value in using digital tools.

First, these digital tools help with student engagement. Students are anxious to get their hands on devices and tools to showcase learning and understanding. Its a great way to get active. Second, you ensure responses from all students when you use digital tools. If you are still having kids raise their hands to answer questions or you are simply calling on students you are guaranteeing non-responses from some students in your room.  Third, free is great! The tools highlighted here are free for teachers and even have apps for different mobile devices.

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Plickers in use in our 8th Social Studies class!

In the end, its more important to use a formative assessment than focus on whether or not its digital, paper, verbal or another method. We know that we have to use formative assessments but which ones? I believe in the power of these digital tools because because addition the reasons listed above, they also give teachers quick, easy to read data they can use for planning. With the devices in our school and our BYOD policy, we can ensure that if teachers want to use digital tools for formative assessment, they can.

Part of my duty is to support teachers who want and need to use these digital tools, even encourage them to use them if its outside their comfort zone. Below, I’ve captured some questions and thoughts that may be helpful if you are having those conversations:

  • What are you looking to accomplish?
  • What information do you need to capture?
  • Do you plan on using the data capture for a grade?
  • Do you need the feedback for immediate in class use or will you collect it to reflect on it for later use?
  • What devices are available to you? What devices will you use? Does everyone have a device or need one?
  • Will you use your data capture to look at individual performance or class performance?
  • How long will you allot to this?

These digital tools are great resources in helping teachers get critical information they need to guide instructional planning. Our talks as curriculum leaders and digital leaders has to expand to include what these tools have offer above and beyond traditional means of collecting information.

Digital Tools as Difference Makers – Your Blog

I’ve had some recent conversations with some of my PLN members about how digital tools are helping me make a difference in my practice. Its always an honor to share some aspects of what I do with others. Its gives me a great sense of community to engage in these real, share conversations but I also benefit from these opportunities to share because they give me the opportunity to reflect on not only what I am doing but some of the other aspects these tools bring to my administrative function.

One conversation this week was about blogging. I was sharing my personal journey as a blogger with a principal here in NC, a newly connected learner and [hopefully after our conversation] a prospective blogger. I shared with him my need to overcome my hangups about writing to get to the real need and goal for my blog – to be a resource to my teachers and school. I am not a prolific blogger like many of my PLN but I do rely on my blog for several critical reasons.

Voice & Vision

We all have conversations with teachers and community members about what we are trying to do in our classrooms and school to have a positive effect on learning and teaching – this is an ongoing function of school leaders in and out of the classroom. So between and after conversations with our stakeholders what serves as a placeholder for the conversations we have? What can serve as the place to go to get a question answered as far as what is this principal/teacher/educator trying to accomplish? The blog is a great tool to not only share your thoughts but to paint a very clear picture of what your organization is about, what the goals are and where we are headed.

For several years I had a personal blog where I recorded experiences and thoughts about what I was thinking and doing to make a difference. Earlier this year at the @NASSP conference, I had a chance to meet Dwight Carter @Dwight_Carter, 2013 Digital Principal of the Year. One of the great conversations we had was on blogging, specifically how he not only maintains his personal blog Mr Carter’s Office, but also his weekly blog for his school and staff filled with announcements and resources and a blog to keep his community informed about what is going on. Hearing and seeing this made me rethink my communication efforts. I always ask myself what else can I do help my teacher and staff and this was a small consideration. What a great way to celebrate, inform, inspire and lead groups!

My NC colleague shared how he creates weekly and biweekly newsletters. With this transition, he will be able to maximize on the archiving and search features of the blog – his staff and community will be simple searches away from accessing and re-accessing difference making information.

Resources

I shared my new school blog in our discussion and what drew the most conversation was the resource section. In every blog, after our celebration and upcoming events, I make sure to share resources that I have gathered from my PLN over the week that I think will make a difference with our instructional goals. These are mix of blogs, articles, infographics – anything that reinforces recent conversations and past and future trainings we have had in the school. This is section has helped reduce the number of emails I send out to my staff through the week [I’ve been told I may have a problem]. One of the best examples of this that I’ve seen is from Jason Markey @JasonMMarkey, 2014 Digital Principal of the Year. Check out his central hub site – from here he links to all the resources and communication blogs for his school. From here you can clearly see a focus on keeping everyone informed and keeping everyone resourced.

The different aspects and benefits of a good blog can’t be spoken of enough. It starts with intention – making a difference. I am fortunate to have some great examples in my PLN that I can continuously learn from and share with others in their journey.

BYOD – More Than A Guest Network

As I was making my rounds last week, during our first week of school, I stopped in the room of one of my 8th grade math teachers, Ms Sams. She was explaining some first week rules and working in some creative review when I noticed this cell phone cut out on the desk. I asked one of the students what it was for and got blown away by the answer. Unfortunately, I couldn’t record that student because it was end of class but here I’ve recorded Ms Sams and her detailed explanation about the policy and what students need to know:


Letourneau_BYOD1.pdf Love this poster! @Lisa Bijit @Sunny Williams @Barbara HumphreysM
s Sams is one of our deep and early adopters of technology and integrated practices. We are fortunate to have many teachers like her who see and understand the value add that technology brings to learning and teaching. I am particularly proud of the next level Ms Sams has gone to incorporate and plan for technology usage in her classroom. I ended the video a little early but she shared that all 8th grade teachers are using this same approach to plan for cell phone use in the classroom. We try to standardize some practices but not all. This is one the great times when we have a grade level that has taken some great initiative and put some great plans in place ahead of time to make sure kids see structure AND the value we place on integrated tech practices.

We have a BYOD policy in place. It took a while to build our official plan because we wanted to make sure teachers would not only understand it well but that they would be encouraged to implement it. I once heard a teacher say that any school that has an open guest network, has a BYOD policy default. That’s not so. A BYOD policy is more than allowance or capability – its understanding and structure and protection as well. One thing that our teachers brought to the table early was the need of clear rules for students to understand and follow.  We made efforts to build a good framework that classrooms/grade levels could operate within.

We want students to bring their devices to school and use them. Its a responsibility of schools to show students that their devices serve different functions, social, personal, educational and that they are all intertwined.

My First Edcamp – #edcampelon

customLogoSaturday 4.19 was the first day of my spring break. While that normally means testing the limit on the snooze button on cell, this day turned out to be phenomenal day of learning, connecting, sharing and growing.

For the past couple of months, I’ve had the fortunate experience to have been one of the organizers for @edcampelon. I’ve known several of the other organizers from my learning network here in NC and got to know the others through this planning venture. From beginning to now [we’re not at the end yet] this has been one of the most impactful learning experiences I’ve taken part in.

[Edcamps are local unconferences that capitalize on informal conversations and presentations to drive learning and growing for educators. Their grassroots approach and shift away from the formal, prescripted conferences.]

Personalized Learning At Its Best


BllprBwIMAA83cE These are greats shot of our initial efforts in building the board! There was a lot of work that went into making sure that all the voices in audience were heard. We started capturing ideas and topics on Twitter days before and began the visualization piece on the Padlet board you see on the right.

1397998743562Giving attendees the direct hand in creating the topics is a big part in creating a personalized learning experience. Not all attendees are as vocal/visible/knowledgeable of the edcamp process as some of the attendees in these pictures [no surprise there @plugusin @web20classroom] but we kept the building conversation active and as engaging as possible. Ensuring voices are a heard is a priority.

Great Learning and Sharing!

The sessions were phenomenal! To be honest, I was like a kid in a candy story during the first hour popping in and out of several conversations, joining in conversations and making connections.

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Personalized learning! Shifted professional development!

The Future of Professional Development

We ended the day with an incredible smackdown! Lots of people shared some great tools that are making a difference in their classroom. All tools are worth mention. Genius design facilitated the capture of all the tools on this link. This innovation is a testament to the genius of the group. Rob Breyer @rbreyer and Dayson Pasion @MrPasion were the gifts behind the app used for the event as well as the social media including the website, Twitter and Facebook account. This link leads to the site. From here you can access all the other media.

Here is why we need to change how we look at pd and shift to personalized experiences like edcamps:

  • Awesome lunch breakfast and lunch!
  • 1397998951381Connecting face to face with PLN members!
  • Embracing that learning can look leads to next level growing!
  • Embedding collaborative resources to capture thoughts and notes from sessions/gatherings and being able to reflect back to them is a major part of this shifted learning experience [Thnx @rbreyer51 and @MrPasion]
  • Organization is critical! Thanks to all who were involved and drove it forward! Thanks for allowing me to be a part of the journey: Steven Weber, Rob Breyer, Sarah Henchey, Jeff Carpenter, Faith Howell, Melissa Nixon, Dayson Pasion
  • Sponsors are critical! They enable teachers to focus on learning, sharing and growing! Thanks NCPDK, Elon University, Discovery Ed, Edmentum, Yapp [link to the sponsors here]
  • Learning is NOT over! We are planning a follow up chat to the edcamp! There was so much follow up chatter, we had to create another forum for everyone to post some follow up thoughts.

This was my first edcamp experience but it will not be my last. I can’t wait to attend another edcamp as a participant and if I’m fortunate enough, I will happy to serve as another organizer.

Please add your thoughts below! I would love to hear from you on your takeaways and thoughts of this event.

 

 

Its About Learning AND Sharing

A recent Twitter post inspired a great exchange between me Jennifer Marten,@jenmarten. I wanted to share this conversation because it epitomizes what effective educators are about. Effective educators should be about learning new information that will make a difference in their schools or classrooms and making sure that students in classrooms reap benefits as well. That’s the essence of a PLN – helping other educators help their students.

 

 

 

 

Thanks Jennifer for this great conversation!

Take a moment to reflect on what your PLN means to you or better yet, what you want your PLN to do for you! Now’s the time to engage with the difference makers who will help the learning in your classroom! We are all committed to growing students!