Ready or not…

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I just got home from our weekly elementary PD session and am so encouraged and reflecting a lot.  Our teacher tech leaders from the eLearning committee lead the session on SAMR. They started with the why and then modeled how to start with the standard first to SAMR.  The discussion and questions were so lively, there was such a buzz going on in the room my principal and I decided to put off what we had planned for a later date.  We wanted to capture this energy and let teachers collaborate, discuss their fears and confusion, and review their standards for opportunities.

I’m so encouraged because I gave a SAMR training to the whole school three years ago and I was frustrated beyond belief. At the time I was so focused and excited to share and have people start using SAMR, I forgot to take read the school culture and readiness. Looking back it was very apparent that as a school we just weren’t ready for it yet, but I tried to force it. Fast forward three years and I am wiser more experienced and have COETAIL to thank for helping me realize that it’s all relative and all about the needs of our schools. We can’t force something people aren’t ready for, it will just be frustrating for all people involved. Instead we need to respect each other and meet people where they are. Our teachers have been resilient and have accepted new instructional strategies, programs, and other huge changes…they just weren’t ready.  Until today.

Today I saw teachers’ lightbulbs going on off, I watched team initiated collaboration, and I heard teachers being open and honest about where they were in their tech comfort levels. Teachers that normally sit back asked hard questions, questions that lead to long in depth conversations and it made my heart so happy.

Proud of these teachers

I think in teaching we are so immersed in our profession we forget to take time to sit and reflect at how far we (ourselves, our students, our colleagues, our school) have come.  Today I did that, and man did it feel great. I’m so proud of the fact we now have an eLearning committee with teacher leading the training. I’m proud of teachers for taking the risk and asking their questions.  I’m proud that we are adopting the SAMR model. I’m proud of teachers for stretching themselves outside of their comfort zones.

Today was a good day.

A Letter to Myself on SAMR

Dear Megan,

This week of reflection on technology integration was hard for you, you felt frustrated when you reflected on your technology integration according to the SAMR and TPACK model. Sure, as a teacher you felt confident because you knew the content and pedagogical approaches which made finding the right tech tool to take the task/learning up a level felt natural. As a first year administrator you realized you are still finding your footing.  Your day is taken up with tasks that revolve around a computer, but let’s be honest most of it is substitution and augmentation.  

You did find articles on SAMR for educational administrators about file management, staff presentations, community interactions, classroom evaluations, and staff input that were helpful, but what got to you the most was that these articles focused on managerial tasks; not the educational, creative, and passionate stuff you love about education and your job.

You broke your reflection down into three topics: leading by example, supporting teachers, and community. This task made you feel a little better because you really are doing some good “SAM”ing, but as far as redefining administration you aren’t there yet.  

Here are some of the things you came up with: (S=substitution, A=augmentation, M=modification, and R=redefinition)

Lead by Example:


-Google Forms for feedback/reflection (M)

-Today’s Meet (M)  

-Structure of the meeting (less sit and get, more interactive) (M)


-Google Docs you’ve created–teachers can make copy and customize (A)

-Articles and resources you’ve found on Twitter with teachers (A)

-Teachers and students’ brilliant work on Schoology page (A/M)



-CARES student projects–student created videos shared on Schoology  (R)

-cross divisions (A)

-My PLN via Twitter–5th grade DL passion projects, hooking teachers up with others ®



-Share them via Google Drive (A)

-Presentation Zen (S)


Supporting Teachers

Grade Level Meetings

-schedule via Google calendar (A)

-Share minutes via Google Drive (S)

-Teachers compile information prior to meeting via Google Drive (S)



-create and share editable docs (A)

-Data, data, data via Sheets (A)

-Created Google Folders to house live curriculum and student data (A)


Share Resources

-Make “How To” videos for Schoology, PowerSchool, SBG (M)

-Articles (A)

-Apps (Literably,  Seesaw, Shadow Puppet)  (A)



-Google Form for drop ins and sent directly to them (M)

-Student data analysis with Google Sheets (A)


Community Interactions 


-Create informative videos for parents (M)

-Highlight learning with weekly photo posts (M)  

-Disseminate information and ask for feedback (M)  

-Announce parent sessions and important events (A)


Highlight EAC #wearegiants

-Twitter (M)

-Schoology (M)


Parent Sessions

-Interactive (A)

-Infographics for ELL parents (S)


Ask for Input

-Google Forms (M)

-Schoology (M)


The thing that irks you is that you know how powerful technology is as a tool for connecting and pushing people forward in their thinking, but you just can’t figure out how to get it working with where you and your school are now.  But Megan, you need to be patient. When you stepped back you realized how far your school has come in the 4 years since you arrived and then you get excited because that amount of growth is just the beginning.

So Megan, keep doing the substituting and augmenting, keep leading by example and planting little seeds into teachers’ minds, and definitely keep connecting them to other amazing educators around the world. It may take some time, but the seeds will grow, and then although you didn’t implement the redefining moments of learning you did help plant them. As John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions others to dream more, learn more, and do more and become more, you are a leader.”

I know you, and your brain is already thinking of ways to redefine what you do.  Connecting and collaborating with other administrators via #adminchat is a start. Put questions out there, read other administrators’ blogs (like this one), and become a student of great ones you are surrounded by every day.  And Megan, don’t forget purpose and audience, because sometimes you get a little carried away and it’s my job to keep you in check.

May the force be with you,

Your reflective conscience



Course 1 Final Project: Passions Collide

Through this process I’ve learned that I am an idea girl. I can come up with some great ideas, but the plausibility is sometimes questionable. I struggled with this project because add to the dreamer in me and the feeling of loss from being out of the classroom and not having a class to call my own and I had no clue where to start.  Should I do a unit for teachers?  Parents?  The ELL students I work with for 40 minutes a day?  Or the multi-grade students in a free period I help coordinate? The choices were overwhelming and I didn’t know where to start.  So I started…multiple times.  I basically did 3 projects and didn’t like any of them.  Finally I read Rebecca’s final project and the light bulb went off.  Why not start with something I already had and REDEFINE it?

Another thing I learned is that it is hard to plan a global collaborative project. I’ve joined many, but starting one is more of a challenge. I got on Twitter and threw my net out a couple of times (remember how I started 3 projects?) but to no avail. I waited and continued planning, but as the due date got closer I realized things weren’t panning out and it probably wasn’t going to happen. I am not the Twitter queen, but I have some followers and if it was this hard for me to start a global project then how hard would it be for a new Tweeter or someone not on it?  Is there a database for collaborative projects? I know Skype has Skype in the Classroom and I found a Global Collaboration Day, but these weren’t exactly what I was looking for.  I was frustrated and added this as a challenge to tackle in the future.

The actual planning and creating the unit was the most fun (remember I’m an idea girl). I decided to go with the students that have a free period while other students are in Portuguese class.  In the past this has been a waste of time because there isn’t a curriculum and no one has really claimed it as their class.  This year I took on the challenge and came up some ideas.  I did Genius Hour in my 5th grade classroom for the past couple of years, and realized this is the perfect opportunity for students to use this time more effectively. I have introduced the passion projects, but was just going to do the sharing in-house.  This is where my PLN came in handy, a couple of weeks ago a PLN buddy at Lincoln to collaborate with their TEDed clubs, but at that point I didn’t really see how I could work it in. Then I thought although we aren’t another TEDed club, this is a great opportunity for my students to share their projects and receive feedback and also give feedback to their partners’ at Lincoln. I can already see this project growing into something similar to a TEDed forum.

One thing I want to look at after I teach the first round of passion projects is adding a mini-lesson on Pecha Kuchas.  I had to create one in one of my Masters course and it was a huge challenge, it really made me focus and plan out my content and then move on with the overall theme in mind.

Without further ado, my final project.  I would love feedback on how to improve it.  Thanks in advance!


Embedding or Adding On?

In education we are constantly bombarded with embedding things, I looked up embed on my Mac dictionary and it states, “to implant (an idea or feeling) within something else so it becomes an ingrained or essential characteristic of it.” This definition is intense and changes the thing from its original state. I feel the term embedded is used too loosely and has become too watered down. We think we are embedding things, when we are just adding them on. So often in reality technology isn’t ingrained nor essential in our students’ learning. Sure it is the intention of every educator to have it embedded, but it is a hard task to authentically embed something. I have this visual of food coloring being dripped into a glass of water. There is no way to separate the water or the coloring, they are now one. That is how we should look at technology.  So, how do we truly embed technology in an authentic way, where it is mixed into all areas?

Before moving to the how, I want to look at a little of the why we should effectively, practically and authentically embed technology within our curricular areas. In Living and Learning with New Media the authors state, “Geeking out in many respects erases the traditional markers of status and authority.” Education isn’t changing, it has changed.  As Jeff Utecht says, “Either you are a 21st Century school working on preparing students for today or you are a 20th Century school that just doesn’t get it.” Being a “21st century” school or embedding technology is no longer an option.  We aren’t doing our jobs if we don’t give our students opportunities to learn and experiment with technology.  (Sidenote: I had to laugh when the article mentioned MySpace, and of course because I am a clicker and remembered something I saw on my Facebook feed about where Tom is now.)


Now, where to start? We start with making sure students have the basic skills to use the technology tools we will use. I found Colorado’s Technology Skills Scope and Sequence, which aligns with the Common Core, ensuring that students have the skills to reach the standards. Gone are the days there is a stand alone technology class, every teacher needs to be reinforcing the technology skills.

Thanks Flipboard and our COETAIL Course 1 magazine I found Anne Karakash’s article on how to plan around technology. She reflects on her teaching practice and recalls the shift when her “focus went from adding technology to her lessons as an afterthought, and instead the technology became the starting point of the lesson”. She proceeded to give five steps (plan, research, engage, explore, and synthesis) on how to plan your lessons around technology. Anne didn’t say, but I am assuming she begins with the standard or learning objective and then focuses on the technology to get her students there.

SAMRDuring all my readings and research this week I kept coming back and reflecting on how I have used and use technology in my teaching.  I am a tech lover so this got me thinking about the purpose.  I tend to overuse it and just like the term embedded, it loses its value when I do that. I need to be more purposeful in my use of technology. What do I want students to learn and how can I use technology in the most authentic and effective way?  I had flashbacks to when I added on a cool technology tool or app to a project and it actually took away from the learning objectives. I spent so much time teaching the technology that the students were focused on that and missed the content.  I need to do a better job of clearly defining my learning objectives and then working backward from there. Then thinking about the purpose of technology in that unit

It all comes back to SAMR, I said it in my last post it’s about balance. I would like to amend that and add purpose to balance. I came across Jeff’s tweet of a brilliant visual for SAMR.  It really struck me because we want our technology to go to unknown places and dive deeper into content.