Friday, February 27, 2015


Sometimes ideas hit you in waves and sometimes like a right hook.  In reading "The Missing Voices in Edtech" with some friends on voxer including the author +rafranz davis  and being a part of the voxer #satchat group this week.  I feel like I have app smashed PD!  That was the wave.  Then I talked to an 11 year old today that started a movement based on a passion project... The right hook!

We talked PD all week and how to integrate tech and break down barriers... Does it get any better as an admin?  This is the world of being connected, doors are always opening, nothing gets closed.  All week the discussion was about how to get more involved and then +Tammy Neil said something to the effect of "I don't mind being the conduit, I want to connect people, I have accepted that role and roll with it".  +1 Tammy, you get the spirit!  I only wish to get to that level of enthusiasm!

So I get back to my story.  How to push PD and integration of technology?  There are three things that through "talking it out on voxer" this week I discovered.

1. Time - teachers need it to plan for integration and that is important.  We can't just expect that it is going to happen.  As an admin I need to make sure to require less and meet less to make sure they have more time to plan and collaborate... (more on this in a minute)  This is accomplished through using tools like screencasting directions for compliance issues and using voice recordings when delivering emails.
2. Expectations - What should be accomplished.  This does not mean by March 17th you will.... It means that we are moving toward personalization and in order to do that you need to experiment with... and try.... and what if..... and making sure that the staff understands the expectation is to explore at this moment, for a little longer.  We will find our favorites and many have through +Schoology.  We are 1 year into our journey, at some point we will get our "bread and butter", but we will never stop learning new tricks and trying new things.  How can we? Being loose, being adventurous, and having a little attitude is how we got here.  We will make sure we don't lose that.
3. Mindset - Most important! +Justin Schleider always talks about this and I have learned tons! You have to change, grow, and be ready to unlearn to learn again.  That is it... bottom line, drop the mic!

Is it that simple?   how do you get there?   That is a much harder question.  Be loose, have confidence, talk to people, did I say be confident, did I say talk to people, and have some fun!  Don't fake confidence, use it to promote those around you, and grow leaders!  That is the ultimate testimony of your influence.

The real test is who talks about you behind closed doors in a positive manner...?  That is the only test, go take it, push people with a smile, let them know exactly what you expect, let them dream, let them be awesome, and just lead!  And if they talk negative, so be it, fix it, and don't let it stop your growth toward helping "our kids" And just do it the #cddolphins way!



Friday, February 6, 2015

How video can be used for so much more than telling your story...How I stumbled on this...


I have found using video goes way beyond telling your story and branding your school.  It started about 3 years ago as a middle school principal when I would make videos of what was going on and post them every month.  The students and staff looked forward to them.  These were only shared internally and were a source of pride.  Fast forward to February of 2014, I introduced the idea again, now a principal of Carrie Downie Elementary School.  Except now I was more motivated to share the exploits of the school on a more regular basis and got one out bi-weekly.  Again shared internally and a sense of pride for our building.

Now I started to get serious, I made a profound statement to the staff in the spring of 2014, that I was going to do it every week next year and it would be a big part of our school wide pride and branding plan.  At the same time I bought each staff member an Ipod with the idea that we can all share in this branding plan, that was all I was thinking at the time.  Now I was in for it. It took me between 3-4 hours to edit each video and approximately 2-3 to collect all the pictures and raw footage.  Then I got smart and started outsourcing some of the work in a way that also enabled staff, students, and even parents to feel empowered in this process.  When something happened that I did not expect... A sense of pride turned into learning, risk taking, stepping out of you comfort zone... We are on to someting here!  Here is that story and then the steps/process I go through to put it together.

I have been approached more than a few times over the past few weeks by teachers that have said, "do you know how ___ did that on the weekly video?" or "I am just going to try this today because I saw it on the weekly video, so if you come in expect it might not be perfect"  I began to think about this as these types of comments started coming.  What does this mean?  In the meantime I do promote academic risk taking all the time with students and staff.  At about the same time as all of this, I asked my staff to send me videos of the great things they are doing in class via dropbox, but could be done with Google easily as well.  Remember, they all have their own Ipods at this point.  So I started taking their videos and editing them and putting them in the weekly video.  Teachers telling their stories, how powerful, the stories they choose to tell. Not me trying to "catch something cool".

Carrie Downie Students on why we use technology!


Now there is this sense of healthy risk taking, stepping out of your comfort zone, because through video you "see" what others are doing in a way that teachers generally never do.  Even if these are 30 second clips, you get the idea, and you want to do that.  Teachers are for the most part intrinsically motivated.  Lets face it... they don't do it for the money!  So these videos have given them a taste, a glimmer, a snippet into other classrooms like never seen before.  And you see the "good" the "wonderful" the video that inspires you to "try that".  Ever try stopping a motivated teacher, you tell them to relax and take it slow, but then the stories on how they woke up at 3 am and had to write down that idea or that plan.  This has been the true benefit of these videos now.  The students still, I hope love them, and they feel like stars when I come around to video or their teacher whips out the ipod.  But the real benefit now is making the school transparent to ourselves and in the process showing parents and students who we are.  We are proud of who we are, we show it off every day and especially every week!  We are beyond branding, the act of distinguishing yourself from others, although that is still important.  Now we grow, we learn, we take risks, and we definitely brag about it!  

I can confidently say that this week's video coming out Monday (2/9/15), because we had no school Friday, is 95% teacher generated.  I did not contribute 1 video and I was only able to take about 8 pictures last week.  I still do all the edits, pick the titles, and music, but the content is 95% teacher driven.  That is quite a change from last February 2014, where it was 95% principal driven. Now we need to move it to student driven!  That would be #awesome!  I don't know if I will ever give up the editing, I love it too much!

Here is the process I went through, although it is ever evolving as it is a process.  Leadership is about process and focus... Everything else fits into those categories.  

I am going to put time stamps to show how this has become very manageable.

  1. I came up with a consistent video order, intro - videos from classes - pictures from twitter - closing and set to music. Real simple. 
  2. Many of the staff joined twitter and approximately 75% of the classroom teacher regularly post to our hashtag on a weekly if not daily basis #cddolphins
  3. I then realized as staff were taking more and more pictures with their own phones, that if I gave them a tool (ipod) it would not only make it easier, but with a school/district owned device, it almost seemed necessary, and something we instinctually do.
  4. I then screenshot the pictures from the hashtag and save them directly to dropbox from my Ipod.
  5. In dropbox I create folders with the date of the week I am working on.  So I come home every day and part of my routine is to review the hashtag, retweet to our school page and then screenshot every picture from the day to save in dropbox (5 min. a day)
  6. Every week now produces between 50 - 100 pictures.  I certainly still take many pictures and post to #cddolphins while at school, but it gives me a good excuse to get out and do some walkthroughs.  
  7. I then still have the issue of videos, so I was still taking all of those, making sure none are more than 1 minute in length (less editing). (30 min a week) Again, I would upload these to dropbox daily or while I was at school from my ipod.
  8. So on Thursday night, the magic happens.  I take all the videos and photos from the past Friday through Thursday and pull them from dropbox into Imovie on my MacBook Air.  First all the videos are dumped, then all the photos (screenshots).
  9. I start the video in Imovie and as a part comes up in the videos that is no good I hit (command and the B button) and split the video to delete the sections that go on too long. (30 min.) This past week for the first time, I don't have one video in this compilation. Not ready to post that one yet so check out #cddolphins on Monday to check it out.  No school today, so I had to hold off. 
  10. Put in titles, intro, outro, and music (15 min.) 
  11. Share it to file, share it to youtube, save back in dropbox as a completed project, share on school Facebook, tweet it out, and finally share with staff on Friday morning for them to show their students and watch themselves. (this is where the real benefit of this all has occurred, which I wrote about earlier)
  12. Whole process takes approximately (1 hour and 20 min.) depending on how long it takes me to decide on the songs I choose, but to me that is the fun part!
Here are links to our Youtube Channel