Wednesday, June 29, 2016

ISTE Day 2

It is interesting how Day 2 was a totally different experience than Day 1. I went in with a plan to attend several professional learning focused sessions. However, R2D2 arrived at the opening keynote and then was available for a photo opportunity. That basically made my schedule obsolete until I got my photo; which, I was able to get and totally geek out over!

After the photo, I tried to make it to two sessions and they were both full. The only option left was to go to the exhibit hall. In the exhibit hall I had one goal, meet Peter Reynolds and have “The Dot” signed for my girls. Mission Accomplished.

While wandering the exhibit hall, I came across several vendors that were very interesting. Here are a few that stood out:

Discovery Artifacts/Artifact App:  The Artifact App lets you search for books using traditional titles, authors, publishers and ISBN terms. But you can also search using artifacts (those things you notice in stories when you are reading). Seems like a great resource for educators trying to build text around standards.

LittleBits: I know they have been around for a while, however; this was my first time using them hands on. My husband has to work with circuits as part of this job and tries to teach my girls. Little Bits would be a perfect way for him to teach the concept without using the soldering iron. =) I wish they had family pricing.

Osmo: I was already familiar with Osmo before ISTE but they have added a new feature that includes tiles for coding. I was able to play with these tiles and thought it was so fun. Coding on a computer can be fun but can also be abstract for younger learners. Being able to move the tiles and then see the results immediately on the screen can help those tactile learners.

iPEVO: iPEVO is a document camera and whiteboard company. They are amazing because they want you to use their product. The will hand you a document camera to take home just to try. They want you to see how simple it is to use. Not only do they want you to use their products but they want to support teacher collaboration by sponsoring Edcamps. They will sponsor your Edcamp.  I am not sure how they are making a profit because they are amazing!

After visiting the exhibit hall, I was able to meet for lunch, two amazing educators from Virginia Beach. @teachshel and @chelysemiller are professional learning specialist at the district level. We chatted professional learning over incredible food from @backeastbar . These topics included professional learning frameworks, activities, and models. They shared how they have used Guskey’s research as part of their frameworks to plan professional learning in their district. I cannot wait to look to look this over.

We also discussed the idea that @isteconnects and @learningforward should sit down at the same table and talk. If technology integration should be seamless and professional learning is part of the seamless integration, then it’s only natural that both organizations should talk. Next, we checked out the @breakoutedu bus to try the challenge but unfortunately, they were booked until the end of ISTE. However, I am convinced after talking with BreakoutEdu Team to purchase one box and see what we can do with it.

Finally, we built a stronger relationship between @LFmaryland and @LFvirginia. We hope to build more collaboration opportunities between the two affiliates.

The final part of my learning today involved many poster sessions focused on professional learning. Walking through the poster sessions it was very overwhelming. There were so many great models of professional learning with strategies and resources the presenters wanted you to take and modify. Here are my highlights:



  • Providing student recognition through an awards process. Teachers nominated students based on digital work completed. A red carpet event was held to recognize the students. This is a creative way to recognize exemplary work. I would like to see it modified for adult recognition

  • This district created their own conference around educational technology. I see this as great resources for Common Ground and any future conference we may plan.


  • Resources for creating and supporting teacher leaders. An interesting model that could perhaps be paired with digital badging.
  • eMints is a company I just learned about, that supports coaching and teacher leadership models.

  • This innovative professional learning model is something I would love to put together either as a state opportunity or in partnership with a district. Teachers follow a series of clues and complete challenges in order to learn various technology tools. It seems like a creative way for teachers to learn new tools.



I am excited to pick and choose the different professional learning elements that I learned about and incorporate them into professional learning opportunities for Maryland Educators. I see the potential to enhance growth for teachers that will meet their needs and interests in a personalized way.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

ISTE 2016 - Day 1

ISTE Day 1

Attending ISTE has always been one of my favorite conferences. There is always something to do throughout the day. If you cannot find a session there are playgrounds, posters sessions, demonstrations, an oasis, and the epic exhibit hall. If you cannot find new learning or a way to connect with others, through one of these avenues, I suggest reset and determine the focus for why you are attending ISTE.

The first session I attended was “App Attack”, 60 apps in 60 minutes. I am usually not a fan of rapid fire of tools without examples of how they are used. However, I wanted to learn about new apps and decided to give this session a try. I was pleasantly surprised. As advertised, the two presenters reviewed 60 apps that can be used with students, teachers, or for personal organization. In addition, the apps varied in subject area including Health/PE, Science, Math, and collaboration tools. The apps that stood out to me and I hope to utilize when I return home are:

  • Office Remote: Turns your phone into a presenter remote, including speaker notes. This would solve the problem for when I forget my remote.
  • Telligami: Allows you to create an avatar that can speak during a presentation. I think this would be a neat way to welcome participants during a presentation or even explain directions during a workshop.
  • Solve the Outbreak: This is a CSI app that has children solve the disease outbreak problem before it becomes an epidemic. I think my daughters would love this!
  • Credly: Allows you to create your own digital badges. I am thinking about use this app to maybe create badges for webinar attendance or other PD offerings.
These were just 4 of 60 apps discussed. I am excited to share some of the content based apps with my colleagues. For the complete list and the presenter information check out this link:

The second session, “Building Relationships & Supporting Growth in 1:1 Environments”, focused on coaching as a way to support teacher growth and student improvement. I chose this session because I wanted to gain information and tools to support the Maryland Collaborative Model for Peer Coaching. The presenter for this session was very dynamic and provided many tips for building relationships in order to have effective coaching experiences. Some of my take-a-ways form this session include:

  • This gorgeous diagram that showcases the three building blocks of coaching: coaching, collaborating, and consulting.
I plan to use the resources shared within my own work environment to support collaboration and relationship building with colleagues. I also intend to share with the educators participating in the Peer Coaching Collaborative Model. The presentation can be found here:

The next session I attended was “Gamify your Professional Development using Differentiated and Self-Paced Modules”. I chose this session because I wanted to learn about different professional learning models. The presenters showcased a “Tech Trek” course through Schoology. Within the course were modules that teachers could complete in order to earn XP (experience points) and level up. Teachers would receive badges and rewards each time they leveled-up. Though the “Tech Trek” teachers were learning how to “Collaborate with Google”, “Use Google Forms”, “iPAD Basics”, etc.

Not only did the presenters showcase their gamification model but they also shared EVERYTHING they created so it could be replicated. I am excited to take this back to Maryland. I think these model could be used to have PARCC, Graduation Requirements, and other state initiative designations. Educators who complete the modules would be the school and/or district expert.
  • For access to the Schoology Site: Create a Schoology account and enter the access code: 7HWGD-QFP79 
In between sessions, I visited the exhibit hall and collect lots of free fun stuff for my daughters. I plan to do the same today!

My final session on Day 1 was the EdTekTalks. These are my favorite types of keynotes because each presenter has about 20 minutes to share their message. This tends to make the sessions more thought provoking. The messages that stood out to me were:
Overall day 1, was amazing. I feel that I already have many tools that I can use when I return home. Day 2 has more professional learning sessions including posters session dedicated to professional learning models. I am excited to gain additional ideas and resources!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Band-Aid

My rock star daughter, Bella, loves band-aids. She will receive the smallest boo-boo and is convinced that a band-aid will make it all better. I use to fight her about the need for a band-aid. Here is the normal conversation:

Me: "A band-aid does not relieve pain"
Bella: "My leg hurts"
Me: "It is just a small boo-boo"
Bella: "It hurts"
Me: "What will make it feel better?"
Bella: "A band-aid"
Me: "A band-aid does not relieve pain"

So... you see you redundancy? But what if... I just let her have the band-aid?

There would not be anymore argument or discussions. We would move forward. In the long term, she knows the band-aid cannot stay but for the current time period, she is content.

So, why did I fight my daughter so much about the band-aid? Was it the money? or was it the time to apply the band-aid?

This weekend at Common Ground, I heard an educator discuss the "yes" mind-frame in schools. Just say yes! What would be the worst case scenario? I would be out of band-aids or she would become band-aid dependent?

Either scenario is unrealistic.

I learned:

Even a temporary fix (band-aid) can have a lasting impact because it shows you are listening and you care. So, just say "yes" even to a band-aid.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Guest Moderator for #mdedchat

Tomorrow, I am going to host my first #edchat during the regularly scheduled Maryland Edchat (#mdedchat) Tuesday evening at 8:00pm. I wanted to moderate the edchat in order to help promote two upcoming webinars  focused on "Innovative Professional Learning" and gain insights for my job at MSDE. Sometimes I feel disconnected with schools because I am often in my cubicle planning, preparing, and emailing. I want to overcome this and be part of the solution to help connect schools to each other and with MSDE. I want to further the idea that we are all one work together to improve student growth.

During the #mdedchat tomorrow, the following questions will asked:
(all questions are subject to change and be modified based on discussion, participants and time limts)

  1. What does professional learning mean to you? Is it different than professional development?
  2. Why do you participate in professional learning? 
  3. What does meaningful professional learning look like, sound like, feel like?
  4. What guides professional learning in your school building? What about outside your school building?
  5. How is educator professional learning connected to student growth?
  6. If you could design a professional learning experience with limitless resources, what would it include?
  7. How can MSDE continue to support your professional growth? 

Innovative Professional Learning Models for Schools - Registration: 

Join administrators and teachers from schools in Baltimore County and Carroll County as they share their innovative professional learning model. Discover tools and models to transform one-stop professional development to on-going professional learning in order to meet the needs of educators.
  • Elementary Schools: March 3rd - 4:30 pm presented by Halstead Academy
  • Secondary Schools: March 10th - 3:30 pm presented by Liberty High School

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Creating a Professional Learning Playlist

It started in High School. I made my first mix tape by recording songs from the radio. That tape had every song I liked on one cassette and it was all me, and all mine. I later recorded my favorite TV shows on a VHS tape. It was amazing! I could watch my favorite TV show over and over again, whenever I wanted. As technology evolved so did my personalization, I had over 100 CD's of legally download music from... Napster. Each CD had an inspirational name based on the reason I grouped those songs together including: "Dirty Old Man", "Snowball", and "Best Songs I, II and III".

The fact that I made these tapes, videos, and playlists is not unique. I know many friends and colleagues that have made mixed tapes in the past and now have playlists on their devices. The unique part is the reasoning for grouping certain songs together... it could be to ease a long commute, enjoy a long run, or even soothe a crying baby. Each playlist is created with a purpose and a desired outcome.... now what if professional learning was developed with the similar idea?

There are so many ways for educators to learn and grow as professionals. Examples include: Edcamps, twitter chats, MOOCs, book studies, lesson studies, curriculum writing, webinars, etc.

Imagine this: An educator knows that her students are struggling with "explaining addition and subtraction solutions". This educator then participates in #mathchat on Twitter, participates in a Math MOOC, and then discusses with her colleagues these new ideas. As a team, they implement new strategies to improve math explanation skills. This educator made a playlist of professional learning opportunities based on her student needs in the classroom. It was not a mandatory workshop based on the needs of the majority of a population, it was what was needed in her classroom at that specific time. 

This kind of professional learning occurs daily with educators across the world (if you doubt this.. check out these links #edcamp and #edchat). The problem is these opportunities are not always recognized as professional learning because they are not structure or hours based. As Kyle Pace, Steve Anderson, and Tom Murray discuss in their Webinar:Personalized Professional Learning in a Digital Age, "today's professional development is calculated by seat time". For example, if an educator sits through 15 hours of PD they will receive "credit" and thus be professional developed even though this may or may not meet their specific need to grow professionally.

Educators will participate in non-traditional professional learning regardless if it counts toward their professional development requirements. I believe if educators are doing the work, growing personally and seeing student growth then these non-traditional methods should be recognized. Educators should be able to make their own "playlist" based on what they need and like to do as professionals.

There are places where this is happening.....

In Maryland, some schools are creating a new model to support the idea of educators making their own choices when it comes to professional learning. Patapsco High School in Baltimore County developed "Patapsco University". Through this portal, educators can chose their own professional learning activity, provide a reflection, and receive "credits" to fulfill a professional growth need. Liberty High School has a similar model with "Liberty Professional Learning Portal". Through this portal, educators are expected to take ownership of their professional learning. Halstead Academy in Baltimore County has developed "Halstead 2.0" at the elementary level. By looking at data, educators at Halstead develop a problem/questions then through action research and professional learning a solution is published.

These schools are not only on the cutting edge of personalizing professional learning for educators but they are taking it to the next level and allowing non-traditional methods of professional learning to count instead of "seat hours".

Recognition at the State-Level

Maryland State Department of Education is ready to start their own program that will recognize  Professional Learning choices for educators across the state. The Maryland Professional Learning Program, allows educators to choose from a list of professional learning activities with different point values.

When an educator has reached a set number of points, an email is sent to their principal/supervisor to approve the activities. If approved, educators receive a "Level Up" and certificate. This initiative will allow Maryland Educators to manage their own professional learning by choosing activities based upon their professional needs. It should be a regular part of the conversation with the principal or supervisor regarding an educator's professional learning plan.

I believe this is the future of professional learning. As the pilot starts and we move forward in Maryland, we hope to be a model for other schools, districts, and states that want to provide choice for educators for both formal and informal professional learning.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Pirate Passion

Through the many suggestions of my PLN, I have decided to read the book, "Teach Like a Pirate". I have read the first chapter and so far it is very engaging. However, it is a different perspective to read the book through the lens of a state specialist and not a classroom teacher. It is a little difficult to use that lens but I still consider myself a teacher just with a different role. In chapter 1 the author, David Burgess, discusses passion. He suggested answering three questions about passion before reading any further. Here are my answers to the questions:

Content Passion: Within your subject matter, what are you passionate about teaching?

As a professional learning specialist at the state-level, I work with adults and I do not have a curriculum or a standard timeline for what I have to accomplish. I am given tasks and a timeline for each and I am expected to complete each task. Do not get me wrong, this basic analysis of what I do, becomes so much more in depth with each task I need to complete.I enjoy my job very much.The subject matter that I am most passionate about teaching is professional learning designs, models, and strategies. I love learning about how schools are teaching teachers and in turn I love providing models to other teachers for how they can improve professional learning. I love seeing how the Learning Forward Standards of professional learning work together to improve educator effectiveness and in turn improve student growth.

Professional Passion: Within your profession, but no specific to your subject matter, what are you passionate about?

In my profession but specific to professional learning, I am passionate about inspiring educators, collaborating, and connecting. When I was in the classroom, my favorite year of teaching was when I taught 5th grade. As a class, we had a culture and way of doing things that was unmatched. The students worked together and trusted me. I in turn trusted them. I was inspired by them and I think they enjoy me as their teacher. I often reflect on that year as a teacher and try to think what I did different that made that group so special. I do not have the answer of why/how that classroom was so "magical" but I continue to chase that feeling in my current position. I  love the idea of walking into my place of work and knowing that something great is going to happen today because of the people I work with and for. I love going to other schools around the state to learn how teachers are inspiring students then in turn, sharing those strategies with other teachers. I enjoy discussion around the best practices in education, especially if they challenge my set schema. I love learning about new research and application. I wish I could read three things at one time and absorb them all. 

Personal Passion: Completely outside of your profession, what are you passionate about?

Complete outside of my profession, I am completely and wholly passionate about my family. I have two incredible daughters and a selfless husband. If I could spend every moment with them and travel around the world my life would be complete. My daughters are 4 and 6, their views of the world and opinions tickle my heart. They help me see things in a different light and they are so eager to learn. Being a mother is an incredible experience and one I wish I could do full time. I also mentioned traveling. I have been to several counties and although it can be scary being in a different culture, it is so exciting to learn. Travel is wonderful and something I wish I could do more. Finally, I think I can call my obsession with sci-fi, fantasy, and cos-play a certain type of passion. Ever since high school, I have loved Sailor Moon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and witches. These topics have always interested me and only grew with me as an adult. I read Harry Potter, watch Vampire Dairies, lurked around Baltimore Comic Con (never actually gotten tickets), X-Men, Marvel, Vampire Academy... you probably get the idea. It is like going to a different world when I engage in these topics.

This exercise was truly reflective and I enjoyed it very much. It also was a positive writing experience. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book. 

Group Building Ideas

I work with some incredible people and sometimes when we get together to plan events, the ideas just flow. Here are some of those ideas:

  • Team Resume: Have people in your team create a resume that included everyone's experience. 15 many degrees, 87 years in the classroom, etc.
  • Give One, Get One: Have a listing of ideas, facts, and general characteristics on index cards in a bag. Everyone receives a bag with the characteristics and tries to find a person who matches the index card.
  • What resources do I bring? Have a share-out of what each person brings to the table to contribute to the group.
  • Garage Sale: For this activity, the participants must categorize their "garage sale" items into the following categories:
    • For Sale or Barter
    • Not For Sale 
    • Recycled
    • Repair Shop
    • Garbage
    • Toxic Waste