Monthly Archives: May 2014

Connected Summer Learning via Social Media

What do you get when you combine summer learning with Augmented Reality and the positive power of Social Media?! The answer is pure awesomeness…and students EVERYWHERE are welcome to join the fun.

We’re providing kids a unique way to stay connected this summer.  The poster below contains a very special Augmented Reality (AR) message.  Follow the steps on the bottom of the poster to see the drawing come alive, and to view a summer learning video from Greenwood Elementary School’s principal, Mr. Gustafson.  If you are in a pinch for time and don’t want to print the poster to experience the AR message, just click the image and a YouTube video will play. (It’s not quite the same experience…but you’ll get the important info.)Summer Learning PDF

Connected Learning PDF

After students view the surprise augmented reality (AR) video they can begin creating their projects.  Projects can use any art supplies that parents approve of, but should highlight positive character traits like caring and citizenship.  Posters might include pictures of service-learning projects, cool graphics, or important quotes. So…bust out your markers, glue, and glitter and start creating!  After your child’s Character Poster is completed you can share it using our school’s hashtag.  Students love the chance to share their work with an authentic audience!

Take a photo of your child’s poster and Tweet it to me @GustafsonBrad then add #GWgreats to the message. This project is a fun way for kids to connect to a common project and make a difference over the summer.  We’re so proud of all our students do…and we can’t wait to see the creative work that is shared.

If You Work in a School…

If you work in a school…you matter. Don’t think for a second that you don’t. (When a principal uses a double negative in a sentence you know he means business.)  If you work in a school you touch hearts and minds every day.  If you work in a school you make a difference.

Seeing how our staff works together on a daily basis…often quietly and behind the scenes…is one of many humbling privileges I have.  As principal, I feel an obligation to share some of these stories; primarily because I’m also a dad and I would want to know.  I would want to know about the people and stories that were being woven in my own children’s minds.  I would want to know the “whos” and “whats” of their day.

Perhaps at dinnertime tonight you can ask your child a different question.  Instead of asking, “What did you learn today?”  Try asking, “Can you tell me about Darryl?”

Our beloved custodian, Darryl, is part of the “Greenwood Story.”  He’s a quiet hero that’s always been willing to drop anything and serve.  Darryl was given a wonderful opportunity to serve in a new position in our district and we are so happy for him.  He will be missed dearly in our school, but his story and impact will go on because he did more than come to work each day; he impacted our building culture.  Darryl’s spirit and sacrificial approach to work will be carried like a torch by other quiet heroes in our building.

If you have a chance to watch the video above you’ll likely see a wonderful and humble man doing a “final lap” around our school and giving out friendly high fives to others.  I hope you’ll also see the difference he made in our staff and students’ lives.  Check out the 2:08 minute mark on the video and watch how excited one of our students is to connect with Darryl.

If you work in a school you matter…don’t think for a second that you don’t!

Principal for a Day

This past week was full of learning and special memories. We captured a few memories in the “Principal for a Day” video above.  Highlights from the special day included:

Sam MineCraft Final Pic

Recognizing several students for special accomplishments including our Carnival MineCraft design winner, Sam.  He entered the creation above into the school logo category and designed a massive grizzly bear and balloon.  For anyone that’s ever used MineCraft, you know that the creation took lots of time and planning!

Buss Aldrin

Accepting a very special book donation from one of our students. Zach shared a book about space that was written and autographed by Buzz Aldrin!  The book will be available in our Media Center for others to check out.

Ginny Selfie

Attending the 1st grade music program. The concert was the last 1st grade concert that Mrs. Gardner will lead.  After many years of dedicated service, Mrs. Gardner is retiring. Thank you for the memories and fostering a life-long love of music in our students.  (I had the privilege of taking a “Selfie” with Mrs. Gardner right before the show…she’s always such a great sport, and she shared that it was the first “Selfie” photo that she’d been in.

GWgreats pic

Thank you to everyone that shared some of their memories and meaningful moments as part of our Greenwood Greats Teacher Appreciation Week.  Be sure to check-out the huge banner with our community’s stories posted in the main entryway.  Don’t forget to follow our school’s hashtag #GWgreats to see some additional messages from our students.

 

 

Digital Leadership Challenge

Digital Leadership Challenge: Driven to Collaborate

Digital Leadership Badge

 A car has one windshield and when it becomes foggy the driver’s response is obvious.  The windshield of today’s school leader is not so unidimensional.

21st century school leaders are charged with leading complex change and in doing so they must serve with multiple windshields, or lenses.  Traditional lenses have included instructional leadership, culture, and community partnership. We must embrace an additional lens; our students are counting on us to provide digital leadership!

A digital leadership lens requires each of us to see the road with a new set of eyes.  Nearly every situation we encounter should be considered with this new perspective.  The reality is that our students find themselves in a connected world with limitless potential.  And still, we have barely scratched the surface of how this translates to 21st century pedagogy.

 

“If we lead today as we led yesterday, we rob our schools of tomorrow.”

~Adapted from John Dewey

 

It is a moral imperative that we model the vision and skills necessary to help students prepare for their future.  By embracing tools and technologies that are ubiquitous to students outside of school we add relevancy to the educational experience.  This is precisely where the Digital Leadership Challenge can help!

There are eleven challenges listed below for you to try.  Each challenge was designed by a connected-educator in the United States.  Submitters do not espouse to be experts in any area, and instead embrace their roles as learners.  Challenges are based upon the pillars from Eric Sheninger’s impactful book, Digital Leadership.

Educators that participate in the Digital Leadership Challenge will be eligible for an electronic badge based upon the points accrued over the next 12 months.  This badge could be displayed on a school website, Twitter account, blog, or referenced on a professional vitae.  Most importantly, your efforts will directly enhance our students’ learning experience.

The journey of 1,000 miles starts today and you are in the driver’s seat.  Best of all…you’ve got a myriad of collaborative colleagues sitting “shot-gun” and we’re eager to help.  You can track your progress by adding your name to a shared document.  Click HERE to access the shared document.  Share this link and invite other educators to take the challenge!

 

Challenge I: A School Communication Vehicle

Created by Brad Gustafson, Elementary Principal, MN

@GustafsonBrad on Twitter

  • 1 “Badge” Point: Create a professional Twitter account and follow each of the eleven challenge submitters from this article.  Observe how they collaborate with their personal learning network (PLN).
  • 2 “Badge” Points: Create a separate school Twitter account strictly for school Tweets.  Post one Tweet about your school each week for an entire year.  Share pictures and insights about the amazing work being done in your classroom or school.
  • 3 “Badge” Points: Participate in MESPA’s real-time Twitter chat on May 16, 2014 from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.  The chat will be co-moderated by Commissioner of Education, Dr. Brenda Cassellius.  Please use the #MESPAmn hashtag to join the conversation.  We’ll be following a Q & A format, and all educators are welcome.

 

Challenge 2: Make Your Commute a Learning Experience

Curt Rees, Elementary Principal, WI

@CurtRees on Twitter

  • 1 “Badge” Point: Subscribe to an educational podcast.  There are many platforms to do this, but iTunes, Pod-o-matic, and Stitcher are the most popular.  I recommend these fine podcasts: EduAllstars, PrincipalCast, and Techlandia.
  • 2 “Badge” Points: Share a podcast you enjoy with your colleagues.  Find an interesting episode and then tell your staff what you learned.  Model continuous learning by letting them know what you listen to in the car or as you run.
  • 3 “Badge” Points: Record your own podcast or videocast for your school community.  It doesn’t need a lot of time or production.  Take your school newsletter and simply record yourself talking about upcoming events.  Audioboo makes it easy to record, upload, and share your voice.  YouTube Capture or TouchCast are all you need to send a video to your YouTube channel.

 

Challenge 3: A Window into your School

Patrick Glynn, Elementary Principal, MN

@GallyGopher on Twitter

  • 1 “Badge” Point: Establish a Facebook page for your school.  Create one Facebook post each week describing student learning in action…and be sure to include photographs!
  • 2 “Badge” Points: Market your Facebook page to families and collect 100 “Likes.”
  • 3 “Badge” Points: Link your classroom or school’s Facebook page to your school Twitter account using Facebook’s setting options.  This will be a huge time saver and it will offer parents a window into your school.

 

Challenge 4: Public Relations in Overdrive

Jessica Johnson, Elementary Principal, WI

@PrincipalJ on Twitter

  • 1 “Badge” Point: Start a UStream account at www.ustream.tv and explore how the site works.  Read this post or this post to get ideas about what types of school events you might broadcast.
  • 2 “Badge” Points: Use your new UStream account to broadcast a school event. Set up the channel ahead of time and add a description. Advertise that the event will be broadcasted and provide your channel’s URL so parents know how to tune in.
  • 3 “Badge” Points: Make broadcasting a regular school routine.  For example, if you want to increase engagement at PTO meetings, create a school PTO channel that will always broadcast the meetings. Then advertise this.  Share this as a tool for teachers to try with their classrooms to engage parents for special events like Readers Theater or other classroom activities.

 

Challenge 5: A 21st Century Bumper Sticker

Tony Sinanis, Elementary Lead Learner, NY

Joe Sanfelippo, District Superintendent, WI

@TonySinanis & @Joesanfelippofc on Twitter

  • 1 “Badge” Point: A twitter account is a wonderful way to tell your school’s story. Create a school or district hashtag and incorporate it into your school tweets. For example, every tweet Tony sends out about his school includes #Cantiague and when Joe tweets about his district he includes #GoCrickets! Tweet pictures of WHAT is happening in your space and explain the HOW and WHY too.
  • 2 “Badge” Points: Encourage at least four (4) colleagues to join Twitter to tell the story of their students’ learning. It is imperative that the same hashtag is used throughout your organization to ensure that the brand is understood. When more than one member of the staff begins tweeting the WHATs, HOWs and WHYs of your organization, it becomes clear to the community that the brand promise matches the brand experience.
  • 3 “Badge” Points: Provide at least one (1) new way to amplify your students’ voices so they can tell the story of their classroom or school. By doing so we are promoting critical thinking and communication skills while laying the foundation for students who will be college and career ready. Tony started doing video updates using the Touchcast app at #Cantiague. Students from each class are spotlighted every week. Give your students the microphone (or other communication tools) because they are the ones living the WHATs, HOWs, and WHYs of your learning organization. The goal of school branding is making everything about kids; that’s the perfect bumper sticker!

 

Challenge 6: Learner Engagement in the Fast Lane

Dwight Carter, HS Principal, OH

@Dwight_Carter on Twitter

  • 1 “Badge” Point: Use TodaysMeet to create an engaging back-channel (real-time online conversation alongside a primary lesson, training, or event) in a class or at a staff meeting. Allow students/staff to post questions during a presentation or text-based discussion. Use the archive of the back-channel to assess learning and plan next steps.
  • 2 “Badge” Points: Use at least three (3) monthly staff meetings as a platform for students and staff to share practical ways they integrate web 2.0 tools in the classroom to amplify student voice and increase engagement. Sample web 2.0 tools include Glogster, Edmodo, YouTube, Twitter, Skype, Polleverywhere.com, Socrative, and Facebook.
  • 3 “Badge” Points: Use a current multimedia class or create a club to develop four (4) or more student-centered videos or Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that highlight learning experiences at your school. Post them to a school YouTube channel and share the link on your school Twitter and/or Facebook page. Collaborate with a teacher who is passionate about multimedia to guide the student group. Here’s an example!

 

Challenge 7: Increasing your Social Media Mileage

Dave Zukor, Integration Specialist, MN

@DZukor on Twitter

  • 1 “Badge” Point: Your class can use Skype or Google Hangout to connect locally with another class somewhere else in your state.  Research information about classroom Mystery Skypes to learn about one engaging option.
  • 2 “Badge” Points: Have your students work collaboratively online to create a cross-state project with students from another class in the United States. Use Google Docs, Skype, or any online tool.
  • 3 “Badge” Points: Use a social media site to reach out to classrooms around the world.  Share your learning and build opportunities for your students to collaborate.  Start a classroom Twitter account, Google+, or another social media site.

 

Challenge 8: Fueling the Engine of Reflection

Rafranz Davis, Instructional Technology Specialist, TX

@RafranzDavis on Twitter

  • 1 “Badge” Point: Create a professional blog site using a blogging tool like Blogger, WordPress or Weebly. Write your first post about what you hope to gain through blogging. Share your first post using a social media tool like Twitter.
  • 2 “Badge” Points: Publish one (1) blog post per week for a month. Share reflections about the process, success and failures in your classroom or school. Share each of these posts using a social media tool like Twitter.
  • 3 “Badge” Points: Connect with blogs written by other educators. Write six (6) blog postings reflecting on other educators’ posts.  Be sure to leave a comment in the original authors’ comment sections listing the URL to your related blog reflection/response. Share each of these posts using a social media tool like Twitter.

 

Challenge 9: Interstate Professional Development

Daisy Dyer Duerr, PreK – 12 Principal, AR

@DaisyDyerDuerr on Twitter

  • 1 “Badge” Point: Join #ArkEdChat (Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. CST) or another great Educational Twitter Chat. Participate in online, on-demand, professional learning with educators across the globe through social media.
  • 2 “Badge” Points: Participate in an Educational Twitter Chat three (3) weeks in a row; consistency will help build a PLN and give you an understanding of what to expect from the chat’s moderators.  Then, introduce two colleagues or “edufriends” to the world of online Twitter Chats for Professional Development.
  • 3 “Badge” Points: Administrators: Formulate a plan allowing your teachers to use Educational Twitter Chats for Professional Development; e.g. credit for participation in existing chats or use of stand-alone chats within your school/district. Teachers: Bring an Administrator who has never participated in this type of Social Media Professional Development to an Educational Twitter Chat like #ArkEdChat (Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. CST).

 

Challenge 10: A Unique Space to Park

Terri Eichholz, Teacher of K – 5 Gifted Students, TX

@TerriEichholz on Twitter

 

Challenge 11: A Golden Opportunity for our Students

Eric Sheninger, High School Principal, NJ

@NMHS_Principal on Twitter

  • 1 “Badge” Point: Leverage your social media connections to form at least one (1) strategic partnership that benefits your school (i.e. pilot Edtech program, unique professional development opportunity, guest speaker, authentic learning experience, donation, etc.).
  • 2 “Badge” Points: Form at least two (2) strategic partnerships and write a school Twitter or Facebook post sharing the benefit to your school.
  • 3 “Badge” Points: Form at least three strategic partnerships and present at a local, state, or national conference on school initiatives.  Write a blog post, media release, or website entry sharing the benefit to your school.

 

How to Earn Badges

 DigiLead Badge 3DigiLead Badge 2DigiLead Badge 3

15-29 points earn the Gearing Up Badge: Awarded to Digital Leaders for their collaborative efforts.

30-49 points earn the Road to Relevancy Badge: Awarded to Digital Leaders for outstanding efforts in collaboration and connectivity.

50-66 points earn the Spark Plug Badge: Awarded to Digital Leaders demonstrating innovation & exemplary 21st century practice while serving as agents of change.

 

Reprinted with permission from MESPA. Click HERE to view the original article published in May, 2014.

For the Kids

GWgreats pic

School branding is a hot topic in education and for good reason; our students are counting on us to be crystal clear about who we are serving and what matters most. School leaders must advocate for kids with every decision that’s made. This includes decisions about a school’s “brand.”

When it comes to your school’s brand, do not make people guess! Share the stories of the amazing students and staff in your school.

It’s important to understand what I mean when I use the term school branding. A school’s brand is synonymous with its ethos and culture. It’s more than a mascot or motto. The brand is comprised of the student learning experience, stellar staff, parent partnerships, and community support. A school’s brand is also a promise. The brand promise is what we openly aspire to be, and with this promise comes a unique level of transparency and accountability.

A school’s brand is comprised of the total experience of stakeholders; it represents the very ethos of a school including past traditions and future direction.

As principal and lead learner at Greenwood Elementary I have the privilege of seeing some of the most talented students and staff in action every single day. I’ve done a lot of listening, observing, and reflecting the past four years at our school. I’m extremely excited by our district’s vision and equally excited by the direction our school is heading. The image above represents what I think our brand is all about. Let me explain…

  • Great Students: Our school’s brand is all about kids; they come first. Period. Spend some time in our classrooms and hallways and you’ll see what I mean. We take the responsibility of partnering with families to raise great kids very seriously. We invest in their capacity to think critically, celebrate their effort, nurture their hearts, and help them learn from mistakes that are made along the way. We understand that to be successful in the future our students are relying on us to foster 21st century skills. They’re depending on our foresight and support as they learn how to create, communicate, and innovate in a digitally connected age. We love our students enough to adapt ourselves as learners so we’re better equipped to serve them!
  • Great Staff: Research has shown a very strong link between teacher quality and student achievement. Research also demonstrates that the relationships teachers form with students serve as critical underpinnings to learning. In layman’s terms, teachers matter and they matter a lot. Greenwood’s staff understands the awesome responsibility associated with being a teacher. On a personal level, I consider teaching one of the highest callings…only surpassed by the important work that moms do.  We are blessed to have great teachers at our school and they help deliver on our brand’s promise. We also want to attract the very best employees to work with our children. A school’s brand not only represents its staff, but also communicates its values to prospective employees. This spring I’ve had the opportunity to interview dozens of job applicants. I’ve found that some of the most impressive candidates know exactly what they want in a school and district. They are paying attention to the brand.
  • Great Stories: Stories are an integral part of our culture. Stories teach us lessons, celebrate accomplishments, and pass along the values we hold dear. It’s no different in schools. The amazing things our students are doing should be shared. We truly have some awesome kids in our school and district. Our students and staff work too hard for us to ignore their stories or let somebody else tell them. A school’s brand must include the voices of the “difference makers” in the classroom that are making the magic happen each and every day. We are blessed to have an exemplary staff, amazing group of parents, and PTA that give generously of their time, talents, resources, and love for kids. They are helping us write the best story ever…our students’ story!

I absolutely love the willingness of students, staff, and our community to innovate and engage in possibility-thinking. We’re trying to connect in some new ways including the use of social media as a learning and communication tool. We’re putting students in the center of their own learning and it’s a paradigm shift. A 21st century pedagogy will look, feel, and sound differently than what we’ve come to believe education is. Our staff is immersing themselves in true “learning work” including integration of iPads as tools to enhance student learning, Project Based Learning, Flipped Instruction, Genius Hour, Math Workshop, and more. Together we’re amplifying our students’ voices and connecting kids with an authentic audience for their learning.

If you ask why a school would consider branding I would share one heartfelt answer, “For the kids.”

 

 

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