Posted by Dr. Brad Gustafson
I recently traveled back to North Branch Area High School to watch my former 2nd grade students graduate. Just seeing their names in the commencement program was enough to bring me to tears.
Reading their names immediately transported me back 10 years to our time together in the classroom. It seems like yesterday that we were engaged in animated read alouds, recess games, and exploring different passions. As time has passed I’m certain that my former students have become less interested in LEGOs, Hot Wheels cars, and knock-knock jokes. Yet these will be the memories I cling to because my heart explodes with a sense of wonderment just reflecting on our time together…and how far they’ve come.
After the graduation ceremony I received an e-mail from one of my student’s parents. She shared an uplifting update about her son, and also mentioned how he was touched that I was able to make it to his graduation. What she didn’t realize was that I will always count seeing her son’s name in the commencement program, shaking his hand after the ceremony, and reflecting on all of the time we spent learning together as a “lifetime highlight.”
It’s funny how we can take for granted the infinite number of times that we may write our students’ names down in the course of a regular school year. It always seemed that there was an unlimited number of names that needed to be written and attached to locker assignments, name tags, books, and countless other items we personalized for students. However, as time passes we are called upon less often to write their names.
Perhaps this is why nothing prepares a teacher (or principal) for reading a student’s name in a graduation program after so many years apart. It is magical.
Posted by Dr. Brad Gustafson
Digital Leadership Challenge: Driven to Collaborate
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
- 1 “Badge” Point: Read the book Invent to Learn by Sylvia Libow Martinez & Gary Stager. Then, explore the inventolearn.com website.
- 2 “Badge” Points: Read the following online blog posts: “Make to Learn” by Laura Fleming, “Making a Makerspace” by Robert Provonost, “Making a Makerspace – Two Weeks In” by Robert Provonost, and “Dive into the Maker Movement” by Adam Provost. Then, visit a Maker Fair or Maker Space in your area. One resource for finding local Maker Spaces is: http://makerspace.com/makerspace-directory
- 3 “Badge” Points: With the help of the Makerspace Playbook, and the resources above, identify a space in your school that could be used as a Makerspace, and develop a plan to make it happen! Suggested areas to add Makerspaces include computer labs, Media Centers, empty classrooms, or multi-use areas.
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
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.
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Tags: #MESPAmn, @GustafsonBrad, Blogging, Brad Gustafson, branding, Collaborate, Collaboration, Connected Educators, Digital Leadership, Digital Leadership Challenge, Education, Greenwood Elementary, Makerspace, MESPA, PLN, Podcast, Reflection, school branding, Social Media, Twitter