technology

Blanket Forts and The Future of Learning

Guest post by Paul Hermes

The value of unique knowledge and expertise is declining significantly due to the proliferation of accessible digital technology. This phenomenon has happened in history before; however, it has not happened at this pace and not to this scale. Access to information, knowledge, and each other is historically unprecedented. (more…)

The Model Classroom: A Makerspace for Teachers

Guest post by John Carder

By now, most educators have heard the term “makerspace.” The idea of a makerspace originated outside of the school setting as a place for community members to design and create manufactured work that wouldn’t be possible to create without the space. School makerspaces give students a place to work individually and collaboratively through hands-on creative projects that encourage them to design, experiment, repurpose, and innovate.  (more…)

NASSP 2017 Digital Principals of the Year Announced

Congratulations are in order for the NASSP 2017 Digital Principals of the Year (DPOY), David Geurin of Bolivar High School, Darren Ellwein of Harrisburg South Middle School, and Nicholas Indeglio of Downingtown Middle School. (more…)

Advocacy Update

Inside the Beltway

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has announced he will run for the speakership, lending some hope of stability in House leadership as Congress prepares to tackle a number of pressing concerns about the budget and the debt ceiling. Without a budget solution, there will likely be a long-term continuing resolution locking in sequestration caps and also bringing a small across-the-board cut to all programs. This would result in significantly less funding for schools from the federal government. (more…)

Successful Strategies for Technology Integration in Schools

The use of technology in schools is revolutionizing K–12 learning, and principals serve an important role in fostering this change. As Jennifer Demski of The Journal said, “the most successful implementation of technology programs takes place in schools where the principal sees him or herself as a technology leader.”

Indeed, many principals across the country are leading the charge for the increased use of technology—and for good reason. Just a few benefits of technology in the classroom include: (more…)

Just the PiL You Need: Microsoft Partners in Learning Network

Guest post by Wendell B. Sumter:

In the spring of 2012, kindergarten teacher Stephanie Barber and I gave lengthy answers to questions about how our school integrated technology in the classrooms and used it to propel professional development. We then submitted our application to Microsoft to be considered a Microsoft Pathfinder School. At the time, we were very enthused about the possibility of our school being named. We knew that it was a long shot. We were a small rural school in Chester County, South Carolina and a title one school, but we didn’t allow that to deter us from applying for such a great opportunity and honor.

In October 2012, Microsoft named our school a 2012 “Innovative Pathfinder School.” The honor came from The Microsoft Partners in Learning Program, a 10-year, nearly $500 million commitment to transform K12 education around the world by connecting teachers and school leaders in a community of professional development. The program also helps school leaders foster innovative teaching practices and 21st-century learning by providing tools and resources they need to better impact student participation.

Three years ago, when I arrived at Great Falls Elementary, we had a basic computer lab. Some teachers had Promethean whiteboards, and there were two computers in each classroom. Since then, we have increased student access to technology in various ways. Technology doesn’t take the place of authentic teaching; the most important thing to me is that teachers are able to use technology to enhance student achievement.

When we were selected as a Pathfinder School by Microsoft, Mrs. Barber and I had the opportunity to attend Microsoft’s “Partners In Learning Global Forum” in Prague, where administrators convened to share their schools’ tech success stories. We also had the awesome opportunity to form partnerships with other schools and continue professional development with Microsoft’s Virtual University.

We teamed with 11 other schools, including a mentor school from New Zealand, to focus on customizing lessons and training teachers to effectively use technology tools. Through virtual meetings, we continue to brainstorm and share ideas and resources. Collaborating is a big benefit of being a Pathfinder School; I have the ability to say to my colleagues, ‘Did you try this at your school?’ and ‘How did it work?’“

So if you’re looking for a cure to your technology woes; if you’re looking for ways to improve your technology skills or those of your staff; if you’re interested in partnering with other schools across the world; if you’re looking for ways to gain recognition and bring powerful resources and tools to your campus to transform the learning environment through teaching and learning, we have just the PiL you need! Come learn about Microsoft’s Partners in Learning Program and opportunities to be an attendee at the Partners In Learning Global Forum! In this session you will learn about free resources, valuable international networking, and opportunities to become recognized as an Innovative School! Join the network and become an innovative school by visiting www.pil-network.com/schools.

Wendell B. Sumter is Principal of Great Falls Elementary School in South Carolina. Wendell joins Byron Garrett, director of the innovative schools program at Microsoft, to present Partners in Learning! Microsoft Innovative Schools Program on Saturday, February 8 at Ignite ’14 in Dallas. For more information and to register visit www.nasspconference.org.

Make the Most of Your Opportunity to Connect

Guest post by Carrie Jackson:

One of the greatest benefits connected educators and leaders enjoy is the opportunity to share with one another and have others push our own learning. Through Twitter and other media, school leaders have become more connected and reflective than ever before. However, the very best part of being a connected leader, in my opinion, is the opportunity to interact face-to-face with our online colleagues. This is one reason I eagerly anticipate NASSP’s Ignite ’14 in my beloved state of Texas.

Ignite ’14 captures the spirit of collaboration and brings it to life with personal interactions. NASSP intentionally built office hours and networking sessions into the schedule so that participants can easily find and converse with nationally-recognized authors, speakers, and practitioners. Learning labs and Technology Showcase sessions offer brief small-group discussions on topics of interest and direct application to professional practice.

Most impressive, in my opinion, is the way social media interactions on Twitter, Instagram, blogs, and more blend seamlessly with in-person learning events. Live-streaming conversations bring participants closer together and enhance connections.

So how does the Ignite ’14 participant make the most of this year’s gathering in Dallas?

Engage with Twitter…now. If you are not already a connected learner, you will be surprised just how much your interaction with others on Twitter will enhance your experience. Set up your account, and start by following @NASSP. Then take a look at who NASSP follows and mentions. Those are good people to follow. Check out what these folks are saying, and chime in when you are ready. By the time you get to Dallas, you will feel as though you know quite a few of the Ignite ’14 participants already.

Visit the networking sessions. You are missing out on something special if you pass up the speaker office hours, the Technology Showcase sessions, and the learning labs. These are great ways to extend your learning, capitalize on new strategies, and connect with new people personally.

Make time to connect with colleagues. Whether you hang out in the designated social lounge areas or hold informal Tweet-ups, capitalize on the opportunity to meet in person the colleagues you have come to know online. If you really appreciate a speaker, stop by and let him/her know during office hours. Engage with other learners and your experience (and theirs) will be better.

I look forward to seeing you at Ignite ’14, and I hope you enjoy your time in Dallas!

Carrie Jackson (@jackson_carrie) was named an NASSP Digital Principal in 2013. Carrie will be presenting Stylish New Social Tools for Schools on Saturday, February 8 at Ignite ’14. For more information and to register visit www.nasspconference.org.

Upcoming Webinar: Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times

Join noted educator, author, and social media leader Eric Sheninger for a free webinar examining digital leadership and how it can bring sustainable change and real transformation to your school.

Digital leadership is a strategic mindset and set of behaviors that leverages resources to create a meaningful, transparent, and engaging school culture. It takes into account recent changes, such as ubiquitous connectivity, open-source technology, mobile devices, and personalization, to dramatically shift how schools have been run and structured for more than a century. In his presentation, Eric will discuss the “Pillars of Digital Leadership,” a new conceptual framework for leaders to begin thinking about changes to professional practice.

This one-hour webinar is intended to start a conversation on digital leadership that attendees can continue during Eric’s “Digital Leadership–Change for Now and the Future” session at the Ignite ’14 conference in Dallas, February 6-8, 2014. For more information on Ignite ’14, visit www.nasspconference.org.

Keys to Differentiating Instruction Using Technology-Based Formative Assessments

Guest post by G.A. Buie:

Student homework has been a cornerstone for learning and evaluation for years. Even in our technology-driven classrooms, for students who are diligent and engaged in the learning process homework can be an effective method of evaluating their progress as well as a teacher’s instructional effectiveness. Unfortunately, not all students are diligent and engaged, and though the problems related to assigning homework have changed, the process of assigning homework hasn’t. Teachers are encountering a shrinking number of students completing their assigned homework—and, even if it’s completed, teachers must question whether the work is original or copied. As a result, homework becomes a very ineffective tool to evaluate a student’s progress.

With student and teacher accountability at a premium in today’s educational environment, it is imperative that teachers have a method of measuring a student’s progress and his or her understanding of content. Waiting for the summative assessment is too late; teachers need a tool that doesn’t take away from instructional time, yet doesn’t add to an already heavy teaching load.

Teachers need quick results that measure curricular objectives, and at times they need to be able to develop those activities on the spot. At Ignite ’14, we will explore a wide variety of technology-based formative assessment ideas which can be used in almost any classroom. These tools will be designed to gather valuable data for the teacher almost instantaneously, thus allowing the teacher the opportunity to differentiate their classroom using multiple forms of data. Best of all, these ideas can be implemented on any budget with tools already available to most schools or students.

G.A. Buie (@gabuie31) is the president-elect of NASSP. He will present at the Ignite 2014. For more information and to register visit www.nasspconference.org.

All I can say is: Wow!

Guest post by Brad Currie:

The NASSP Ignite ’13 Conference was an unbelievable opportunity for lead learners from around the world to come together in one place with the sole purpose of improving our craft. Never in my life did I make so many connections with innovating, like-minded educators who truly cared about seeing kids succeed.

Twitter played a powerful role leading up to, during, and after the actual conference. I think I am speaking for many who attended when I say this was the first time that I went into a conference knowing many of the people who were going. This was made possible by the connections I had made on Twitter since the fall of 2011. The sessions and keynotes were excellent and allowed participants to really think about the innovative impact they could have on their schools.

The learning sessions were absolutely amazing. Being able to interact with and learn from people such as Todd Whitaker, Eric Sheninger, Jimmy Casas, Daisy Dyer Duerr, Carrie Jackson, and Leslie Esneault was truly amazing. The streaming live #Satchat discussion on “Igniting Your Passion as a School Leader” was an experience I will never forget. Kudos to the NASSP Ignite ’13 organizing team for putting on a great conference and leveraging the power of social media to engage participants near and far. In case you missed out on all the great things shared via the #nassp13 hashtag, here is the link.

The keynote from Scott Klososky was tremendous and gave everyone much for food for thought, especially about how Google Glass will transform education. Seeing Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in person was a special treat. Thanks to Carrie Jackson, one of three NASSP Digital Principals of the Year, I was able to ask him a question via Twitter.

I was truly honored to connect with like-minded educators such as 2013 National Middle School Principal of the Year Laurie Barron and 2013 National High School Principal of the Year Trevor Greene.

I am definitely a better lead learner thanks to all of the experiences I was exposed to during the NASSP Ignite ’13 Conference. My extended PLN family has influenced me for the better and will enable me to do bigger and better things in months and years to come.

Originally posted on March 2, 2013 from Brad Currie’s blog, Engaged and Relevant, after he attended Ignite 2013.

Brad Currie (@bcurrie5) is Vice Principal at Black River Middle School in Chester, New Jersey and co-founder and co-moderator of #Satchat, a weekly Twitter discussion for current and emerging school leaders.