Embarking on the Best Days of My Life…

I will soon write about the changes that have occurred in my career in the last few months. This week, I have been part of a New Teacher workshop again. This time, I’m the new teacher and not presenting! A lot of factors led me to a new building, a new philosophy, and a new beginning as a media specialist.  I plan to blog about these once I’m more settled into the new job.

I am looking forward to working with a staff, though. A staff that loves the students. Believes in the students. And, has a bit of fun along the way.  I had the pleasure of watching this video (again) with a group of new teachers seeing it for the first time. Their reactions were priceless. We will be entering the set days of our lives.

What would you think about working with the staff highlighted in the video below?



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Testing an embed theory

After a long and crazy day of new teacher workshops, this blog post is all that I can write. I am attempting to help a friend to support at teacher who’s YouTube embed works on a computer and not an iPad. In my attempt to troubleshoot, I was able to do the exact reverse of the problem!

Which can you see of the videos below? Both? Or just iFrame? Just Old Embed?

What device are you using?

(And, now I need to troubleshoot how I lost all of my contacts from my phone!)


iFrame embed

Old Embed


Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 9.12.46 PM

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A magician music machine!

A Facebook conversation that I am following has taken on an entertaining course. A friend pointed out that her school blocks Pandora. She is very concerned about how she will be able to play the background music she needs during work time.

I started the thread down the line of a magical tool. This technology is simple. Anyone of any age can use it! There is no drain on your data plan. In fact, the tech stream is free. There is no need for an internet connection. In fact, it even works without electricity!

The problem with this tech is that the devices are hard to come by. Stores do not always have a good selection.

And, what is this magical tool? A radio.

The idea of how a radio works goes well over the head of my six year old. This is the same young lady who watches YouTube to learn new skills. Who wants to publish her own video channel. But, the idea of a radio is foreign.

The suggestions on Facebook for music included:
A classic boombox from the 80s.
A plastic toddler record player.
A full size record player.
A Walkman.

While a funny discussion, it does point out how dependent some of us have become for the ease and convenience of streaming music and TV.

When did radio become rare, foreign and sometimes forgotten?

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Thinking About Educational Change: What Makes for a Successful Change?

As the school year begins, I’ve started to ponder what elements make for a successful change in education. There have been a plethora of turn-over of educational theories for decades. What philosophy are we currently following? In my career, I have seen portfolios as the answer. We’ve tested Basic Standards. The ideas shifted to testing every student with a common assessment. Common core is part of a discussion nation wide.

But, who do we listen to? Do we follow Bloom, Dewey, Gardner, Montessori or Piaget? This graphic captures the complexity of theories from the D2.2.1 for HoTEL EU project designed by Richard Millwood. Click the preview below to view the Learning Theory map.

Learning Theory v6 from HoTEL EU Project by Richard Milwood









So what makes a staff buy into a certain philosophy? What makes a team of teachers rally behind an idea that drives for every student to succeed? None of the theories above were devised to stop students from learning. But, what makes one philosophy win over another?

We are in an era of introducing revolutionary technology tools. iPads, Chromebooks, laptops or Bring Your Own are common vocabulary in many schools.  But, what makes some rollouts so successful, and other schools selling back their devices? This came to light in this highly-shared article from The Atlantic: Why Some Schools Are Selling All Their iPads.

My thought is that so many elements need to be present for any educational shift, technology focused or otherwise, to be successful. In the past month, an image floated by in the waves of social media that I follow. I spent a few days with this post brewing in my mind before I found the image mentioned.

This image from T. Knoster’s Presentation in TASH Conference was adapted by Knoster from Enterprise Group, Ltg. You can read about the base image here: Leading and Managing Complex Change.  I have struggled to find the origin of the colored version that I found. Below, though, is the link that I stumbled across this week.

The key elements to success are: Vision, Skills, Incentives, Resources, and an Action Plan.

I need to process the image below. What program implementations have I come across in my career? Which ones have been successful, and which ones were simply missing one element. Yet, with a single element missing, complex change may not be possible.

Think of an educational change that has been brought to your school. Was it successful? If not, what element was missing? What could leadership have done to help to make the change meaningful and positive for all in the learning community? 

Are you entering a rollout of a new change? Specifically in regards to technology, what pieces do you need to put  into place to fill all elements to fall into that row of success? 

This version of the Knoster graphic was found at https://www.clarity-innovations.com/sites/default/files/knostermodel.png

This version of the Knoster graphic was found at https://www.clarity-innovations.com/sites/default/files/knostermodel.png

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A video in my pocket: Shorewood’s Lip Dub video makes a great conversation starter

Many times when working with teachers, the discussions comes up of using videos with students. This may be about finding engaging videos to make the students think. It may be a simple as sharing safeshare.tv or quietyoutube to remove distractions from videos shown in class.

One of the videos that I keep in my pocket just for fun is Shorewood’s Lip Dub. It’s received over 2 million views on YouTube at the time of this post.  I love the organization and planning that it must have taken. I love the teamwork and cooperation that is evident school-wide.  If you are ever in need of a video to spark conversations, keep Shorewood in mind!



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A new goal: read the author biographies too?

I have never been a fan of biographies, in regards to full length books. I love gathering and absorbing stories of people’s lives. But my book reading has always been pointed to fiction.

Maybe my current musings are in part to John Greene’s character in Looking for Alaska. Miles loved the last words of famous people and devoured biographies. Or, maybe it is because I am watching a movie biography of JK Rowling’s life tonight. Whatever the spark, I am curious to know more about the lives of the authors that I read. I have read JK Rowling’s story in pieces, but I have enjoyed seeing it come to life in a movie. Knowing my preference for the written word, now I need to find a book that follows this amazing woman’s life.

Do you read author biographies? What do they teach you about the books themselves? Who has your favorite backstory?

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Reflecting Back (instead of forward): Last Day of Summer

Tomorrow I begin a Destiny library software training. That means, my official school year begins. My children and I spent our last day of freedom with family at the local swimming hole.  And, by swimming hole, I mean filtered sand lake with no fish or plants. It was heavenly. (Even though I ended up sunburned).

While this blog is supposed to be about technology. Or books. Or what makes education really work. Today, I am reflecting back on my summer instead of “Reflecting Forward.” 

Here is a striking image of the Elm Creek Swimming Pond. 



I am excited about new beginnings!

How are you spending your last days of summer? 


Bonus: Can you find 2.5 images of my daughter in this panorama? I need to play with the possibilities of creating images this way some day!

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Developing a Library/School mascot that travels with students throughout the world…. (Or the Adventures of Polly Parrot)

I’ve had this idea brewing for quite a while. I’ve heard of theFlat Stanley project. This is a project of community building that connects students with the world. The project connects classrooms with others, and student then track and write about their character’s “journey and adventures.”

The premise of the Flat Stanley project is below.  You can read about Flat Stanley or get involved at this link:  https://www.flatstanley.com/about 

The basic principle of The Flat Stanley Project is to connect your child, student or classroom with other children or classrooms participating in the Project by sending out “flat” visitors, created by the children, through the mail (or digitally, with The Flat Stanley app). Kids then talk about, track, and write about their flat character’s journey and adventures.


I’d love to do something like this for my library. What brought this to life is my son’s current homework assignment. He is four. His daycare/preschool classroom is called the Pirates. They send home a parrot named Polly. Polly then travels with the student for a week. The family builds a notebook page of the parrot’s adventures. Polly has been quite a few fun places! My son has not let Polly out of his sight since Monday.

Today, Polly went with us to the Mall of America. She spent seven hours at Nickelodeon  Universe, watching (or going) on rides! Polly’s adventures were captured in the gallery below. They will make great pictures for the daycare album.


So, my challenge is how to recreate this for my library. I’d love to invite families to take __something__ with them when they travel. Hopkins North is an internationally minded school. Imaging all the places the mascot could go!

My challenge: many of the students travel at the same time. How can I create something that can go with all of them over EM or winter break? Do I create and laminate an image to bring along? Will they have as much personality as Polly?

The second challenge is how to map the visits. I think the possibilities of Google forms to capture location data are amazing, but how do I connect the stories and pictures?

This is a wonderful challenge to figure out!


Have you done anything like Polly or Flat Stanley with your students? What was your process? And, what suggestions would you make to someone just starting out?


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Summer Professional Learning: Sparking Teacher Energy

I have had the honor to be a part of at least three school/district’s professional learning this summer. I have taught classes at TIES, and I have attended a few conferences myself. What always amazes me is the teacher’s dedication to bettering themselves for their students. I know few teachers who feel they have “summers off.” If they are not attending the sessions at school, they are reading, Tweeting, pinning, and so much more.

The one theme across every modality for learning is that teachers crave TIME. So often, the highlights of the sessions I teach or attend are just simply the gift of time. Once the school year starts, the world rushes by too fast. Rarely do teachers get the time to simply learn, absorb, apply, and create.

How can we change the pace of the year, if even just for a few hours, to spread the gift of time? Imagine the energy if teachers could be sparked like this continually!

What is your favorite mode for summer learning and growth? What makes it so powerful? And, how can we carry that magic into the school year when the spark is needed most?

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Questioning the “Why” in Education

This morning, Simon Sinek’s TEDxPuget Sound talk “How great leaders inspire action” was played to start a meeting. Simon talks about the difference between the successes of people and businesses when they focus on WHY to do or design something, rather than the WHAT or the product. I loved the message in this video, and apparently so do 18,000,000 other views!

You can watch the video on TED’s site here:


The question posed to you: How does this relate to the students in your school? What is the WHY about the program choices your building and district make? If someone was to ask you WHY students should go to your school, what would be in the center of your Golden Circle?


I need to watch and read more from Simon Sinek. He has a site devoted to “Start With Why.”  https://www.startwithwhy.com/


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