Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Times They Are a'Changing

We do not spend enough time appreciating the progress we have made as a system in regard to our adoption of technology to increase efficiency, collaboration, and creativity.

This morning I was able to step back and reflect upon this at Hadfield Elementary at a morning staff meeting that took place.  If you do not already know, Hadfield was a Wave 5 Waukesha One school and students received their devices just a few months ago.

These observations tell the story of our technological evolution in Waukesha.

Collaboratively Created Docs and Presentations (Google Apps for Education)
  • Each member of the school leadership team was actively involved in creating the quarterly presentation using Google Sheets, Google Docs, and Google Slides.  As they presented the data to the staff, it was clear that a lot of work had gone into the presentation, but it was also clear that different members of the team made contributions to the presentation. From experience working with the team, I know that different members were able to create different elements that went into the presentation at different times without having to sit around the same table at the same time.
  • The second team to present created a Google Slides template that was shared with other staff to aide in their PLC work. This was a professionally courteous act that demonstrates a collaborative mindset. It also increases efficiency and saves time for other staff members, something we can all appreciate.

Distribution of Information (Google Apps for Education)
  • The leadership team shared the presentation and informational resources suggested in the presentation with staff for further perusal following the meeting. While we take sharing of information for granted these days (we live in a "Google Apps" world where everybody is sharing resources with others regularly), the transparency that stems from that level of sharing sends a message that all of our "cards" are on the table and we are working collectively toward a common goal.
Mobile Presenters (Presenting from iPad)
  • As the main presenters shared in the delivery of key messages this morning, they presented from an iPad. This allowed each presenter to move around with ease, walking through the audience/staff as they shared key messages. They were not anchored to the wall, tethered to a short cable.  They were not stepping back to the main desktop computer to nudge the presentation forward. As new presenters stepped forward, a simple passing of the iPad allowed for a seamless transition in topics.
Switching Displays with AppleTV/Airplay (Apple TV, iPad, and Mac)
  • As a new group of staff members stepped forward to present, the transition was not accompanied by an awkwardly coordinated transition that took a few minutes as cables were unplugged or presentation files were shared. With the simplicity of two clicks, one presenter was able to log off of the Apple TV, another presenter was able to log on, and the transition in topics was complete. This group was using a different device (a MacBook) and they were able to center that device in front of the group to give them the same mobility and presence the first group of presenters enjoyed.
SAMR as a Language for Meaningful Use of Technology (SAMR)
  • Presenters shared walkthrough data on the quality of technology use to support instruction as a part of the morning meeting based upon their observations. The SAMR framework was the foundation of this conversation and the staff and administrative team had a common ground to talk not just about what tools were being used but also HOW those tools were being used to impact instruction. #EDUWIN
High Leverage Teaching Practices: There's an App for That (Core Apps)
  • As two of the staff presenters gave examples to make a point, they identified both an instructional practice AND an app that was supporting that instructional practice.  For instance, not only did the kindergarten team identify a need to focus on "sight words" but they also pointed out that they were using Book Creator, a core app in our district, to exhibit those sight words to students. This is a significant shift from discussions about amazing apps to discussions about essential, high leverage practices that rely upon the use of technology.

Sometimes we need to be reminded how far we have come. The continued growth of our leaders and staff members to find ways technology can support our essential work is evidenced daily throughout our system. That movement must be applauded! Thank you for your individual commitment to evolve our work and practices to embrace the use of technology. 

Through this work (as the professionals in our building embrace a growth mindset), our environment is continually shifting to reflect the world students will encounter when they leave our schools, better preparing them to be productive, responsible, engaged learners and citizens for the rest of their lives.