Saturday, July 30, 2016

What I'm Learning in My Organizational Change Class

Dear Teachers,

I'm about three weeks in to my current class, which is titled Leading Organizational Change. We have had a ton of reading, on topics that I have personally never really explored before. I'm typically a fiction reader, and I often find myself balking at having to read nonfiction. But a book that's on the required reading list for my class has gotten me thinking. It's called Influencer (by Joseph Grenny et. al.), and it addresses the six sources of influence that need to be in place in order for any big behavior shift to take place.

The six sources consist of personal motivation and ability; social motivation and ability; and structural motivation and ability.  The point of this model is that small changes *might* take place with just a couple of these influences, but big changes *must* use all six sources of influence in order to effect change. Each of us in the class had to apply this Influencer model to our own projects and present our Influencer Strategy in the way that made sense to us.

So in the interest of keeping all of you updated on my plan for Improving Digital Literacy Through Student-Created Content (or IDLTSCC, as I have taken to calling it, since it's kind of a mouthful!), here is the latest development in its evolution. I present to you (ta-da!) my Influencer Strategy. As always, I'd love your feedback on any ways I might improve my approach.



Saturday, July 16, 2016

Why I'm Doing What I'm Doing

Dear Teachers,

I'm now in the fourth class of my grad program. The previous class was "Disruptive Innovation in Education," and it was in that class that I put together my 50,000 foot plan for Improving Digital Literacy through Student Created Content. The current class is "Leading Organizational Change," and I have really struggled with the first assignment, "What's Your Why?" We have been reading (and reading, and reading, and reading) about how to be an Influencer, and what motivates us, and the Four Disciplines of Execution. What I've gotten out of it all so far is a feeling of being completely overwhelmed, and the nagging anxiety that there are still so many unknowns!

For our first assignment in the current class, we have to create Why, How, and What statements. The "Why" is the important one, because it gets down to the real purpose of our respective projects; the "why" appeals to people's hearts and guts, rather than just their rational minds. The example that is used over and over is that of Apple: their "Why" is clearly articulated: "Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo; we believe in thinking differently." They make one kind of phone (as opposed to non-Apple companies, that might make 30 or 40 types of phones) and focus on doing that better and different than anyone else. Their "why,", we're learning, appeals to people's guts, not just their minds, and that (coupled with their great products) is why Apple is so successful.

For my why, how, and what statements, I decided to take a look at our superintendent's Operational Expectations for student learning; I know I need to tie any initiative back to the district's goals. These expectations were  outlined for us shortly after our superintendent began his superintending last year, and they are:
Operational Expectations for Student Learning
1.1 Maintain high expectations for all students through creative and effective instructional delivery, rigorous learning outcomes and a focus on eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps
1.2 Foster student acquisition of 21st century skills
1.3 Provide quality, diverse programming that maximizes choice and provides students with a personalized, well-rounded education
1.4 Focus on responsible citizenship by developing and recognizing character traits of integrity, ethics and service and a strong appreciation for all cultures
With these four operational expectations in mind, I created my Why statement:
We believe that digital literacy is a crucial component of a student's success as a lifelong learner.
My How looks like this:
Students are actively encouraged to share their own knowledge and learn from each other.
And my What is:
We provide opportunities for all students to contribute to a digital culture of sharing resources and learning from one another, encouraging them to become full participants in a digital and global world.

This is an assignment where I really wish I had a better graphic arts background; it seems like a stunning visual of some kind would be really helpful. Perhaps I can get my artist son to help me with that on another assignment. Alas, I don't have those skills myself.

I'm hoping these statements speak to teachers' hearts; I know that I have heard from quite a few of you that you, too, recognize the huge disservice we are doing to students when we don't spend the time helping them achieve the skills and strategies necessary for digital literacy. Aligning these statements with what teachers likely already hold dear, and with what our superintendent has expressly stated are the expectations of our organization, will hopefully propel my vision forward. Another blog post is on the way with some additional ideas on how we are actually going to get it off the ground, and I'm so excited to see how it will progress!

We've gotta get going on this one, people. Are you with me? I'd love your feedback on my why, how, and what statements in the Comments section, should you be so inclined. If you're in my district and would like to participate in creating better digital literacy in all our students, please fill out this form. (Thanks to those of you who already have done so - I'll be in touch soon!)



(2015). Free illustration: Question, Why, Question Mark, Ask - Free ... - Pixabay. Retrieved July 19, 2016, from

Friday, July 8, 2016


Dear Teachers,

It's a sad old world out there.

I'm sad this morning because I live in a city where police officers were shot and killed during what was supposed to be a peaceful protest.

I'm sad this morning because a man was shot for no reason other than a taillight violation, and that for the millionth time, there is something that needs protesting. Because a guy being shot during a routine traffic stop DOES deserve a protest, a big one.

I'm sad because of the hateful, vitriolic nature of the world right now. Everyone, everywhere seems to have a bone to pick, a gripe to harp on, an axe to grind... pick your metaphor. I guess some might say I'm grinding an axe here by telling you how sad I am.

I'm sad because I don't want to listen to the news anymore. I used to like to think of myself as an informed person, but frankly, I just don't want to be informed anymore about another shooting. I don't want to hear another inflammatory comment or witty-but-nasty rejoinder that a political candidate got off. I don't want to hear any more about war or sex trafficking or torture or poverty or homelessness or bullying-induced suicide or all the countless other ways that people's lives can be impossibly hard. I need to know about these things, I realize, because the only way that they change is through education and awareness. But I feel weighed down by the world's sadness. Helpless. Nearly hopeless.

But at the core of my being, there is a kernel of hope, and that tiny little glimmer of hope seems somehow to stubbornly remain: that love ultimately will win. Love bats last. Love gets the last word. "In this world, you will have trouble, but don't despair: I (Love) have overcome the world."

My deepest held belief, even though I sometimes forget it myself, is that the world is evolving toward redemption. It's hard for me, as a white woman of upper middle class upbringing in comfortable surroundings, to hang on this core belief. How much harder would it be this morning for the family members of Mr. Castile or the Dallas police officers who were shot, or someone in Syria.

Let's all do our part today to bring some redemption to our corners of this sad old world, and to make things a little less sad. Love a little more; hate a lot less. The capital-W World needs us to not lose hope.



Saturday, July 2, 2016

Continuing Progress on That 50,000 Foot Plan

Dear Teachers,

My current class on Disruptive Innovation in Education is coming to an end, and to steal a meme from one of my co-workers, I have felt

for much of the class. For one thing, I am in general not a particularly disruptive person; for the most part I follow the rules and try to be a team player. Although, sit across from me in a meeting at your own peril, as I am known to be a bit of an eye-roller if things linger on unproductive matters too long. (But that is a blog post for another day.)

But throughout the course of this course, I've learned that "disruptive" in the sense it's being used in the class along with the word "innovation" means not so much being obnoxious or loud or ill-mannered, but instead "describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, every displacing established" processes [source]. I am hoping that my idea for a new way to teach digital literacy skills to students will become one of those processes that moves "relentlessly up market." 

Because teachers are already so overwhelmed with curricular content - not to mention the alphabet soup of AUGs, IEPs, ELPs, UDL, UbD, TEKs, CIPA, FERPA, COPPA, and on and on - I want students to create and deliver the digital literacy curriculum. So in my plan, those students who have a good grasp of, say, formatting a document, using shortcut keys, or paraphrasing information found online, to name a few, will create short videos or other presentations that will share that knowledge with their peers. And students who don't know the digital "tricks of the trade" will get a way to learn those skills from other students. Some teachers might also learn skills from these presentations! This plan constitutes a "disruptive innovation" because although it will require some involvement on the part of teachers to communicate the plan and offer suggestions to the students on getting started, essentially the students will be in charge of the teaching and learning. Teachers will be almost entirely removed from the equation altogether.

I first posted about my 50,000 foot plan on June 4, right at one month ago. I got some very affirming feedback on that blog post, some from teacher/librarian friends who are part of my Twitter PLN, and several from teachers and curriculum coordinators within my district. At present, I have the strong support of at least three people in Curriculum, three principals, one high school teacher, one elementary teacher, and several librarians in the district where I work. The high school teacher and I have plans to meet with a student the week of July 11 to start laying the groundwork for student involvement and ownership. Click the graphic below to see an outline of how things will continue to roll out over the course of the upcoming school year.

A big question that I hope to get some feedback on is: when, where, and how will students create the content for the project? At this point, I'm imagining that the creating will take place mostly after school, in the library, and/or at home, although I'm still optimistic that at least some teachers and librarians would find value (and therefore time) for the content creation to happen during the school day. And I remain committed to the idea that ALL kids will be invited and encouraged to become active participants in the creation of the content. 

In my literature review, I discovered much support for the necessity of digital literacy education and for the value of student-created content. This past week, I attended the annual ISTE conference, where I heard over and over again about the importance and value of including students in educational decision-making.  I am more committed than ever to ensuring that students are deeply involved in the planning and execution of a digital literacy program. If you're on Twitter, be sure to check out the #stuvoice conversation about student involvement in a wide variety of educational endeavors. One additional insight I discovered while at ISTE was that my vision is probably much too SMALL, and that I need to be open to expanding the whole plan.

Here is the commercial I came up with to gain support for my idea.

For the class, I also had to compile a list of possible resources to consider for the future; that list is developing here.

So, dear teachers, will you join this journey with me? If you are in my district, I'd love for you to fill out this form and let me know you're interested in participating!