Taking an Amazing Ride

The month of November proved to be filled with amazing rides.  As I reflect upon all that occurred within the space of 30 days, I consider myself lucky to have been a part of two particular events that for me captured the essence of the kick-off of the USDOE Future Ready Pledge as part of President Obama’s ConnectED Initiative.  One dealt with the learning and connectivity of adults, the other with the learning and collaboration of students.

PENN COHORTDuring a session with Dr. Joe Mazza in his digital leadership course as part of the mid-career doctoral program at Penn GSE, my cohort participated in #SATCHATWC on Twitter discussing the establishment of a global PLN.  Over the course of one hour, I witnessed an amazing group of educators connect with others around the globe as the pros and cons of developing a global PLN on social media were shared.   My fellow cohort members are a dedicated, passionate and driven group of individuals who take incredible actions in their various roles as principals, superintendents, teachers, central office administrators, school heads, consultants, and state-level policy makers to support the learning of students, teachers and administrators.  Although for the past year and half, I have spoken to many of them about our experiences and growing knowledge of being connected educators, it was not until that day that I saw the spark of what it truly means to be a connected educator materialize for the entire group.  The conversation within the class itself was as rich as the on-line sharing that occurred during the Twitter chat. My cohort members where genuinely excited and motivated to be putting into practice that which they had garnered from Dr. Mazza:  connecting enhances learning.

PA with DR CHIOn November 20, I had the pleasure of traveling to Johns Hopkins University Hospital to witness a capstone of my career in public education.  A group of students in a fifth grade class in the district in which I work had read an article on Newsela about Dr. Albert Chi and his production of mechanical hands for patients.  The article detailed how Dr. Chi and his team uses three-dimensional printers to manufacture low-cost prosthetics.  Making a connection to their own experiences, the class wrote letters to Dr. Chi asking if he would create a hand for a teacher in their school who had lost her hand in an industrial accident at the age of 18.  Dr. Chi was so impressed by their letters, he not only invited the entire class to visit him at Johns Hopkins, but he made a hand for the teacher and presented it to her on that day.  I was very humbled to be there when she slipped on the device and was able to pick up and hold items, something she had not been able to do in over forty years.  Dr. Chi shared with the students his difficult journey that brought him to be a trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins, and how dedication, hard work and holding fast to your dreams can make a difference not only in one’s own life, but the life of others.  In this case, these 18 students (and teachers, a principal and a superintendent) learned that when students work together and ask big questions, they can dramatically and positively change the situation of another person.

There is a quote from Michael Fullan referenced and posted by many connected educators:  Pedagogy is the driver,  technology is the accelerator.  In terms of the amazing month of November, I can certainly attest to Fullan’s observation.  In the case of my cohort at Penn GSE, I observed their recognition that being a digital leader does not necessarily mean knowing all the technical aspects of the latest technology, but being able to connect beyond the circle of friends and colleagues who meet once a month on campus to a world of other passionate educators ready to virtually teach and learn alongside of them.  As for those elementary students whom I accompanied to Baltimore, I saw how the principles of learning, leading and caring were enhanced by technology.  In both cases, I am thrilled that a pedagogy of connection, collaboration and support was accelerated by technologies to which we as learners and teachers have access.

MR w: DR CHII am looking forward to continuing this amazing ride…

The SAMR Model Parent

IMG_3290For the past two years, I have had the privilege to be associated with a school district that embraces Reuben Puentedura’s SAMR Model to frame conversations about the integration of technology into instruction.  Some of the best learning about how to continue the digital transformation of classrooms occurs when we revisit the model.  At a new teacher induction meeting recently, a colleague reminded us all of the model by showing a student-created video  that clearly captures the intention and effective use of the SAMR model.

As I watched the video and listened to the rich conversation around the examples shared by teachers, I thought about how I could leverage the model as a way to approach the use of technology with my own sons.  Having had multiple conversations with parents and friends about our children using technology and about providing opportunities that are positive and developmentally appropriate, I realized that thinking about and modeling my own use of technology just might help my sons consider the powerful ways they could use technology.  It could also provide an open door for me to have conversations with my sons about leveraging technology.  Conversations and working with my sons on their technology use have led to the following examples:

1) Helping my younger, football-obsessed son set up a spreadsheet to track NFL team wins and losses (Substitution)

2) Creating presentations for family events that included visuals and sounds (Augmentation)

3) Assisting with setting up a Prezi account for my son so he could work with other students to develop a presentation on the solar system (Modification)

Although I am not sure we have reached Redefinition just yet, we are well on our way to thinking about the ways we have leveraged technology to change the way we function as a family.  Recently while away on a trip, I FaceTimed with my son so I could help him with some Algebra.  We could problem solve the issues together, in real time, across the miles.  It was great to think about the fact that we were creating a father-son PLN enhanced by the use of technology.

As you consider your own children’s use of technology, I can report that some of our best time together has been spent as my sons teach me what they are able to do with technology.  Asking them “how did you do that?” even though I already may know the answer, has opened doors to showing them that we can learn together, and technology has certainly provided another avenue.  As I think about continuing the conversation, I am inclined to ask them questions such as:

  • What might be a way you could use technology to organize your school work?
  • What would you like to create that you could share with someone else using technology?
  • What is something you would like to do that would not be possible without technology?

What are some ways you have used technology with your own children that just might classify you as a SAMR Model parent?

The Next Step in the Journey…

Boys on a Walk copyIn 1994, I bought my first Mac: a PoweBook 270 duo dock system.   I should clarify: my father graciously purchased it for me as I was broke and in the middle of student teaching.  I remember feeling nearly invincible while typing away on the keyboard: creating amazing worksheets with embedded images, organizing quizzes and tests, and producing easily searchable lesson plan archives.  I spent hours experimenting and learning  all the features of the system and discovering what I could do with that powerful tool to make me a better teacher.  In the company field within the Mac’s settings I typed: “Quin’s Educational Enterprises,” partly as an homage to my Dad (who had selected the middle name “Quin” for me) and partly because I rarely used it anywhere else. The computer and the name made me feel official, professional, entrepreneurial and lucky.  The journey began…

Now some 20 years later I have decided to recapture some of that same spirit, only this time it will not be nifty worksheets or organized lesson plans emerging from “Quin’s Educational Enterprises.”  Instead, I have been inspired by some incredible educational leaders like Joe Mazza, Tom Murray, Pam Moran, Ross Cooper, Randy Ziegenfuss, Tony Sinanis and the authors of Corwin’s recently released Connected Educators series to build and expand my PLN through a blog.  For several years I have watched these educational leaders help to transform education into a dynamic, connected, and relevant practice that engages educators and students around the globe.  The journey continues…

So welcome to Quin’sEssentials.  Here I will share my thoughts about learning, leading and being a dad in a digital world.  So much has changed since 1994, but one thing has remained a constant for me:  the desire to learn, share, collaborate and be entrepreneurial.   I hope to share resources,  offer inspiration, and most importantly, engage with those who are learning what it means to live in a connected world.  These are my essentials as I take the next step in the journey…