The first ever scenario-based #PTchat occurred at ESMS on April 16th. Joe Mazza was our featured guest. Based out of Philadelphia, Joe is a recognized leader in the area of parent and school engagement. Joe graciously presented to a group that included educators from several area school districts including North Kansas City, Liberty, Lee's Summit, and Excelsior Springs. In addition to Mr. Mazza, there was a panel of crowd-sourced experts who volunteered to answer questions about school-community relations.
Our "Take Aways"
Cultivates School Pride and Being a Witness to the Good
Increases Access and Communication
Allows Two-Way Communication and Collaboration
Increases Opportunity for Student Voice
Meets Stakeholders Where They Are
One big take-away from last nightâs #PTchat was meeting your stakeholders where they gather. In the case of our Excelsior Springs Middle School students itâs on Instagram.
On April 16th, the Excelsior Springs School District hosted the first-ever scenario-based #ptchat. Special guest Joe Mazza kicked off the night by sharing 20 ideas on how to build a connected learning community before the official #ptchat started. Joe then led an incredible panel of experts, including Kyle Pace, Laura Gilchrist, Tom Murray, Tony Sinanis, Joe Sanfelippo, Carrie Jackson, Jeff Zoul, and Jimmy Casas, in a Google Hangout to discuss how to leverage hashtags to create connected and transparent learning communities. Michelle Nebel facilitated a local chat focused on the same topic that included administrators, instructional coaches, and teachers from Excelsior Springs and beyond as part of the larger #ptchat on Twitter. The map above shows the amazing reach of the night's #ptchat. Through Twitter, participants were able to discuss and share ideas with other educators from across North America and beyond, including Australia, the United Kingdom, and Sweden. The Twitter chat focused on eight questions:
Over 300 people from across the globe participated in the chat, with a combined following of over 640,000 people. The impact score from Tweetbinder reports that the hashtag #ptchat had over 4.5 million potential views, including tweets leading up to and during last night's chat. The graph below shows the fast and furious pace of the chat itself between 8:00 and 9:00 PM Central time.
You can view an archive of the April 16th #ptchat at the following sites:
These kinds of learning opportunities are only available for educators who have made the leap to connect through social media. The Excelsior Springs School District is committed to learning out loud, and last night's Twitter chat was an amazing opportunity. Thank you to Joe Mazza and all of the guests at last night's panel, thank you to Michelle Nebel for organizing this opportunity, and thank you to all of the administrators, instructional coaches, and teachers that participated!
Sharing Importance of Connections
Today marks the end of an action packed month of learning events. At times, I was going in eight different direction trying to keep up and be involved in everything I wanted to participate in. It will take me the next year to process, reflect and act on my new learning. (Not to mention visiting the archives to continue my professional growth.)
As someone who is an advocate for connected learning, Connected Educator Month has given me the opportunity to build my network, form new collaborations, quickly gain vital information, showcase our district's work, participate in a variety of collaborative events, share the importance of being connected and see other educators find the power of building a strong PLN for themselves and their students.
Several "aah-ha" moments occurred this month including:
Today does not mark the end of the journey! I will continue to push myself and others to get connected, stay connected and to open the world to their students. I will continue to share my voice and our district's voice to provide our contribution!
Michelle Nebel | District Instructional Technology Coach
Reinforcing the Importance of Connections
For me, Connected Educator Month helped reinforce how important it is for me to connect with educators and to help others connect as well. I learned a lot and interacted with some great people through the events I did, and none of that would have been possible if I hadn’t made an effort to connect. My goal now is to continue to maintain and grow these connections – it takes time, but my experiences have shown that it worth the
Tony Harman | Excelsior Springs High School Instructional Coach
CEM Provides Models
I am thoroughly impressed and motivated by my peers. Even though I was unable to meet with everyone face to face or did not seem to participate in the Twitter chats, I read all of the comments, ideas, and suggestions and was completely blown away by how much talent we have within our district. The amount of people vesting themselves in improving themselves to improve their students and our community is commendable, and I admire each and every one of them. It makes me want to work harder and be better so I can be a
worthy part of this team.
Katrina Yoakum | Excelsior Springs High School ELA
Professional Connection Build Stronger Student Connections
This is has been a very crazy busy month for me, but I managed to squeeze in some extra helpful collaboration time by using Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. The other department teacher that I share curriculum most closely with sends me pins that she thinks I may be able to use somehow to improve my classes. I do the same for her. It is just a great way to keep an eye out for each other and share resources. I get a lot of great visual, instructional, and behavior pieces from Pinterest. Sometimes the things I come across are so helpful and broad that I feel I should share them with other ESSD employees, in which case I have started to tweet those findings at #ESSD40PD on Twitter. I even participated in a Twitter Chat for the first time and found that the topic was relevant, helpful, and the logistics of chatting were very simple. I picked up some good information and resource leads from that short chat. Lastly, I started an Instagram account for my class and use it to collect and share images from students during class time (school visual learning scavenger hunts), as well as during a recent field trip scavenger hunt. I am still exploring other social networking sites to get my secondary students more involved and excited about the things we are learning. Overall, I think the more I get connected to other educators, the more I find better ways to get connected with my students and help them make connections with the learning experiences I provide them.
Sherie Renne | Excelsior Springs High School Art
Connected Educator Month Made My Brain Spin
Connected Educator Month has made me even more aware of what technology can do for our
Kathy Travis | Excelsior Springs Middle School Library Media Specialist
Focus on Connecting Through Connected Educator Month
I enjoyed the time to really “focus” on being connected; sometimes I get so busy it is easier to move on or forget about it. I got ideas for ePortfolios to use in class, shared ideas with educators from across the nation in Twitter Chat, learned of new apps and programs to use in class.
Bobbie Abele | Excelsior Springs Middle School Art
Now a Twitter Chat Moderator Thanks to CEM
I learned that moderating a Twitter chat was not as scary as I thought. It took some time to think about the questions to ask, but other than that it is just putting yourself out there to do it. Once it is over, a sigh and lots
of relief. Then looking back, it is good to be connected to other educators through a PLN that is really limitless. I can get on Twitter and connect with thousands to find answers and opinions for many different questions. The ideas flow like a brook, never ending and with great potential. Thanks Twitter for making it easy to be a connected educator!
Kathy McCracken | Excelsior Springs Middle School Special Education
Differentiate Professional Development
In the fall of 2012, the district Professional Development Committee (PDC), using the Learning Forward Standards for Professional Learning (2011), studied the prerequisites for professional learning which includes the idea that educators, like all learners, learn in different ways and at different rates. Based on this idea, the PDC began to explore ways to design timely professional learning that would meet the needs of all learners including many different types of learning experiences in many different formats.
Engage Educators in Their Professional Learning
The PDC wanted to design a learning environment that was connected to district goals and made educators active partners in their own learning. Based on data collected through the district PD survey, the PDC determined that teachers needed additional support developing a personal/professional learning network to connect and communicate with other educators. To meet this need, the committee developed a learning environment where teachers could make professional learning decisions based on their needs and have avenues available to showcase their new learning.
Make Informal Learning and Reflection Part of District’s Formal PD Documents
The committee grappled with decisions like "What would the structure look like?", "How would teachers document and track their hours?", "How can we keep this from becoming a paperwork nightmare?", "How do we focus on OUTCOMES not time?" to "How do we keep the learning visible?" The goal set for the flex day was to provide time for informal learning that was self-organized, self-initiated, just-in-time and made visible to others. This goal placed teachers in charge of their learning by having them make decisions on what to learn, how they will learn it, and how they will display their learning for others to see.
Continue to Shift Mindsets
Excelsior Springs School District is shifting the mindset of effective professional learning focusing on the outcome of the learning rather than tracking a predetermined number of hours. A major emphasis of this informal, self-organized learning is on how it is made visible to others and on communicating and collaborating with other educators inside and outside the district. The end goal is to create a culture of shared learning that will positively impact teaching and learning.
Post by Cheryl Hogan | Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction
Connected District's Journey: Infusing connected learning into Comprehensive School Improvement Plan
In order to shift practice, Excelsior Springs School District first needed to change its mindset about effective professional learning. This required close examination of traditional professional development and open conversation throughout the district. The District established a need for change, then developed a shared vision for 21st century professional learning. The following presentation was shared throughout the district.
Move Your District into the 21st Century
Questions districts must be asking…
How can we as a district support individual, building, and district goals with our limited time and
resources? Districts are increasingly challenged to meet the needs of each educator and keep up with emerging trends and initiatives.
How can we keep up in times of rapid change? The need for professional development is happening at a quicker rate than most districts can manage.
Are we putting the responsibility in the hands of the learner? Each professional should drive their own learning. Professional learning should not be defined by what someone else provides for them.
Are we fostering teachers to be critical thinkers, problem-solvers, good communicators, good
collaborators that are information and technology literate, flexible, adaptable, innovative, creative, and globally competent? Educators first must experience being a 21st century learners as a professional so they are prepared to give the same experience for their students.
Determine what professional learning should include...
Provide multiple paths - Professional learning should be differentiated so everyone receives the PD they need most and provide choice, in method and content. These multiple paths allow participants to own their learning causing increased engagement and built so everyone is a co-learner and an equal.
Be ongoing process - Professional learning should be ongoing, job-embedded, and a daily learning process. It shouldn't dependent on time or space and can happen anywhere, anytime.
Build leadership and empower - Professional learning should build internal capacity by tapping into the expertise of teachers causing growth in teacher leadership. It should empower teachers to design their own
Be visible and reflective - Making professional learning visible gives educators an authentic audience to
share their voice.
Model life-long learning, focused on outcomes - Educators must be the models of true life-long learning, demonstrating to others that learning is a daily priority. This learning should be focused on outcomes and
Get Started...Get Connected
Districts need to think outside the box in order to upgrade professional learning to support the 21st century skills. Educators must take an active role; they cannot sit back and wait for it to be delivered to them. It is time for educators to "GET CONNECTED."
Districts can start by creating internal collaborative groups that provide an environment for authentic dialogue with constant two-way, transparent conversations enabling collaboration among all participants. After educators are comfortable communicating and collaborating within the district, take it to the next level by expanding their professional learning network outside of the district. Help them find to like-minded professionals and groups to connect and collaborate with until they reach a global audience. Finally, encourage, recognize and validate educators for bringing their informal learning back to the district in order to impact student achievement in their classroom and others.
Post by Michelle Nebel | District Instructional Technology Coach
Need for Collaborative Culture
In 2006, administration and the Board of Education accepted the reality that additional improvement in district wide student achievement would only occur in a culture that was both collaborative and student-centered. This would require a paradigm shift from the traditional culture to one focused on student learning and research-based professional development (teacher learning) with all staff working together as professionals for the sake of our students.
Implement Professional Learning Communities
We selected Richard DuFour’s model of a “Professional Learning Community” as the vehicle for our cultural change. This district wide transformation began with the Board and administration learning about professional learning communities through book studies, meaningful discourse and digging into the research. The Board approved schedule changes providing an hour early release of students each week to be used exclusively for large and small group collaboration focused on student achievement.
Create a Shared Vision
In 2011 the District, with input from stakeholders, changed its mission statement to mirror the four tenants of DuFour’s Professional Learning Communities. The mission statement is the basis for our Comprehensive School Improvement Plan which is student-centered and has student achievement as its primary focus. This paradigm shift was slow in the beginning, as with most cultural change, and was not easy. The district continues to cultivate a collaborative culture through the PLC model to improve student learning.
Post by John Lacy | Superintendent
In recognition of the enormous impact online social learning can have on the teaching profession, the U.S. Department of Education announced a second Connected Educator Month, CEM. Held this month, October 2013, CEM will build capacity and galvanize action to prepare educators to thrive in a connected world. This year, Connected Educator Month added a focus on helping school districts promote and integrate online social learning in their formal professional development. By getting more educators “connected” and deepening and sustaining learning of those already connected, we collectively can stimulate and support collaboration and innovation in professional development and collaboration.
In connection with CEM, Excelsior Springs School District decided to move from lurker or participant to author, taking this opportunity to showcase our commitment to making connected learning for our schools, our educators, and our students a priority. Through a series of blog posts shared over the next few days, we will share our continued journey to build a connected and collaborative culture that supports both formal and informal learning.
US Dept. of ED declares October Connected Educator Month. | All October. All online. All free. Hundreds of events, activities to expand, extend your classroom.
Excelsior Springs School District be participating in CEM and we encourage you to join us—all CEM events are online, and they’re all free. The first step is to sign up, which can be done in seconds. After you’re signed
up, you’ll receive regular updates about:
At the end of the day, CEM is dedicated to the proposition that no teacher should be an island, not when there’s so much more strength in numbers. We hope you’ll join us in bringing the profession together this October.
CEM Kickoff Sessions
Oct. 1st | CEM Kickoff Sessions: Connected Leadership, From Connection To Collaboration, Innovating STEM & Literacy
3:00-4:30 PM ET Connected Leadership.
Educators are looking to leaders for support as we navigate an increasingly connected world, but what does it mean to be a connected leader? Why is it important, how is connected leadership impacting student
achievement, and what are the best basic steps leaders can take today to become more connected?
We'll discuss these questions, and more, with an all-star cast of panelists including Candice Dodson, Chris Lehmann, Scott McLeod, a mystery guest, and you. For more information about the session, links to panelist bios, a sign up form (which will get you a reminder the day before and a copy of the archive after) and more, click the link below... http://bit.ly/kickoff_connectedleadership
5:00-6:30 PM ET From Connection To Collaboration.
Getting connected is only the start in connected education; the ultimate goal is collaboration to move the field forward. Join us--and a prestigious cast of panelists (including Tom Carroll, Kecia Ray, Connie Yowell, and Yong Zhao)--for a wide-ranging highly interactive discussion covering everything from basic tips and tricks to the future of online connection/collaborative forms, as we kick off this key CEM theme. More info,
panelist bios, sign up, and more at the link. http://bit.ly/kickoff_connect_to_collaborate
9:00-10:30 PM ET Innovating STEM and Literacy. STEM and literacy are two pillars of educational challenge that virtually every educator is trying to address, and connected education has a lot to offer both. What are the latest innovations in STEM and literacy education, and what new techniques can teachers apply in their classrooms today? Where are the overlaps and reinforcements between STEM and literacy, and what learnings do these pedagogical fields have to offer one another?
Join a powerful panel from both backgrounds (including Don Buckley, Jeanne Century, Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, and Kent Williamson) in getting the proverbial ball rolling on this fundamental CEM theme.
Oct. 2nd | Informal& Formal PD, Personalized Learning, 21st Century Classroom Management
5:00-6:30 PM ET
Making It Count--Integrating Formal & Informal PD.
Hundreds of thousands of educators around the country are quietly improving their practice every day through online communities and networks, but receive no acknowledgement or credit for doing so. Maybe worse, what they’re learning, and how, is not influencing formal PD.
Join a panel of leading educators from multiple levels (including Al Byers, Dr. Pam Moran, Eric Sheninger, and more) who are leading the way in bridging this divide. For more information about the session, links to panelist bios, a signup form (which will get you a reminder the day before and a copy of the archive after) and
more, click the link below...
7:00-8:30 PM ET Personalized Learning. How close are we to being able to realize the dream of personalized learning for educators and students, what still has to happen, what practical steps can educators take to personalize today, and how can connected technologies facilitate this?
A healthy blend of edtech visionaries and creative classroom educators (including Kathy Cassidy, Will Richardson, David Warlick, and Jessie Wooley-Wilson) join you to discuss. More info, panelist bios, sign up, and more below...
9:00-10:30 PM ET 21st Century Classroom Management. What does management mean in an era of 1:1 computing, BYOD, flipped classrooms, technology-driven personalized learning and other innovations intended to address discipline issues even more directly?
Our final panel (including Sam Chaudhary, Jane Nelsen, Jeanne Poduska, and Marsha Ratzel) works
with you late into the night–as you do–to kickoff and wrestle with this last, but not least, CEM theme.
THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING!
Post by Michelle Nebel | District Instructional Technology
This will be a resource built by the staff for the staff to encourage integration of 21st century skills into every student's learning.