A Full Day

A Full Day

Started the day with a fantastic Middle School Admin Team Retreat, followed by an incredible Maker session where I learned about the Studio(i) experience, designed and printed using the laser cutter, and earned a badge! It was a fantastic turn out and professional learning event considering it is summer time. Next, I went to training session for this week’s Fuse conference with the fantastic Red Team followed by a fun team dinner at Village Burger. Finally, I ended the day by reading to each of my children and going for a night walk and swim. Blessed.monday retreat


Learning Progressions

Learning Progressions

Today, the Social Studies research and design team met after school. After a 10 minute introduction and demo slam (check out Google Earth for geography, history, current events exploration), we split up into our respective divisions and choose our own adventures.

The middle school team collaborated on writing a learning progression for 5th Graders using primary sources. It was a fun activity for me. I felt stretched, creative, frustrated, and accomplished at different points throughout the process. My colleagues felt the same, but we all stuck with it and the result is a very solid, first attempt at a learning progress.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 6.52.14 PM

r and d


Developing and Using Learning Progressions as a Schema for Measuring Progress by Karen Hess

Learning Progression Ninja Jill Gough gave us some encouragement and feedback…
Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 7.05.36 PM

What feedback would you give our team on this learning progression? 

The Power of Badging

The Power of Badging

Since launching our faculty badging program in August, teachers have earned over 100 badges and provided some intriguing information related to mastery and learning needs. What does this data tell you about our faculty learning and the power of badging?

The Power of Badging
Number of faculty who have earned 8 badges, 7 badges, etc.

The Power of Badging

We rocked it on Summer Learning. Folio, Drones, and Blogging are fairly strong.

Though we’ve spent several faculty meetings focused on formative assessment in recent weeks, only 1 person has applied for and earned the formative assessment badge.

Also, since receiving Clear Touches in every room, only 5 have earned that badge and only 1 faculty member has demonstrated the basics to earn a badge for innovative technology integration. Wonder what the focus of our upcoming meetings might be?

Here are the 12 badges available to faculty since August. Each one has specific criteria and evidence required to earn.

The Power of Badging

Measuring R & D Priorities


Measuring R & D Priorities

This afternoon, the Social Studies R & D team convened for its 3rd meeting of the year. Our agenda was as follows:

3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Gallery walk: Small groups of 3-4 rotate among 4 posters. Each poster contains 1 of the 4 priority goals that every R & D team has been charged with accomplishing. On post it notes, team members write what each one means a) in his/her own classroom and b) for our R & D team at large.

The purpose was to
a) expose and remind team members to these priorities again
b) capture input and build common meaning among team members
c) generate ideas and obstacles as fodder for future meetings.

See the results below. (30 min)
4 cornersbraggpostitspostpost itNext, we used a “poll everywhere” to gauge how the team felt, in general, we were doing as a whole R & D team in regards to accomplishing these 4 priorities. Results are interesting, but scientific accuracy is disputable.Measuring R & D Prioritiespano4:00 p.m. – 4:35 p.m. – Discussions/Workshops: Team members choose 1 of the 4 that they are most interested in exploring in greater detail. They commit by writing their preference down. Two groups are designated as more “conversational” in nature, while the other two are classified as “workshops.” The goal was to try to manage expectations and help team members leave feeling like they ‘got something out of it.’ The feeling in the room was earnest dialogue and diligent production. I’m proud of this team.
4:35 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Share Out/Philosophy:  Finally, each group, pair, or individual shared out what they had accomplished or discussed. We ended by sharing the final draft of our co-written philosophy statement. Shelley read aloud…
Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 5.12.16 PM

Here is the original draft of the plans for this meeting. We deviated a bit from our original timeline:

15 min – Gallery Walk
60 min – Discussions/Workshops
15 min – Share out/Philosphy


Overcoming Obstacles to ePortfolios

Overcoming Obstacles to ePortfolios

This morning’s faculty meeting saw teachers paired up with Middle School Digital Media students. Our goal was learn from students and ‘crack the code’ on how to use eportfolios more effectively. We followed up on last week’s meeting (vertical process standards/formative assessment/eportfolio demo) and last week’s conference mentor discussions (how students can take greater ownership of their learning through eportfolios).

Today’s Faculty Meeting Agenda

Essential Questions:
Based on student feedback, how can we ‘crack the code’ for how to use eportfolios more effectively both ‘for learning’ (formative/workspace) and ‘of learning’ (summative/showcase)?

Desired Outcomes:
Students and faculty collaborate to discover students’ ideas around iterating eportfolios.

Learning Opportunities:

  • Chip shares feedback from Conference Mentor meetings (~5 mins)
  • Students from Digital Media show their eportfolios to MS faculty members (~10 mins)
  • Faculty members interview students regarding eportfolios (~15 mins)
  • Faculty member partners affinity map post-it notes on small whiteboards (~3 mins)
  • Faculty member partners transfer post-it notes from each small group onto five Z-racks (~10 mins)
  • Each group shares insight with the faculty as they transfer post-it notes to Z-rack
  • Ticket Out the Door – Remember two weeks ago in vertical teams – Based on the information you now know from the students, how might you iterate what you designed for your formative assessment/eportfolio piece related to a specific vertical process standard/learning outcome?


Here are the post-it notes captured by teachers when interviewing students…

What I like Most…
– different from everyone else
– allowed to express learning
– everyone can see work and what we’re proud of
– better than last year (google sites), easier and more simple to figure out
– tabs arranged by classes (disciplines) vs. mindsets (2x)
– we can choose what to put
– choice
– teacher driven, but students given choice
– don’t have to get on the Google site – no searching
– helps us study for tests/quizzes
– ability to customize and autonomy
– Digital Media class really helps with ePortfolio
– future value: resume, look back at accomplishments, US can use to preview students

New Ideas to Consider
– besides Google, film, video, picture, prezi, padlet
– paper for Grandma
– add friends?
– add something I’m proud of
– would prefer to be told to upload – easy and don’t have to think about it
– use for admissions (submit when you are applying?)
– show students who are applying to MVPS
– extra points would make them upload for fun
– use QR codes
– podcasts

How to Improve
– use eportfolio as assessment – student doesn’t know how
– not motivated, don’t want to add imperfect
– benefit of reflecting? – maybe more explanation
– reflecting not fun, but sometimes necessary
– students don’t want to show off work that is bad or poor grade
– sharing study guides on eportfolio may make it more useful for students
– merge quizlet study concepts w/eportfolio
– outside of showcasing, no real use
– choosing what to upload
– pictures was easy to upload, document not so much
– more freedom on stuff to upload
– don’t like this year’s eportfolio – it’s confusing and more steps (than google sites)

Don’t Understand Yet
– adding papers and modules are confusing
– multi-step, don’t know 1/2
– easier
– how to videos help
– can see it more in high school, but not now
– if we had a class on it, we should be able to do a lot more, outside of uploading – we can’t do a whole lot
– kinda cool, but more relevant in high school

Obstacle 1: Lack of clear purpose
– why do we have to publish everything?
– Church?
– don’t know what to add for outside MVPS
– don’t do much on computer outside MVPS
– fun? expressing self
– feel like I can try something harder b/c I was successful here
– feel proud to know I can do this – Scratch
– outside of showcasing students, don’t use it for anything else
– like that it allows you to be creative but other than showcasing, no use
– students feel it is more useful for high school students b/c they can use for college applications, etc. but NOT useful in middle school
– display best work
– technology not working well. publish stuff then it says unpublished
– do you put rough draft? – no – it is ‘show off’ but could
– Google docs eportfolio was much easier
– things were not uploading when they showed it to us

Obstacle 2: Audience Too Small
– like/want to see everyone’s eportfolio
– they’d be more motivated if more people (like US students) could see
– who is audience?
– do teachers look at this? any audience?
– unsure of audience
– don’t want to upload what they did poorly
– who to see? parent, grandparent, know you better/unique views
– audience: teachers, Mr. Houston, Deans

Obstacle 3: Too Many Tech Steps
– challenging uploading for subjects that are paper-back
– refresh button hits
– improve rich text video
– tabs, I don’t get subtitles
– it broke down, buttons missing, no publish button
– tech issues (a la video), don’t like unguided reflection
– not easy to operate, reflections remain problematic
– have to publish each inc pg – annoying!
– hard to make lots of edits in many tabs b/c
– want to publish it all at once
– easy to use
– don’t know how to save from studio 7 – no picture
– process uploading isn’t bad, BUT it’s hard uploading videos
– the use of outside emails to MVPS email gets tedious
– no internet when we went to show eportfolio
– MVPS restricted youtube, need video platform that can see
– can create more than 1
– didn’t know about “outside mvps”
– add a module: hard to interpret, text, picture, etc.

Obstacle 4: Too School-Centered
– don’t want to load bad grades
– don’t like teacher determining uploads
– not in favor of wider reach
– want to upload a presentation over a lab
– more creative, more color
– teachers tell you what to do
– only posting things that are mandatory
– big question about an END OF THE YEAR reflection – they don’t want to do that
– like Digication
– don’t want to show it to college necessarily
– one wants best work
– want control over it
– is it apps for 5th graders to have it? vs. high school? vs. 8th grade?

– a lot of checking the box
– rough draft 1, shiny 2
– don’t want to post “boring” things
– people don’t think the process is interesting to look at
– looking at a picture of a lab is boring
– do not like reflecting. think it is boring and unhelpful
– grades would motivate them to put more effort in
– matters: Shows everything & you can go back and see what you’ve done
– want final product, not ‘blueprint’
– Grammar rough draft included
– takes up advisory when they want to study
– favorite types of media: google pres and a game
– why matters: to show teachers improvements, likes, enjoyments
– interactions: comments would be ok
– customization, uses mindsets, likes organization
– it’s boring
– more fun formatting
– how you felt when showing eportfolio: nervous
– reorganize categories
– upload what she wants, restricted
– purpose: simply organize work??

How to make it better?
– 7th grade feels students are afraid that they will have to do another BIG REFLECTION for eportfolio like last year – didn’t like it.
– They want an opportunity to be rewarded for eportfolio use


Building Our Learning Measures


Building Our Learning Measures
This morning, our monthly vertical team meeting focused on building our capacity with two of our ‘expanded learning measures’ – formative assessment and e-portfolios. Here is the agenda with some data added…

Essential Questions
What are the limitations of numerical grades as a single measure of learning?
How will we develop our understanding of e-portfolios as an effective measure ‘for’ and ‘of’ learning?

Desired Outcomes
Vertical Teams collaborate to implement formative assessment and e-portfolios.

Learning Opportunities
In advance, read Edutopia article: 11 Essentials for Excellent Eportfolios

    • Entry Ticket: Upon arrival, write on 3 separate post-it notes…
      • 1 idea this article sparked
      • 1 question this article sparked
      • the # of e-portfolio demonstrations you have currently assigned to your class

  • Create an entry ticket with your vertical team, using your learning outcome process standards, that you all agree to use for formative assessment in the next few weeks, that students will upload to their e-portfolios.
  • Share out your ticket with the whole team. Receive feedback. Iterate to improve.

Vertical Team Guiding Questions

How can you formatively assess one of these process standards as a vertical team?

How can students demonstrate their learning of one of these process standards? And make their thinking visible via e-portfolio?

How can we help students build the muscles of reflecting on their learning?

PL Team=============

Teacher Reflection on Understanding and Implementation of student e-portfolios

What problems have you encountered while implementing e-portfolios with students? How did you solve them?

Does student’s work tell a story?

What do the demonstrations of learning that students post in their e-portfolios reveal about what they are learning in your class?

If someone else were looking at the demonstrations that students post in their e-portfolios, what might they learn about the design of your class?

What things you might want more help with?

What’s the one thing that you have seen in your colleague’s work or process that you would like to try related to e-portfolios?

Post-it Note Results…

HMW entice students to see e-portfolios as ‘theirs’ rather than something the Ts want them to do?
What’s a simple and effective way for me to promote and support e-portfolios with student buy-in?
How do we continue to empower students to want to curate their e-portfolios?
Why/how do we spark interest?
How to get students/teachers to care about e-portfolios?
How effective are e-portfolios in increasing learning? (I loved this question so much I wrote a response!)
What is our e-portfolio purpose?
What is our purpose?

How do we help students preserve portfolios for future endeavors?
Will e-portfolios be out-of-date tomorrow? (technology changes so rapidly)
If they lose their ’email’ account at the end of high school, does it have longevity?
Do students know how this will be used?
How might I use two different approaches to e-portfolios over the next 9 weeks?
QR Code – love it! Wonder how to use?
Clarify positivist/constructivist approach?
Need to focus e-portfolios to ensure demonstration of learning (learning outcomes)
How do we get videos in to make it easy?
Have we learned to add video? Who will help us?
Are we using the positivist or constructivist approach?

e-portfolios can be used for a short-term learning project
projects on e-portfolios
I would love to make my 2nd semester project tie directly to e-portfolio
design students demos to really showcase a learning progression throughout the year
HMW ensure that e-portfolio updates are relevant to demonstration of learning (learning outcomes)?
the portfolio for learning, as learning
Enhance student meta-cognition, reflection, ownership
I would like to ‘practice’ demos in advisory
I can meet with 1 kid per day in advisory on e-portfolios, match with goals (for SLC)
Student Blog: maybe have students start a blog instead of their journal I have them do? They could keep a blog and blog every week about topics of interest.
Check out One Note and other resources
Instead of weekly journaling, students can add to One Note or Evernote – culmination activity is uploading unit post-its up with a reflection
Students can keep a hard copy of all work done in a 9 week period. At the end of the period, upload 2 pieces of work that were significant. This gives students more time to reflect and choose two of their best pieces.
Students write class blog and link e-portfolios there? Allow a specific timeline to post.
Still love video aspect, but it’s too hard to upload
Our NPS is good with timeline (?)
Use as a student website/blog
We should publish to parents.
Digital Media = blog? Do we want to use e-portfolios like this?

1 Demo – 6
2 Demos – 9
3 Demos – 2
5 Demos – 1

What are your questions about e-portfolios and formative assessment? What are your ideas? Please share with us!

How Might We Create Irresistible Faculty Meetings?

I’ll be honest – I don’t know the answer to this question yet. However, I am intrigued by it. And committed to the ideal.

Our family is full of educators. I love it because we get to “talk shop” and compare notes. Yesterday, a close family member recounted the tale of her first faculty meeting this week that consisted of a principal reading the emergency crisis plan for two hours. We’ve all sat through some doozies.


Tomorrow we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s famous speech. To borrow the iconic and powerful phrase, and in no way whatsoever drawing a comparison, “I have a dream”…

I have a dream of a year full of faculty meetings that flip the traditional mental model on its ear. Faculty meetings that are so valuable to our team’s practice that teachers are upset if they have to miss it. Faculty meetings that generate a word of mouth buzz in the community. Meetings that people don’t mind paying admission to gain access. Yes, irresistible faculty meetings.

How do we get there? 

Start by asking the “user” about their experience and what they need/want. So, teachers, consider this an invitation. Post your responses. Share your ideas. I’ll be asking. I’ve already started.

What is your best faculty meeting experience? What is your worst?

Some sound bytes from an educator at another school (who may or may not live in my house)…
– avoid just a presentation of information
– anything that breaks from the dry norm
– no policy meetings where people just talk
– i can read it on my own
– don’t feel like you have to fill it just because it is scheduled
– gift card giveaways
– bring in external experts, funny with new insights

Some of my own thoughts…
– I like to start with celebrations (wins, parent emails, birthday cake, good stuff)
– I like the meetings to be connected to the larger Professional Learning design
– I like to empower teachers to share their best
– I hope to inspire teachers and “fill their cups” – this is a place to connect and replenish
– I want to try creating some short videos (for comedy, for illustrating helpful scenarios)
– I want to hear and share stories; I want us to solve problems
– I love the idea of demo slams, but perhaps occasionally trying focused demo slams (for example, instead of giving everyone 60 seconds to introduce any new app, website, or tech thing, the constraint is placed so sharing is only focused on things we are using – so each teacher would have 60 seconds to share a useful insight on how they organize their google drive folders or color code their email, or what useful tips they can share about e-portfolios, understanding by design, or chromebooks, etc.)

What are your thoughts?