Month: January 2015

Increasing Transformative Learning Opportunities

risk-taking-1This is a the fourth year of our 1:1 teaching and learning initiative in Salisbury for grades 6-12, During the 2014-15 school year, 1:1 access was added with iPads for K-1 students and MacBooks for students in grades 3-5. You can learn more about our first three years at  On the site, you will see goals, the evaluation, policies, etc.

Recently, we were invited to participate in a research cohort with Apple.  We will join approximately 17 other school districts in Chicago, IL next week to learn more about how to collect data to answer our research question.

As part of the preparation for the workshop, we needed to complete a survey which inquired about our current data collection practices, resources, and a potential research problem.  On this snow day, after much conversation, we were excited to unearth our research question.  My colleague, Randy Ziegenfuss, shared his thoughts on increasing transformative learning experiences. You can read his post here.  His post explains our past work, the upcoming research opportunity we have been afforded, and our research question.

After three years, we are still seeing pockets of learning activities which would qualify as above the line (transformative) according to  Puentadura’s SAMR framework.  Learn more about SAMR by reviewing our Learnist Board.  For the teachers who are designing and implementing transformative learning experiences, what factors are critical to their success?

How do we increase the number of teachers who develop and implement these above the line activities?  Is our vision clear? What is working for these teachers who continually proffer these opportunities?  Do they have different professional learning experiences? Are their building PLCs structured differently? Are these educators connected through PLNs? Are their content area/grades relevant?  Do the administrators in the building play a role in regard to support and/or expectations?  Are these teachers risk-takers?  How can we create a risk-taking environment? What can we learn from these teachers, and how can we promote more of these opportunities?  What do we need to do to support them? I have so many questions about these teachers and their practices.

How do you support your teachers to learn and share with each other?



Listen to Learn and Learn to Listen

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday, like much of eastern PA, NJ, and NY, we had a snow day!  After I reviewed my email, worked on my doctoral coursework, and even hung out with my family, I decided I was going to post!  So, what to post about?  My colleague shared someone else’s advice to new bloggers.  I do not remember the exact post, but the message was clear! Basically, just start writing about something that matters to you.

I scanned Twitter multiple times today and kept coming back to information on active listening.  Listening is so important in our daily personal and professional lives. We have to listen with our whole minds and body and avoid distractions.  With cell phones and instant access that is becoming increasingly difficult for some of us.  We have to listen to what is said and what is not said!

You can read a great blog post about active listening here.  What I really liked about this post is the chart  (from Storytelling and User Experience) which identifies 10 specific skills, behaviors associated with them, and what to avoid when having a conversation.

For example, the chart includes reflecting and summarizing.  These require the listener to actively engage in both sides of the conversation (as opposed to planning a response while the other person is still talking.)  I also really appreciated the tip about not filling the silences and allowing the speaker to set the pace.

I also found this post on different types of listening. Which do we use in our professional and personal lives?

I have already shared this chart with a critical friend.  I know we will talk about our strengths and weaknesses as related to this chart over lunch sometime soon!  This sharing and honest conversation helps us both grow as leaders!

In this blog, which I entitled “Share to Learn,” I am hoping to learn from my readers too! Each post will have a couple questions to consider in the hopes of engaging you in the conversation.

Questions to Consider:

  • What other suggestions do you have to make us all more effective listeners?
  • How do you avoid listening to respond instead of listening to learn?