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A Perfect Marriage Between Universities and K12 Public Schools

Dr. Jeanice Kerr Swift discusses opportunities for Ann Arbor public schools

By Dr. Rod Berger

I sat down with Dr. Jeanice Kerr Swift at this year’s AASA conference in New Orleans to learn about the unique advantage of running a public school district that resides alongside one of our nation’s most prominent universities. The University of Michigan provides the district of Ann Arbor with rich partnerships that lift the learning experiences of the children in the community. Kerr Swift is delighted to have the enthusiasm of not only the University but the business community in reaching out to the students of Ann Arbor.

The implementation of real world projects matches University of Michigan scientists with teachers and students to enrich school learning environments. One example is the Woven Wind program that provides real life wind turbine applications. Students learn, and teachers have their classes bolstered by the input of advanced experimentation. Project Lead the Way is another example that is providing modules for classroom learning.

According to Jeanice Kerr Swift, technology should support and strengthen learning, not stand in the place of person-to-person engagement. Devices are there to serve and enhance, not replace teacher-student collaboration and critical thinking. Kerr Swift believes there is a balance of the “Cs” to consider: collaboration, connection, and community. If all the “Cs” are listening and working together, then a school district can thrive.

Jeanice Kerr Swift certainly makes the balance look easy and enviable in Ann Arbor Michigan.

Interview

Rod Berger: Jeanice, it’s nice to spend some time with you. I think it’s interesting being up in Ann Arbor as you have the unique perspective of being in a public school system next to a prominent university.

How does that impact the opportunities that your students and teachers have being right next door to the University of Michigan?

Jeanice Kerr Swift: Rod, we’re very fortunate to share a beautiful community with the University of Michigan, and we have great partnerships with the university not only to have student teachers coming out of the school of education, but we also have partnerships with English second-language learners and a beautiful summer program. We have partnerships like an instrumental program with the University of Michigan.

We have some great fruitful and rich partnerships that are right in the community, and it lifts up all of us ─ and always with the focus on the children.

So I’m very grateful for that.

RB: Given the built-in relationship that you have ─ if we expand that a little bit ─ I’m finding that a lot of superintendents are looking at and challenged with resource issues and budget shortfalls. I’m also encouraged to see that there is a lessening of the fear of incorporating the private sector in offsetting some of those funding challenges and issues.

JKS: Right

RB: How do you look at it when we think about corporate America interfacing with public schools from a funding perspective to help support us?

JKS: We’re very grateful for all of our business partnerships, and we are rich with partnerships in the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

We work with Toyota Corporation whose research and development center is in a little township next to us. We work with a wide variety of great business partners.

I think of not only the resources that they contribute but the relationship that we develop in keeping our focus on children and the children in our community and preparing for the next generation.

With Toyota, they are thinking about what kind of employees they want, and they’re helping us to develop so that we’re working in the direction of supporting all children and lifting children in our community.

RB: Speaking of children and the changing of the guard with students in the way in which there are learners ─ and very different than when you and I were growing up. We’re shifting from the consumer model to a creator piece from the student side of it, and I’m finding that what’s interesting is: How do we support teachers so that they are feeling up-to-date on how to interact with students who are now creators utilizing technology that allows them to take ownership of their learning?

How do you look at that?

JKS: We look at that in a variety of ways. We want our teachers to feel supported in taking those next steps to make changes and shifts in educational practice. We look at programs because, often, those programs will help teachers to move and help students to move.

With the implementation of Project Lead the Way in kinder through twelfth grade in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, that’s just a great way to get some of the teaching and learning modules in the classrooms; and teachers are able to learn right in their job-embedded setting and to say to themselves, “I love this. I want more of this. How do I apply this practice to other parts of my day?”

Another way that we look at it is through those individual partnerships.

We have a number of scientists at the University of Michigan who will come over and really do “ real world” with our kids.

 
There’s a great area called “Woven Wind, ” and they’ve helped us with wind turbines. They’re coming in and supporting that teacher and giving real-world applications

RB: You know, you’re going to make it. A lot of people are going to want to move to Ann Arbor now.

JKS: It’s a great place to be. And we really do benefit from those connections.

RB: Let’s talk about those connections and then communicating those connections out when it comes to students taking ownership of their learning and our ability to now document in a way that is both supportive and technologically based. How do you ─ in Ann Arbor ─ look at communicating that sort of daily dialogue of what students are doing that supports them? How do you see that

JKS: It is a challenge for children, teachers, and parents to stay right on the progress that students are making; and not all progress is immediately measurable.

It’s often in those moments that you catch a child doing or saying something and it’s like, “Where did you learn that?” and then you realize, “We really are making a difference in shifting what goes on between the ears and how kids think and interact.

But I think one of the most visible ways that I see is children working collaboratively.

I remember rows of chairs all facing the teacher.

RB: I do, too.

JKS: Our classrooms don’t look like that now. Our students are learning from each other as much as they’re learning from the teacher. And then, there is the third wall of the classroom - whether it’s on the Internet or it’s a program students are able to become owners of their own learning and their own learning is a real-world application.

So when they’re working with Woven Wind at the University of Michigan to erect a wind turbine that heats the chicken coop that they’ve designed where the chickens are laying eggs, nd they’re watching the chicks hatch, it’s all real.

RB: Learning becomes alive

 JKS: Oh, yes! The students’ level of engagement just goes through the roof. It’s a very different world from what I’ve experienced.

RB: One of the things I’m seeing in relation to technology are complaints from districts that technology companies are developing for the higher grades and that we have yet to fully mature in our ability to look at the younger grades - K to 8, specifically. How do we give technology that is built for them but also supportive of that learning over time, so it’s a path not only for the student but for the teacher.

How do you look at that in the decisions you make at a district level? How do you choose technologies to purchase or review that are actually conducive to the different levels?

JKS: A couple of things: One is that we do start our children early on technology in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. It was not long ago that I was with kindergarteners who had used their iPads to create videos.

RB: They’re on YouTube now.

JKS: Yes, that came alive. When you touch one of their drawings, the video would pop up. They’re learning from the very earliest days of school.

But the second thing I would point out is that we do have them in a developmental progressive model. From pre-K through 12, our commitment is that technology will serve the learning and not the other way around.

It’s very important to us that technologies support and enhance that learning, not stand in the place of person-to-person learning.

We’re very specific and careful.

For example, I was with pre-schools students not long ago and they were studying invisible forces; and, at first, I was like, “Really? How could they do this?”

I went with them through the centers and, one, they were painting water on the sidewalk with thick paint brushes and watching the wetness go away through evaporation.

And they moved over to the fan and the windsocks that they created that day and watched the windsock go in the air.

We have three and four year olds getting their brains around very high-level concepts and not a computer in sight.

In the Ann Arbor Public Schools, we really want to look at ways in engagement and ways of learning without necessarily always having a device in our hand.

The devices are there to serve us when it lifts the learning, not to stand in place of this relationship and collaboration in critical thinking.

RB: Jeanice, let’s close with this. How has the role of a superintendent ─ in your perspective ─ changed?

I think there are a lot of misnomers about who and what a superintendent is, what they do and their role in the community. And I think it’s changed for the better.

JKS: It has.

RB: How do you look at it now as a community member and not as a superintendent? How do you think about the role?

JKS: I think about the role with some C’s: One is collaboration - the idea that most of my work is to figure out what’s needed; connect ─ that’s another C ─ the resources and get out of the way so that really talented folks in my system and in my community get after this work and support children.

It is about community; that’s the other C-word that I would offer. We’re about connecting community to the excellent work of K-12 public schools and lifting that narrative.

This is the cornerstone of our democracy ─ free and quality public schools. It is a great cross world where all students meet regardless of their zip code, their socio-economic ethnicity, race, religion, position of parents ─ you name it.

They all connect inside the classrooms of the Ann Arbor Public Schools ─ classrooms where we see those opportunities to really lift all students.

RB: I would add E for energy. Your energy is infectious and they are lucky to have you, Jeanice. It’s such a pleasure.

JKS: Thank you, Rod. It’s great to meet you and to chat with you.

RB: Thank you.

This article was originally published on The Huffington Post by Dr. Rod Berger

Snip20170328_17About Dr. Jeanice Kerr Swift: Dr. Jeanice Kerr Swift is the superintendent of Ann Arbor Public Schools. She was appointed to the position in 2013. Before joining the district, she was the assistant superintendent of the Colorado Springs School District. She has worked in education for over 25 years in various roles such as teacher, coach, principal and district administrator.

Swift obtained a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Texas-Arlington. She went on to earn a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Colorado and a doctorate degree in educational leadership from the University of Denver.

Follow Jeanice Kerr Swift on Twitter

Dr. Rod Berger, a respected leader in education communications, is a global education media personality featured on edCircuit, in EdTech Review India, Scholastic's District Administrator and Forbes. As an industry personality, Dr. Berger has interviewed Ministers of Education, leading voices like Sir Ken Robinson, U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, AFT President Randi Weingarten and others.
 
Follow Dr. Rod Berger on Twitter

This article was originally published on The Huffington Post by Dr. Rod Berger

 

Children Self-Managed Reading that Promotes Literacy

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I sat down with Suren Markosian, CEO, and co-founder of Epic! the next generation children’s digital media company, to discuss the success of creating an app company that is furthering literacy in children. Markosian's background in game development witnessed how children’s interest can change almost instantaneously, and he wanted to bring that similar immediacy to the world of reading.

Epic! has become one of the most popular apps in kids and education categories because of its unique ability to provide quick, streamable literature that is controlled by kids. There is a read-to-me feature that provides an audio reading experience to enhance early learners, as well as, quizzes that help educators provide assessment and learning while remaining fun for students.

Kids use technology, and they like engaging in games. The efforts of companies like Epic! bring a melding of education with entertaining technology. It's comforting to see that there are people like Markosian who choose to dedicate their entrepreneurial creativity to developing technology that benefits learning.

Interview

SurenAbout Suren Markosian (Co-Founder, Epic!)

Suren is the CEO and co-founder of Epic!, the next generation children’s digital media company. He is a successful, serial entrepreneur and founder of several consumer technology companies with several successful exits, including CrowdStar, which rose to become one of the largest social gaming companies with over 200M users, second only to Zynga. Among other companies Suren also founded List.am – the largest e-commerce company and the largest online destination and business in Armenia.

Having created and successfully scaled large consumer businesses to serve hundreds of millions of customers, Suren is an expert in product design, gamification, technology, scalability, consumer growth, and marketing. Suren holds a degree in Physics from Vienna University of Technology and fluently speaks German, Russian and Armenian.

About Epic!

Founded in 2014 and based in Redwood City, CA, Epic! is a premium content and learning platform for kids 12 and under and 2016 recipient of the American Association of School Librarians’ Best App for Teaching and Learning and Best Website for Teaching and Learning. Epic! offers more than 20,000 e-books from leading publishers such as HarperCollins, Macmillan, Candlewick and National Geographic, and more than 1,500 educational videos from providers including Smithsonian Enterprises, Encyclopedia Britannica, the Columbus Zoo and many others.

Every piece of content on Epic’s platform is selected by a team of children’s content experts, and the company’s personal recommendation algorithms help kids discover new books and topics they will love. Epic! was founded by Suren Markosian, founder of several successful technology startups, and Kevin Donahue, former YouTube, Google and Disney executive, with the support of top-tier investors and veterans of the children’s publishing industry. To learn more about Epic!, visit http://www.getepic.com, or follow Epic! on Facebook and Twitter.

Dr. Rod Berger, a respected leader in education communications, is a global education media personality featured on edCircuit, in EdTech Review India, Scholastic's District Administrator and Forbes. As an industry personality, Dr. Berger has interviewed Ministers of Education, leading voices like Sir Ken Robinson, U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, AFT President Randi Weingarten and others.

Inviting the Community into the Classroom for Improved Achievement

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The following is an interview with Gail Pletnick Superintendent of Dysart Unified School District, a large district in Maricopa County in South Central Arizona. Gail is the President-Elect of The School Superintendents Association (AASA). The transcript portion was originally written for The Huffington Post. I've gone ahead and added the audio recording here on Scholastic. Enjoy.

Interview

Rod Berger: Well, Gail, I’m looking forward to this conversation. I get to speak to a lot of leaders in education, and your resume is very, very impressive and significant in this space - what you’re doing not only in your district and being a part of the League of Innovative Schools, but also with the AASA and now, the President-elect.
 
I can imagine that you have a lot on your plate. How do you balance all of that from a leadership perspective, especially now that people are looking to you for guidance, even the stewardship of education when we’re talking about bringing together superintendents that have a strong voice?
 
Gail Pletnick: I consider it a privilege to have this opportunity to network with leaders from across the United States. We’ve been engaged in this work for almost a decade here at Dysart. We’ve been on this journey of being a part of AASA and the League. We’ve had the opportunity to work with EdLeader21 and some other organizations, which provided a lot of support to the district and it also, in turn, gives me the opportunity to share what we’re doing and help others.
 
It’s about doing hard work every day. We get everything done for our students. We’ve been given opportunities to share our work and bring great minds together as we continue to move forward.
 
RB: Gail, I know a big part of what you’re doing in your district is integrating high school students with the local community. Talk with me a little bit about the real world challenges and the impetus behind programs that do that. I’m very fascinated in ways that we can provide real-world experiences for students. It goes to the larger benefit of what we’re trying to do as adults and connecting them to the world that they inhabit already.
 
GP: Absolutely. When we started down this path, it wasn’t about having a single program or initiative. It was about making certain that every student has the opportunities to prepare for the challenges and opportunities when they left our school. We’re very serious about saying students need to be career, college, and life ready as graduates.
 
That led us again to a number of different options and opportunities that we wanted to provide for our students, one of which is internships. It allows students to have real-life work experience and we’re very fortunate here. In our community, we have a number of retirement communities that are part of our city. These are experts that have a lifetime of expertise, and they provide resources for us so that our students can get their hands into the pathways they want to pursue.
 
It gives the students an opportunity to find out what that world of work is going to look like. It’s much more than the knowledge that we’re providing in the classroom. We understand that you have to have a strong core knowledge. But, what about work skills, people used to call them soft skills or perhaps 21st-century skills?
 
RB: Yes, they did.
 
GP: We’re living in the 21st century, and these students have to be prepared to utilize those skills, whether they go into a post-secondary opportunity or whether they’re going to walk right into a career. We go one step ahead and provide internships. We have learning experiences where students go out and visit the various workplaces. We also have our volunteers coming in and working side by side with our students. A perfect example would be our automotive program, a CTE program that we have. Retirees who restore cars and then race them come and work with students on our campuses. In the past, they’ve restored a car that then was raced. What a great opportunity.
 
RB: I bet that was well received by the students.
 
GP: Yes, it was. It was so exciting, and students got to track the progress they made. It was a wonderful way to bring those opportunities to our students.
 
RB: Gail, I’m glad you brought up the integration of the community. It’s a unique opportunity that you have there with those different communities of individuals that you’re talking about. One of the things in education that I find interesting is how we find alternative ways to balance the playing field with funding and how we do that by incorporating the local community and the region where our districts are.
How have you done that within your district and how can we be more progressive in looking at ways to be more thoughtful with our funding? We only have so much funding per student in our district, and often, that does not meet the minimum requirements.
 
GP: Absolutely. One of the great ways for us to be able to provide opportunities is to have volunteers. We have thousands of hours of volunteer work in our school district. Whether it’s partnering with people to provide real life experiences, whether it is having the support of our community to come in and do some fundraising in our schools with our students. That fundraising means we can invest in the technology that we need. It may be in the form of when we go out for an initiative in our district such as an override, making certain our community understands what we contribute to its growth and the importance of having a collaborative relationship.
 
There are a number of ways that we reach out to our community; many volunteer in our district and provide the additional support that we need.
 
RB: Yes, they did.
 
GP: We’re living in the 21st century, and these students have to be prepared to utilize those skills, whether they go into a post-secondary opportunity or whether they’re going to walk right into a career. We go one step ahead and provide internships. We have learning experiences where students go out and visit the various workplaces. We also have our volunteers coming in and working side by side with our students. A perfect example would be our automotive program, a CTE program that we have. Retirees who restore cars and then race them come and work with students on our campuses. In the past, they’ve restored a car that then was raced. What a great opportunity.
 
RB: I bet that was well received by the students.
 
GP: Yes, it was. It was so exciting, and students got to track the progress they made. It was a wonderful way to bring those opportunities to our students.
 
RB: Gail, I’m glad you brought up the integration of the community. It’s a unique opportunity that you have there with those different communities of individuals that you’re talking about. One of the things in education that I find interesting is how we find alternative ways to balance the playing field with funding and how we do that by incorporating the local community and the region where our districts are.
How have you done that within your district and how can we be more progressive in looking at ways to be more thoughtful with our funding? We only have so much funding per student in our district, and often, that does not meet the minimum requirements.
 
GP: Absolutely. One of the great ways for us to be able to provide opportunities is to have volunteers. We have thousands of hours of volunteer work in our school district. Whether it’s partnering with people to provide real life experiences, whether it is having the support of our community to come in and do some fundraising in our schools with our students. That fundraising means we can invest in the technology that we need. It may be in the form of when we go out for an initiative in our district such as an override, making certain our community understands what we contribute to its growth and the importance of having a collaborative relationship.
 
There are a number of ways that we reach out to our community; many volunteer in our district and provide the additional support that we need.
 
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RB: Speaking of a community, a lot of superintendents are talking about new ways to communicate with the community - specifically parents - in ways that we can build a better relationship that schools and parents used to have.
 
How are you looking at that, especially being in a position of leadership as a lighthouse district, to lead change in this crucial area?
 
GP: Well, one of the things that we do is reach out and find out from our community how they want to be communicated with. There isn’t a one-size fit all for communicating with parents and constituent groups.
We’re trying to personalize learning for our students, so we really have to personalize our communication with our constituent groups. We utilize some of the traditional ways. We’ll communicate through traditional media, whether that’s the newspaper or announcements that we make. But, we’re also active on social platforms like Instagram.
 
The other thing that we have is the Dysart video library. What we’ve done is produce clips - sometimes as short as one minute - which provides a look at what’s happening in our classrooms, with our programs, and with our students. It’s a perfect way for our students’ voices to be heard and for the community to understand our impact because we’re supporting the success of each and every one of those students.
 
The other thing that we do is invite our community into our schools. We’ve done some bus tours where they actually come into the classrooms, watch what’s happening with our programs and get to eat lunch with the students. Who wouldn’t want an opportunity to have a cafeteria lunch! Those are ways, too, that we engage our community with what’s happening in our schools.
 
It’s amazing because often, we’ll hear from people that take those opportunities. They say it’s so different from what they experienced when they were in school. They’re just amazed by the kind of skills our students have and the things that they’re accomplishing. It’s a great way to build that understanding and reach out to the community.
 
RB: Gail, let’s change gears a little bit and talk about superintendents - the position of a superintendent and how that has evolved over time. How do you think that today’s superintendent is challenged in ways that maybe they weren’t in the past? How does that impact those that we should be looking towards for future positions as superintendents?
 
GP: I have been in this business for about 40 years. I have seen a great deal of change, especially in the past decade or so. I think it’s representative of what’s happening in our world right now.
 
One of the challenges is about communication. There are so many avenues that we have and making certain that you have transparency. That you are able to provide accurate information, and when something is happening people have the expectation that they’re going to know immediately.
 
That can be a true challenge because we always want to make sure when we’re communicating something out, we have all of the facts, and we’re not putting something out that could really generate rumors or concerns. That’s a challenge that we’ve been working on and working with our community to try to build that understanding of what they can expect from us and when they can expect it.
 
Also, the resources. It used to be that you could buy a textbook and it was in place for 5 to 10 years.
 
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RB: Mark it off the list, right?
 
GP: Yes. The resources were there, and the worst that would happen is someone’s dog would chew up the cover and then you’d have to replace it. But other than that they were reliable for an extended period. Of course, that’s not the case now.
 
RB: Right.
 
GP: Now, we have to be able to provide students with experiences that are real and relevant. That means having tools that are being utilized in the real world of work or post-secondary opportunity. That’s another challenge, just making certain that we have the resources we need.
 
I wish we all had a crystal ball so that we would know what the world was going to look like in that next decade, but we don’t.
 
RB: It’s not on your desk there, Gail?
 
GP: I’ve been trying to buy one! I thought Amazon had everything but apparently not the crystal ball, that isn’t there!
What we have to do is be certain that we’re constantly looking at changes that are there and that the skills and the knowledge that students need to be successful are things that we are adopting. I talk about this all the time; we aren’t trying to revolutionize education. It’s not that we’re trying to throw out a system that’s broken - it’s not broken. It needs to transform because our world is transforming. We need to constantly be looking at data, looking at trends and making the adjustments that we need to make. It seems that we’re on a much faster pace than we’ve ever been before.
 
RB: Let’s close with this, Gail. Whether you’re talking to pre-service educators or those that are contemplating going into the education field, what is something that when you walk into a classroom or you get off the phone with a parent that you smile to yourself and say, “This is why this is so exciting!” Aside from the negative – this is just rhetoric that we hear in popular media that there are amazing people, there’s amazing progress being made. What is something that you would point to as a reflection of a potential talent that might be filling in these positions like we were talking about earlier?
 
GP: I think every time I walk into the classroom, whether it’s one of our preschool classes or whether it’s one of our 12th-grade courses, I know that we’re making a difference in the lives of children. That’s why we want to do what we’re doing. We need to make these changes because we’re providing students with opportunities that will be there for a lifetime. I do this because I’m passionate. I’m one of those examples of what happens when you have caring individuals working as hard as they can everyday so that you can learn and grow as an individual.
 
RB: It’s been a great pleasure to get to know you, Gail. I wish you continued success, and I applaud your ongoing efforts to impact students all the way through the leadership ranks. It was a great pleasure. Thanks, Gail.
 
GP: Thank you so much.
 
RB: You’re welcome. Once again, I’m Dr. Rod Berger.
 
Snip20170208_165Gail Pletnick is President of The School Superintendents Association (AASA), as well as, superintendent of Dysart Unified School District 89 in Surprise, Arizona. Gail was awarded the 2016 Arizona Superintendent of the Year and is a member of AASA’s digital and personal learning consortia. Pletnick is focused on reshaping the national public education agenda and empowering district leaders through advocacy, networking, and PD. Pletnick has been a member of AASA’s governing structure since 2008 and has served on the organization’s executive committee since 2013. She has also been a member of the Arizona School Administrators Association since 2002. Follow Dr. Gail Pletnick on Twitter
 
Dr. Rod Berger, a respected leader in education communications, is a global education media personality featured on edCircuit, in EdTech Review India, Scholastic's District Administrator and Forbes. As an industry personality, Dr. Berger has interviewed Ministers of Education, leading voices like Sir Ken Robinson, U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, AFT President Randi Weingarten and others.
Follow Dr. Rod Berger on Twitter
 

Mirrors of Society: Technology in Schools

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“Technology in itself is not the solution. Technology helps us mirror what is happening in society.” - Dr. Rosa S. Atkins

I sat down with Dr. Rosa Atkins, a finalist of the American Association of School (AASA) Women in School Leadership Award, to learn about her role as Superintendent of Charlottesville City Schools, a division of more than 4,000 economically, ethnically, and racially diverse students.  Dr. Atkins emphasizes the importance of community, and how each member of a school district plays an equally important role in developing the educational and economic future of students.

Dr. Atkins takes pride in personally meeting with teachers in her district to not only mentor but help give educators confidence to take on leadership independently. It's the opinion of Atkins' that a superintendent's legacy is built on the strength and independent moxie of the teachers in the district. A core group of great teachers is the finest way to improve young people's lives.

The League of Innovative Schools has honored Charlotte City Schools with their distinction. Dr. Atkins is excited to be part of a network of like-minded progressive schools that share curriculum ideas and innovations to prepare students for a technological workforce that is advancing in skillsets. Atkins is proud of the League's recent promotion of E-rate programs that help schools throughout the country gain access to the highest level bandwidth allowing for the best use of technology. According to Dr. Atkins, what is the use of acquiring advanced technological hardware without sufficient infrastructure?

About Dr. Rosa S. Atkins

Snip20170207_162Dr. Rosa Atkins is Superintendent of Charlottesville City Schools, a division of more than 4,000 economically, ethnically, and racially diverse students in nine schools. During Dr. Atkins’ tenure, Charlottesville City Schools has become one of the top performing school divisions in the state with a graduation completion index of 89% and one of the best Advanced Placement programs in the area. In 2011, she was named Superintendent of the Year by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, as well as Virginia State University Alumnus of the Year for Professional Education.

In 2015-16, she served as President of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents. Under her leadership, Charlottesville schools have been marked by innovation and collaboration. The creation of advanced manufacturing and engineering labs at Buford Middle School and Charlottesville High School – as well as new curricula and engineering pathways – have been made possible by a partnership with area businesses, school divisions, and the University of Virginia. Because of this commitment to innovation, Dr. Atkins was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as one of 100 Future Ready Superintendents in 2014 and was invited to the American Association of School Administrators’ Digital Consortium at the White House.

Follow Charlottesville City Schools on Twitter

About Dr. Rod Berger

Dr. Rod Berger is a global education media personality and strategic influencer featured in The Huffington Post, Scholastic, AmericanEdTV, edCircuit and now Forbes.
 
Audiences have enjoyed education interviews with the likes of Sir Ken Robinson, Arne Duncan, Randi Weingarten, Sal Khan along with leading edtech investors, award-winning educators, and state and federal education leaders. Berger’s latest project boasts a collaboration with AmericanEdTV and CBS’s Jack Ford.
 

A Superintendent's Promotion of Public Speaking in Schools

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Teaching Students To Stand Up To The Mic 

I sat down with progressive-minded, Dr. David Miyashiro, Superintendent of Cajon Valley Union School District and ACSA 2016 Superintendent of the Year to discuss new advances for his district and discover more about his path to becoming a superintendent. Miyashiro mentions frustration above all else, as the motivating factor behind every career rung up the educational ladder. Action rather than excuses and a belief that things can be done better has inspired Miyashiro to think outside the box, reaching out to an international community of best practice educators, as well as, top CEOs of Business. Technology has allowed for far greater influence, and Miyashiro is a believer.

A few years ago, Miyashiro attended a tour of the Google campus and was forever changed. Google obsesses over the livelihood of people who work for them; they want their workers to have easy access to everyday needs, and they have developed their campus around that model. Miyashiro asked the question, "Why not do the same for schools?" Why not put the same efforts toward teachers and make schools the very best place to work?

As Miyashiro set out to change his district's approach, he found himself drawn to Ted Talks and the motto "The best ideas in the community to improve the human condition."  After watching a Ted Talk by the highly esteemed Sir Ken Robinson, Miyashiro was hooked and became so inspired that he made it his goal for the kids in his district to learn the value of public speaking to a global audience, not to fear the "stage" and learn about presentation. The results have been astounding with one of his 1st graders already being flown to Ted Talk headquarters in NY to help polish his talk, "Math is Everywhere." Miyashiro is undoubtedly an inspirational superintendent preparing kids for success in the future.

Full-Length Video of this Interview with Thought Leader -  Dr. David Miyashiro

Additional Video:

About Dr. David Miyashiro

Dr. David Miyashiro currently serves as Superintendent of The Cajon Valley Union School District. David was named 2016 Superintendent of the Year by ACSA (Association of California School Administrators), Region 18. Cajon Valley has undergone a seamless transition to the digital age. Through inclusive planning, design, and an iterative approach, Cajon Valley has achieved system-wide success with blended and personalized learning for all students.  Cajon Valley has been dubbed "One to Watch" by The Classroom of the Future Foundation and has earned both local and national recognition for its leadership in transforming public education.  In 2015, The Cajon Valley Union School District was inducted by Digital Promise into The League of Innovative Schools, a bipartisan nonprofit, authorized by Congress in 2008 as the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies through Section 802 of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush.  This distinction ranks Cajon Valley in the top 73 US school districts for innovation and digital learning.  David believes the role and impact of public educators go far beyond the classroom walls. "In order to keep pace with the rapidly changing world, our systems of public education both in California and the United States must be in a constant state of evolution.”
 
In the spirit of TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) and “Ideas Worth Spreading”, the Cajon Valley Union School District launched the first district-wide TEDx and TED Ed Club in the United States.  David was invited by the TED organization to the first cohort of TIES (TED Innovate Educators)  This partnership has allowed all students in Cajon Valley access to a robust and personalized curriculum designed by the TED ED team that empowers kids to learn how to give TED-like talks. Cajon Valley brings the entire community together at its’ annual TEDxKids@ElCajon to celebrate children and “Ideas Worth Spreading” that may in some way, shape, or form...improve the human condition.  One of the most prolific ideas Cajon Valley has brought to fruition is the district-wide partnerships with Code.Org and Code To The Future to bring Computer Science to all students in the Cajon Valley Union School District.  All student in Cajon Valley Schools engage with Code.Org and computer programming beginning in Kindergarten.  Cajon Valley has also launched the first K-5 Computer Science Magnet Schools in the US.
 
David formerly served as the Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services for the Encinitas Union School District. In this role he designed and implemented a one to one digital learning initiative as well as a comprehensive yoga-based health and wellness program. David served as a Principal in the Fullerton and East Whittier School Districts. There he led two Title I schools with challenging demographics successfully out of program improvement status with a combined API growth of over 240 points. David completed his doctoral studies at UCLA, Masters of Education at Grand Canyon University, and Bachelor’s Degree at Long Beach State University.
 
Follow David Miyashiro on Twitter

About Dr. Rod Berger

Dr. Rod Berger is a global education media personality and strategic influencer featured in The Huffington Post, Scholastic, AmericanEdTV, edCircuit and now Forbes.
 
Audiences have enjoyed education interviews with the likes of Sir Ken Robinson, Arne Duncan, Randi Weingarten, Sal Khan along with leading edtech investors, award-winning educators, and state and federal education leaders. Berger’s latest project boasts a collaboration with AmericanEdTV and CBS’s Jack Ford.
 

Examining The Expanding Scope Of Literacy

I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Jacy Ippolito, EdD, author of the recent Learning Sciences International (LSI) book, Cultivating Coaching Mindsets: An Action Guide for Literacy Leaders. Ippolito explains how demands on readers are greater today than ever before with a plethora of online information at students' fingertips.

Snip20170112_45Learning has turned away from memorization and now demands a heightened awareness of discernability and creativity when searching for authentic information. Literacy education has expanded into many disciplines asking children to dig deeper and search beyond the obvious. It's difficult to teach literacy today without simultaneously concentrating on digital learning and digital citizenship.

Ippolito continues the discussion by examining professional learning and literacy coaching. According to Ippolito, literacy coaching is not strictly bound to the coaching profession, but rather affects all educators. To best prepare students for 21st-century skill-sets, all teachers, coaches, and literacy coordinators need 4 Basic Mindsets:

  1. Work like a leader
  2. Work like a facilitator
  3. Think like a designer
  4. Act like an advocate

By adopting the above mindset principles, Ippolito believes all educators can attack literacy learning head-on while better preparing themselves to answer the tough questions surrounding equity and social justice.

About Jacy Ippolito, EdD

Snip20170112_46Jacy Ippolito, EdD is an associate professor in the School of Education at Salem State University, Salem, Massachusetts. His research and teaching focus on the intersection of ado­lescent and disciplinary literacy, literacy coaching, teacher lead­ership, and school reform. Dr. Ippolito is specifically interested in the roles that teacher leaders, principals, and literacy coaches play in helping institute and maintain instructional change at middle and high school levels. He continues to conduct research on adolescent and disci­plinary literacy, literacy coaching, teacher leadership, and school reform while also consulting in K–12 schools. Results of his research and consulting work can be found in a number of books and journals, including The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, The Journal of Staff Development, and The Elementary School Journal. Recent books include Cultivating Coaching Mindsets: An Action Guide for Literacy Leaders (2016), Adolescent Literacy in the Era of the Common Core (2013) and Adolescent Literacy (2012).

Dr. Ippolito completed his undergraduate degrees in English and psychology in the University of Delaware’s Honors Program, before completing his master’s and doctorate in language and literacy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Prior to his work in higher education, he taught in the Cambridge Public Schools, Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a middle school read­ing specialist, literacy coach, and drama teacher. Thus began his professional interest in the roles, responsibilities, and impact of literacy leaders and coaches.

Follow Dr. Jacy Ippolito on Twitter

Dr. Rod Berger, a respected leader in education communications, is a global education media personality featured on edCircuit, in EdTech Review India, Scholastic's District Administrator, and Forbes. As an industry personality, Dr. Berger has interviewed Ministers of Education, leading voices like Sir Ken Robinson, U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, AFT President Randi Weingarten, and others.

Follow Dr. Rod Berger on Twitter 

Rhode Island: A Lighthouse State For Technology In Schools

I recently had the pleasure to chat before the holidays with Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo about her initiatives to improve career advancement for students graduating from schools within her state. Raimondo believes strongly in preparing students for 21st-century skill sets that not only lean heavily on technological knowledge but also modern day communication advances and collaboration.

As a governor, Raimondo sees it as her duty to place an urgency on the educational needs of students within her state; preparing them for successful careers after graduation. Rather than waiting for students to graduate into the unknown of the employment world, Raimondo has asked businesses within her state to inform students exactly what they are looking for regarding skill sets, knowledge, and experience.

Through the help of the governor and her team, Rhode Island students have the chance to become some of the best-prepared members of the workforce.


Snip20170110_37Gina Raimondo
has served as governor of the state of Rhode Island since 2014. Before being elected governor, Raimondo became General Treasurer of the State of Rhode Island in 2010 after receiving the largest number of votes of any statewide candidate.

Raimondo co-founded Point Judith Capital and was involved in dozens of successful start-up companies, including Providence-based NABsys, a health science research company, and Narragansett Beer. She clerked for US District Judge Kimba Wood and served as founding employee and senior vice president at Village Ventures.

Raimondo graduated with honors from Harvard University, was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, earning her a doctorate, and is a graduate of Yale Law School.

Follow Governor Gina Raimondo on Twitter

Dr. Rod Berger, an industry leader in communications strategies for education companies, is a global education media personality featured on edCircuit, in EdTech Review India, Scholastic's District Administrator, and Forbes. As an industry personality, Dr. Berger has interviewed Ministers of Education, leading voices like Sir Ken Robinson, U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, AFT President Randi Weingarten, and others.

Follow Dr. Rod Berger on Twitter 

A Winning Combination: Technology and The Flexible Classroom

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I sat down with Alicia Moss, 5th-grade instructor at Meadowlark Elementary in Andover, KS to discuss her role as a teacher and technology advocate. According to Moss, students are so technologically advanced at home, it benefits teachers to adopt that same level of technology for their classrooms. By combining technology based instruction with flexible classroom settings, students and teachers can find the perfect balance for long-lasting learning. 

Podcast

CoffeED Alicia Moss

Interview

Rod Berger: 5th grade is such a pivotal time. I think back to when I was a 5th grader and understanding what it must mean for young people at this stage of their education and how they relate socially. What’s it like for you to teach 5th grade when you think about all the things that 5th graders now are exposed to – with technology and the different ways to connect with the world. I know I didn’t have the opportunity to utilize the technology when I was in 5th grade. What is it like for you being their teacher and seeing that world?

Alicia Moss: Honestly, there was a huge shift in mindset for me last year. My kids were very cutting-edge, and they knew so much technology that there was no way that I was going to be able to do the things I did the year before because they would have been bored and it would not have worked for them. That's when I had to push myself and think outside my box to make them think outside their box. They were like no class I'd ever had. The amount of technology that they had in their homes was crazy. They had stuff that I said, "Oh, cool. Let's get this to our class." They replied, "Oh, yeah. We have that." And then I said, "Oh, no!"
 
RB: You were late to the party, right?
 
AM: I was. I am not like that. I do not want to be late. I'm very competitive; I want to be first to everything. We can have so much fun because they're independent and have very young minds. They want to take in everything. And that's the reason why I will never go to middle schools because I feel it stops at 5th grade. They want to know everything and they get excited when I brought something to the table last year. I was excited because I knew they were excited.
If you could see my classroom, it has changed this year because I feel every year I have to change. I need to keep getting better, and the new thing is flexible seating, and I noticed that is a big deal. I had so many kids that wanted to stand, and not sit. That doesn't bother me but it bothered me when they were in the middle of my classroom, and they were blocking somebody else. This year, I made that not an issue. We have all kinds of seating options here, and when they came for “Meet Your Teacher Night” (last night,) they were blown away. They were so excited because they've got to pick anywhere, maybe on a couch. Maybe they wanted to sit on the big oversized chair. Maybe they wanted to sit on the ground. I love 5th grade because they are pushing me to push them and there's never a dull moment. I like change, and we like to flip and move things around, and we change all the time. So they keep me young, that's why. That's why I like to be with them.
 
RB: Do you find that when you're looking at the technology because they're bringing it to you? There's going to be technology that you are exposed to that they are not just because they're not looking for educational resources in that way. Do you find that you know them so well now that your eye is so much more critical in what you're looking for in the ways in which you are evaluating technology because you know what they are going to utilize? How has that changed over time based on what you've seen from the technology they've been bringing to you? It seems like you have to translate a little bit because of what they're using at home or with their friends.
 

AM: Yes.
 
RB: Here's what I need them to do. Or something similar –
 
AM: Yes.
 
RB: – And here's sort of a happy middle. How does that process work for you?
 
AM: Well, I was able to get their feedback, and specifically, I was looking at Sphero's and a lot of them had them at home. And I said, "So what do you do with it? Tell me about it? What is it?" So I got their feedback, and then I did my stalking on Twitter. I had to look at what people were doing on Twitter to see how they are making it educational. How are they taking this robot that the kids are using for fun, and they are driving it all over their house? What are they doing? How does that apply to 5th grade? I had to look at – is it worth it? Is it one? Are we going to use it for one activity the entire year or are we able to take it and move cross-curricular to be able to do it? And as my cool background, you can see –
 
RB: I love that.
 
AM: Right there. Yes. My kids use Sphero in art to create that mural, and at the end of the year, they wanted to take it with them. I was like, "Oh, but no, I can't. I love it. Come on. No. Maybe a different time." And they were like, "Come on." I have to constantly get their opinion because they are the ones that are interested and then, obviously, they have it at home. What can I do in the classroom now to make it educational with the device they already know?
 
 RB: How have you found technology to change your outlook on the way in which you teach because, now, it sounds like you've actively embraced it over the last two years. You've said, "Okay, this is the new path I'm going down." How do you look at it from your profession and the ways in which you look at things you want to learn more about from a professional learning, professional development standpoint? Forecasting out into the world where you're fully integrated. They're using the Sphero, maybe they're presenting and using other technology, and maybe they're combining group work and sharing that virtually through different means and mediums. How do you forecast out and how do you think about it regarding your role?
 
AM: I feel like, even when I was a kid, I was more of the vocal one. I like to talk. And therefore, I got put into the leadership role. When I first started in this building, I wasn't that way because I was getting my footing, getting my groove to figure out what I was doing. Now that I have found this new path that I am very passionate about, I share it all down my hall, down my building, down the district, down the street, and with my friends in other districts, all over Twitter – because I can. I think there is excitement from me that’s transferred to my colleagues, to people in my building, they see it and then they want to do it - a case in point being the flexible seating.
Over the summer, it was being documented that my husband was making tables for me and this was what I was going to do. We came back, and the 4th and 5th grades in my building, all of them, are doing flexible seating this year. They didn't want it to be only my room that had flexible seating, so they had to jump on board with the idea. When you present the research, and you present the opportunities that are out there, it's kind of hard to argue. It's hard to say, "Oh, that's not a good idea," even though they're going to get a lot of movement and they're going to stay awake longer. It's hard to argue with what's best for kids.
 
RB: I hope it's obvious to the audience the energy that you bring even just to this interview. I can only imagine what it's like for the 5th graders to experience. There are terms like, "trailblazer" and "change agents," those are important terms out there when we're talking about an industry that sometimes just needs a little bit of a nudge and a push to provide thoughtful resources and ideas. There's so much going on at all different points in the school year and even during the summer trying to prep for the next year. Your husband making tables is a good example.
 
Well, it's been great to get to know you, and I look forward to following you. You just talked about social media. Where can people follow you and your energy in social media?
 
AM: I am @moss5thgrade. I also have a class Facebook page that we are always on, and it's Moss's Minutes. And those are my two things.
 
RB: Wonderful. Well, keep up the great work, and I do love that artwork behind you. That's great, and it's a terrific example for the next incoming class.
 
AM: Yes.
 
RB: Thank you so much.
 
AM: Thank you so much.
 
Snip20170109_29Alicia Moss teaches 5th grade at Meadowlark Elementary in Andover, KS. Currently in her 7th year of teaching, Alicia’s passion for technology leads her to include EdTech in her daily lessons and cultivating her students’ 21st century skills. This 5th grade educator and her class love using new technologies such as Buncee for a variety of creative activities and for creating engaging presentations on any subject.
Follow Alicia Moss on Twitter
 
Dr. Rod Berger, an industry leader in operations strategies for education companies, is a global education media personality featured on edCircuit, in EdTech Review India, Scholastic's District Administrator, and Forbes. As an industry personality Dr. Berger has interviewed Ministers of Education, leading voices like Sir Ken Robinson, U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, AFT President Randi Weingarten, and others.
Follow Dr. Rod Berger on Twitter
 
 

The Impact Of Dyslexia Education On Teaching Practices

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I had the pleasure to sit down with Ben Shifrin, Head Principal at the Jemicy School, Baltimore, MD to discuss his personal journey and mission to help those with dyslexia. Shifrin shares his emotional story of being a kid in the 60's (before Dyslexia education was instituted,) and the saving influence of one inspirational counselor. Sometimes, it takes only one person to instill a sense of belief in ourselves to propel personal and intellectual growth.

Shifrin adds details of his present work at the Jemicy School where he provides an environment that ensures no student will ever have to experience the hardships he endured as a youth. I have interviewed many people in the education field, but few have exuded the enthusiasm, personal accountability, and passionate vision demonstrated by Shifrin.

I hope you take the time to listen to the audio below because I feel Shifrin speaks to the frailties in all of us and the courage to overcome.

Ben Shifrin Interview


Snip20161215_15Mr. Ben Shifrin, M.Ed. has been Vice President of The International Dyslexia Association since November 25, 2013. Mr. Shifrin serves as Treasurer and Director of
The International Dyslexia Association. Mr. Shifrin serves as the Head of Jemicy School, an independent day school in Baltimore County, Maryland, for college-bound students who need extensive remediation in reading, written expression, spelling, and organization. Mr. Shifrin has dedicated his career to helping students with language-based learning differences. Prior to coming to Jemicy in 2002, he was a special education administrator for the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Head of Westmark School in Encino, California.

Dr. Rod Berger, an industry leader in operations strategies for education companies, is a global education media personality featured on edCircuit, in EdTech Review India, Scholastic's District Administrator, and Forbes. As an industry personality Dr. Berger has interviewed Ministers of Education, leading voices like Sir Ken Robinson, U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, AFT President Randi Weingarten, and others.

Teaching Digital Citizenship in a Technological World

Mike Ribble, Educational Technology Presenter, and Director of Technology recently discussed digital citizenship in our schools. As the author of Digital Citizenship in Schools, Nine Elements All Student Should Know, Ribble is enjoying the release of his 3rd edition, a culmination of efforts from his first two publications with real life examples from inside the field.

Ribble nicely explains how the digital life of the student is becoming so commonplace that curriculum and culture appear to be melding together. According to Ribble, soon the phrase "digital citizenship" may refer to "citizenship" as the former expression becomes more and more redundant.

Rod Berger: Well, I'm looking forward to this conversation, Mike. Digital citizenship is a hot topic, but it's also a very important topic as we're looking at transitioning students, teachers, educators and the community of education forward through learning opportunities in the world we live. As someone who has passion about digital citizenship, tell me where you stand regarding where we need to go moving forward? I think people understand; they recognize it in the pantheon of verbiage in education. But now I believe it means something different to people. Where do you see it?

Mike Ribble: As you mentioned, it was one of those things, 12 or 14 years ago when I got started in this area. It was a real sideline piece. It was tangential to education and what was going on. But now, because it is such on the forefront of how we live in a daily life, I tend to step back into my educator shoes where I started my career. I look at it from the respect of, "Are we preparing students to move on to that next level and how are we doing that?"

Digital technology is a part of how we live our lives. I'm not saying it's the core of it, but it is a major aspect of it. When you look at children in preschool using devices, how do we begin to prepare parents, so they understand the process that goes from the children's hands before school, to in school; how that relationship works together?

I think there's been a pendulum effect of trying to push a lot of technology because "we got to have technology," and now I believe we're coming back towards the center. That's where I feel digital citizenship resides. It's the balance between using the devices and how it's used in society and also, how it all ties together.

I know there are many proponents out there and I don't disagree with them that, but, at some point, we want to drop the word digital, and it should just be part of citizenship; how we live our lives, how we interact with other people. In the last two to three years it's become very exciting. I hear from a lot more doctoral candidates that are doing digital citizenship as their dissertation. It's moving this topic forward. How are we going to be as people using technology?

RB: Mike, let's talk about the responsibility if we can even say that, of the technologies out there. When I think about digital citizenship, I think about it from the lens of a parent. Or working in education, I think about the student's side and the way in which teachers are experiencing, teaching and talking about it. Then I want to think about the technology companies and what role they play and what responsibility do they have in this conversation about digital citizenship when it comes to what they are developing? I'm not trying to be Pollyanna because I know that when they're sitting in their sprints, and they're talking with their developers and technical teams, they're probably not having conversations about digital citizenship and that's okay to some degree. But if we're expanding that, and it's a group of CEOs, and they're talking about how to build their products, what do you think they should be saying or how should they include digital citizenship in a way in which they develop technology and think about the user experience?

MR: I think they should be part of that conversation. I think education needs to be at the table with those CEOs and discussing where they want to move this. The interesting thing is, a lot of the technologies that have come out, weren't meant for education and they've been almost shoehorned into education.

Now things have changed over time, the Apple products, the Microsoft’s, they've begun to meld and work those pieces together. But if you take something like the iPad, which is so ubiquitous in education; it's a product that wasn't originally created for the education market. It was a consumer device for individual users, and it slid into the education market. I think it surprised even the folks in Cupertino that all of a sudden it became this device with all the apps, etc. I'm not saying they were upset with the results (ha,) but I think they were caught a little off-guard.

I think some of these CEOs build it for one thing and we tend to shift it in education to something a little bit different, it's not terribly different, but it becomes something else. Our requirements in education are different. I think that we need to have that conversation and it would be great to have longer, more in-depth, interaction with CEOs, large companies and say, "Here are the things that we see in the field." I'm sure Apple or even Microsoft to some extent, have some of those people, but when you're such a large company, it's kind of like turning the Titanic, it's a very slow movement as you go along.

RB: Yes. I agree with you. It can be a delicate conversation with lots of different groups in the way in which they think it applies to what they're trying to do and the problems they're trying to solve. Some groups try to shoehorn their technology, but sadly, they see an opportunity. Hopefully, Education has done a good job of bringing them back to center to say, "Wait a minute, we still are the customers here, and here's what we need."

If we're looking at the technology, Mike, I'm seeing a trend with technology that combines kids, curriculum, creativity, self-publishing and understanding. That's the world these children and students are living in, and regardless of their skill set or their interests, that's one thing that is a commonality. So, how can I share and communicate my ideas in an integrated fashion that incorporates different technologies, different people, and different mediums?

Do you see the same thing and what do you think the long-term impact is on the way we experience curriculum?

MR: I agree, wholeheartedly. We see products like Buncee out there, starting to meet those needs to help educators in the classrooms to expand that idea of technology.

When we started off, we took the lessons that we had, and we tried to shift them into a technology realm. Phase one was an electrifying of the old lesson plans. Now, teachers are seeing that there are many other tools out there that can move well past what they have been doing in the classroom. My wife who's an educator as well teaches a third-grade class, and she uses here iPad in her classroom, to shoot videos of her students while they do the book "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs." They do a weather forecast tied to that book that she videotapes.

It's a huge divergence from where they were, and it gives them a different way to expand their ideas and understanding of that text. It's not a long lesson; it doesn't go on for weeks and weeks but it's something that takes technology, it takes the interest of the students, and then it couples those together. It takes us past, "Here you go, now sit down, and write an essay about what 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' meant to you and tell us the main message." Now, they can take that and show it to the teacher in a different realm that they couldn't before.

I think we're going to see, a large explosion of that movement in education. I think we're ready as educators, to move away from this very static lecture response mentality, and move on to, "Hey, these kids can begin to build on these ideas." They were doing that before technology, but with the flip classroom idea, I can share the lecture piece. They can do it on their time as homework, and when they come into the class, now, we're not just talking about base stuff. Now, we're taking it to the next level, and we can begin to move past "Oh, here are dates, names and things like that. Now we have, "What does that mean? How do we start making that connection?"

Snip20161117_130RB: How do we plug-in our interpretation as teachers and students, and collaborative groups of students? Mike, I know you had your book through ISTE, Digital Citizenship In Schools, Nine Elements All Students Should Know. It's now in its third edition. I would imagine when you write a book, you obviously hope that you'll have multiple editions, right? It continuous to live, and breath, as a valuable piece of literature. What does it tell you now that you're in your third edition when it comes to who's buying it, and how they're applying it? How do you look at that?

MR: It's just been exciting to hear from folks, both in the United States and internationally. We've had a large contingent of people. It's so wonderful for me to go to things like the ISTE Conference. Here's a little example; I was sitting at the conference last year in Philadelphia, and I was near the bookstore, I had my badge on, and I was sitting there, and I was catching up on some emails or whatever. And this person, sitting next to me says, "I know who you are." I said, "Okay. Well, that's nice." (laugh) She mentioned how she just moved to the International School in Singapore, but she had been teaching in the Australian outback, and she had used my book with her Aborigine students to teach digital citizenship. When you see and hear those kinds of examples, how far your ideas have expanded; it's a little humbling when you think about it. This third edition to me was a real labor of love as far as the versions.

At first, I was getting it out there to get it going, the second edition was cleaning up, and making some adjustments, but by the third one, we used real life examples from in the field of how the nine elements, ideas, were being implemented.

I had an example from higher education, teaching pre-service teachers.

I had one from a K-12 district in Canada that used it over a five-year period and implemented digital citizenship in their district. The third was from some folks at the University of Kentucky and the State Department in Kentucky. They built upon it to create what they identified as iDrive Digital or the Digital Driver's License. It uses the nine elements, and it's a free product that anybody can use. It's still out there, and in its second edition; it's version 2.0, and just a great, great product.

RB: You know, you sound like a proud parent. (laugh)

MR: I am, very much. (laugh)

RB: I think it's great. It's needed from many different perspectives. It's nice to see that it hasn't been treated as a one-off. It's a way of incorporating principles throughout a school experience for a child, and also educators; then hopefully, like you said, it transfers over to daily life, at home and in our communities.

Well, Mike, it's been a great pleasure. The author of Digital Citizenship in Schools, Nine Elements All Student Should Know. And look, if you've been recognized at ISTE, that just means, "Say no more, right?" You're a star in the field, Mike. (laugh)

MR: (laugh) That's where I'm at. Thank you, Rod, I appreciate the time.

RB: Continued success.


Snip20161117_131Mike Ribble, Ed.D. has served as a classroom biology teacher, a secondary school administrator, a network manager for a community college, and a university instructor. He received a doctorate in educational leadership from Kansas State University. Currently, Ribble is the Director of Technology for the Manhattan-Ogden School District. Ribble has created and implemented a plan for identifying needs and providing equity of technology distribution in the USD 383 schools. He has led and participated in several projects that have provided additional technology and access to faculty and students while managing a budget of over $1.6M.

Dr. Rod Berger is a global education media personality featured on edCircuit, in EdTech Review India, Scholastic's District Administrator and on RFD TV's Rural Education Special. A respected leader in marketing and communications strategies for EdTech companies, Dr. Berger has interviewed Ministers of Education, leading voices like Sir Ken Robinson, U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, AFT President Randi Weingarten and others.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Down the Hall are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.