Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Leadership, Vision, and Student Achievement (Panel) #ok1to1

These are my notes from our third session (Leadership, Vision, and Student Achievement) at the AALF / Oklahoma SDE 1:1 Learning Conference, November 30, 2009. This event is organized by the Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation, and sponsored by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS.

See Dawn Danker‘s guest blog post here, “1:1 Teaching & Learning Session, OK SDE Leadership Conference,” from 17 July 2009 for more on these ideas and from members of today’s panel.

Brainstormed Challenges from the audience (sharing facilitated by Bruce Dixon)
– sustainability
– professional development
– bandwidth
– damage
– theft
– keeping laptops charged throughout the day
– filtering on the network
– locations without Internet access
– infrastructure
– students who move a lot (laptops checked in and out)
– curriculum: how to transform from textbooks to Internet-based digital sources
– teacher buy-in

Now comments from Steve Shiever with Crescent Public Schools
– it’s tough work doing 1:1 computing

bottom line: this is the best way to teach, the best way for students to learn

I started with 1:1 in 1998 in 1 district
– then went to Crescent in 2003 (they had no infrastructure and hardware)
– we built it from ground zero: we put in fiber, Cisco switches
– buy good equipment and build for the future, that is the key

We currently have a 1:1 deployment in our high school
– IWBs in every classroom
– laptops in hands of every teacher
– want to provide laptop for teachers to work whenever they are motivated to work

We designed for high school because we didn’t have funding for the entire district
– I wanted to give our HS students to have access before they entered a technology-focused college environment
– we host all our content on Moodle
– now doing podcasts: have a podcast server setup this summer, teachers capture their lectures in 10 minutes or less, teachers can post those with their materials online

– if you are going to implement 1:1, make sure you have everybody on board so you can sustain the project
– it is really not a project, it is a process
– supt, bld principal, teachers: all on the same page with buy-in
– if you have a loophole there, you will lose staff members

Mentioned this morning: I like to hire new teachers who are technically driven, as well as seasoned teachers who are technically driven
– those older teachers have delayed retirement, because teaching with this technology is more fun (it is also more work)
– must have that technical person to answer your daily questions

If you want to sustain a program before you even begin, put in a professional development plan from the start
– we started in 2003 with 2 hours of PD per week for all teachers
– at that time it was focused on productivity applications
– today we don’t use textbooks at all
– all of curriculum is teacher-generated or open source
– staff development gives teachers assurance that they can get answers to their questions

– funding is the key issue
– this is not a one time venture, it is a continuous venture
– at Crescent we have treated the technology as a core class
– as I setup my budget and appropriate so much money for math, language arts, social studies,etc
– grants are wonderful, they can jump start, but they don’t sustain you
– that is why it is so important for the superintendent to be involved and on board

Staff development is of critical importance for staff to understand the process
Before we started implementation, we discussed that once the train leaves the station, it’s over
– 2nd year is easier, because teachers have their courses built on

Now hearing from Scott Parks, superintendent of Howe Public Schools (Oklahoma)
– we serve approx 500 students K-12
– we have been implementing a 1:1 program for the past 8 years, that has been a phased implementation
– this year focused on grades 9-12

Sustainability is so critical
– that is why we started with so few grades
– I wish we could say we spent many months planning, in our case we started with our team and implemented it with passion and focus
– encouraging staff to participate was how we began, with provision of special instructional tools and PD

Infrastructure is so critical as well
– no one here has purchased laptop hardware without focusing on the infrastructure
– we do a lot with videoconferencing as well in our district
– if we hadn’t addressed those issues first, it would have been a disaster
– can be as simple as your wireless infrastructure, you can have a tremendous backbone but if you put classrooms of 20-40 computers on a weak wifi link that becomes a disaster

I can remember old days when we started PD focusing on applications: PPT, Word, etc.
– at that time we did nothing to help teachers understand how these tools would be used within the curriculum
– idea of sustained, ongoing PD is critical
– we didn’t have that model that Steve discussed at Crescent
– we had few days up front, then at the end of the year: that really had no sustainable impact

laptops are just another tool in the toolbox


The laptop in and of itself is a hands-on tool
– often we get “more of the same”

What we need to focus on as educators is how we can beyond what we do traditionally, focus on the new Bloom’s taxonomy
– too often we see teachers reverting back to the “same old ways” we were taught
– my question is: how is this different from the ditto sheet we used before we had laptops?
– what I want to see you do is be guarded against that mentality (digital ditto sheets)


We need to change the learning process
– it is not just about facts and figures
– our everyday lives are not about facts and figures
– our lives are about real world events and problems
– more often we need to

we have tunnel vision when it comes to looking at the tests
– that often leads to absolutely zero creativity in our classrooms
– we become so focused on those outcomes that we kill creativity
– getting our kids creating, collaborating, telling their story: using tools like skype to communicate with others, to simulate
– they need to be simulating the world, what is the world of work like?

this moves teachers into “the active facilitator role”
– you have to do this to get out of the way, and let the kids show you what they know
– can let the kids take over, and help with the learning process
– getting out of that tradition / rut is the key
– the mode I am in now is the easy way to prepare and teach
– preparing for a truly interactive lesson is harder, but the outcomes are far greater
– dropouts, need for engagement

my passion is becoming: how can we get out of these ruts we are in day in and day out in the classroom

I have not been able to say, “textbooks are gone”
– we are going now with a blend
– both digital and paper-based textbooks

Buy in is critical, but as has been said today there will be naysayers in your district
– sometimes those may be the loudest voices too
– what is needed for our kids?
– economic times ARE tough
– sustainability can’t become a financial excuse for not doing it
– we must be focused on what is best for our schools

Now hearing from Scot Trower with Lowry Public Schools

when I started as a teacher 16 years ago, I was a technology nerd then and I am a technology nerd now

I look at it from the perspective of students and teachers: if they/we don’t want to come to school

As a teacher what I hated hearing most was, “no we can’t afford it”
– many of you are probably thinking most about sustainability

In 1995 I bought my own laptop and we used it in my classroom, we didn’t even have Internet
– I wanted to move up so I could make the decisions for our school district

Same board meeting when I was hired, the board riffed 5 employees

we got our infrastructure in place first
– bought some laptops my first year with federal program money

originally we were going to do 5-8th grades
– when you’re talking with your school board, it is a different audience
– it’s all about selling this, customizing your message to your specific audience
– I had a handful of teachers who were 25 year career teachers with their binders they opened at the start of every year and used without deviation, that opposed this

I was getting very frustrated
– listening to Steve Sheiver
– through an Apple rep, learned about a Kansas school doing 1:1 and took some of our teachers up there on a field trip
– when my teachers sat down with other students (not teachers) they were sold on this idea in an hour and a half

We did a lease purchase to do this, a bond issue in our district was not an option
– we got the laptops in February
– we rolled them out a week after they got there
– we had that “Euphoria phase” that has already been talked about

insurance coverage is about $70 per machine bumper to bumper, we make our students pay for that if they take the laptops home

2nd year
– biggest frustration was teachers who put the laptops on the shelf, didn’t want to deal with them anymore
– we had a forced regrouping with PD, worked on getting over fears again
– now in our 2nd full year, kids carry their laptops around like Trapper Keepers

We have gone over that hump of just making them an everyday part of their education
– no different than their textbook or Trapper Keeper
– we offer parent training, so parents

We are about to add 32 more computers to extend our laptop program down to 3rd grade

Bruce now asking question of vision: How do you build a shared vision among a wider community and your faculty specifically

Steve Shiever’s answer
– lots of sharing ideas
– discussing what do we want our students to know
– prep for the 21st century college environment
– talked about student collaboration
– most jobs in the workforce are collaborative jobs: that is what we need to encourage with our students, this was a big piece

curriculum design piece was very scary for many teachers at first

Ron Canuel’s answer:
– traditional responses generate traditional results / outcomes
– once people started to recognize that we needed to change behaviors for changed
– I was able to create a sense of urgency around this
– 2001 I had quadruple bypass, I was a junk food eater
– that gave me a very acute appreciation of time and what time means/meant
– I questioned this position that change has to be slow in education, because slow change is at the expense of children
– I appreciate deep PD and planning, but why should we agree it must take YEARS to do when the kids need it now?!
– so we did change our PD model from the “dog and pony show”
– for teachers it was far more effective to do “on hands” PD
– first year, we invested 225 days of PD

Question from small, rural K-12 educator
– In our CIPA agreement we discourage use of electronic equipment because we feel we have to so we can prevent lawsuits. How can we get by that and let students take laptops home, and use tools like Twitter in the classroom

Ron Canuel’s answer:
– who is going to teach them (the kids)
– filters don’t keep kids safe
– key is talking to kids and adults, focusing on using this properly
– because students are so adept with technology and open to it does not mean they know how to use it appropriately (we heard this from Karen)


Scot Trower
– we put the burden back on our parents
– successful school districts drew up paperwork with lawyers to put burden on the parents
– I obtained copies of other district policies and used those with our students and kids
– story of parent

Question for Ron: How did you offer so much PD without cutting into instructional time?
– his answer: We didn’t. We did cut into instructional time, but we recognized the PD was so important that we needed
– we reduced the teaching time of 1 teacher per school 10 – 15% and gave them responsibility for being pedagogical leader on their campus to help other teachers, we called them “enhanced learning strategy teacher”

Question for Steve: Can you use state technology textbook fund for technology
– answer: Yes you can, and this session the legislature is going to look at letting districts be more flexible with their use of textbook funds

Lisa Pryor’s answer: Textbook funds can be used for software currently, but not hardware
– that may change in the future, however

Question: Were any of your teachers paid stipends for PD?
– Steve Shiever: 1st summer before deployment, did 3-4 day workshop and did pay stipend, but since then we do Wed afternoon from 2-4 pm each week
— we also take the whole staff to OTA each year
– Scott Parks: as we started, no, we didn’t pay stipends
— we initially asked teachers to do 30 hour training block on their own time, but in exchange we would fully equip their classroom with multimedia tools
— we had neighboring schools send their teachers who WERE paying their teachers, that led to interesting dynamics
— as we shared after that training, we had used about $1500 to equip our teachers so they were DOING The things we had talked/trained on, while other district teachers weren’t and couldn’t because they didn’t have the equipment

Scot Trower and Ron also said they don’t pay and didn’t pay teacher stipends for PD

Questions: functions on RFP require ISTE NETS standards
– do you use those with assessments?
– do you hold teachers and administrators accountable with ISTE NETS?

– Scott Parks: No
– Scot Trower: Is a part of our curriculum, there are open source tools out there now for evaluation
– Ron: said “we don’t have ISTE standards in Canada”


Ron responded that those standards are really baseline standards for their teachers now


Bruce’s points:
– for this grant “technology integration specialists” are written into this grant and ARE essential in this process

– quoting Seymour Papert, perhaps we talk too much about technology rather than “learning” and “literacy”
– we shifted our language, we used to have a “1 to 1 Technology Conference” and called it a “Share Fair” – eliminating the word technology brought many more in: focusing on literacy, numeracy, and transformational contexts

Steve Shiever: We hae “shining stars” in each building
– train those people with train-the-trainer model

Bruce’s comment:
– ongoing support for teachers

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