Monday, February 26, 2018

A Vision

As I try to figure out what this blog actually is, I have also started to share via #booksnaps what I have been reading.

My latest read was the inevitable. I really liked this book because it shared a vision of what technology would look like in the future and gave a glimpse of things we could do to prepare for it.

So what is my vision for Alaska?

#AKedchat continues to host a general chat on Monday, Tuesday’s is #AKSTEAM chat which ranges from technology to place based education. Wednesday is #AKheritage: with a focus on Alaska Native language & culture...

In-service has been transformed to include digital edcamps where grade or subject teachers from regional districts meet and share with each other on a more regular basis. Video conferencing allows music teacher in one area to reach a student in another who doesn’t have a music teacher. PE teachers and art teachers can also do the same. Theater classes have a technology class too to film and edit behind the scenes and final performance videos.

As students travel for sports, hosting schools set up edcamps so that they can take advantage and learn during their visit. All High school students volunteer or intern to gain real world experience.

Utilizing flex books and inquiry-based education, each student has a personalized learning plan which balances academic basics with their interests. Classrooms collaborate with other grades in their school or with others across the nation or globe. Place based field trips and guest speakers blend with virtual guest speakers and VR field trips.

Using crowd funding or free apps/extensions, programs have access to a huge library of tools for their students to create with. District consortium share specialized tools such as drones or Star labs  that travel from location to location to allow access to the most rural sites.

There are no grades, each student also reflects on their learning daily through blogs or digital portfolios. Teachers track growth through formative or observation-based assessments.

Each district and school shares daily the incredible work they are doing. Principals check the weekly blogs of their teachers instead of lesson plans to have an on-going look at what is happening in all of their classrooms. Parents also have access to the blogs with resources in how to extend learning to the home since there are is no longer “homework.”

Dream with me... share what your vision of the future includes!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Asking Good Questions

I am taking an online class and one of the things that our latest module was about was about how to ask students good questions during read-alouds.

This got me thinking that these same rules also apply to adults asking questions during twitter chat:
- Questions should help people understand their feelings and promote critical thinking
-Questions should help people develop their language & communication skills on their stance
 -Questions need to help make connections to past and future events or share experiences
-Questions need to introduce new ideas, events, and possibilities
-Each question should lead to multiple turns for each speaker

So, I decided to help create a little one-pager to help those as they think of questions when hosting a chat.

1)      Decide the increments between questions: This will determine the number of questions you should plan on. (I recommend either 10 or 15 minute increments)
2)      ICEBREAKER: Your first question should be something easy and catchy, you want people to respond. I generally ask for location (So cool that we can have global cohorts!) and ask them a fun question related to the theme of the chat (What is your favorite _insert theme_?)
3)      Last Question: I always plan my first & last questions first. The last Question should generally be a REFLECTION (Where people can share a take-away) or an ACTION PLAN (What will you do this week?)
4)      After the Icebreaker: Ask something open-ended (How do you define…? What is…? What do you remember about…? )
5)      Ask for examples: Encourage sharing of a pic, quote, or something that happened in class. Use tweetdeck, so that you have an example ready to go to MODEL for others what they can share.

And just some general things to be mindful of:

-You may have a mixed audience (Teacher, Admin, Coaches), so try to keep it open-ended. You don’t want to exclude people.
- Start with some simple questions to get people initially engaged and then dig deeper. Don’t scare people off! 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

6 Tips for hosting a Twitter Chat

I think as a leader, the most important job you have is to build the capacity of those around you...

Our state is a little twitter-shy, so I created this to-do list to help others who want to rise up and start these awesome conversation.

So you want to host a twitter chat?

  1. TOPIC: Pick something that you are CURIOUS about or are PASSIONATE about!
  2. SHARE:

  • Think of a Fun Title
  • Tag People who you think will be interested in the topic
  • Add # of other groups that might be interested in the topic


  • Share: Date, Time, Location, Brief Description, and the # Hashtag
  • Find an eye-catching graphic
  • Tease Questions
  • Share graphic during other chats or in replies (WHEN ON TOPIC!)

  1. PREP

  • Prepare your TweetDeck with Questions and YOUR RESPONSE (You want your fingers to be free to reply to participants)
  • Continue to Advertise: 1 hour till… 30 minutes till… Use hashtags of active chats

  1. CHAT

  • Welcome and reply to participants
  • Retweet great responses or quote tweet to other hashtags
  • Like tweets and respond to others
  • Thank everyone for coming
  • Encourage others to lead!

  1. BONUS

  • Create a moment to immortalize your chat for future reference
  • Blog about the chat and the great ideas that you got from it!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

AK Twitter Top 10 Teacher Leaders

I love the rise of the “teacher leaders” who can inspire from the classroom. This blog will be the first in a series of #followfriday tweets to help others see some amazing things that are happening and hopefully inspire them to try something! 

@MGundersonAK (Dillingham) One of 2 #MIEExpert in Alaska, she has also been doing some innovative things with #minecraftedu 

@SyrahPetersen (Anchorage) She got to go to #ISTE this year and has been tweeting great reflections and questions since! 

@joerobison907 (Valdez) If you want to see some amazing things in student lead learning, check out #studentedcamp tweets out of Valdez! They have been able to integrate student edcamps into their Middle School routine.

@rownbey (Valdez) After seeing @alicekeeler at #Aste17, she was a quick adopted of #GAFE and has tweeted out some amazing things 

@MrEru2001 (Fairbanks) He was a finalist for AK Teacher of the year and was named the BP teacher of excellence!  Read more about his personalized learning approach here: or visit his YouTube channel:

@lc_davies (Wrangell) 5th grade teacher who has been doing some great things on #mysteryskype and even got to visit the class she Skyped with on her vacation!

@AlexandraOtto (Kodiak) #mtbos Middle school math teacher who keeps a great blog of her students work

@AkGlobalTeacher (Anchorage)  BP Teacher of Excellence,  Fellow, and founder of Global Education Alaska.

@tchlrn_ak (Nikolaevsk)  Early adopter of #mysteryskype, #GRA, and got the #TLAP crew to Alaska! 

I keep a running list of Alaskan Educators that I can across. Subscribe to that list here:

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Steering a ferry?

When you work looking at things from a larger perspective, analogies can really help.

One of the first ones my current supervisor introduced me to was that we are "Steering a ferry boat"...

What does this mean? If you are in a row boat , its really easy to do lots of quick turns...

...But if you are on a ferry boat, you have to make lots of small turns to get into your new direction. It can take a long time to change direction.

I like that ferry boat analogy, but even thinking about it on a ferry boat level doesn't seem to work...

We are more like admirals of a fleet of ships. Each captain is responsible for all the daily operations on your boat, but you are also leading all the other rowboats boats to follow your direction. Each of their own daily operations might look a little different, but you all have that same destination in mind.... 

Having at least a common goal can help unite everyone, but what happens when everyone has different goals/different destinations?

Maybe a better analogy would be like a light house. The programs are all their own ships, but we are there as a lighthouse in the dark to help give guidance.

We want those row boats to feel empowered because that’s where change can happen on the quickest scale.... Those captains have to be able to create the conditions for those row boats to have a common destination, but allowed to chart their own course.

The captain has to be able to stay in communication with all those ships to make sure none get lost. The lighthouse can’t look out for just one lost row boat because they are focused on those bigger ships. Communication is so important because there is a sweeping undercurrent that can send ripples along everything.

One of the first lessons I learned came as I was crafting materials for a training, which included instruction manuals and updating websites... I had been going off an incorrect date and suddenly, I was having to go back and revise everything. That one small detail set off such a large chain reaction, just imagine how bigger changes would be...

Understanding this important difference has been so helpful for me to understand how my changing role is:
1) Things have to be thought through at every single perspective to understand how the change will affect everyone involved
2) Communication needs to be concise or you can cause confusion which can cause people to get lost or abandon your fleet altogether

Admiral... Captain... or Lighthouse? One thing is very clear: I'm not in a row boat anymore... 

Sunday, December 31, 2017


My #OneWord2018 is lemonade and there are 4 main reasons:

 I love lemonade. I’ve always loved it. It’s sweet. It’s tart. It’s coolness on a hot summer day. It’s also my reminder to myself that each person has their own interests and passions and listening to their stories on the why they pick that is so revealing about where they have come from and where they are presently. Last year my word was participation and I really feel like I embraced that with my Twitter PLN. 

When I taught in Thailand and it was international week, I wanted to teach my students about America culture and what’s more American than a lemonade stand? That entrepreneurial spirit…  go out and get what you dream of! 

The famous saying is “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade” meaning that you should go with the flow and something sweet can come out of something tart. I feel like I’ve learned a lot more out of my failures than out of my successes. You start this by looking at that sour lemon of a failure and saying, “You weren’t a failure” and using it to create a learning experience. I had a hard couple of years and now I’m finally starting to add the sugar to those experiences and am slowly starting to transform them into part of a narrative that I can love.

There is also the less known expression: "If life gives you lemons, make orange juice and leave them wondering how you did it." I love this as well since there is still magic in the world where people can create things so unexpected using whatever happens to be on hand…

Lemonade is essentially 3 ingredients: Water, Sugar, and Lemons. But there isn’t a perfect recipe for it. It’s a lot of trial and error.

-You can start with any of those ingredients. There isn’t a set order… I like to start by squeezing the lemons, but my mom starts by filling the water.
-You can mix it in a cup, bowl, or a pitcher… and with a wooden spoon, metal spoon, or stir stick…
-You don’t have to use them precisely: You can use sparkling water instead of tap water, you can use agave, simple syrup, or honey instead of sugar, you can use sweet meyer lemons or even limes.  
-You test it and add more of what you feel it needs. I like my lemonade tart, so my ratio is different than someone who likes it sweet.
-And the best part is, once you’ve finished that basic recipe: you can add to it! Ice, mint, rosemary, basil, raspberries, strawberries, peaches, watermelon… The possibilities are pretty endless.

That recipe for lemonade is how I am trying to view education. There isn’t some magical recipe with precise steps. Everyone will do it a little differently and create it according to their needs. 

In my new role, I get to see the different recipes and share the different recipes in hopes to inspire people to go out and find what works for them.

So here is my new blog: Administratove Lemonade. A little sweet, a little sour, but ultimately something that I love!