11/22/2017

Career Crawl: Making Connections with Community Industry Partners

Today was a staff development day before the Thanksgiving holiday break. A team of school and community members have been working to create on-going connections between students, teachers and local area businesses. One outcome of the group's work was the development of a Career Crawl, where all teachers go on business tours within the community. With a Pre K-12 focus on career and college readiness, teachers chose to tour two businesses to learn more about industry.

As an outcome, we were to analyze how our role as educators can support the social and emotional learning competencies necessary to be successful now, and later within their career or college pathway. Secondary staff were also asked to determine the two most critical employability skills from the Career Crawl that we will focus on throughout their courses.

I had the opportunity to visit two locations today; The Princeton Police and Fire Departments, and a local manufacturer, Glenn Metalcraft.

Within my own role as a district leader, the ways that local businesses are leveraging technology to improve efficiency and personalization for their products stuck out to me as a takeaway. For example, a local manufacturer has many parts of their work automated, but the automation is an ongoing process that now requires more technical skills for the operator. What was welding and machining is now coding and maintaining a robotic welding machine that runs extremely high tolerances that were never before possible. My reflection of the social and emotional skills that were highlighted by business partners.

Communication: Students need to continue to focus on how they can effectively communicate, as well as listen and respond to those they are communicating with. Written communication is not dead, and neither is a face-to-face discussion throughout the day. 

Responsible Decision-Making: Developing an ownership of your work as a whole, and the ability to grow within the expectations of your role. 

School bus ride on the Career Crawl.

Princeton Fire Chief discussing how the community supports the volunteer fire department. 

Proximity to the nuclear power plant in Monticello, MN requires emergency preparedness across communities.  

Group photo of staff and our tour guides at Glenn Metalcraft. 

Princeton volunteer fire and rescue department. 

9/28/2017

Turn off Autoplay in YouTube

Are you sick of random YouTube videos automatically playing after you show a YouTube video in class?

Do you ever feel like you have to dive for your computer or SMART Board to stop a video from playing after you use a video?

You can fix that! Turn of Auto Play in YouTube. 


  1. Open a YouTube video. Here is an example video about the new Google Slides updates from 9/2017. 
  2. Find the Autoplay button on the top right of the page. 
  3. Turn it off! 


8/01/2017

Cultivating a Culture of Courageous Leadership with Pat Deklotz




Pat Deklots, Superintendent of Kettle Moraine School District in Wales, WI has been leading the same school district for twelve years. She lead a session at the Minnesota Personalized Learning Summit #mnpls17 on Cultivating a Culture of Courageous Leadership. Kettle Moraine has been focusing on providing personalized opportunities for their students and Pat shared some key elements that have helped their school system improve at a district level. 


“All too often, on the long road up, young leaders become servants of what is rather than shapers of what might be.” - John Gardner, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) under President Lyndon Johnson.

Courageous leadership questions to ask yourself:  Why is this work important to you? 
How do you practice reflection? 
Who do you listen to and how do you seek them out? 

Open Door Policy: Her experiences were that people would only come to you when they had a problem during open door time in an office. Go out and talk with people instead. Go to classrooms. Go to community events. Go talk with teachers and you will be able to push your organization forward. 

Systemic initiatives will last longer than one powerful leader. Systemic change focuses on 
Processes, Structures, Expectations such as: 
  • Distributed leadership
  • Scorecards and benchmarking 
  • 100 day plans / Monitoring 
  • Standards of Service Excellence 
    • What does it mean to be an excellent employee? Learner? Leader? 
  • Performance conversations 
  • Rounding; 30/90 Day Check In 
  • Surveys and Results roll out
Pat's advice is for leaders to ask two basic questions: 
Why? 
and 
Why Not? 

Commitment to Innovation 
Develop a culture that allows teachers, students and leaders to take risks. You should tell stories about how you are experiencing risk and learning from those stories. Is is one example from Kettle Moraine students and Digital Promise of a story they are telling others about their schools. 

5/04/2017

Teaching with Google's new drawing tool: Autodraw

I am not a very great sketch artist, but my whiteboard skills are at a developing level.

Google just came out with a new drawing tool called Autodraw.com . It automatically turns your hand-drawn sketches into simple drawings. Here is what Autodraw does:

Turn this:
 Into this:
Ideas for using this in your classroom:

  • Graphic organizers 
  • Sketching stories 
  • Visualizing ideas 
  • Summarizing during a discussion 
  • Build quick connections between topics 
  • Try new ways to represent concepts 
  • ...Or just generally make your drawings better! 

I tried a few more difficult drawings to see if Autodraw would be able to understand my sketches. Here is my Eiffel Tower sketch (Some could argue rocket ship...): 
Autodraw gave me quite a few suggestions, with three of them much more Eiffel Tower-looking than my original rocket ship/elf hat version. 

Visit Autodraw.com to try it out, or watch the overview video below for more information. 

3/24/2017

Minnesota Broadband Day on the Hill

On March 15, I had the opportunity to join in on Broadband Day at the Hill, an event organized by the Minnesota Broadband Coalition. The day focused on discussing broadband issues and projects around greater Minnesota, as well as time to talk with a number of MN representatives about their work and perspective on the future of broadband expansion to reach those without access to high-speed Internet. It is not a new topic, but was definitely great to talk with representatives and others working on broadband around the state. 

Check out this map of 2016 broadband coverage around Minnesota, defined as 25M Upload/3M download. 

Coffee with Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith. 

Hearing from students and community experts around MN about regional broadband concerns. 

As an added bonus, I was able to sit in on a House Education Finance Committee meeting and heard testimony from a number of current proposals that would have a large impact on MN schools. 

1/11/2017

Assessing Google Classroom use in your School

You can now get Google Classroom reports in the Admin Console. Google Classroom use across the school district is something that I have had a hard time quantifying. The new reports in the G Suite Admin Console add a step in that direction for Google Classroom. There are three measures you can get; Active users, number of posts created and last logged in date.

To start, we have had ~29% of our staff and 44% of our students using Google Classroom in the past week. The number of our students using Classroom on a weekly basis is much higher than the four grade levels who have implemented 1:1 digital learning devices for the first time this fall.
Many other full-fledge LMSs have the ability to pull amazing statistics on assignments and interaction across the school system. I know that I am only pulling reports from a small sample of our staff, but I hypothesize digital assignment trends follow paper assignment trends for the number and day-of-the-week assignments. 

Mondays have been our biggest online posting day since November. Does anyone else see similar stats in their school? 



I did see @mebenson charting some homemade Google Classroom reports in the back of a session at #TIES16 that looked quite a bit more in-depth as far as user statistics and day-to-day interaction with Classroom and G Suite tools. Hopefully more reporting will come.

See Google's original post here, and their video below:

1/10/2017

What are Team Drives? A quick Google Drive update.

Princeton has access to a new feature in Google Drive called Team Drives. You may have seen the icon on the left side of your Drive. 

Team Drives are like a shared folder, but with more features to better share documents with departments, PLCs or grade-levels.

Anyone in the group can add to the Team Drive to share. As people come and go within the groups, all the documents stay put and are usable by everyone.

Visit Google's Help Center for more information to get started today.

12/13/2016

#TIES16 IT Stands for Innovation Teams

How do you take pockets of innovation and spread those classroom successes around your school and district?

Session Slides (link) 
twitter.com/froehlichm Mandy Froehlich is now the Director of Innovation and Technology for Ripon, WI schools.

The school had two separate teams; Tech Teams and Innovation Teams.
Tech Teams focused more on software/hardware implementation and support. They were more traditional roles who shared technology resources, tips and other ideas with staff.

Innovation Teams were started to be agents of change and lead change in classroom instruction. Innovation team members were invited or recruited, and not all of the technology-leaders were invited. Technology use was actually not a part of why innovative teachers were asked to be a part of the team.

Mandy's session focused on how her district set up innovation teams to lead change within their system, and the professional development of the team itself. Each Innovative Team member was assigned to a school to support staff members.

The work of the Innovative Teams focused on some of the following topics:

  • Growth mindsets, false-growth mindsets, fixed mindsets and how that impacts change in your school. 
  • Flexible learning spaces
    • GoFundMe.com was used as a funding source for flexible seating. Teachers also talked with businesses and neighbors in the community about the possible impacts of flexible learning furniture in their schools. 
  • Personalized learning (definition developed by a district-level team previous to the work of innovation teams. 
    • Personalized learning conversation started by looking at rubrics of existing projects to talk about how students are being taught and how that learning can be shown. 
  • Innovative instructional strategies 
  • True technology integration (Standard > Pedagogy > Technology Supports)  





12/12/2016

#TIES16 with Andew Stillman: Building Custom Data Dashboards

#TIES16 Building Custom Data Dashboards with Andrew Stillman.

Session Resource Link

Andrew's session started with key points behind how he approaches making data more portable and accessible in schools:
  1. Schools have a lot of data
  2. They are often limited in how we can look at or move data around 
  3. Many schools spend resources compiling data or building models that are not necessarily sustainable or scalable. 
Tools to help schools manage how they move data around: 

Local Hero (Chrome App link): A tool to connect local CSV files to Google Sheets so that data can be better visualized or shared. Local Here becomes a bridge from your local data to Google and can be mapped in a few different ways, depending on how you need to use it.