Sunday, January 25, 2009

Take Me to Your Leader(s)

I recently had the opportunity to help Will Richardson with a breakout session at the CASE Winter Leadership Conference. CASE is our statewide school administrator organization, with membership including superintendents, central office administrators and building level administrators. While Will’s keynote was the following day, our goal with the breakout was to hopefully initiate some conversations that administrators would take back and continue in their schools and/or districts.

We used Mark Pesce’s Fluid Learning blog post to spur discussion, and created some essential questions and a graphic organizer to go along with it (thanks Ben Wilkoff, Bud Hunt and Mike Porter for help with all that). We also created a wiki page with some additional readings and essential questions, to hopefully spur even more conversations among administrators, teachers, and all stakeholders about the “shifts.”

Hopefully the fifty or so folks in the room felt it was worthwhile, and with a little luck many of them will use what we did – or the additional readings and questions on the wiki – to help continue the conversations in their schools and districts. But I also got to thinking that perhaps I should share out that work here, since it’s unlikely folks would stumble upon that page on the Learning 2.0 wiki by chance.

So, in case anyone can use it, here is both what we used in the session, and the additional eleven sets of readings paired with essential questions. Please consider taking some or all of these to an administrator near you.


Read Mark Pesce's blog post.

Essential Questions
  • Capture Everything: What's worth capturing in my classrooms? My building? My district? Audio? Video? Text-based assignments? Student work? Writing?
  • Share Everything: Where can I share it? With whom? What audiences is our organization working to serve? How will they benefit from these shared items? Who needs to see what’s going on?
  • Open Everything: What are the closed silos of information in our schools that shouldn't be? What things outside of our schools have we closed (blocked)? What can we do to open both of those up?
  • Only Connect: How can I help my students and teachers connect with content, with each other, and with others outside the classroom (students, teachers, experts, mentors, the community, etc.) in a meaningful way?
  • What questions do I have for my administrators/curriculum staff? Teaching Staff? IT Staff? Students?
Graphic Organizer for this activity (Word, PDF). Feel free to download and use.

Online, editable pages for each of the questions above: (Capture Everything, Share Everything, Open Everything, Only Connect, What Questions Do I Have). As you have these discussions at CASE, at CoLearning, in your schools, and in your communities, please share out the results on the appropriate wiki page. It might take a few minutes to get the hang of editing a wiki, but you'll figure it out - give it a shot. And, don't worry, there's a history page so if you accidentally delete something, you can get it back.


Here are some additional resources and recommended activities for administrators to continue their learning about - and sharing of - network literacy.

Additional Recommended Readings and Questions

The following is a long list of thought-provoking blog posts, articles and videos that can help administrators start or continue conversations in their school districts, schools, and communities. Each one is accompanied by a set of essential questions that can guide you as you read the article and can help further spur discussion.

      1. Essential Questions
        What literacies must educators master before we can help students make the most of these powerful potentials? What’s one thing you are going to do in the next six weeks to help you begin to master these literacies? How does "authentic" assessment change when the student's audience is the world?

        Read Will Richardson's Footprints in the Digital Age from the November 2008 issue of Educational Leadership.
      2. Essential Questions
        We know that good teachers existed before the current wave of technology, but can a teacher today be the best teacher they can be and truly meet the needs of their students without using technology? What implications does this have for professional development and teacher evaluation? What implications does this have for the technological literacy levels of administrators?

        Read Karl Fisch's Is it Okay to be a Technologically Illiterate Teacher? blog post (including comment thread) and National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T).
      3. Essential Questions
        What does it mean to be literate in the 21st century? Are we as educators currently literate? If not, what implications does that have for our students, and what proposals can we put in place to get all educators to a basic level of 21st century literacy in a reasonable amount of time?

        Read NCTE's definition of 21c literacy along with The Partnership for 21st Century Skills English Skills Map.
      4. Essential Questions
        Do you believe schools foster inquiry and passion in students? If so, are your schools currently structured to do that? Are students regularly asked to research, collaborate, create, present and network in your schools? If not, what can you do to change that?

        Read Chris Lehmann's blog post Talking to 49 Superintendents along with his Ignite Philly 5 minute presentation.
      5. Essential Question
        Of the 10 things the author thinks we should unlearn, pick the three that most resonate with you. Now, how are you going to foster “unlearning” those things for you, other administrators, and teachers in your school/district?

        Read Will Richardson’s Steep Unlearning Curve blog post.
      6. Essential Questions
        In a rapidly changing, information abundant world, what should students know and be able to do? What should “school” or “learning” look like in a world where almost all factual information is literally a click away? How do we help students create their own Personal Learning Networks? What steps are you going to make to create your own PLN? Which of the suggestions in Shift Happens – Now What? resonates with you, and how can you go about implementing them?

        Read Stephanie Sandifer's blog post Shift Happens – Now What? and watch this version of Did You Know?/Shift Happens (Vision Remix, Fall 2007). Also explore the Shift Happens wiki for more information.
      7. Essential Questions
        Do you agree that the culture of most educational institutions today is insulated, that it actively tries to block out the “outside” world? If so, do you believe that educational institutions can survive (and thrive) with that culture? If not, what are some steps you can take to open up the culture in your school/district?

        Read Bill Farren's Insulat-Ed blog post and we also highly recommend reading Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky.
      8. Essential Questions
        Where do you rank yourself in terms of competency on the NETS for Administrators? What do leaders really need to know about this? What are you (your school, your district) doing to help your leaders grow in this area?

        Read the National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A) along with Scott McLeod’s An Absence of Leadership (pdf) article from ISTE's Learning and Leading with Technology magazine.
      9. Essential Questions
        What kind of collaborative partnerships - physical or virtual - can you develop with folks outside of your school(s)? (universities, corporations, other schools, etc.) What steps can you take to engage with these collaborative technologies yourself, both to learn and to model for our students?

        Read Will Richardson's article World Without Walls - Learning Well with Others from Edutopia.
      10. Essential Questions
        Take a look at the seven survival skills that Wagner postulates through the lens of a typical classroom in your school (or, if you’re at the district level, a typical elementary, middle, and high school classroom). How’s that classroom do on those seven skills? Pick three of the skills and brainstorm ways to work with teachers in your building to strengthen their presence in the typical classroom.

        Read Tony Wagner's article Rigor Redefined from the October 2008 issue of Educational Leadership, along with this post on the Google Blog.
      11. Essential Questions
        Is it important to bring meaning and significance into the classroom? Do you think the way students portrayed themselves in these videos is fairly accurate for today’s student? How can we leverage the “networked” student, and the technological tools we have at our disposal, to empower our students to pursue real, relevant, and rigorous questions?

        Read Kansas State Professor Michael Wesch's blog post and watch some of his videos (A Vision of Students Today, The Machine is Using Us, and Information Revolution). Also watch Wendy Drexler's Networked Student.
Start Reading Blogs

The only way to truly begin to understand the literacy of networking is to participate. We would recommend subscribing to 3 to 5 blogs to begin with (ask your tech folks for help if you don't know how to subscribe). We would highly recommend that you subscribe to Will Richardson's Weblogg-ed and to LeaderTalk. Then find one to three more blogs that interest you, either by asking people you know, following links in Weblogg-ed and LeaderTalk, or by doing a Google Blog Search.

Read those blogs for two to three months, commenting when you're ready and have something to say. Then consider starting your own blog, either an individual blog or a group of educators in your school/district, to continue the conversations you're having about teaching and learning in the twenty-first century.

Consider attending Learning 2.0: A Colorado Conversation on February 21, 2009.


  1. Karl, You you will be coming to MO to speak to Elementary principals in March. I believe you are our Sunday night keynote. If this is not correct, just play along:):):) (Nope just looked at our program and it is you:)
    Just the first article you linked to in this post will turn some principal's off because it is so long:)Love the essential questions. The keynote speakers at our conference usually stand at the podium and talk at us. Are you doing a conversation or keynote? Boy I am probably really throwing you off here. Sorry.
    I do the "Internet Cafe/Open Lab time" at this conference. Got some GREAT feedback last year but not many came to check it out. If you are around on Monday you can come hang out with us:):):)
    Loved the faculty dance video

  2. @Melinda - Yep, that's me.

    I was asked to do a keynote, so not much time for conversation (unfortunately). I honestly don't recall how much time I get, if it's long enough, then I'll certainly also leave some time for conversation.

    Unfortunately, I'll be flying back early Monday morning (heading back to St. Louis Sunday night after the keynote). But if you remind me, and give me something specific to plug, I'd be happy to mention the Internet Cafe.

  3. Thanks for the post about CASE. I'll share your post with the CASB Board of Directors, etc. so we can all be aware of the Learning 2.0 Conversations.

  4. This is THE most helpful post I have ever read. It's framework is great, content amazing, & I look forward to using these resources to help my school continue on it's journey into the 21st century. Thank you, Karl, for sharing.