Inspiration for Leaders

Enjoy this news and reflection blog brought to you from the LHRIC Technology Leadership Institute!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

LHRIC Honors Local Educators for Innovative Use of Technology

The Lower Hudson Regional Information Center presented four teachers, one director of technology and representatives of the Bronxville School District with Pioneer Awards May 15 during a special ceremony held at the Edith Macy Conference Center in Briarcliff Manor.

The Bronxville Schools tech team, from left: Mara Koetke,
director of Curriculum & Instruction, Superintendent David Quattrone,
Director of Technology Jennifer Forsberg, Brad Ashley, K-12 instructional
technology specialist, Tricia Murray, principal of Bronxville Elementary School,
and Lawrence Daniels, LHRIC network specialist.
The annual awards ceremony honors school districts, teachers and administrators who work collaboratively with the LHRIC and in particular, recognizes their efforts to go above and beyond in making 21st century instructional technology available to their students.

The Bronxville School District was singled out for its efforts to instill innovation, leadership, critical thinking and engaged citizenship by way of a framework called The Bronxville Promise. The initiative is designed to guide students, help teachers organize teaching and learning activities, and engage parents and the larger Bronxville community around technology issues.

Jesse Lubinsky, center, pictured with his award, along with Irvington
Superintendent Kris Harrington and other administrators
from the district. 
Jesse Lubinsky, director of technology for the Irvington School District, received the Director of Technology Pioneer Award for his work on Project Lead the Way, a STEAM initiative that incorporates instruction in computer science, engineering and biomedical science.

He was also recognized for helping teachers develop “20% time” projects in their classrooms, similar to a policy that Google uses in its workplace where employees get to work on projects outside of their official job descriptions. He has also been responsible for introducing students to immersive game-based learning platforms and helping to redesign a middle school classroom into a flexible learning space.

The teachers who received Pioneer Awards included:
  • Marcus Eure of Brewster High School who has successfully blended various technologies into his English instruction, including student-run subreddits, which is an online bulletin board system; Google Apps for Education; for student publishing and collaboration, as well as Twitter.
  • Amanda McArthur-Gawron of the Lakeland School District who was recognized for taking the lead on a Chromebook one-to-one laptop initiative that started with her third-grade class and spread to all five of the district’s elementary schools.
  • Jill Rogovic of the Ardsley School District who successfully integrated technology into her second-grade classroom, including iPads and other digital devices.
  • Patricia Satalich, a technology teacher at Pelham Middle School who has taken the lead on several STEAM projects at the school. 
This year’s event began with a keynote presentation from the Los Angeles-based Apple Distinguished Educator and Google Certified Teacher Kenneth Shelton, who talked about ways that technology can be used to enhance learning and how proper usage, voice and the appropriate amount of responsibility on the part of teachers and parents can help accelerate learning.

Photos of the event can be viewed on the SWBOCES/LHRIC Flickr page.

Local Educators Encouraged to Think Big and Embrace the Future

In a world that is being constantly changed by technology, the April 8Tech Expo, sponsored by the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center, offered some sound advice for local educators who are eager to enhance teaching and learning in their schools.

LHRIC Executive Director Dennis Lauro, center,
pictured with Dr. Pam Moran and Ira Socol. 
The annual event, which was held at the Edith Macy Conference Center in Briarcliff Manor, included an array of presentations from students and teachers in various local school districts where the latest cutting-edge technology is being used.

Ardsley, Bronxville, Croton Harmon, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, Katonah Lewisboro, Ossining, Pelham, Scarsdale and Yorktown were among the districts represented at the Expo, which attracted close to 400 people.

Several vendors also participated, including Annese, Aspire Technology Partners, Cisco, Dell, Edgenuity, Doctrina, Haiku, Imagine Learning, Pearson Education, Renaissance Learning, Tynker and more.

Creating Moonshot Thinkers
Molly Schroeder speaks at Tech Expo.
Global Digital Age Learning Specialist Molly Schroeder of the EdTechTeam suggested that students could be “moonshot thinkers” if the education environment allowed them to be more creative. That vision was part of Schroeder’s keynote presentation titled, “Falling in Love with the Future.”

During her 45-minute talk, Ms. Schroeder said it is an “epic time” for creativity in the classroom.

“There is so much potential in the students who are sitting in classrooms right now,” she said.

To participate in the kind of moonshot thinking that Ms. Schroeder espouses, she said teachers need to be risk takers, be creative, have passion for their subject, accept challenges and not be afraid to fail.

This moonshot thinking, which is a regular feature of the Google X initiative, an experimental lab that seeks to solve the world’s next big problems, is not dependent on state assessments but on teachers getting students to answer questions without using Google as an aid.

Students should be expected to figure out the answers by thinking outside of the box and to work “in beta,” explained Ms. Schroeder.

“Learning is no longer multiple choice questions,” she said. “We want students to surprise us.”

Some of the Google products that facilitate creative learning include Google Cardboard, a virtual reality platform built by Google that is increasingly being used by teachers to take students on virtual reality tours of the world’s many interesting places. Google Cardboard is primarily used with the app Google Expeditions.

Transforming Schools
Continuing on the same theme, Superintendent Pam Moran, head of Virginia’s Albemarie County Public Schools, and Ira Socol, that district’s design project manager and director of educational technology and innovation, talked about the successful implementation of contemporary technologies into their schools.

Dr. Pam Moran and Ira Socol, both from the Albemarie
County Public Schools, share the stage at Tech Expo.
Comprised of 26 schools, the district’s students come from a myriad of backgrounds, including middle-class suburbs, agricultural communities and an urban area close to the city of Charlottesville, where approximately 70 different languages are spoken.

Knowing that 65 percent of the district’s current kindergartners will end up in jobs that currently do not exist, Dr. Moran said the district’s job is to change the model of education from one that is not currently set up for kids to succeed to a hub of creativity.

Using specific students as examples, both speakers told the audience how even the most disinterested of them can find success.

The school district’s technology initiatives, which includes a network of CTE/STEM mechatronics labs, are centered around seven pathways that ensure lifelong learning for every child.

They include choice and comfort, which gives students real learning space choices; instructional tolerance, which produces active and engaged learners in a learning community; universal design for learning, which allows for differentiated learning environments; a maker-infused curriculum; project/problem, passion-based learning; interactive technologies and the appropriate connectivity to make it all happen.   

To the audience, Dr. Moran said, “Change something in your school, in your class and in your district that tomorrow represents engaged students and leveraged resources.”

“One of the things you will find that is you will have kids who are engaged and who want to come to school. That’s what we want for our kids and that’s my vision for all of you.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Storytelling, Student-Driven Passion Among the Highlights of LHRIC’s Tech Summit

A daylong schedule of keynote talks as well as demonstrations from some of the region’s leading technology vendors brought an array of local educators to the Nov. 2 Tech Summit 2015, sponsored by the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center and held at Briarcliff’s Edith Macy Conference Center.

Angela Maiers, founder of Choose2Matter, speaks
at the LHRIC's Tech Summit
The Summit’s keynote topics were selected to help educators envision the future and to learn about successful programs that are “truly transformative in nature,” explained LHRIC Executive Director Dennis Lauro, in his introductory remarks.

“Students want to be in school, they wish to actively participate as contributors and creators of their own learning,” added Dr. Lauro, referring to the changes that are emerging in classrooms around the nation.

Dr. Lauro noted, in particular, the RIC’s Emerging Technologies Program, which was established over a year ago and is now in several local school districts. The program, he said, is here to help area teachers begin to make the change from a conventional classroom that uses technology to today’s classrooms where technology is transformational and is changing the way teachers teach and students learn.

The event also included several breakout sessions that included an update from Dr. Lauro on the state’s Smart Schools Bond Act technology purchasing requirements and the partnership opportunities the RIC can procure through its trusted technology vendors.

Jim Sill, director of global development for EdTechTeam, Inc., kicked off the stimulating day with a peak into the possibilities that video storytelling can provide for teachers and students, including ways it can highlight social issues.

Following a career as a TV and film producer, Mr. Sill transitioned to education, using his industry experience to create an award-winning video production program at a high school in Visalia, Ca., where he remained for several years.

During his morning keynote presentation titled, “Hi-Def EDU,” Mr. Sill introduced attendees to the kind of material he shares with educators all across the world, including Google’s collaborative tools and the social media and video production skills that are necessary to impact students’ education and their future careers.

“It’s all about stories that make an impact,” said Mr. Sill. “The film business has been doing this for a long time.”

Mr. Sill suggested that all schools use the SAMR model, a framework that is being implemented by educators to reflect on how technology can be used to enhance learning. The model, he added, is part of the national education curriculum in Australia, where Mr. Sill currently lives.

“You are the jumpers,” he said. “Throw the line over and make the bridge so others can follow along; that is an important piece of this.”

He also encouraged educators to be “beginnerish” about such video-based projects. “I know that’s hard for teachers because we are supposed to know it all and be the smartest person in the room, but often I like to give teachers permission to do that.”

Expanding the culture of passion and compassionate-driven learning was the basis for Angela Maiers’ breakout session titled, “Liberating Genius in the Classroom: Lessons for Launching Genius Hour.”

Believing there is a genius that lies within everyone, Ms. Maiers, the founder of Choose2Matter, passionately advocates for the kind of change she believes is necessary for the education system and for producing the next crop of graduates.

Beginning with a TedX talk she delivered in 2011 titled, “You Matter,” Ms. Maiers went on to create the Choose2Matter movement, a call to action that invites people to make “mattering” a way of life.

“If I knew that what I did mattered, if I was believed in and trusted, then I would run to school everyday,” said Ms. Maiers, the author of six books, including her most recent free e-book called, “Liberating Genius in the Classroom: The First 20 Days.”

In studying companies like Google and others that allow their employees to devote a portion of their work day to creatively thinking outside of the box. Ms. Maiers began to think about ways that schools could do something similar.

“How about one hour a week?” she said, referring to the initiative she created that is now known as “Genius Hour.”

“Would that be enough to change the thinking, to ensure that every kid and teacher mattered?”

The Choose2Matter movement has now reached sixty thousand classrooms in over 120 countries, where passion-driven work is the norm. Implementing the “You Matter Manifesto,” participating schools are encouraging students to accept their genius and to understand that mattering is a process, not an event and that it is essential to our existence, she explained.

In her afternoon keynote, “Getting TECH Right,” Ms. Maiers touched upon similar themes, noting that students who are passionate about the world around them and how they can make it a better place can often do so by the collaborative use of technology.

Forget the fancy tools that school districts often purchase, she noted. Instead, said Ms. Maiers, students should be shifting from a model of consumption to a model of contribution, sharing who they are, what they believe in and what they can do.

“Technology doesn’t motivate kids,” she added. “They are motivated by their ability to share, to collaborate, to make something extraordinary.” Ms. Maiers said humans in general are deeply motivated when they know they matter and are excited by what they can build together.

“Their future and their potential will be defined by what they share,” she said, referring to the importance of one’s digital footprint. “The difference is not technology; it’s the expectation.”