Thursday, March 27, 2008

Microsoft Shares School Leader Development Tool

I’m at Microsoft’s Partners in Learning briefing where Marion Ginopolis is visiting from Michigan to present a School Leadership Development (SLD) instructional leadership tool developed in partnership with Microsoft used by educators and their community partners as a framework for thinking about 21st century learning. The program has engaging and robust resources that can inspire and motivate leaders provided they have a strong facilitator. There is a facilitator guide that comes with the program. The program can be delivered in a way customized to your needs and can be delivered over about 8 – 10 hours. Below is an overview of the program.

School Leader Development: Building 21st Century Schools
Microsoft has partnered with John Bransford of the College of Education at the University of Washington and Little Planet Learning, a company that delivers custom learning programs, to create School Leader Development: Building 21st Century Schools. This instructional leadership tool for leaders of primary and secondary schools serves as a guide for creating a learning environment that prepares students for a modern world. The unique curriculum combines video, challenge questions, discussions, and expert resources to focus on the following issues facing primary and secondary school leaders:

  • Dimensions of change within schools in the 21st century
  • Guidance for student learning
  • Strategies for success for all students
  • Innovative approaches for education
  • Strong leadership for all schools

Here is the School Leader Development overview demo. Microsoft states that you can receive this CD to use with school leaders. For more information, send e-mail to

Microsoft Prepares Students for 21st Century Careers

I’m at Microsoft’s Partners in Learning briefing where Allyson Knox is presenting on a program to help ALL students determine what they want to do with their future and how to prepare for it. This 20 – 25 hour experience can be its own separate class or part of classes such as Economics or Global Studies. The program looks robust and it has fabulous materials and resources. The course allows facilitators to collect pre and post surveys so you can analyze the growth of participants. Below is an overview of the program which they have created to prepare students for careers in the 21st Century called Career Forward.

The CareerFoward program takes on the challenge of assisting young people as they prepare for careers in the global market that is impacting their lives now and in the future. Technology, along with many other factors, has leveled job prospects for people all over the world. Career opportunities are more diverse than they used to be, and students today need to be introduced to the growing global competition that they will face. Most important, they need motivation to plan and see the education that is so crucial for their futures. This program is designed to provide a framework for students and teachers to use as they explore possibilities and learn how to prepare for the future. The program contains about 20 hour-long online sessions using personal reflection and activities and gives each student an independent exploration of the possibilities for their future that will allow them to move on and create an Educational Development Plan (EDP).

Amazingly this program is available and it’s materials are available and accessible for use at for teachers to begin using with their classes today. Microsoft recommends using the program with High School students but several participants attending the briefing thought this would also work well in middle school. You can see how Michigan put this program into action at their Michigan Virtual School website.

I encourage you to take a look at this program and think about where it fits in the school(s) with which you work? Please share your comments, thoughts, and ideas on how this may be beneficial in your environment or if you have used the program please share your feedback.

Microsoft Prepares 21st Century Leaders

I’m at day three of Microsoft’s Partners in Learning briefing where Marion Ginopolis is presenting on a program for Michigan leaders called MI-Life. Below is an outline of the program Michigan uses to prepare school leaders for the 21st Century.

MI-LIFE is a stimulating, inspiring and challenging course designed for education administrators. The courses in the MI-LIFE curriculum have been developed by a core faculty comprised of Michigan educators who have had practical experience in the "real" world of school leadership and understand the day-to-day workings of schools. While the courses are research based, they are practical and applicable to the busy leader's daily life. It provides technology-rich courses that, when successfully completed, will earn school leaders a Michigan Leadership Improvement Framework Endorsement and 18 State Board Continuing Education Units (SB-CEUs.) You can out about the classes they offer at All classes have these four components: 1) Learning 2) Communicating 3) Collaborating 4) Data Collecting.

The MI-LIFE Educational Leadership Curriculum is structured into four Learning Units comprised of “just-in-time” units and six courses that include face-to-face sessions, instructor-led online courses and learner-directed intersession work. Here are the courses they deliver:

Digital Leadership - What are the "Right Tools?"

This learning unit is divided into "just in time" sessions focusing on the Learning, Collaborating, Communicating and Data Collecting technology tools, resources, applications leaders need to complete the MI-LIFE courses and to become successful Digital Leaders.

Goal: Encourage educational leaders to be confident technology users/leaders

Your Leadership - What are the "Right Qualities?"

This unit is comprised of one course, Optimizing Leadership, which provides the leadership foundation for the MI-LIFE Curriculum. Leaders will focus on self awareness as they journey through interactive, introspective reflection on their leadership skills, behaviors and responsibilities. Since each journey into leadership is unique, every traveler will chart his/her own course based on the personal data which emerges from collected information.

Goal: Stimulate, inspire and challenge educational leaders to confront and cultivate their personal/professional leadership capacity

Data Leadership - What is the "Right Work?"

Identifying the “Right Work” for continuous improvement in districts/schools and classrooms forms the basis of the two courses in this learning unit.
Intersecting Data centers not only on what the data “says” but how the work may change when multiple sources of data are intersected and analyzed to create a more accurate district/school profile. Intended for non-statisticians, this course focuses on how to collect, analyze and make use of data intersections to improve all aspects of student achievement.

Goal: Motivate educational leaders to become adept users of multiple sources and types of data in decision making

Aligning Systems

The first of two online courses Aligning Systems, examines the interconnectedness among the elements that comprise the whole system to determine how a change in one area of the system may impact other areas of the system and how that influences the work to be done.

Goal: Provoke educational leaders to become system thinkers

Instructional Leadership - How do we do the "Right Work?"

Doing the “Right Work” requires the MI-LIFE 3C’s for Instructional Leadership:
Coherence, Culture and Capacity.


The unit begins with Coherence, the second online course, which ensures that a process is in place for connecting curriculum with high-quality instruction and assessment followed by methods of monitoring and supervising to ensure that high-quality instruction is actually and consistently occurring in classrooms.

Goal: Equip educational leaders to become proficient instructional leaders


Culture, the second course of this unit, explores the health or toxicity of the environment in a district/school. Learners develop powerful strategies to create the right culture for a purposeful and robust professional learning community that ultimately impacts student learning.

Goal: Prompt education leaders to develop healthy cultures and promote shared leadership

, the culminating course in the MI-LIFE program, views leadership not as the sole responsibility of the building or district leader but as a collective, shared potential among many stakeholders. This course engages the learners in building capacity to focus on the concepts of principle, purpose, and people.
Increase capacity by developing a purposeful professional learning community

Of note: Administrators pay $500 to sign up for this program but the actual cost is actually about $1500. Participants can receive CEUs or College Credit. Participants receive an endorsement and certification. They are considering making this a requirement for certain leadership positions.

The folks at MI LIFE are interested in helping other school districts develop their leaders and are interested in working with others to bring this program to other parts of the world or country. To view the MI-LIFE Program Brochure, click here. To view the MI-LIFE Curriculum Syllabi, click here.

In New York we provide a program called iLead for school leaders. All or part of this may be a great follow up to our iLead program. I wonder how leaders at other school(s) are preparing to become 21st Century leaders. I also wonder if teachers of principals who have attended these programs have noticed a difference.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Microsoft Supports Innovative Teachers, Students, and Schools

I’m at Microsoft’s US Partners in Learning briefing where they are outlining three key programs they have created to help educators employ technology throughout the learning process, and enable students to achieve their learning goals. The content appears valuable and membership is instant, free, and open to everyone. You can also begin networks and discussion forums for groups or topics of interest.

Innovative Teachers
The Innovative Teachers Network
is a portal that allows educators to collaborate, and share best practices around 21st century learning. The portal connects a global community of educators focused on 21st century learning and recognizes their exemplary efforts to prepare students for the future. Members gain access to:

  • Free, high quality classroom and professional learning content
  • Dialogues on best practices, innovation and pedagogy
  • Your own personal workspace to post resources, and interact with others
  • Learn about the Microsoft Peer Coaching Program

Innovative Students
Affordable, reliable software to qualifying governments purchasing Windows-based PCs for primary and secondary students' personal use at home.

Innovative Schools
Delivers expert guidance in holistic school reform, plus a roadmap for technology integration to help schools meet their education objectives.

Your Role
If you have the opportunity to explore any of these programs, please share your thoughts, ideas and comments about how this may work for you, your colleagues, and/or your school(s) and how it compares to what you are currently using.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Scaling Education Innovations

Chris Dede from Harvard University shared this model for scaling educational innovation at Microsoft's US Partners in Leaching briefing.

This model is designed
to provide familiarity with a scale framework, allow you to come away with a scale planning process and answer the following questions:
  • How do you do this?
  • What are the steps and traps?
  • How can technology help?
If you are reading this blog, you probably are involved in many innovative projects and activities. If you have a proven innovation you want to scale, this is considered a great model for new thinking about innovation, adoption, and change for the 21st Century.

Vision & Planning – School of the Future Case Study

I’m at a briefing series at Microsoft provided to share key learnings from the Partners in Learning projects with the education community and equip attendees with practical resources to be implemented in their organizations. Here is how they developed Philadelphia’s School of the Future. Take a look and think about if you think this type of process takes place in the school(s) you work in or with.

Developing a Vision
Can everyone involved in your effort articulate the vision? Is everyone on the same page? Get a glimpse inside the visioning method for the School of the Future and talk about how and why you might implement it.
Note: Everyone at SOF articulates that learning must be continuous, relevant, and adaptive.

Using a Process
To guide the creation of the School of the Future, the 6i process was developed. This session will take you through its use in Philadelphia and offer guidance as to how you can use it in your organization.

People & Hiring
Microsoft follows a very particular hiring process resulting in high acceptance rates and low turnover. Many aspects of Microsoft’s people strategy were utilized during the School of the Future’s hiring – understand how you can update your approach.

Public Private Partnerships
Absolutely critical to the success of the SOF project were the multitude of partners involved. Schools, community organizations, government and the private sector all have a role to play. This experience demonstrated a new type of partnership for Microsoft – see why we have changed our approach.

Scaling Success
Scaling-up an education innovation means being able to adapt an innovation in almost any education context. How do you do this? What are the steps and traps? How can technology help? This session will help you answer these questions, become familiar with a scale framework, and come away with a scale planning process.

Related Websites

Friday, March 21, 2008

Why I started a blog and why maybe you should too

I shared with several friends, family and colleagues that I was starting a blog and while I got several, “It’s about times,” and “Congrats!,” I was surprised by the equal number of responses that went something like this: “Why do you want everyone to know your business?” “You better make sure you stay out of trouble.” “Be careful! A lot of people who have blogs get fired for sharing their personal lives.” Why do you want to keep a blog? Diaries should be kept private.” “Why do you want to publish your life online?”

You get the picture.

I thought by now people realized that blogs were often "more than they were in the days when people inappropriately posted their personal exploits and diaries online. I thought people, or at least my people, my friends, realized the value of having an online presence. While several of them did, many, many still did not. So, I explained to them what I’ve learned...
Having a digital footprint is crucial for your career if you want to establish credibility as an expert. While I have tons of work that lives online, there is nothing of my choosing directly pointing to me, what I believe, and what I do. As a result, I don’t have a real digital footprint and that means while I’ve done a lot of good work for my employers I have nothing that identifies my work, who I am, what I believe, and what I do.

My three primary inspirations to begin this blog were Penelope Trunk who eloquently explains why Blogging essential for a good career, Lucy Calkins who through the TCRWP taught me the value of helping students learn to love writing their own words, rather than being assigned to write about the words of others and Will Richardson who in his post URGENT: 21st Century Skills for Educators (and Others) First complains…

For all of the experts and scholars and pundits who were staking out a part of the conversation about educational reform, I couldn’t help leaving there wondering how many of them really have a sense of the changes that are afoot here. I looked up a whole bunch of the names of the presenters and I could only find a handful that have any real Read/Write Web footprint that would allow me to consider them to be a part of my network. And worse, it was painfully obvious by their death by PowerPoint presentation styles that their own adoption of technology as a communication tool not to mention a networked learning tool left a great deal to be desired. The governors, the state superintendents, the consultants…from none of them did I get the sense that they could give a great response to a request to model their uses of technology to teach and learn effectively, especially in the context of networks.

Will went on to say,
if you want your ideas to resonate with me and to be taken seriously, don’t just talk. Engage. Publish. Converse. Add your voice to the network of people who are living these ideas every day.

So it’s about time, I stop talking the talk and start walking the walk and I’m happy to say that I’ve convinced two of my closest friends to follow suit and start their own blogs too at The Innovative Parent and Woman Business Owner. I hope to inspire many others as well.

If you want to share your blogging experiences or need some help or advice, please comment here or email me at and I’ll share how you can get started by quickly and easily setting up a blog, wiki, social network, and email with just the right name and focus.

Additional reading: Why Every Teacher Should Blog from the Drape's Takes blog.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

All ya do is talk, talk…

I am fortunate to live in one of the greatest cities in the world, in one the largest school systems in the country, and to have one of the best jobs I could ever want. Combined this provides me access to learn directly from some of the brightest minds in the world. I am aware that I am beyond fortunate to have the opportunity to learn so much from such esteemed and renowned experts. Just this month I have been face-to-face with Jane Goodall, Marco Torres, Jean Michael Cousteau, Alan November, Diane Ravich, Deb Meir, Will Richardson, and Dave Warlick.

However, what I find myself realizing is that while they all have amazing, impactful, meaningful and relevant information and ideas to share…what is missing, what is needed, is for these educational leaders to come into our schools and work with us with a classroom full of students. Let us see these words in action. While I know it’s unrealistic to believe an expert can come in for one period and make miracles, I think that it would be a great follow up for those of us who are the choir to whom they’ve been preaching.

We are the converted and the logical next step for those of us who have bought the bill of goods is to commission these experts to a little more then tell us what we should be doing and instead join us in a “Get Going with…” lesson and provide ideas to keep it going. I’ve found that in so many cases it takes just this kind of push to see a these words in action to really start the type of changes these leaders are talking about. And, if we used some tech tools to record, share, and follow these experiences, well the results could have a tremendously impactful rippling effect.

Are others ready to move beyond the great talks and presentations? Have any of you actually had some of these experts work with your classes? If so, please share some information and links to what they’ve done and what you’ve learned.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Innovative Educator takes its first step

I’ve spent as long as I can remember being an educator, student or both, passionate about authentic, meaningful, fun, and relevant schooling. In first grade my school informed my mother that I spent most days sleeping and they were concerned I had a learning disability, though in those days, I believe my teacher told my mom she thought I was “retarded.” Frantic my mother took me off to UCLA medical center for a battery of tests where they advised my mother and my school that I tested much higher than average in all tests and my issue was boredom and under stimulation.

They recommended I skip a grade. That helped a little, but I spent most of my school years in what felt like a meaningless, dreary torture chamber. My teachers promised that though what they were teaching might not seem important then, I would need it when I grew up. 

I couldn’t wait to grow up and figure out why all this stuff was important. I hurried on my way to growing up, graduating college at 19. I didn’t know how it was that growing up would teach me the meaning of what seemed an irrelevant school experience, but I was excited to finally have the mystery solved.

Once in the real world, I realized it was all a farce. There was very little that I learned in school that was valuable…especially after 4th grade. I felt cheated and disappointed that I had spent countless excruciatingly BORING years in classrooms and had nothing to show for it but a bunch of diplomas and boxes of reports graded by my teachers that no one cared about.

As an adult, I have been fortunate to personally connect with some fantastic authors and experts (Alan November, Will Richardson, Marc Prensky, David Warlick, Lucy Calkins, Marco Torres, Penelope Trunk, Peggy Sheehy…all highly Googleable) interested in making learning real, meaningful, fun, and authentic. I am fortunate to have the pleasure of learning a lot from them. I consider them my personal learning network experts.

Something I’ve learned from these experts is that if you want to be taken seriously, you have to have a digital footprint. It’s not enough to talk about the work you do, do the work you do, and spread the work you do. Even if it’s in one of the world’s largest school systems. To be taken seriously, you must become a more formal part of the conversation. 

It is toward that end I have begun developing my own digital footprint beginning with this blog. With more than ten years experience working in the field of educational technology for the New York City Department of Education and Teachers College, Columbia University, I have gained a lot of valuable information that I believe will be helpful for educators and other interested parties and I’m ready to share my ideas for making the learning environment a more exciting and meaningful place. 

If you are an educator or someone interested in education I hope you find some of what I share valuable and that you are inspired to put some of my ideas into action.