3 Steps to Professional Learning Planning (PLP)

In a previous blog entry, Planning Active Learning for Professionals, I shared a few ideas I’d gathered (then “stolen, made to look like not stolen, then shared among thieves” as an old colleague told me once). My end goal was to create a one-page professional learning planner that could serve as a visual aid.

As a visual learner, it helps me to be able to see as many possible choices and bits of information in a “all on the table” kind of way. That’s why I wanted to build a one-page PLP document. After some false starts, I have settled upon the following document:

Page 1 of 2 | Get the PDF version

As you can see, it tries to capture the 3 Step approach. I admit that I added the Professional Development Model question at the top of the document after creating the 3 steps. One of the reasons why it’s such a pain to ponder professional development models is that we sort of already know most of them don’t work as well as we would like.

Key Elements for Professional Development
Below are some key elements of successful professional development. Yes, I swiped these from Kaplan’s web site, The Principles of Effective Professional Development. They have a great summary of some of the research reports I reference below. Ok, here’s the excerpt…

Professional development needs to:

  1. Be an ongoing experience for educators that provide extended learning opportunities help them master new skills and instructional methods. These have a better chance at positively impacting student learning. (Gulamhussein; Darling-Hammond et al.)
  2. Be job embedded as much as possible so that what is learned can be applied in the classroom. (DeMonte; Darling-Hammond et al.)
  3. Provide support for teachers during the implementation stage of using a new instructional method in the classroom.  (Gulamhussein).
  4. Offer content that is specific (e.g. goal, discipline, grade level, developmental stage) instead of generic. (Gulamhussein; Darling-Hammond et al.)
  5. Be engaging and use varied approaches to support learning for both groups and individuals.(Gulamhussein). 
  6. Include modeling because it helps educators understand new instructional methods (Gulamhussein; Darling-Hammond et al.)
  7. Promote collaboration among teachers because it leads to better teaching and instruction, helping educators solve problems they are dealing with in the classroom. (DeMonte; Darling-Hammond et al.)

Simply put, professional development needs to be ongoing, job-embedded, specific, as well as model and support implementation in the classroom via various group/individual strategies. PD should also support collaboration among teachers, something which they have little time for during the day. Can anyone say, “Twitter PLN?”

What’s missing? 
Now that I look at it, what I don’t see and would like to, is how learners are going to create or make their thinking visible. What else do you think is missing that should be there? Please share in the comments.

Note: Much of what I’m sharing below in terms of research comes from Linda Darling-Hammond as cited in a Center for Public Education report, Teaching the Teachers.

What Students Need But Often Don’t Get
As you look at the PLP above, you’ll notice that there is a bias towards active learning. Of course, aligning activities learners are engaged in is important. I expect that professional learning from this point forward has to model approaches that mirror the learning styles of Generation Z students. And, of course, you can probably guess what kind of approaches those are (check the chart).

New shifts and reforms “represent a retreat from the traditional rote, fact-based style of instruction toward teaching that fosters critical thinking and problem solving” (Gulamhussein as cited here).

What students need is listed below:

  • Investigation and problem-based approaches
  • Participation in meaning-making and reasoning
  • Questioning strategies
  • Generating ideas and questions
As you can imagine, this is pretty fantastic research from my point of view. As a PrBL advocate for many years, having facilitated PrBL Academies at the TCEA State Conference a couple of years in a row as well as in a large urban school district I served in and for a regional education service center, I have never found problem-based approaches to fade in the research. I suspect that it is because as human beings, we are wired for problem-solving. 
Professional development must engage learners in active learning that leaves them seeking more. It has to be significant (more than 14 hours, closer to 40 hours) and ongoing. Honestly, there’s no way to achieve that without technology and blended learning/webinar approaches.

For example, the “workshop” approach that we are all so familiar with (91.5% of teachers are subjected to this) has little to no impact on student learning or teacher practice!

 “The one-time workshop assumes the only challenge facing teachers is a lack of knowledge of effective teaching practices and when that knowledge gap is corrected teachers will then be able to change” (Gulamhussein as cited here)

Workshops are only effective if they allow for and focus on facilitating learning specific skills or strategies backed by research. Some strategies that can improve the effect of workshops include the following:

  • Readings
  • Role playing techniques
  • Open-ended discussions of what is presented
  • Live modeling
  • Visits to classrooms to observe and discuss the teaching methodology
Still. you wonder how much benefit anyone actually does gain from workshops. Perhaps, more worrisome, is the assertion that teachers who learn something new actually have to see it be successful before they accept into their own practice. Given that workshops often fall into 

Compare the workshop approach to the “coaching” approach (45% of teachers exposed to to coaching).

For the coaching approach, consider these statistics:

  1. 5% of learners will transfer a new skill as a result of theory.
  2. 10% of learners will transfer a new skill as a result of theory and demonstration
  3. 20%  of learners will transfer a new skill as a result of theory, demonstration, practice with training
  4. 25%  of learners will transfer a new skill as a result of theory, demonstration, practice, training and feedback
  5. 90% will transfer a new skill into their practice with theory, demonstration, practice with the training, feedback and coaching.

    Obviously coaching wipes the floor with the workshop approach. Other popular PD models such as Peer Observation (63% of teachers have experienced this), Research (39.8%) are also heavily used. My money is on coaching, though.

    Peer Observation
    Bell (2005) defines peer observation of teaching as a “collaborative, developmental activity in which professionals offer mutual support by:

    • observing each other teach; explaining and discussing what was observed
    • sharing ideas about teaching
    • gathering student feedback on teaching effectiveness
    • reflecting on understandings, feelings, actions and feedback
    • trying out new ideas
    Having experienced peer observation myself as a third grade bilingual teacher, I can certainly attest to the effectiveness of this model. The reason why I perceived it as effective is that I was learning from a respected colleague who didn’t have another agenda (e.g. district office oversight, not that they had it back then), I could try and fail and try again with support, students were active participants in the process. What really made it fun was that I was already writing articles for publication, so my attempts at new ideas almost certainly found their way into my writing. 
    In fact, those peer observations, then trying it out in my classroom with my students, and reflections got me hooked on a new type of writing unlike the academic stuff I’d been accustomed to. It was the precursor to the blogging that I would begin a few years later.
    While peer observation can also be used for performance management, as opposed to development (which was what I was familiar with), I am a little nervous about top-down “performance management.” I have a healthy distaste for someone managing my performance. I suspect that it works just fine for others, though (grin). Some other quick points about peer observation:
    • Peer observation of teaching provides a forum where teaching practices are shared rather than remaining a private activity (D’Andrea 2002a), and this 
    • encourages reflection on teaching and 
    • fosters debate about and dissemination of best practice (Hammersley-Fletcher and Orsmond 2005). 
    • Peer feedback can be used as evidence for teaching award or promotion applications (Hammersley-Fletcher and Orsmond 2004) and 
    • complements student evaluations since academics provide a different perspective (Hutchings 1996). 
    • provides a model of peer and self assessment for students (Napan and Mamula-Stojnic 2005). 
    Some key ideas about peer observation:
    1. Instrumental interpretation of peer observation is insufficient by itself to enhance teacher performance in the classroom.
    2. “Learning about teaching, and heightening a sense of professionalism stems from a continuous process of transforming personal meaning. This demands an active engagement with pedagogical theory, purposeful critical reflection on classroom practice, and a challenging of assumptions through shared critical reflection” (Source)
    Professional Learning Planner (PLP)
    As I reflect on the PLP, it’s clear that it doesn’t address any of the key elements of professional development. Those lie outside the scope of that document. And, I’m OK with that for now. However, page 2 of the PLP (doesn’t exist…yet) may very well be a way of addressing these areas, even if it is a reminder to PL/PD planners of what those elements are.

    So here is page 2 of the PLP, which I imagine would run two-sided on a piece of paper:

    Page 2 of 2 | Get the PDF version

    Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

    Planning Active Learning Possibilities for Professionals (Updated)

    “In a few days,” shared a friend, “I’m going to have to encourage a team of professional development experts to figure out their vision for professional development. The problem is, I’m not sure what the best approach is. I suspect no one will agree and I’ll be stuck refereeing a disagreement of epic proportions.”
    A few years ago, I recall being in a similar spot as my friend. I had come up with the best plan imaginable, taking advantage of my advanced, technology-based experience. Upon presentation, all found a way to criticize the plan proposed.

    Just as chaos was about to occur, I had a flash of insight. I invited them to draw a picture of their ideal solution. The room grew silent except for pencils and pens scratching at blank sheets of paper. When each dyad or triad shared their vision, an astonishing reality became known. 

    Not one vision had elements common to all. Each held a vital piece of the puzzle in their hand. We moved forward to collaborative planning with various pieces of the puzzle, each representing a particular stakeholder group. This enabled us to put together a plan and solution that worked for all. This experience transformed my approach to groups, effectively turning me from sage on a stage to guide on the side.
    In their free book, The Joy of Professional Learning, the authors, who happen to be  Apple Distinguis hed Educators (ADE), outline various recipes for professional learning. These recipes promote active learning, which research has shown students perform better with than when they sit through a lecture. While these approaches are mostly intended for use face to face, some or all include technology or can be adapted to include it. In the final column, I have added my spin on the approach, describing what I would do. Of course, you may have another idea that would be fun. I encourage you to read Joy versions in their entirety. Unfortunately, they are only available in Ibooks format:
    Finally, I have also added Problem-based or Project-based Learning (PrBL/PBL) to the list of recipes since it is one of my favorite approaches.
    At the end of the chart, you will also find a Professional Learning Planner (PLP) to help you better construct your professional learning experience. Remember that all professional learning must kindle the interest, and occurs with the consent, of the learner. Fail to obtain either, and your professional learning may be doomed.
    Technology Adaptation
    Learners are engaged in a problem-solving approach that relies on ingenuity and creativity. Learners experience teamwork and collaboration. Usually involves a kit.
    Participants gather at this social event to discuss important topics. Conversation starter cards, coffee and pastries are made available.
    Setup online shared documents, padlet and invite participants to gather in groups to respond to the conversation prompt. This can also be done as audio (e.g. Voxer) or video (e.g. Flipgrid) social event. Technology makes capturing the discussion easier.
    Challenge based Learning
    Learners brainstorm big ideas relevant to a pre-selected topic, then discuss and develop an essential question. They convert the question into a challenge statement that “creates urgency and spurs action.” When each team has a challenge statement, rotate the teams so problem-solving can begin.
    Create an online shared document for each team. In that document, they list brainstorming, questions, essential question and challenge statement. They submit the link to their document via a Form, accessible by other teams. Each team adds their thoughts to the online document in a different color.
    Learners collect items (magazine articles, links, photos, videos) relevant to a particular topic and create a shareable document.
    Use a web site like PinterestPadlet or AnswerGarden to have students collect audio, images, photos, video with their mobile device then share it via the padlet. Participants could also rely on tools like Diigo Social Bookmarking, Twitter/Instagram hashtags, a Facebook Group.
    Another approach involves creating interactive infographics using tools like PiktoChart,Easel.lyInfog.ram,
    or Canva and then dropping that creation into Thinglink. Combining an infographic creation tool with Thinglink makes your infographic interactive, extending the reach and usability of your new creation.
    Also characterized as an “unconference,” this enables learners to identify topics of interest to them. Topics are grouped and organized according to available space and time. Learners then meet in the available spaces at agreed upon times to discuss a topic of interest. The law of two feet applies (participants can leave at any time) and there is no designated presenter or lecturer.
    Have participants submit topics of interest via an online Form. The organizer arranges topics and create rooms using appropriate tool (e.g. Appear.inVoxer) and then publishes links to the virtual spaces. Participants join rooms and offer their contributions. A facilitator to handle technical issues may be designated. One example is EdCampVoxerconference that occurs every December.
    Game board
    Create a game board that involves dice, movement of pieces, and drawing a card that suggests a potential action.
    Gamifying learning is made easier with tools like Minecraft: Education Edition that allow for creating a virtual learning space.
    Genius Hour
    Learners explore a topic of interest and 60 minutes is set aside to support learners’ pursuit of that topic. Learners develop a driving question that must involve research and the project needs to be shared with the world.
    A wide variety of technologies can be used to support Genius Hour.
    Live Stream
    In this recipe, participants use Periscope to broadcast from their mobile device, discussing a particular topic. They share their thoughts then publish the link.
    Video reflection tools like Flipgrid.com and GetRecap.com make the use of non-education focused apps like Periscope or YouTube Captureunnecessary. Simply create topics, share the code with each team, then they can respond to it. What’s more, other teams can respond to the initial topic discussion by another team.
    Mobile Learning
    Learners use their mobile devices to interact with their surroundings as they walk around campus. Each station on the walk may include a QR code or AR trigger. Learners keep notes on their device, submitting it at the end of their walk.
    Learners can take a learning walk and add learning (e.g. anchor chart examples) to a Pinterest wall, submit via Google Forms (which is later made available for viewing by the whole group), or use FlipGrid.com to create video reflections for various topics.
    Online Course
    Create an online course in your favorite learning management system (LMS) and then facilitate learners as they navigate various modules and activities.
    Vary your approach from using traditional LMSs (e.g. Canvas, Moodle, Classroom), and try using tools like Slack, Voxer, and WhatsApp, which are mobile and allow for more mobile learning.
    Design hands-on activities that correspond to a particular topic arranged in Centers. Participants work in teams to complete activities then rotate to the next station.
    Create digital spaces that allow for teams to complete and submit activities online.
    Podcast participants determine a guiding question or topic, then record the audio of their conversation. When complete, they publish it via a blog or a platform with an RSS feed.
    Podcasts are easy to record using Skype, Appear.in or Voxer. Each of these allow for conversations. Voxer works great for back-n-forth conversations. Afterwards, you can combine each vox using Audacity sound editing software.
    Learners are introduced to a real life problem or simulation that requires them to identify what they know, what they need to know, strategies for solving the information problem, and a reflection component. They must identify guesses about the situation, what they know for certain, what questions they need answers to, and stakeholder perspectives embedded in problem. Then they divide up into groups to develop a solution from their perspective that prioritizes and groups questions. Each group has a different perspective and set of questions to respond to. Their solution may be a project, a presentation, identification of next steps.
    Throughout the PBL process, technology can be used. For example, virtual simulations can introduce a problem, clarify the problem, or test a solution. Technology can also be used to communicate and collaborate with others engaged in parallel problem-solving or with different expertise (or in the field with relevant data).
    Technology can be used to document as well as share solutions with others. Real life applications make PBL the best approach for integrated use of technology tools.
    Contact individuals ahead of an event, inviting them to submit slides ahead of time. Combine all the slides into one slide deck then provide each person time to share about their showcase topic.
    Ask individuals to create a timed video, place that video on Youtube, then create a playlist for all the videos. Share the playlist with others so they can watch it. Use a Padlet or online form (e.g. Google or Microsoft) to capture insights and take-aways.
    Speed Dating
    Learners are paired in two parallel rows and pose questions related to organizational goals. They each share their experience and then rotate.
    Employ Appear.in to setup virtual conversations rooms with remote experts (in another school, state, or country). Each device represents an expert that is remotely connected. Have learners rotate from device to device.
    Twitterchats are organized around a particular hashtag (e.g. #tceachat) and enable anyone following the hashtag to join in. They can involve guest hosts along with a regular host that facilitates the technical elements of the chat.
    Some ways to enhance twitterchats include using tools like Tweetdeck, Participate.com/chats, or Twubs.com to track chats and publicize them to others. You can also use
    Professional Learning Planner (PLP)

    Note: This is a rough draft of my PLP. I am actually working on a much better looking one but think of this as my rough draft. I’ll probably share the nicer one later this week. After all, who wants to carry around this tome of a blog entry when putting together PD/PL?

    When crafting professional learning, I often ask myself these questions:

    1. How do I engage participants from the get-go, encouraging movement?
    2. How do I setup the learning environment so they are moving from the start?
    3. How do I enable them to take the stage to share their insights and learning?
    4. What’s the easiest way to capture that and share that with the world?
    5. How can I blend a check for understanding or assessment component that holds learners accountable and pushes them to engage in reflection?
    The PLP is only one of many graphic organizers to help me make sense of learning. It is based on these general concepts shown below.
    Concept Type
    Engaging Activities/Icebreakers
    (Question #1)
      1. Emoji Puzzle (template): As learners enter the classroom, hand them an emoji puzzle piece that will match one other student in the class. After all the learners are in the class, have them walk around the classroom and try to find the other student that has the matching emoji puzzle piece. (via  @diben)
      2. QR Code (template): Print QR codes and cut them into four pieces. Give each participant one of the four pieces of the code. Next, have learners find their group based on their category. Once in their group, have your learners scan the QR code to reveal if their category word is correct. (via� @diben and @preimers)
      3. Conversation Starter Stones (template): Use inexpensive clear stones with a glued on task to get kids moving and engaged. (via  @diben)
      4. Padlet: Have students create a slide about themselves in Powerpoint, use MS Snip to record audio annotation, then copy-n-paste the link to the Snip into a Padlet with the picture.
      5. Sway: Have students create a MS Sway presentation about themselves.
      6. Four Corners: Organize participants into four equal sized groups then have them discuss a question, sharing their responses via some online venue (e.g. TodaysMeet.com, Twitter with a hashtag, Padlet).
      7. Kahoot/Quizizz: Participants complete an online activity, sharing their knowledge (or lack of) about a topic.
    Encourage Movement
    (Question #2)
      1. Act Out Stories: Have students create a story about the information they are working with. Each learner in the group acts out different aspects of the story. Record each portrayal, then publish the videos via the campus blog or web site.
      2. Go Noodle: This web site has tons of activities that facilitate movement in class.
    Taking the Stage and Sharing
    (Question #3 & #4)
    Employ one of the recipes shown above with a technology adaptation. Each technology adaptation makes it easy to share student creations with others.
    Check for Understanding
    (Question #5)

    Updated 02/23/17

    Update: Note the PLP is now available online with explanation.

    Page 1 of 2 | Get the PDF version

    Page 2 of 2 | Get the PDF version


    Thanks for sticking with me through to the end. As you might imagine, there are MANY more ways to engage learners. What are some ways that you would like to see mentioned here? Or, what are some ways you would adapt those approaches to reflect ubiquitous technologies many learners have access to?

    Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

    Visualizing Our Understanding: Graphic Organizers

    “The use of graphic organizers,” says the El Campo ISD’s Intervention Warehouse website, “is a powerful tool that is easy to integrate into daily instruction.” The ECISD site then goes on to share access to several sources for graphic organizers for visualizing learning.
    Graphic organizers are teaching and learning tools; when they’re integrated into classroom experiences, students are better able to understand new material. Creating a strong visual picture, graphic organizers support students by enabling them to literally see connections and relationships between facts, information, and terms.
    Source: Teaching Graphic Organizers
    As a writer, I often skipped “outlining” and note-taking as ways to organize my writing and notes. Instead, I created graphic organizers to capture ideas and map out my writing. When taking notes, I captured powerful research concepts using a graphic organizer rather than laboriously writing out page after page of notes This approach helped me build a gestalt of the ideas presented.
    yED Graph Editor

    The Problem with Graphic Organizers

    Imagine that when someone says to you, “Could you read this technical text and summarize it?” you could ask yourself, “Well, which graphic organizer should I select?” Then, after some deliberation, you would pick the appropriate graphic organizer and use that one. You wouldn’t be limited to the default spider web graphic organizer with a main concept in the middle.
    Instead, you would just use the right one for each task. Unfortunately, that has always been my problem with graphic organizers. Although I know there are different types (e.g. Problem-Solution, Fishbone, Time Order, etc.) for various functions, I never knew which one to rely on when I was growing up. To this day, I still rely on the easiest graphic organizer, the spider web with main topic in the middle and ideas radiating out from the center. Drawing graphic organizers by hand, though, can be cumbersome since mistakes are tough to correct.

    Solutions for Visualizing Our Learning

    “To know” goes the old constructivist saying, “is to know how to make.” When teachers pre-print graphic organizers for their students, they inadvertently do several negative things. Those things include:
    • Modeling the use of a graphic organizer appropriate to a text and thus
    • Removing the responsibility and ownership of selecting the correct graphic organizer appropriate to a text from the learner
    Obviously, if students have less of a say in exactly what graphic organizer to use and when, their long-term use of this tool may suffer. This is because graphic organizers are visual representations of what we store in our brains. This can lead to challenges in comprehension. That’s pretty profound, isn’t it? That’s why it is so important to get students to create their own graphic organizers.
    Let’s explore three tools you can use to create graphic organizers via digital devices.

    Hand-Drawn Graphic Organizers with OneNote

    If you’re not familiar with OneNote, it is a phenomenal mobile app that makes digital ink a reality for those with touch-screen computers or Surface Pro/Android/iPad tablets. With digital ink (that is the ability to draw on the tablet screen with a stylus or fingertip), students are able to finally create graphic organizers that are representative of their own visualizations.

    Computer/Browser-Based Tools

    If you have access to a Windows, Mac, or Chromebook, then tools abound for creating graphic organizers. Here are my top two favorite no-cost (free!) tools, but there are many more available, also known as “mind-mapping tools.”
    • Draw.io: Looking for an easy to use, browser-based diagramming or graphic organizer creator? Look no further than Draw.io! It works in your browser, but allows you to save to whatever cloud storage system you prefer, such as Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive.
    • yED Graph Editor: yEd can be installed on your computer (Windows, Mac, GNU/Linux) and works fantastically well. You can create graphic organizers using its simple layout. It also scales up to meet the needs of grade 9-12 and adult learners.


    I still remember my first copy of Inspiration graphic organizer software. I was amazed at what I could create to represent my understanding of a process, a concept, or a text. Learning how to use graphic organizers, short of learning to read/write and use technology, remains one of the best lessons my high school teacher taught me. How are you teaching your students to use graphic organizers?

    Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

    Minecraft: Education Edition Tutorial Videos

    Are you a Minecraft: Education Edition digital native? If so, do we have a treat for you! Take a look at this new video series focusing on introductory videos to everyday tasks in the popular program. These short videos walk you through some common tasks, such as changing a skin, finding materials in creative mode, as well as using the compass and map and mastering the teleport command.

    Note: This blog entry originally published by TCEA TechNotes blog. Read other awesome blog entries by the TCEA team online at www.tcea.org/blog


    The Three Little Pigs

    One of my favorite activities involves asking participants to narrate their own Three Little Pigs story using Microsoft Office Mix. One fun activity involves building straw, stick, and brick houses. In this Minecraft video series, you will learn what you need to know to re-create this famous story.

    Video Series

    1. Changing a Skin (2:00)
    2. Finding materials in creative mode (2:24)
    3. Compass Map Teleportation (4:08)
    4. Survival and Finding Materials (0:57)
    5. Smelting and Torches (1:05)
    6. Building a Straw House (1:33)
    7. Building a Stick House (2:19)
    8. Building a Brick House (4:59)
    9. Make/Spawn a Wolf and Pig (3:17)
    Note: Notice a young voice? I’d like to thank James E. Guhlin (@jguhlin) for his work creating these video tutorials. You can follow his regular Minecraft video creations here.
    These videos are intended for teachers to learn some of the simple things they need to know to get started and offer an easy entry that scaffolds your efforts. Need more support?

    Register for Minecraft Professional Learningthreelittlepigs

    Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

    The Power of Yet! for Hackers and Phishers #yetpower

    “Why did he click on that email attachment?” asked one technology director I spoke with recently. The click led to a ransomware attack that expanded to the business department’s server, resulting in frantic data-saving actions.  For many technology directors, the problem is not the phishing or the ransomware. The real problem is their lack of influence to bring about change in the organization. Consider this problem in light of a common occurrence in education today.

    Note: This blog entry originally published by TCEA TechNotes blog. Read other awesome blog entries by the TCEA team online at www.tcea.org/blog

    Knowing vs Doing

    What is Known:
    • Hackers, phishers, and scammers want our personally-identifiable information. They can sell it for $10 or more on the darknet, where illegal transactions happen (think “Silk Road“).
    • Bad people send out emails to educators. These emails appear legitimate. They invite district staff to surrender their username and password and then send decrypted sensitive data and/or ransomware that use staff’s machines as a beachhead to infect the rest of the network.
    • Staff know NOT to fall for these traps, but do so anyways.
    What is Done:
    In spite of knowing these things, staff continue to click on phishing links where they happily share their username and password via an insecure website, send copies of confidential documents to complete strangers, or click on ransomware that encrypts their computer, then spreads to everyone else’s. These actions by a few individual wreak havoc on the whole network, and small districts especially are overwhelmed.

    The Traditional Response

    The traditional response involves disciplining staff, even terminating them in severe data breaches. They should have known better, right? Oh, but wait, your district does not have a safeguarding sensitive data policy in place (many districts do not, which is why I offer this one as a start). It involves buying and issuing hardware (e.g. Chromebooks, iPads, Macbooks) that malware (e.g. ransomware) can’t work its dark magic on (YET…you just know hackers subscribe to growth mindset, right?).
    It means locking down Windows computers with Active Directory policies, Deep Freeze so that technicians don’t have to spend a lot of time fixing user errors. This has been standard practice for years. Here’s a roundup of advice that should help districts who want to keep closing the gate after the livestock has made its getaway. That is, mopping up the mess after someone has been hacked, phished, taken.

    TCEA’s Roundup of Ideas for Safeguarding Sensitive Data

    But what if there was another approach, employing motivation, influence, and authority?

    A Fresh Approach: Influence

    In their book, Influencers, the authors suggest identifying vital action(s) that can be taken. These vital actions consist of the desired behavior(s) that must change. Rather than try to change twelve or more behaviors staff exhibit, focus on one or two that will have the greatest results. For example, try encourage adoption of this behavior:
    Assume emails with attachments are suspect, so verify the source of the email. This can be as easy as sending a new email to the person who contacted you and asking, “Did you send me a file attachment that says, “burnbabyburn.exe?” Wait, you can even get more done. Walk over to the person who sent you the email attachment and ask them “Did you send me a file I didn’t ask for?” Or just call them or text them on your mobile phone. This ONE behavior change would stop 99% of the issues technology departments complain about (e.g. ransomware, viruses, malware as attachments, AND sending sensitive data to complete strangers).

    Changing behavior

    When seeking to change behavior, the authors of Influencers recommend recognizing that there are six sources of influence. Often, we take into account only the first two when trying to bring about change:

    Source 1 – Personal Motivation

    Make the undesirable, desirable.
    Example – Do you really care if your computers gets infected with malware and you lose data? It’s not that big a deal, after all. A technician will come fix it eventually and most of your work is done on paper anyways. Instead, you must passionately care about protecting your data and that of your students. If someone tried to take one of your students hostage, you wouldn’t be so passive.

    Source 2 – Personal Ability

    Surpass your limits.
    Example – Do you have the skills and knowledge to know when you’ve encountered an email that is intended to do you and yours harm? You probably have an idea that you shouldn’t click on bad emails. Learn what you need to be better on guard.

    Source 3 – Social Motivation

    Harness peer pressure.
    Example – Do others on your team or your department really care about email and email attachments? Maybe they go through their spam folder looking for problematic emails because they need a break? What if everyone on your team was motivated to help each other NOT open spam emails with attachments or to practice the desired behavior?

    Source 4 – Social Ability

    Find strength in numbers.
    Example – Who could you speak to in the district who could help you obtain the knowledge or resources you need? Maybe there’s a SafeSchools or EduHero eCourse you can take or a free ebook you can read.

    Source 5 – Structural Motivation

    Design rewards and accountability.
    Example – When you check your email, are there a ton of emails waiting for you, so that you despair about getting through all of them and just click on anything? Maybe you can adopt Inbox Zero strategies so that email isn’t so overwhelming. Avoid sharing your confidential data (username and password) anywhere online since it can be so easily taken.

    Source 6 – Structural Ability

    Change the environment.
    Example – Maybe your district could adopt a different communications medium that isn’t susceptible to malware email attachments, like Slack or Microsoft Yammer or Teams.


    While this has been a lighthearted attempt to address the challenges end users face every day, it is important to realize that changing ONE behavior can result in significant change. When you go about changing it, realize that asking people to do the right thing and training them is not going to get it done. Unleash all sources of influence to bring about the change you want.

    Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

    The Power of YET! Meme – Google Educator Level 2

    MEME INVITATION: Here’s an invitation. Use this template in Google Draw (or make your own, like these Growth Mindset Cats by Laura Gibbs) to make your own Power of…YET poster each day this week, reflecting on YOUR own fixed mindsets. Then share that on your blog or via twitter/Instagram (tag it #yetpower) and post it in the comments. Won’t that be fun?

    I had a bit of fun reflecting on Google Educator Level 2 experience I had in December and came up with this Power of YET! to capture some of the topics I recall and pulled from the sample exam questions….It’s also fun to make one of these because you have to ask yourself, “What is that I don’t know about yet?” Yes, this is pretty low-level how-to, but it could be fun to also use this as a way to get folks thinking about what they don’t know how to do yet.

    Dealing with how-to is pretty great because it’s low stress…for most folks. “I don’t know how to do something so how can I learn how?” The answer is easy for how-to questions; watch YouTube. For deeper issues (e.g. biases, mindsets that are based on emotions/feelings rather than facts and information), Power of YET becomes a lot more controversial. Making your own Power of YET that inventories those internal biases can be tough.

    Of course, it’s tougher if someone else inventories your biases for you! Better to do your own.


    1. YouTube Annotations:
      “Jennifer,” said Superintendent Charlie, “I’m so grateful that you recorded that staff development presentation at Central Office and put it on YouTube. I know that there are several key components in the video that folks may want to jump to rather than sit through the long introduction I gave.”
      “Would it help if we added a hyperlinked table of contents to the front of the video?” Jennifer asked with a smile.
      “Yes,” said Charlie. “Gotta run! Let me know when it’s there so I can mention it…maybe even at the district gathering!”
      “Yes, sir,” replied Jennifer. Then she sighed. “How am I going to add hyperlinks to a Youtube video? Where is a Google Educator Level 2 Certified person when you need one?”
    2. Google Scholar:
      “Today, class,” said Ms. Rosen, “we’re going to be conducting research on immigration.”
      “Are we going to build a wall?” asked Nezio.
      “No, no,” she said without inflection. “Colonial immigration patterns played a key role in the short immigration video we’re watching later today. What is a tool that we’ve used recently to get information on immigration trends in colonial times?”
      “Google Scholar?” inquired Arminda.
      “Yes, exactly. Let’s take a moment and use Scholar to research laws during colonial times. Use your Big6 organizer.”

    3. Google Tour Builder:
      Take a moment to read this blog entry on Google Research and Tour Builder. Explore Google Tour Builder and build a virtual tour of your own family’s migration patterns in the U.S. to the best of your knowledge. This can include cross-country moves and involve any scope of time (e.g. ancestors or just your life if you’ve moved a lot). Be sure to include a picture/video and text for each.
    4. Achieve Inbox Zero:
      You are getting tons of email from work colleagues. That’s not so bad, but you’re losing track of the “important” emails from your supervisor and grade level team. Investigate how Google Labels, filters and/or Groups could be used to better manage your incoming email. Create a short how-to screencast demonstrating how you’ve sorted your inbox with labels for Dr. Jackson, Mr. Green, and a Google Group for your grade level.

    Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

    The Power of YET! Meme

    Do an internet image search on “growth mindset,” and you’ll stumble across an astonishing array of pictures that capture Carol Dweck’s ideas about growth mindset. In case you’re not familiar with it (yikes, how have you missed the deluge of growth mindset pictures, articles, books?), growth mindset is defined in this way:

    “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment,” writes Dweck.

    When I reflect on growth mindset in my own life, I realize that I definiely have some legacy “fixed mindsets” in place that I need to remove. May I share one of them with you?

    Fixed Mindset: What I Know Now Trumps What I Could Learn in Future

    Like many Google Certified Innovators and Trainers (ok, I am well-certified in Google tools, ok?), I remember doing what I’ve seen some Microsoft folks saying wherever they hang out. What’s ironic is that these are the same things I’ve heard some in the “true to Google” camp say, too.

    Why would anyone want to use that? I don’t know about it and don’t want to learn how to use that. I’m satisfied with what I do know.

    I’d probably go even further. So, when I started down my path using Microsoft (as a result of my job), I had to set aside my fixed mindset. Instead, I had to agree to become a learner, resetting my odometer to zero, relinquish my expertise as a Google expert (sheesh, how do you define experts anyway?) and embrace my ignorance.

    Wow, what a tremendous experience that was. Now, I often do embrace my ignorance (it’s easier to learn new things, I’ve found) but learning new stuff can be hard. And, my journey with Microsoft tools was just the beginning. And, what fun it was to learn new stuff!!

    After awhile, it didn’t matter what I was learning, only that I was learning. Does that make sense?

    That’s why “The Power of Yet!” is so powerful. And, it inspired the image at the top of this blog entry. Imagine making your own “The Power of…Yet!” for yourself about your particular challenges and obstacles. Wouldn’t that be cool?

    MEME Invitation

    Here’s an invitation. Use this template in Google Draw (or make your own) to make your own Power of…YET poster each day this week, reflecting on YOUR own fixed mindsets. Then share that on your blog or via twitter and post it in the comments. Won’t that be fun?

    Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

    Designing #Minecraft Spaces

    “How might you shape your space to foster creativity and learning for yourself and others?” asks University Innovation Fellows (@uifellows) via this presentation slide. At its most effective, early childhood curriculum expands children’s knowledge of the world and vocabulary. Such curriculum makes investigating real topics and events meaningful for children. And it instills a desire for question making and the use of literacy skills to explore the world around them. Ultimately, it invites them to be co-creators.
    Physical space is often conceived in three linear dimensions, although modern physicists usually consider it, with time, to be part of a boundless four-dimensional continuum known as spacetime. Source: Wikipedia
    Knowing how to shape the spaces we inhabit remains a human imperative.

    Note: This blog entry originally published by TCEA TechNotes blog. Read other awesome blog entries by the TCEA team online at www.tcea.org/blog

    Designing Learning Spaces

    Physical Space Design
    Early childhood educators can both shape the physical and virtual spaces students work in. With Minecraft: Education Edition, they can invite children to shape the virtual spaces in ways that the physical space cannot. Designing learning spaces converts impersonal spaces into learning-friendly ones and moves far beyond throwing a carpet down in the corner reading center.
    As we re-imagine physical spaces to reflect current educational research, several basics must be kept in mind. (Source: Tips for Creating Wow-Worthy Learning Spaces)
    • Allow students to easily transition to functional locations
    • Create spaces that nurture a sense of belonging
    • Foster interactive spaces that allow students to work in small groups
    • Highlight displays and materials (e.g. books)
    • Tidy storage of materials when not in use
    • Develop an ambience that addresses air quality, temperature, lighting, sound absorption, and effective wall space usage
    How can we coach students and help them create virtual spaces that are learner friendly?
    Virtual Space Design
    Whether in Second Life or Minecraft: Education Edition, as students become architects, how will physical space design principles transfer into the virtual world? One approach involves having students simply copy the physical space design. Minecraft: Education Edition explores re-designing classroom learning spaces. Who hasn’t looked at the flat world in Minecraft: Education Edition and felt a sense of awe at the creative possibilities? How do we help students go out and create a world?

    From Classroom Space to Virtual World Design

    Minecraft boasts unlimited space. The largest Minecraft map, if translated into a real world scale, would be equivalent to 9.3 million times larger than the surface area of the Earth (Source: The How-To Geek Guide to Minecraft). While students can’t necessarily be expected to fill the space, we should be asking ourselves “How can we design a worldwide virtual space, and what would a network of Minecraft worlds look like?” It’s not hard to imagine Minecraft:Education Edition expanding to include the solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, and more. Anyone who has experienced The World of Humanities has gotten a taste of the immensity of Minecraft space:

    Pre-Populating Your World

    If you are balking at how to get started with designing in Minecraft: Education Edition, you may want to take advantage of seeds.
    Every time you create a new world in minecraft, it will be assigned a random unique value, known as a seed. This seed is kind of like a barcode for Minecraft saves, and allows Minecraft players to share the cool worlds that they have found with other people. However, any changes made to the world made by the player will not show in a newly created seed.
    Source: What are Minecraft seeds?
    For example, to obtain the village shown below, I located a Minecraft seed that works on the Pocket Edition of Minecraft (and also with the Minecraft: Education Edition).
    And here’s what pasting the seed into the Create World window looks like:
    designingBenjamin Kelly (@bbtnb) provides some examples of seeds usable in Minecraft: Education Edition. Find them at the links below:


    “Less is more,” some say. Ensuring students learn how to design virtual spaces may be one of the next big challenges they face online. Begin with the end in mind and consider the tips referred to in this blog entry.

    Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

    Collecting #ELL Anecdotal Records with #OneNoteEDU #msftedu

    Most language learning assessment tools are rooted in paper and pencil. As Surface tablets, iPads, and Chromebooks find their way into teachers’ hands, new technologies can move us one step closer to multimedia assessment techniques. For example, in the area of assessment, the use of Microsoft OneNote can be helpful for recording observational notes. In this article, let’s consider how OneNote can enhance a type of assessment known as anecdotal records.

    Note: This blog entry originally published by TCEA TechNotes blog. Read other awesome blog entries by the TCEA team online at www.tcea.org/blog

    Towards Authentic Assessment

    In the Language Learning classroom, Microsoft OneNote can be used to support various types of assessment, such as anecdotal records. As discussed in 50 Strategies to Teach English Language Learners, using OneNote can greatly enhance the assessment process, through the following steps:
    1. Decide on a system for collecting assessment.
    2. Choose what to document/schedule.
    3. Conference with students to set growing goals.
    4. Use records for planning hands-on, cooperative learning.
    A campus team, such as a department or grade level group, can take advantage of OneNote to facilitate observational notes and collection of student work. Growing goals can be set in collaboration with students, and the digital version can be updated.

    Anecdotal Records

    Anecdotal records are a form of authentic assessment. These observational notes allow the teacher to record authentic experiences, unintended outcomes of literacy development, levels of engagement, curiosity, motivational factors, and more. For teachers, these records facilitate assessment conversations between educators and others.

    assessmentAnecdotal Records Assessment (ARA) with OneNote

    In his article, Focused Anecdotal Records Assessment: A Tool for Standards-Based, Authentic Assessment, Paul Boyd-Batstone outlines several ways ARA can be used. Let’s review some of his suggestions for OneNote usage:
    • Observing children in instructional settings: In this suggestion, Paul points out that students may be observed in small groups of 2-4. One of the concerns is that the teacher may forget the observations. He suggests observing different students throughout the week to build an observational record. Furthermore, using the Office Lens app, the teacher can capture student work, photos, and images and place them directly in the anecdotal record notebook.
      OneNote Connection: Teachers can create a page in OneNote for each student, adding video/audio recordings of the student, while quickly switch back-and-forth to make notes about specific students.
    • Maintaining a standards-based focus: Maintaining a focus on a particular standard or set of standards enables the teacher to better keep track of what he/she is observing. Paul cites specific verbs that the teacher can use. For example, in writing, verbs would include: write, print legibly, summarize, describe, and others.
      OneNote Connection: Teachers can keep a list of standards they copy-and-paste into OneNote as needed. These become checkboxes participants could use to quickly check off standards observed.
    • Making and managing of anecdotal records: Paul suggests that a single-page form can facilitate managing records (see example in OneNote).
      OneNote Connection: Create an anecdotal record form as a OneNote page, then set it as a page template that you can insert when taking notes. Here’s a blank form, as well as a sample that you can review (get the PDF version of both). As you can see, having the form in digital format makes it easy to include audio/video annotations as well as traditional text.


    Assessment in the language learning classroom can be aided through the real-time recording of student work towards academic outcomes. OneNote facilitates this process for teachers, enabling them to record their own observations in digital format and quickly embed media (e.g. audio, video, images) that enhance those recorded notes.

    Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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