Thursday, September 7, 2017

Education Forward

I have the privilege of working on collaborative learning strategies and technology integration with twenty eight dedicated educators this year. We are a public school district of modest means. Technology is expensive and we want to make sure we are thinking through purchases. We understand that pedagogy drives those purchases and the way we use technology. We have started conversations that will help develop common language and vision.

District leadership has recently started to study Michael Fullan and Joanne Quinn's Coherence: The Right Drivers in Action for Schools, Districts, and Systems. Chapter four makes the argument that pedagogy drives technology, so I thought it would be useful to highlight some key points. I think it is a good reference for our conversations:

  1. "There is a learning revolution under way because of the confluence of forces. These forces are urgency, knowledge, and capacity ... Schooling as we have known it is outdated ... Imagine a school where all of the students are so excited that they can't wait to get there and want to carry on their learning at the end of the school day."
  2. "We have cast technology as a wrong driver - not because it is always wrong but because without precise pedagogy it is ineffective."
  3. "Education has been giving lip service to 21st century skills (communication, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, character, citizenship) without much concerted action or impact ... Deep learning involves using new knowledge to solve real life problems and incorporates a range of skills and attributes."
  4. The mark of an educated person is that of a doer (a doing-thinker; a thinker-doer) - they learn to do and do to learn. They are impatient with lack of action. Doing is not something they decide to do - daily life is doing, as natural as breathing the air." "Education is not preparation for life, it is life."
  5. "[We] have been focused on developing basic literacy and numeracy skills. These are foundational for learning, and they continue to be essential but are not sufficient to prepare our students for the complex world they will face.
  6. Deep Learning (new pedagogies) = pedagogical partnerships + learning environments + leveraging digital
  7. Pedagogical Partnerships - The first step in building precision in pedagogical practices begin with a culture that fosters learning for all ... Two underused strategies with tremendous power are giving feedback and student expectations ... One of the most distinctive differences between traditional learning and the new pedagogies is the role students play and "the new learning partnerships" that emerge student to student, student to teacher, and student to the external world."
  8. Learning Environments - "A quality learning environment ... needs to meet four criteria: be irresistibly engaging for students and teachers, allow 24/7 access to learning, cultivate social learning, and foster risk taking and innovation."
  9. Leveraging Digital - "This discussion is not about devices but about learning that can be amplified, accelerated, and facilitated by interaction with the digital world. This demands a rethinking of the ways we use technology ... The challenge for leaders is to help educators move from uses of technology as substitution to uses of digital that provide value."
  10. We can shift practices through capacity building if we "model being leaders ... shape a culture that fosters an expectation of learning for everyone, taking risks and making mistakes but learning from them ... and build capacity vertically and horizontally in the organization with persistence and single-mindedness until it affects learning."

We are represented by learning artists and professionals from Windsor Creek Elementary, Brooks Elementary, and Windsor Middle School (Grades 2-8). The typical classroom in our cohort has a classroom workstation computer connected to a document camera and large screen TV. Our classrooms are equipped with a 1:4 ratio of Chromebooks to students. The teacher workstation uses Mirroring360 to share the classroom display when appropriate. Classrooms also have 1-4 student Windows workstations.

I welcome feedback and encouragement and we begin our process of discovery in moving education forward at Windsor schools.

Friday, January 27, 2017

It's Not An Archive

This is turning into more of an archive more than a journal. Time to catch up.

My attempt to transform learning failed. Timing was an issue. Our social emotional learning initiatives and the start of school proved to overwhelm most. I  believe there are still good ideas to return to in that proposal.

The technology plan was approved by the school board along with modest funding intended to focus on improving student access to technology. We are to find a baseline of one computing device to every five students supported by professional development on collaborative learning strategies. Recent discussions around the K-12 scope and sequence for student technology skills, part of the technology plan, have been positive. It is important to view the scope and sequence as a road map and to remember that this will help frame training offerings for teachers.

I met with teachers across the district to get perspectives on how they use technology.  I have done this in hopes of not being the stereo-typical tech that tries to fit their users uniformly. The Nueva Core at WHS worked on a project that examined learning space design, including a technology component. They emphasized flexibility and a desire for mobile. They see technology less as a tool and rather more directly as an extension of themselves. Everyone understands our fiscal reality and demands for accountability. I will continue to work with site administrators to plan wisely.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Transforming Learning

The greatest personal takeaway from my experience with last January's in-service was the sense that if we cannot cut some of you loose to explore and try new things, we may lose some of our best teachers. Not only do we not move towards our goal, we move away from it.

In an effort to support educators who want to explore, and on behalf of the WUSD, allow me to invite you to participate in four days and three evenings of teacher driven professional development spread across this school year - aimed at making school better. I am hoping to find 12 instructional leaders interested in translating innovation and theory into practice that works for Windsor schools. 

Feel free to contact me with questions. I will be available on Tuesday, August 23 at the technology department (10725 Old Redwood Hwy.) from 3-4:30 to discuss it. Applications are due September 2. The application and additional details can be found here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

16-17 Welcome


Welcome back! I hope you have had a great summer and your first few days of this new school year have gone smoothly. What follows are a number of updates regarding projects your technology department has been working on. They include:
  • 5 Year Technology Planning
  • District Website Redesign
  • New Systems: Internet Filtering and Work Order
  • Summer Projects: Routers and WiFi
  • Professional Development Offering: Transforming Learning Collaborative
  • RIP Novell

5 Year Technology Planning
We are seeking feedback on a recently completed five year technology plan for our district. This document takes into account where we have been and where we intend to go. It addresses curricular, professional development and infrastructure needs associated with the use of technology for learning. It emphasizes that each of these components must move in step to be effective. It's only six pages, have a look:
Please send questions or comments to Tim Rocco (

District Website Redesign
The District website has been redesigned (currently accessible only via an internal network connection) and will be launched on Friday afternoon. Not only does the new site look better, it is also more functional as it is optimized for use with mobiles. The design is built on the popular web design platform WordPress. That will allow us to begin training staff on its use and to provide sites with more freedom to edit content on their own. With more staff adding content, our website will become a more dynamic and useful tool.

New Systems: Internet Filtering and Work Order
Internet filtering (formerly iBoss) and the technology work order system (FixIt) were/are being replaced. Each system uses our Active Directory / Google Apps user IDs and passwords. Internet filtering was migrated early yesterday. FixIt is being replaced by the maintenance department’s work order system, FMX. Soon, you will only need to go to one place to enter work orders for maintenance and technology. You will find links to the new systems in staff links on our new homepage.

Summer Projects: Routers and WiFi
Over the summer technology staff worked to replace nearly all of the District’s core routers and to double WiFi density. You may not notice these changes, however, they will go a long way towards preparing us for the future. In conjunction with these upgrades we will be working to upgrade the majority of our LAN switches and battery backups. In short, these upgrades will provide more robust and reliable network connectivity as we grow.

Professional Development Offering: Transforming Learning Collaborative
This WUSD is offering a different kind of professional development opportunity. A select group will drive their own learning within the framework of pedagogy, authentic assessment and learning environments. This group of 12 will work four days and three evenings through the 16/17 school year to build upon the ideas presented in last year’s in-service and explore ways to put them into practice. View the application for additional details. An informational meeting will be held at the technology department (10725 Old Redwood Hwy) at 3:30 PM on Tuesday, August 23. Send questions or comments to Tim Rocco (

RIP Novell
Novell Netware is gone. Novell GroupWise is still accessible via your GroupWise client, however, it can no longer send or receive email. It will remain accessible for the next couple of months, but is only there as a reference.

Have a great year!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Forward email from GroupWise to Google Gmail

Forward email from GroupWise to Google Gmail
  1. Login to your GroupWise email using a web browser (Chrome, Firefox).
  2. Click on the gear in the top right corner of the window and choose Options. options.jpg
  3. Select the Rules tab, select Forward from the Type drop down menu and click Create.forward.jpg
  4. In the Rule name field enter Gmail. In the To field enter (your username), e.g. Click Save.rule.jpg
  5. The email address in the step above is a temporary address that we are using during the transition. You will continue to use your existing email address and it will not change at any point during our transition to Gmail.
  6. From that point forward, mail sent to your WUSD account will appear in both GroupWise mail and Gmail. This rule is simply a forwarding of mail, not a synchronization. Mail deleted in GroupWise will not also be deleted in Gmail or vice versa.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Energy and Momentum

It was a great thrill and honor to be asked to assist with development of our district’s in-service this year. The energy and excitement generated that day have provided me with new context and appreciation for the people I work with.

The themes of the sessions that took place in the theater were well received. Many were inspired by Will Richardson’s thoughts and saw it as the highlight of the day. Dale Dougherty and Bob Lenz challenged us to think about the steps we can take to put students at the center. Most Likely to Succeed provided a glimpse into the stunning expressions of learning taking place at High Tech High.

Many of our teachers had the opportunity to learn from our own staff. More than half of our breakout sessions were taught by our staff. Our teachers not only modeled their practice as teachers, but also as learners. Some session leaders stretched themselves to cover topics they may have been unfamiliar with when initially approached. I am proud to be associated with them and think that they demonstrated many of the big ideas resonating from the day.

I understand that it has been some time since our district has gathered as one to learn together. I am pleased that our staff had the opportunity to gather as a community and share a meal. I include in that the expertise provided by SCOE and POUSD. They rounded out our offering with ideas that push us a little further. It was a great reminder that we live in a region full of great resources to connect with and build upon.

In-service survey feedback shows that eighty-seven percent of attendees had an overall positive experience, while thirty-six percent found the day amazing. Seventy-six percent of staff left with significant insight or skills that would impact their use of technology in the classroom.

Moving on from this event, it becomes important to maintain momentum. How can we capture the energy that has been created and use it to propel us? I understand that the answers are easy, yet our path remains unclear. What do we believe about how kids learn? On January 4th I saw many who are ready to act. If we cannot grant them the freedom to act and create systems to support their work, we will only move further from the goal.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Technology Update - November 2015

Hi everyone,

Here is a quick note meant to keep you updated on projects the technology department has underway. Topics for this newsletter include:
  • Gmail Migration - cleaning up our GroupWise accounts may be an obstacle to moving to a new email system
  • Technology Planning and Audit - we are taking our first steps toward developing a technology plan by getting an outside perspective on our systems and how we use them
  • Teacher Personal Technology & Professional Development Opportunities - iPads and Chromebooks are in and we are building a menu of PD offerings and planning an entire day of in-service learning on January 4.
  • Operating System Upgrades - Please do not upgrade your computer to Windows 10 or El Capitan until we have more time to test

Gmail Migration
Email sure is great when it works! A recent outage underscores how much we have come to rely on email for communications. That outage has forced us to come to terms with an outdated Novell GroupWise email system and change a number of settings that may impact you. These changes will help us maintain stability on the existing system while simultaneously clearing the path for our Gmail adoption.

Changes in GroupWise settings may impact the way you use email. One that you may already be aware of is that we now limit the size of a single email to 50 megabytes. Going forward, if you need to share a large file, share it with Google Drive.

We are also going to gradually reduce the allowable size of your entire mailbox to 250 megabytes. Some individuals in our organization have mailboxes that are 24 times that size. We will not be able to migrate mailboxes that large. To get there, we will offer help and instructions for archiving email. This process will allow you to store old email on your local computer. Unfortunately, this process will be complicated by the fact that many people use different email programs to connect to our GroupWise server.

As we near the date when we can pull the switch that changes delivery of WUSD email from GroupWise to Gmail it will become increasingly important to establish your login credentials for Google Apps, of which Gmail is a part. No one at the district level is dictating that you use Google Docs, Sites or Classroom. When we begin delivering email to Gmail, however, it will be important for you to know your password. About 50% of staff have logged into Google Apps, of which Gmail is a part.

Technology Planning and Audit
One of this year’s goals is to update WUSD’s technology plan. Our plan for the plan begins with the acquisition of an outside perspective. We will utilize resources at the Sonoma County Office of Education’s to look at both instructional and information technology use. In the coming weeks you may notice a number of visitors looking into classrooms and wiring closets. Please welcome them and share freely.

In addition to site visits the SCOE team will be interviewing small groups of students, teachers, site administrators and technology personnel. A short online survey will be made available to staff that want to ensure their voice is heard.

The audit will culminate in a report completed by the middle of January. We will next create a committee to flush out findings that will guide us over the next five years. Anyone interested in participating on that committee is welcome to get in touch.

Teacher Personal Technology & Professional Development Opportunities
The iPads and Chromebooks ordered in the second and final round of the teacher personal technology initiative have arrived and are ready to be picked up. Drop by the technology department’s new location at 10725 Old Redwood Hwy. Please bring a completed loan agreement. In support of this program we are scheduling professional development design sessions for the first week of December.

We are also working to build an educational technology focused in-service on January 4. The schedule is intended to provide you with a variety of learning opportunities to choose from as well as time for collegiality, collaboration and reflection. We will leverage resources from both the district and the region to create this event. I have contacted a number of teachers from within the district who are willing to share their experience and expertise by leading sessions on that day. Feel free to contact me if there’s a topic you would like to see or share.

Operating System Upgrades
Microsoft and Apple have recently released new operating system upgrades, Windows 10 and El Capitan, respectively. Please ensure you complete a FixIt ticket explaining why you feel you need either of these upgrades immediately, if that is the case. We have not yet had the opportunity to test these upgrades against our existing systems and cannot guarantee full operability.