What a shock that I am actually blogging! And there is a reason why, EdCamp Bemidji (or @EdCampBemidji)

After Tom and I hosted the first EdCampMSP in June 2012, I was so energized. It was then I started to have this nagging thought in my head, host EdCamp in Bemidji. I had this fear though, Would people even come? Where would it be? Could an outsider come in and sell the idea?  These thoughts were coupled with the biggest nagging thought of all, if I you don't give back you are selfish.

It was no secret to anyone close to me that hosting EdCamp Bemidji was perpetuated by the feeling to give back to a community and an area that had given me so much to me. I graduated from Bemidji State in 2002 after transferring there as a junior because I decided to chase a boy (good news, he later became my husband). I won my first US National title in Speedskating on Lake Bemidji. Little secret... on those long back stretches as my back was aching and I wanted to quit, I would look at the University and remind myself how much I accomplished there and how giving up was never an option when I was a student, why would it be now.

Planning for EdCamp Bemidji started as follows: After receiving multiple messages saying, "Please bring EdCamp to northern Minnesota." I knew I had to let go of my fears. I could do this. Tom and I had planned three EdCamps for Minneapolis-St. Paul and we had this down. So I emailed Stacy (Schoolcraft's Technology Integrationist) and said to her point blank, "Want to do something fun?"

It was pretty ironic on how everything fell into place as we started planning. Stacy replied back to that email with, "Sure! Can you give me a call?" Unbeknownst to me, she was actually on her way to talk to Dr. Michael Urban, Department Chair of Bemidji State's Education Department about a way to connect Schoolcraft and BSU, and she offered to toss the idea of EdCamp in there as well. Mike talked to Dean Barta and the ball was rolling. The date was set, the location was picked, and we were off. On Wednesday when registration closed we had 99 attendees. By Saturday morning we were on the front page of the Bemidji Pioneer.

My View Point on EdCamp Bemidji

Understand first, that being able to write this out was by far extremely difficult. Writing what I felt was near impossible as I couldn't even explain how I felt.

As EdCamp Bemidji started Stacy used EdCampMSP's new presentation and new script to introduce the EdCamp concept to attendees and with that we started building the schedule. My responsibility at the moment of schedule building was to ensure that the live schedule would be on the large screen for everyone to view. I looked down for only for a few seconds and when I looked up there was a flood of teachers coming towards me (actually the stack of index cards was in front of me) preparing to propose sessions. It was INSANE! As the sessions were proposed there were a variety of sessions (check out the schedule here). 

One session stood out and if you need proof of how powerful EdCamp is this is it. A camper came up and said, "I would like to learn more about how to handle grief and tragedy in the classroom."  We asked if anyone could help and got no response, in fact we got more I would like that too (tragic story, the local school district had just lost a 1st grader from hypothermia earlier that week). A few moments later a camper came up and said, "My husband is a mental health/grief counselor, would you like me to call and see if he could come and talk and share?" She called, he came during our fourth session, and we met the need of not only that teacher but so many other teachers on that day.

During the middle of the day we had a presentation entirely in French from Concordia Language Village about lunch. Yes, EdCamp Bemidji included a French lesson that was amazing and funny all at the same time. Then we had a traditional Moroccan lunch. In the word's of one attendee - "My unconference lunch is better than your unconference lunch." She wasn't kidding. In fact, as I talked to an EdCampMSP alumni about the lunch and she said the same thing. Sorry to say Tom, Stacy blew us out of the park when it came to food.

At the end of the day there was the smackdown. Stacy and I felt it would be just best if we showed how a smackdown worked, the reason for this was twofold 1) teachers were totally overwhelmed and 2) we forgot to make the smackdown presentation. So Donna (another EdCampMSP alum and fellow LMS in Osseo) and I showed how the smackdown worked. Although while we were giving our examples other EdCamp Bemidji participants were adding content. In a matter of moments, we went from let's show you to let's all participate.

In short the day was nothing short of amazing. In fact Dean Barta explained it best with one word, "WOW!"

In May Erik and I will be returning to Bemidji State to celebrate another chapter in our life, this time as he graduates. Yet, I know that next February I will repay the community that gave me so much again by assisting to host another installment of EdCamp Bemidji.

Finally, thank you Stacy for taking that risk and I have to ask, "Was it fun?"
Two and a half years ago, I was sitting in our district library with a group of library media specialists trying to figure out what Osseo was going to propose for the EdTech ARRA grant that was currently available for application. After batting around several ideas, the group started to focus in on the idea of creating a professional development program and going for the Seal of Alignment with ISTE.

Earlier in 2009, I had proposed an idea called the C4 Model of Learning, which stood for Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity embedded to make explosive Content. I wanted to create a professional development program that was different than the just-in-time learning model that most teachers are accustomed. I wanted teachers to learn and integrate essential skills instead of specific technologies. In fact, the idea made a lot of sense once I heard Simon Sinek’s talk on Start With Why, before that I am sure that my colleagues thought I was crazy. Teaching teachers how to use a specific tool was at the ‘what’ level, teaching them a skill to integrate and then choose the tool that would best fit that goal would be at the ‘why’ level.

The ISTE NETS for Teachers are, in short, brilliantly written and designed and are built around the ‘why’. Yet, I had to breakdown the indicators to see what the goal of the standard was and then figure out how I could give teachers that skills. For so long I thought it was important to know that 2d. (the indicator that has to do with formative and summative assessments) was only a part of the standard ‘Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments’ and what I needed to do was create a class on Digital Age Learning. Boy was I wrong. Once I started reading the indicators closer, I realized that the twenty indicators were in fact connected in a completely different way. Instead of five standards, there was eight different themes. The C4 Model of Learning was built on those themes.

I did the first run through in the 2010-2011 school year and the participants gave great feedback for redesigning the program. They pointed out the holes and where extension activities could take place. In one example, while the original program had pounded formative and summative assessments, teachers felt that there would be value in teaching them how to unpack standards and understand the nouns and verbs contained within. When Tom (a member of the first C4 cohort) started in the fall of 2011, he was able to take that feedback and we completely redesigned that program from the ground up.

In January we got word from ISTE that our program had received alignment at the Mastery level. This is the highest level of recognition that ISTE gives professional development programs. Talk about validation of Tom and I’s work, yet more so the feedback of the first C4 cohort. I highly doubt that this program would have melded into what the Maple Grove Magazine label as joining the elite company of PBS, Intel and Verizon Thinkfinity without that first cohort.

So what is next? Hamline. In the fall of 2011, Tom and I proposed to Hamline a certificate program using the C4 model as our guide. Dreaming big we wanted to share the program with others, we wanted others to think beyond the tools and think about the teaching. In fact when asked after receiving the Seal of Alignment someone asked me, “I know what C4 stands for, yet what does it really stand for?” Having to think about it for a few moments I thought…

Teaching before technology and tools, in practice just like it is in the dictionary.

That is why I think C4 matters, it is about the teaching and not the technology and tools.

As the project lead, more often than not, I am asked by people what is the C4 Model of Learning. The C4 Model of Learning is a professional development program offered through Osseo Area Schools that is aligned to the National Educational Technology Standards. While many programs claimed that they are aligned to the ISTE standards, the C4 Model of Learning has gone through the Seal of Alignment process. This process allows ISTE to give their stamp of approval that we are meeting the standards to the rigor that is intended. What should be made clear is that the ISTE NETS while coined as Technology Standards actually are more standards to enhance a teacher’s ability and skill level of teaching best practices.

The ISTE NETS•T have five standards, each with four performance indicators. Currently, ISTE has given the Osseo program a ‘meets’ (standards) in two indicators (1d. and 2a.) and  three (5a., 2d., and 1b.) are extremely close to meets after the initial review of the product. Since Osseo intended to address more than five indicators, as project lead, I am currently heading up another re-write of the program with two co-developers provided by ISTE. After the re-write the product will go into review to seek alignment for eleven total indicators.

To receive either a ‘meets’ or ‘supports’, the entire indicator must be addressed including the various nuances.  For example, 1a states that teachers promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness. This means the alignment proposal had to demonstrate nuances such as promote creative thinking, promote innovative thinking, promote creative inventiveness, promote innovative inventiveness, et. al. In short there were over two hundred nuances to be addressed.

The indicators which Osseo had elected not to seek alignment (5b. and 5d.), are indicators that have been described by many on the ISTE NETS•T review team as “trying to teach multivariable calculus.”  Only two of the organizations who have received the Seal of Alignment have addressed these indicators and these programs require a time commitment of two to three years. Osseo intends to only require a time commitment of up to nine months for participants.

The C4 Model of Learning was offered to all teachers in the Osseo system who had a .8 or greater or FTE. These teachers were selected through an application process, which measured individual participant’s ability to communicate and synthesize their ideas as related to the 21st century skills and technology integration. Eighty-two (N=82) applicants accepted their offer to be a part of the learning model that would provide standards-based professional development. Participants ranged in education level with over half of the participants indicating that they had some post-Master work (N= 44, 53.66%), while only a small number of participants (N=11, 13.41%) indicated that they had only received a bachelors degree or had done some post-bachelor work. The mode for years teaching was 5-9 years (N=19, 23.17%), with 0-2 years of teaching (N=2, 2.44%) being the smallest subset. Accepted participants received a $1,000 stipend. In addition to the $1,000, stipend participants could take five credits through Hamline University (St. Paul, Minnesota). All participants also received 85 hours of CEUs; including receiving credit for state mandates of Technology Integration, Differentiation, Literacy, and Positive Behavior Intervention.

If there was one thing I was looking forward to this weekend was the fact that I was now able to join the ranks of Master Ladies. In fact, I was so excited last May to be turning 30 that when I was looking through my emails I found an email from Silvia a few weeks before my birthday saying, “Ha!  You don’t often hear women be excited to grow older!” But at that point there was some grandeur illusion of excitement to become a part of Master Ladies and now I know why.

Speedskating has a great secret, the support from the other skaters and coaches far outweighs the really bad day on the ice. When I returned to speedskating a little more than three years ago and skated in my first US Marathon Championships, I was in dead last.  All I wanted to do was take my skates and shove them back in the closet, throw my hands up, and claim I was finished; but the fact that Chantal stood there and waited for me to finish made me rethink that proposition.

Rethinking that proposition was a really good idea. I will admit, I am the most technically imperfect skater out there. But in the past three years I have found this deep respect for those who speedskate; for those who are willing and daring to try something that requires technical perfection, stick their butts out, deal with aching backs, sore thighs, and most of all wear a spandex skin suit. It makes any time a weekend of speedskating is part of the agenda, an adventure.

To say the 2011 Age-Class Nationals were not an adventure would be an understatement. I do not know about the others, but my adventure started on Tuesday when walking through Target, I slipped and fell- hitting my butt, back and head. New boots and blades arrived on Thursday, leaving me to break them in as the temperature fell in to the negatives. Friday was too cold to do nothing more than figure out the packing challenge that lied ahead. Then being greeted both Saturday and Sunday morning with subzero temperatures and the question of, “why do I do this?” It was time to skate and the fact that I got to skate with two women who made the list of the 30 most inspiring people I knew, the lady who put my national championship medal around my neck last year, one who did an extra lap at the marathon to bring my water bottle after she had finished, and four other women who I got to know more this weekend.

So what makes these ladies so awesome? Each of these ladies has a story and their stories are incredible, from coming from a family of skaters to seeking out a dream. They can tell you why they got into speedskating, who inspires them, and what their feeling is about wearing a spandex skin suit. They support everybody- even if they are a competitor, they also support the men and the future of the sport.

If you ever have a chance to sit in the heat box with any of these ladies you will be well taken care of; they will make sure your boot bolts are tight, you have your bib, and will inspire you to do your absolute best.

Finally, as we were laughing and taking the above picture, I thought about the quote from Miss Congeniality (with a few modifications):

I realized that these women are smart, terrific people who are trying to make a difference in the world. And we’ve become really good friends. I mean, I know we all secretly hope the other one will forget their bib and get disqualified… but oh wait a minute, I’ve already done that!

So to the other eight women who fell into the “Over 30 and Willing to Wear Spandex” category. Thanks for a fabulous weekend, it was great fun.

Over four years ago, my former boss (Dorothy) called me from home and proclaimed, "We are doing it all wrong." What 'it' was, was the idea of technology integration at my former school. In the span of twenty four hours we came up with a new plan. I am not sure if we were absolutely crazy but somewhere deep down we knew we were doing something right. Well that was, except to everyone looking in and I am convinced that they thought we were doing it all wrong.

However, what were we doing wrong... technology was this pull out model. It was intentional when it came to integration. We had a cart of laptops, but even though it was used frequently (including teachers who attempted to 'permanently' check it out), it was so intentional. It was such an event and definitely not something, I think either of us aspired too. Honestly, I am pretty certain, that even if they didn't say it, students probably thought our technology integration was an extremely lame attempt. So we began to vow to challenge ourselves and our teachers each day.

So how did we get it to work:

  1. Understand that you are going to be busy, that when you are undertaking change it is going to be tiring, and at times it was going to be messy.
  2. Whatever you do, please do not scream out, "I'm so overwhelmed." Because if you do say that, you are not committed to the task at hand and if you are curious what this task is... we are changing the way you teach.
  3. Immerse yourself and realize that things are going to constantly change, if not you are going to be stagnant and boring- but don't worry you have a community to help you with this change.
  4. You have to be creative,  a collaborator, and you have to communicate in different ways, and if you are curious... you have to be competitive with yourself.
  5. This is a team effort, so make sure you ask others and work with others.
  6. Finally, in a few years, someone might ask you what you are doing. And you will not be able to answer them, that is the goal of seamless learning.

Oh and if you are curious, there were times that I doubted myself- but on those hard days I just had to remind myself that what I was doing right. And even if it felt like I was walking through wet cement-- I knew that I was not going to get stagnant and stick with the same ol', same ol'.

Tuesday I read a post by Mary Beth HertzIs ISTE Still Relevant for Young Educators? I quickly sent the post of to a few of my colleagues and told them to read this post- because Mary Beth hit the nail dead on. There has been a lot of talk about the Young Educator and the ISTE conference, including Julie LaChance's Post Young Educators Rock Denver. And I started to think about my own experiences with ISTE.

My first conference was NECC 2006 in San Diego. When my boss and I had learned about the conference, it was abundantly clear that this conference was cost prohibitive for our small Catholic school. However at that time I was a full-time student, my conference fee was $90 and we decided to 'try it out'.

And in the years since my first conference The Bank of Sjogren has had to pay for parts of the conference. However, each year I come back with learning that was valued well over the cost of the registration, plane ride, and hotel stay. So in our books, it is worth it.

But as always after each conference my mind is swirling and after reading those two posts, I thought up this question:

What is the value of the Young Educator?

I heard once, "I am not going to do anything because I am young and no one cares what I have to say." In fact, that is about as far away from the truth as you can get. Last year, I was nominated to SIGilt's Board as their Communications Chair. Sure I had to prove myself... first by winning the election, publishing a newsletter to meet the masses and getting time-sensitive information out. That when I arrived on Saturday morning to the SIG Leadership meeting, I saw:

Lisa Sjogren
SIGilt and SIG Board Committee

Sure, I have gone beyond my initial role on SIGilt, but I knew that my contributions were worth it. That what I had done proved to some one on the ISTE Board of Directors, that my ideas were good. However, sitting in the meeting on Saturday it was apparent that the SIG's need more young leaders- Katie ChristoBryan O'BlackJayme Johnson, and  I'm sure I have forgotten a few others, cannot carry forth new ideas for ISTE's special interest groups.

And nor can Julie LaChance (ISTE's first Outstanding Young Educator), Adam BellowChristopher CraftAndy Crozier, Mary Beth Hertz and myself (Class of 2010 Emerging Leaders). Why?

Even if we are young, our ideas are worth it.

And if you are scared to step up and share your ideas- take this one take away:

While backstage awaiting to be announced as part of the first class of ISTE Emerging Leaders, I readily admitted that I was nervous... yes me the speedskater who has skated at US Nationals- was nervous to go on the stage. I was not afraid to be in front of the entire crowd, I was afraid of the word 'emerging'. After a few minutes of playing positive mental games with myself, I realized that 'emerging' meant that someone saw that I am committed to this charge of promoting leadership with ISTE's youngest members and showing that my our ideas are worth it.  And you know what? I bet every person I stood with on that stage plus the youngest members of the SIG Leadership Teams, would say the same thing.

My colleague on SIGilt, Adam, is one of the most business saavy people I have ever met, he also does a great job of being a good friend. With his quirkiness, wit and ever so practical advice- I've personally learned a ton since first meeting him at NECC 2009.

I took a picture of him just glaring at the camera during the ISTE 2010 Leadership Symposium- I asked a few people what they thought the picture said, and the most common response I got, "Listen." Little did I know that during ISTE 2010, I would realize that listening shaped what we did this past year and how by listening gave me a new direction (I'll explain that in a bit).

See the real story is, how did listening get SIGilt to this point..? Last year at NECC 2009 (Washington DC), Jean, Katie, Adam and myself started as newbies on the SIGilt Board of Directors for ISTE. We were unprepared to say the least, I remember finding myself giving the SIGilt report at the SIG leadership meeting and stumbling through the entire thing, Adam ended up helping me finish out the report.  In fact, we were without any plans or directions, that did not stop any of us.  Looking back, I would say that it took the act of listening to achieve what we did.

Throughout the year we built our newsletter, which now has turned into a magazine of sorts- it will go from being published four times a year to six. We restructured our board to introduce an Online Professional Development Coordinator and furthermore, achieved continuity when Katie was elected as chair-elect. Additionally, we started a digital citizenship project and are preparing to set up book talks and a webinar series.

And that new direction? This year while in Denver at ISTE 2010, I was in the middle of the review of Osseo's ISTE NETS•T Seal of Alignment project. I am currently on the 'last mile' of the project. As I was fretting over how I was going to get to the finish line, Adam proposed the idea of 'why', not 'what' we are doing. After listening to his ideas, I went back to my project and started rebuilding the project to make sure we answered the 'why' instead of the 'what'. It has been some of the best advice I have gotten since I started this project seven months ago.

Skating probably has very little to do with Ed Tech, but there is a science to both. For some odd reason this thought came to my mind as I was reading about the digital equity summit.

A couple of weeks ago I was out with some friends, when one reminded me about the time we went skating in kindergarten. In my mind, I remember the horrible memory of that day. I had double blades to keep my balance and everyone, including her, laughed at me because I did not have the 'right tools'. I went home to my mother and started crying saying that everyone was making fun of me because of my skates. I remember that she took me to the store and bought me my first pair of single blades, they were a used pair nonetheless, but they were single blades and I was thrilled. My dad took me skating that night on my new pair of skates, teaching me how to keep my balance, so that I could 'skate' with my classmates.

Fast forward 23 years, I now speedskate and over the years I have captured two major titles: U.S. Senior National Marathon Champion (twice) and North American Champion in the 25k . My friend who reminded me of that day in kindergarten, still references the story about how you should not make fun of someone who does not have the right tools and finishes the story with, "I didn't think I'd be laughing a National and North American Champion."

So I was thinking about how I could tie this story back to technology education. See the pencil and paper, well those are the double blades, absolutely necessary to keep your balance. The single blades are the schools who provide students with a 21st century education, excellent and will do the job. But what is the cutting edge...? What are the speedskates?

How can we insure that you are giving students an education that is like the 17 inch blades that I race around an oval with?

I just returned from NECC yesterday, the long flight coupled with the intensity of the conference sent me straight to bed for several hours to recoup sleep. So today I thought to return to my computer and participate in Leadership Day 2008.

I am convinced that I drove St. Raphael's Chief Learner nuts (and I mean NUTS) by saying, "Either you get it or you don't." I always put her in the 'get it' category. That particular statement started two years ago when I took a group of teachers and the principal to Oak-Land Junior High to look at integrated technology instruction. The view of teaching and learning changed instantly, as that evening in my voice mailbox the principal left me a message that effectively launched SRS from a 20th century school to a 21st century school.

The post could get lengthy if I decided to write out the entire story, but in short there are 10 things that explains how after two years I figured out what I really meant when I said,  "you get it."

  1. Try the tools as well.
  2. Allow time for sharing.
  3. Celebrate the success and recognize the times it doesn't work.
  4. Be innovative.
  5. Share excitement and enthusiasm with others.
  6. Research, read, and blog too.
  7. Take risks.
  8. Encourage creativity and collaboration.
  9. Enjoy the moment.
  10. Mold the teacher's wings and let fly.
Like a good leader, my wings were molded and I was released to fly to begin the next stage in life. So thank you to the Chief Learner and all innovative leaders who 'get it'.

Last week, I received an email telling me to read a blog posting by another Director of Technology. It was called “What I Do”. As I was reading this, I began to think I too should write a post about this too and thought I would have a bit of fun with what I do with my day. Understand that is this is a really random post. A more educational post will be coming in the next few hours!

First, I process RSS feeds- I lost count a while ago on the exact number, I use Google Reader to track all of them. Google Reader is like another email inbox for me, it shows a (1) when there is a new post. I also have two email accounts both of which I use daily and I get in the neighborhood of 50-100 emails a day. On my bookmark bar in my web browser alone, I have five RSS feeds and seventeen other links, all of which, I use on a daily basis. On average I have seven windows (tabs) open in my web browser. I participate in five nings, write to four listservs, and contribute to three blogs. Oh and I am on MySpace and Facebook to keep in touch with friends who have found themselves distributed throughout the world. All of this just to keep me up to date what is going on.

Then, I do what I LOVE! I get in each morning at about 7 a.m. Right away in the morning, I check the schedule to see who has the labs checked out during the day and double check that our wireless is up and running. I double check my lesson plans for when I teach. I visit the classrooms and learn about the different projects that are going on. I help guide the teachers so that they can have their questions answered, answer the student’s questions, and talk with them about the project. I wore a pedometer once- I reached 10,000 steps before lunch time.

My week never starts or ends. I have a yellow electronic post-it note on the side of my screen detailing what I need to do. Somethings stay on there longer than others. In short, if you are familiar with PostgreSQL let me know! The jobs vary just like the technical support I will encounter each week. It is a unique challenge for me and like I said earlier…. I LOVE IT!

During my lunch time, I catch up on blog reading and the latest news (as I am in bed before the news is on). I send off interesting posts to others who might benefit from reading these as well. Then it is time to head back to the classrooms, teach, or meet with a teacher. I try to spend a half hour at the end of the day, reading and reflecting.

Once the day is done, I pull out my cell phone for the first time. Check all my missed calls, usually one or two calls from my mum or husband. Although, my phone does more than receiving and answering call. I also can read my email, scan the Internet, check for traffic delays, or look up what to make for dinner that night. I try to leave by four, although sometimes I will leave closer to six each night. Dinner is usually on the table when Erik gets home by eight.

What else? Well as of last week: Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, I was skating. Sometimes skating until as late as 10:45 p.m. getting home at 11:30 p.m. and getting up at 5:40 a.m. to begin my next day. The reward was skating in the National Long Track Marathon and a Senior National Championship. Did I mention I have a blog about that too?

So how do I keep up? Well, I can multitask with the best of them. I can cook dinner, blog, double check my lesson plans, read my newest library book, and watch TV. I have a blast doing what I do. I thank you all for reading. That’s all from this peanut gallery.