Saturday, October 12, 2013

Collaboration With Technology Continued

Previously, I talked about my learning curve regarding technology in the work place, specifically, “Google Docs” and “Wikis.”  I also hinted at two different work projects, utilizing each type of technology in order to experiment and share this experience with others.  Today I would like to follow up with the results of those projects and what I learned.

The “Google Docs” Project
This project entailed a multi-page document and a small, editing committee of four people.  The parameters of the document included a three-year cycle, progress monitoring throughout the year, reviewing at the end of each year, and tweaking prior to beginning the following year.  Each year’s information builds upon the previous year.  As one person described it - a “living document.”  The significance of using “Google Docs” was in the editing process.  We had four computers going at once with each person editing a different section simultaneously.  Furthermore, future editing just became much easier and the document will always be current.
Comments from the committee:

Definitely use this (process) again.  It will make progress monitoring and tweaking so much easier!

I’m thinking already of possible projects for my fourth grade students.

What happens if you don’t like how someone else edits? 

My response:  Choose your committee wisely.

The “Wiki Project”
I had mentioned previously that I am planning a book club with another colleague which includes presentations to our faculty.  We are part way through the book club and I have to admit the “Wiki” is working out quite well.  First, since time is a challenge for us to meet, planning can be done through the “Wiki” with a place for comments or questions by either one of us.  One of the real bonuses though is that the “Wiki” is easily accessible and can never be lost (like all those loose papers we tend to carry or notebooks we tend to place somewhere among the piles of papers).  My colleague who is not a “techie” likes the fact that all you do is edit and save – so easy!

 My Preference?
The jury is still out on this.  The positive:  less emails with attachments, fewer meetings, and  always current.  Yet on both I experienced some quirks: compatibility between computers/software since one document was started in a different mode and understanding how all the editing works with “Wiki.” Would I use either one again?  Definitely!  Unless someone has another suggestion….

Passing on an excellent blog I stumbled across:  by Matt Renwick, Elementary Principal in Wisconsin



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Collaboration Using Technology

The previous posting discussed collaboration and what it may look like in education – people working together face-to-face.  This week, I take a different approach, collaborating using technology.  I watched a well-done YouTube video on how to implement “Google Docs.”  The video mentioned that rather than sending out hundreds of emails with updated versions of the same document, think of “Google Docs” as multiple emails going to one document that is always current.   “Wikis” may also be thought of in this light.  What an extremely useful idea for the educational world!

Polling “Google Docs” and “Wikis”
Curious, I decided to poll people to see if they actually used features such as “Google Docs” or “Wikis” in their work place. It was very insightful conversing with others and I found very few people who actually used these features.  Everyone had heard of them.  However, after listening to explanations on the videos (for both processes), all I could think of was greater efficiency, sustainability (less trees being cut down), and less meetings. 

A Short Side Note
During my career, I have been fortunate to attend many professional development sessions and frequently engage in current research reading.  However, these sessions or readings may truly be pertinent, if action follows.  Research shows that time-wise, the closer the implementation is to the actual learning, the more likely an individual will turn that skill or knowledge into practice.

Wondering:  Which Is Better, “Google Docs” or “Wikis”
I loved the idea of “Wiki.”  Perhaps it is the cute name.  Thus, I decided to try a fun project collaborating with a colleague for a book study we are leading next month.  Since it is so difficult to find time to meet, a sketch of the meetings with activities, book quotes, and reflections were written in the “Wiki” for easier tweaking of the upcoming meetings.  Although my colleague is not a “techie,” she is willing to humor me with the idea.  This then reminded me of working with students.  Students (young and older) learn and remember a new skill or strategy better when they engage in the new skill or strategy and teach it to someone else.  

Then, I took the big leap, entering a very large document into the system using “Google Docs,” with faith from my “invitation receivers.”  We will see how this goes since this is due next week and again, I am sharing this idea of collaboration using technology with others. If all goes well, I already have another, mini project in mind.  Again, less emails and less meetings.   

I will end by leaving you with a question, what educational applications have you utilized using “Google Docs” or “Wikis?”




Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Collaboration, collegiality, and learning communities, may be described as people working together towards a common goal.  Research states that collective intelligence is greater than the sum of each individual’s intelligence.  Thus, by pooling resources together, we can be much more effective in problem-solving challenges in order to make the biggest impact.

 What does collaboration look like in the educational world?
*station or center teaching
*targeted teaching
*parallel instruction
*teach and monitor
*team teaching
*team meetings which include various specialists at the school
*grade level meetings
*specialists conferring with specialists such as special education, reading, and speech

 Why collaborate?
*Collective intelligence is greater than the sum of each individual’s intelligence.
*Each individual contributes to the organization and each person has strengths and weaknesses.  Thus, work towards capitalizing on the strengths and turn weaknesses into strengths.
*We are all engaged for the same purpose:  to educate children in the most effective manner.

My personal observation
When you are part of collaboration and blessed to be part of a learning community, it is difficult to understand why others do not understand nor may be as open-minded to this concept.  Change is difficult.  It’s easy to perform the same routine because it is comforting.  However, in order to stay current, change is the only constant there is.

I will end by leaving you with a question, how do you encourage or support someone to be open to change?


Bean, R. (2009).  The Reading Specialist:  Leadership for the Classroom, School, and Community.

Green, R. (2013).  Practicing the Art of Leadership:  A Problem-Based Approach to Implementing the ISLLC Standards.






Thursday, September 5, 2013

Active Listening

Early in the school year, ample opportunities are presented to collaborate with peers on committees, enforce new policies and procedures, and most importantly, build relationships with students and their families.  Their common theme: effective communication. 

As I continue to read and discuss qualities of successful, effective leaders, one characteristic repeatedly stands out:  Be an active listener.  Why?  Active listeners enhance the effectiveness of communication.  In this busy world, pause for a moment and really attend…

 Tips on Active Listening

*Focus on the speaker.

*Position body language so it reflects openness and attentiveness.

*Increase awareness on the speaker’s responses.

*Ask questions to clarify or obtain more information.

*Paraphrase to check that you understood the speaker’s message.

I will end by leaving you with one quote for reflection that I read in Peter Johnson’s book, Choice Words which I believe connects so well to this topic in relation to our students: 

“Children learning to control their own attention and the attention system is in many ways
a gatekeeper of knowledge acquisition.”  (Gauvain, 2001) 

Think how much a student is missing when he/she is not attending actively and how can we engage that student?    And….how may we engage our families?

Green, R. (2013).  Practicing the Art of Leadership:  A Problem-Based Approach to Implementing the ISLLC Standards. 

Johnson, P. (2004). Choice Word:  How Our Language Affects Children’s Learning.

Toll, C. (2004).  The Literacy Coach’s Survival Guide.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

New Beginnings....

As a reading specialist in public education, September marks new beginnings:  a new school year with returning and new students to teach and get to know, new literacy goals and collaborative opportunities to improve student learning, and this year, personally for me, graduate classes for leadership education and this blog.

Follow me as I discuss current research and practices on educational leadership, collaboration and engagement among peers, both in this class and in the work place, and the many other facets of education.  I'm thrilled to finally be starting this blog as I have been thinking about it for over a year and have not found any websites regarding collaboration among educators.  Yes, there are websites and Pinterest of sharing ideas but the different modes of collaboration and why collaborating makes sense...
Classes have just begun with discussing and internalizing the ISCCL (Interstate School Leader Licensure Consortium) standards  and already there is so much to discuss such as enhancing effective leadership through communication.  However, I will end by leaving this posting with one thought for reflection and/or best practice to try in your work place:

Say something positive before departing (from a meeting or saying good-bye to your students for the day) and encourage each individual you are with (students or peers) to say something positive, in return.

*Thank you Professor! 

Happy first days of school!    :)