Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Dr. Will Show - Diversity in Edtech with Jordan Pedraza

On this episode, I speak with Jordan Pedraza about diversity in edtech.

Jordan Pedraza currently leads Community at Remind, an edtech startup providing a messaging app for teachers to communicate with students and parents. Jordan has worked in the edtech space for almost 10 years with experiencing in higher education, k-12, policy research, and international settings. Before Remind, Jordan led Community with Google for Education and helped universities, k-12 schools, and ministries of education adopt various Google tools. Jordan is deeply passionate about helping communities explore and adopt technology for new learning models and creativity.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

How Schools Can Create Positive Classrooms with BYOD or 1:1 by Kerry Gallagher, J.D. and Will Deyamport, III, Ed.D.

Author's Note: This post was co-authored with my dear friend Kerry Gallagher, J.D.. We brought our shared experiences in 1:1 and BYOD environments together in this article. Our hope is to share best practices for transforming teaching, learning and the overall mindset in schools that have gone digital.

When a school, or even a district, decides to roll out a BYOD or 1:1 program there are many complicated factors to consider. The job of an Instructional Technologist, as in Dr. Will Deyamport, or a Digital Learning Specialist, as in Kerry Gallagher, is to prepare teachers for the implications these powerful devices will have on their classrooms, lesson plans, and their students’ learning experiences. It takes more than rewriting a few lesson plans. It is a mindset shift. Based on our own experiences in our own schools, from Mississippi to Massachusetts, here are our best practices for professional development in a BYOD or 1:1 school.

Digital Citizenship Integration - Kerry

Simply putting devices in the hands of students and teachers will not revolutionize what is happening in classrooms. But it can. In preparation for the access to content and instant communication that every person in your school will have, it is essential to dedicate significant time to training teachers on digital citizenship. Digital citizenship encompasses the norms of effective responsible use of technology including etiquette, communication, consuming and creating media, security, privacy, and more. Without making digital citizenship education a priority, schools often resort to policing student devices. Not only is this an impossible task, it does not allow for the development of healthy young digital citizens.

Instead, schools and teachers must give students the tools to help them manage their own behavior, and to help them know what to do when they make a mistake. The Nine Elements of digital citizenship from Mike Ribble are a great place to educate yourself. Then, look to resources like ISTE, Common Sense Media and iKeepSafe for lesson ideas to use in classrooms with students.

Pro Tip: A best practice is to fully integrate digital citizenship in all subject areas at all levels. If students know it is a one day or one week lesson they just have to “get through”, they will never see how the concepts apply to every engagement they have with their device, in and out of the classroom.

How to Navigate Foundational Apps - Will

To go BYOD or 1:1 educators need some way to facilitate digital instruction and to warehouse resources to share with students. Some teachers use Google Classroom and Drive, Office 365 and OneNote, or one of several Learning Management Systems such as Schoology or Haiku Learning.

In our case, we needed a platform that allowed teachers to differentiate, individualize, and personalize instruction. As a district we also wanted a space where they could easily design, develop, collaborate, and share resources across grade levels and subject-areas. Upon selecting Schoology, our next step was organizing a two-week technology boot camp.

What we didn’t want was to drop a cart of Chromebooks in each teacher’s classroom and they feel bewilderment at what happens next. The boot camp consisted of sessions on the Chromebook, GAFE, Schoology, and several other sessions aimed at preparing teachers for the upcoming school year. These sessions were not the traditional “sit and get” or “drill and kill”. Teachers need a hands-on experience with opportunities to collaborate and discuss how they can successfully implement the tools. For example, a teacher may be concerned that the login process for a program may be too complicated for their students. These are the moments when Instructional Technologists can see the implementation through the eyes and experiences of the teachers.

Pro Tip: Flip professional development by offering learning modules via the LMS you have chosen to implement. Then you can focus on how they can use the tools to reimagine the learning experiences of their students during that precious professional development time.

Screenshot 2015-10-06 at 6.25.32 AM.png
This is a screenshot of a course I created for 9th teachers in our 1:1 Chromebook initiative.

Classroom Management Coaching - Kerry

Once teachers are familiar with the tools, they will be excited to try them in their classrooms. But pause with them and ask them how their classroom environment will look different. As part of the planning for complete integration, teachers need to be prepared for a classroom design that looks different.

For instance, if teachers want to have eyes on student work, they can teach from the back of the classroom instead of the front. It is the best way to peek at screens while students are engaging with content in the classroom. If students are taking an assessment on their devices, have them line the classroom walls with their desks facing away from the center. 

What about the configuration pictured here? When students work in groups, have them make
little semi-circles facing the outer wall with their desks. Then the teacher can walk between the
groups to check in, or stand in the middle of the room to scan all groups simultaneously. There are many other classroom configuration tips that can be crowdsourced when teachers and technology coaches put their heads together in a cooperative training session.

Pro Tip: Facilitate this professional learning opportunity in a classroom at your school, so teachers can physically move the furniture in the space and act out classroom situations to find out what works.

Leading Digital Change - Will

It took me a few weeks into the school year to understand that my job as an Instructional Technologist no longer means just teaching teachers how to use technology to meet specific learning goals or outcomes for students. In leading the 1:1 at the high school, I am, in fact, responsible for leading digital change. What I do has evolved to coaching teachers through the shifting in their mindset and professional practice from “paper and pencil” to “going digital”.

Going digital is about more than just putting devices into students’ hands. It is about changing the learning culture and giving students ownership of their own learning. This is a paradigm shift. Instead of the teacher being the sole repository of information and the student being a passive participate, the teacher now becomes a facilitator or guide and the student becomes the driver and producer of their own learning paths.  
Leading digital change is simply about building teacher capacity. Some teachers will take to digital (blended learning) like a fish to water; some will feel uncomfortable and need help getting started; and some will worry that it is an attempt to replace the classroom teacher.

In order to make a successful transition to digital, teachers and the learning culture at the school must be transformed. As with the students, teachers should take ownership of their own professional learning and have the room and support to make the shift. The key is to get teachers talking. Listen to  their concerns and goals, and work with them to develop a digital learning plan that leverages the talents and experiences they already have. Teachers need this shift to be a conversation and not a mandate.


All four of these elements of teacher development -- digital citizenship, foundational apps, classroom management, and leading digital change -- are essential for a successful BYOD or 1:1 program in any school. Education technology coaches come with lots of titles, but in the end our role is to be there to train and then support teachers day-in and day-out. With these four elements and the time needed to facilitate growth, the mindset shift can happen school-wide.

About the authors:

Kerry Gallagher's varied background in education, technology, and law give her a unique and realistic perspective of what truly works to maximize learning experiences for children and adults. 

Currently, Kerry is a Digital Learning Specialist at St. John's Prep in Danvers, Massachusetts. St. John's Prep is a 1:1 iPad school serving 1500 students grades 6-12.  She is also the Director of K-12 Education for ConnectSafely, a Silicon Valley based non-profit dedicated to educating users of connected technology about safety, privacy, and security.

Kerry taught middle and high school history in Massachusetts and New Hampshire public schools with Bring Your Own Device programs for 13 years.  As a classroom teacher, Kerry was best known for her paperless collaborative classroom model which thrived on project-based learning.  She also helped her students create Rockets Help Desk, a far-reaching student-driven technology integration program in her previous district. Beyond the traditional classroom, she has coached students in downhill skiing and mock trial and understands the importance of the whole child when considering the role of technology in education.

Dr. Will Deyamport, III is a District Instructional Technologist, globally recognized Connected Educator and Connected Ed Consultant. Motivated by his passions for education and digital media, he has been able to leverage the use of social technologies in the classroom to enhance the learning experiences of people worldwide. While his efforts are primarily targeted towards teachers, it is his thought leadership in this specific field that has helped him to create an innovative, interactive and integrated classroom experience for students and teachers alike. In addition to identifying existing and underutilized digital tools and resources in education, Dr. Deyamport has worked diligently to bridge that gap. It is this core endeavor that has taken him on the professional adventure of a lifetime! His research and work in this field has helped shape his social entrepreneurship and given him the opportunity to connect and collaborate with some of the most inspiring and acclaimed people in education both nationally and internationally. Through these collaborations, Dr. Deyamport has been able to facilitate and curate powerful, thought-provoking and enlightening conversations and content which look at a multitude of issues educators face inside and outside of the classroom. The expansion and diversification of his professional portfolio has resulted in Dr. Will becoming a highly sought after speaker, presenter and guest lecturer.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Dr. Will Show - Branding 101 with Julie Harris of Julie Harris Design

On today's episode, I chat with Julie Harris about personal branding.

Julie Harrisowner and creative director of Julie Harris Design, is a creative business consultant and digital designer specializing in Branding Design and Development. With communication, community, and collaboration at the heart of what she does, Julie brings a passionate and intentional focus into her work as she helps small business owners and entrepreneurs of all levels design a brand that not only looks, but acts, sounds, and feels just like them. Julie provides business, branding, and design services as well as free resources for creative professionals looking to establish themselves online as leaders in their industry.  Learn more about Julie and connect with her at

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Interview on HPS Radio with JasN Smith

I was interviewed by JasN Smith about the awesome things happening with technology at Hattiesburg Public School District. Please click the link to gain access to the audio recording.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Dr. Will Show - Brain powered Learning with LaVonna Roth

On today's episode, I chat with LaVonna Roth about brain powered learning.

LaVonna Roth is an internationally known author, keynote speaker and consultant. Her passion is bridging how the brain learns and education.  Over 25,000 educators, parents and students have profited from her wealth of practical, applicable and down-to-earth strategies to the most common and frustrating issues. These strategies are a direct result from years of research, as well as, classroom and consulting experiences.

LaVonna presents very interactive and engaging seminars and has done so across three continents. She is the founder of the Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E. initiative where every person is encouraged to ignite their S.H.I.N.E. and use those gifts to illuminate the world.  She is the author of Brain-Powered Strategies to Engage All Learners and the book series, Brain-Powered Lessons to Engage All Learners.
As a teacher of ten years, LaVonna was recognized at the state and local levels for her teaching success.  She credits the amazing teachers she taught with and that served as role models for her achievements.

Monday, September 14, 2015

#beyouEDU - Finding Your Bliss with Kerry Gallagher

Happiness can be elusive or it can come in spades. We don't really know why our lives ebb and flow this way, but they do. Professionally, the key to finding bliss is to look for a career that allows you to get the positive feedback you crave. Enough of this positive feedback and we experience bliss.

Is my explanation of bliss too utilitarian?

Perhaps. But when I saw Dr. Will's video post to kick off this month's #beyouEDU theme, it struck me that he is finding joy in his interactions with teachers. He is getting to know them and helping them find a new level of satisfaction in their own teaching and lesson planning. Being in the midst of their excitement as they go through this change gives him the feedback that leads to bliss.

Here are some of the ways my professional life gives me a chance to feel bliss in this same way.

Teacher Bliss

Until two months ago, my entire adult career has been focused on being a middle and high school history teacher. My bliss came from telling the stories of history in a way that got my students eyes to shine. It came from creating a project-based learning experienced that helped teenagers dig into a political or social issue and feel real emotion when they learned about injustice. I felt blissful when students returned to visit from high school or college to just say hello and chat about how one of their experiences in our class served as a launching pad for another learning experience in their lives. How could my professional life get better?

Writer Bliss

About two years ago I was offered the opportunity to write for EdSurge. I was at a conference and had been placed on a panel with one of their leadership. I mean, my blog had been up and I'd been writing there -- mostly for myself -- for several years. But to be asked to write for a farther reaching publication... I was honored and thrilled. Turns out, I kind of like this writing thing. Since then, I've written quite a few articles for EdSurge and lots of other online education publications. Writing has helped me find bliss because it forces me to process my pedagogy, reflect on my practice, and share my experience with an honest voice. In an education landscape filled with policymakers and leaders who choose their words oh-so-carefully, sometimes we all crave an honest voice. It feels pretty good to be that honest voice. Writing about education and technology has been a pathway to bliss for me.

Speaker Bliss

Speaking at conferences and symposiums about education practice and the role of technology is something that started small for me. My former district hosted a regional conference each spring and that is how I got my toes wet. Then, through a cohort experience with my colleagues, and encouraged by my superintendent, John Doherty, I proposed sessions at MassCUE, our state conference. From there, with the help of my writing, I'm now sometimes proposing and sometimes receiving invitations to speak about my experiences and my ideas. The joy I find in attending and speaking at these events isn't usually about the moments when I'm on the microphone. Rather, it is about the conversations that precede and follow. I love to hear what people are thinking about the topic before I get up and share my own perspective. Then, I love to hear their feedback in the small group conversations that happen between sessions or after hours over cocktails. To me, speaking at conferences is what I do so that I can do what brings me bliss: so that I can have a chance to talk with people I would normally never get to meet and hear ideas I would normally never get to hear. It feels good to soak in something new, and know I can bring it back to my school to help all of us grow.

Instructional Coach Bliss

I'm only about two months into this new role as a full time digital learning specialist. My job is to make sure teachers have everything they need to get a creative and enthusiastic as possible. Sometimes this means removing barriers and sometimes this means helping them see that there is so much more available to them than they ever knew. So far there have been quite a few joyful moments, and many moments of listening and learning. I have much to absorb before I can think of being an expert in this field. For now, I celebrate small victories, like when I can show a teacher a new faster way to give students feedback on their work using the tech tools we have available at our school. These little celebrations will grow -- I have faith, as my knowledge and experience grows -- into bliss.

Of course, I always write for #beyouEDU from the educator perspective. But Dr. Will's monthly topics can apply to any profession, or any person. The themes are broad enough to allow anyone to participate, and specific enough to cause me to reflect on my own personal experiences each month. Join the movement and #beyouEDU today.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Dr. Will Show - #Teachsmall with Jordan Pedraza

On this episode, I chat with Jordan Pedraza about the #teachsmall movement.

Jordan Pedraza currently leads Community at Remind, an edtech startup providing a messaging app for teachers to communicate with students and parents. Jordan has worked in the edtech space for almost 10 years with experiencing in higher education, k-12, policy research, and international settings. Before Remind, Jordan led Community with Google for Education and helped universities, k-12 schools, and ministries of education adopt various Google tools. Jordan is deeply passionate about helping communities explore and adopt technology for new learning models and creativity.