Yes, School Funding Does Matter

The tweet gave me pause when I first read the headline:

I followed this link retweeted by Frederick Hess, contributor to Education Week, to a US News & World Report opinion piece titled More Money, Same Problems. It was written by Gerard Robinson (the source of the tweet) and Benjamin Scafidi. Robinson is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, “a conservative think tank” (Source: Wikipedia). Scafidi is a professor of economics at Kennesaw State University.

The authors acknowledge that “public education is important to the economic and social well-being of our nation”. They go on to point out that there are some students who are successful in public education and far too many who are not. You have no argument from me. Robinson and Scafidi also concede that an adequate level of “resources matter to education”.

Their commentary then gets into the the problems that they believe plague public education:

– While student school enrollment increased 96% since 1950, public school staffing increased 386%.
– Since 1992, public school national math scores have shown little growth (click to their source).
– Today’s graduation rates are only slightly above what they were in 1970.

Robinson and Scafidi follow up with their ideas for improving student outcomes in public education:

– Better involvement from parents
– State control of failing public schools
– Charter schools (a result of state takeovers)

While I appreciate their passion for providing a better experience for students who do not have access to a high quality public education, I take issue with their ideas for improvement.

First, parent involvement. While it can have an impact on student learning when the involvement is positive, it is often not something we as public educators can control in our settings. My experience tells me that the best public schools focus the majority of their efforts and resources on the limited time that they actually have with students. Dr. John Hattie’s research on what works regarding instruction places family involvement on the lower end of the effective educational approach spectrum. It can be effective, but there is a ceiling.

So what’s on the higher end of the spectrum? Everything that Robinson and Scafidi failed to mention, including:

– Formative assessment
– Feedback strategies
– Self-assessment
– Vocabulary instruction
– Classroom discussion
– Response to Intervention

In fact, one of the least effective practices for improving student learning outcomes are…charter schools. According to Hattie, charter schools have around the same effect size as ensuring students had appropriate amounts of sleep and altering classroom/school schedules. My time is important, so I will let charter school and school choice proponents wrestle with these findings.

What I do want to point out is that the most effective instructional strategies require generous amounts of school funding. Here’s why: Teaching is one of the most challenging professions. To do it well, educators need consistent and effective training in the areas of curriculum, assessment and instructional strategies. This requires funding and support for job-embedded professional development. Dollars should be allocated for training, time, resources, and opportunities to apply these new skills in a low risk/high success environment. If this sounds like a lot of money for this type of work, please remember that teaching is a profession. I am sure you would agree that our students are worth it.

Citing graduation rates and flatlining test scores might serve to perpetuate the opinion that public education is broken. However, this argument is a generalization of our system as a whole. Yes, there are ineffective schools and there are effective schools. No one would dispute this. Yet each school is an individual learning community. They each have specific strengths and needs, and should be assessed with valid and reliable measures. To paint a broad stroke over public education with data that is questionable at best (see here and here) is a disservice to the hard work and dedication that all public educators put in every day on behalf of our students.

I won’t argue that public education needs to improve. We do. It is the work that we should be engaging in every day. The least that people outside public education can do is to ensure that they consider multiple perspectives on a position they support and provide valid and reliable evidence to back it up.

Student Engagement and Closing the Opportunity Gap: An Action Plan, Part 2

My previous two posts have described how schools can improve access for students of color and students living in poverty to follow their passions and have more voice in choice in their learning. In the first post, I summarize an Education Week article by Dr. Kimberlee Everson who makes a strong case for schools to pursue these goals. In the second post, I laid out the first part of an action plan that school leaders can follow to address this opportunity gap between affluent, impoverished, and diverse schools. The headings I use to organize my thinking come from Appendix A of Regie Routman’s excellent resource Read, Write, Lead: Breakthrough Strategies for Schoolwide Literacy Success (ASCD, 2014).

You may want to follow the embedded links in the previous paragraph to read this long-form piece of digital writing in a chronological order. Consider yourself warned: This is a longer post. I didn’t feel it necessary to extend this series any longer. I will put this content all together and make it available as a PDF download soon.

So let’s continue…

  • Establish a schoolwide culture that promotes trust and risk taking.

Just as we work harder for those teachers that care about and believe in us, learners will take more risks when the culture promotes it. Promoting risk-taking is beyond a leader simply stating “Try it out” to a teacher curious about exploring a new approach to teaching and learning. They have to know that the leader and their colleagues will be there for them when mistakes are made. And mistakes will be made! We’re not really risking much if challenges do not present themselves along the pathway toward becoming better.

J.K. Rowling failure quote.png

One decision I made this year to promote more risk taking as a school was replacing my formal observations of staff with informal instructional walks. Instead of scheduling a 1/3 of my staff for announced supervision times, I now pop into any classroom unannounced on a daily basis. We use the instructional walk approach suggested by Regie Routman from her book Read, Write, Lead. It’s a narrative- and strengths-based approach to staff supervision, instead of a check-the-box compliance task to ensure “fidelity” (whatever that is).

In an instructional walk we are looking first for the teacher’s strengths, noticing where support is needed, and also discerning instructional patterns across the school. We are not just quietly observing and writing notes the teacher may or may not see, checking off look-fors, or collecting numerical data through a clicker. It is a process that respects both the teacher and students. (Routman, p. 198)

In order to increase trust in the instructional walk process, I had our faculty participate in an article study in order to develop the tenets of student engagement. Teachers chose one of four articles to closely read from The Reading Teacher, glean specific concepts from the content, and then come together as a whole group to articulate the characteristics of engagement in the classroom. We posted our thinking on a Padlet ( during the article study.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 4.06.25 PM.png

These attributes of student engagement became the characteristics I would use as a lens when observing and experiencing classroom instruction. Once a trimester, I would count how I often I was observing each tenet of engagement and let the faculty know these results. If one characteristic was low, such as questioning, we would make a point of encouraging this practice to become more evident within instruction through the sharing of articles and content, and through professional learning activities.

By stripping away formal observations and replacing them with instructional walks, we acknowledged that instruction is not simply a list of indicators to be documented and scored. Rather, teaching is a complex activity that is hard to understand and evaluate without an authentic and comprehensive view of what’s happening in the classroom. Allowing teachers to relax a bit about the evaluation process, they felt more comfortable in taking risks around increasing engagement through providing more access to opportunities. Mistakes were and still are seen as part of the teaching and learning process.

  • Lead the change effort.

Asking for teachers to become better practitioners demands that the leader be a part of the change process. Sometimes this involves becoming a teacher ourselves. For example, I hosted several technology training sessions for teachers to attend during the school year. They could post their questions via a Google Form about a topic or tool. These questions became our agenda for the evening.

I also partnered with a classroom teacher who was exploring how facilitating conversations about reading might increase student engagement. We promoted books we enjoyed, taught students how to recommend titles to their peers, and gave them ample amounts of time to read and discuss their books with peers. I also facilitated some of the data collection by popping in once a month to check in on how students’ reading habits, thinking, and relationships with others might have changed due to becoming more engaged in reading. The results, still being compiled, are very informative.

  • Assess whether we are learning more and getting better.

This might be the most challenging part of engaging in a process of change that will allow students more opportunities to engage in meaningful and self-directed learning. A challenge, but not impossible.

One approach I like and utilize annually is collaboratively assessing student work. We use this process with student writing during our mid-year professional learning day. This is an application of the collaborative learning cycle from the last post. Here’s how it works:

  1. I collect examples of student work, such as performance tasks or their writing.
  2. I create a gallery of their work, stretching across a hallway for example, in developmental order such as by grade level/age.
  3. We briefly describe the purpose for the professional learning and expected outcomes (connect).
  4. Teachers discuss what they anticipate observing as a grade level or department (collaborate).
  5. Teachers reorganize into vertical/cross-departmental teams and do a “walk” together. They are asked to notice strengths and next steps in students’ work age by age and talk about these as a team (calibrate).
  6. Everyone comes back as a grade level or department to co-develop a new understanding about student work and why they believe what they believe now (consensus).
  7. As a whole faculty, teachers share their takeaways during a whole group debriefing (connect).

Here are few pictures of our most recent collaborative assessment, in which teachers were engaged in a gallery walk of student writing:

This is a cyclical process, which is really a nice model for what all learning looks like. Because we have done this yearly, I can share our debriefing notes to show how we have grown as a staff from year to year. Below are our debriefings from the last two years about student writing (last year is on the left, this year on the right). Notice any difference?

We did. More of our students’ personalities were evident in their writing compared to last year. They were sharing about their personal lives in their writing more often, as well as connecting their reading to their writing. That led us to believe that choice and voice were more amply provided. These debriefings, when focused on our strengths first, become a celebration in a sense. We take pride in how our actions have directly contributed to the positive outcomes in our students’ work.

  • Assess whether students are learning more.

Money, staff, and resources might be tight, but one thing schools are not lacking is data. Seasonal screeners and interim reading measures can provide some information about a student’s growth over time. But if this is all that a school uses, we are outsourcing our abilities to accurately assess the learning that occurred within one school year.

This year our school started using a student engagement survey to gain a better understanding of how they feel about learning and school in general. The results from our fall survey were so compelling, we actually changed our school’s goal to focus on specific practices that increase engagement, such as choice and student discussion, instead of curriculum integration.

Another more authentic measure of student learning we have utilized for a couple years now are digital portfolios. Six times a year, teachers and students upload a learning artifact into FreshGrade ( They also enter a reflection that documents what they did well, what they still need to work on, and their goal for the next time they have to upload an artifact to their digital portfolio. As a bonus, families have appreciated knowing how their students are progressing throughout the school year, instead of waiting for report cards and conferences. Students also feel more in control of their learning, as they are being asked to be the “chief assessors” of their work.


The action plan I have described within the last two posts is one approach to bringing about change in a school with the goal of increasing engagement and providing access for all students to have more control over their learning and follow their interests. It is not to be followed step-by-step. What would be wise is to take what seems useful from our work and apply it as a school leadership team sees fit. I would recommend following the smart steps that Regie Routman lays out in her book, which I used to guide our school’s journey.

As I reflect on the beginnings of this writing, I am a bit surprised to realize that I veered a bit off course in my initial purpose. Readers might be expecting that I would simply advocate for makerspaces and STEM labs as a solution to the lack of access students might experience to unique learning opportunities. Yet here we are, talking about reading and writing and how the connection between the two, when made evident for students, has increased student engagement. Maybe the journey led us to an unexpected destination.

Don’t get me wrong. I like these trending topics. Makerspaces and STEM labs are in part a reaction to the suffocating grasp our policy makers have placed on our schools to meet standards and prescribed expectations in the name of accountability. It is interesting that Dr. Everson does not advocate for any one approach over another in providing access to more engaging and authentic learning experiences for students. Instead, she asks of our nation’s leaders to take a more thoughtful approach about teaching the whole child.

It is my hope that they will advocate for rights of families that extend beyond access to buildings, a uniform curriculum, or high-test-score-producing teachers. It is my hope that they will feel teachers’ desire for freedom to inspire and children’s desire to explore the world with passion.

With that, I hope that school leaders soon find their entry points into discovering what’s possible when we offer students the time, resources, and space to pursue their own interests and develop expertise in that area. This is a necessary part of learning. For us, I am already toying with a schedule that would allocate a 1/2 hour every day next year toward “Project Time”. This would be at the end of the day, where students had even more control over how they spend that time in school. It is not a solution to a problem, but that next step in giving the ownership of learning back to our students.

Student Engagement and Closing the Opportunity Gap: An Action Plan, Part 1

In my previous post, I highlighted an article from Education Week about students being able to pursue their questions and interests in school. The author, Dr. Kimberlee Everson of Western Kentucky University, is suspicious of the use of standards and accountability measures in schools. She believes that if students do not have a voice and choice in their learning, then all of the focus on the core academics will not amount to much.

Education policy should not prescribe children’s access to institutions at the expense of access to personal development, growth, capability, or happiness. All students attending free and high-achieving schools from preschool to college is certainly a beautiful ideal, but if these very institutions quash passion or inhibit relationship-building, then the loss to our nation may be greater than the gain.

e152f6d4What Everson leaves for the reader to figure out is how to develop and implement an action plan that honors all learners’ need for autonomy to follow their passions and become more engaged in school. This is essential for our students of color and students living in poverty. According to Everson, they generally do not have the same level of access to this type of instruction, even though they may be the ones that benefit the most from a more authentic approach.

As a principal in a Title I elementary school, I can attest to the needs of these students. We have implemented a plan that has started to better engage all learners. I am using the headings from Regie Routman’s Change Process Worksheet/Appendix A, from her essential resource Read, Write, Lead: Breakthrough Strategies for Schoolwide Literacy Success, as a guide for organizing and describing our school’s planning process. The next part expands on the first steps in this change process.

  • Prepare people for change process.

Being very upfront with faculty about any upcoming change, such as increasing literacy engagement, is vital. It shows that we are honest and transparent about our intentions. In our school, we facilitate regular instructional leadership team meetings where we discuss the building’s goals and objectives. Meeting agendas and minutes are regularly shared out via Google Docs to ensure everyone is aware of our conversations. This was how our school started as we embarked on a schoolwide goal of increasing literacy engagement this year.

In addition to visibility, I have found it to be helpful to actually teach the staff about the process of change. To start, I share information about how change can have both an emotional and physical effect on a person. This leads into a conversation about why people resist change, and how colleagues can support one another to ferry through the expected challenges. Also necessary is pointing out that any kind of significant change is a gradual process, so it is important that we become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

  • Infuse optimism.

Think about your favorite teachers from your own school experience. Why did you work so hard for them? Likely, it was because they believed in you and what you were capable of as a scholar and as a person. For some students and teachers, this has become a lifelong friendship.


Infusing optimism as a school begins a journey that moves toward increasing engagement for all students. It is a smart way to start.

I have found that the happiest students learn best in classrooms with the happiest teachers. That means the principal needs to celebrate all that is good in his or her teachers on a daily basis. Celebrations can be as public as a highlight in a weekly staff newsletter via Smore (, or as simple and intimate as a handwritten personal note placed in a teacher’s mailbox that describes what was appreciated about them.

Optimism can also come from the outside. One year, I took my staff to a woodland shelter for a retreat. We brought in facilitators from the Center for Courage & Renewal to guide us toward rediscovering why we went into education in the first place. For some of our staff, I know it was a life-changing experience. We kept this enthusiasm going by constantly coming back to the tenets of our time together, such as showing appreciation for our efforts through nominal gifts and words of praise. This feeling of connectedness along with a sense of optimism for the future is a cornerstone for trying to engage all learners.

  • Build in ongoing support and collaboration.

No amount of optimism will sustain a school culture throughout the year without regular support from a collaborative professional community. There has to be structures and systems in place to ensure that an organization stays focused on their goals (which in this case, is increasing student engagement to close the opportunity gap).

Our school has implemented what I call a collaborative learning cycle. Each part in the cycle represents a weekly meeting. It is a process in which we connect as a whole faculty to set the purpose for the following month of professional learning. This is followed by an opportunity for grade levels or departments to collaborate about the task at hand. The third week, teachers from different areas come together to calibrate their conversations and expectations across grade levels. Finally, grade levels or departments revisit and reach consensus with regard to the better practices to implement within their instruction.

Here is a visual of this process as it looks in our school:

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 9.09.51 PM.png
Source: Renwick, M. Digital Student Portfolios: A Whole School Approach to Connected Learning and Continuous Assessment (2014)

We do not engage in this process every month, or even that often. Sometimes, teachers need to be able to choose how they want to spend their time together with their colleagues. That might include exploring a new science kit or taking time to analyze the most recent benchmark and screener data. We use the collaborative learning cycle when we have a specific goal in mind. One example is collaboratively assessing student writing at the beginning, middle, or end of the school year.

In my final post within this three part series about student engagement and the opportunity gap, I will describe the last four steps in the change process a school can take to address this aspect of learning in schools that deserves more attention. Stay tuned!

Student Engagement and Closing the Opportunity Gap

We hear about the achievement gap, or the word gap, and then we expect public schools to fix these situations. Solutions in the past have included extending the school day, increasing expectations through common standards, and holding schools and educators accountable for student learning through high-stakes tests.


However, these gaps were created before many students even took their first steps through the school doors. Teachers and school leaders become the scapegoats for these societal ills that really demand a larger and more complex conversation as a country. Yet being the people that educators are, they roll up their sleeves and quietly serve not only as teacher but also as counselor, parent, community outreach coordinator, and social worker.

Focusing on gaps creates problems. First, this work takes a deficit-based approach, where students lacking knowledge or skills can be viewed as less than capable than their higher-achieving peers. Subsequently, the students on the high end of the achievement spectrum receive less support and are not adequately challenged because of the shift in resources. Also, the gaps are related to the core academics – literacy and numeracy – which means that a school’s focus becomes exclusively on these disciplines. All of these problems creates one big problem: Teachers have to teach to the core middle in the hope that “every child succeeds” based on expectations that outsiders deem as proficient.

In a recent commentary for Education Week, Dr. Kimberlee Everson, an assistant professor of education at Western Kentucky University, paints a different picture of what really is the problem in schools today with regard to gaps between minority student or students living in poverty and their more affluent peers. Titled “True Opportunity is About More than Access”, Everson pushes for public educators to consider what students and their families really need today, tomorrow, and in their foreseeable future.

I propose that all children have the right to find and follow their passions; be inspired by creative, motivated teachers; and have sufficient time and opportunity for developing relationships.

Although the professor doesn’t come right out and say it, what she is describing is engagement. Many thinkers in education have provided their definition of this abstract concept. Here’s mine: Students are engaged when they are both highly interested in and committed to their learning pursuits. They have some level choice and voice in their school experiences and are motivated to persevere in the face of challenges that occur.

Students explore Scratch, a computer coding application, and Makey Makey, a web-based circuit building kit.

This definition applied to schools today would require some significant change to a majority of instruction in classrooms. Teachers would have to let go of some control. Principals would need to find better ways to assess student learning. Districts would be expected to provide more time for collaborative teacher planning and less time and funds on prescribed curriculum. In short, the learners would inherit the schools.

Everson asks some thought-provoking questions in relation to this different approach to education.

Are we certain that what the world needs is more than 50 million public school children who meet the same academic goals? Is it possible that true opportunity is the opportunity to develop specific expertise? Might the success of a nation, in the fact of a future that no one can predict perfectly, rest on the diversity in educational goals – in the same way that biodiversity ensures the success of a species?

We need to view education beyond the traditional mindset as a disseminator of knowledge and skills. Diversity in approaches can enhance the overall learning experience. Our students’ needs and interests demand that we rethink school as more than just a source of information.

Easier said than done. Certain teachers are already doing this work but largely in isolation. They don’t want to be called out by their colleagues and supervisors for veering too far off the predetermined script. This is why it is vital that school leaders support these innovative efforts using the tools and authority given to them. To start, instructional leadership teams can make a collective decision to allocate a certain part of the school day for allowing everyone in the schoolhouse – teachers and students – to explore their interests.

What if teachers had some room left over in their teaching day for sharing their own passions with the children? What if one teacher taught students chess, another taught watercolor painting or filmmaking, and another shared an interest in the mechanics of flight – and what if none of those subjects was part of the “core” curriculum? What would happen? Would the opportunity gap for children widen or would it narrow? Would teachers, and thereby, children by more excited about coming to school each day? Would general academic performance improve?

What are your first feelings when you read this passage? Excitement? Fear? Curiosity? This is what I felt as I read this part of the commentary. Everson does not offer specific recommendations for how this might happen in a school. And how could she: Everyone’s passions and needs are different, and every building has a particular approach to how learning is facilitated based on their culture and community. In my next post, I will share how our school is addressing student engagement and trying to close the opportunity gap.


Articles Worth Reading This Week

As my Twitter handle and blog title denote, I like to read. Reading regularly and widely might be the most essential habit I practice as a school leader. Beyond books, I subscribe to a number of feeds and periodicals. I am a smarter person because I am willing to consider many perspectives.

Here is a rundown of the articles I read this week, ones I would recommend other school leaders check out for themselves.

Dispelling the Myth of Delayed Gratification by Alfie Kohn (Education Week)

I always try to read Alfie Kohn’s commentary through the lens of someone who is fairly distant from the classroom (he is not an educator). However, this article really resonated with me. He revisits an oft-cited research study – the Marshmallow Experiment – and basically debunks the whole concept of “grit” and “resilience”, buzz words in education right now. If you read one article from this post, this is it.

Boosting the Power of Projects by John Larmer (Educational Leadership)

This past summer I participated in a Project-Based Learning training, facilitated by a Buck Institute in Education trainer. John Larmer is the editor in chief of this organization. What I appreciate about this article and BIE’s mission is they are so willing to share their ideas with the world. They just want to see great instruction happening in every classroom. This article highlights the main steps in creating a highly engaging learning experience for students.

Have You Tried Making Common Core Lemonade? by Amber Chandler (MiddleWeb)

The teacher’s voice is too often missing in the debate about the Common Core State Standards. This 7th grade teacher shares both the benefits and her concerns about aligning her instruction with both the CCSS and her students. It’s a very honest and informative reflection.

For dyslexic students, are smart phones easier to read than books? by Ruth Tam (PBS Newshour)

I shared this article with one of my special education teachers. This led to a good conversation about how we might introduce these practices for our students, at least on a small scale initially. Anytime an article can prompt this type of discussion is worth recommending.

Activist warns about Common Core consequences by Melanie Lawder (Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune)

I actually sat in on this presentation which was covered by our local newspaper. While Dr. Pesta was an excellent speaker and made some good points, any credibility he might have gained was offset by his questionable sources and his obvious self-serving efforts for his private school business. I thought the reporter nicely represented both sides of the argument.

5 Ways to Help Your Students Become Better Questioners by Warren Berger (Edutopia)

After reading his book A More Beautiful Question, Warren Berger has become my new hero. I regularly reference his “Why? What if? How?” protocol for developing better questions during webinars and presentations. Learning how to be better questioners is a critical skill for the 21st century.

Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent by Nick Bilton (New York Times)

I have no idea why this article was buried in the Fashion & Style section. It is one of the most balanced pieces I have read about the amount of technology we should allow our kids to be exposed to in this digital age. I shared this piece out on our school’s Twitter account for families to read.

Happy reading this weekend!

Blended Learning Communities

I have investigated Professional Learning Communities since becoming an elementary principal in the fall of 2011. I read the original resource, Professional Learning Communities at Work by Rick DuFour and Robert Eaker (Solution Tree, 1998). This was followed up with attending the Literacy and Leadership Institute by Regie Routman and colleagues in June 2012. I dug more deeply into this framework for collaboration by reading Common Formative Assessment: A Toolkit for Professional Learning Communities at Work by Kim Bailey and Chris Jakicic (Solution Tree, 2012) and Building a Professional Learning Community at Work: A Guide to the First Year by Parry Graham and Bill Ferriter (Solution Tree, 2010). In addition, I investigated the possibilities of online collaboration in The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall (Solution Tree, 2012). Not to be forgotten are all of the informal conversations I have had on Twitter via the #atplc hashtag, plus the excellent resources I have found at the All Things PLC website.

The one thing I can say for sure at this point is: Facilitating highly effective and efficient learning communities is difficult work. There is much to balance.

  • purpose
  • goals
  • focus
  • expertise
  • data
  • action steps
  • results
  • reflection

Of all of these elements, I find time to be the most challenging to address. I am willing to bet that many of the authors listed previously might agree. Time is so limited for educators, especially at the elementary level. Whenever we set up a regular time to meet, that means teachers have less time to get everything else done for their classroom of students.

Where I am finding lots of possibilities is blending our online and in person conversations surrounding instruction and learning. Ferriter and Graham suggest many digital tools to try. Nussbaum-Beach and Hall provide a model for what connected learning communities could look like at the school, department, and classroom levels. What I am aiming for is somewhere in the middle. My school is familiar with powerful tools such as Google, Evernote, Twitter, and Skype. However, we want to keep the majority of our conversations face-to-face. 

Ben Wilkoff co-facilitated a webinar with me for Education Week, titled Using Technology to Personalize Learning in Elementary Schools. His part was titled “What is Your Blend?”. The point I remember him making was that learning is best supported when the technologies are infused within instruction, curriculum, and assessment. They are used purposefully, have meaning, and provide real time feedback from an authentic audience. This concept, of blending the right digital tools within the learning environment we are already engaged in, rings loudly with me. I see a direct application to how collaborative teams can operate.

So what is your blend? What digital tools have you leveraged in your community of learners? What efficiencies have your discovered?


Using Technology to Personalize Learning in Elementary Schools

On Tuesday, October 15 at 4 P.M. CST, I am co-facilitating a webinar for Education Week. You can register for the free webinar here:;F:QS!10100&ShowKey=16341&

For my part, I am describing how technology can be embedded within best practice to facilitate deep levels of learning. Specifically, digital student portfolios are a tool my school is using. iPads and Evernote are the tools of choice. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time or space to include this video tutorial. It shows how to set up a digital student portfolio in Evernote and input a student’s first learning artifact. Self-assessment and feedback are just a few of the learning activities that can occur when using technology in a meaningful way.

If you have questions and/or thoughts beyond what you see here or heard through the webinar, please share in the comments.