Technology & Collaboration 



A few weeks ago, I met up with the AASA Digitial Consortium for the fall meeting. For those that aren’t familiar with the Consortium,the purpose of the consortium is to provide school district leaders the opportunity to work together as critical friends to learn and take action together, to gain insight into emerging and successful models of best practices using digital media in support of engaging end effective learning experiences.

While we were out getting a tour of the schools in the district, some fascinating experiences were to be had. While touring the schools, I couldn’t help to how some schools were older buildings and traditional schools, and others were more of a ‘build as you go’ set up. It turns out that they build large modular units based on enrollment and have an average lifespan of about 20 years. At another school, the design looked more like a campground with cabins in rows. In case, they were camp bunks; actually, they were Navy barracks. The base down the road donated the buildings to the school district. How cool is that?

During the tours, I ended up in a 6th grade STEM room.  They were in the midst of an activity where they had to design the perfect ‘bat-o-rang’ where batman had to slide down from the top of the building to the bottom, but can only do such with the items they had in the mystery bag. I sat down with one group who seemed like they were in the doldrums. They were irked; one student looked at me and said, “what can I possibly do with this thing? It’s all old and useless!” Old and useless?!?!?

That thing was a cassette tape recorder. There were also pieces of yarn, paper clips, pipe cleaners, and a screwdriver. Before I proceeded to go with my plan, I verified everything before breaking stuff.

I sat with the group, pulled out the cassette recorder, and asked if they knew what it was. All replied no. I sighed and proceeded to explained how it played audio. I also simultaneously broke out in a music lesson, sharing both some of my favorite cassettes singles that I bought in my awkward music years. After much humiliation, we focused back to the topic at hand.

We took apart the cassette player for parts to make the bat-a-rang work. We used batteries for power, the rollers in the player as a yoke, and used the plastic cover as a building top for the bat-a-rang to connect to. The students in the group were quick to catch onto the theme of the lesson; use everything that you have to make it work! We couldn’t get to stay together for the whole lesson, but he teacher emailed me later saying they went from dead last to 3rd place. Pretty cool for something that was old and useless.

  Like previous consortiums, the group met up and continued to exercise moonshot thinking and continue to collaborate with Google on best practices being us across the country.

The next morning, we finished our meeting by sharing a variety of ignite learning lessons & sessions that we’ve been learning as we gathered this weekend. It was fantastic!

addressing the consortium in Napa Valley, CA.

Overall, a fantastic weekend of learning. This job is not an 8-4, Monday to Friday job, and work is done at all hours of the day. Making then time to get to work with your tribe is essential for your success today.  Our job is to get the best for our students and staff; this consortium has truly helped me do just that.


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