Thing 34: Digital Portfolios For Students

In March 2018, all students in grades K-10 will be part of student-led conferences. In the past, parents or family members would meet with teachers regarding a student’s academic progress; students were not present at this meeting. This year, all that will change. To support the district’s improvement plan, 100 percent of students in grades K-10 will participate in student-led conferences. This is a meeting where students invite family members or trusted adults to review their academic goals and progress. Students lead the conversation and teachers act as facilitators only. The goal of these conferences include for students to take ownership of their learning and to improve school-home connection and family engagement.

With these initiatives in mind, the instructional coach and 4th-grade team at my school will help students turn physical data binders into student digital portfolios to share at student-led conferences in March. This is a pilot initiative for us, and if it works well with the 4th-grade students, we will share this at other grade-level PLC meetings this spring.

The usage of student digital portfolios has been a topic of implementation in the secondary level at my district, but only recently has this topic been initiated at the primary level at my school. The secondary level has used Schoology and Google Apps For Education to create digital portfolios. At the primary level, we have decided to try G-Suite.

After reading the articles about digital portfolios, I appreciated how these and student-led conferences had similar goals of importance:

  • Archive student work artifacts and keep a record of data from K-12
  • Students can share learning success with a broader audience: family and peers
  • Cultivate 21st century skills: collaboration, technology literacy, oral and written communication skills, initiative
  • Incorporate digital citizenship lessons with the creations and sharing of digital portfolios

After discussions with the team and instructional coach, they want these items to be included in a Google Slide presentation, which will be a template for the digital portfolio (this format may or may not change pending feedback after the student-led conferences).

  • Attendance and behavioral goal
  • STAR chart and goals
  • Writing samples
  • ELA and math goals

The plan is for me to create a template on Google Slides and place into Google Classroom. The students will open and copy this into their Drive and write and reflect on the items above. Students will visit me by homeroom with their Chromebooks for 40 minutes each week for 2 weeks during our flex time. We will also have discussions about how to use this information in a safe manner and talk about digital footprints. After, students will personalize the slides and then share at the student-led conference.

I am excited for this project as it is a brand-new initiative. This year, the district went from 4-6 fixed to flex schedule, and this is an excellent opportunity to collaborate with teachers and provide students with a meaningful learning experience. I hope it works well so I can bring this idea to other grade levels and strengthen more collaborations, but it also provides an opportunity to fit in digital citizenship lessons, as well.


Thing 35: Supporting English Language Learners

After reading one of the articles that showed the percentages of ELLs in New York state, I was surprised to see that Utica schools had a slightly higher percentage of students than Buffalo schools. This fact made me curious, and I plan to reach out to one of the ENL teachers in my school to find the answer.

I also appreciated the advice of how to make my school library more accessible to ELLs. In the past few years, the number of ELLs in my school has increased. The most spoken languages are Spanish and Arabic. With CCD money, I purchased high-interest fiction and non-fiction books in Spanish and Arabic. However, I do need to move these books to a more prominent location for the students. Interestingly, other students have been checking out the books that are English/Spanish or English/Arabic to try and learn some of the language. One area I do think I have done well in the past few years is to build a diverse collection of resources and promoting these resources to the school community The collection can always be improved though, and I will continually evaluate the collection annually to determine what areas need help.

Earlier this year, the ENL teacher and instructional coach at my school collaborated on a Google Doc to share ELL digital resources and databases. After looking at this lesson, I added ELL Instructional Resources on the Google Doc and spent some time reviewing this resource as I was not familiar with it. The book readings and author meetings were excellent. I do need to do a better job sharing this document with grade-level teachers again. The students have reviewed these resources with me, but the teachers need to have these reminders again. As the school goes 1:1 in 3-6 next year, it will be easy to add these links and resources on the Chromebooks.

Overall, I do have some homework in the next few days:

  1. Change shelf location of books in Arabic and Spanish so they are more accessible to all
  2. Share Google Doc with teachers of ELL resources again (
  3. Share resource with teachers


Genrifying School Library PD

At an Oswego Citi library council meeting earlier this year, we discussed possible PD opportunities for the summer. Librarians offered topics that they had experience with, and I mentioned that I have had a successful change with the genrification of my library a few years ago. Somehow that conversation turned into an offer to share my process at a PD session this summer. I said yes, and was excited. I have facilitated tech PDs with my school community, but never with a group of librarians before.

A few weeks ago, I created my format and presentation. I thought about how to engage the participants, but not have information overload about genrifying a library.

Today was the session at an elementary school in Oswego, and I am proud of myself. Based off feedback and reflections, the session was the right amount of time and informative. Participants made goals for the upcoming year to begin the genrifying process of their library. We had some excellent conversations, and I even came away with some new ideas myself.

Being in the CNYLDP program, I have gained more confidence in my knowledge and skill level of particular topics that I want to share with others. Facilitating PD about library and tech topics has become a favorite of mine this year. My goal is to expand PD sessions more in the next coming year, and hopefully present a proposal for a conference or larger session.

Day #1.5

We finally left Syracuse after a nearly 4.5 hour delay. We then arrived in Toronto, and the flight to Lisbon was delayed. Toronto is a confusing airport. Finally, we arrived at Lisbon, only to miss our last connecting flight to Amsterdam by about half an hour. Now Jim and I are in the commons area at Lisbon waiting for our last flight. It should take off in about four hours. 

Propeller planes from Syracuse to Toronto are appalling. Loud, bouncy. It was not a pleasant flight, but only lasted about an hour. From Toronto to Lisbon, the flight was much more smooth. 

Hopefully, we will be in Amsterdam around midnight and can begin fresh tomorrow. 

Day #1

This evening I was supposed to leave for my honeymoon, but the flight has been delayed so many times that we missed our connecting flight to Amsterdam from Toronto. For someone who appreciates punctuality and efficiency, this has been a difficult wait. We are in line to see what flights are available and if we can leave Syracuse tonight. It does not look likely. For having anxiety with flying, this is doing nothing for my nerves. If nothing else is delayed, we have to stop in Lisbon to connect to Amsterdam. It is beautiful watching the sun set in Syracuse from the airport windows. 

Jim has worked diligently to plan this vacation, and right now he appears defeated and disappointed. It’s the reality of our situation and no fault of his own.

I did finish a book, called “Ramona Blue” and enjoyed it immensely. I’m about to start “The Twits” and “Everything, Everything.” Earlier, we stopped at a Middle Ages satellite restaurant for beer and food. As always, Middle Ages beer is delicious. We both had Swallow Wit and shared a flatbread pizza. 

Final CNYLDP Reflection 2016-17

This week I have my final reflection meeting with the facilitators of the CNYLDP program at Fulton. In preparation for this meeting, I want to write down a few thoughts about my growth and progress this year:

Leadership Project: I might have been too ambitious with this project. There were ideas to create video libraries and have more in-depth posts. Now I reflect on this, that will be next year’s goal. This year, we have established a strong social media presence with our stakeholders and have staff buy-in

EDL 533: Communication is key. Without it, how can you even begin to succeed? I have become more aware of the importance of clear messages and creating a message geared toward the group that will receive it. Listen to understand, then respond.

EDL 640: This class has helped me define my moral compass more thoroughly, as well as to stand up for the right thing for my students and school community. There are more critical issues than I have realized that are part of the job every day, and it’s important to look at all sides of a picture, but remain objective.

EDL 515: Show me the data. Let the data speak for itself. I find myself saying these phrases when questions are asked. This class has made me interested in possibly pursuing a data coordinator internship. After all, won’t my library and information science degree come in handy for this?

Here are some ways I have taken on new leadership roles recently and into next year:

  • Help transition the elementary library team from 4-6 fixed schedule to flex. I have been extremely vocal to gather information and time to meet with teams to make this transition successful next year
  • Asked to be part of the School Library System merger meetings between OCM BOCES and Citi Oswego. Serve as one of the Oswego librarian reps
  • Taken a more active role in CNYSL (CNY School Librarians) as the Website Chair
  • Facilitating and providing more PD sessions to librarians in summer 2017

After this first year, I have reflected on what possible internships I might want to pursue down the road, which might turn into the next phase of my career. Here are my top thoughts so far:

  • Data coordinator
  • Tech director or tech integration specialist
  • Director of a School Library System

CNYLDP Reflection

At our last class, we listened to a presentation about making data more user-friendly. After some reflection, I appreciated how I could incorporate  the “I Notice…I Wonder” exercise while viewing data. This strategy is used with students in library special when we look at a text or a primary/secondary source, but I did not think about using it with adults.

When this strategy is used it can help people take a step back and look at the data. Instead of diving right into an action plans or solutions, this reflection can help teachers understand what they look at. You can notice trends, differences and formulate questions. This open-ended exercise can help teachers look closely at information to brainstorm ideas or thoughts. They can look at patterns, or items that are similar or dissimilar.

When the 30-week toolbox becomes available on Sharepoint, I want to use strategies learned from the past class. I hope that “I Notice…I Wonder” will provide clearer insights into the 30-week data. My goal is to make the next reflection a summary of my experience.

CNYLDP Reflection

Recently, I found this infographic from Butler/Till that explains the difference between a leader and a boss. This image was eye-opening for me as I began to associate the qualities of a good leader that I needed to continue to develop. I appreciated how this image could be used for any culture, public sector or private sector. I do not want to be a boss or an authority figure, but a leader that encourages and inspires my colleagues and students to have a growth mindset.

A boss is one-sided, and “it’s my way or the highway,” while a leader has an effective team that assists with driving decisions. An effective leader inspires trust and communicates fully with the team. Coming from a family of educators and being in education for almost four years, I have done copious amounts of listening and observation of my surroundings during my time at graduate school and educational career.

The biggest difference I noticed in this image included the concept of commands versus asks. With asking, a leader communicates the why of something with the stakeholder. Workers must be able to trust their leader and not be afraid of going to them with questions or concerns. In turn, leaders must wholly communicate and encourage people to grow; if these items are not part of a culture (whether it’s business, education, public sector or private sector) the environment will turn toxic, negative and people will be afraid and distrusting.


CNYLDP Reflection

In a recent study group, I was directed toward a documentary from ABC News. Strawberry Mansion High School was considered one of the most dangerous schools in America. Fights, behavior and poverty rates ran high. The school had six months to prove it could turn itself around to stay open. The assistant superintendent could not find a principal to handle the school effectively, so she volunteered to be the principal. She cared about the students so much, that she wanted this task.

After watching the documentary, I took some time to reflect about why this person would go into a dangerous place to try and overcome a huge obstacle. Everything came down to caring for the students, doing what is best for the students. In the clip, the principal tells students she cares about them and loves them. The students want to learn and have a safe environment, but the school needed a leader to bring about this change.

What a task this leader had to tackle. Being a leader, there are times that situations are difficult to handle, but leaders need to take a step back and think about this: What is best for students? That should be the question and statement that drives all decision-making.

It’s about the relationships with students, and having students know that they are cared for and are safe. We might not know a student’s environment outside of school, and that is why it is so important to for all teachers, including teacher-leaders to:

  • Treat each child uniquely and respectfully
  • Put students first
  • Leave personal things at the door and try your best to remain positive
  • Be honest, kind and admit when you are wrong.


CNYLDP Reflection

In Chapter 2, the authors discuss what happens on an assessment and why. Now that the assessments have been created and administered, it’s time to delve into the data to see progress of students and make an action plan for re-teaching or enrichment. To begin, a simple and useful data template is needed before diving into the data. Items to include are names, question numbers and types (open-ended, multiple choice, etc), standard addressed and the percentage of correct and incorrect responses of individual students and the class as a whole. If each teacher has this report ready, they can compare what questions were answered incorrectly, thus understanding what standard or skill must be retaught. When teachers learn what standard must be reviewed, students can be grouped into skill levels for direct instruction. Students that have generally answered all the questions correctly can be placed into enrichment or extension groups. If teacher had most students answer one question correctly, while the other teachers had most students answer it incorrectly, they can collaborate with that one teacher to see how he or she taught the skill. That strategy can be used by others to see if it makes a difference to help the students master that specific standard.

During the data meetings, there should be communication between the building leader and teachers involved with the assessment. Results from interim assessments are discussed and analyzed. Meetings do not always have to be lead by an administrator, but can be conducted by instructional coaches or teacher-leaders. Recommendations to conduct a successful data meeting included:

  • All members of the meeting must come prepared with appropriate data and materials
  • Celebrate successes or highlight positive changes
  • Continually go back to specific questions on the test and ask why a student got a question wrong
  • Create an action plan to help students learn the material that must be retaught and make sure teachers are held accountable for this action plan