Monthly Archives: November 2012

Social Media for School Leaders

I just returned from the national middle school conference (AMLE12) in Portland, OR.

While there, I attended a wonderful session on Social Media for School Leaders by Howard Johnston and Ron Williamson. Their presentation showed a wonderful balance of the realities of today's viral communication and the school context.

The presentation addressed the role of social media in five areas:

  1. Social Media and Schools
  2. School Safety and Crisis Management
  3. Communication
  4. Productivity
  5. Professional Growth

What they made clear is how important a tool social media is to schools and school leaders, and the enormous opportunity lost when schools shun social media. They raised the following questions suggesting why school leaders might want to pay attention to the potential of social media:

  • Do you communicate with students, families and staff?
  • Do you monitor community views about your school?
  • Do your kids use social media?
  • Do you need to stay on top of cutting-edge educational topics?
  • Do you need to promote good news about your school in the community?

And they recommended a 5-step plan (in part, based on findings from the Pew Internet and American Life Project) related to social media and school safety:

  1. Learn about social media and how it works
  2. Recognize that most teens use it responsibly
  3. Don’t attempt to ban it
  4. Help students, families and staff know about how to manage social media
  5. Focus on responsible student use

Johnston and Williamson provided a great list of resources available to school leaders:


More Indications of Positive Results from Auburn’s iPads

We’ve had iPads in our Kindergarten classrooms for more than a year now. This fall, we also rolled out iPads to our 1st grade students. All in the name of improving students’ mastery of literacy and math.

We know that we have too many students who aren’t demonstrating proficiency, so for several years, we’ve been making sure that teachers are getting quality training in literacy and math instruction, and we’re hopeful that, combined with the access to educational resources made possible through iPads, that we’ll increase that level of proficiency.

And when we examined gains made by last year’s kindergarten students, that’s what we found. Our kindergarten students had made more gains than in years past, leading our Curriculum Director to proclaim that taxpayers’ money is well spent.

Read more about our gains in the Sun Journal article Educators Say iPads Help Scores, and the MPBN radio story Auburn Educators Tout Benefits of iPads for Kindergartners (sorry iPad users; you need flash to listen to the story, but you can still peruse the article).

Learning about Leveraging iPads for Learning

We just wrapped up our second annual Leveraging Learning Institute. We played host to 140 educators from across Maine, the country, and around the world! We had folks from Georgia, West Virginia, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. We even had five educators from two schools in Japan. What we all had in common was a passion for the potential of iPads to personalize learning for primary grades students.

Apple even sent a bunch of their people to learn from us about how we’re doing customized learning with iPads.

We had wonderful sessions on everything from the kinds of apps we’re using (presented by our 1st grade students!), to how to use various kinds of data to support your initiative, to communicating with the community, to what to do if your initiative is having troubles, to figuring out the complexities of syncing apps in a school setting. Check out all the sessions here. Resources from sessions and the institute are available here. (Fear not! Over the next couple weeks more and more will be posted. Videos of the keynotes will also eventually be posted.)

In addition to the Auburn team, Education Commissioner Steve Bowen, trauma suregeon Rafael Grossmann, Apple Distinguished Educator Kathy Shirley, Apple Distinguished Educator Jennie Magiera, and customized learning evangelist Bea McGarvey presented and participated. Get connected to all our presenters here.

We had wonderful press coverage! Stories highlighted the conference just prior to its starting, the Commissioner’s involvement in the opening keynote, trauma surgeon Rafael Grossmann, who also shared the opening keynote, and Auburn Kindergarten teacher Amy Heimerl, who did her own research study on the effectiveness of the iPads.

Maybe the best press coverage was our team of Auburn Middle School students who live tweeted every session and even participated in a few! (Search for the #adv2014 hash tag and be sure to set your feed to receive “all posts.”)

We’re already looking forward to next year’s conference. But I’ll warn you! We opened registration in the second half of August and registration filled in just a couple weeks with a long waiting list. After this year’s success, we expect to fill even more quickly!