Playing in the Admin Digital Sandbox

The district in which I work is a very innovative district. We have been focussing on developing important skills like, communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking in our students. To truly have any possibility of that happening, it is important for teachers to understand the importance of these skills and be exploring them for themselves. But, for that to happen, it is imperative for administrators to become more fluent in the skills as well.

With the leadership of one of our Directors of Instruction, Elisa Carlson (@emscarlson on Twitter), administrators have the opportunity to be involved in the Digital Sandbox: Connect, Create, and Share for Administrators. During these sessions we explore various topics (which you can see by clicking on the link). This is a time for our administrators to learn a bit and then have some “playtime” to work on their newly gained knowledge. This allows them time to work together in a supportive environment where risks are encouraged, questions are expected, and mistakes are learning opportunities.

I have been fortunate to be involved in helping to plan, present, and provide support at many of these sessions. While we have not shared much about the previous sessions, Dean Shareski’s  presentation in the #etMooc entitled, Sharing As Accountability (click on the title to view the archive of his talk) really reinforced the importance of sharing. So, that’s what I will do here….

Last week, Antonio Vendramin and I presented the 4th session of the Digital Sandbox series called “Tapping Into Your Creative Side with iPad Multimedia”. It was our plan to have them learn about iMovie and create videos of their own. In doing so, they would learn all about the app, how to use it, experiment, and be able to ask questions in a supportive environment. Prior to the session, all administrators were asked to do some homework:

1. They needed to ensure they had iMovie installed on their iPads and
2. They were asked to take 30 – 10 second video clips around a theme of their choice.

While I helped plan the latest Digital Sandbox session for administrators, fellow administrative colleague, Antonio Vendramin, did much of the presentation. He created the slides you will see below (posted with his permission, of course). One of our main purposes of this brief after school workshop was to have our colleagues understand the power of a story, the “why?” behind completing a project like this, and how powerful it is when students have opportunities to participate in engaging activities such as this Dean Shareski helped us with this when he presented at our Engaging the Digital Learner Dinner Series. You can read about his message that evening here.

Antonio shared a 60-second video he made of a special night with his son after our session with Dean. He also shared how once he shared the video he made, others made similar videos which they shared on our district twitter stream (#sd36learn).  These videos can be found here (Hugh McDonald), here (Gallit Zvi), and here (Jodi Pulvers).  I also shared a video I had made of a special time with my daughter.  We were hoping that these videos would start to get our colleagues creative juices flowing and would make them think of ways they could use this digital storytelling in their schools.

After watching a couple of these videos, Antonio discussed with our fellow administrators how he used this digital storytelling strategy with 60 – Grade 6 students the day after making his own video (while the 2 classroom teachers were away at camp).  Students were given basic demonstrations at the beginning of the day on the use of iMovie on the iPad and then were given most of the day to create their video. The students were told that viewing time would be at 2:00 pm (30 minutes before dismissal). There was pressure: the videos had to be completed, viewed together and uploaded to YouTube by the end of the day.  Students worked in Groups of 2 or 3 to make their own videos about Life in School. The students were given the day to collaborate with their partner(s), use creativity to take video clips, use problem solving skills to decide which second of each clip demonstrated their message the best.  They also used the essential skill of communication throughout their day together.  They were motivated with an engaging task that was very authentic and had meaning for them.  What a great learning opportunity for all!  You can view one of the videos here.

After the groundwork was laid with our administrative colleagues, we moved on to the “work” part of our session which started with reviewing our 2 learning intentions. At the end of this session, we wanted our colleagues to:

1. Use Digital tools to communicate or tell a story.

2. Learn, then share the basic features of iMovie with a colleague, staff member, or student.

And then, the TASK:

Tell your own story using iMovie.  The theme of your story will depend on the videos you have recorded.

We then demonstrated the basics of iMovie and how to make their own video. We circulated around the room helping as needed, as our colleagues worked through the basic features. It was a wonderful session that I believe truly made a difference in our colleagues’ learning.

Here’s a video that we provided them with for when they left the session so that they would have something to refer to in case they forgot what they had learned. We did not make this video, but it demonstrates many of the basics we showed our colleagues and we wanted to provide them with something to refer to when they were on their own:

It is with Antonio’s permission that I am posting his slides in this post:

This was also sent to all the administrators in an email so that they could have easy access to all the links we showed them and talked with them about.

I would in no way say that Antonio and I were the “experts” in the room – quite the contrary.  We just happen to help bring our colleagues together so they could learn from and with one another. And that is what happened. While we did walk around helping people, everyone was helping one another at their table groups – even those who were just learning iMovie.

Everyone was taking risks and helping each other.

Isn’t that exactly what we want to see in our classrooms?

Special thanks to Dean Shareski for providing the inspiration for this Digital Sandbox session.

We hope you found this useful!

Please share your videos in the comments!

Published by Tia M. Dawson

There are many things that define who I am as a person. First of all, I am a mother of 3 wonderful children! I can not express how fortunate we are to have our children in our life! Secondly, I am an elementary educator who recently returned to the classroom after 12+ years as an elementary school administrator. Lastly, I am passionate about helping others, learning about abuse, helping others in abusive relationships, and helping others understand their worth.

2 thoughts on “Playing in the Admin Digital Sandbox

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