unConference success!

For the last 10 months, I have been working part-time at the Virginia Department of Education on a federal expansion grant, known as Virginia Preschool Initiative Plus (VPI+) as the Senior Data Analyst.  

As is often the case, we wear multiple hats in our professional lives, and I recently was able to tap into my experiences leading professional development and adult learning by organizing an unConference for our VPI+ Implementation Team at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.

unConferences are governed by two core principles:

  • Everyone in attendance has something to offer
  • Everyone is responsible for contributing to their learning and the learning of others

So at the beginning of the day, we had participants write down on sticky notes four burning questions or topics they wanted to discuss and problem solve with peers.  These sticky notes were them grouped into themes, and the day's agenda was created.

Cathy Surowka, the VPI+ Family Engagement Coordinator in Chesterfield County Public Schools, created an Animoto summarizing the day's events for those who could not attend.  It was so fantastic, I just had to share!

Charlottesville, here we come! VERA 2015

My lovely colleague, Kate Cassada and I will be presenting one of our recent projects at Virginia Educational Research Association (VERA) in Charlottesville this week.

We have investigated the use of backchannels (synchronous chat rooms) and the impact they have on the nature, quality, and richness of peer feedback in a higher education setting, specifically in a Reflective Practice course in the Masters of Curriculum and Instruction program at the University of Richmond through theSchool of Professional and Continuing Studies.  Participants were in-service teachers, charged with videotaping their instruction, and sharing with and providing feedback to their peers in the backchannel while the videos were being played.

We analyzed transcripts of the discussion and conducted surveys of their experience.  A PDF of our presentation is available, and we would be thrilled to discuss findings further with anyone who has interest.


The Virginia Society for Technology in Education (VSTE) is coordinating Googlepalooza!, a one day event that promises relevant hands-on workshops with Google Apps, lots of networking, meals, and "all the M&Ms you can eat."  I'm up to that challenge. :)

This event is geared towards educators, costs only $30, and is located in Northwestern Virginia.  I'm making the trip for it and would love to have others join me.

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hj/123771290/   Creative Commons license

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hj/123771290/   Creative Commons license