Author Archive

Cultures that Support Learner Centered Environments

April 1st, 2013 Comments off

Last week, MLTI school leaders discussed the influence of school culture on learning.  We began with participants sharing a few words about what comes to mind when they hear the words “school culture”.  This brief introduction segued into an exploration of an example of Challenge Based learning  focused on Reducing Food Waste ( and a discussion of what a school culture would need to be like in order to support this learner centered approach. Some reflections include:

  • Collaborative, Full-time Culture of Learning
  • Focused yet Flexible
  • Less Lockstep
  • Guided by an Essential Question
  • Teachers Collaborating
  • Beyond the School Walls

We also explored the three necessary elements for learner centered cultures (Seashore-Louis & Whalstrom, 2011) and the challenges school leaders have in making sure these elements are continually nurtured and reinforced in their schools.

1.  A Culture of Excellent Instruction

2. Shared Norms and Values

3. A Culture of Trust

Participants talked about the systemic/structural barriers that teachers encounter in moving towards a learner centered environment.  For example, rarely does professional development model adult learning that is reflective of the learner centered models that we are discussing.  Teacher evaluation systems rarely recognize the importance of risk taking, and the “messiness” of learner centered environments.  In fact, many still emphasize an assembly-line model of instruction. Participants also shared how difficult yet imperative it is to remain focused on whose needs are being met in our structuring for learning: the learner?  the teacher?  the community? Sometimes these audiences may have conflicting views/needs and that leaders must be committed to a shared vision and be willing to take risks to lead, even though it may be (and likely will be) fraught with resistance and conflict.

We also explored the changing role of the teacher/mentor in learner centered environments where technology is a key driver of change (

  • Facilitator of Learning
  • User of Data and Assessments
  • Collaborator, Contributor, Coach with Peers
  • Curriculum Adaptor and Designer

Many agreed that teachers struggle with these shifts. Leaders are often challenged to help teachers “connect the dots” and provide support in ways that enable staff to adapt to these new roles.

This led to a lively discussion on how the notion of school leadership  (with a principal as the main and/or only leader) needs to change to a more shared/distributed model of leadership.  We also recognized that this view of leadership is also a major shift/change and there are very few examples to point to where it is happening in our schools.

As we ended the discussion, we left with a thought from Jim Collins: Great leaders have the ability to confront the brutal facts. Participants shared their thoughts on how they might use their collective learning and sharing from this session on culture in their own leadership efforts “back home”!

Slides from the Leadership Session     LeadershipSession3REVISED


Our last MLTI leadership session for this year will be on April 10th.  The topic is the role of technology in supporting staff/professional collaboration. We will also discuss future topics and meeting formats participants might want from future leadership sessions.

What: Using Technology and Social Media for Staff/Professional Collaboration.

When:  April 10   8:30-11:30 Burton Cross Bldg. Room 500, Augusta and via Adobe Connect Webinar

Please use this link to register:













students define if the leadership/staff doesn’t.


school culture word: from-the-top


williness to do what it takes for student learning





Categories: Leadership Tags:

Technology for Learning: Part Two

March 19th, 2013 Comments off



Last month, leaders in MLTI schools explored the essential elements of learner centered environments.  Participants discussed the opportunities and challenges associated with effectively leading their schools towards this vision.  One word seemed to emerge over and over again:



What is this elusive thing called “culture” and how can school leaders effectively influence a positive culture that creates the foundation for change?  In our next session, we will explore this important topic and what is required from leaders to influence learner centered environments with technology.

What:  Technology for Learning— Exploring Leadership and School Culture

When: March 27, 2013         8:30-11:30 am

Where: Burton Cross Building, Ro0m 500, Augusta  and  Available Through Webinar


Please use this link to register!


Categories: Leadership Tags:

Technology for Learning: Part One

February 15th, 2013 Comments off


On February 13…Calendar with Mountains

we held our third MLTI  leadership session. Participants focused specifically on what technology for learning looks like in action.  We explored five elements that are associated with learning environments that put students at the center and discussed what it takes to create meaningful learning environments that engage learners in knowledge construction, conversation, articulation, collaboration, and reflection (Howland, Jonassen, & Marra, 2012).  Below are some of the highlights from the very rich discussion.

In learner centered environments, learners are:


1. Actively Engaged— they are using technology as an “invisible part of learning”

2. Collaborating— they are using technology tools for collaborative work with peers and others

3. Constructing Learning— they are using technology tools in ways that facilitate the construction of understanding and to demonstrate knowledge

4. Engaged in Authentic Learning Tasks— they are using technology tools to support active participation in projects that have meaning beyond the school walls.

5. Goal-Directed— they are engaged in learning that is self-generated and using technology tools to set their own goals, plan activities, monitor progress and evaluate results.


In learner centered environments, teachers/mentors are:


1. Actively Engaging Learners— they are modeling the use of  technological tools in ways that support active engagement and facilitate higher order learning.

2. Creating the Context for Collaboration— they are modeling and helping students use technology to make connections with experts and peers in the learning environment and in other locations.

3. Creating the Context for Knowledge Construction-– they are providing higher order learning opportunities and supporting learners to use technology to build knowledge

4. Creating the Context for Authentic Learning— they are providing choices in technological tools for learners that best meet their personal learning tasks and to make connections with experts and peers in the world.

5. Goal-Directed— they are supporting learners in the creative ways of using technology tools to plan, monitor and evaluate their own higher order learning.

The group shared insights, questions, and stories about their efforts to lead schools in this direction.  For example, participants wondered how the current standards-based efforts mesh with a vision of learner-centered environments where the learner is more “in charge” of the learning.

And of course we shared our thoughts about what the leaders are doing to move schools towards a vision of using technology in ways that support learner centered environments.  And in this discussion the word “culture” arose several times.  So, what do leaders need to do to shift the culture to support and move this vision forward?  We just touched the tip of that iceberg but here are some of the ideas that are beginning to emerge.


In learner centered environments, leaders must:


1. Be intentional. Know what you want the school to “look like” and find ways to talk about it so that others can “see it” too.

2. Understand that changing culture is HARD WORK and cannot be done alone.  Find others to help support you in this effort.

3. Take time to understand what the current culture is in relation to this vision. Be “planful”, diligent, and patient as you shift the culture to become learner centered.

4. Model, model, model. Be the learner/teacher/mentor that you want to see in the learning environment.

5.  Build relationships. Without trust, there is no foundation for changing culture.

As we left the session, everyone articulated something that s/he is planning to “try out” as a result of the discussion.  On March 11, we will re-convene to continue this important discussion and also view some examples of how technology can support learner centered environments.


Hope to see you there!


When: March 27   8:30-11:30

Where: Burton Cross Bldg., Augusta and Available Through Webinar



Slides from the February 13  presentation:




List of additional resources shared by participants:


Links related to Marzano:

Link to Jenny Magiera’s Blog with examples of how technology is used to support learner centered environments

Link to examples of how technology is being used to support learner centered environments in Singapore

Link to some articles from the Connected Principal on this topic:

A blog post on 5 instructional shifts to promote deep learning

Link to site for authentic, collaborative learning opportunities








Categories: Leadership Tags:

Digital Lives Update!

January 31st, 2013 Comments off


On January 17, several school leaders met to learn more about the digital lives of our students and ways our schools might support their learning in and about this environment.

We are offering this recording of the session for those who were unable to attend.

As always, we encourage and welcome comments, feedback and continued dialogue on this important topic!

Topic 2: How to institute a culture of Digital Citizenship in your school

Mary Callan and Teri Caouette



Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

What to Look for in Technology Rich Classrooms- Instructional Practices that Work!

January 31st, 2013 Comments off

Educators in Maine have been in the unique position of experiencing rapid changes in the evolution of technology in a one to one environment for over 10 years.  While exciting, it can feel overwhelming– especially as other initiatives (such as standards-based learning)– are demanding time and resources in schools. This leads to a critically important question:

Screen Shot 2013-01-31 at 12.10.20 PM

How do teachers and school leaders know when and how to use the emerging

technological applications, hardware, and concepts (such as social media) in ways that promote student learning,

regardless of what other initiatives are underway in the school?

In the upcoming MLTI leadership sessions, we will explore:

  • When the use of technology is most effective;
  • How the effective use of  technology moves classrooms from a teacher dominated environment to a student-centered learning environment and what that “looks like”;
  • How technology allows teachers to differentiate for all learning styles and needs, and
  • How the use of instructional planning frameworks can serve as a guide for matching the “right” technologies for the learning outcomes.

MLTI has embraced the SAMR and TPACK models as the foundation for effective integration of technology in classrooms. We will explore what these models can offer school leaders as their schools incorporate technology as an integral part of the  implementation of standards-based learning, personalized learning, and other reform initiatives. Specifically, we will focus on the instructional strategies that have been consistently associated with student achievement (Marzano & Pickering, et al) and on ways technology can support those strategies.

This is a two part session as described below.  If you are unable to attend the first session but plan to participate in session two, please review the recording of session one, which will be posted on this site a few days after the February 13th session.

Part One:

When: February 13         8-11:30

Where: Burton Cross Bldg., Augusta and Available Through Webinar Video Conference

When: February 26   8-11:30

Where: UMaine, Orono (Live session only)

Part Two

When: March 11   8-11:30

Where: Burton Cross Bldg., Augusta and Available Through Webinar Video Conference

When: March 26 8-11:30

Where:UMaine, Orono (Live session only)






Categories: Leadership Tags:

21st Century Leadership– The Challenge of Digital Lives

December 21st, 2012 Comments off

Did you know???

  • 93% of kids 12 to 17 are online
  • More than 35 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • A majority of teens view their cell phone as the key to their social life If Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populous in the world

Common Sense Media, 2011

More than ever, our students are living a digital life.  As educators in a state that supports 1 to 1 technology for learning, school leaders are challenged to understand what this digital environment presents to our students– both the incredible opportunities and the potential threats.

Common Sense Media offers the following view of digital life.

What Is Digital Life?

Digital life describes the media world that our kids inhabit 24/7 – online, on mobile phones and other devices, and anywhere media is displayed. By definition, digital media is participatory. Users can create content, and anything created in this digital life becomes instantly replicable and viewable by vast invisible audiences. Kids use digital media to socialize, do their homework, express themselves, and connect to the world. 

As Maine schools move into the second decade of the 21 century (and the second decade of 1 to 1 technology for learning), school leaders are compelled to understand how to best infuse digital literacy and citizenship into the culture of the school.  For example, leaders need to rethink their school codes of conduct to include expectations for how the school community uses media and technology in ways that are responsible and ethical and do that in ways that promote learning, innovation, and change…. No small task!

Join me and co-presenter Teri Caouette for the next MLTI Leadership session where we will explore strategies and resources for leaders to consider in their efforts to lead schools where students have the knowledge, ethics, and skills to thrive in their digital lives!

We are offering this session twice – in Augusta and Orono. Please pick the date that works best for you! We will also continue the discussion on this topic here on the MLTI leadership blog.

When: January 8, 2012 from 8-11:30

Where: Orono (face to face meeting)

When: January 17, 2012 from 8-11:30

Where: Burton Cross Bldg., Augusta and Available Through Webinar Video Conference



January 17, 2013 – School Leadership Series
Recording: Topic 2: How to institute a culture of Digital Citizenship in your school

November 28, 2012 – School Leadership Series
Recording: Topic 1: How to quickly evaluate new and emerging technologies in your school

Categories: Digital Citizenship, Leadership Tags:

ELA/Literacy Shift Happens!

December 4th, 2012 Comments off

Over the past few months, I have had the pleasure of traveling around the State facilitating professional development sessions focused on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in ELA/Literacy.  While I am wrapping up the series for the fall, I am also looking forward to presenting the information again throughout the winter and spring.  I thought it might be useful to describe the session so that teachers will get a sense of what to expect.

The Six Shifts– A Constructivist Approach!

Many districts are in the process of “unpacking” the CCSS. That is NOT the focus of this session. Instead we  approach the ELA/Literacy standards from the perspective of “Six Shifts” in pedagogy and instruction-as well as for students and parents- required for a standards-based approach to be successful.

 Text Complexity

One of the most challenging ELA/Literacy Shifts is that of text complexity. In this session, we explore the three aspects of text complexity:

1) Quantitative Measures that assign a text to a grade band;

2) Qualitative Measures that address format, purpose, structure, and language features of the text; and

3) Professional Judgment teachers use to determine how suited a text is for a specific instructional purpose with a particular set of students.

We also take a look at some of the Smarter Balanced assessment items and discuss implications for curriculum and instruction. Since Maine students will be assessed with this system starting in the 2014-15 school year, it is important for teachers to understand everything they can about this “next generation assessment”!

Digital Tools

Throughout the session, participants use applications on the MLTI device as well as other web-based tools that support teaching with the Six Shifts in mind. These include the Preview Annotation Tools, Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite, and OmniGraffle– to name but a few!

Discussions and Sharing

The session is designed for participants to share from their own experiences so that we can all continue to learn from each other. Since the ELA/Literacy standards are intended to be implemented across the disciplines, we discuss issues teachers are facing as they work with their colleagues who teach in the different content areas. Participants leave with a plan for who they should connect with about the CCSS back in their schools.

Who Should Attend???

This session is designed for middle and high school teachers who are using the MLTI devices. While most attendees have been ELA/Literacy teachers, the CCSS are intended to address literacy in other content areas as well, so all are welcome to attend! The design of the session is flexible to meet the diverse levels of knowledge/use of technology and of the CCSS. We do ask that you bring your MLTI device with the most recent image.

To register for an upcoming session in your region, please use this link:

If you have any questions, post them here or contact me directly at!




Categories: Common Core Tags:

When Technology “Sneaks Up On Us”

December 3rd, 2012 Comments off

On November 28th, we held our first MLTI Leadership Session with several participating through Adobe Connect, video conference, and live at the Cross Building in Augusta. There was great discussion and sharing. The recording from November 29th is available here.

To spark our conversation, we read a post in the Tech&Learning blog, 27 Talking Points About Internet Safety by Scot McLeod. You may recognize Scot as one of the co-creators of the Did You Know? (Shift Happens) video series and someone who regularly blogs about leadership and technology. We used a text-based protocol (The Four A’s) to focus our discussion.  We also used the annotation tools in Previewer to highlight and take notes on the text.  (For more information about how this works, view the MLTI minute)

Participants shared some of the strategies that they use to address the challenges of emerging technologies. And here are some of the key points from the discussion:

  1. Schools are (and will continue to be) confronted with changing technology that supports 21st Century learning skills.
  2. Having a vision of technology and how it supports 21 Century learning skills serves as the foundation for how we, as leaders, need to respond to the use of technology in our schools.
  3. Who we listen to, as leaders, and how we respond to the emerging technologies really matters!
  4. Having a team that includes diverse points of view (principal, teachers– at various levels of use– library/media specialists, technology educators/integrators, etc.) that stays focused on the vision, can help leaders make decisions that are more likely to be supported and implemented.
  5. Leaders need to be able to “connect the dots”  by helping teachers understand how technology supports other learning initiatives (such as CCSS, Mass Customized Learning, RTI…)–that may be underway in the school.
  6. Ongoing and sustainable professional development is critically important and often challenging to maintain.
  7. Leaders are the role models for their schools.  They need to model their own use of technology and risk-taking in order to establish a climate of innovation in teaching and learning for the staff.
  8. Leaders need to set expectations for using technology to support learning and become proficient in understanding what that “looks like” in action so that they can provide relevant feedback and support to teachers.

We spent time exploring several sites that offer ideas and support specifically for school leaders.

And we also shared a few articles that provide tips for leaders.

Our next session will focus on Digital Citizenship where we will share strategies, tools, and resources for how leaders can set norms of responsible behavior with regard to technology use without creating a “rule-bound” culture that restricts student risk-taking and learning.

You can register here:

We are offering this session twice – in Augusta and Orono. Please pick the date that works best for you!

When: January 8, 2012 from 8-11:30

Where: Burton Cross Bldg., Augusta and Available Through Webinar Video Conference

When: January 17, 2012 from 8-11:30

Where: Orono (face to face meeting)

Hope to see you there!
Mary Callan



Categories: Leadership Tags:

MLTI Leadership Sessions

November 26th, 2012 Comments off


Greetings, Maine School Leaders!

As you know, school-based leaders in Maine (not unlike others throughout the country) are faced with the incredible opportunities and challenges associated with implementing significant educational reforms including standards-based curriculum, personalized learning, and integration of technology.  During our travels to schools around the State, the MLTI team has heard consistent messages from principals and other building leaders as they are faced with leading these change efforts.

Research is clear: the role of building leaders is critical in the success of any change effort.  Yet we often focus most of our attention on what teachers need to do differently without addressing what the building leaders need to do in order to effectively support change.

In the MLTI Leadership sessions, MLTI team members will facilitate opportunities for you to share strategies for leading and supporting change efforts focused on student learning.  The sessions are anchored in key points from research on how to effectively lead school change and address questions like these:

1.  What are the learning and technology trends that I need to know about in order to move my school forward?

2. How do I promote and support a “safety net” for technology in my school?

3. How do I promote and support technology integration that focuses on improved learning in classrooms?

4. How do I work effectively with “experts” (tech integrators, tech directors, etc.) to meet the educational goals in my school?

5. How do I measure success?

We have several sessions planned to focus on these questions and we have also created this blog as a way of continuing the dialogue, connections, and learning beyond the meetings.

Over the course of the next several months, we will explore how building leaders use collaborative tools (like this blog, wikis, and virtual interactive whiteboards) and social media to enhance communication with colleagues, staff, and parents about teaching and learning.

Sessions are offered as webinars, through video conferencing, and face to face meetings in Augusta and Orono. You will find the schedule of the Leadership Sessions at the MLTI website:

Attendees should bring their MLTI Device and charger (ensure it’s updated with the 2012 Image)

We are excited to join you in the exciting leading and learning journey ahead!

Mary Callan

Categories: Leadership, Uncategorized Tags: