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Driven By Passion

On Instagram the other day, my friend @samueldueth shared this post:

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This really struck a cord with me. I think this short statement is profoundly true. It is always easier to do the bare minimum. It is easier to continue to do things the way that we have always done them, not rock the boat and continue to remain in our comfort zone. At first glance, this may not even be a bad thing. After all, most of us do the things we are doing and have done for a long time because they are good things. The problem is that good can be the enemy of great.

This got me thinking. What causes somebody to move from good to great? What fuels somebody enough to allow themselves to choose the more difficult path, embrace something new, and ultimately embrace the self inconvenience that comes with change? My first thought was vision. After all, vision is about the destination. It is the road map to accomplishing whatever it is that one is striving after. It is the action plan to the dream. In reflecting more about it though, I wonder is vision by itself enough? After all, it is easy to say that you believe in a vision, it is easy to have a dream, but what fuels the vision on day to day basis? What causes somebody to embrace the discomfort of inconvenience, day in and day out when nobody else is looking? I propose that vision by itself is not enough; instead, it is about passion for the vision. If vision is the vehicle to accomplish something great, passion is the fuel that drives the car. Often vision can ignite passion; however, passion is something that needs to be stewarded in one’s life if it is to be sustained. (more…)

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Fear Inhibits Progress

I recently had the opportunity to present at the Alberta Google Summit. I chose to share a little bit of our 1-to-1 journey at Muir Lake School and how teaching and learning is transforming in this learning environment. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and perhaps more than anything was an amazing opportunity to reflect where we have come from in our building and what our next steps are.

After my presentation and throughout the couple of days at the conference I was able to visit with some other great educators from other school divisions. I heard lots of great stories and got lots of other ideas from our conversations. There was definitely lots of examples of schools and teachers making huge advancements in transforming teaching and learning. Unfortunately, there were also some stories that I heard that made me cringe. (more…)

What’s The Big Deal With 1 to 1?

I don’t understand why creating learning communities in our classrooms where our students have access to their own device is a big deal. Why is this not the norm? Nobody makes a big deal about learning 1 to 1 with textbooks. Every student has access to their own binder, pencil, pens and other “traditional” tools for learning at a “1 to 1” ratio. In fact if students didn’t have access to a pen or textbook, we would consider this a travesty. So why the trepidation to allowing students to use phones, tablets, and laptops in the class?

Technology is just a tool. Learning with technology should never become just about the technology in the same way that learning with a textbook should not be just about the textbook. It is about the learning. It is about equipping our students with the best possible tools to learn. Let’s face it, a computer is a better tool for learning than a textbook. If a computer and a textbook were invented at the same time, what tool would you choose?

Technology shouldn’t be a novelty in the classroom in the same way that a pen and paper aren’t novelties. (more…)

The Power Of Video In Learning Communities

I had an interesting experience the other day… I attended my first ever parent/teacher interview as a dad.

 #nedaviahjael on Instagram

My daughter is in kindergarten in the same division in which I work but not at the same school. It was a unique experience. Obviously, I have been a part of many parent/teacher interviews as an educator, but sitting on the other end as a father was a completely new and powerful experience. During the interview, her teacher Heather Harcus, @HeHarc showed us a video on her tablet of Nedaviah presenting to her class about bats. Watching that video was extremely powerful for me as a Dad. Obviously, it made me incredibly proud to watch my beautiful daughter give this presentation while I marvelled at her cuteness (speaking like a true biased dad); however, it was much more than that. It was more than just viewing a home video. It was like time and place was suspended and I was actually transported into the classroom participating in my daughter’s learning. For the first time I peered through a window into my daughter’s classroom and was able to see her learning in action. It gave me insight into seeing who she is in a new environment; one that I have never witnessed. It gave me a platform for discussion and participation in my child’s learning and school life. I realized that this was a platform I continued to want to access. I don’t want to miss the next 12 years from 8:00-3:00 of my daughter’s life.

For a while now, I have been thinking about how and why video can and should be used in the classroom. (more…)

1:1 Technology Initiative

I am excited about the 1-to-1 Technology Initiative that we have been implementing at Muir Lake School. We are in year one of our three year plan to see all of our students in Learning Communities 4-9 to have access to a personal laptop in every class to be utilized whenever it is the best tool for the learning activity.

Let me be clear. Just adding access to technology for our students is not the goal. We don’t want $500 notebooks sitting on every child’s desk functioning as expensive pen and paper. Our focus is learning first. We want our students to be able to collaborate and extend learning beyond the four walls of the classroom. We want our students to think critically and problem solve. We want our students to increase information fluency and literacies (National Council of Teachers of English Definition of 21st Century Literacies and My Kids Are Illiterate. Most Likely Yours Are Too). We want our students to be prepared for their future, opening a world of opportunities to them. We want them to be able to solve problems that we don’t know are problems yet, and make careers in jobs that currently do not exist. We want them to be creative, innovative, motivated and engaged in their learning. We want students to choose and explore different ways to demonstrate their learning. We want every student to succeed to the best of their ability. Utilizing 1-to-1 learning environments effectively accomplishes this.

Our classrooms should no longer look like they did in the past. (more…)

Collaborate, Create, Learn: A School PD PLan

Let’s be honest for a second… Have you ever found yourself trapped in a seemingly irrelevant professional development session, sitting painfully, watching the clock slowly tick by while someone drones on at the front? You know the presenter is apparently supposed to be teaching you something that will help develop you as the professional educator that you are, yet for the life of you all you can hear is…

“Bueler… Bueler… Bueler… Bueler… Bueler… Bueler… Bueler…”

I’m sure I am not the only educator who has had the privilege of such an experience. In fact, if I am being honest with myself, I have even been guilty of creating a “Bueleresc” experience for colleagues as an administrator on school pd days. This is why I am optimistic, enthusiastic, and even excited about our Muir Lake School Collaborate, Create, Learn (CCL) School Professional Development Plan.

First thing I need to note. I am sharing this work that has been done on this plan because the idea was first shared with me. Kudos and thanks to George Couros for so freely and consistently sharing his work, resources, and experiences. It is this same spirit of transparently sharing that is the foundation of this plan.

We began developing this plan by forming a PD committee with representation from all staff groupings: early  years teachers, middle years teachers, and Educational Assistants. We set aside a day to work together to vision cast and plan what professional development could look like in our school.  The result of this day is our Muir Lake School Collaborate, Create, Learn (CCL) School Professional Development Plan. The cornerstone principles of the PD plan are:

  1. Self-directed
  2. Maximizing Staff Expertise
  3. Collaboration
  4. Transparent Sharing
  5. Distributed Leadership
  6. Time and resources (more…)

Are Textbooks Going The Way Of The Dodo Bird?

Are traditional textbooks outdated? Are they convenient? Are they even practical? Will traditional textbooks go the way of the Dodo bird? Will they become extinct?

recent Scholastic survey commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and released in 2010 found few teachers believe traditional textbooks can engage today’s digital natives and prepare them for success. Teachers say they prefer digital and non-digital resources like magazines and books other than textbooks. Only 12 percent of some 40,000 teachers surveyed said textbooks help students achieve, while only 6 percent said textbooks engage their students in learning. (High School Hustle: Overloaded backpacks and outdated textbooks; a better way?)

(more…)

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