Saturday 26 October 2013

Will Richardson "Learning in a Networked World"

On October 25th, 2013, I spent the day listening to Will Richardson speak about “Learning in a Networked World”. The theme of the day was for us to consider how the world is changing and how we can best prepare our students for their futures. And to do this how we as educators can learn, unlearn, and relearn how to teach the youth of this fast-paced, globally networked world.

The following quote has been taken from the flyer advertising this event,A parent of two teen-agers, Will Richardson has been thinking and writing about the intersection of social online learning networks and education for the past 12 years at and in numerous journals, newspapers, and magazines such as Ed Leadership, District Administration, Education Week, New York Times and English Journal. He is an outspoken advocate for change in schools and classrooms in the context of the diverse new learning opportunities that the Web and other technologies now offer.”

Will, frustrated with the education his children have been receiving, feels we need to stop wanting the same education for our children as the one we had. This is an amazing time to be a learner! There are so many ways for learners to connect with others, pursue their learning passions, and apply the knowledge that they learn. He likened traditional learning vs. modern learning to delivery vs. discovery. And emphasizes that the key shift to be made is from institutional learning organizations to self-organized learning opportunities.

When we were asked to reflect on the traditional notions of school and what our biggest confusions/questions are right now, the educators at the table that I was sitting at had many. How do we tap students’ curiosity in our schools? What kind of steps do we take to channel their curiosity? How do we address both students who are overly plugged in and those who are “underly” plugged in? How do we teach kids to be learning tech savvy rather than socially tech savvy? What does it mean to be educated these days?

I appreciated reading and reflecting on the NCTE 21st Century Literacies. I have listed below the ones that I would like to focus on developing in myself over then next year.
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purpose
  • Manage, analyze, and synthesize, multiple streams of simultaneous information
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts

Later in the day the focus shifted more towards the idea of us as educators “being a learner first and teacher second”. Will covered a number or technology tools that could be useful to us as educators. The following are the ones that caught my attention. I’ve had a Twitter account for a while but rarely use it. He helped me understand how Twitter could be used more effectively for professional development. I will definitely look into using Evernote to save articles and notes, rather than saving links in a Word document as I have been doing. I am also going to use Feedly to aggregate news sites, searches, and blogs. Later, as I develop more of an online presence I think Flipboard and IFTTT could be quite useful.

All and all I consider the day well spent. I left feeling inspired and motivated to become more of a networked learner myself! I feel better prepared for the changes that are happening and should be happening in my profession.

Monday 14 October 2013

Engaging the Digital Learner

On October 7th, I attended a Langley School District conference titled "Engaging the Digital Learner" with four other staff members from my school.  The conference basically dealt with issues that would fall under the category of 21st century learning. Since Sandra Averill was involved in the organization of the conference, all video clips and social media involved has been posted on the Here's How Tutorials site. With Sandra we reflected on how our school uses technology and the BC Ministry of Education's Digital Literacy Standards draft. The keynote speaker was Antonio Vendramin, a principal from School District #36. He gave us some great ideas for making learning meaningful to students to keep them engaged. I was glad that he did note that methods don't need to involve technology. Two ideas I personally found quite interesting and that I would like to explore further are Genius Hour and Mystery Skype. The evening was an inspiring engagement that motivated me to get moving on exploring a few things I've been interested in as learning tools.

Monday 30 September 2013

Challenging Student Behaviour

The final professional development engagement that I attended for the 2012/13 school year was called Challenging Behaviour: Responding to Individual Students. It was sponsored by the BCTF. For the last two years in particular, I have had some very challenging student behaviour and I wanted a refresher on how to meet the needs that drive these behaviours. Fortunately, that is exactly what this workshop addressed. In fact rather than just addressing the goals of attention-seeking and power-seeking misbehaviour, it also addressed the misbehavior due to self-regulation needs, avoidance of failure, and avoidance of pain/humiliation. Even now with starting up my new class, I catch myself looking over these notes in an attempt to determine the needs of some of my more needy students. I'm so glad that I took this workshop!

Professional Development Day in February 2013

On this day in February, I attended three workshops presented through the Langley School District. The first was on "Social Networking in the Classroom with Edmodo". Although I was impressed with the ideas on ways to use Edmodo as a classroom teacher, I confess that I have not acted on this knowledge. With teaching primary, I think I might try a website using weebly instead to communicate with parents. Then I attended a workshop called "Intro to Inquiry". The ideas of inquiry learning are certainly nothing new as this is an age old natural method of learning which I saw used frequently when I worked with homeschooling families. The challenge is how to use this in the classroom when the ratio of students to educators in primary is 24:1. Since the following workshop that I went to was on using PREZI, I decided to make a simple summary on Inquiry Learning with a PREZI during the workshop.Here is my PREZI in Inquiry Learning
Later this summer, I decided to play around with PREZI more as I think it is a great way to present information to today's youth and I developed another one to present a project my daughter worked on with her grandpa. I confess that it took me quite awhile and I ended up using a formatted template as a blank template would have taken me forever. Here is a slightly more sophisticated PREZI that I created.

Stuart Shanker and Classroom Strategies for Self-Regulation

Another pivotal aspect of my professional development in the 2012/13 school year was attending an presentation on Classroom Strategies for Self-Regulation by Stuart Shanker put on by the Langley School District. I attended this presentation with my staff early on in the school year and we were all impressed with Shanker's ability to speak to us about increasing needs of the children passing through our classrooms these days. It was great to have a term to hang on these needs that have been such a demand in our profession as of late, "self-regulation." Shanker helped us see the various aspects or domains of these self-regulation needs, biological, emotional, cognitive, social, and prosocial. He also gave some practical strategies that we could implement to promote a calmer learning environment. I was so impressed with the ideas presented that I purchased his book, Calm, Alert, and Learning.
Calm, Alert And Learning: Classroom Strategies For Self-regulation
This book has made a significant impact on my teaching style and helped me embrace my un-teacher like quality of not wanting the walls of my classroom to be so bright and crowded with visuals! The ideas in this book complimented the MindUp curriculum. I am sure to write more about the ideas I have learned and put into practise from this book. I am looking forward to reading more by Stuart Shanker and his thoughts and research on the subject of self-regulation!

Monday 18 February 2013

Mindfulness and the Senses

How mindfulness to sensory input helps us strengthen our focus. The basis for lessons 4-9.