Thursday, February 24, 2011

Not All Hard Work

Today was the annual carnival and the students went skiing and tubing.  Honestly, I didn't feel festive or even like relaxing.  I've got work piling up and too many things left undone.  The slide presentation from the Feb 14th LCEEQ conference where I presented "Connected Students, Connected Teachers" still doesn't have any audio. I have lots of little video projects unfinished and other loose ends that never seem to get 'tied up' until June 30th.

Long lists and unfinished work aside, I dressed for a day of snow fun and headed to the hills with the kids and my colleagues.  It was the best thing I've done in long while.  The welcome momentary relief from the city brought a measure of peace I didn't know I needed.  Colleagues were able to sit and talk with one another about our lives beyond the classroom and best of all, feel like a kid again, if only for a few seconds. I admit it; I squealed with joy as the inner tube hurled down the mountain.  I loved it and we had a great day.  Sometimes the best thing for learning and the brain is a good laugh, some relaxing time and acting like a kid.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Connected Student and Teacher

Today was the first of two LCEEQ (Leadership Committee on English Education in Quebec) conference days in Montreal. The keynote was delivered by Martha Kaufeldt who focused on what teachers need to know about the latest brain research. "Stressed-Out, Overflowing Student Brains" was the subject of her next smaller session. I would encourage readers of this blog to visit John Medina's Brain Rules or get his book.  His work is very readable and gave me lots of great ideas for how student engagement.  For a more challenging read, I recommend John J. Ratey's Spark.  He explains the impact of exercise and movement on the brain and learning.

Today I presented a session called "Connected Student, Connected Teacher".  The slides for the presentation are available here and in a few days, I will post them to my slideshare account complete with an audio file.  Even though I recorded most of the session, I am not able to post this audio file with the slides because of one audience participant who indicated her that she was not in favour of this recording.  According to the conference organizers, if one person declines, then I am not able to post the audio.  Actually, this is an opportunity to record a smoother delivery than today's.

I encourage teachers to take my material and use it to enrich their networks.  I ask only that they credit me as the author.   Comments, questions and ideas are welcome!

I look forward to Ian Jukes and Adora Svitak tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Kicking It Up a Notch: Wikis Work

There are few things that give a teacher greater pleasure than fanning the fires of student creativity and desire to learn.  This year at my college, many teachers waded into unfamiliar territory and learned how to use wikis as their digital hub, migrating from their familiar learning management system to an unknown digital space where students were more than passive consumers of teacher content but creative participants.  This morning, Mr. Neill and I entered the building at the same time and engaged in some "shop talk".  He shared some of his recent successes with both his grade 7 and 11 students; all because of heightened student engagement.  That's teacher speak for "they were chomping at the mouth excited about this project"; which is a close paraphrase to the actual content of our conversation.  Because my colleague is such a good sport, he answered "Yes!" to my question, "Wait, can I get this on camera and blog about it?"

The magic of a wiki is its ability to network its members into a common culture of creativity and knowledge sharing.  That is networked literacy; that is the power of networks.  Our kids know that; teachers are beginning to understand how to leverage that network for learning.

Here's Mr. Neill's contribution.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Six Clicks of Separation from Your Next Great Idea

Teach Paperless, Shelly Blake-Plock's blog, has recently morphed into a group blog.  This morning I read an entry by Michael Kaechele and after a few clicks, ended up at his digital cv, his classroom wiki and blog, his twitter account and everything else that is digital about him!  This is a perfect example of how learning is fast, mobile, informal and connected.  After just a few clicks, I have several ideas to communicate to the science teachers, a few tips for my own digital cv and a very cool app by Gary Hayes.