Day 16: What CAN I Learn Today? #edCampSWO #edCampLDN

Written and shared by Andrew Forgrave

While I had originally thought I might take in #edCampSWO (SouthWest Ontario) in Tillbury, ON at the last minute, it turned out not to be the case. Add to the mix a similar interest in also attending a second Ontario #edCamp being held on the same day in the same end of the province, #edCampLDN (London), and the dilemma truly magnified. What to do?

The OSEEMOOC spearheaded by Donna Fry (@fryed) and Mark Carbone (@markwcarbone) has been underway for a little over a month now, and Donna’s current challenge to Ontario educators is to share a “What Did I Learn Today” post with the community.   With this in mind, I decided to undertake to explore a “What CAN I Learn Today?” question, with the focus of following two Ontario #edCamps from afar.


Face to Face Learning Rocks!

“#edCampQuinte 3 — Participants Around the Table” by @aforgrave, on Flickr

I will admit to a strong bias in favour of face-to-face learning with Twitter colleagues at an actual event. Twitter conversations last night with Rodd Lucier (@thecleversheep), Brenda Sherry (@brendasherry), and Peter McAsh (@pmcash) reinforced for me that a significant effect of #edCamps and other such gatherings is the opportunity to converse with educator colleagues and friends between the sessions. It’s difficult to replace that in-person presence. Having been involved in the organization of #edCampQuinte (3 camps back in 2011), and having attended #edCampToronto (twice), #edCampWR (twice), #edCampOttawa, (as well as following the original #edCampPhilly remotely via Twitter), I’m firmly convinced that in-person attendance is the ideal way to go.

However, knowing that I would be attempting to follow the conversations and the sessions from a distance, my efforts switched to looking for a variety of ways to capture experience and the discussions occurring within and via the ether of the Internet.

Following from Afar

  1. The first step in my adventure was to create a couple of columns in my TweetDeck Twitter client to follow the #edCampSWO and #edCampLDN hashtags in real-time.
  2. In support of archiving the conversations for later review, I also made use of Martin Hawksey’s (@mhawksey) ever-evolving TAGS google-spreadsheet-scripted-visualization tool.  Not only does the tool create a spreadsheet of archived tweets from a given #tag, but it also allows for the creation of an interactive and continuously updated visualization of the participants and their conversations.
Screen captures of the Twitter clouds from #edCampSWO and #edCampLDN

The static screen capture above doesn’t do the clouds justice. Click below to view the actual dynamic interactive archives – they’re amazing!

Understanding the Scheduling

#edCampSWO Session board via
#edCampSWO Session board via

Because the schedules at most #edCamps are participant-generated in real time from grass roots interests during the events themselves, a pre-posted schedule is usually avoided. Normally, the session board is compiled following a crowd-sourcing exercise involving either sticky-post-it-notes or whiteboards.

  1. A quick check of the #edCampSWO twitter stream led to an already tweeted picture of the initial board from Tilbury.
  2. I didn’t see a similar photograph out of London, so I posted a quick inquiry to the #tag, and within moments received two replies (from Craig Yen (@craigyen) and David Hann (@TeacherHann)) alerting me to the fact that the #edCampLDN board was being maintained in a Google Doc.  Wonderful! Check out the topics (image from start of the afternoon)
#edCampLDN Session Board posted in Google Docs
#edCampLDN Session Board posted in Google Docs

But it got better.

Collaborative Note-Taking

Not only was the #edCampLDN schedule posted online, but each entry included a link to a blank gDoc for collaborative note-taking! Great thinking!   I quickly paged through and pasted in a request to each document to capture the name and twitter handle of the session facilitators for later followup.

But what about #edCampSWO? Surely such a system might provide useful for collaborative note-taking there as well? What was required to support a similar opportunity there?

  1. Transfer the #edCampSWO session board to a gDoc.
  2. Create linked gDocs (with requests for session facilitators and their @twitter coordinates) for #edCampSWO sessions.
  3. Tweet out invitations for the #edCampSWO participants to post their notes in the appropriate documents.

By 12:30 pm I had followed through with steps 1-3 above, and by 1:00 pm had incorporated the recently-added afternoon entries to the schedule and and linked gDocs for the remaining sessions.  Shortly thereafter there were responses from Michelle Korda (@KordaKovar), Emily Fitzpatrick (@ugdsb_missfitz), Michel Grimard (@miche4195), Brian Aspinall (@mraspinall), Mary Alice Hanson (@Ms_Hanson) expressing interest in the shared note-taking endeavour.

#edCampSWO Session Board in Google Docs
#edCampSWO Session Board in Google Docs

The invitations stands for any and all attendees at #edCampSWO to transfer your notes, links, thoughts and ideas into the shared note files.

Attending a Cross-#edCamp Session Keynote via Google Hangout

Doug Peterson (@dougpete) keynotes at #edCampSWO on April 12th
Doug Peterson (@dougpete) keynotes at #edCampSWO on April 12th, animated GIF by @aforgrave

#edCampSWO had a post-lunch keynote by Ontario’s “Grandfather of EdTech” Doug Peterson (@dougpete). As it turned out, the keynote was shared from #edCampSWO to #edCampLDN via Google Hangout, and so the opportunity for shared note taking between both venues was enhanced — as well as providing an opportunity for me to join in and see Doug’s presentation. As it would turn out, the notes in the gDoc are mostly mine.   It was nice to connect briefly with #unplug’d12 friend James Cowper (@cowpernicus) who set up the Hangout, and to bring in #ECOO and #edCampQuinte colleague Peter McAsh (@pmcash).  These are all some folks I would have been catching up with F2F, had I actually been in either Tilbury or London today in First Life. 


After Doug’s keynote, I again re-issued the invite for folks at #edCampSWO to collaborated in the shared notes, and then went back to monitoring the Twitter stream. At around 2:30, a few spammers started to join in the #tags, which prompted a question in the stream as to whether the #edCamp conversations might be trending. Trending conversations attract these silly spambots. 

Screen capture of trending tags (both!) as shown by
Trending tags (both #edCampSWO and #edCampLDN are there) as shown by at around 2:30 pm April 12

Conversations in Other Online Spaces?

Earlier in the day (at 10:48 am my text document indicates) I noted to myself that I tend to monitor things from the Twittersphere for the most part — and I wondered at the time if there were #edCampSWO and #edCampLDN conversations going on via other networksGoogle+ and Facebook specifically. At around 4:00 pm, as the #edCamp goodbye and thank-you tweets were flowing, I looked in on both the other two networks and did searches for both of the Ontario #tags.

A solitary #edCampSWO #edCampLDN post on Facebook
A solitary #edCampSWO #edCampLDN post on Facebook
  • 1 mention (for both #edCampSWO and #edCampLDN) on Google+ (from Mark Carbone, announcing Doug’s dual-edCamp Hangout)
  • 2 co-mentions for both #edCampSWO and #edCampLDN on Facebook
  • 3 unique mentions for #edCampSWO on Facebook
  • 0 unique mentions for #edCampLDN on Facebook

So, No. Real-time conversations tagged with #edCampSWO and #edCampLDN were essentially only happening within the Twitter online space.  Not a real surprise, as Twitter has been extremely effective among those Ontario Educators who have embraced social media over the last half-decade. Google+ was kind of late to the party, and Facebook tends to reflect a more personal, rather than professional focus.

Pinterest? Nope. Nothing there.

So. What DID I Learn Today?

First some general acknowledgements.

  1. Tracking #tags is a great way to gather information from afar (people, links) for subsequent followup.
  2. Most of the conversation during and about the sessions occurred in the Twittersphere, not Facebook or Google+.
  3. Sharing sessions via Google Hangouts work well. (Hangouts can now also be recorded to YouTube for asynchronous sharing.)
  4. Shared, collaborative Google docs present a wonderful, as-yet mostly-untapped potential for collaborative learning.
  5. Gathering/Curating/Sharing a list of subsequent reflective blogposts from #edCamps to continue the conversations is often only a serendipitous effort at best.

Some Suggestions:

  1. Future #edCamps might wish to promote a shared, online schedule and note taking function like #edCampLDN modelled today. Getting folks involved in advance and having some folks working behind the scenes to support and facilitate the note-taking.
  2. Have one audience member sit up front and share each session via a Hangout or livestream as an option for those who can’t attend. It is easy enough to do today with the wonderfully accessible technology existing today.
  3. Select dates for #edCamps in conjunction with other organizers to allow for some potential cross-#edCamp sessions — but also consider scheduling events within the same area on different dates to maximize the opportunities for F2F participants to attend both. (The next two upcoming Ontario #edCamps also scheduled for the same day — May 10th: #edCampSault in Sault Ste. Marie and #edCampIsland on Manitoulin Island.) Note that there were 9 #edCamps held today around the world — a new record for one day, I believe.
  4. Photos! Pictures say a lot, and help others from afar to see the goings on.  I enjoy sharing photos from the #edCamps I attend — and missed not being able to capture some of the action today. Consider arranging for one or two attendees to act as #edCamp photographers and share their images via a Flickr set.
  5. Encourage attendees to blog and share their reflections and learnings. Find a way to curate the posts to help attendees and others learn from the #edCamp after it is over, and to promote ongoing conversations.

Do We All Need a Designated Person-On-The-Ground? Or Can We Be That for Each Other?

I recall with fondness asking tweeps Danika (@DanikaBarker) and Zoe (@zbpipe) and Doug (@dougpete) to act as my personal Advance-ManPerson-On-The-Ground in their respective parts of Ontario to keep an ear to the ground for the as-then-yet-unannounced dates of opening for new Apple Stores. That’s another story, but the idea of having someone working with you in another location is a powerful one.

It would be a difficult task to line up individuals for all the various sessions happening at a distant event (especially when #edCamp attendance and session topics are determined rather more spontaneously than other conferences) — but the idea of a collective, collaborative shared Team-On-The-Ground acting collaboratively for others is a powerful one.

It would be wonderful to see this become yet another characteristic of the evolving, grass-roots #edCamp experience.

So, What Did YOU Learn Today?

I look forward to reading the still-accruing notes and yet-to-come blog posts from both #edCampSWO and #edCampLDN. And looking back through the Twitter stream to search out photos to help visualize the events. I know that there is a lot of learning that will follow on from today — seeking it out and making use of it is both the challenge and the adventure.  :-)

In the interests of helping to aggregate posts that come from today, these Google forms may come in handy. Please consider sharing your thoughts and your learning!

What did you learn today?

Follow Andy Forgrave on Twitter @aforgrave

Day 15: Explicit Instruction vs. Inquiry Approach- Parent Edition | Media Madness

Explicit Instruction vs. Inquiry Approach- Parent Edition | Media Madness.

Written and shared by Lindy Henderson.

Those who know me, know I am all for Inquiry in the Classroom. From kindergarten through senior academic classes, I believe there is room for inquiry. Quite simply,

 it creates better thinkers, learners and problem-solvers.

So, when #ossemooc decided to do a month-long series on what I learned today I happened to be working through a dilemma of inquiry as a parent. Specifically, in the Henderson House, we have an ongoing discussion about money and chores. Without bringing in the many layers (read: years) of history with this topic, let’s just say that it’s the standard, Kids want money, I want a clean house, not sure how I feel about allowance…

So when the ten-year-old incessantly asks if she can learn how to do laundry, I say sure, sounds great. She has chosen this as a chore she wants to do, what’s better than that? (Plus: Family of five= no shortage of laundry.) Now I KNOW laundry isn’t rocket science, but it does involve some specific and explicit instruction. I will admit, it’s taken me three months to get to taking some time to SHOW her how to do laundry. (I can’t explain it, time just PASSES.) So there she is, happy as can be, sorting colours, adding detergent, PROUD AS CAN BE.

Except it’s not that simple.

“Mom, what if there is white AND red on the shirt?”

“Mom, what if I MISS your sweater and it ends up in the dryer?”

“Mom, what if there is grease on a part of dad’s pants that I can’t see?”

Deep sigh.

I WANT to be the parent who says, don’t worry, it’ll work out. We’ll be fine. I WANT to be the parent who has patience enough to answer every single question all day long, but also trusts that she can problem-solve on her own. I WANT to appreciate the thoughtfulness of these questions, and the value of the thinking that these imply. I WANT to. Really I do.

And most of all, I DO NOT WANT to give up and go back to doing the laundry myself.

Explicit instruction vs. Inquiry?

On a related note,

we’re working through inquiry in a cross-panel (intermediate-secondary) PLC. In this professional learning community, we have a team of wonderfully talented and energetic educators who are at all levels of adopting inquiry into their teaching practice. Together, we are learning what inquiry looks and feels like in different classes, subject areas, levels and grades. Best of all, we support one another in this journey. In yesterday’s PLC I remarked how relieved I feel that we are able to share and have this support… that in early years I did not have this support and always found myself wondering, Am I doing this right? How do I know it’s working? Am I still covering all of the content? Are the struggles worth it in the end? How much and when do I give up control? Are my students becoming better learners because of this?

So. Back to the laundry.

I don’t have an official parenting PLC. I do know that, as in the classroom, there is no guidebook, no absolutes, and that it is a process. I also know that, in all learning, there are no absolutes.

Inquiry AND explicit instruction are necessary.

Formative assessment is essential.

Questions are at the root of the best learning.

(Hers AND mine.)

At the end of the day, I have more questions than answers.

And this, my own words thrown back at me, an echo from my cheerleading support for a very uncertain teacher…

that’s how we know learning is happening!

Lindy Henderson is an Intermediate classroom and Curriculum Technology teacher with the KPDSB.

Follow her on Twitter @hendylou

#OSSEMOOC 20140415

Our April 15th Tuesday night session will be a discussion about “Reflecting on Learning” by sharing comments and insights on the first two weeks of posts in the  30 Days of learning  project.  Check out the great sharing from  the first two weeks here.

Join the meeting room by clicking   [here]  any time after 7:30.  The session will run 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.   If you are joining the OSSEMOOC conversation for the first time,  please allow a few extra minutes for the necessary set up downloads to occur.

We look forward to connecting with you.


Day 14: Words That Resonate – Inspiration from Google Summit 2014

Created and shared by Bea Meglio

Bea’s Piktochart can be viewed here:

Screen shots of the graphic can be viewed below.

Please take the time to comment. Do you agree? Start the conversation!

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 6.55.29 PM

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 6.55.20 PM

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 6.55.10 PM

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 6.54.58 PM

Bea Meglio, with over 25 years of classroom experience, is a passionate advocate for empowering teachers and students to always strive to reach their potential. Currently as an Education Officer with e-Learning Ontario, she works towards supporting digital opportunities for all learners.

Follow Bea on Twitter: @megliomedia

Featured Image -- 342

Day 13: Our First Edcamp

Originally posted on Teach talk:


one of three workshops put on for our first Edcamp

How can we possibly find the time to give teachers opportunities to learn about new technology?  There is no question that we need to find a way to change the way we deliver PD.  Teacher learning needs to be embedded and easily accessible so that everyone can keep up with all the changes being brought on through Google, Apple, chromebooks and apps apps apps!

We are experimenting with a version of the edcamp model. To do this, I gave over our regular meeting time (once per month) and allowed teachers to sign up for three 20 minute workshops.  Fortunately, we had three staff members who were willing to present.

I don’t think this is how a regular edcamp would work, but we were dealing with limited time and no more than 15 staff.

The model needs some work, but…

View original 350 more words

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 6.23.24 AM

Day 12: Supporting Educators and Promoting New and Improved Learning for Our Students

Written and shared by Deborah McCallum

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about what learning is going to look like for our students in the future, and how education needs to change, to meet the needs of society. There are great leaders and movements starting up in Ontario that are helping to support educators and promote new and improved learning for our students.

Indeed, I believe that these new movements need to include embracing eLearning and blended learning environments as frameworks and catalysts for facilitating and activating successful learning for our students.

Today’s education system is outdated in many ways. Structures and institutions are built upon values from the Industrial era. Our students are no longer growing up in this era. There are new opportunities to learn, and learning can look different in different communities and families, cultures. Society has changed in many ways. As Steven Hurley stated in his opening speech at the On The Rise Conference (OTRK12) - desks may be organized in groups, but alas, they are still the same desks!

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 10.37.26 PM

We have new technologies that have permeated the rest of our world, our economies are changing rapidly, and job security and stability will not mean the same things for our children as they did for our parents generations.  Further, due to the rapidly changing society of technology, there will be different futures emerging for our students in terms of what jobs will be available. We have opportunities now for students to engage in a variety of learning experiences and a variety of literacies that we can promote to help them navigate uncertainty and follow their passions - literally right at our finger tips! Indeed, it is a very exciting time.

What do students need to succeed?

As I consider what it is that our students will need to succeed in their futures, I always come back to ‘Higher Order Thinking Skills’.  Without a doubt, these are the skills that future generations need to count on to succeed in any job, career, or learning environment.

Knowledge construction, metacognitive elements of learning, reflection, critical thinking, flexible decision making, imagination and creativity are just some of the skills that will be necessary.

Technology has come so far that it is so intuitive for anyone to use, but, the higher order thinking skills still need to be in place to make the most out of these learning opportunities and technologies. eLearning and blended learning environments will continue to grow, and therefore, we need to consider how to apply higher order thinking skills to the eLearning environment.

eLearning & Blended Learning

I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of a workshop at ORTK12 where we co-created an iBook on eLearning. What a brilliant idea to bring together educators to help describe this as something beautiful that can be presented to parents, teachers, students, administrators to understand these new virtual learning spaces that we can create for our students.

I look forward to these new spaces and places for learning, and more importantly learning how to effectively integrate the higher order thinking skills into these new paradigms of learning!

Deborah McCallum

Educator and Learner investigating the intersection between Knowledge Building, Indigenous perspectives, Edtech, Digital Citizenship & New Pedagogies for the 21st Century. Desire2Learn Instructor for AQ & OntarioLearn Highered; Teacher-Librarian Specialist; Science & Technology; Counselling Pychology, GD.


Photo Credit:

alles-schlumpf via Compfight cc

Day 11: Living Out Loud

Written and shared by

Emily Fitzpatrick

I was honoured today to be in attendance at the GAFE Summit Ontario where I had the opportunity to listen to the final keynote, Michael Wacker.  Michael’s keynote focused on us Living Out Loud! Michael fostered the “yes and …” answer to our questions and learning rather than the “yes but …” mindset.

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 8.30.44 AM

Throughout Michael’s keynote, I really had a chance to think about how I will inspire not only my students but the other teachers at my school, board and PLN.  What do we do to inspire our students to engage and have fun in our learning?  How can do transfer these ideas to excite those tech-reluctant teachers back at home?

One great idea that came from my PLN on Twitter was the idea of holding a Demo Slam at the end of each staff meeting.  This is an interactive and engaging experience for slammers and the audience.  This gives the teachers at our school a chance to show off their stuff or learn something quick and new to learn in their classrooms the next day.  Having someone tweet or email out all of the great ideas from the slam will allow for the conversation to continue outside of the meeting.

Another take-away from the keynote was the idea of our students collecting or connecting the dots.  I feel that as teachers we need to do both.  The students need opportunity to collect the stars (another way of saying collecting tools for their toolbox).  They need to collect their knowledge and understanding of the methods, concepts or ideas and then connect them; it is when students connect their stars is where their deeper learning takes place.  As educators we need to provide the experience of connecting the stars; transferring their learning into new and unseen circumstances.

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 8.12.19 AM

Finally, Michael spoke about how we should not give up.  Google was not created in a day; it was created over a period of time with TONS of iterations, remakes, ideas tried out and scrapped or further developed.  As teachers, we need to adapt this model.  We need to make our lessons and our own learning as versions.  Educators need to be OK with have a lesson 1.0, a lesson 2.0, a lesson 2.5, and lesson 3.0 and allow the development be as long as it needs to to ensure that the students are engaged, empowered, connected, and connecting their dots. We need to be OK with sharing our materials with each other and collaborating with each other like we ask our students to do. I love the saying that goes nicely with this: “Steal with Pride.”  If someone is using your idea or commenting/improving/reflecting on your idea that means they think it is worth it!  It should be a form of flattery if someone else wants to use your ideas in their classroom!

 The ideas flowing from our Learning Out Loud journey are endless; these ideas will shape the world of education today and in the future.  Our iterations of our lessons, ideas and strategies will only grow, like Chrome, Drive and Google +, and become those outstanding ideas that are shared at conferences world-wide.  All we need to do is take the first steps in sharing, connecting the dots and engaging all who we interact with.

Emily Fitzpatrick

Ontario High School Math, Computer Programming, Resource Teacher; lifelong learner and tech junkie




YES: @Doug88888 via Compfight cc

TRY: SvobodaIT via Compfight cc

Day 10: Letting Learners Lead

Written and shared by Scott Monahan

I had to opportunity to take in Rolland Chidiac’s (@rchids), “Chromebooks in the Hands of Grade 2 Students” session at the Ontario Google Apps for Education Summit in Kitchener and what blew me away was the opportunities I’ve missed over the years to make use of the Drawings tool in Google Apps.  I sometimes struggle with finding an entry point for primary students and teachers in Google Drive (my go-to tool is usually Slides/Presentations) and I picked his session specifically to look for strategies to use with primary students and teachers.

What I learned from Rolland (and his students) is that, sometimes it’s best to let the students explore the tools and tell you what they’re good for.  As a starting point, Rolland gave his students 20 minutes to explore and create with Drawings and learn to use the tool.  What the students picked up on what that they could use the various tools, and shapes to create simple drawings to communicate their thoughts and ideas.  They’ve added text and used the sharing and collaboration features of Google Apps to give and get feedback on their work.

Before I saw Rolland’s students work, I saw Drawings as a somewhat rudimentary tool; a tool that you might use to create simple mind maps or embed images that you wanted to create mashups with.  Now, they’ve redefined my vision of how to use Drawings.  One of the best things about the tool: it’s accessible throughout all of Google Apps.

It was also great to see all of Rolland’s anchor charts in which (I think) Google Apps were not mentioned once.  His learning targets and success criteria were all anchored in the curriculum, and students had the freedom to choose the tools that worked for them to get the job done.

Rolland blogs at

Scott Monahan

Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer



Day 9: The Power of Support in Sharing

What I Learned Today: The Power of Support in Sharing #OSSEMOOC

Written and Shared by Jaclyn Calder

Last week Donna Fry challenged us to share. Through this #OSSEMOOC post, she asked us to write a blog post about what we learned today.

The day that Donna sent out this challenge I had spent the day working with a TLLP team in my school around the next steps of our project. The first order of the day was to share what we had learned already. Each teacher wrote a blog post while we were all in the same physical room. For many of us, this was one of our first blog posts. Our goal was to share at least one good thing that had happened in our classroom as part of our journey towards 1:1 BYOD Blended Learning.

Teachers shared posts about the following classroom activities on our TLLP blog

What I learned from the process was the power of support in sharing. As we all sat together in the workroom and people learned how to work the blog platform, embed samples of student work and write up their learning in an engaging manner, teachers talked and chatted. Many felt that they didn’t have anything exciting to share, but once we started talking, others in the group jumped on board and started encouraging each other. Pointing out the great practices that were embedded in their classroom activities and how they may adapt the activities to fit other subject area and classes. Teachers even commented on each others blog posts. The atmosphere was amazing, supportive and critical.

What really resonated with me during the process was the importance of support (moral and technical) to start sharing. We talk about the importance of sharing the good things happening in our classrooms, and becoming connected educators – but how often do we embed the time and support to do the actual sharing as part of our professional development?

This morning of sharing and supporting one another has to be one of my favourite days working with colleagues.

You can find me  and my work online at:

Twitter: @jaccalder

Skype: jacjaccalder

Photo Credit: Funchye via Compfight cc 

Day 8: Feeling Off-Balance is Okay

Written and shared by
Julie Balen

Last week, we were asked as a staff to once again articulate what technology needs we  have. Like many schools and school districts, we are working hard to upgrade our infrastructure and our hardware. This is necessary work, to be sure. But as I listened to the ‘wish list’ that teachers have, I reflected on how this conversation about tools did not stem from the need to change practice.

And maybe it can’t. Maybe the process of the integration of technology and shifting practice has to happen at the individual level.

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 11.06.29 PM

 Photo Credit: Mark Hunter via Compfight

I have a class set of Chromebooks, and the impetus for acquiring them was not pedagogical. In the fall of 2013, I was asked to teach grade 10 communications technology, and the Chromebooks were purchased to support that course. But I had them, so why not use them in all of my classes? This could be a bit of a pilot program, we (the principal and I) told ourselves. Let’s see how these devices work out in the non-tech classroom.

The Chromebooks worked marvelously.

I didn’t.

Sure, I knew how to use the machines and the apps. I knew how to set up student blogs and wikis. I knew how to organize documents and folders, to comment, and to share. What I didn’t know how to do was to integrate the devices into the teaching that I do.  Let me try that again. What I didn’t know was that I needed to see the curriculum (English) in a completely different way. What I didn’t know was that ‘changing my practice’ meant reconsidering every aspect of my practice from how I structured the course (traditionally thematically) to what essential skills I believed my students needed to have and how they would/could demonstrate them.

Here’s an example: Senior students need to demonstrate their ability to research, organize ideas, write, revise, format for publication, and cite sources appropriately. For many teachers, this translates into a research report or essay that is produced in Word or Google documents and that is printed or shared. Is that traditional research report/essay format still valid? Do I need to teach them how to produce their thinking in this manner because that’s the format required or expected in higher ed? Or can students research, curate, embed, link, write, and cite in a wiki? Or is the conversation really about choice?

This past February, I had a conversation with Steve Anderson (@Web20Classroom ) about content curation, in which I raised these same questions. His response? We need to understand that “there is no final solution when it comes to [student] learning.”

No final solution. No one way. No program. No script.

What I learn a bit more each day is to be okay with feeling off balance as I figure out what to hang on to from how I taught before and what to let go of. And this, I think, is not something that anyone else can do for me.

Julie Balen has worked for the Wikwemikong Board of Education on Manitoulin Island for the past 13 years, mostly as a high school English teacher, but also as a system-wide literacy coach.

Julie Balen


Twitter: @jacbalen

About Me:

Connecting to Learn


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 127 other followers

%d bloggers like this: