Day 30: Taking Chances

On our last day of 30 Days of Learning, we welcome new blogger, Denise Buttenaar.

When OSSEMOOC started the month of April with 30 Days of Learning in Ontario asking us to share what we had learned that day I had many ideas running through my head about what I could share. I could tell you face-to-face exactly what they were and what affect they had on me, however, I could not write about them. We are always challenging our students to reflect and yet the only reflection I had was the person staring back at me in the mirror too afraid to open up to her peers.

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I have been an educator for over 30 years starting when the Formative Years, Education in the Primary and Junior Divisions (1975) was the first year teacher’s bible. While there have been many changes in paradigms from teacher centered learning to multidirectional teaching the child has always been the center of focus, aside from the fairly short lived objective-based model. Today we see a shift from what a child will learn to how a child will learn. 21st Century skills, especially those of collaboration are helping drive student centred learning.

One day this week I had the pleasure of instructing two classes on how to use the Provincial virtual learning environment. One was a grade 2/3 class the other a grade 12 class. I learned a few things that day:

1. When technology is involved students want to do not watch.
2. Supply the students with the bare essentials and let them run with it.
3. It is hard to try something new when you are used to doing things a specific way.

Number three is the reason I am writing. I cannot expect the students and teachers to listen to me when I tell them to take a chance and try something new if I am not willing to do so myself.

So here it is. Not the next great novel, just a few thoughts from a life-long learner.

Denise Buttenaar is an education leader and eLearning Contact in Bruce-Grey Catholic DSB in Ontario.

Follow Denise on Twitter: @butden

Photo credits:
Replace Fear: *Zephyrance – don’t wake me up. via Compfight cc

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Day 29: The Value in Preaching to the Choir

Written and shared by Stacey Wallwin.

To answer the #OSSEMOOC  30 Days of Learning Challenge, “What have I learned?”…..

I have learned the new and much more powerful meaning to the phrase “you’re preaching to the choir”.

This year I decided to undertake a MOOC for my Board. The motivation behind the MOOC was to provide the school community with the opportunities to learn from and with each other in a flexible, online space. We opened up our learning to our coterminous board, and  our First Nation education partners. The MOOC was designed to support those who wanted to learn more about the various technological tools that are available,  to take control over their own ongoing learning and professional development, and to support teachers who were taking a lead in using technology in their classrooms by giving them a platform to showcase their knowledge.

I had the platform (Adobe), I had the enthusiasm, and I had support from fantastic teachers willing to share their expertise and experience ….and then I waited for the crowd of school community members to knock down the virtual door to engage in this PD opportunity.  And I waited….

About half-way through the MOOC,  I was asked how it was going and I said that it wasn’t going as expected. I had no new converts to tech integration and that I was “preaching to the choir” as the dedicated group of educators who turned in every week were already using some form of technology in their classrooms to engage theirstudents.  The individual responded that “preaching to the choir” was just as important as getting new members to join. The response caught me off guard but I still felt like the MOOC had failed.

Thanx to @markwcarbone I was able to attend #gafesummit in Kitchener in April.  Imagine a school filled with 600 educators on a Saturday and Sunday trying to soak up as much information as possible. The energy, passion and dedication to student learning was palpable. The choir was singing and loudly!

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It was at #gafesummit that the phrase “preaching to the choir” was again uttered and this time the words resonated with me.

Many of us our trying to support a vision of learning for our students that is not yet considered the norm. It takes the usual characteristics of perseverance, resilience, grit, passion and a healthy amount of stubbornness to keep moving forward. But, sometimes being up front, and seemingly going it alone, (we all have those moments),can make you hesitate, doubt yourself and your vision.

Where am I going with this? What have I learned?……Perhaps the most important lesson of all. I can learn the latest technology and the latest app, but learning to build and nurture relationships is vital and the key to moving forward, and growing as a person, educator and as a leader. The latest technology cannot replace a choir that sings softly in the background or boisterously when needed, but most importantly, in tune with you.  The choir build you up, puts the song back into your heart and reinvigorates.

As important as it is to build capacity among new educators, it is absolutely vital to nurture the relationships of those already “in the choir”.  Like all sound relationships, the choir needs to be nurtured, supported and given time to practice and work together as a team.  They are the early-risk takers and provide  support and encouragement to each other and you.

The next time someone says, “you’re preaching to the choir”…keep up the good work!

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” ~H.E. Luccock

 

Stacey Wallwin is an education leader and eLearning Contact in northern Ontario. She shares her learning and her collection of resources here.

Follow Stacey on Twitter: @wallwins

Photo Credit: Featured Image Fotografik33 via Compfight cc

 

Further thinking:

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Image shared by Bill Ferriter: http://blog.williamferriter.com/

Further reading: The Lone Wolf – By David Truss

#OSSEMOOC 20140429: The Future of Learning

As we wrap up our focus on blogging and move into our focus on Digital Citizenship, we are inviting you to have a conversation with us on Tuesday evening around what learning will look like five years from now.  Where are we going in Ontario?

We initially held this conversation about a month ago as part of the stakeholder consultation process for eLearning Ontario as the group moves forward with their work in providing the tools  Ontario students need for technology-enabled learning.  Since then, the new vision document has helped inform some of what we are doing as we have a clearer impression of where Ontario is going.

The stakeholder consultation process closes on April 30, and we would like to offer OSSEMOOC participants one more opportunity to provide feedback. Please join us on Tuesday, April 29 at 8 p.m. EDT  [here] for a live discussion opportunity.  The online room opens at 7:30 for set up.  If you are new to collaborate, you will need some time to get set up, so feel free to start any time after7:30.

We value your input to this process.  Conversations about learning in the future have been very rich as we have moved around the province working with different stakeholder groups.  I know this will be a catalyst for further thinking about student needs in Ontario as we move from great to excellent!

If you are unable to join us, please use this form to provide input via this Feedback Form. Thank you for taking the time to help us make the most informed decisions possible around the tools our learners need to succeed.

Your OSSEMOOC Team

Day 28: Engaged Learners Need “Just Right” Feedback

Written and shared by  Rita Givlin

This year I have been introduced to the world of wrestling and have drawn many parallels between feedback in wrestling and my school’s focus on using ongoing, timely, descriptive and effective feedback to improve learning. Competing mid bronze medal match at CWOSSAA, this wrestler is appealing to her coach for help. Highly engaged but not yet successful,  she needs feedback!

wrestler

What exactly is feedback?  Grant Wiggins says, “Feedback is useful information about the effects of an action in light of a goal.” This wrestler’s goal is to win and at the moment she is stuck and needs feedback to succeed.

What feedback will move her learning forward? Feedback needs to reflect only the most important steps needed to move towards achieving learning goals. Imagine this coach saying, “great job” or “good effort” both of which are true but not effective. Fortunately with timely, descriptive and effective feedback (“Pull your arm out. Get her shoulder on the mat.”) she persisted through this challenge and won! Susan Brookhardt in How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students  calls this the Goldilocks Principle – “Not too much, not too little, but just right.”

Like the wrestler, our students want, need and value feedback which will help them reach and exceed their goals. In the video clip,  Austin’s Butterfly,   Ron Berger  clearly demonstrates the importance of ongoing, timely, descriptive and effective feedback in accelerating and improving learning. How much learning is lost when students do not receive feedback that they need and deserve?

As a learner and beginning blogger, I too need and welcome your “just right” feedback.

Rita  is a vice principal at Wellesley Public School in the Waterloo Region District School Board.

Connect with Rita on Google + or Twitter

View Rita’s Blog

Day 27:This Week in Ontario Edublogs

Written and shared by Doug Peterson.

Doug Peterson works tirelessly to connect Ontario educators.  He actively promotes the thinking and writing of those working in the field of education in Ontario, and shares his own personal experiences to help push our thinking forward.  For all you do to inspire us to keep writing and sharing, Doug, here’s to you!

Doug Peterson is a sessional instructor at the Faculty of Education at the University of Windsor, and co-chair of the ECOO conferences including #BIT14.  Find out more about Doug here.

Follow on Twitter @dougpete

doug --- off the record

If you look at the URL for this post, you’ll see a “-101” at the end of it.  For those, like me, who are too lazy to create a unique URL for each post, this is WordPress’ way of creating it for you.  So, last Friday, it would have been “-100”.  To celebrate the fact that I had written the same blog post 100 times, I went about going through all of them and was working on a chart tallying how many times I had made reference to individual Ontario Education Blogs.

Then, five things happened.

  • I did the math and realized that that was actually the 101st post since the first one wouldn’t have had a digit tacked onto the end of it;
  • A friend once told me that a blogger is only as good as her/his last post;
  • I turned off the computer without saving the document;
  • I…

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Day 26: Modelling the Knowledge Building Circle

Written and shared by Heidi Siwak.

Originally posted here.

This is a quick overview of how a Knowledge Building Circle is used to build collective knowledge.

Grade 6 Geography Inquiry Begins:

Day 1: Provocation: Canada is removing the humpback whale from the threatened species list. One student is aware of the story and quickly brings the rest of the class up to date. There are 2 very different reactions. For some this is good news; the species must be safe now. For others this is terrible news; we’re not protecting whales. We remind ourselves to climb down our ladders; this is something to be explored. I lead students into a discussion of Canada’s role and responsibilities in a global community.

I then ask them to think about what a global community is and what they actually know about the world.

Schema/Prior Knowledge

Students discuss places, name a few environmental issues and one or two organizations including the UN. It is surprising how little they were able to put forward about the world. There are many things they have “kinda” heard of and many misconceptions.

As we talk, students map their current model of the world including places, events, issues, people and news stories. This is a map that they will continue to build as they learn about the world.

The roll up map is a popular tool in our classroom. It comes down frequently for various reasons. Here students are confirming place names before they add them to their global knowledge maps.

In our discussion the United Nations is mentioned. A few students have a vague understanding that it is something that includes all nations and helps out in the world.  I ask the students where it is. No one knows but 2 theories emerge:

1. It must be in the middle of the ocean because that is a place that doesn’t belong to one particular country.
2. It might be in Antarctica because that is also a place that doesn’t belong to one country.

Students decide to find out. They head to the lab and begin constructing knowledge on the United Nations.

Both hypotheses are disconfirmed.

Day 2

We hold a knowledge building circle where each student shares what they discovered about the UN to help build the collective knowledge of the class. As information is shared students discuss and use words such as assumption, I’m on the Ladder, and the language of disagreement as they clarify their understanding. New knowledge is added to the chart above. As discussion unfolds, students become more careful about word choice. Conflicting information emerges; students grapple with the information until clarity is reached. For example, various dates are mentioned in relation to the start of the UN. Eventually the group distinguishes between the League of Nations and WWI, Franklin D Roosevelt and WWII, and the physical construction in Manhattan that sits on neutral territory.

We discuss the value of the Knowledge Building Circle. Students recognize a number of things:

1. This is an application of the most effective communication pattern for learning.
2.  It is interesting to find out what others have learned.

The idea that we are building a community of knowledge is beginning to take hold.

Day 3: During the discussion students find out that our Prime Minister is not supportive of the UN. There are several gasps so I draw their attention to the Ladder of Inference and ask, “Who has just jumped up the ladder and concluded this is a bad thing?” Several hands shot up (including mine) One student speaks up and says that we really don’t have enough information to decide if it’s good or bad. We climb down our ladders and decide we need to learn more.

Day 3

I direct the students to United Nations Development Program as a starting point. As they construct knowledge there are expectations. As they read/view about places and projects, they must use Google Maps to find where those places are and add them to their paper maps to show how their understanding of the world is increasing.  They must also bring something they’ve learned to tomorrow’s Knowledge Building Circle.

As students work they converse with those nearby about their learning, help each other interpret charts and graphs,  call me over to share what they’ve found out and pose questions which are recorded on the Question Board.

A remarkable moment of thinking happened during this process. James noticed that the 8 development goals are in a particular order and wondered if the goals are ranked by priority. He then worked out a more efficient order because he felt that if certain problems were solved first, other problems would automatically be addressed.  He independently created a causal model.

Several students added interesting information to their blogs.

From Natural Curiosity

Heidi Siwak is a middle school teacher whose innovative work is creating new models of learning. She has been recognized by the Globe and Mail as one of Canada’s innovative teachers. Her students undertake original projects that challenge the boundaries of learning. Heidi and her students have won national awards for innovation in education. She has been featured on TVO’s Learning 2030 series and as a guest blogger. Her blog is carried by CBC’s digital media service in Hamilton. Heidi is currently exploring Integrative and Design Thinking with her students. She is recognized as an inspirational speaker and is available for workshops.
Follow Heidi Siwak on Twitter: @heidisiwak

Day 25: Just Do Something!

Written and shared by Kelly-Ann Power

My problem is… I overthink things.

I overthink things to the point of not even beginning something that should be a relatively easy task, if I were to just begin. I am constantly trying to think of an even better way to begin or set things up or roll out a plan. To the point of sometimes sitting very still for a long time.

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What’s the best way to organize my garage? What’s the best way to switch my winter clothes out of my closet and start bringing out my summer stuff? What’s the best way to sort out the content on my sister’s Greenhouse website? By the way, none of these 3 tasks have been started. I get stuck.

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A few weeks ago, I was quite geeked to be a part of a 4 day professional learning experience involving a “Google Bootcamp” and a “Google Summit”. Many ideas streamed by me for 4 days at lightning speed… people sharing ideas… apps to try… extensions to add to Chrome… and solid pedagogical practices that were shared. For 4 days, I tried to organize it all in my head and figure out a strategic way to implement some of the possibilities with my staff. I struggled with how to “dial it back” a notch to begin at a reasonable speed.

I had a great discussion tonight with a few colleagues as we shared and brainstormed about “what would be the best way” to share ideas with our staffs regarding curriculum, pedagogy, and integration of technology. We shared our ideas of our weekly newsletters that are sent electronically. We shared our attempts at organizing blogs according to strategies we see in our schools. We shared our face-to-face discussions.

And then I started to talk about my vision of how I’ve always wanted to start a separate page on my website that I could begin sharing weekly ideas with my staff, that would be archived online for future access as well. And as I listened to myself say “I’ve always wanted to do that, but haven’t figured out a way to organize it all yet”, I realized that I could be putting it off for a very long time. I stared into space for a brief moment, and I realized… stop trying to organize it all and just begin.

The process just repeats with me.

Learn… reflect… do.

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It’s the timing of each that seems to vary with me.

What have you been spending too much time organizing your thinking around? What can you begin tomorrow?

 

 

Kelly-Ann Power is a Vice-Principal in the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board serving as a Vice-Principal representative for the WEPVPA Executive.  Her previous role for 10 years prior to being a Vice-Principal was as a teacher consultant in the area of Assessment & Evaluation for the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board.  As a facilitator of professional learning,  she was afforded the opportunity of working along side both elementary and secondary colleagues in the school and classroom settings.  Her 12 years of classroom teaching experience, prior to becoming a consultant, in the St. Clair Catholic District School Board spanned Grades 1 to 8, as well as Special Education.

  • twitter @kellypower
  • slideshare.net/kellyannpower

Photo Credits:

Stuck – Neal. via Compfight cc

Swings – Todd Binger via Compfight cc

Day 24: Learning About Feedback

Written and shared by Michelle Parrish

I’m learning about feedback, and the intense process involved with it. Yes, I said “intense” – you’ll see why. 🙂

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 Learning Goal, Success Criteria; Planner for Comprehension Test

 

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Learning Goal, Success Criteria; Planner for Lyrics

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Learning Goal, Success Criteria; Planner for Interview

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Learning Goal, Success Criteria; Planner for Comic

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Learning Goal, Success Criteria; Planner for Collage

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Learning Goal, Success Criteria; Planner for Journal Entry

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 6.58.19 AM Bulletin Board – Back Wall of Classroom

 

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Bulletin Board – Student Samples

 

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Bulletin Board – Student Samples

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 Bulletin Board – Student Samples

 

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Bulletin Board – Student Samples

 

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Bulletin Board – Student Samples

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 Bulletin Board – Student Samples

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Bulletin Board – Student Samples

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Individual Google Docs, with Hyperlinked Feedback

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 Individual Google Docs, with Hyperlinked Reminders & Feedback

It’s all of 15 seconds – certainly a VERY SMALL PART of the 100 hours of video that is uploaded to youtube every hour!

But it’s a lot more than 15 seconds to the Grade 8s. To them, it’s a reminder of the steps involved in using teacher feedback. Steps? Yes, there are several steps actually. And sometimes they don’t remember them – which totally disheartens me because I know I was late getting home for a supper my hubby made last week! Late – because I was recording audio feedback to guide my students in their next day’s assignment.

So, it’s really, REALLY important to me that they use their feedback – important because I know they need the feedback to do their best job, and important because I was late for supper when my husband was cooking (a rare event indeed!). So, if I’m going to take the time to give feedback, I need to make sure they are using it for their learning.

In the flowchart (which was actually recorded on a whim for a friend, and not at all intended for its 15 second spot on youtube!), there are 7 steps.

1. Pick a book you like.
2. Read what other people did to be amazing (see bulletin board photos in slideshow).
3. Listen to the reminders for that task (audio recordings for each task were embedded in the google doc)
4. Listen to the feedback given on previous tasks (audio recordings were hyperlinked in each student’s google doc)
5. Use the planner, set goals to show what you know (see planner photos in slideshow)
6. Monitor your brain’s activity – check on what you’re doing (we talk about metacognition whenever I remember to!)
7. Hand in your best work!

The Grade 8s were advised that they needed to follow the chart as they prepared for their work. It was fabulous to see them moving around the room. Some were reading the bulletin board and some were conferencing with their peers (sometimes my feedback directs them to a peer who can provide a specific example of a particular skill). Others were listening to feedback and writing down their goals. A few were grabbing the planners and success criteria handouts. I was circulating, providing some one-to-one support where it was needed. I was able to focus my time on some key issues and struggling learners because every student already had some feedback to guide them in their next steps.

Now if only I could figure out how to remove the nasally tone from my recorded feedback – whose voice is that anyway?

Michelle Parrish is a learner and teacher in Northwestern Ontario, and she is most happy when working alongside her grade 8 students.

Follow her on Twitter – @mproom31

Day 23:Leaping Ahead With Our Own Learning

Written and shared by Brenda Sherry.

The original post can be found here: http://bsherry.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/otrk12-and-google-summit-learning/

OTRK12 AND GOOGLE SUMMIT LEARNING

My friends Donna Fry and Mark Carbone, co-creators of the #ossemooc  have put out a call for us to share our learning during this month of April and, as always, it takes me a little while to get my posts onto the blog!

Luckily for me, I had two great experiences last week,  one at the #otrk12 conference and one at the #gafesummit in Waterloo.   Starting withStephen Hurley’s examples of passion-based learning at OTRK12 was wonderful and I enjoyed presenting to the e-learning teachers about creating dynamic virtual discussions and seeing Jaclyn Calder’s presentation about the Grader App for D2L with awesome options for providing differentiated and timely feedback to learners.   It’s wonderful to see what an amazing teacher like Jaclyn does with technology!

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While I could share all the tips and tricks that I learned at #otrk12 and the #gafesummit,  I think I’d rather share a few observations that I have mulling around and arising from these 2 great learning events.

A principal from my school board approached me at the Google Summit a little distraught that she had perhaps purchased the wrong technology this year. She has provided her teachers and students with a variety of tools like  ipads, laptops, desktops and Chromebooks.  She seemed a little worried that she had made a wrong choice and should have bought more Chromebooks.  I reminded her, that regardless of how ‘feel good and for the cause of all children and teachers everywhere’ this event undoubtedly was, it was also a Google event after all,  and their mission was to make her feel as though Google products were the bomb. Obviously – they succeeded!

I assured her that an effective technology ecology in her school would also include some higher-end media creation tools like her computers and her ipads, and that she’d want to remember that the ability to do some computing with computers is also a really important skill for our students today.

I remember when Nicholas Negroponte from MIT started to predict that ubiquity would be a game changer in our adoption of technology but that rather than getting simpler, as they should over time,  there was this interesting phenomenon with computers called ‘featuritis’ whereby software developers keep the software getting more complex and complicated (bloated and expensive) rather than cheaper.  Google seems to have figured that out.  Make the browser do most of the work, and the machine could remain inexpensive,  although not as robust.   Maybe robust is not what we are looking for in education anyway.  Easy (for teachers)  seems to be the preferred approach when it comes to technology.   I’m not in complete agreement with this, but I’m learning to accept it.   It is what it is.

People often ask me if I think things are suddenly changing, and while I’m hopeful,  I’m still cautious because I’m not sure it’s the technology that has been holding us back.   We’ve been able to connect our students around the world with blogs since about 2005 and with global projects using forums and list serves since the 1980s.  How many of us jumped on board?  We’ve had extremely rich sites sharing how-to’s of authentic learning and Project Based Learning for more than two decades.   Were we on board then?

We have had Ministry Licensed products that allow multimedia creation and assistive technology for our students for another decade or so.  Were we all making use of these?  When I tell people that my students and I were blogging with other classrooms across the world almost 10 years ago now, and we did this by taking turns all throughout the day on two desktop computers,  they sometimes look at me strangely – like they couldn’t imagine doing that without the Chromebook cart rolled down to the classroom or students 1:1 on their own devices.   They complain that there isn’t enough technology, and yet their classroom computer is often sitting silently in the corner reserved for teacher email.  What’s up with that?

I’m reminded that early adopters will always be willing to put in the countless hours that lead them to mastery of technology tools (and other things) if they feel that will  transform their classrooms – that hasn’t changed much since computers were first introduced into classrooms.

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Despite my observations, and my confusion about slow progress in educational technology, I refuse to become cynical.  Instead, I’m telling myself that it’s the ubiquity and access that will make the difference this time around.  Now that educators can leap ahead with their own learning through connected networks, they are not bound any longer by the limits of their own school building or in-services for learning…they can connect with and  support each other and learn not only how to use these tools, but what effective use looks like.

Now that we can share our success stories and connect more widely through social media and through networks like the #ossemooc there is no reason to ‘wait for the learning’ – we can just go out and get it!  It was exciting to see so many educators at OTRK12 and GAFE Summit finding their community and learning together!

Brenda Sherry is an education leader from UGDSB.

She shares her learning here:

Presentations, workshops and publications
On Twitter @brendasherry
www.diigo.com/user/bsherry
http://delicious.com/bsherry
http://www.slideshare.net/bsherry
www.tech2learn.wikispaces.com

 

Day 22: Modelling a Growth Mindset

Written and shared by Daniel Pinizzotto. Daniel is a Math, Physics, and Computer Programming teacher; learning to step outside the box and trying to bring tech into the class more effectively. Follow him on Twitter: @mrpinizzotto
(Featured Image Credit: Sergiu Bacioiu via Compfight cc)

Thinking About Math Education

Yesterday I went to Edcamp London and went into a session about growth mindset.  Not knowing what this would entail, I was wondering if the topic was going to focus on the growth mindset of educators or students.  When I went in I was hoping to get the perspective on how we as educators can help students in their mindset.  I currently feel that my Grade 12 class would benefit from me educating them on persevering in their education as most are off to college in September.  It was my goal to get a better idea of how I could educate my students to have a better mindset in their future education.

Great conversations started from Andrew Kwiecien, Ryan Chisholm, and Jeremie Roselle about the book on mindset from Carol Dweck.  The book covers how we can use our growth mindset when we want by looking at…

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