Tag Archives: teach

The Power of Joy

Back in November, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from Dean Shareski (@shareski) along with educators from throughout Northwestern Ontario (at SeLNO, the Symposium for eLearning in Northwestern Ontario).

The key take-away for me was Dean’s concern for the missing aspect of “joy” in our learning environments – our schools.

Last week, I was so pleased to see that my friends at HWDSB had the opportunity to ponder the same message.

 

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Shouldn’t the places where we all go to learn be full of joy?

Shouldn’t we be concerned that so many students hate school (and teachers)?

If students graduated with a love of learning, and a love of school, would it still be viable to attack public educators for political gain?

What’s standing in the way of joy in school?

This picture & post shared by  Donna Miller Fry.

 

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Building Content Knowledge: Collaborate and Curate

Sylvia Rosenthal-Tolisano (@Langwitches) is one of my favourite bloggers.  She does visually represent the learning in incredible ways, and I have a number of her posters hanging in my classroom. BUT, it is her teaching through her blogs that I so appreciate.

In this post, “Building Content Knowledge: Collaborate and Curate”, she includes video, images, and annotations to help her reader really “see” the Digital Learning Farm (Alan November) in action!

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Tolisano never forgets the role of technology in the teaching and learning cycle. Skill-building in reading for meaning, gathering information, and note making–all key components in the research process–are front and centre here without the traditional teacher lecture and notes for students and in ways that support students’ acquisition of information literacy skills.

Take some time to explore Langwitches’ Blog. It will be worth your while.

Shared by: Julie Balen, High School English Teacher,  Wikwemikong Board of Education (@jacbalen)

 

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

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 5: It’s the Little Things!

Shared by: Heather Theijsmeijer

Secondary Math/Physics/BYOD teacher at Manitoulin Secondary School (Rainbow District School Board).

http://byodasap.blogspot.ca

Twitter Handle: @HTheijsmeijer

 The other day, I was handing back assignments to my grade 12 Data Management class, when I was asked a surprising question by one of my students.

“Hey Miss,” he said, “do you still give out stickers when we do well on tests?”

Yes, an 18-year old, grade 12 boy.

I had forgotten about that. For years, I would place little star stickers – sparkly, colourful ones – next to students’ marks on assignments and tests when they got over 90%. I would try and do it on every item handed in for evaluation – from large projects right down to the smallest 5-mark task. There were some assignments on which no one received stars, and some where pretty much the entire class got 90% or higher, but regardless of the “importance” of the assignment, my rule stuck.starsticker.jpg

Photo Credit: Enokson via Compfight cc

 

I wasn’t sure it was making any kind of a difference in terms of motivation. I had seen a few students, over the years, carefully peel the stars off their work and stick them in rows on their binder. Others would compare stickers (“I got a blue one – what colour did you get?”), and some would ask why they didn’t get one. But I hadn’t heard anyone ever say, “I’m going to work harder so that I can get a star!”

And the majority of the students never did or said anything about the stickers, at least that I could see. Sure it was fun (from my point of view), but was it making any kind of a difference in the classroom?

I stopped doing it earlier this year when I went to mark a bunch of assignments at home and had inadvertently left my star stickers at school. It was such a little thing, that I didn’t think it would be noticed. And it wasn’t. I handed back the assignments and not a single student asked why there were no stars.

So the practice fell to the wayside. It’s funny how quickly you can fall out of a little habit like that when there are a dozen things on the go at once. And over time, like I said, I had forgotten that I had even done it in the first place.

Until the other day, when one of my students asked out of the blue if I still gave out star stickers.

“Do you remember that?” he said to another one of the boys at the table.

“I loved those stickers! They were the best!” the second boy replied.

“Wait, you guys used to get stickers? I want stickers too!” said a third, who had never had me as a teacher. “Why don’t we get stickers?”

(Aside: who knew grade 12 boys were so into stickers?)

This made me realize something important – no matter what we do in the classroom, the students notice. Every little act, gesture, comment; even if they don’t acknowledge that you do it, they notice. This can be a good thing – those little star stickers ended up being something they enjoyed, just as I’m sure little comments and tidbits of motivation are, a smile, or a nod of encouragement. But it can also be a negative experience they notice – every eye roll, unhappy face beside a poor mark, every time we neglect to make time for them and their questions.

Anything I can do to make my classroom a happier place for my students, no matter how trivial, I will try. Effective immediately, not only will I go back to using stickers to celebrate success, but I’ll also try harder to deliver as many smiles and messages of encouragement as I can. Because even if they don’t respond, they’ll notice.