Saturday, March 28, 2009

Something Just For Fun?

Sometimes it is not all about work or predicting the future or integrating technology.  Sometimes it can just be fun.  Got digital pictures?  Want to have some fun with them?  Visit this link and check out the 25 sites listed here.  Guaranteed you'll have fun:

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Future of Technology in Education...

I’ve just started reading the HORIZON REPORT: K- 12 Edition. This report addresses six technologies that the New Media Consortium suggests are going to be rapidly emerging in our K – 12 environments over the next few years.

The web edition is available here:

If you are curious about the potential impact of mobile devices, cloud computing, smart objects and the personal web, you might want to check out this report! Widespread NINGS in 5 years? I'm not sure....but it is interesting reading so far......


Monday, March 23, 2009

21st Century Learning...

I attended a workshop a while back in which one of our facilitators suggested we should stop talking about 21st Century Learning because we are almost 10 years into the 21st Century already. That was an interesting point - and it took me a bit by surprise!

I thought of that point again tonight when I heard this line from John Legend's song "If You're Out There": "The future started yesterday and we're already late!"

Thinking about this just leaves me with more questions.....Are we already late for the future? What do we need to do to catch up to the future? Anything? Or is it like buying a PC and we are ALWAYS going to be behind? What kind of reform is coming to our schools? I think I had better start reading my new book....Disrupting Class.....maybe the answers are in there.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Digital Story Telling

I love asking students to represent what they know in new ways. One topic of great interest to me is Digital Story Telling. I am doing an after-school introduction to this soon, so I thought I'd post my resource materials here as well in case they might be of any interest to anyone.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

I Found a New Blog to Add to My RSS Feeds

My copy of Failure Is Not An Option is getting worn out.  This book was a great resource during our first year at DTPS, especially the section on creating mission, vision, values and goals.

I have been receiving emails regarding What’s Working in Schools from the Hope Foundation (who published FNO), and now they have a blog.  I’ve added their RSS feed to my iGoogle account and I can more easily keep up with their announcements. 

Today was my first look at it, and I like the content.  I’m impressed so far, and especially like this post about what the research says students want (aka need) from us in school!  We need to do this for all students, but especially for our neediest students, we need to plan well, engage them and teach to their needs, and not give up!



A New Me

I was going through my students’ folders, marking their work, a while back and I came across this picture of me that had been ‘modified’ by one of my students. He took my school picture from this year and used some quick effects to photo shop it.

I like it. It is now going to be my new ‘online persona’….so say hi to the new me!


(plus I wanted to test how the blog works when I make a post by email with a picture attached. Note to Self: It works perfectly, embedding the picture at the start of the post!)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Higher Level Spin on Discussing World Affairs?

I was talking with someone this evening about a structure/technique for discussing Current Events/World Affairs/News Highlights in class. Just putting up the headlines is one way to do it, and can lead to a very basic and entry-level discussion based on the one set of news items/headlines you are looking at.

Another way, and one that might be more engaging for JH kids, could be to use a news aggregator like I am sharing with the following links. If you had a smartboard, you could pop one of these up, and get the kids to stand up and engage in exploring what is on the webpage (updated daily, or more frequently), follow the links, make predictions and inferences, etc. I think kids as young as grade 7 could easily be exploring local or international news at a higher level using tools like this, inquiry thinking and skilled questioning from us.

I really like the following sites, so I thought I’d share them with everyone. Secretly, I’m hoping sharing via blog will help me find more time to visit these myself:

(this one is great – choose a country see what the headlines are – choose a headline see what the issues are)

(visual representations of the headlines – guess what the pictures show)

(Newspapers from over 60 countries – this is neat to look at – ask the kids why would the headlines be different?)

(links to thousands of online newspapers – going to Mexico? Know the headlines before you go)

(the English version of the Arabic News Network)


Saturday, March 14, 2009

This Made Me Think...

How is this for an idea? We ditch the textbooks - put all of our content into WIKI's.

They would be relevant (because we create them), they could be constantly updated, available at home and at school, and definitely be priced right. Is this a key step towards the personalization we need?



disruptive technology

Since I have been discussing disruptive innovations a lot lately…..I thought I’d post this.

How disruptive is this technology going to be in 2 years? This projector is available NOW, in Canada, for $350 - $400. I want one…..darn gadgetitis.......It is not the brightest LED bulb. But it is also first generation. Instant on/off. Connects to computers, cameras, pda’s, ipods, etc.

2 years from now it will be at least 2 times the quality and 1/3 cheaper. 5 years from now - who knows – but likely half the cost or less and 5-10 times the quality.

What new ways of doing things will we be able to do with technologies like this?


Where Was This When I Went To School????

GradeGuru ( is a site where you enter your school, the course you are taking, and download the notes you missed by not going to class.

I know I should probably say I would love to have been able to submit my notes for money (as you can do at gradeguru), but actually, I think I would not have had to miss so many episodes of jeopardy if I could have downloaded the notes instead of going to class!


edit.....some great discussion of this topic, and how it could addresses the need for change in schools, at the Plethora of Technology blog.....

What is literacy?

One of our four, KEY, provincial/district/school goals is literacy. A very impressive amount of work has been done throughout this year in our district to review the approaches used in our schools to teach and promote literacy. The same committee that undertook that has reviewed what we already do is also providing their recommendations for what we need to (or should do) in the future to help our students develop these skills.

The people from our district who are working on this literacy committee are many of the people I have on my list of ‘gurus’ in the area of literacy and when they talk I try to ‘listen hard’ because I know I will often learn something new. I am not a literacy expert, so I’m not sure if my thoughts are accurate or not, but through all of our recent discussions I am wondering if we might be better off making our focus ‘21st Century Literacies’, or something like that, as a way of addressing our future needs. Comprehensive literacy is a CRITICAL skill that we must develop in our students and I feel that to focus our discussion about reading and writing puts us at risk of excluding those who do not see themselves as teachers of literacy skills. Which all teachers should be.

Perhaps we should be making a district focus on BUILDING KNOWLEDGE, and have specific sub-groups focus on developing 21st Century Skills their areas: i.e. Shop Teachers could focus on reading plans and numerical literacy, SCI/SS teachers could focus on reading texts for main ideas and comparing and contrasting, technology teachers could focus on digital literacies and related skills, math teachers could focus on the development of the language of math, etc.

I’ve been reading a lot of ‘futurist’-type books lately and trying to focus on where we need to go to best prepare our students for the future. Perhaps I’m just worrying too much, but I think we need to start doing things in a NEW and DIFFERENT way in education if we want different results. We know how the brain works and we know how people learn best, let’s start re-designing our system to put what we know into practice.

Or, I’m all wrong and we are just fine proceeding as we always have. But I don’t think so…….we NEVER stop learning to read, so shouldn't we stop using language like that then?


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Instructional Leadership for 21st Century Learners

I just finished attending the most recent in a series of workshops I've been involved in over the last 2 years titled 'Leading for Today's Learners'.

This series of workshops, attended by over 140 administrators in the province of Alberta, was focused on the instructional leadership needed to maximize the teaching and learning process. I'm paraphrasing here, but the premise is that we know an awful lot about how kids learn, and about what makes effective teachers, and that as the instructional leaders in our schools we need to know what to look for when we are observing and working with teachers in their classes.

The result of last year's work across the province was the creation of an observation rubric to help leaders identify, and discuss, different things taking place inside our classrooms for the purpose of increasing student engagement and student learning. The rubric can be found on the Galileo website by clicking HERE.

The work this year was focused on the use of the rubric and on discussing administrator practice in using it.

In my humble opinion, this rubric would be a great resource for anyone observing teachers and students learning in a classroom, and I hope to make the use of it my focus for the rest of the year during my classroom observations.


What Makes Schools World Class?

If you and I have talked in the past, then you know how much I like to discuss theory and practice. Personal reflection has played a key role in my personal and professional growth, and I try to push myself to look outside my current environment as a way of gaining perspective. I want to know how things work elsewhere...I believe there are some lessons to be learned out there, just waiting for us to find them...

To that end, I've been in some discussion lately about the structure of our system. Last week at convention we talked with Stephen Murgatroyd about the need to ditch some of our curriculum...we talked with Pasi Sahlberg from Finland about the success their system has had with learning, and lately I have been in several discussions on similar topics with peers in some courses I am taking. I think it is an exciting time to be in the school system with all of the potential changes

On the topic of EDUCATION SYSTEMS I found the resource below to be VERY interesting.

I've shared it with some of my online peers as a way of helping them to understand our system here in Alberta, and also as a way of comparing and contrasting systems and looking at the details. This is an external source showing how excellent our system is! I think we often forget how good we have it here!

As I type this, I am sitting in a workshop titled LEADING FOR TODAY'S LEARNERS and we are discussing systems again. So, shhhhhh, don't tell anyone, but I thought I'd post this here while I'm on the thought.

Check out the results of the Des Moines Register's investigation of WHAT MAKES SCHOOLS WORLD CLASS...


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Two Inspiring Videos - For Two Different Reasons...

#1 - US, posted by blimvisible...

I like this one because (a) I like the Regina Spektor song, and (b) it is made by, in her own words, "a housewife", and I hope it inspires people everywhere to push and promote their own creative selves like it inspired me.

#2 - MANKIND IS NO ISLAND, posted by Jason van Genderen

I like this one because (a) he composed his own music and shot it entirely with his cell phone, and (b) he is showing the power technology has as a HEART tool, not just a MIND tool. Technology does not just make things more efficient. It can make things BETTER too....coming up in a future post....microlending with family and I are signing up!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Last Two Books I've Read (or 'Why I Should be in the NHL')

I just finished reading two Malcolm Gladwell books - Outliers and The Tipping Point .

Gladwell is an interesting author, and I enjoyed both the content and his style for both books.

Outliers is the story of success...and his position that 'practical'
intelligence is pretty important to one's succes aligns very well with
my thinking. I enjoyed reading about the other circumstances that
contributed to the success of people like Bill Gates, The Beatles and
hockey players. Apparently my birthday is ideal for NHL stardom, how
could I have not made it big?

The Tipping Point was a fascinating conversation on the topic of
creating a buzz about something and turning it into a popular thing on
a broad scale. As a teacher/administrator I can see aplication of
this knowledge when working with teenagers at school on school culture
types of issues...... and I think we already benefit from the
connectors/salesmen/mavens at our school.

Reading this book left me thinking about the need to look at issues we
may face at work a different way in order to reach lasting solutions!


Sent from my iPod

MPTC Highlights

I have just recently enjoyed another excellent Teachers' Convention. Here are some of my highlights:

Stephen Murgatroyd's presentation. His slideshow is located in an earlier post. He also referenced the CAMPBRIDGE PRIMARY study recently published in the UK when discussing the topic of standardized testing for primary students. You can read more about that one HERE. (hint: their research says don't do it!)

Brenda Dyck's presentations were good, as always, if you are into educational technology. You might want to check out her 3 WIKI's: (engaging kids and teachers to be creative) (using google tools in class) (using youtube in class)

On the topic of youtube, Brenda shared some amazing video's, accessible from her wiki, including one a student shot with his cell phone!!!

Brenda's session on engaging kids and being creative covered a lot of uses of technology as a HEART tool, not just a mind tool, and was very inspiring. I'm going to share the story of with my family and see if they want to make a difference with me!

GLOGSTER - creating online posters with embedded multimedia instead of paper posters. This looks UBER COOL!

I am definitely going to be reading THREE CUPS OF TEA in the future. It's on my list, and if you are looking for a gift to buy me...LOL...

Friday, March 6, 2009


This is a neat way to help kids present what they know in another way.....

Comic Creator - students can create their own comic strip online: choosing how many frames they would like, add captions, characters, background, speaking bubbles and props, then print out their finished product!

Educating Children For the 21st Century

I've just finished watching the following slideshow, created by Dr. Stephen Murgatroyd, at our teacher's convention. I thought it worth sharing re: discussing the changes we face in the future and the changes we need to make now to be prepared.