The Training Factor

During the last couple of weeks I have had the opportunity to attend 2 interesting events: our Board’s PLP kickoff session and a K-12 briefing with IBM. In some ways one might think these event would have little in common.  However, in looking at effective teaching and leadership, there was a list of common elements which included: a focus on student needs, learning, collaboration, networking & relationships.

Reflecting upon these events, I found that I was left with one major question.

What would teaching look like today if all faculties of education primarily focused training on

  • building communities, both face to face (i.e. classroom) and online (extension of classroom) and
  • inquiry & research based, collaborative learning and problem solving

as the key strategies to address the various literacies required to today’s student?  Where would we be today?

Just thinking.

~ Mark


Tips and Tricks iPad Resources

Are you looking for some tips and tricks for using your iPad?

Here are a few that I have found in the last month or so that I found to be worthwhile.

1. Free from the iBook store (via the free iBooks app), simply search for iPad

  • iPad User Guide from Apple
  • iPad Starter Guide (Macworld)
  • iPad Publishing Guide (by M. Ashley)

2. Secrets for iPad (app) – free and pay ($0.99) versions

3. iPad for Dummies (by E. Baig & B. LeVitus)

4. iPad Wikis

Enjoy the learning. Make the most of your iPad.

~ Mark

Creating a Facebook group for your K12 class

In my previous blog post, I made reference to a number of strategies to embrace the use of Facebook within the K12 classroom to support learning. One of the most powerful features of Facebook for use in the classroom, is the groups feature.

The process used to setup a Facebook group is straight forward and can be completed in just a minute or two. The steps are:

1. Select the Groups link on the left side of your Facebook ‘Home’ page.

2. Click the ‘Create a Group’ button

3. Complete the basic group information.

4. including the category and type information.

5. Click the create groups button to proceed to the group property settings page. I would recommend unchecking the ‘Non-admins can write on the wall’ setting. Unchecking this parameter prevents wall posts leaking out side of the group to Facebook friends of group members.

6. The bottom section of the group property settings page governs the visibility and privacy settings for the group.  For K12 purposes, I recommend the closed group setting. This allows the group name to be searched, but keeps the content of the group private to the group membership. With this setup, the group owner can invite members via email addresses and NOT be friends with the members. From the K12 perspective, this allows a teacher to create (own) a group and invite student membership without becoming Facebook friends with the students. In our case, this can be done easily by using our Board generated student email addresses.

Note (20101012): Since researching and experimenting for this blog post, the new groups feature was introduced within the Facebook environment. This feature may impact the functionality described here in terms of the groups members are, or are not, friend relationships. Until this is more clearly understood, I recommend that privacy and security settings are implemented accordingly.

7. Click the ‘Save’ button to activate your settings.

8. Select the ‘invite people to join’ link to send group invites.

Once people accept your group invitation, the collaborating will begin.  Enjoy your Facebook Learning space.

~ Mark

Facebook in the K12 Classroom

Connecting Facebook use to the Classroom

Over the last week, I had a number of opportunities to connect with teachers and have some dialogue about about using Facebook to support learning. Yes, Facebook is a social environment, but it has a huge untapped potential in the areas of engagement, community, sharing, current issues and writing.

I thought I would share this list of activities some of our teachers see as effective uses of Facebook within the learning environment. Many of these are already beginning to happen in our classrooms!

  • conversational writing (French in this case)
  • sharing of poetry writing
  • collaborative math homework support groups – students helping students with teacher support
  • peer review of student created movie trailers
  • short blog style writing posts with opportunity for peer review
  • creating a shared student art gallery
  • discussion of global issues
  • math/science challenge questions
  • use of class groups to provide frequent feedback and positive encouragement (linked to our recent PD session with Dr. D. Reeves)
  • use of teacher fan pages to connect with students re class schedules, homework assignments, test dates etc.
  • school/department pages as another way to connect readers to key events, related news items, promote new library offerings
  • a forum to discuss digital citizenship, online safety and prevention of bullying
  • analyse sample situations in terms of digital citizenship and character development goals

Congratulations to these teachers for their forward thinking about using the power of social media tools in new and powerful ways. I look forward to working with teachers and school Digital Citizenship committee to plan our journey forward.

~ Mark