Voice – Have You Found Yours?

Last week I had a fantastic opportunity to hear flamenco guitarist David Sinclair perform in a quaint house setting thanks to friends Bob and Jan.  As  you might anticipate, the performance was fabulous and so great to hear in that setting.  David provided some interesting insights into the music history and style to set the context for each piece.


One  of the introductions really struck a chord with me.  As he talked about progressing as performer, David shared that one of his teachers challenged him to accomplish more:  be a great performer, but find your voice, write and perform your own music as well – leave your own legacy.

There is was: the importance of  “find your voice“.  Thanks David.

Given the number of conversations  in education about finding your voice and sharing learning openly, and a new school year just around the corner, perhaps this was a happy coincidence.  Or perhaps it was an “ignite moment”  to encourage us (educators) to take steps or continue a commitment to support open learning and sharing.


September is coming.  Are in you in? 




Creative Commons Photo Credit (blog graphic) to Flickr user  ginaballerina

DI – macro vs micro

Edu Gridlock Part 5:

What do you think when you hear the term DI or Differentiated instruction?  What is your first reaction?  I think the notion often stills up a lot of negative thinking – maybe this type of reaction – chaos envisioned.

my horrified look

The truth is, in conversations with teachers and administrators, what makes the most difference seems to be DI at the micro level.  I have heard so many accounts of small changes, choice, and flexibility playing in important role in moving learning, process, documentation of learning and/or assessment to a more effective result.  Don’t discount the impacts of “micro changes”. 

There is another angle though.  I enjoyed a great conversation with Julie Balen  this evening, where we discussed the idea of educators embracing DI “up front” at the planning stage.  Questions we explored included:

  • What lens do you look at a curriculum with?
  • Does thinking default to a fixed linear sequential mode?
  • What does it take to imagine curriculum unfolding in a new way?  — perhaps an unconventional way that may the deepen learning, feedback and assessment cycles
  • Considering the impact of approach, choice, voice and better questioning techniques
  • What actions can we take to inspire people to think differently?

I really enjoyed hearing Julie’s perspectives and experiences.  There is no one answer to these questions. The value is in taking the time to explore them, consider personal change and recognize the importance of the flexibility to adjust in an effort to  maximize each learning opportunity.   I look forward to our next conversation Julie!

Differentiation Resources: ASCD,  Learn Alberta

Julie’s  Blog

Photo credit:  Flickr user Bernice Bowling


OPC 2016 Institute Resource

Today’s post shares the resource  Donna Fry  and I prepared for our presentation at the OPC 2016 Summer Institute for Technology Enabled Learning  where we looked at compelling reason’s for change, the role of technology, using technology examples as ignite topics for discussions, setting new norms, open thinking and online course strategies.



Additional Resources:

Blog post:  A Compelling Case for Change by Donna Fry 

Dr. Tony Wagner

Most Likely to Succeed


Leveraging Time

Edu Gridlock Part 4:

This post in the  Gridlock  series will focus on leveraging time, but first, some context. I have been fortunate to have Dean Shareski in my PLN and enjoy the occasional face to face conversation.  The two most recent conversations, at Educon, and in this panel discussion: The Future of Learning , the notion of leveraging schools and students to really do something special in education.  While the full panel discussion is very worthwhile, I have set the video below to start at a relevant point for the purpose of this post. Take a moment and listen to for 2 minutes.

I have been reflecting about the idea captured in the video to the context of personalizing education.  It seems to me that one element of personalizing learning would be to tackle the challenge the barriers of timetabling. I believe one strategy to improve student learning would be to create a flexible yet seamless approach for students to interact with the teachers they need to spend time with, and when they need it – not when the class is scheduled within a  fixed timetable approach.

Imagine for a moment, a school scheduled on the premise that all students would take half of their subjects in online e-learning or blended learning (say 2 of 4 courses in a semestered arrangement). Rather than emphasizing working remotely, students could be in the school during these times, at least strongly encouraged,  per say, but not locked into fixed class time. Teachers could be available for F2F student help, tutorials etc. as needed rather than teaching formal classes — more of a flexible mentoring approach at a time or pace that the student requires.

Creating this flexible time could also be used to support student wellness with various self directed activity options, noting that a high percentage of students enjoy self directed non competitive recreational activity.  This is also the type of flex time that would allow the exploration of the points Dean made in the video – doing something special, making an impact.

Now for the challenge:

Zip line guide

It is easy the allow your thinking to drift into the what about this, what about that, how would we … Try to put that aside for a moment, stay student focused and let the idea of a more personalized student centred, flexible learning journey percolate.


I would enjoy hearing your thoughts and ideas about creating and leveraging flex time for learning.  Please comment or connect on Twitter: @markwcarbone 

Creative Commons photo credit: ziptheusa (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ziptheusa) and lockergnome (https://www.flickr.com/photos/lockergnome)