Category Archives: EDUgridlock

A Case for Change

As a frequent blog reader and online content curator, I am fascinated by the idea of synchronicity in reading.   One interesting example of this happened last week when I read a new blog post by Donna Miller Fry,  came across a connected reference by  Seth Godin  posted in my twitter stream (thanks PLN) and had a quote “jump out” at me in a  Flipboard  article.  I thought you might find these articles of interest and perhaps the connections will poke your thinking a bit.

In a recent post titled Emotional Uncertainty in Exponential Times, Donna Miller Fry writes:  “How do we describe and define the intense feelings we experience when we see people we care about, colleagues in our profession, working their fingers to the bone at tasks that just don’t matter anymore?  Exponential change is our reality, yet many of our institutions continue to work hard to be exceptional at what mattered yesterday.”  Read Donna’s full post at  Emotional Uncertainty in Exponential Times

In his post  Teaching Certainty,  Seth Godin writes:  
“Here’s how we’ve organized traditional schooling:  You’re certain to have these classes tomorrow.  The class will certainly … what to do when the certain thing doesn’t happen?”

In my 3rd connection, Andrew Tonner identifies a great Steve Jobs quote in his  Fox Business article  7 Steve Jobs Quotes on Business, Technology and Life.  I felt like this quote jumped out at me:



In reflecting on these 3 interconnected articles,  I wonder , in the context of education, our rapidly changing world and the importance of education being relevant,  if we have enough people  who  truly get it, that really understand innovation, how to change and the need for it and are empowered to take action to change?  I invite your comments and thinking, here by comment or via  @markwcarbone on twitter.

Thanks to Flickr user  GregHeo  for making the creative commons photo available.


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


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 ( and lockergnome (


Are We at a Saturation Point

Edu Gridlock Part 3:

I enjoyed recent interactions with students around participation in strategic planning  I thought the students participated well in the sessions and  raised some good points from my view.

Much of the conversation focused around important issues such as the importance of an inclusive school culture and flexible programming to meet a variety of important needs – all good.

The one element that stuck with me though was this notion of “too many rules”. The students gave several examples of bringing ideas forward to foster positive school  culture but were met with a “no, because …” .  This reasons were many and varied — in essence I would say inked in rules — provincial, local, too risky, we have to follow nutrition regulations … you get the idea.  Yet, many of the ideas were reasonable, and certainly would have been entertained a decade ago.

I am not at all thinking that we should be operating in education without a good working framework, but the conversation sure left me wondering if we have actually reached a point of “rule saturation”.  Perhaps there is a middle ground where things can be achieved in different, more flexible ways rather than being so mired in regulations and rules.

How can we promote thinking more out of the box, but with the framework box?  Thoughts?  Please share. 



Blogging from the Start – part 2

Edu Gridlock Part 2:

In Blogging from the Start I wrote about an innovative pre-service teacher program where blogging played a key role in the personal development of these teachers.

Fast forward to May 2016 where I had a chance to team up with Helen DeWaard (@hj_dewaard) and Donna Fry (@fryed) to hosting a discussion forum at the Faculties of Education,  Learning and Teaching for Tomorrow event.


The session context was provided by Helen based on the work she has been doing with her pre-service students through blogging. During the “round room”  discussion, the notions of growth, shift and personal journey were explored by digging into some key questions:

1. What would it take for students to shift from blogging as a course assignment to blogging as a way of professional life?

2. How do we, as a collective, come to grips wiht sharing what you learn vs people/audiences judging what you don’t know or what you learn?

3. What does it really take to personally commit to a culture of open & visible learning and sharing?

4. What is the intrinsic value – why do bloggers keep blogging?

I invite you to listen to the podcast file from the event:

Intros and context > 0-18:40,
Main discussion 18:40 > end (1:05:00)


How would you respond to the guiding questions?  I invite your comments or connect on twitter ( @markwcarbone ).

Additional Resources:
Follow Helen on Twitter: @hj_dewaard
Read Helen’s Professional Blog at: Igniting Teaching and Learning
Related Blog Post: Just Make It Public
Creative Commons Photo Credit (blog graphic) to Flickr user  ginaballerina

Blogging from the Start

Edu Gridlock Part 1:

I enjoyed hearing Seán Ó Grádaigh’s (@SeanOGraTek) presentation at the 2016 uLead conference.  In his presentation, Sean shares the journey of preparing pre service teachers for experiences in schools with 1:1 iPad programs.

Throughout the journey, information was gathered about individual technology skills (quite varied), attitudes towards using technology with students, building skills and capacity to use the technology more effectively and changes within these areas. Evidence collected showed significant growth in each of these area.

The interesting twist in the story was the shift to extending the use of the technology to something transformative – tools to capture and document their own (pre service teacher) lessons, experiences and reflections.  With intentional development of new ideas, the students used a variety of tools including facetime, audio (GarageBand), video (iMovie) and writing tools to capture their learnings and reflections in different formats.  iTunes U was used as a platform to share and comment within the class group.

In follow up correspondence, Seán has shared these 2 books which outline  practice:

Digital Reflection on iPad by Seán Ó Grádaigh
MGO ITE Programme by Seán Ó Grádaigh

along with this resource:  The Story of 1916 by Seán Ó Grádaigh

I was impressed that the journey ended with improved skills in using technology to enable better teaching and learning, that attitudes changed and that personal, and professional reflective practice was established in this manner.

In reflection, I note that the use of the Apple environment allows for seamless flow in the process of learning, documenting and sharing.  The notion of using a system that is easy to use, reliable, and has high compatibility is an important consideration in the planning and that there are other ‘device agnostic’ platforms that could accomplish this.

I wonder, what would education look like if this happened in all preservice teacher programs?  Would you change your practice and help move the mountain?



Exploring K12 Gridlock

One of the interesting elements of this past school year for me was weaving together the thoughts, observations and ideas from the many conversations I enjoyed across Ontario via my PLN, both virtually and face to face.

The more I reflect on the conversations, and mull them over, I centre my thinking on the idea of educational grid lock. In many ways, it seems to me that we are in a state of increasing grid lock. There are so many opposing forces and change complexities in the K12 space, to me, many things seem, well, stuck.


This summer I have decided to write a series of posts exploring this idea of edu gridlock, along with some questions and ideas on moving forward.

Photo credit: Flickr user samuel-leo for this creative commons licensed photo.

EduGridlock – up next: career long professional learning.