Category Archives: PLP

WRDSB Futures Forum Program Wins Award

Celebrating an Amazing Journey

Five years ago, a small group of WRDSB staff (Mary Lou Mackie, Mark Harper, Kim Keena,  Jim Woolley and I )  began meeting with local community business leaders who were members of Communitech to discuss the classroom of the future.  Although no specific classroom design was agreed upon, general conclusions centred around what is now thought of as the key C’s: communication, collaboration, creativity  and critical thinking.

Discussions continued with students, and then the WRDSB team enrolled as team in a Powerful Learning Practice cohort to continue our learning and thinking about the possibilities. Bill Lemon, Harry Niezen and Ken Whytock served as the lead implementation to look at needs in the areas of  curriculum, assessment, technology, staff training etc.  The results of the implementation team are captured in this blog post.

Since the Futures Forum program has gone live, there have been continued successes and gradual expansion of this program. Now, in 2013, the program is running in all secondary schools, with multiple classes timetabled in each school.  The approach has had spin off benefits such as the Innovate program at Forest Heights C.I.  Research gathered to date has shown that this approach to learning is producing results that are statistically  significant.

The Futures Forum project was recently recognized  for innovation by Solution Tree.  I wanted to publicly congratulate all the central staff, school administrators and teachers that have been a part of bringing this vision to life.

Additional Information

Solution Tree Photo

Futures Forum video

Official WRDSB announcement

~Mark

Resources for PLP Live

Resources for PLP Live

TPACK: Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge

From Idea to Reality

Administrator Perspective

From the Field: Educators in Action

I'm a PLPeep!

~Mark

PLP Live: PD to make a difference

Join me at #PLPLive12a full day of educational SHIFT, issues that matter, 9 inspiring keynotes.

When: 9/28

Where: in Philly.

Check details at PLP Live.

PLP Live 2012 - Friday September 28 - Philadelphia

Helping the Shift

Overview:  The Connected Educators is based on connected learning communities. Connected learning communities are a three-pronged approach to effective professional development using the local (professional learning community), contextual (personal learning network), and global (community of practice) environments. Connected learners take responsibility for their own professional development. They figure out what they need to learn and then collaborate with others to construct the knowledge they need. Connected learners contribute, interact, share ideas, and reflect.  The book draws heavily on the experience of the authors as members and leaders of connected learning communities.

An inside peak at the chapters:

1: sets the stage for understanding what it is to be a connected learner.
2: makes a case for connected learning in communities.
3: explores the importance of being a learner first, educator second.
4: looks at developing a collaborative culture and a mindset that supports connected learning.
5: invites readers to explore free and affordable technologies and virtual environments that support collaborative learning.
6: guides readers through the steps of implementing a connected learning community.
7: examines how to sustain the momentum of professional learning using scale as a strategy for co-creating and improving a learning community.
8: focuses on leadership system, school, and teacher leadership in a distributive
model.
9: looks at what the future holds for the connected learner and what being a
connected learner means for each reader.

I recently arranged to purchase a copy of this wonderful new resource for each of our (120) school libraries as a resource for all staff as we continue our journey of ‘shift’ along the technology enabled learning path.

Periwinkle sighting: PLP’s  Periwinkle with my Connected Educator book order.

Related Resources

Learn more

Buy a copy

Happy learning and connecting!

~Mark

Boot Camp Panel Reflections

Earlier this week, I had a wonderful opportunity to participate in a PLP Boot Camp panel discussion.  I enjoyed hearing the thoughts and key messages of the panel members concerning 21C leadership. I captured a key phrase or two from each panel member and share them here for your reflection and what these might mean for you.

  • awakening to the 21 century
  • embrace change
  • continuous learning
  • unified direction needed
  • observe and learn from the cultures in your organization(s)
  • place yourself in the place of most potential, be open to possibilities
  • tools in service of the learning
  • be open and transparent
  • consider support and release needs
  • sustainability planning is critical
Enjoy reflecting on these leadership thoughts. What actions will you put in place?
~Mark

Digital Storytelling Resources

Today I had the pleasure of tuning in to a webcast presentation by Alan Levine about digital story telling resources. I ideas were great and the chat window was action packed with comments, ideas and positive feedback. I wanted to share a list of a few of the resources that were highlighted.

Dipity
Vuvox
Glogster
Zooburst
Google Maps
Pixton
ToonDoo
Flickr
Blabberize
Jaycut
Animato
Slideboom
Vcasmo
Prezi

This is a great set of tools to support digital story telling. Visit Alan’s blog and wiki to get the full story and lots of good ideas. Everyone has a story to tell. Give one of these great tools a spin today then do something fun. innovative and engaging with your students!

Thank you to Sheryl and the PLP Network team for setting up this learning opportunity with Alan.

Related Resources

Alan’s 50 ways
Alan’s wiki
Bitstrips for School (licensed for use for Ontario publicly funded schools by OSAPAC)

~Mark

CDN PLP – Culminating Session

On Friday May 20th we held our culminating day for this year’s PLP  and  Futures Forum session. From my point of view, the day was a wonderful success — an opportunity to passionately share about our learnings, celebrate our collective successes and begin the scaling process by introducing next year’s Futures Forum teachers to the process. I captured much of the morning presentations with my Livescribe pen. I have uploaded many of the recordings and linked to the sections by topic as per the list below.

Futures Forum Course Design

The Power of Blogging

Online Magazine

Civics Mirror

Careers

Going Forward

Related Links

Futures Forum PD Wiki
Futures Forum Online Magazine
Twitter Stream #wrdsbffp

~Mark

What’s cooking?

An interview with Susan Carter Morgan.

What you can do when there is not a computing device or clarinet in your hand. see page 16

I am thrilled to be part of the new Powerful Learning Practice (PLP) Connected Coaches project.

~ Mark

WRDSB Futures Forum Project Goes Live

It is hard to believe that after almost 2 years of planning, the WRDSB Futures Forum Project will go live. This has been a real journey involving:

  • ongoing discussions with the Communitech organization in Waterloo to look at a view of a future classroom
  • PLP experience for a centrally based team (including me)
  • The formulation of a new innovative approach to learning within secondary schools with staff from Learning Services and IT Services working collaboratively on the planning
  • 7 of our secondary schools commit to this project
  • PLP experience for teachers and administrators from each school site involved in this project and a library resource team for project support
  • course design, technology components (wireless, netbooks, iPads, web 2.0 tools, Adobe Connect etc.)
  • planning, planning, resource development
  • and we are ready to go live!!!

Background:

The project emerged out of the recognition that although educators and others were striving to engage students in a variety of approaches and learning activities to better prepare for the changing world, these efforts often occurred in isolation without a systemic approach or support.  The project strives to integrate promising practices and learning across schools to meet the needs of all students in a more effective, sustainable and progressive manner.

The Futures Forum Project is an inquiry based, multi-disciplinary, project oriented approach integrating the teaching and learning of grade 10 Academic English, Civics, and Careers expectations (see Appendix A) into a morning block of 220 minutes (2 periods) during semester 2 of the 2010-11 year.

The overall curriculum expectations are addressed through the following components:

1. Guided Inquiries – These involve opportunities for students across participating schools to use technology to interact and work together.

2. Independent Inquiries – These self directed tasks provide students with opportunities to meet course expectations independently and tailor learning based upon their interests and readiness.

3. Portfolios – Portfolios allow students to engage in learning of interest to them and supports sharing with “authentic” audiences.

4. Summative Project – Students demonstrate mastery of Civics, Careers, and English expectations; independent inquiry, personally relevant learning and the of use technology as an effective collaborative and communication tool.

The summative project is focused around a “big question”…“What is my digital footprint?”  It addresses the separate course expectations by requiring students to demonstrate, in a variety of ways, responses to the following specific questions:

  • How am I an informed, participating citizen in a democratic and technological society? (Civics)
  • How can I develop and achieve personal goals for future learning, work, and community involvement in a technology rich society? (Careers)
  • How can I demonstrate I have a range of oral communication, reading, writing, and media literacy skills needed for success in school and life in a technology rich society? (English)

As part of the approach to the project each teacher will work with a network of teachers focused on this same inquiry based, multi-disciplinary, project oriented, and technology mediated approach to learning.   OT Coverage and professional learning are provided to plan and facilitate the use of effective instructional strategies and technology related resources (e.g., PDAs, notebooks, online tools) to develop and deliver the interdisciplinary class addressing expectations of the English, Civics and Careers grade 10 curriculum.

The Futures Forum project is focused on addressing the system success plan goal of improving the ability of students to communicate their thinking in writing by providing job-embedded professional learning opportunities, and access to some technological resources, as part of an inquiry based, multi-disciplinary, project oriented, technology mediated approach to learning.  The project’s focus is on:

  • achieving the system success plan goal of improving the ability of students to communicate their thinking in writing
  • promoting job-embedded professional learning opportunities for administrators, teachers and central staff,
  • increasing access to technological resources,    exploring an inquiry based, multi-disciplinary, project oriented, technology mediated approach
  • addressing grade 10 Academic English or History, Civics, and Careers expectations during semester 2 of the 2010-11 year
  • identifying and consolidating effective instructional strategies (i.e., instruction, assessment and reporting), tools and techniques mediated with technology related resources (e.g., PDAs, notebooks, online/internet networking tools, specifically Facebook, wireless access, etc.)
  • monitoring and reporting on project progress and system learning (e.g., resource requirements, professional learning requirements, promising instructional practices, scalability, sustainability, etc.).

The Project metrics (indicators for assessing the project) include:

  • increased student success rates in grade 10 credit accumulation, specifically for boys.
  • increased student engagement in learning (i.e., more choice, opportunities for inquiry, topics of interest to students, etc.)
  • increased school administrator, teacher, and central staff knowledge and expertise in using technology to engage students and promote learning;
  • increased familiarity and effectiveness in the use of WRDSB research-based strategies, tools and techniques for improving written communication (e.g., student exemplars, anchor charts, non-fiction writing, graphic organizers/frameworks, open-ended critical questions), professional learning networks and professional learning cycles

Futures Forum Participants

School participants include a teacher and vice Principal lead.  Grades 10 teachers teaching academic type English, open type Civics and Careers courses in semester 2 of 2010-11 are participating in the project. Participation includes a commitment to professional learning sessions, co-planning, networking, implementing, reflecting on lessons and assessment tasks, and a willingness to use technology to effectively implement system identified instructional tools and techniques in an inquiry based, multi-disciplinary, project oriented approach to teaching and learning.

Futures Forum teachers maintain a daybook, collect teacher reflections on learning, complete reports requested by central staff, and attend regular meetings with Learning Services staff.   In addition, expectations include:

  • Participation in co-learning with other Futures Forum teachers.
  • Completion of data collection (e.g., survey teachers on what strategies they found most effective) for assessment purposes by central staff.
  • Work with the administration to implement the project.
  • Consider and contribute suggestions to support the project’s focus as determined with Learning Services staff.

Learning Services and Information Technology Services (ITS) staff provide leadership and support in the coordination of the project. They are involved in facilitating professional learning, monitoring project progress, allocating resources as required, supporting access to technology (e.g., students using both board and their own technology) through a wireless classroom environment, collaborating with the vice-principals and assisting in the completion of reports (e.g., status reports, final reports, data analysis).

Technology Components

A Variety of devices  including Netbooks, laptops, smartphones, etc. along with wireless access and the use of specific internet based applications (e.g., Facebook, Desire to Learn – Learning Management System, Ontario Educational Resource Bank, Moodle, Ning) are among the technological tools and vehicle utilized to facilitate learning in the project

Professional Learning and Resource Support

A variety of technologies, regular professional learning sessions and facilitated professional learning network (i.e., PLP – 2 full day face to face and 4 adobe connect mediated by External experts) is used to support staff (teachers, administrator and central staff) involved in the project and promote collaborative learning and networking.  This work in learning teams involves:

  • collaborative planning of instruction including a common assessment task with rubric, and
  • moderated assessment of student work
  • effective instruction/assessment;
  • use of instructional tools and techniques;
  • use of technology mediated applications
  • reporting on and assessing the project.

It is very exciting be at the ‘go live’ point, and I look forward to seeing this project in action.

~ Mark

Note: Some of the above content is from an internal report and is used with permission.

 

 


 

 

Kicking off the 2010-2011 School Year

I enter the 2010-2011 school year with great anticipation and excitement.  Many of the projects that were in major planning stages last year will ‘go live’ this year.

  • Effective today, we have wifi hot spots in each secondary school. These hot spots will allow staff and students to use their own equipment for Internet access.
  • Expanded use of web 2.0 and social media tools to support curriculum delivery. Staff and students now have access to Facebook. Facebook and Twitter, along with other resources will be used to extend school community and support curriculum delivery.
  • By mid month, we will role out email for elementary students. In addition to the secondary role out last April, all students fill have a Board assigned email address to support curriculum and communication needs, and identification in other online environments.  All students will be part of our FirstClass system.
  • Launching our Future Forum project (semester 2), developed as our 2009/2010 PLP project
  • Automated processes now reduce manual work to support account management
  • Redesigned and significantly improved drupal based web sites for our secondary schools
  • Moodle hosted setup to deliver Health and Safety content (launched Sept. 2nd)

Significant projects for this year include:

  • expanded development of our Library Learning Commons (LLC) project
  • a complete rewrite of our Technology Acceptable Use procedure to align with Digital Code of Conduct, Digital Citizenship, and Character Development programs
  • iPads & netbooks in the classroom
  • continued involvement in the PLP program
  • a look at e-book strategies
  • expanding our wireless project
  • building on our Digital Citizenship program

Day one went well. We hit our startup targets and hit the road running. It is going to be a great year!

~ Mark