Tag Archives: digital learning

The Connected Classroom with Tania Bumstead

As part of the recent WRDSB Digital Learning Symposium,  teachers presented 20 minute sessions as part of  the breakout offerings.

I was fortunate to attend Tania Bumstead’s presentation  where she shared her experiences and insights on the  journey of  turning her classroom into a connected learning space.   In the presentation Tania highlights the value of an online personal learning network (PLN) through twitter,  collaborative work for students, taking risks and valuing new approaches.

Enjoy the presentation.

Connect with Tania on Twitter.

Many thanks to Tania and her students for sharing their experiences.


Genius Hour Insights

As part of the recent WRDSB Digital Learning Symposium,  teachers presented 20 minute sessions as part of  the breakout offerings.

I was impressed with Andrea Stephen’s session where she shared insights on her journey of including Genius Hour as part of the learning experience in her classroom.

I think you will find her approach and insights on building student comfort in less structured learning, evolving ideas, considering audience, building on failures and assessment.

Connect with Andrea on  twitter.

Thanks for sharing your learning Andrea!



WRDSB Learns 2016

This has been an amazing week of learning and sharing at WRDSB. Under the leadership of the Digital Learning Steering committee a 3 day event was planned to involve a team from each school attending one of the six half day events to reflect on current status, attend breakout sessions to look at new, innovative and engaging practices, and consider next best steps on a site by site basis.

I invite you to check out the learning captured through the  Storify  of the twitter stream from the 3 days.

I will be sharing my learning through a series of upcoming blog posts. Additional events will be planned in the WRDSB Learns series this year.


Digital Learning Carousel Reflections

I had the pleasure of attending the  WRDSB  Digital Learning Carousel event today along with 400 educators and students from our Board. The event provided opportunity to share our collective insights around digital learning,  changing practice and planning next steps forward for our organization.  The carousel sessions I attended included online novel studies, innovative practices with math, inquiry approaches and the Futures Forum program.

Three aspects of the day really struck me.  The positive feedback on the interest in using Google Apps for Educators (GAFE) and the high rate of adoption on our roll out was awesome.  Secondly, I was intrigued to hear some of the educators sharing the benefits of enough technology to support small group instruction over a 1:1 approach. The ‘just enough’ model allows technology to be used as a learning support as needed while fostering opportunities for interaction, conversation and sharing.   A 1:1 approach can result in students being self focused or isolated. This feedback validates our decision to roll out our iPad program in a way that avoided convenient the “portable lab pack” allocation. Finally, so many discussions touched on the idea of the right mobile tool for the learning, teaching or assessment task at hand. I felt proud that our  IT department is deploying and supporting iPads,  Chromebooks and Windows mobile devices to support learning at WRDSB.


My Session Highlights

The online novel study group talked extensively about taking a proactive approach to digital citizenship before moving into online activities. Their approach included googling yourself to find out what is actually online, reputation management, managing your digital presence and building relationships. Tools used in this program included Google Apps for Educators, Today’s meet, blogging, skype and collaborative web page designs.  An impressive approach indeed!

In the math innovative practices session, I noted that educators were really digging into teaching collaboration skills. What does collaboration look like, sound like, feel like? “Look fors” would include accountable talk, building on the ideas of others to highlight two attributes. Digital tools used in this program included Explain Everything, GAFE, GeoBoard, Notability and iMotion.

The inquiry stream focused on the relationship of two key elements:

1.  What do students need to learn and what do I need to learn as a teacher?
2.  If I do this as a teacher, then students …

The final session featured the Futures Forum program, which I am very familiar with due to my involvement with the program. Presenters emphasized the importance of a growth mindset for both staff and students. The approach used this year involving SparKW really engaged the students in a meaningful way.

Clearly,  all of the presenters I saw today demonstrated a high level of professionalism and a growth mind set. Thank you for sharing your learnings!


Nurturing Your First Followers

During May,  the Waterloo Region District School Board  held a Digital Learning Symposium involving central staff, teachers, students and guests from the Ontario Ministry of Education and community. The intent of the day, was to bring staff and students together to dig deeper into what is working and what is needed as next steps forward. While the day was a huge success with great interaction and discussion within the various stakeholder groups, there is one aspect of this that I have continued to mull over:   Capacity building, and nurturing first followers.

WRDSB teacher, Scott Kemp, selected this “Starting a Movement” video to show as part of the final session discussion kickoff for the day.

On route to ISTE13, I had some great conversations about this idea with Rebecca Rouse  and  Susan Watt .   While the notion of nurturing first followers could be applied to many situations, we were looking at this from a technology enabled learning perspective.

By the numbers: From a strictly numbers point of view, you could think about: one helps another, two help four, four help eight , 8 > 16 > 32 > 64 > 128 > 256 > 512 > 1024 > 2048 … done. Lets say you already have 100 or so “lead nuturers”, then getting to “done” might only be 4 years (or defined time periods). More aggressively, one might start with one helps 3, 3 help 9, 9 > 27 > 27 > 81 > 243 > 729 >  2187 … done. With the same 100 or so “lead nuturers”, then getting to “done” might only be 3 years (or defined time periods).

These kind of progressive numbers are encouraging when thinking about rolling out a change process. But, there is more to it than just the numbers. In our conversations, we identified a number of critical components to consider in the mix.

  • PD should be a graduated continuum just like learning for students
  • professional practice should provide opportunities to align with the plan, act, assess, reflect learning cycle
  • people need varying amounts of time to reach the ‘ready to mentor’ stage
  • at what point could someone properly nuture a “first follower” in a way that produces the desired learnings, results and in turn prepares the first follower to, in  turn, nuture their own first follower with the needed outcome?
  • many of the components identified are all variables in the mix
  • moving along the technology continuum is, at least at this point in time, optional.

While this process is clearly not just amount the numbers, the thought does stimulate some intrigue and excitement about moving things through the system.  Digging deeply into understanding the nurturing of first followers may well be the key to success. To me, there are some key aspects to achieve.

  • Time is needed to shift thinking.
  • The use of technology needs to considered by default in the planning process. We need to arrive at a point where teachers will internalize the asking of the “how might technology support student learning in ‘this’ situation” without external prompting, noting that need will vary.
  • When this answer is ‘yes’, teachers must  know the framework in which technology should be appropriately used to align with and meet Board/District/system goals. In my context, this means technology enabled learning that aligns with our chosen 5 high yield instructional strategies, the C’s (create, communicate, collaborate, critical questioning, citizenship) and TPack.
  • We continue to promote learning of appropriate technology use for all staff
  • Best practices in the area of technology enabled learning are openly shared
  • Recognition that is is NOT about a particular type of device or application. It is about the best way to support learning and engagement.

An invitation:  What do you think is most important to nurturing a first follower of yours?  Share your thoughts!  Please leave a comment, or send a tweet or email.

Related resources
Digital Learning Symposium Tweet Summary
URL to Starting a Movement

Suggested Reading 
Crossing the Chasm