Tag Archives: GAFE

New School Year, New Opportunities

A new school year brings new opportunities.  Last Thursday I enjoyed attending the professional learning sessions at  Huron Heights Secondary School  and  Sir John A. MacDonald Secondary School  in preparation for our 1:1 chromebook launches this week. The energy was high and collaboration was benefitting all – awesome.

chromebook121

Image adapted from: 
http://schools.wrdsb.ca/jam/files/2015/07/chromebook1to1project.jpg

In conversations with principals  Ed Doadt  (HHSS) and  Kathy Young  (SJAM),  I think we all agree that this project serves as a catalyst for visible change, new thinking, kicking the tires on ideas, exploring new practices and sharing our learning collectively and collaboratively. I am very excited to see what opportunity brings.

I thought I would share some of the excitement and conversation from my sites visits Thursday.

I look forward to phasing  Jacob Hespeler Secondary School  into the project in October.

Make it a great year – innovate, learn, collaborate and share.

Related Resources

Check out the twitter stream at #121wrdsb
Project Resource site: 121wrdsb

~Mark

We Dared to Dream

Five years ago, we dared to dream – created our first teacher support role dedicated to focusing on in servicing and supporting elementary teachers to use educational technology in the most effective ways.   It seemed like the right approach, at the right time to forge a new path forward, create interest, synergy, and impact the future.  Susan Watt was the successful candidate for the position – and the journey began!

palmtrees

Standing now in 2015, and looking back,  what a journey it has been.  A new path was definitely forged.  I look back fondly on all of the annual “system tours” as they were affectionately known – professional learning for staff at each school — using a dual boot Mac, what can I do with an iPad, we have wifi hotspots – now what, wifi in the classroom, GAFE, chromebooks, dropbox and more.   Another important project was migrating our acceptable use procedure (AUP) to the responsible use procedure (RUP) where our initial thinking about staff as digital citizenship role models and use of social media for positive purposes was captured.  I could of course, list many more highlights, but you have the idea of system impact.

SWatt

In her retirement speech, Susan challenged her colleagues:  “ So, I have some advice for our retiree supporters tonight: go off script, listen and respond to your students’ spontaneous questions and observations. Understand that every moment is teachable. Don’t settle for the status quo. If it doesn’t feel good for kids, challenge it. If it’s being done a certain way just because it’s always been done that way – question that rationale. Follow your heart and intuition.  Explore new options. Take a risk. Embrace change.

Susan, it has been a privilege to work with you.  Thank you for your creativity, determination, enthusiasm, ability to see a big picture, having a huge positive impact, and, perhaps most of all,  daring to dream.

planewing

I look forward to staying connected and following along your life journey via your  new blog:  Watts Up Next. Thank YOU!

~Mark

English Association Presentation Resources

This post combines the slide decks and resources from the 2 English Association sessions on the April 17th professional learning session into one presentation.

~Mark

The Importance of Now and Next

N  O  W
E                     
X
T

Last fall I can remember sitting in a Starbucks with Donna Fry working on our  OSSEMOOC  project, and talking passionately about the importance of being “present” – living life in the moment and explicitly doing the best thing possible in that moment:  listen, understand, suggest, advise, coach, act …  you get the picture.   I don’t recall specifically how we got onto the topic, but the importance of the conversation stayed with me.  This is a choice,  a way of living, a way to interact with people.   That is the “now”.

StarbucksLogo

In his recent address to Microsoft employees on the 40th anniversary of  the company, Bill Gates restated his views on the importance of making  “the power of technology accessible to everyone, connect people to each other and make personal computing available everywhere.” 

And then, there it was – a very powerful quote:  “What matters most is what we do next”  he wrote. Let that sink in:  What matters most is what we do next.

Lets take a moment to frame the importance of now & next in terms of our GAFE Summit experience this weekend.

Clock-now

Be in the moment – learn, experiment, play, document,  ask and savour the joy of learning.

Clock-next

What will you do to

  • keep a new connection
  • document your learning
  • share your reflections
  • change your practice
  • make your learning visible and/or
  • nurture those around you?

It is up to you.  What is your  NEXT?

~Mark

Resources:   Read Bill Gates email address to Microsoft employees email address.

 

 

Publishing Makes a Difference

I recently had an opportunity to enjoy a site visit to John Mahood PS,  a WRDSB  K-5 school to see a their technology use in action.

Under the leadership of principal Tracy Tait, the staff has been working hard over the last 3 years to explore new effective ways to utilize technology to enable student learning in new ways, change and improve practice and share their successes.

The traditional lab at the school has been dismantled and the desktops have been redistributed throughout the school.  The mobile technology (iPads and Chromebooks) within the school has been allocated so that each classroom has a minimum of 6 to 8 devices to share among the students.  The lab space is now used as a “tech lounge” – more of a flexible creative work space.

In a site walk through, Tracy commented that she expects staff to integrate mobile technology into the learning environment as part of their daily practice.  I enjoyed observing a couple of classes during silent reading time and seeing that student had a choice in both what they read and HOW they read it: paper based, via iPads or Chromebooks. Talk about a great example of student voice and choice!

The school focus on choice for students is making a noticeable difference.  Several staff commented about technology options providing choice and independence for students.  In some cases, the use of technology created benefits in socialization between students both in and out of class.  In conversation, it was noted that technology use  improves the focus on learning which in turn impacts behaviour in a positive way. In some cases, the use of technology removes frustration when paper and pencil based tasks create an obstacle for students.  The result is increased  participation through differentiated approaches.

This video captures some of the observations and thinking of students and staff at the school.

[youtube http://youtu.be/eEDd5oOwI4k]

Ethan’s Story

Kyle’s Story

Samuel’s Story

Note: The video and story presentations are published with permission.

~Mark

WRDSB hosted GAFE Summit

The Waterloo Region District School Board will host their 3rd annual summit in April 2015.

EdTech

This will be a 4 day event with the following schedule:

Thursday April 9:  Ontario GAFE Technical Community meeting
Friday April 10: Boot Camp courses
Saturday April 11th and Sunday April 12th: GAFE Summit with the EdTech Team.

Details are online at WRDSB hosted GAFE Summit.

Join us for a great professional learning opportunity.

EdTech Logo

 

~Mark

Social Media as a Writing Tool

The other day I happened to catch a segment of The Current CBC broadcast as I was driving between school appointments. The topic was big data based the book Dataclysm, which certainly captivated my interest for a variety of reasons.

Dataclysm book cover

              Image from Amazon.com

I happened to tune in just at the moment the discussion was focused on analyzing data written in social media, Twitter in this case.   While many view social media communications as somewhat inane,  an in depth analysis reveals some interesting facts.

140-1

  • writing tends to be more sophisticated
  • word length is 20% longer
  • lexical density ,  the proportion  of meaning carrying words, is  higher than in many other forms of writing (email, magazines etc.  – perhaps opposite to what you would think)
  • with a limitation on the number of characters per message or post, 140 in this case,  people learn to improve word choices
  • in turn,  this improves editing skills

In the interview,  Christian commented that this type of analysis can and has been repeated.   This is not an isolated ‘one time’ look at this area.

When one considers the writing benefits summarized here,  I believe there is a strong case to incorporate  the social media writing medium in the school system.   Of course there are natural connections to digital citizenship, engagement, real world audiences etc.

140-2

As a classroom educator,  if you are already doing this, keep going!  If not,  consider giving it a try with an age appropriate system, a collaborative document with simulated limits  or even  offline.

Related Resources

Listen to the  CBC Podcast  with Christian Rudder on Dataclysm

Book:  Dataclysm  by Christian Rudder

Have a comment?   Please share.

~Mark