Tag Archives: PLP

Celebrating Future-Ready at WRDSB

I have been a longtime believer in a self directed job embedded approach to staff development.  For several years I have had the privilege of working with a dedicated team in IT Services  at the Waterloo Region District School Board to design and deliver staff development programs fitting this ideal.

Last fall I participated in the 2013 Connected Educator Month activities which included an opportunity to complete an interview and submit documentation about our CATC Camp and CATC connections programs along with information about the WRDSB Futures Forum Program.


I am honoured and thrilled that  our WRDSB submission been selected  as a part of the Future Ready program as an international case study and is published on the US government Tech Ed website as a one of six case studies selected.


A special announcement was shared with over 12,000 US based school superintendents.

Learn more about the Future Ready program.

The case studies, including our WRDSB submission  are online here.

View the Future Ready professional learning toolkit.

I want to acknowledge the team of Rebecca Rouse, Harry Niezen and recent retirees Ron Millar and Anita Brooks-Kirkland for their insightful and collaborative work with me in on our ITS staff development program.  I also appreciate the on going support and collaborative work of Mary Sue Meredith and Ken Whytock.


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


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!


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

What? I’m not normal?

I have been debating about writing this blog post for a while. Yesterday I shared this story with @snbeach while chatting at the PLP Booth. Today, I was sitting in an ISTE workshop listening to @web20classroom (Steven W. Anderson) talk about ISTE standards and school administrators and I heard it again. With this synchronicity,  I am taking these situations as signs to write and publish the post.

The ‘it‘ I referred to was the phrase “you guys are not normal” — and now for some context.

Several weeks ago I attended a Saturday breakfast gathering with a few of our high school teacher technology leaders. Surprisingly, we talked about, well, you know, technology and a passion for transforming teaching to improve how students learn. This particular morning, the discussion focused around Google Docs, publishing, benefits of developing online texts and resources for students — 24/7 access, one stop ‘shopping’, one stop editing, no old handouts floating around, no lost papers ….. well, you get the picture. Why wouldn’t you do this? Needless to say this was a passionate discussion that stayed with me.

Later that same day I was driving in the car with my wife and she asked the magic question: So what did you talk about at breakfast?  I happily recounted the story, trying to maintain the same passion level as the morning discussion. She listened intently, and then at the close of my story commented that “you guys are not normal”. WHAT?????   OK, maybe I (and likely others) are not normal. I will ‘wear the T-Shirt’ but asked that the comment be justified – you know, a few bullets under the title to qualify the comment.

Here are the bullets:

  • you (meaning us not normal types) are self sufficient
  • you don’t panic if something related to technology use does not work properly, even in front of a class or audience
  • you know how to problem solve
  • if you can’t figure it out as fast as you think you should, you have a network of people to help you
  • it is your passion, not everyone wants to invest like this

I thought these were good points — and really, the same context of the ISTE workshop comment.  In reflection, this conversation made me think of a few important things related to moving the educational change agenda along.

  • everyone can learn how to use technology better
  • everyone can become a self sufficient user of technology
  • personal learning networks (PLNs) ARE important
  • we need to be mindful of the best entry point for using technology, and starting the learning curve of independence.
  • the learning is on a continuum
  • supporting people means thinking about gradual release of responsibility
  • empowering people is important

Now, if these ‘everyones’ and ‘we’s’ are teachers and tech support/coaches/trainers, then I think these points are all worthy of consideration as we continue to move the agenda forward. Food for thought for sure.

What does this mean for your PD planning? How will you be more thoughtful about supporting people in their use of technology? How will you help them become more independent?

Please share your comments and stories.

Related Resources
Doug —- Off the Rectord


OntCL Twitter Chat primer

On Wednesday April 4th, the Ontario ConnectED Leaders will host their monthly Twitter chat at 8:00 p.m. (eastern daylight time). The topic will be BYOD: leveraging the benefits, getting ready.

Here are a very resources that might help prepare you for the chat topic. I hope to see you in the Twitter chat. Join in with hashtag #ontcl

Leveraging the ‘Instrumented’ Pocket & Backpack by @lisaneale

Intel: Teachers Engage

BYOD in primary

BYOD: What’s in a device?

From Scoopit: A Principal’s memo

From Scoopit: Using student owned devices in the classroom

Chat with PLP’s Periwinkle


Note: Cross posted to OntCLC.ca

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
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!


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?

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.

Google Maps

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)


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


Going Forward

Related Links

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