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!