It’s not just about access to information – but the ability to learn from one another!

connected-learningI’ve long said that the best way to provide PD is to leverage the expertise within our ranks. And, last Friday in Mitchell, we did just that! I think it is fair to say that we witnessed, and were part of, something incredible.  A collection of dedicated professionals that represent all of the major partners in education – including ECE’s, EA’s, Teachers, Senior Staff, Principals, Vice-Principals and Program Staff – came together to learn from one another. It was an incredible day, and it is due to the vast array of interests, passions, talents, and skills that exist within our Board.

George Couros certainly set the tone for the day. Not only did he give us a lot to think about, but I think his message validated our purpose, and echoed the sentiments of many within our board.

One of the key pieces that I took away from that day, is that by connecting with one another, either F2F or via technology, we are stronger, more effective, and more efficient because of our ability to learn from on another.

As we move through the remaining months of this school year, it is my hope that you remained buoyed by the energy, knowledge and excitement that came for learning from our peers. I also hope that you manage to remain connected, and continue to make new connections with staff across the board so we can continue to move forward in our shared vision.

Thank you for being such an important part of a very successful and meaningful Professional Development day.



Thanks to Presenters and Participants

I wanted to personally thank everyone who came to yesterday’s PD Day. I had the privilege of visiting many of the sessions and meeting many of the presenters and participants, throughout the day. I saw a lot of powerful presentations. I also saw evidence of a great deal of preparation and practice. It obviously took a lot of time and energy to put together these workshops. All the presenters should be commended for their contributions to our teachers, our EAs and our ECEs.

I also wanted to commend our participants. Your engaged and thoughtful approach made the presentations even better. I also heard a lot of positive chatter in the hallways. Your open-minded and innovative mindsets make PD Days more powerful and that translate into powerful teaching and better-prepared students.

Please feel free to add your own comments here.

Building Learning Around Questions

One of my Sunday morning routines is to scroll through Twitter… scanning the posts of the people that I follow –  many of whom work in education all over the world.  Yesterday, I kept coming back to this graphic – and found myself wondering, “What would the school day look like, if these questions drove the agenda?”  – I won’t pretend to know how to organize a day, with 31 different learners (I include myself in that number), all with different goals and interests, strengths and needs, levels of maturity and self-regulation –  all pursuing their own agendas, but I do wonder if it would work – would everyone learn? be engaged, on-task, & motivated?  What do students need to effectively direct their own learning? questions-1oh207m

Sound Booths for the Classroom

I had the chance to chat with Mr. Connolly of Stratford Central SS. He showed me this amazing project he put together last year with several other teachers (Dave Bond, Tony Theodoropoulos and Stuart Wilson). They received some funding from the Ontario Teachers’ Federation and came up with this very cool design for a mobile sound booth. It comes in very handy in our NGL classrooms, with all the multimedia work being created by students.


Why Technology in the Classroom Makes Sense

There are a wide variety of teaching strategies that support student success. Each of these strategies is designed to help students achieve and build essential learning skills. Some examples include: purposeful feedback, promoting self-regulation, making learning collaborative, offering inquiry-based tasks and explicitly teaching thinking strategies.

These approaches are proven to help students make real progress over the course of their education. So, with all these robust strategies, why bring iPads into the mix? The answer to this question, is that mobile technology amplifies each one of these teaching strategies, making them even more powerful.

For example, mobile technology makes providing feedback more dynamic. Text and audio feedback can be provided outside the regular school hours. Online tools allow feedback to be interactive and sharable. Technology helps to promote self-regulation by providing students with organizational tools like digital calendars, reminders, alarms and online notifications. Using these tools, students can learn to better manage themselves, and the rhythm of projects, assignments, testing and deadlines. Digital technology provides students with virtual collaborative spaces. Blogs, shared documents and online meetings offer forums to practice and build collaborative skills.

Technology can also support inquiry-based approaches to learning. With access to the internet, students have the collected knowledge of human history at their finger tips. When engaged by rich questions and guided by their teacher, this combination provides a powerful learning opportunity. With regard to thinking strategies, technology doesn’t teach students how to think. It does, however, provide tools through which students can make their own thinking more visible. Multimedia platforms allow teachers and students to differentiate their presentations and reach a wider audience.

iPads, by themselves, are simply devices. But when linked to good teaching strategies, this technology can amplify the reach and impact of teachers. In this way, iPads become a great way to support and magnify student achievement.