Category Archives: #MathLeadersNEO

Learning Network Leadership – A Path Forward

If we are to build an effective learning network,

what will it look like?

An effective learning network is complex, changing, growing, shrinking, morphing over old, new and evolving platforms.  It reaches into classrooms and across the globe, held together by personal learning networks (PLNs) that continually build new connections, cultivate new relationships and learning while allowing others to dissipate.

It centres on individual connections and actions, yet provides far-reaching value.

It allows learning to reach the student desk more quickly than our old structures.  It puts an end to the geographic privilege of access, builds collaborative efficacy over distance, normalizes collaboration as a way of professional practice, and amplifies promising practices.

Individual Workflow – Personal Learning Environment or PLE

An effective network is composed of educators who work openly by default.  Their daily workflow (Personal Learning Environment or PLE)  includes personal learning that comes not only from traditional sources, like books and research articles, but also through efficient searching for educator blogs, tweets (microblogs), ebooks, audio books, webcasts, videos and exploring other online digital content that takes them into classrooms and into the minds of educators.  

Content is organized and shared back to the community in a format that will reach their audience (parents, teachers, ECEs, leaders, community).  They connect online with people in similar or different roles to have discussions, share strategies, consider ideas, connect thinking and stay in tune with what is happening in the world of the people they serve.  They bring in the experts they need to ensure student outcomes are improving.

And, as they learn, they document that learning in a way that is valuable to others, considering audience and format, privacy and purpose.  They share that learning back to their audience in a way that models digital citizenship and celebrates the work being done in their schools.

  1. Collecting Information – Leaders dedicate time for professional learning and develop competencies in effectively exploring and organizing relevant content, including blogs, podcasts, discussions, monographs and articles shared by others through social media.  They share these information and knowledge collecting strategies with peers, teachers, students and the community.  They understand how to access the information they need by leveraging the capabilities of the network.
  2. Connecting in Physical and Digital Spaces – Leaders value their connections to others and the learning that comes from conversations in person and online.  They continue to nurture and build connections, bringing value to their organizations and those they serve.  They model the importance of connectivism for students and other educators.
  3. Curating and Sharing Important Learning with Others – Leaders streamline the flow of information by filtering, packaging, and sharing in a way that mobilizes knowledge for targeted audiences. This is a complex skill that all of our students should also master. 
  4. Creating and Providing Value to the Network – Leaders contribute what they are learning and make their thinking visible to others. This involves documentation and sharing skills, modelling them openly for others in the organization.  Networks are only as valuable as the people in them and what they create and share with others.

Documenting Learning: Capturing the learning (and lack of learning)

  • Understanding a process/protocol for documentation (for example, Documenting for Learning)
  • Choosing an appropriate tool and product (text, blog, image, video, webcast, podcast, report, etc.)
  • Developing expertise in editing products (audio and video editing, website development)
  • Technical expertise
  • Reflecting (what to share, what audience, when?)
  • Modelling all of these for those you serve in the organization (students, educators)

Sharing the Learning (Openly as the Default)

  • Consider the privacy protection of those involved in your learning
  • Consider the intellectual property rights of any work you have used or remixed (develop a deep understanding of Creative Commons Licensing)
  • Consider the most effective and appropriate place to share based on desired audience (with open as default) – online open, online internal, conference, learning session. It is understanding the shifting differences and similarities among platforms, and where audiences reside at the moment.
  • Develop visual media, web and information literacies as well as global literacies
  • Amplify the practices that are making a difference.
  • Contribute in a positive way to the network, modelling this for others in the organization.
  • Where are other learning networks you can leverage?

This view of network leadership presents many entry points, and a shifting variety of digital literacies and skills needed for successful participation in networked learning.

Some of these skills are outlined here.

 

*Featured images by Giulia Forsythe CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0

Resources:

Langwitches Blog: Digital Citizenship and Documenting Learning

Harvard Business Review: Are You Network Literate?

The Digital Skills we Must Teach our Children:  World Economic Forum, 2016

The Tipping Point to Transformation: David Culberhouse

 

Are All Kids Able to Choose?

Recently, in my Primary/Junior Math AQ course, we examined process expectations in the Ontario primary/junior math curriculum document.

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Of particular interest to me was the process expectation around “selecting tools and computational strategies”.

The Ontario math curriculum document was written in 2005, five years before the first iPad was released, and two years before the first iPhone was sold.  In the 11 years since the curriculum document was written, we have seen exponential technological advancement.

The digital tools available to children in 2016 are beyond the imaginations of the writers of the current curriculum document.

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“Students need to develop the ability to select the appropriate electronic tools.”

How do they develop this ability?

As an adult, how do you develop this ability?

The ability to make that choice depends on1) the ability to understand how you learn, 2) knowing what tools are available and how they work, and 3) having access to those tools.

As educators, is it a priority for us to ensure that students learn to make good choices about what digital tools work best for them?

It isn’t about our comfort level.  We can’t wait until we are “comfortable” to make this happen.

And, we can’t teach for a world that no longer exists.

How would you rewrite the 2005 math curriculum document to ensure all students have access to the digital tools they need, and the ability to choose the best digital tools to help them learn?

 

Further reading:

It IS About the Tools

Toolbelt Theory – Ira David Socol

Featured Image shared by JingleJammer under a CC-BY-SA-2.0 Licence.

Are you Asking the Right Questions?

Yesterday, a colleague, Sean Mieghan,  posted a great little video that clearly demonstrates the importance of asking the right questions.

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“Life is Good” owners tell us that their ideas came from the questions their mother asked every day at the dinner table.  She empowered them to come up with ideas – lots of them!

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In the same way that task predicts performance, asking the different questions can change the learning. As educators, how often do we work at asking better questions?

Further reading: https://suedunlop.ca/two-essential-questions-for-reflection/

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Featured image shared under a CC-BY-2.0 licence by Alan Levine.

A Vision of Effective Mathematics Teaching and Learning

What is your vision of effective mathematics teaching and learning in elementary school?

This is a new question for me.  This blog is Learning About Learning, and I have a lot of learning to do about mathematics education.

I am hoping you can help me.

Here are a few of the things I am thinking about right now.  What can you add to this? What have you learned in your own practice? What do you think about when you consider a vision for teaching and learning mathematics?

I think that efficacy is critical.  Students have to believe they can achieve at high levels.  Teachers have to believe that students can achieve at high levels and that teachers have the capacity to  get students to that high level.

Is mathematics skills (as I was taught), or is it ideas (as Dr. Marian Small suggests)?

Is math about making connections?  Is it important that we work with big ideas rather than teaching skills and concepts only in isolation?

I think students have to be able to choose the tools and strategies they need to help them solve problems.

It isn’t up to us to tell them what tool to use, but to teach them how to use many tools effectively so they might pick the one that is right for them in each context.

Math needs to be fun.  Kids need to be the ones doing the thinking. Teaching through problem solving can be very effective (problems are not add-ons).

Teachers need to collaborate with other educators, to share their thinking openly, to challenge the thinking of others, to read and write blogs about their work.  Isolation is a choice, and isolation is unprofessional.  Kids need the thinking of many professionals, not just the one assigned to them.

As I work through #mathleaderNEO over the next few years, I plan to grow this thinking.

I encourage you to share your ideas too.

Featured Image: shonk via Compfight cc

Learning Math “in the Open”

We’re trying something new.

It’s an innovative approach to a challenging problem, and it has the commitment of leaders from throughout northeastern Ontario.

We are building our understanding of how to learn and lead mathematics in our elementary schools, and we are doing it out in the open.

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Embedded in our learning is a commitment to sharing openly in social media (#mathleaders NEO on Instagram and Twitter), and on our website.

We have made a conscious decision to avoid the use of an LMS.

We are not hiding our work behind a password unless privacy is necessary.   In this way, we are embedding the learning of digital literacies into our work.

We are also modelling practices that can be used by anyone to share, collaborate, and learn together.  We are supporting the integration of collaborative technologies to transcend the geographic barriers we face as a region.

We invite you to learn with us, to question our thinking and to push our understanding.  Watch our site and our social media presence for prompts, live-streamed events, conversations and challenges.

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*Featured image designed by SAO Tim Robinson of the Mathematics Leadership Network.