Tag Archives: learn

A New Rhythm for Learning

Note: CATC (Computers Across the Curriculum) Camp is a Professional Learning Opportunity for Educators in Waterloo Region District School Board.  About 125 teachers meet at the Kempenfelt Conference Centre each summer to share and learn about how to integrate technology into their curriculum and to use technology effectively in their practice. This year we celebrate their 25th year of learning in this way.

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Drone video via Herman Kwan @educatorkwan https://twitter.com/educatorkwan


It goes like this: We eat a wonderful meal – often out on the patio – then the music beckons us to the auditorium for “News Time”.  In a high energy fashion, we compete for prizes, we get updated on things like OSAPAC products, and most importantly,  we get asked:

What else do you want to learn?

There are about 12 rooms that act as centres, with facilitators who scaffold learning around coding, makerspaces, online learning, GAFE tools, 1:1 Chromebooks, etc.

But when we identify something else we want to learn, it gets organized in minutes.

Today, someone asked to learn more about the online assessment tool, FreshGrade. After a few questions from the coordinator, a decision was made to host a session at 11:00 on online assessment tools in general.  I volunteered to organize it.

Alison Bullock organized a GHO with a vendor rep and designed a Google form to collect questions.  David Pope volunteered to share his experiences.  Mark Carbone volunteered to speak about privacy of student information.

At 11:00, about 25 teachers arrived and we had a rich discussion about all of the considerations involved in choosing the right online assessment tool.

And it was just that fast.

We wanted to learn more about Assessment. Volunteers gathered the learner questions through open Google forms by tweeting the link.  The experts were brought in physically or through GHO.  A time and place was established.

We had a rich discussion, a screenshare demo of possibilities, and we walked away so much better informed about what is available, and the considerations we must make before implementation of online assessment tools.

This “identify the need – organize the resources – learn more” rhythm is becoming pervasive in professional learning.  We now have the tools to respond to learning needs, not just with information, but with human resources, with organizing tools, and with synchronous learning tools.

Our classrooms can have this rhythm.

Interest -> questions -> organize -> bring in experts -> discuss.

A child who reads Moose (by Robern Munsch) with her parents at bedtime might have many questions about moose the next day.  The teacher can organize a Google Hangout or Skype call with a moose expert to answer questions for the child.

We have the tools to respond immediately to  learning needs,  and to further develop interests and passions.

We need a new, responsive, rhythm for learning that has at its core, the ability to grow an individual’s motivation and desire to learn even more.


We Don’t Think Differently (or do we?) – 7/10

Do we think differently, or have we just learned differently?

This post is part of a 10 day posting challenge issued by Tina Zita. You can’t be a connected educator if you don’t contribute. Sometimes we need a nudge to remember that if nobody shares, nobody learns. Thanks Tina!



You’ve felt that right?

You know, it happens when you say something like, “Why would we not just share that openly on a blog for everyone to see?” – and the room goes silent.

For those of us in the Lone Wolf Pack, this is our normal.

We are told that we “think differently”.

I’m not sure I buy that.  I am not sure that I believe we “think differently”. I wonder if we have just been through very different learning experiences.

We have been learning as networked, connected learners for years – decades in fact.  We have been learning in spaces yet to be discovered, yet to be respected, yet to be acknowledged by the status quo in our profession.

We have been learning different content.  We have been learning through ideas.

Ideas just pop into our network all the time.  Seeing and exploring new ideas daily, hourly, but the minute almost, is what we do.

We have had the time to share, converse, think through, research, challenge, ask about – to form thinking about – millions of ideas from around the world.

Then we throw out one of these ideas f2f,  and silence.

We are called names, like “rogue“.

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 9.14.05 AMIt’s not so much that we might think differently, it’s that we learn differently.

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We learn through education 3.0, in a profession that is talking 2.0 while remaining firmly entrenched in 1.0.



And that’s the problem.


Shared by Dr. Jackie Gerstein under a CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 license https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/experiences-in-self-determined-learning-moving-from-education-1-0-through-education-2-0-towards-education-3-0/
Shared by Dr. Jackie Gerstein under a CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 license https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/experiences-in-self-determined-learning-moving-from-education-1-0-through-education-2-0-towards-education-3-0/


Featured Image: Shared by Dr.  Jackie Gerstein  under a CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 license


Dear Lone Wolf by David Truss (@datruss)


We Feel Lost – by Will Richardson

35 Years Later – by Tina Zita


Katie Martin: 5 Reasons Professional Development is not Transforming Learning.

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Enabling Educators to be Learners: 1/10

This post is part of a 10 day posting challenge issued by Tina Zita. You can’t be a connected educator if you don’t contribute. Sometimes we need a nudge to remember that if nobody shares, nobody learns. Thanks Tina!


How can we enable our colleagues to access the rich professional learning opportunities available online?


We want to own our own learning.

We want to self-direct our learning.

In 2016, it has never been easier to do this.  The abundance of open, accessible resources is overwhelming.  Learning to manage and organize the information is a new competency.  Learning to reflect, to share, to find, to converse, to connect, to adapt – we are doing this.

Or are we?

We all know colleagues who don’t participate in learning in digital spaces.

For those who provide learning opportunities online, the sphere of influence has a definite, distinct boundary.  They cannot reach the individual who does not engage in digital spaces.

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In the same way, it doesn’t matter how rich, how engaging, how simple to use or how valuable online learning is for educators  if they don’t know where to look for it or how to use the tools that will allow them to access it.

I think that we have done very well in providing digital resources and learning opportunities for teachers.

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Thanks to Julie Balen for collating this year’s #ontwordont

How, now, can we work to enable the educators who still do not access the rich professional learning environment online?

As someone who self-directs their own professional learning online, how can you help one colleague this month to see some value in engaging in online learning or using online resources?

Leverage your PLN to ask for help.  What is the best starting point for one colleague? What can you show them that will help them see the value in engaging in online, self-directed professional learning?



Twitter for Absolute Beginners

Leveraging Twitter for Rich Professional Learning

Ontario Edublogs

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In One Tweet – What I Learned in 2015

Sharing learning is a core value of my professional practice.

This space – this blog – is my rough work.  It’s a place to put out the raw thinking and learning and invite comments and challenges so that I might continue to learn and to rethink how we do education.

In a nutshell, here is what I learned in 2015.

January:  Create Value

Before people will believe your message, they have to see value in what you have to offer.

February: Enough with the conceptual – move into the concrete.

What does learning look like in this time of exponential change?  We need a clear idea of what our goals for our education system actually look like, sound like, feel like – not just buzzwords like “21st Century Skills”.

March: Teach Less, Learn More

Let students own their learning. Teachers think their role is to spend hours planning learning for their students, yet the one doing the work is doing the learning. Pak Tee Ng’s explanation is here.

April: #makeschooldifferent

Worldwide, educators know we need change. In April, we named it and shared it. What do you think we need to stop pretending?

May: Learning is Sought, Not Provided

When you see a catalyst, a desire, a realization of the need for change, take action to support it. We need to design the environments that encourage curiosity at all levels of the system.

June: Beware of “Enthusiastic Amateurs”

In the same way that a physician with enthusiasm but no skill is dangerous, not everything that is self-promoted in social media is good practice. Leaders need to be skilled in the use of technology so they promote good practice, not just any practice that uses a device.

July: Support all learners in reaching full potential

Our students arrive in school as creative, curious learners, and that’s what we want our graduates to be many years later.

Do no harm.

August: Digital Fluency Matters

How are we ensuring all of our students are digitally fluent?

September: Education is a HUMAN System

Change only happens at the speed at which each individual changes personal professional practice.

October: We are in an age of Exponential Change

Can leaders really say, “I’m not ready”, or is this now malpractice?

November: Status Quo is a Loser (Michael Fullan, YRDSB Quest)

How do we challenge the status quo safely? Are educators integrative thinkers?

December: Challenge Everything

Dip into the data pool constantly. Shift thinking based on evidence. Unlearn.


Learning will only be sought if there is perceived value. We learn what is relevant and interesting when we are curious.

No conclusion is final – you have to keep “dipping in” for new evidence.  It’s growth mindset, it’s integrative thinking, it’s removing labels on people and practices.

We are in times of exponential change, and we need to challenge our thinking about everything.

Remove the roadblocks that keep others from reaching their full potential.

In one Tweet, here is my learning from 2015.

Tweet for 2015












Let’s UNLEARN a Few Assumptions About School

Many teachers teach the way they were taught.

The B.Ed. program would do well to emphasize the unlearning of wrong assumptions about schooling – like “sit up straight” and “sit still” and “look at the teacher”.

Change won’t happen until we all deeply question our assumptions of what school should look like for kids.

Thanks to Joël McLean for sharing this video on Twitter yesterday.



Why Leave All That Learning Only in Your Head?

So many educators reading so many books that impact their practice!


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That was my takeaway from #satchat this morning, and #ontedleaders last week as we were challenged to share the reading that was impacting our work at this time.


I can’t possibly read all of those books, but my colleagues in my PLN have made me so curious about what is in those books and how it might impact my thinking!




What if we all just blogged about oScreen Shot 2015-10-31 at 9.49.36 AMur reading?



We ask students to write book reports.

Why don’t we model the importance of sharing our learning in an open, searchable, collaborative way?

If we read a chapter, then reflected, summarized and shared, with appropriate tagging, how could we impact student learning as a community?



Thank you to those already doing this, such as Stacey Wallwin (@WallwinS) and Brenda Sherry (@brendasherry).

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If you haven’t considered it, OSSEMOOC can help you get started with creating a blog. and with viewing the blogs of other educators as examples.

As you think about your own PLN, consider what you are learning, AND what you are contributing to the learning of others.

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Making Thinking Visible Through Blogging

Yes, It’s Time to Start Your Own Blog

A Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Blog


“Engagement” is a Low Bar

Have you ever experienced so much learning that your head hurts?

Tonight, amid the beautiful sunset, the lightning show and the Perseid Meteor Shower, many educators are reflecting and thinking about today’s amazing learning at #CATC15.

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I started to write some notes about today’s learning, but why should I hide those ideas away in a notebook that nobody may ever look at again?

Image shared by Sylvia Duckworth BY-NC-SA
Image shared by Sylvia Duckworth BY-NC-SA

Besides, the Innovator’s Mindset is about creating something with that learning, right?

I’m thinking a lot tonight about the conversation I had with George Couros and Mark Carbone today about the focus schools have on “student engagement”.   “Engagement” has been a buzz word in Ontario for a long time.  I remember a similar discussion at Educon in 2014 with David Jakes and Bill Ferriter about how engagement is not enough.  It’s a start, but empowerment is a much more important goal for learners.

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Shared by Bill Ferriter under a BY-NC CC license


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Shared by Bill Ferriter under a BY-NC CC license.


Last March, Andy Hargreaves explored thinking around student engagement with education leaders at #uLead15.  Mark digs into this more here.

As George Couros said today, “engagement” still requires someone or something else to create the learning environment.  Without the entertaining venue, the learning stops.

How are we ensuring that our students truly become self-directed curious learners?  How do we empower learners to truly own their own learning?




Should We Be Engaging or Empowering Learners?  Bill Ferriter’s blog