Category Archives: Promoting Collaborative Learning Cultures

Innovation Reality Check

I love this image created by David Carruthers during #IMMOOC because I truly subscribe to Global Teacher mindedness.

Using technology and social media to reach beyond our classroom walls is both a passion and an obsession of mine. It is also the very anchor of student Digital Leadership. But this week has really given me pause to think about not only the importance of global connectedness, but also the nature of Innovation.

I co-moderate a book club at my school and my students always want to not just read books but do something to promote a love of reading. We have been talking about sharing our love of children’s books and the students really wanted to reach out to the local daycare or local elementary school to read to the kids. Unfortunately, there seem to be lots of road blocks preventing this from happening.

That’s when I suggested that perhaps I could speak to Lorna Pitcher, from Children of Hope Uganda to see if there we could create something that would help promote the love of learning at their Uganda school and learn English. When I spoke to Lorna I was somewhat shocked at their reality:

  • the school is approximately 40 minutes away from electricity (let alone wifi)
  • the roof of their school blew away in a storm last week and they are trying to fix it so students can attend school again
  • currently, students cannot write any state exams to graduate because they need more lightening rods for their government to accept them as a school
  • they have been seeking a VCR so the students can watch some of the educational tapes that had been donated
  • shipping costs are astronomical so we would have to consider soft-cover books only for our initiative

As I scoured my house for VCR’s and set about brainstorming how we might use one of the very old iPads (which hasn’t been signed out in well over a year because it can’t be updated) in creative ways to reduce the amount of physical things we need to ship, I thought about Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, BreakoutEDU (and digital), the collaborative power of G-Suite, the ready access of Wifi at our school, and our ability to research, create, inquire, and connect with others by sharing a simple link.

What does innovation look like to the Barlonyo School? They are already doing much with so very little! They are making items to sell that go back to their communities and are making strides towards self-sustainability.

Will sending them a solar-powered speaker, a VCR, and an iPad loaded with our stories and apps that they can access without wifi and a trunk filled with books be new and better for them?  I would say, yes.

I can’t wait to hear about how excited the children are when they hear the voices of my students as they turn the pages of their new books through a solar-powered speaker. I can’t wait for my students to start creating and fundraising for this group of children who will very quickly become near and dear to them. Already they are thinking about their own privilege.

As much as we say innovation is not about technology, what we are able to do for and with our students when we use tech can be transformational.

I will be sure to update you on our project as we move forward.

Parents and Media: Perception, Reality, & Research

9/10

This morning, George Couros shared a post, “Not as much as you Pretend” in which he talks about perceived barriers vs actual barriers. He says, “Too often we create something in our heads as a barrier.”

Reading it prompted me to realize that I had been working on my own post about my similar thinking on the topic  (in draft for 4 weeks because unfortunately my cognitive abilities are not quite back to normal!)

The findings in the report, Common Sense Consensus: Plugged in Parents of Teens & Tweens surprised me a little, but also support the notion that we sometimes perceive barriers which may not necessarily exist and that parents are far more supportive of technology-enabled learning than we think.

It is one of the first reports I have seen which focuses on the habits of parent social media use (if I am mistaken, please share in the comments!). The report is based on a nationally representative survey of 1,786 parents of children age 8 to 18 living in the United States and was conducted from July 8, 2016, to July 25, 2016. It seeks to answer these questions:

Below I outline what struck me the most juxtaposed with my own questions, assumptions, and beliefs:

–> Children model what they see.

-Despite the fact that parents of American tweens (age 8–12) and teens (age 13–18) average more than nine hours (9:22) with screen media each day, with 82 percent of that time devoted to personal screen media (7:43), 78% of them believe they are positive role models for their children

If we want to see kids be more mindful of their technology use, we need to think about how we are modeling that.

–> Cyberbullying does not seem as prevalent as the media makes it out to be.

-A majority of parents (two thirds) according to the study were not worried about their children’s internet use. Of the parents who were, the most concerning for them was: spending too much time online (43 percent), over-sharing personal details (38 percent), accessing online pornography (36 percent), and being exposed to images or videos of violence (36 percent) (pg 8)

There will be differing research depending on where you look. I was surprised that Cyberbullying was not in the top 4 of parental worries despite much media attention to this issue and the fact that it is the most common reason school Districts ban and block social media.

–> Social media can foster positive relationships

-44% of parents believe that social media benefits their children’s relationships verses 15% who believe it hurts them and 41% who believe it doesn’t make a difference

I have personally believed this to be true for a long time, but was surprised to see other parents think this as well. I have an amazing Personal Learning Network who have become true friends and am a strong believer that we should help students to cultivate one as well.

–> Adults are to some extent not aware of what kids are actually doing online

-There is much inconsistency when it comes to parents being aware of what their children are doing online: 41 percent of parents reported checking the content of their children’s devices and social media accounts “always” or “most of the time,” while 21 percent reported doing this “some of the time,” and 37 percent of parents reported doing this “only once in a while,” if at all.

I sometimes assume that a student (or my own children) are not paying attention to me or are doing something inappropriate. When I call them on it, I actually realize that what they are doing on their phone is very much connected.  This piece also makes me think of this quote by Dr. Devorah Heitner, author of Screenwise:

–>A huge percentage of parents support using technology in school

-94% of parents agreed that technology positively supports their children with schoolwork and education. In particular the study found:

Parents also felt that technology can support their children by supporting them in learning new skills (88 percent) and preparing them for 21st-century jobs (89 percent). Parents agreed that technology increases their children’s exposure to other cultures (77 percent), allows for the expression of their children’s personal opinions and beliefs (75 percent), supports their children’s creativity (79 percent), and allows their children to find and interact with others who have similar interests (69 percent). (pg 10)

And so…

To what extent are Districts blocking social media sites based on a perceived issue with parents or a very small number of incidents, verses actual conversations with parents?

Read the complete report here.

Check out  Rusul Alrubail‘s  post called, Social Media & Digital Citizenship, for her interpretation the report.

#BookSnaps, Snapchat, and Literacy

8/10

I have loved the idea of #Booksnaps a concept created by  Tara Martin which she shared with me and the world in August of last year. Since then, the idea has taken the Educational world by storm!  As a teacher-librarian, I am helping to support teachers to embed literacy instruction and in the past week, I have worked with several teachers who have never heard of them and who are now introducing the idea to their students.

If you are also new to the concept, check out the hashtag #Booksnaps for a ton of ideas about how teachers, students, and scholars are using it!

Why I love them!

Essentially, Booksnaps  take a high-yield instructional strategy, close reading, to a fun and creative level. We want students engaging with text–making connections to themselves, to other texts, and to the world around them, which is what #booksnaps allow.  As a former Literacy Consultant, I have often emphasized the close-reading strategy and now that so many more students read online, interacting with text is even more essential to helping them to stop frequently to interact with text in order tounderstand what they are reading. Booksnaps can be used for a variety of texts (narrative, informational, graphic) for any subject area in any grade. The teacher can co-construct and model what a quality BookSnap looks like so that the priority is the quality of the comment not just the fun stickers.

Creating #BookSnaps is literacy-rich activity. Literacy is about reading and writing the world and is ever changing. Digital Literacies involve knowing how a tool works and when it is appropriate to use the tool in the correct context. It is also an excellent assessement tool in that it allows students to demonstrate their thinking about what they are reading, and makes that thinking visible to the teacher and others.

You may be wary of Snapchat. After all, isn’t that the disappearing photo-sharing tool that students are using to sharing nudes.  Tara also has a ton of resources that use other annotation tools instead of Snapchat.  And though I am not saying using some more closed or private tools like SeeSaw and Buncee are not good, I wonder if using a class Snapchat account is a better way to engage in BookSnaps with elementary-aged students.

Here’s why:

  • students are beginning to use Snapchat at younger and younger ages and we can’t always guarantee that they are being mentored by parents in terms of how to use it appropriately;
  • using the actual tool allows you to embed Digital Citizenship lessons not possible otherwise
  • a class Snapchat account shows younger students that any social media tool can also be used for learning (by the time they are tweens, they are pretty set in their ideas about this)
  • It’s easy. It’s fun. Snapchat was created for fun annotation. Any child can use the tools without too much direct instruction
  • It provides a wonderful opportunity to show parents how to use this tool which is becoming a household name in many North American homes

Here’s how:

You can easily load Snapchat onto a class iPad even in a Kindergarten class, and allow students to create their snaps and save them to the Camera Roll. At the end of the day, the Snapchatter of the Day (or whatever your class has in place) can create a collage or the class can collectively choose a few booksnaps to upload to the class Snapchat account.

If Snapchat is blocked, the images can still be saved onto the camera roll and either tweeted out, shared via the class Instagram account, or via any other means you communicate with parents. (although considering how many useful ways you can use Snapchat, and the fact that many students who can afford to switch to their data plans to use the tool anyway, this may warrant a conversation with your IT Dept).

BUT if students don’t have Snapchat and don’t want it, looking at Instagram or Google Draw is definitely necessary. I don’t necessarily believe that a one-size fits all approach is necessary although I strongly beleive that we need to have students practice with alternative uses of social media.

I may be a little biased because my whole focus as of late has been student Digital Leadership, but I honestly think that if we don’t start using social media in the context of learning, in guided ways in the classroom and in every subject area, we are missing out on such important learning!

For other information about Snapchat, check out Matt Miller’s post, Snapchat 101

Would love to hear your thoughts.

Be the Change: Safer Internet Day and Beyond

6/10 Created for the Global Blog-A-Thon

On February 7th, it will be “Safer Internet Day“, an event that began as a European initiative, which is now celebrated by over 100 countries.  #SID2017 and their theme this year is “Be the Change: Unite for a Better Internet”.

I was drawn to the key messages for this year:

In championing a better internet, the theme aims to encourage people to be the change and make the most of the positive opportunities offered online, while giving them the resilience, skills, knowledge and support they need to navigate any online risks they may come across. 

In their Key Messages document, they also offer strategies for children and young people, parents and carers, Educators, social care workers as well as Industry, decision-makers and policy makers.  As an advocate for student voice and Digital Leadership, I was happy to read their message for children:

Children and young people can help to create a better internet by being kind and respectful to others online, by protecting their online reputations (and those of others), and by seeking out positive opportunities to create, engage and share online. They can help to respond to the negative by being ‘helpful bystanders’: supporting peers if they encounter issues online, taking a stand against cyberbullying, and reporting any inappropriate or illegal content they find. Above all, children and young people should be encouraged to take their stand as digital citizens of the future – participating in debates on the future of the internet, and making their voices heard. 

My key takeaways from the other sections include:

Parents and carers can Be the Digital Change …by modelling positive online behaviours themselves, and by also reporting any inappropriate or illegal content they find. 
Educators and social care workers can help to create a better internet by equipping children and young people with the digital literacy skills they require for today’s world, and giving them opportunities to use – and create – positive content online…
Industry can help to create a better internet by creating and promoting positive content and safe services online and by empowering users to respond to any issues by providing clear safety advice, a range of easy-to-use safety tools, and quick access to support if things do go wrong.
Decision makers and politicians need to provide the culture in which all of the above can function and thrive…

I also noticed that among their supporters are Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat; with Snapchat promising to create special filters for Safer Internet Day.

Check out their website for more details and ways to get involved.

Beyond February 7th: Connect your students to others!

Although I’m not a huge fan of 1-day events for issues that should be prominent every day of the year, Safer Internet Day can be the beginning of a new direction for your class; an opportunity to connect your class to others. Here are just a few examples of upcoming opportunities:

World Read Aloud Day on February 17th is a great way to connect your students to other students around the world around the power of words and stories.

EdChange Global on February 28th is a 24 hours global event from February 28th-March 1st for which teachers and students may facilitate learning about any topic. What an incredible opportunity for positive change!

 

DigCit Kids,(@Digcitkids)  co-created by Marialice Curran and her son, Curran offers regular challenges and provocations which are all about “Being the Digital Change” which is evident by their their hashtag #bethatKINDofkid  For example, in January, leading up to Safer Internet Day, they are compiling videos on EMPATHY which they will share on February 7th.

On February 7th as well as every day, I believe that the key to creating a better internet is to focus on Digital Leadership.  The more we focus on this, the less we will have to worry about the negative.

Check out the semester-long project that Rachel Murat and her students engaged in: We Have Become Digital Leaders.

I don’t know about you, but I sense that now, more than ever before our students need to see us interact positively both in person and in online spaces.

Every day.

 

 

Instagram in EDU

4/10 

Last night I moderated a panel discussion about Instagram in the classroom. It was my first time doing anything that cognitively demanding in 3 months. There were a few guffaws (for example you will need fast forward 3 minutes because I didn’t realize we were live), and I was not able to moderate the Twitter or Youtube live chat.  Nonetheless, it was a really good conversation and the panelists, Kayla Delzer, Aviva Dunsiger and Jam Gamble were awesome.

The Tweet & Talk focused on these big ideas for using Instagram:

  • be thoughtful of the audience (public) whether you are posting as yourself or as a class
  • bring parents on board by communicating with them but also by helping them to understand how Instagram works
  • ensure that you only take pictures of students for whom Freedom of Information forms are completed (just hands & feet & work for the others–or give them the camera) until parents are comfortable
  • include students as part of the process (Instagrammer of the Day, create a collage, students choose what is posted)
  • embed explicit Digital Citizenship lessons (how to block, how to compose a message using the correct tone, how to check privacy settings, how to follow and unfollow)
  • emphasize followers as “connections” so that the emphasis moves away from quantity of followers (not a popularity contest) to the quality of connections to another class; this will serve students well as they get older.

Kayla referenced this sketchnote which she includes as rules in her classroom. I love that it is written from a student perspective!

I realized when I got off-air that I had so much more to say.  Specifically, how can Instagram be used to enrich literacy?

For Assessment 

A few teachers I know have their students post a meme (a picture with accompanying text) based on a work of literature or a concept being covered. This is a good form of assessment as it gives the teacher insight as to what students understand.

For Writing

Unlike Twitter, there is no character limit on Instagram. When students respond to each other’s posts, they are engaging in writing for an authentic audience. In class, the teacher would show students how to comment effectively and extend conversations (like they would for any other writing form).  Check out this great post by Rusul Alrubail, Storytelling with Instagram

For a Provocation

I follow the National Geographic account (@NatGeo ) and I am amazed by the beautiful and unique photographs they post. Having students choose a photo about which to write or as a provocation for further inquiry would be a literacy-rich activity that would be engaging.

Pop Culture & “News”

Instagram has an Explore feature (click the magnifying glass to access) and truthfully, I’d love to say that my teens watch traditional news, but they don’t–they get their news and stay up to date using their social media feeds. A teacher can pull out so many great springboards for teaching and learning by “Exploring” as well. Something on “Buzzfeed” which is found on Instagram can be compared to the same news topic in The Guardian, or The New York Times for a great media literacy or current events/fake news lesson. It’s also a great way to see what is trendy in the world of students

Digital Literacy

How does Instagram work? How do the sponsored ads work? What makes posting on Instagram different that posting on Twitter or a blog? When is this tool preferable? What are some of the “unwritten rules” of Instagram? Knowing how a tool functions and the context in which the tool can best be used is a part of digital literacy.

Who to Follow

We ran out of time…I had suggested that the class follow a few inspirational kids: @kingnahh @khloekares and @joshuasheart but I’m sure there are other students who are using Instagram to be a positive influence on others: for Digital Leadership. I’m sure there are lots of teachers using Instagram in interesting ways! Would love to learn more about who your class follows in the comments.

Watch the full Tweet & Talk  panel discussion here

How do you use Instagram in the classroom?

Do students think we should be using social media in school?

I noticed that I had a blog post in draft form from the summer. Do you do this as a blogger? I’m not sure why I didn’t post it then; maybe it didn’t feel complete or I wasn’t happy with it. Nonetheless, I pushed myself way too hard yesterday and have to be gentle with myself, so this is my 3/10 post.

When I was researching for my Social Media in Education course, I put out an informal survey on Twitter. It was by no means a scientific survey: I didn’t have a control group and the fact is, because I used Twitter to administer the survey, many of the kids who responded had teachers who already use social media in their classrooms. So though so this is not hard data by any means, it is interesting.

The respondents were from grade 6-8 (so ages 11-14 years old) and this what they said when I asked whether or not social media should be used in school:


And here’s the interesting thing I noticed when students responded to the question, “Why” or “Why not”.  Students who had used social media in their classroom for the purposes of learning (three times or more) had a positive attitude towards the potential of social media verses the students who never did.

Look at these extremes:

Here are the responses from kids who said yes. Most of these students had indicated that they had had the opportunity to use social media in their classes:

  • because it is a good way to share how you are learning with people around the world
  • because you will learn about thing all the time and the world is coming to the point where you will need to use social media
  • because it can be educational and fun.
  • because it helps with learning and it gives us an experience.
  • Yes, because it is a great resource for learning, if you go on certain accounts, it can actually help you learn something, all the major companies use social media.
  • it can help you get comfortable with talking to people

And there was a group of students who did not actually use social media in school, but indicated that wished they could be:

  • some social media can help you learn about whats going on in the world right now. Also, some kids enjoy using social media, so maybe kids would be more interested in learning if they could use social media to learn and connect with and about the world
  • I think it should because it could potentially be a resource, and it could help with the understanding of the online life
  • Social media should be used in school as it helps children learn something that they are used to using. Today, almost all children use social media.

There were many students (32 out of 102 respondents) who were not sure, but could not exactly articulate why. There were many, “I don’t know” responses and “I’m not sure” and one student articulated it this way: I’m not sure because I don’t really understand how using social media would help students learn in class.

Of the students who said no (13 out of 102 respondents) to using social media in school, it seemed to focus on hypotheticals and the fear narrative:

  • Because too much social media is bad and could strain our eyes if we’re on it to long.
  • If students were allowed to use social media at school today it would have been a problem because there could be a cyberbully.
  • We shouldn’t because the kids might not be using it appropriately

What stood out most to me from the survey results was the stark difference between the attitudes of the students who used social media daily and were given the opportunity to use social media in the classroom more than 5 times in a school year, versus what students who use social media daily, but who had never been given the opportunity to use it in class had to say.  You see, those students only look that their own social use, their tendency to be distracted by their friends’ posts. They are also likely the students who have been taught nothing about social media beyond how bad it is, so it is no wonder that they could not see any educational value.

And yet, I continue to talk to teachers from across the globe who cannot use social media in their classrooms because it is blocked or banned.

Do we invite students to District-level tables? Do we have a student school advisory team at the school level?

Will anything ever change if we don’t change the path we are currently taking when it comes to using social media in the classroom?

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Here is a link to the questionnaire and here is a link to all of responses if you are interested.

Instagram Live!

When you have a teenage daughter and she knows you are interested in what she is doing with social media, she will likely keep you very up to date. So just in time for my 2/10 blog, my daughter showed me the Live video on Instagram Stories feature.

Of course, I had to try it! I updated my version of Instagram and created my own.

When someone is broadcasting live, the word LIVE will appear in pink on their Instagram story.

And this is what I saw during the LIVE recording:

People viewing live can comment but if you click on the … you can turn the comment feature off.  Click End when you are done.

 

A great conversation with kids

This provided a great opportunity for me to ask my daughter lots of questions about what she would broadcast and why. What she should do if negative comments come in, and remind her about blocking.

As an interesting sidebar, if you are a parent, and you follow your child on Instagram, you may want to keep your notifications on so that if your daughter is with her friends and starts a LIVE story, you can pop in and say Hi ;0

Implications for Education

So, yes, Instagram seems to be trying to compete with Snapchat with its stickers and disappearing stories and now Facebook Live, Youtube Live, and Periscope with its LIVE feature.

The question is, will this impact how and why you use it?

Does the fact that there is no option to save limit its usefulness in Education or in fact make it more desirable?

Will there be implications for Districts who may have open/unblocked access to Instagram?

This is another good reminder that as adults, we will never be able to keep up with changes in apps and technology, but if we ask a tween or a teen, they are often a fountain of knowledge.

Please join me on Sunday at 6 pm ET when I moderate a panel discussion on Instagram for Edumatch Tweet & Talk 74 and follow the hashtag #Edumatch on Twitter.

Have a question you would like the panelists to cover? Please add it to the comments and I will try to include it!

 

 

My epic fail and other learning

I just spent an entire weekend geeking out with some absolutely inspirational speakers and presenters, friends, and an amazing group of attendees at the Toronto EdTech Team Summit at Cresent School.

I’ve presented at a couple of similar Summits. In fact, I’ve presented probably at least a hundred times to audiences as few as 6 and as large as 400. I love to share my learning. I am becoming a better presenter ever time I speak at a conference. And yet…

There is a thing called a Demo Slam. Have you seen one? It’s a 3 minute live-demo of a tool you love. It’s supposed to be fun, but it’s intense: it’s just such a compact time, often the tech doesn’t work, and some of the keynote speakers participate which means you are up against some brilliant people.

I am a pretty courageous, go-get-em kind of person, so I’m not sure why I was so nervous to begin with. Maybe it’s because I was presenting up on a stage and I prefer to present at the same level as the crowd (maybe it’s because my subconscience flashes back to grade 5 when I was on a stage and froze in front of a live audience and couldn’t perform, Is this Love by Whitesnake). Perhaps I didn’t practice enough, because I chose to go out the night before? (when the Royal Ontario Museum becomes a Night Club, it’s kind of a no-brainer). Whatever the reason, I know that I made a promise to myself for 2016 to jump out of my comfort zone whenever I can. Also, I am organizing a Demo Slam for an upcoming PA Day, and felt like I really needed to participate if I was going to invite others to try it.

But to say I was nervous would be an understatement! I was literally shaking when I approached the stage. I was doing fine until the demo part and I completely blanked. I was demonstrating Google Keep–one of my favourite tools, which is so simple a grade 2 student could use it and I have used it hundreds of times.

And yet there I was, standing in front of all of these expectant faces; many of whom I admire very much because they are techno-EDU rockstars, and I could not for the life of me remember how to create a note in Google Keep! I drew a complete blank and stared at the screen and likely mumbled quite a bit.

Within the last 15 seconds, my brain popped back and I started to demo the tool, but of course, the timer went off. Needless to say, I walked off the stage mortified and despite the fact that I got some high-fives and a few very supportive words and tweets from friends and peers (Thanks Sylvia, Larissa, Amit, Jeff, Jeffrey, Andrea Mike, Sandra, Dawn, Diana, & Kevin), this was an extremely difficult pill to swallow.

I felt embarassed and almost let that feeling stop me from attending the social afterwards.  I’m glad it didn’t, because despite what I thought in my head, I don’t honestly believe everyone was whispering about my failure–not then and not now.

As I drove home last night, my feelings of embarrassment and failure continuted to creep into my consciousness. It was very humbling.

Let’s face it though: if you are going to publicly fail, doing so at an Ed Tech Summit where every person there is taking time away from their life to learn on a weekend, is a good place to do it.

When I was chatting with my daughter about it, I told her that I had the most embarassing moment. Here’s how that conversation went (excuse the crudeness)

Me: Oh my gosh the most embarassing thing happened to me when I was presenting my Demo Slam.

Teen: Oh no! Nip Slip?

Me: Um, no.

Teen: You farted in front of everyone? You peed yourself?

Me: (laughing) No!

Teen: Then it wasn’t THE most embarassing thing, was it?

Gotta love that girl for throwing a bucket-full of perspective my way!

It really got me thinking about some of the students I have taught who have such high anxiety about presenting in front of others. And I wondered if I had created a safe environment for them. I also I strained to remember if many of their classmates reached out supportively and with encouragement. How could I foster those behaviours in a classroom? Did I reach out afterwards to ensure the student was feeling ok?

I wondered about whether or not many teachers who we call “resisters”, may be afraid of failure: in front of their students or their peers. Who to them, the idea of sharing on Google Drive puts them completely out of their comfort zone. Do we treat them with empathy or with disdain?

I also began to think about the fact that maybe my public failure was a good thing; you see in my sessions, I think I am perceived sometimes as an “accomplished expert”. In fact, when I shared what I called my epic fail, people said, ‘Oh, I’m sure to you it wasn’t good but to everyone else, it was.” Maybe a teacher who is just learning needs to see someone they perceive to have all the answers, fall flat. Perhaps it should even be an administrator or District leader? It really happens to everyone, and before I became proficient, I worked really hard to learn what I know.  There is still a whole lot I don’t know, and I continue to learn (and fail privately) every day.

I can’t say I want to repeat this situation, and truthfully I could  have kept this blog in Draft rather than click Publish, but really I think reflecting on negative experiences is what helps us to grow and learn. I know this incident sure did that for me.

And so here it is. Publish.

Sylvia Duckworth shared this image during her keynote. I think it fits perfectly–except this time, my failure was pretty public!

aaeaaqaaaaaaaaidaaaajdrlodi1yti5ltjkogmtngiwzc05zji5lwu5ntrlyja4odzjzq-2

Is it time to innovate your staff meeting?

I have time to write a blog post tonight. Want to know why? Our administration team is taking to heart the idea of innovation and “Flipping our Staff Meetings”.  Year after year, don’t you sit in staff meetings thinking and wishing that there was a better way?

As a staff, we have been using this definition to guide our school year goals and the decisions we make:

Innovation is a way of thinking that creates something new and better.

It can come from ‘invention’ (something totally new) or ‘iteration’ (a change of something that already exists).

Technology can be crucial in the development of innovation, but innovation is less about tools and more about how we use those tools…  

–George Couros, The Innovator’s Mindset

It’s really very simple

Prior to the meeting, information items were distributed to staff prior to the meeting via email with the request to have a look and bring any questions to the meeting.

In addition, I had created a video tutorial for staff to show them how to go about proctoring our Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test happening on Thursday.  This is BIG and could have taken at least 1/2 hour to explain thoroughly.  But the video provided explicit instructions and support for the teachers who need it.

The Meeting Agenda

Whereas most time at a staff meeting is usually spent going through many administrative items, people have already received via email, this meeting was SHORT. Once we answered a few questions people had about what was shared via email, we had TIME for a teacher to share an awesome lesson happening in the school.

Ricky Machala, a Religion teacher shared a collaborative project on “Culture” between her grade 10 class and Fabiana Cassella‘s class from Buenos Aires. She admitted that she wasn’t really convinced that connecting her students to others would have such an impact on them because she figured that students are so connected already. What she learned however, is that students are connected to their own friends and communities, but know very little about the world around them. She admitted that students learned more about Culture by talking to kids and asking questions of their “Argentinian” friends, than they would have otherwise and they were eager to continue to connect personally.  She shared the tools we used to connect with the teacher: Voxer and Padlet (the best choices considering the classes could not meet synchronously) but the experience and reflection was the focal point of the presentation.

untitled-2

Best of all, after the sharing session, it was still at least 45 minutes earlier than when most staff meetings end and so when we invited anyone who wanted to learn more about the Culture project or the tools we used to connect the classes to stay, so many of them DID! Others stayed to chat or connect with other teachers, or have a snack (food is essential).

untitled-1

I applaud my principal, Richard Maurice and our VP Luisa Rocca for changing “what we have always done” in favour of trying something NEW & BETTER! Flipping a Staff Meeting is literally something you can do tomorrow to change the culture in your school and to help foster a community of sharing and learning.

Why not try it at your school??

 

 

Rethinking the traditional High School Book Club #HSGBC

Ever since I started teaching, moderating the Book Club at my school was what I loved doing most of all. One of the problems has always been that our numbers dwindle as course work increases because kids find they don’t have as much time to read for pleasure.  Now, that I am back at a school, after being at the District level for six years, I find myself looking at everything with a whole new mindset; an Innovator’s Mindset!  I’m also passionate about connecting students to each other as I truly believe it positively impacts kids in so many ways.

So my burning question is: How can we make the high school book club experience not just different, but better?

My idea? Go Global

Extending the book club to other schools will help kids to share their love of reading with others, will help students feel a greater sense of community & will help keep the momentum going even when numbers dwindle.  It will  also show them how they can be Digital Leaders by leveraging technology and social media for learning and sharing their learning!

HSGBC Goals

  • To foster a love of reading
  • To have students respond to their reading in a variety of ways (face to face, Goodreads, Twitter, Snapchat, etc…)
  • To build community both within the school and with other schools
  • To consider the perspectives of other students from outside their own school community and to get to know other students through conversations around books

Timelines

September & early October

  • Advertise the book club in your school
  • Get to know the students in your own school and introduce the idea of extending the conversations to a global community. Assure them that they can collaborate as much or as little as they are interested in doing so; your first priority is ensuring that your own students feel comfortable sharing with each other.
  • Remind them that because we are sharing with a global community, they need to THINK about what they are posting
  • Use this Dotstorming wall to suggest and vote on books
  • Decide on the way(s) in which your book club will share their learning with others and how often they would like to connect with others  (I am going to use Snapchat, Twitter, and Goodreads with my students)

November-April

  • Decide on meeting times and dates that work for you and your students
  • Connect with other book clubs via Hangouts if you would like to extend face to face conversations
  • Use the Twitter hashtag #hsgbc, Goodreads, Snapchat etc…as much or as little as you like and as you and your students are comfortable.

May

Celebrate!  Reflect on MMM (Most Memorable Moments) & create an artifact (slideshow, poster, movie, etc..) and share .

GoodReads & Twitter

A student reflection from last year when I facilitated a classroom connection was that students wished that they could continue to connect with the other students beyond our class activity. I’ve been thinking about that ever since. And so, to me, it is important that conversations about books and the relationships my students develop go beyond the “meeting times”. Goodreads and Twitter offer a wonderful opportunity to do this.

No only that, but both Goodreads and Twitter are excellent tools for Digital Leadership: students connect with others who share a common love of reading while actively creating an online presence.  Ideally, students created their own account so they can continue to stay connected, if they choose to, beyond the existence of the Book Club at school. Using these platforms can show students how to use social media differently and best of all they can continue to be used into adulthood.

Students (and teacher moderators) in the High School Global Book Club will use the hashtag #hsgbc on Twitter to share quotes & images as they read and contribute posts to our Goodreads account  here

My students are so excited to get started.

We’d love for you to join!

Sign up for #HSGBC here !

Connected student