Tag Archives: Jennifer Casa-Todd

Screen time guidelines and education

I recently did a talk for parents in Mississauga and in my research came upon this article in Forbes by Jordan Shapiro which speaks to the  American Pediatric Society guideline updates. Interestingly, the American Pediatric Society, which had previously limited screen time to a couple of hours, now recognizes that “screen time is simply time”.  They definitely advocate for balance and moderation, but their approach has really shifted and makes sense to me.

The guidelines can be summarized as follows:

Screentime guidelines

 

Seems to me, we need to do very little for this list to apply to the classroom and to education in general.

Can we simply replace parenting with teaching?

How long before our Educational institutions just readily accept that technology and/or social media are “just another environment” and an integral  part of teaching and learning?

 

 

 

 

Social media and education: my research and wonderings

Yesterday, my friend, Jennifer Williams shared a tweet about how to create Facebook with classes. I replied to her that Facebook was blocked in my District, but that it looked great.  A complete stranger (a grad student from India) jumped in and asked how it was possible that Facebook was blocked in America.  Here is our Twitter exchange:

Facebook Blocked Blog

He concluded by saying, “just us having this conversation sitting opposite ends of the world is example enough”.  And indeed this is true.

This post is not meant to criticize Districts that block or don’t block, but more of an exploration of my wonderings prompted by this exchange. I know the dark side of social media exists.  I really do and keeping students safe is the primary concern of educators.  And yet, I am increasing confused around what we even mean by social media and the criteria by which we should determine what (or if) a site is blocked, not blocked.

I have already done some thinking about what social media means in this  blog post prompted by an experience by Carl Hooker, reflecting on the fact that according to teens, everything is social media. But because I am enrolled in a self-directed grad course called, Social Media in Education, I am wondering about academic perspectives and definitions.

Scholars danah boyd and Nicole Ellison define social network sites rather than social media itself in their 2007 paper, Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship, as online communities that allow users  to

(1 ) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system,

(2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and

(3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system (2007)

In It’s Complicated: the social lives of networked teens, boyd refers to social media as a collection of “sites and services that emerged during the early 2000s including social network sites, video sharing sites, blogging and microblogging platforms, and related tools that allow participants to create and share their own content”  (boyd, 2014, pg 6).

And according to Kaplan and Haenlein (2014),  Social Media is a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content (media content publicly available and created by end users)”

And so I’m not sure if I’m oversimplifying here, but when I consider those definitions, I think of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Music.ly, and Snapchat, but  also Youtube,  Wikipedia, Prezi, and Slideshare.   But can we also include Google Apps for education? and many Curating platforms?  Basically, can’t we say that anything that allows for content creation or remixing and public sharing social media?

Kerric Harvey, in Encyclopedia of social media and politics contemplates the ambiguity as well:

What is Social Media-

–Kerric Harvey, 2014

So, if academics and students have a tough time defining social media, what is the criteria by which Districts make decisions about which “social media” to block?

Something Henry Jenkins says in Participatory Culture in a networked era really resonates with me :

I could see the first wave of young people who had enjoyed extensive access to digital technologies, observing the ways they were incorporating these tools and practices into all different dimensions of their life and work..[but] many adults were shutting down opportunities that were meaningful for young people out of a moral panic response to technological and cultural change.” (pg 36)

I would extend the idea of moral panic to a very real concern about legal and liability implications that often accompany these decisions.  So in the same way that I understand the notion of blocking “social media”, I am perplexed my many questions (listed here in no particular order):

Don’t we want students to generate content not just for themselves but for others?   Do we still associate creation with something that needs to be done in a classroom for a teacher or are we considering the extent to which some of this creation can become part of a more participatory culture?

If we know that learning is social then isn’t sharing learning (including online) something that we should strive for as educational institutions?  Is the problem the extent to which users can communicate with each other (which may be abusive) rather than the sharing itself? If so, is this not a problem that need to be addressed regardless of whether students are sharing face to face or online?

What criteria determines which sites to block and which sites should be used for teaching and learning?  Is it worthwhile for sites to be open for teachers but not students? (especially in elementary) because of age restrictions of many social media sites?

Should (or could) schools determine which sites can/can’t be used based on their own school culture and the input of teachers and students or is this too complicated from an IT perspective?

What are the considerations that all stakeholders need to consider when making these decisions?

Are there Districts that don’t block anything? and if so, how do they ensure the safety and privacy of their students?

Do students sit at the table to help make sense of it all? Can they?

I think Jenkins states it well here:

Right now, we are at a moment of transition. For many of us, we are experiencing a significant expansion of our communicative capacities within a networked culture, yet very little in our past has taught us how to use those expanded capacities responsibly or constructively…It’s confusing, there are ethical dilemmas, none of us know how to use that power…The only way forward is to ask the hard questions, to confront the bad along with the good, to challenges [sic] the inequalities and the abuses. (Jenkins, 2016, pg 25)

I would love to hear your questions and thoughts as I continue to contemplate this topic.

 

 

References:

boyd, danah (2014). It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. New Haven: Yale     University Press.

boyd, d. m., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 13(1), 210-230. doi:10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00393

Harvey, K. (Ed.) (2014). Encyclopedia of social media and politics (Vols. 1-3). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781452244723

Jenkins, H., Itō, M., & boyd, d. (2015). Participatory culture in a networked era: A conversation on youth, learning, commerce, and politics. Wiley.

Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! the challenges and opportunities of social media. Greenwich: Elsevier Inc. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2009.09.003

Recognizing Student Leaders: #DC2DL

Those of you who know me know that I am passionate (if not a little obsessed) with the idea of Student Digital Leadership which builds on George Couro‘s definition and can be seen in this post and the graphic the awesome Sylvia Duckworth and I collaborated on and she visualized:image

and then my re-thinking of what that looks like in this post.

We often associate digital leadership with adults using the power of technology and social media to share and connect who are in leadership roles in education. And this is great, but how are we helping our students to capitalize on the power of technology and social media?  Are we thinking intentionally about what this looks like?

And because I am passionate about the power of sharing on Twitter and other professional learning networks, I would love to see a collective curation of any examples of students learning & sharing their learning, using technology to promote causes or contribute to the well-being of others collected on the hashtag

#DC2DL

A friend of mine and awesome educator, Rob Cannone has said to me, “My students are going to change the world” and they likely will because he has given them opportunities to learn with the world, connect with experts, support causes, and share their experiences with teachers at our District-wide Ed Tech day and via Twitter.  I know there are lots of other teachers inspiring their students to do the same!

So let’s share that awesomeness in one place!

Wouldn’t it be great to see students using this hashtag as well as they recognize the positive power of social media which can be greater than the negative when we show them how they might do that?

Looking forward to learning and sharing through the hashtags!

When it’s time for a change

I currently have perhaps the best job in the world. I work with an amazing team of professionals, I get to engage in learning and thinking about topics in education which most people don’t often get to delve into because they have three classes of 30 to prepare for.  I get to go into classes to co-plan, co-teach, co-learn, and debrief with teachers of every subject area. Teachers trust me enough to take my suggestions and try them, knowing I will support them.  I get to lead professional learning around the meaningful integration of technology in school.  I have met and worked with hundreds of amazing educators in my District. This is no different than what other system leaders do.

And yet, I have been at a crossroads lately.  I miss being in a school.  I knew it was time for a change. The question became…go into administration? go back into a classroom?  or something else?

For my Sicilian parents who have been ever supportive of me, the choice was clear (little known fact my mom didn’t speak to me for a week when I told her that I wanted to be a teacher rather than a lawyer–she thought I was wasting my talents).  My mom said to me, “Why aren’t you a principal? You are smart enough! Can’t you be the Director?”  Having never gone beyond grade 5 in Italy and never studied here, she has no real concept of the whole Vice-principal, Principal, Superintendent, Director trajectory–but what a blessing to have a mom that believes in me so much.

For my husband and teen daughters, who listen to me celebrate and complain at the dinner table (when I make it home on time for dinner)  and who love and support me unconditionally, their advice was to reflect upon what makes me happy.  This has been the advice of my dear friends as well.  But how does one really know what makes them happy?  Isnt’ happiness a relative term?   I am happy when I am doing work that I’m passionate about. I am happy when I work with kids, I am happy when I feel like I am making a difference. I am happy when I am learning new things.  When I taught English (or Special Education or Coop or ESL or Italian) I was happy. When I am leading professional learning, I am happy.  But in each of those instances I was disappointed, frustrated, and longing for more as well because I am always reflecting on how I can be better.

George Couros, who has been an incredible mentor and friend to me over the past year offered this advice:

George Advice

So there was that happiness question again!!  But in discerning the answers to #2 & #3 were where I now set my mind.

The first step in answering question 2 is understanding my strengths.  We ask our students to do this, don’t we?  I think big picture, I try things and then reflect on their success/failure and try again. If I hear a good idea, I move that idea to action. I am happy when I  push the boundaries of what Literacy, Curriculum, and assessment look like (geeky but true). I am effective leader.  I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t have the freedom to be a leader. And so the question of impact…

What is impact? Isn’t this as relative a term as happiness?  If I can have a deep impact on 30 students, isn’t that more meaningful that having little impact on hundreds of teachers? How might I measure impact? A thank you vs a test score vs a thoughtful question that has come out of learning something new?  Does a principal have more impact in education than a classroom teacher? How about a Department Head? A Teacher-Librarian? An education officer at the Ministry of Education? A Superintendent? I would argue that this depends more on the person than the title.

George’s questions helped clarify my thinking and my answers gave me direction.

I applied to be a Teacher-Librarian at a high school and was successful.  In that role, I will have the privilege of working with an administrative team, with a collaborative group of Teacher-Librarians, with teachers, and with students.

I will miss working with the amazing people at the CEC and beyond, but in my new role I will have impact, I will be able to use my gifts and talents, and I think I will be happy! Best of all, I will be able to work with students again; why I became a teacher to begin with.

I can run a coding club, create a makerspace, run a book club, facilitate connections with students and the world. I can not just talk about student voice, but I can empower students to use their voices and be there to support them when they think they are voiceless or powerless.

It’s an IB school so I have a lot of learning to do: which I am so excited about and there are so many incredible Teacher-Librarian role models in Ontario and in North America from whom I continue to learn.

Did I make the right decision? Who knows? But change is good…Change is an opportunity to do something amazing!

Change

 

Design Thinking and Professional Learning

When I learned about the Global Design Day event on April 26th, 2016, proposed by AJ Juliani and John Spenser, I was so excited!  The event is about engaging in building, creating, & tinkering which reinforces so many 21st century competencies.  Any time we can come together as a community to try something which is about trying something different from the norm (with or without technology) is also a wonderful way to build community! It didn’t take much convincing before Daniel LaGamba got on board and we had the support of senior administration and our awesome 21C Board team to go ahead and promote this event.

Daniel and I set out to host a Google Hangout on Air (via Tozzle which was totally new learning for us) in order to tell the Teacher-Librarians in our 108 schools what this was all about.  We were completely excited until we realized that April 26th was a day when we had various teachers coming to the Board for professional learning in our 21C initiative.  We would not be able to go to the schools to support this event!  So what to do?  Provide a Global Day of Design Professional learning opportunity of course.  We only had two hours and wanted to make the most of it.

What this looked like:

We began with this awesome video about the Launch Cycle created by John Spenser which clearly identifies what design thinking and the Launch cycle look like:

We then had participants choose one of four design challenges based on interest.  We chose not to go with the design challenges already on the GlobalDayofDesign website.  Below you will find a brief description of what each of these challenges looked like.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 6.39.44 AM

The workshop was then divided up as follows:

  • Time to Design, Create, and/or Build
  • Time to Capture and Record the Process (digitally or with chart paper & markers)
  • Time to Share designs as well as the process (challenges, successes)
  • Debrief

Choice 1: Breakout EDU

In this design challenge, participants had to solve a simple Break Out EDU challenge (Candy Caper).  They then sat in small subject/grade specific groups to create an extension to the game  for their students.  This was an idea suggested by Jeffrey Humphries when I chatted with him about my thinking for Global Design Day.  In our debrief, I talked with teachers about how valuable it would be for students to create the challenges for other students. Here is a link to one of the group’s reflection using Flipagram and here is a link to a reflection using Adobe Voice.

Choice 2: Virtual Reality and Make Do

Stephanie Wilson, a psychologist with our District came up with this idea which was incredibly powerful.  Participants experience the story of Sidra, a young girl in a refugee camp via Google Cardboard and the Vrse app.  They then design a prototype for something that would make her life better and use cardboard and Make-dos to create the prototype.  This is an incredible design opportunity that also builds empathy and cultural awareness and can be replicated with any virtual reality app.

Choice 3: Greeen Screen Movie Making

In this digital design challenge, participants created a storyboard for a green screen film project using the DoInk iPad app.  This app is new to participants, so many of them first spent time playing and discovering and reported one of their successes being learning that they could re-size and re-position the main image.  In a short time, particpants were able to create short green-screen videos and proudly showcased them.

Choice 4: 3D Design

We don’t have a 3D printer…but know who does?? The local library!  We connected with them for our Mental Health Symposium Makerspace and they were more than happy to come back for Global Day of Design.  They brought robots to be coded and vinyl designs too! And best of all, teacher participants now know that building a relationship with their community library is not only possible, but a good idea!

I can’t wait for the schools who participated to contribute to our District’s collaborative blog with their reflections and experiences with their students for Global Day of Design!

You can see some of our #ycdsb21c teachers and students who were involved in this storify by AJ Juliani.

I know it was just a day, but lots of teachers and students have had the opportunity to experience design thinking as a way of practicing 21st century competencies. And best of all, it was FUN!

Why not try this for your next professional learning day?  I’d be happy to help!

 

 

Success is your personal best: What does that look like in school?

Are you like me?  It seems that no matter what I’m doing, I always seem to connect things back to education.  I guess I know that teaching and learning is a vocation for me, not just a job.

So I was in Spin class this morning and couldn’t stop thinking about this class as an analogy for learning.  First of all, I only started spinning about 8 months ago because a friend of mine who was a Spin Instructor told me it was awesome; I had written it off previously as something I didn’t enjoy or couldn’t master.  In the spirit of trying things outside of my comfort zone, I picked it up again and now it’s my absolute favourite class.

But I digress.

There are lots of different instructors who each have their own strengths and styles and who motivate us in different ways.  Kelly, the owner of the gym, encourages us to modify the speed & resistance to suit our own needs; actually all of the instructors say that.  She tells us that success and failure is just a state of mind in this class and that the goal is to do our personal best.  I LOVE this!  It gives me the freedom to not compare myself to the person spinning beside me (though admittedly I always sneak a peak to see what others beside me are doing).  Each week I push myself to go a little farther & to increase my resistance so I am working harder.  When I leave the gym, it is with a sense of elation and accomplishment: success!

This morning, another instructor told us the same thing–modify according to where you are at.  But then, she walked around and checked everyone’s speed.  I guess this was meant to encourage us to go faster & push harder, but what it did to me, was make me cover my speedometer with my towel and pray she wouldn’t say anything to me  or check my progress.

And if you haven’t already made the connection, I am thinking about what this looks like for..

  • teachers leading learning in classrooms,
  • administrators leading learning in a school, and
  • people like me who are leading professional learning at the District level.

It made me think about  John Hattie’s idea of a year’s worth of growth and my evolving understanding of what that means, and what George Couros says in The Innovator’s Mindset about helping people move from their Point A to their Point B.

Are we measuring one learner’s performance against another or are we helping learners to recognize their strengths ?

Are we allowing adequate time or opportunity for them to reflect on where they need to go with our guidance, descriptive feedback, and encouragement?

Are we saying one thing but then our actions indicate differently?

Are we celebrating what success looks like in incremental steps,  or do we hold an unattainable standard that some learners may never even try to reach for because it seems too impossible to do so?

How do we help learners to know what their “personal best” looks like and help them become accountable to themselves when they don’t get there?

Does this look the same whether we are talking about young learners in a classroom or adult learners engaging in professional development?

I will never go as far or as fast as the gal who spins beside me on Saturday mornings.  We have different body types and fitness levels.  I’m ok with that. But I can tell you that compared to 8 months ago, I am rockin’ it!

Success =YOUR personal bestnot someone else's

 

Thanks for your leadership and support!

I wonder how many people have misconceptions about what value people at  the “Board” or “District” bring to the system?  What do they do all day? Do they have any idea about the challenges in the classroom?  There is a movement for teacher-directed schools–why not extend that to the District level?   Teachers in classrooms are awesome and do amazing work for students, but I just want to take a moment to recognize the good work of Central staff and highlight their awesomeness!

Connecting the dots

There are definite benefits to being in a central position when it comes to professional learning and time.  In my role I have been able to dialogue about assessment, inquiry-based learning, technology-enabled learning, etc…in ways that classroom teachers often cannot.  I have attended workshops and conferences.  BUT, then what is significant is that this learning is shared.  Whether I am in a workroom, at a conference, on Twitter, or on Voxer, I am talking and listening to other Central staff who are constantly researching, iterating, reflecting, and trying new things.    District level central staff help connect the dots, make sense of all the policies, and create interactive learning opportunities for teachers who do not have the time to do this.

The power of “Co”

I love this expression by my colleague and friend, Lori Lisi.  When resource staff (regardless of their title) co-plan, co-teach, and co-debrief you have a learning partner: a critical friend.  And not one who has the answers, but someone who is on the journey with you, with whom you can try out something new, reflect on the impact it made, and then try again.  Sometimes, it only takes a minor tweak to get from good to great and an outside perspective can help.  And being in a classroom, means that theory and practice can come together in a way that makes an impact on student learning.

Beyond Resources

I had the privilege of chatting with Dean Shareski the other day and the conversation led to what he did as a Digital Learning Consultant prior to his role as Community Manager at Discovery Canada and how the value of the role is the human touch.  Just as technology cannot replace a good teacher, the value of having a human being that is a resource teacher cannot be underestimated.  Sure I can google a lesson plan and make it work well, but having a knowledgeable and passionate educator along with you on the journey, whose sole role is to support you cannot be compared to anything else.  As Dean so aptly put it, a person at the central level is the ultimate connector–they can offer a connection, a personalized suggestion or resource that is relevant to you at the moment when you need it.  You can’t get that from Google.

To all the Program Resource Teachers, Student Work Study Teachers, Teachers on Special Assignment, Digital Learning Resource Teachers, Consultants, whatever you are called…

THANK YOU!

For your leadership and facilitation.

For your tireless efforts to make learning visible for staff and students.

For your perpetual reading, reflecting, and dialogue about what is best for kids.

For being there at the right time to offer the right support to the person who needs it at that moment.

You are truly amazing!

How might we measure Innovative Practice?

innovative practice

Monitoring and measurement are things that I know I am supposed to do in my role as Literacy Consultant, but it is something I find the most difficult to do.

In a recent collaborative inquiry with teachers on inquiry-based learning, my colleague Sonia Racco and I tried to come up with a pre and post tool that was formatted similar to OSSLT questions.  One question asked students to create a question, the next asked them to summarize the main idea, and the third asked them to make a connection.  We used a graphic text.  And when we set out to do this, it seemed reasonable enough…

And yet, by the end of the inquiry, teachers had really moved in their understanding of inquiry-based learning and had tried it out in their own classrooms.  They brought student questions to the table and when we looked at them together, teachers and students were asking good questions, were engaged in critical thinking, and were genuinely interested in learning.  Students also created some really neat artefacts of their learning which we shared at one of our sessions.

And we decided that giving the post-diagnostic in the format we had given the pre-diagnostic did not make sense.  Because what mattered to us was the fact that teachers and students were engaged in a learner-centered process of learning and felt more comfortable with the stages of inquiry-based learning.

Measure Innovation

And so I struggle with the idea of assessing innovative practice.  If we are using standardized test measurements to determine “success” of a school community in 2016, are we missing the point entirely?  What are some more powerful measures of success? How can we convince parents that these measures are more valuable than report card marks and test scores?  How can we convince other stakeholders?

I go back to my What Ifs from another #InnovatorsMindset Blog Hop and can’t help but think that we do have the tools and the creativity to make a shift in practice here.

What if, we used technology tools such as Explain everything or iMovie (insert any other similar tool here) to capture the learning reflections and thinking of students and shared these as artifacts with the wider community?

What if instead of a Fraser Report, the true report of a successful school could be told through the voice of a student?  And not just a student on a Council, but a student in grade 9 applied or grade 12 open?  A dis-engaged grade 7 student?

What if the school climate exit cards could be captured in video reflections and garnered as much credence as the formulaic exit cards Districts are currently collecting?  Can school climate be measured by how happy kids are? how interested they are in their learning? How effectively they can read, write, represent, create, think critically?

I already see video reflections being used as a means to capture learning and reflection at several levels.  I see George Couros modelling this during in his work with teachers and administrators.  (Check out #LDSBCollaborate and the video reflections there) . I see Jen Hegna, Director of Information and Learning Technology for Byron Public Schools in Minnesota use video reflections to capture the learning experiences of teachers and students in her District to create a Board report summarizing a 1:1 iPad initiative.  I see the 21st Century learning branch of Ontario creating a resource for what technology-enabled learning looks like in classrooms across the province (of which I am honoured to be a part).  I see principals such as Doug Timm creating video newsletters for his parent community.   And I see it in classrooms whereby children beginning in Kindergarten are explaining their thinking and learning and this learning is being shared with parents to change the conversation around, “What did you do in school today?”.

Rethinking our assessment practices is not impossible; it just requires a shift in what we value as a true gauge of what innovation and learning looks like.

Check out these other blogs on the topic.  What I love about them is how each have approached the topic so differently!

Leigh Cassell

Donna Fry

Tina Zita

Mark Carbone

Amit Mehrotra

Stacey Wallwin

Lisa Noble

What are your ideas about how we might assess innovative practice?  Add your blog URL to the OSSEMOOC Blog Hop or feel free to comment here.

 

 

Feeling the Luck of the Irish

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m on Spring Break or because today is St. Patrick’s Day, but I feel compelled to write about how absolutely blessed I feel right now.

I have been working on a writing project (which I don’t want to elaborate on just yet) and have been going through the highs and lows of someone who is pretty much confined to a computer screen for days on end.

Feelings of insecurity

Dismay at the words strewn across my screen

Frustration at the papers jumbled and tossed

of devices in various states of charge laying like cemetery plots around me

the shark teeth tabs sharp and multitudinous jutting,

ominous.

And yet…

I have taken advantage of intentional moments with each member of my family and friends as a reprieve and as a salve.   These are moments when I fully disconnect to connect; moments for which I am truly grateful.

I have reached out for help and it has been given–freely and generously…

And for the most part by the people with whom I have connected through my social networks: some people whom I have only met once, others only a handful of times in real life,  others never except through a post, a feed or a video stream…  The people with whom I communicate, from whom I learn, and who so generously share with me.

I can’t help but stop and take the time to write about how very fortunate I am.

Thanks to each one of you for making me feel:

Blessed

Supported

Joyful.

What if…

What if

What if we believed that everything that we had to make great schools was already within our organization, and we just needed to develop and share it? (Couros 117).

This is the first What If, in George Couro’s list in the Innovator’s Mindset and is the one that keeps me up at night, because believing this is true and actually moving to action are two very different things.

Primarily, I think that a completely under-utilized resource; that which could move our schools from good to great and which can easily begin tomorrow is the inclusion of student voice.  And I’m not talking about exit surveys or the occasional opportunity for students to contribute to the school community in clubs or assemblies.  I’m talking about providing students with opportunities for autonomy and self-direction; to provide them with leadership in their learning.

What if…Student voice meant that students co-learned with teachers?

What if this was embedded in professional learning?  Christy Cate, a member of our Innovator’s Mindset Voxer group shared how kids got involved in a professional learning opportunity completely by accident, but because it was such a powerful learning experience they repeated it the following year.  In my own District,  we’ve seen a school organize a Student Ed Tech Day in which each class in the school came down and learned from students in grades 3-8.

We have also made a point of including student ignites at our Ed Tech Event and Ed Camp.  The teachers are often amazed by the passion, poise, and depth of the student presentations.  In the case of our EdCamp, one of our students, Aidan Aird even led a learning session about incorporating STEM.

And just yesterday, the 21C team in my District hosted a Student Ed Tech day in which students and teachers learned and planned together for an entire day, with the opportunity to continue conversations via a virtual class.  Students from the neighbouring high school came and led student teams, but also helped to plan and facilitate some of the sessions.  Everywhere you turned, students and teachers were learning from each other.  It was incredibly powerful and inspiring!

What if including students in professional learning was the norm, not the exception?  If we know that such experiences can be so powerful, what is stopping us from doing this tomorrow?

What if…Student voice also meant

that students could take the curriculum expectations, direct the way in which they learned those expectations, and “grade” their own abilities with the constant feedback of their teacher?   This weekend I spoke to Jonathan So about how grade 6 students in his class are doing just that as he explained how his class has gone gradeless.

We know that grades shut down learning? We have the means to change this?

Why don’t we?

As George Couros suggests, “In a place where every learner is encouraged to reach his or her dreams, these “what ifs” can become reality.”  What are we afraid of?

As always, I love reading the other posts in our blog hop!  Add your What Ifs to the comments, on Twitter, or submit your own blog post or read others on the OSSEMOOC site. We’ve got 16 of them so far! Check a few of them out below.

Katie Martin

Mark Carbone

Peter Cameron

Stacey Wallwin

Donna Fry

Tina Zita

Lisa Noble

Darren Lukenbil

Patrick Miller

Leigh Cassell