Student Voice and School Design

    "When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful." ~ Malala Yousafzai   I was doing a bit of organizing and cleaning of my files last night when I came across a report that I had written in 2008 when I was a learning technologies coordinator. In late 2007, upon the request of my superintendent, I organized and ran a Student Voices Forum on Technology with the purpose of gathering input from some of our high school students on the current state of technology in schools and more importantly what they thought school needed in order to help them learn. We invited 2 students from each high school to participate in a variety of activities with no teacher or adult support other than 6 learning technologies coordinators to guide and facilitate the conversations. The students did a masterful job of articulating their thoughts and ideas for us....
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Technology Can Be Invisible

  "Technology should be present but ‘invisible’. When we pick up a pen or pencil, we don’t call it a ‘pencil activity’, the same goes for any other technology." ~ David Truss   It's amazing how things come together. On Friday I was fortunate to be covering for a principal at a school close to mine while she attended a meeting. Fortunate because I was invited to be a guest in a grade 5 classroom that was presenting their research findings to the local member of provincial parliament (@JeffYurekMPP), the mayor of Central Elgin, representatives from Kettle Creek Conservation Authority and Erin Mutch our learning coordinator for environment education. The project was designed by the classroom teacher and Jen Aston, an instructional coach with our board. As I moved from group to group and talked to the students I began to formulate this blog post in my mind. Then, this morning...
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Is Innovation Possible in Education?

"For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate." ~ Margaret Heffernan   The definition of innovation from Merriam-Webster is: the introduction of something new; a new idea, method or device. Innovation in education seems to be a popular topic with boards of education. But what is innovation really? For many, the word conjures up images of computers and technological advances, which is partly true. Innovation, however, can manifest itself in many ways. It could present as alternative furniture, unique school and classroom design, or even alternative and creative timetabling. The difficulty is that the organization looking to innovate must have a culture that promotes and celebrates innovative ideas. In other words employees must be free to create new ideas and to think differently. Without this culture the concept of innovation will only be ever be a "buzz" word.  George Couros has written about innovation in...
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The Time for Excuses is Over

"We can no longer afford to sustain a school structure built for a time long past." ~ Eric Sheninger The quote above is one that resonated with me immediately after reading it. I received my copy of Digital Leadership - Changing Paradigms for Changing Times by Eric Sheninger shortly after it was released from Corwin. Unfortunately I didn't have a chance to start reading it until last week. Better late than never. Although I am only on chapter 5 there have been times where I have caught myself saying "Yes!" out loud and times of quiet reflection about the path my school is currently on. It was chapter 2 - Why Schools Must Change and in particular the section titled The Time for Excuses is Over that is the inspiration for this post. During my time as a classroom teacher, learning technologies coordinator and vice principal I have tried to...
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Using Social Media to Tell Your School's Story

  Click here to read my first of 3 articles for remind101 ~ Using Social Media to Tell Your School's Story
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ECOO 13 - Reflecting on Learning, Part 2

  "Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school" ~ Albert Einstein    My last post focused on two of the keynote addresses at ECOO 13. They were engaging and uplifting to say the least. But ECOO 13 was much more than great keynotes. There were hundreds of sessions scattered over the 3 days in lovely Niagara Falls. This post focuses on the sessions that I was lucky enough to attend. I must first give a huge shout out to the organizing committee and in particular Doug Peterson and Cyndie Jacobs for putting together an amazing selection of sessions. It was so hard to choose which sessions to attend, they were all so enticing. Below are my thoughts and reflections on the sessions I attended.   Using Technology in Innovative Ways - Karen Lirenman (@KLirenman) When I was browsing the Lanyrd mobile app trying...
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ECOO 13 ~ Reflecting on Learning

 "Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow." ~ Anthony J. D'Angelo    It's been a whirlwind of professional learning for me over the last 4 days. Wednesday night I arrived in Niagara Falls for ECOO 13, ready to present on Thursday afternoon and to attend as many of the amazing sessions as I could. Then on Saturday I was back in London to attend our district's annual iCon conference where I was presenting a session on Twitter for administrators. Now it's Sunday morning and I've had a chance to rest and reflect on what was an amazing 4 days of professional learning.  There is just so much to write about that I've decided to break it into 2 blog posts. Today's post will be my thoughts on the keynote presentations from Amber MacArthur and Jaime Casap. The second post in a few days...
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GAFE You Have Me Convinced

 It is the framework which changes with each new technology and not just the picture within the frame ~ Marshall McLuhan There was a time when I was unconvinced about the power of web 2.0 apps and in particular Google Apps for Education (GAFE). Over the years I became more and more comfortable working with web 2.0 apps such as Evernote, Animoto, and Diigo. But for some reason the suite of Google Apps just didn't do it for me. It wasn't because they didn't work as advertised. I was impressed with the ability to collaborate on projects and share documents with a group. I just had this niggling voice in the back of my head that kept saying "What if your work disappears? Stick with Word, it will always be there." Well this week that all changed for me for two reasons. The first reason came to me as I...
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12 Apps for School Administrators

12 Apps for School Administrators
Flickr CC image courtsey of Sean Macentee  "There's a mobile app for almost anything you may want to do, any situation you confront." ~ Jacqueline Leo    As the start of the school year draws near I thought it would be a good idea to blog about the apps that I will be using frequently throughout the year. Most of the apps listed below I'll use on both my iPhone and iPad. Although not an exhaustive list of apps for administrators, they are my favourites to use. Of course I will still occasionally utilize apps such as Google +, LinkedIn, Foursquare, About Me and FlipBook, but the apps below are the pillars of my day. I'd love to hear about your favourite apps.   I primarily use Hootsuite to manage my Twitter feed. It allows me to create a number of tabs, streams and lists to keep the flow of tweets manageable....
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ECOO 13 ~ Bring IT, Together

If you live anywhere near Niagara Falls you really need to check out the ECOO13 Annual Conference from October 23-25. There are hundreds of sessions to choose from, as well as social activities such as a photo walk, dinner and networking and a morning run along the Falls! I'll be leading a session on Engaging Student Voice through Video, and I'd be happy to share my experiences with you, in fact I'd love it! There will be keynotes from Amber MacArthur, Jaime Casap, Kevin Honeycutt and Robert Baker.  Check out the ECOO13 website and register today. It's going to be amazing!      
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4 Reasons Why You Need to Be a Connected Educator

"A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate." ~ Seth Godin   Last week I attended EdCamp Leadership in New Jersey held in the beautiful (but cold!) STEM Building at Kean University. It was the second EdCamp that I've attended and it didn't disappoint. I attended sessions on BYOD and Branding with Eric Sheninger and a session about what teachers really want in back-to-school PD with Joe Mazza. But the session that really got me thinking was with Tom Whitby on the importance of being a Connected Educator. The discussion led by the passionate Tom Whitby and my own thoughts on being a Connected Educator led...
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Thoughts on School Design

"School is a building that has four walls with tomorrow inside." ~ Lon Watters If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that in September I will be starting a new vice principal assignment at a large elementary school that is only 4 years old. In June as I met the staff and toured the school I began to notice things with the building that had me thinking about the principles of the design. It is a lovely new building with all the amenities that one would think a new school should have. However, that is simply a superficial look at the building. Looking deeper at the design I started to wonder how the school could have been built to suit the needs of students today. I admit that I don't know the building code or specifications for new builds from the Ministry of Education but...
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Stratosphere - A Book Review

  "The teacher as change agent is crucial, or we will get aimless multi-tasking" ~ Michael Fullan   If educational technology is an area of interest for you then Stratosphere by Michael Fullan is a book that you should consider reading. This brief review provides my thoughts and impressions of the book but by no means is it a comprehensive review. It is a very quick read that will provide many areas of thoughtful discussion with your colleagues as you move to more meaningful integration of technology in your school or district. In typical Fullan style, he uses his knowledge of change, without being too verbose, to set a framework for the use of technology in the classroom. He cites the work of Mark Prensky, Tony Wagner and John Hattie to illustrate the need for a new pedagogy, one in which students are partners in learning and teachers act as...
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Edcamp Hamilton ~ Reflections

As I made the journey to Ancaster on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning with @sbruyns, @technolit and @cordym I couldn't help but feel a sense of anticipation and eagerness about my first experience at an Edcamp. Each of us have been involved in organizing and planning conferences in our own district but going by everything I have read about Edcamp this was going to be a much different venture.  To start I must say congrats and well done to the organizing committee of Edcamp Hamilton ~ Sue Dunlop (@principaldunlop), Heidi Siwak (@heidisiwak), Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca), Michelle Horst (@michelle_horst), Cindy Lee (@dangergirl1218), Lisa Neale (@lisaneale) and Karen Wilson (@kawilson68) ~ what a great job. I'm sure I speak for everyone that attended that the hours you put into planning Edcamp are very much appreciated.  So onto Edcamp itself. From everything that I have read about Edcamps, the day started off in...
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Netbooks vs iPads

It has been a very busy couple of weeks for me with writing a paper for my comparative education course and reading 8 sets of classroom report cards. I'm happy to say they are both behind me and I'm ready to blog about something that has been on my mind for a long time, Netbooks vs iPads.  My first experience with Netbooks came during my time as a learning technologies coordinator. I failed to be impressed with the device on a personal level but more importantly confused on how they would be used in schools. Those first impressions have stayed with me and became more evident during the past couple of months as we introduced iPads into our school. Students have been engaged creating book trailers, Haiku Decks, and paper slide videos with the iPads. These same students have a teacher who embraces BYOD, have access to a mini-lab of Netbooks,...
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Professional Reading Favourites

This week my office was in need of cleaning and organizing, especially my bookcase. As I re-arranged the shelves to accomodate an ever growing library I found some gems that I had forgotten about. The books listed below changed the way I taught, or moved me to establish new practices to meet the needs of my students. Now there may be ideas that are considered antiquated in today's classroom but I am confident there are still great practices contained in them that would be valuable in any classroom today. Below are my personal favourites with a brief description of each. The Teaching Gap (James W. Stigler and James Hiebert) - The description of math practices in Japan, Germany and the United States literally had me searching for more research on effective programming. It led me to implement a math program based in problem-solving. This wasn't lost on my principal and colleagues as...
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School Life with No Connectivity

Thursday and Friday were interesting days at Tweedsmuir. Someone decided it would be a good idea to cut the fiber optic cable supplying the school. A act of purposeful vandalism is what the Bell technician told us, along with the fact that we would have no internet, printing, photocopying or access to home directories until the fiber was fixed. We could expect it to be operational again on Monday morning. Not only would this cause problems with teachers and students completing projects and preparing for lessons, the office would not have access to our student information system, attendance phone line, our supply teacher booking system TVARRIS or communications via FirstClass, Twitter, Facebook or our website. Would things grind to a halt, or would the school community roll with the punches and get on with learning. An interesting two days indeed. Initially I joked that we should probably shut the school down...
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A Great iPad Blogging App

Today I wanted to create a blog post demonstrating the power of a great blogging app I've recently discovered called Blogsy. Now I realize the argument that is out there that the iPad is a completely different tool from a laptop, or desktop for that matter, but there have been times where I have found myself wanting to create a post but I didn't have access to my laptop or desktop. At $4.99 some people might take a pass on the app but once you see it in action you might change your mind. By the way everything in this blog post has been created using Blogsy as well as Siri. There has been no typing on my part (well other than clearing up a few formatting issues). I must say that when I first read about Blogsy I was a little skeptical on the ease of which it could be...
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The Changing Computer Lab

This year my administrative partner and I decided to move our staff toward utilizing the computer lab for project-based learning and away from the traditional scheduled periods on our 10 day cycle. There were a number of reasons for this decision but largely what we were seeing a lot of was meaningless game time with no end product. The move to guide teachers toward booking "chunks" of time for project-based learning is a powerful way to engage students with their learning. Initially, I was unsure how staff would respond and work with the new direction. I finally came to the idea of "nothing ventured, nothing gained". I knew we had staff who were comfortable with technology and were developing excellent project-based learning activities for their students, but we also had staff that were not as confident with technology but certainly accessed the computer lab on a regular basis. How this new...
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Increasing Student Voice

Last Saturday I was fortunate enough to present to administrators at Thames Valley's annual tech conference iCon12.  I offered to present on the topic of increasing student engagement and voice through video announcements.  Although I knew about video announcements I didn't pursue it for our school until one of our teachers came back from a PD session and thought it would be a great project.  So together we did a bit of research and costing for the project and put the plan into action.  We were able to fund the project from 4 areas:  School budget, District based ICT funds, a Home & School donation and a "Speak Up" grant from the Ministry of Education.  If you are interested in doing something similar at your school here are a few questions to consider. How will you fund the project?   Do you have a space that could act as your "studio"...
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