Monday, October 29, 2007

Holding a Mirror to our Professional Practice

Holding a Mirror to our Professional Practice the K12 Online Conference keynote by Derek Wenmoth is a thought-provoking presentation. He says that "mirrors provide a reflection of ourselves" and that we need to provide a reflection of the way we behave.

He talks about how we need to change our practice - and need to reflect - but we need enough teachers to do this to get change. It is only through reflecting that we can see if our espoused theory is actually being put into practice. In New Zealand they began a cluster-based PD program. They had money for PD activities and schools had apply in clusters. Teachers tried to get ICT into their program -
questions: What is effective integration of technology
How can we ensure it has educational value?
What is educational value?
People picked up many new technology uses - but is it making a difference?
We need to reflect to see if what we are intending to happen is happening and is it working.
He and his colleagues have developed a tool to assess teaching and learning with ICT in classrooms and results are reported as a map.
He talks about examining why you are introducing tools - what are the educational intentions and then reflecting on whether or not those educational intentions are being met. He says that reflection requires time, challenge and mentors for it to be truly helpful. Then it is important that teachers share what they have discovered. New Zealand's e-fellows - teachers released for close to a year to reflect on their practice, to share with the other e-fellows and thus expand on their thinking allows them to grow and then go back to their schools and help others grow. The teachers involved talked about how important the interacting with other teachers was for them. "The collaboration with others that really has broadened my depth of knowledge and taken me out of my comfort zone." one of the teachers said. This reinforces the idea that learning is social. We need to transfer that idea to the classroom.

They talked about how using ICT in the classroom and how their pedagogy changed - that the classroom was more collaborative. Sharing ideas is valuable for reflection on practice. Technology allows for this kind of sharing.

He asks
What are the mirrors you are holding to your professional practice?
I have started to blog - though sporadically. I am getting braver and am publicizing when I post. I keep saying to teachers - that we need to model risk-taking and this has definitely taken me out of my comfort zone.

Who are the mentors that you relate to?
I have to say that my online community is growing, especially through being part of Webcast Academy. I can twitter questions, write in my blog and share it, skype my professional colleagues. I am fortunate to be part of an organization with people who want to share and reflect.

What is the professional reading that you do?
I read a number of blogs - though inconsistently. I appreciate recommendations from my online community and have been directed to some powerful posts. I have been "reading" the K12 Online conference - slowly but attentively.

What communities of practice do you belong to (online or f2f)

Where do you record your ideas and reflections - blog?

What RSS feeds do you subscribe to and with whom do discuss them?

When did you last visit another classroom?

When did you last present a workshop (to a staff meeting or conference) expose your practice

I won't answer all the questions here - but will come back to them for myself. How can we inspire teachers to reflect on their practice and see themselves as lifelong learners?

Pushing the Envelope or How to Integrate Web 2.0 Tools on a Shoestring

I am listening to Lisa Durff's presentation: Pushing the Envelope or How to Integrate Web 2.0 Tools on a Shoestring and I am struck by how she just plunged into trying things out with her students. She is a self-professed newbie to web 2.0, but, although she says she is a baby, she has experimented fearlessly and involved her students immediately. She has created a large personal learning network. As she says "knowledge is collective" The larger her network, the more she can know. I am so impressed with what she has done with her students, from video conferencing to blogs, from instant messaging to wikis, RSS to podcasting and so much more. She has tried all kinds of free tools with her students. She is really a great role model for other teachers who may be afraid to get involved. Bravo!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Assessment & Evaluation: Konrad Glogowski

It's hard to follow all these sessions and still work. That is the beauty of the K12 Online Conference. I can stay at this conference for many weeks or even months and learn at my pace. I'm sitting and listening / watching Konrad Glogowski's presentation on Assessment and Evaluation in an Age of Networked Learning. He talks about how traditional assessment blogs the flow of learning by stopping conversations - implying the end of the task. "grades tend to divide learning into chunks that once completed seem unrelated in the minds of students to other tasks...." In blogging classrooms, it is more about a continuation of learning with conversation - assessment should encourage further engagement. He discusses Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's notion of flow - when a person is fully immersed in what s/he is doing.

In a blogging classroom, Glogowski focuses on 3 of the characteristics of Flow - Goals are Clear, Feedback is Immediate, A Balance between Opportunity and Capacity. Goals all along the way should be clear. Feedback from others and self should be continuous. Complexity will keep people involved. Glogowski talks about the need to set goals, both longterm and short term (how to get to the long term goals). Blogging is a journey. not about finishing an assignment but about engaging with ideas. to produce a body of work

How to grow a blog.
Top - name long term goals for their blog - for their own success in grade 8
What do I want to accomplish?
What do I want my blog to represent at the end of the year

Bottom - habitat
Think about steps they need to take to create the right environment for their blog
How do I sustain?
What resources do I need to tap into to nurture myself as a thinker and writer.
What will make my blog grow?
Predict commitment and habits necessary to reach goals

This helps long term planning but also the little steps to take that will get them their.
He shared some good examples of how students wrote about their goals, habits and habitat they will need to find to help them reach these goals.
How the community they grow around them will support them? How will they support others? This is a social environment.

Feedback - in blogging classroom, feedback is often immediate via comments.
He also gives an example of a feedback sheet for "How to Grow a Blog" The feedback is anecdotal - with simple images to indicate progress. Comments is on progress (work already done) and work that needs to be done. He uses 21 Classes as his blogging platform. Comments by peers and teachers are separate. He feels this feature encourages conversation.

Constant challenge is needed to create flow provided the increase in complexity is not too big a leap so as to produce anxiety. Glogowski feels that stopping for self assessment helps the students stay in flow - to visualize their progress, their level of engagement and sense of ownership. Promotes reflection and conversation between teacher and student, provides opportunities to examine the quality of what has been done and the quality of what will be done.
- skills and challenges are in balance.
Self assessment leads to thought about all aspects of blogging. Who are they as bloggers? Where are they on their journey towards their goals?
Teachers need to ensure that students have ownership for their work.
I recommend listening to Glogowski's presentation. It may not have the pizazz of some of the others, but it is full of things to think about, to reflect on and to challenge. And as Glogowski suggests that it is conversations that guide and empower, we as educators should engage in conversations to support and develop our own learning.
If you want to read more - go to Glogowsi's blog.

Good How Tos

I have been watching Sharon Betts' presentation on Google Tools. She gives a good step-by-step demonstration on how to use Google Notebook, moving the information to Google docs and then creating a presentation- first with Google Docs' presentation tool and then through Page Creator. The latter can be found in the Google Lab section: tools still in testing stages. It is an easy way to create web pages. I have played with it a bit - found that saving took forever. I have some concerns about the ease with which you can copy and paste from notebook to doc - will this encourage plagiarism?

One suggestion I found interesting was the idea of using a Google group for discussion and reflection.

You can find out more at Sharon Betts' wiki

Google Tools are great for collaborative projects. I use them frequently when working on presentations with colleagues. I have yet to try them with students.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Classroom 2.0 Clarence Fisher

Classroom 2.0 -

Here are the high points.
Clarence Fisher lives in a small, isolated town: Snow Lake, Manitoba but his students have access to the world. Classroom 2.0 is about change - not about the tools. He talks about changing the possibilities in classrooms. Pedagogy comes first - we have to change the way we teach. We can't just teach our kids to memorize. Tools that promote collaboration can help us change how we teach. Collaboration can happen within our school and around the world. He also talks about how important it is to foster good thinking in our students - so that they can be creative workers, responsible citizens. Finally there is the curriculum.

Clarence doesn't just talk. He tells a visual story.

He spoke about the tools he uses in his classroom - blogging, rss, Flickr, Voice Thread. A classroom that is concerned about information and relationships relies on Internet based tools. His classroom is about relationships. Change has to happen regarding power. They are not just consuming information , but also creating information. It gives them another perspective. Day 1 - relationships are important. That sets the tone. The classroom isn't about "me" but about "us" - what we can do together, learn together - and not just in the classroom.

The most important thing that has to change is society's view of education. They think they have an idea of what should happen in classrooms. That has to change. We have to redefine what we think should happen in classrooms. We should think of the classroom as a studio. It should be a place where lots of different things go on. Not everyone is doing the same thing. It may be a bit noisier. When you think of a studio - time doesn't necessarily go in regular blocks. The studio metaphor is better for how we think of classrooms.Paraphrased a quote by Tom Carel? Learning today is a collective effort and not an individual one. Learning is social and we need to give our students opportunity to interact both in and out of the classroom to construct their learning. Alan November - every classroom should be a global communication centre. Learning is something that is networked.

I certainly know, that for me, this has been true. My learning recently, with my webcast academy community has been moving. We all need networks, connections that help us see new things and things in new ways.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Technology Buzz

I try to stay up to date - take occasional vacations from the fast pace of shared learning - but yesterday threw me into superspeed. Not for the faint of heart. Last night I settled in for the Fireside Chat with David Warlick only to be pulled into warp speed as I tried to follow David's talk, the chat which flew by and various Skype messages Twitters that chirped and pinged at me. It was hard to ignore the chat when it was peopled by some of the top tech people in the world. Too bad there wasn't a Clustr map to show where everyone was from.

Fortunately, David's talk and the questions only elaborated on what he had said in his keynote - as it was difficult to concentrate on what he was saying (it will be archived). On the chat someone announced that Will Richardson was going to be doing a Ustream - so that was my next stop (trouble-shooting with my webcast partner on Skype simultaneously). If you want to see some of what Will is doing, have a look at weblogg-ed-tv So much to learn - and one of my webcast partners is gung-ho to try it all out.

After a brief interlude with my webcast partner and a successful attempt at streaming and recording on the Webcast Academy sandbox, I turned my attention to Women of Web 2.0 and an interesting discussion with David Jakes and Ewan Macintosh. I'm now feeling both exhilarated and brain dead.

So I'm living life in the fast lane. Trying to learn faster than my brain likes - but it's a great feeling. I'm living what I would like the teachers I work with to live - taking risks, but in a protected and secure community and feeling the support that all offer. My Skype friends, webcast cohort and Twitter community make it possible for me to learn. It's an amazing experience.

Monday, October 08, 2007

David Warlick's presentation: Inventing New Boundaries

Well - here goes - 3 weeks of thought-provoking presentations to watch and listen to in the comfort of my home from the K12 Online Conference. But the discussion doesn't have to stay there. Through blogs, twitter, wikis and chat rooms the conversation continues. That really is one of David Warlick's messages - the importance of networks for learning, building knowledge and collaborating. So spread the word to others, if you read this post.

I am now watching David Warlick's pre-conference presentation.
He is talking about the importance of side trips in education. Walls are invisible for both teachers and students and it is possible to learn any place. But this comes at a price - how do you get the interaction that happens face to face? What are the new boundaries (not classroom walls)? The traditional boundaries are going away - we need to create new kinds of boundaries to find a sense of structure in this new world.

He goes on to discuss: With the speed of change our children can no longer look to us to see their future. We can no longer describe the future - it is unpredictable. Change is happening so fast - when we talk about digital natives - which it is really about adapting to the constant change. The territory is shifting so quickly. The big difference between digital natives and digital immigrants is not being afraid of the technology and knowing where to go for help. Students know how to find networks that can help them problem solve their technology problems. They are part of a community. They are learning about the power of collaboration - through social networks, online games, text messaging. Our classrooms do not take advantage of this. Instead - we cut them off.

New literacies -
Information (find information, evaluate it, organize it into personal digital libraries)
Math (numbers now apply to full range of content - binary)
What information is competing for our attention
Can you produce an information product that competes for information attention
we can shape and reshape information to create new learning experiences. We can make students remixers of content
Many of our students know how to do this, how to publish online. Our new classrooms are flattening - students and teachers must all be learners.
3 converging conditions
Info-savvy students and tech savvy - know how to play the information, they need us to help them learn to work the information
New information landscape - information increasingly networked, digital, participatory
Unpredictable Future - preparing our students for an unpredictable future - need to teach students how to teach themselves

And I will add - teachers need to learn how to teach themselves - to be open to lifelong learning and to welcome the excitement that comes of mastering something new.