Monday, May 17, 2010

Educational Inspiration

Today I watched Alan November's thoughts on education:

Skills needed for the future:
1. deal with massive amounts of information well. Critical thinking with massive amounts of information and small pieces of technology.
2. Global Empathy - ability to understand the perspective of other people from other cultures. We need to learn how to work with people around the world - connect their students to authentic audiences around the world.
3. Self-directed - do not need a boss to tell you what to do. Not working alone, perhaps working collaboratively, but don't need the structure of telling you what to do hour by hour.

Create a culture that values new ideas, encourage principals to invest time into setting up such projects - teachers do not have time.

Step 1: Building community - through conferences, in-person meetings, online sharing of videos & resources
Step 2: Support 1 teacher first, build success, and go from there - we aren't going to do everything at once.

I'd like to watch Dave Egger's talk regarding education & schools - that'll have to wait until I get Flash player working, though!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's been a while...

But here's an exciting announcement - might tie in well to some masters' work:

And an organisation that seems to be doing interesting work:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


This morning I attended an 'bullying prevention' workshop put on by RespectED, a part of the Red Cross. It was a fascinating workshop; I'm afraid that I and the group I was being trained with made the workshop delivery a bit difficult. My questions revolved around framing, bigger-picture prevention of oppression and abuse of power, and how to work proactively with the 'bullies' to make a difference.

Cited as part of the presentation were WHO statistics on bullying; Canada, it was said, ranks poorly compared to other developed countries.

The study cites that among 13-year-olds, Canada is 26th/27th out of 35 countries. I cannot find the original study; I would be curious to explore further this statement:
"The drop in Canada’s relative ranking in spite of stable rates, suggests that other countries have been preventing bullying problems more effectively than Canada. Many of the countries that rank higher than Canada, such as Norway and England, have had national campaigns to address bullying problems."

Wider societal trends may have more to do with the changes in other countries. We need to be sure that the best way to address bullying is in fact to address 'bullying' - what if it is more beneficial to focus on multiculturalism, strength in diversity, open-mindedness, respect for others, conflict resolution, assertiveness - there are so many POSITIVE frames with which these issues could be addressed.

There's my thoughts for now... perhaps this will become part of the future masters'?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Can't hold it back...

"Once you have learned how to ask relevant and appropriate questions, you have learned how to learn -

and no-one can hold you back from learning whatever you want and need to know."

- Neil Postman, "Teaching as a Subversive Activity", quote at

Yesterday, my  students asked about 50 terrific questions of a 'star' basketball player who came to our session. They showed curiosity, engagement, questioning ability... in other words, all the skills that learners need to develop.

So, how can I harness that curiosity - have students learning & engaging - when I don't have a fancy guest speaker visiting...?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Professional Development in the 21st Century" - notes

I've heard this term for some time, in conversation with Konrad Glogowski, Sharon Peters, and other similarly well-connected educators with broad technological background. I had this conception that like a blog/facebook page / moodle there would be some kind of 'main page' where all of one person's resources would be collected.

Konrad, in the presentation above (part of the K-12 Online Conference, happening right now!) talks about learning WITH as a part of a personal learning network. Blogs, twitter, etc - these allow us to learn FROM. To learn WITH, we must work alongside other educators.

He also focuses on the importance of learning from the classroom. Simple, yet profound - becoming aware of what happens day-to-day is the best way to become a more empowered professional. He suggests that we ask: am I an 'implementer' of strategies from other classrooms/environments? Or am I a 'designer and maker' of my own tools? If anything, I'd say I focus on the latter, and would like to incorporate more of the former. We want our students to be enquirers, and perpetual learners; therefore we ourselves must be inquiring, and constantly learning.

We want to: connect with our colleagues, through our networks, in conversations that grow our of our classroom - YES!

1) classroom-based teacher development. Learning from our context; this is about focusing who we are, what we do, and why we do it in our classrooms. This is based on the idea that we have a lot to learn from our classrooms & our students.
- Involves students AND teachers working together... the primary relationship is student-teacher. Students need to be involved in choosing content, evaluation & environment.
- Engages us in the process of learning & reflection
- Reflection leads to transformative practise, leads to meaningful action
2) Reflective Practice - practice that leads to professional growth & meaningful action
- Requires that we look critically at our classroom practise, and make decisions regarding our professional growth
"Active consistent and careful consideration of any belief or supposed knowledge" (Dewey)

Reflection CONTENT:
- physical presence, preparation, kinds of learning opportunities, homework, instructional practise, goals and values, evaluation/assessment, assumptions about teaching & learning, why choose some topics and avoid others? Questions that involve us as individuals, with our own set of values & beliefs

Reflection PROCESS:
1. Describing ourselves. What we do & how we do it?
- "problem-setting" (Schon). Biggest challenge is not solving problems - it is identifying areas in need of improvement. Hardest part of the process - to find our weaknesses!
- is this working, is it working for everyone, am I pleased/proud/concerned?
2. Questioning our practise OR "informing". Why do we do the things we do? What else could we be doing?
- We try to unpack our classroom practise & see the forces that cause us to teach the way we do. Why have I organised things this way? Identify limitations of our own point of view; question long-held practises or assumptions.
3. Confronting our long-held assumptions / Critical reflection
- Our classroom is a deeply personal construct. What does this reveal about my values or beliefs?

some way we should also have 4: Reconstructing our Practises
Having observed ourselves & reflected on our practises, we should reconstruct our practise.

And this is where the video cut out for me, unfortunately...! Excellent reminder of the importance of what I'm doing right now - professional development, on my own schedule :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Amazing blogs out there...

Today I've been so absorbed in reading other blogs, I've barely had time to process them. Check out the list on the right hand column to see what I've begun to check out.

In particular, I appreciated this post, which another blog directed me to:

Quite a series of revolutionary thoughts, and definitely in line with what I'd like to explore and practise.

That's all for today!

Friday, December 4, 2009


Recently, I've been witness to and heard wind of a remarkable amount of bullying with some students I work with. Given that I also have an interest in 'building empathy' as one way for students to connect to Kenya, I thought it might be good to find some resources related.

This video shows a Japanese teacher working with the group; the moment of 'change' seems to come when one student empathizes on a deep level with the girl being bullied.

How can I create such a positive and constructive dialogue amongst teen and pre-teen youth? Is is possible for such a process to happen 'virtually' - involving youth from different parts of the world?