“So what is this 21C learning in English?” Your thoughts too, please!

21c learning visual

The other day I was asked:  So what is this twenty first century learning thing in English?  The person who asked me wasn’t at all interested in the literature out there about it.  They wanted a simple one or two sentences to get them on the right track (to frame their thinking about a term they read in their child’s school newsletter.)  So this is what I said:

21C Learning is really about the unpacking and re-packing of information by a learner so they can then use the information and/or communicate it out in a way that is meaningful, useful, and interesting to the audience to which they will present it.  With that said, many people are a lot more comfortable with technology today so the means of communicating out the information will likely be done electronically, which also means it is likely to be  faster, flashier, and reach larger numbers than we would have expected years ago.

So what do you think?

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“Practice makes perfect” and Inquiry Based Learning

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Lots of assessment gurus have talked at length about the importance of “practice before the big game.” That is, having practices before a game where the score is actually recorded for rankings, etc.  In the world of education, that would be giving students practices before students do an assessment.  The difference from traditional assessment methods is students are actually practicing skills that are transferable and usable, and will be less likely forgotten like memorized material.  There are a ton of educators already doing inquiry and project based learning to provide the building and practice of skills which more likely lead to genuine and authentic learning experiences.  There are many more educators on their way to using less multiple choice/memory-based testing and more inquiry activities.   If we expand into the lives of our students beyond the walls of the school, many of them live the “practice before the big game” motto already.  They are involved in music and sports, all who have practices before the big or recitals/shows or games, respectively.  Even for myself, I hit the driving range before a round of golf or have numerous practice sessions before a tennis tournament starts. Why would we behave differently in our schools?

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Edu-Resolutions for 2013

Edu-Resolutions for 2013

It is time once again for New Year’s Edu-Resolutions!  Of course they are hard to completely follow through on, like that workout resolution I had two years ago, but I am committed to a solid intentionality.

For my first resolution: I have often said before that I believe education is about relationships.  As educators, there is constant monitoring of our conversations with students, colleagues and parents, and discussions with students about their relationship with their learning.  For 2013, I want to expand this and increase my mindfulness of the relationship between our current assessment practices and student engagement levels.  The intention is really about increasing student engagement over an even larger student population and no matter where each student is on his or her learning and growth continuum.  This is also a good lead in to my next resolution that I am going to give credit to @tomschimmer.

My second resolution is to constantly ask: Will this activity increase confidence or anxiety in my students?  I would think all educators endeavour to increase the effectiveness of the activities we do with our students but this one question is clear and crisp, and easy to remember.  It also frames an overarching attitude for my student teachers and those in my mentoring circle.

Finally, with 2012 so much talk about bullying, I will do my very best to share with, and engage in conversations, starting with the following quote I came across:  “Great minds discuss ideas.  Average minds discuss events.  Small minds discuss people.”

Have a wonderful 2013!

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Correlation Between Assessment and Fashion?

My colleague, Ms. Chabot, put this slide together to introduce our Assessment FOR Learning workshop.  It is simple and to the point and served as a good ‘hook’ to our session.  Do note there were a collection of great pictures that came before comparing fashion trends past and present…. and assessment trends past and present.  Do you remember when the Scantron machine came out in the 70’s?

Fashion Then and Now:

Fashion is cyclical. It responds to the time and culture in which it exists.

Fashion is an ever changing trend that will be different from the year before and will call upon its own past for inspiration in the future.

Current styles obviously differ from the popular wears of the early 20th century, but there are similar concepts that exist between the fashion trends of today and yesterday.

Assessment Then and Now:

Assessment is cyclical. It responds to the time and culture in which it exists.

Assessment is an ever changing trend that will be different from the year before and will call upon its own past for inspiration in the future.

Current practices obviously differ from the popular practices of the early 20th century, but there are similar concepts that exist between the assessment trends of today and yesterday.

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The Power of Social Media in Education



social-mediaedmodo

At the latest Edcamp Leadership BC last month, I shared with a number of other educators that I was using social media with my students.  More specifically, my use of Edmodo with my students.  I gave the site to a few of them and did a crash course with a few others over lunch. For those who have not tried it, it is basically Facebook for education.  The nice things about it for me:

  • The class is contained as the students and what is posted is NOT open to the public.
  • Students and parents can input their mobile phone # or email and receive updates every time something is posted the teacher or another student.

The last bullet is really why I am putting this out there.  Edmodo, or any other form of social media, used to be an outlet where students could ask questions of me during hours outside the traditional class time.  However, it has now evolved into students having conversations amongst themselves and they all surround learning and helping each other.  My students have two assessments coming up this week and they have been going around the clock contributing to one another’s learning.  It has even gone as far as a number of them feeling a lot more comfortable and at ease with their responsibilities.

Thank You!!!!!! u guys save my life =____=#

As the students are interacting, they are creating a sense of community and all in the name of supporting each other’s education.

It may not be for everyone but social media has a place in the education of my students.  It has built capacity in my students, made me a bit more obsolete for them (just a little bit!!!), which in my mind is getting them one step closer to being independent young individuals.

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Multi-Perspective Platform: Edcamp Leadership BC

This past weekend, I took the opportunity to attend Edcamp Leadership BC.  It was held at Delta Secondary and special thanks go out to @aakune and his team of fellow educators and students for putting on a great event.  On a side note, it was also a great opportunity to meet face-to-face with members in our PLN’s.

If you haven’t been to an Edcamp before, there are always a large number of interesting and/or provocative discussion topics.  There are so many fascinating topics that I cannot physically attend all the sessions due to overlaps in the timetable.

The thing I like the most about the Edcamp movement is that everyone in attendance has an equal voice and is invited to share their ideas and opinions as there are no keynote speakers.  The person who steps up to lead the discussion, or ask a question, only gets the first 15 minutes to present and the rest of the hour is reserved for discussion from  the other participants.

The unique thing about this particular Edcamp over others was the number of student voices that were in attendance.  In one session I attended, called “Reaching Vulnerable Youth and Their Parents”, there were 5 students.  It was a small group and they made up 50% of it.  Another session that I unfortunately wasn’t able to attend, was led by two students.  A third session I attended later in the day had 25 students.  I would like to note that the overall event had approximately 200 people in attendance and the stakeholders ranged from students to superintendents.  All are interested in education and were ready to contribute as well as consider each others’ ideas.

In an event such as this, multiple perspectives can gather, contribute, and truly listen and so much can be accomplished.  It helps me to really hone in on my thoughts because I have more angles and perspectives to consider.  @aakune stated, “We need to surround ourselves with opposing ideas in order to create a richer context.”  I completely agree.

Now some might say that the Edcamp Leadership BC attendees are an atypical group and there is a lot of truth to it.  It takes a certain kind of person to attend a free Pro-D event on a Saturday and travel from all over BC (and as far as Ontario) at their own expense for an organically derived agenda.  (Kudos to @aakune and Delta Secondary’s Culinary Arts Program for the free lunch though!)  However, there were still many respectful disagreements that were useful for those engaged in the disagreement, and those around them, to critically consider what was being said in the room and on the Twitterverse.  And despite the atypical group that could be thought of as a congenial collective, the shift to a collaborative frame-of-mind was clearly made and the Edcamp event truly was a multi-perspective platform that increased the steepness of the learning curve for everyone involved.

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Education Is All About Relationships

Today I had the pleasure of seeing three grade 11 students who I taught three years ago at my previous school.  I had also travelled with them numerous times on outdoor education trips.  Today, they were waiting for a ride from their parents after coaching their school’s grade 8 volleyball team.  They actually saw me first and called my name.  It was a nice miniature reunion and we reminisced about the past.

When talking with the girls, I felt a level of comfort and a sense of pride.  I was proud that students I had a good relationship with took on a leadership role and were creating relationships with others.  Further, they were serving as leaders and role models to younger students.  As for myself, I was lucky enough to connect with a number of past educators last week who offered their support as references.

So what do we all have in common?  All of our relationships were created at some point in our educational journey.  The beating heart of education is the relationships within and we have to do whatever it takes to create and promote positive relationships with everyone involved, young or old(er).  It will pay itself forward like I witnessed today with the grade 11 students and their contributions to the lives of the younger students on their volleyball team.

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