My First Day of School

This was an interesting day of fumbling through twitter and making connections with all the my new friends #psd70. The video we watch of Seth Godin on our education system was interesting, what I watched of it while I was still fumbling with Twitter. It didn’t necessarily change my philosophy on education but it made me look again at the class I was teaching when I got back school and how I was going to approach it.

I believe a school should be about discovery, curiosity and creating social relationships. But as I looked at my lesson plan for science that I had planned, it had very little self-directed discovery in it, so I changed it. I went online and used Google, Sorry George No Twitter, and found a website that my students could navigate safely on their own (Grade 4). They put themselves into pairs and I let them explore and come back with things to talk about. I feel it was one of the best lessons I have taught all year and I didn’t really teach anything.

When I first left the Central office after our first session of Learning Leader Yesterday, I was a little disappointed, and felt it was a little unstructured. But after a day of reflection, what George did with us yesterday was exactly what I did to my students when I got back. He made us curious and encouraged us to discover.

If you didn’t get a chance to see the whole Movie with Seth Godin here it is.

Response to a Tweet

I feel grateful to be involved in a group that believes we as educators need to always be learning and discovering.  I love that I am working in a school division gives us the time to connect and learn to continue being life long learners.

Yesterday was my second introduction to Twitter, and thankfully it is starting to really make sense, I am beginning to see the value in Twitter for me as an educator.  I opened up my Twitter account today, and there right in the column “Mentions” was a comment to me from someone I didn’t even know, someone I wasn’t even following (thanks @gcouros), about something I had tweeted! We had a little debate back and forth about whether obedience belongs in the classroom, or whether a classroom should operate based on mutual respect.  I still believe what I initially tweeted, but I love a good debate, and I am an optimist, maybe he sees it my way now:).

Initially I tweeted because I was encouraged to do so, but with the amount of reflection I have been doing since that one reply, I am certain Twitter will be a valuable tool in helping me as a learner as well as an educator. @NealleDickson

Learning Leader Session 1 (October 25, 2012)

As the session begins, please sign in using this form.

Welcome to the Learning Leader Kick-Off, Session 1!  We want to make this useful to your learning and the year is going to be focused on developing in the three areas:

  1. Personal Learning Networks
  2. Cloud Computing
  3. Using Mobile Devices

The focus in these sessions is not foremost to become a better teacher, but to become a better learner, in the way that many of our students will learn in this time.  As you become more comfortable with what is being taught, please remember the requirements of this project:

  • 6 separate blog posts on this site over 6 months.
  • Teach 2 sessions on what you have learned to colleagues.
  • Attend all 6 sessions.
  • Use Twitter to learn and participate.

This exemplifies the old adage of “…teach a man to fish..” We want to use technology to focus on how we learn, and how we can connect with one another.

Here are two visuals that are guidelines for the work that we will be doing:

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by gcouros

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by gcouros

We will look at how we share and create information over the next few months.

Here is the agenda for today’s session:

1.  Using Twitter – As you all have have completed your pre-work for today’s session, we will be using Twitter to connect and learn.  Please refer to this Twitter Tutorial for the first part of the morning.

We will also be looking at the “Hootsuite” app and how it can be used to manage multiple streams of information.

After completion of the tutorial, we will watch this Ted Talk by Seth Godin.  Please tweet out any thoughts that you have to the #PSD70 hashtag:

2. Blogging for sharing ideas – As a component of this professional development, each participant is expected to blog at least once after each session (6 in total) minimum.  All of you will have received a blog username and password if you have not already use the psdblogs site.  Below is a tutorial on both classroom blogging and blogging as a portfolio:

Blogging Tutorial

Please go to the psdblogs site to logon and you will be shown how to write your first post.

If time permits…

3.  Sharing and learning using ZiteZite is a great app to help find more information while also being able to share your learning.  It is simple yet has a far reach.

Blogging ideas for your first post:

As you are required to blog after this first session, here are some ideas of what you can write about (or a combination of any):

  • Big questions that you have moving forward
  • What did you learn the first session?
  • Apps that you love.
  • Any “pushback” to “why do we need to learn this?”
  • Anything related to learning, either yours or your students.

Looking forward to your first posts!!!!

Transformation of Teaching

Becoming a teacher was always a consideration when I was thinking about what I wanted to be when I was done high school.  I liked the idea of leading a classroom full of excited children, eager to learn and listen to everything I had to say.  Plus, the holidays looked pretty good.   But I had bigger plans……. 

So when I started University, it wasn’t in education.  I was going to be a world leader in some scientific field.  Upon graduation, my feelings had changed.  As an undergraduate researcher, I working alone twelve hours a day in a dark, cement basement lab, surrounded by nothing but 100’s of fish tanks full of goldfish. To say boring and monotonous (injecting thousands of goldfish full of hormones to illicit a mating response is not high up in my fun category!), is an understatement.

I like people, and working with people, so I decided a future in science was not in the cards.  After looking over my options, I chose an After-degree in education.  So after two more years grinding through Ed. foundations and psych. courses, I was ready to become a teacher. 

It was an exciting time for me, thinking about using my background in science to help kids see how much fun science really can be.  My head was full of all the activities, labs and field studies we could be doing……real science! 

My philosophy of the type of teacher I wanted to be at the time, was that of a facilitator of learning.  Students in my class would be self learners and discoverers.  I didn’t want to be one of those teacher’s that stood at the front of the classroom and  lectured, as mostly bored children sat taking notes. 

The old model of teaching didn’t work for me.  The one where students were simply empty vessels, and all that they needed was someone to fill them up with the necessary knowledge to become good, well adjusted human beings.  

Reality is not what you plan on when you start a career in education.  Time and budget constraints, IPP’s, inclusion of special needs, the huge variety of learning styles, classroom discipline issues, etc, the list can go on and on.  So after eighteen years of teaching, I am one of those teachers.  I find myself teaching mostly through lecture, and include as much activities that time and money will allow.  To be honest, it is easier for me, but probably not the best for my students.  It does, however, help keep me sane!

So where am I going with all of this……..          One word:  Technology. 

Just in the last couple of years, we have seen the development of new technologies that have the potential to transform how we reach our students.   Interactive smart boards, smart phones, I-pods, I-pads, tablets, cheap laptops, etc., are all tools that can be integrated into our teaching practice.  The software and Applications that have been created for them are simply amazing.  If you are looking for a specific tool to help a struggling child learn, as Apple would say “There’s an App for that”!  If used properly, this can be transformative for our students.  

 I can see in the near future, the ability of students to use this technology to individualize their learning within my classroom.  To allow students to work at their own pace, become creative in their learning, and help them better connect with the concepts and outcomes that we are striving to teach them.  As we would all agree, doing an activity that is interesting, fun, and is personally rewarding, makes learning it easier.  By allowing students to take ownership of their education, current problems of lack of motivation and the feeling of disconnect, could be reduced.

Teachers now have the ability to become the true facilitators of learning, which I believe, we all started out to be.  The technological tools available to us are the keys to transforming our classrooms into the positive, fun and interesting places students want them to be!

Gary Hanna

Memorial Comp.H.S.

Head, Messages, and Markbook in The Cloud

It’s been a hoot to try and bend what I think teaching is or can be. Here are few quick thoughts about what I’ve been trying to accomplish in my classes by using the “Clouds”.


When twitter first came out, I shook my head and didn’t even realize there could be an educational benefit till this summer. Since the beginning of September, I’ve used Twitter to connect with other educators, but even more importantly for me, I’ve used it to connect with my students.

Sometimes you have to deliver the messages in a way that they accept more. It’s true that we now have email and phones, but for some students Twitter seems more direct, immediate and maybe even more important. I think this preference is a lot like my brother’s hatred of seafood. He dislikes all seafood, but only likes oysters wrapped in bacon or beer-battered haddock. In the end, I don’t think it matters how they get the message as long as they get it.

I’ve used my Twitter account to inform students about homework, answer questions if they’ve missed a class or when I was at PD, I even used my Twitter to clarify things while they were with a sub. Just the other day, I couldn’t get a hold of a student by any other medium, so I tweeted her to make sure she made it to her English final, and without that tweet, I don’t know if she would have come.


Going paperless seemed to be a priority for some of my students this term, so we used a few different mediums. Prezi was a great tool for doing character attribute webs. The students loved collaborating on the same canvas at the same time to build those webs. They were able to connect and tie their vague ideas to real evidence from the text. Since they created those webs and their paths, they took ownership of their knowledge.

For our Romeo & Juliet translations we used Bit Strips for Schools. It is a great resource because the students were able to build characters and break down their ideas panel by panel. Furthermore, since it was all online, I could access their work from anywhere and send them feed back immediately while they were creating them.


The major added benefit of this project was of course the use of an iPad. I’ve mainly used it for mobile assessment. I don’t feel pinned to my computer or having to transfer data from paper to programs later. I can take quick notes on Evernote or I can create forms from Google docs.

I will often go over a rubric with my students in class after that I will create a form with a 5 or 10 point grid scale based on the assignment. All I have to do while they present is click on each category, and the info will be magically transferred to a spreadsheet for easy tabulation. I know that of course this could all be done on paper with a clipboard, but saving that extra step allows me time to plan or get back to my other piles of marking.

All in all, I could have survived this term the traditional way, but I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much.

Who knew?

Twitter has been around for a while now and although I am a fan of social networking sites, this one was not one that originally caught my interest.  I think I lasted about two weeks before deciding that I didn’t find snooping on celebs very exciting and had no idea what I should tweet.  Seemed to me like there was a lot of hype over something that I found no value in.  It wasn’t until recently, due to all the great things I kept hearing from various colleagues and friends, that I finally decided to rejoin and see what everyone was so excited about. Who knew that there were teachers all over the world connecting and sharing resources on a daily basis?  Every day I have 100+ tweets passing through my page and have found a ton of valuable resources and connections. I’m glad I took the time to give twitter a second chance.  It’s become a regular part of my day and has proven to be a valuable resource in my classroom. @KerriLynnW

Learning Leader Session 1 (Overview and Information)

Below is the information for session 1 for you to be able to review, and go over today.  At the end is a little assignment for your “blog post” between now and the next session.

1. Opening video:

2.  Introductions and overview – The Horizon Report is a great yet detailed read of some of the work that we will be doing over the next 6 months.  Here are some of the key points that we will be working on:

  • Mobile Devices in the classroom
  • Cloud Computing
  • Personal Learning Networks

 3.  Using Evernote (Evernote for iPad video)

4.  Adding a post to the Learning Leader Blog – As a member of the Learning Leader Project, it is important that we are sharing our learning with each other.  We ask that you write one blog post in between each session to share some of the things that you are learning.  This can be from any of your exploration, but it can also be from any articles that you find or I have provided you in this post.  Below are some things to help you post to the Learning Leader project:

5.  Twitter– We want to be able to share information, while also learning from others.  Twitter is a great way to take control of your own professional development, which is available 24/7.  Here are a few things that may help:

  • The hashtag for Parkland School Division is #psd70.  You can search related tweets for Parkland School Division here.
  • The hashtag for the PSD70 Learning Leader Project is #psd70llp.  Please use this hashtag to share your information or ask questions of myself or others during this project.
  • You can follow other people in this project by clicking and following members from this list.

Between now and the next session, it would be great if you could share something new that you have learned onto the blog.  This will create a great archive of the work we are doing over the next six months.  It does not have to be anything long, this is just a start to help you become a more connected learner.  Please tweet out your blog post and use the #psd70llp hashtag so others can see.

If you are unable to think of something to write, here are three articles that may spark some thoughts:

Please let me know if you have any questions!

Experiment, play, learn, connect, and have fun!

George Couros

Prep: Learning Leader Program: Session 1

We are looking forward to our first cohort session for the Learning Leader program starting on either November 30 or December 1 (depending on your preference).  As discussed in the first post, please ensure that you have the following completed:


  1. Set up a Twitter account.
  2. Set up an “Evernote” account.
  3. Read the following blog post: The Blended PLC.  This will be the model of this group.  There is a blogging component.
  4. Fill out this survey when you are done the above 3 steps: Learning Leader Survey

As the focus of this program is to build towards becoming a networked teacher, a lot of our time will be spent creating our own digital identity, and having an opportunity to connect with educators all over the world to build a Professional Learning Network (PLN).  Below is a diagram of the “Networked Teacher”:

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by courosa


Although some of our work will be using the iPad, it is not the “focus” of the program.  With that being said, please bring both your iPad and a laptop to the first session.

Below is the (planned) agenda for Session 1 (4-5:30):

    1. Introductions
    2. Using Evernote (iPad)
    3. Writing a blog post on the “Learning Leader Blog”
    4. Twitter (if time)

You will be sent some information prior to arriving to the session to login to the Learning Leader blog.  Please ensure that you keep that email so that you are able to contribute to the blog.

I am very excited about this opportunity. If you are interested, I encourage you to look at this Dean Shareski video on “Sharing” that has made a huge impact on my own learning. Again, this is optional, but it is definitely worth the time to watch.

If you have any questions that you feel may be applicable to the whole group, please feel free to write them in the comment section.

See you next week!