Learning Leader Project

I love my iPad!  I have to admit, it took over my life and sleep for the first few weeks into the project – now that the novelty has worn off a bit, I can appreciate it for what it is, a learning tool.  I have learned that it can be a tool that can connect me with whatever I want to know, it can connect me to people around the world and it can capture the joy in a student’s face when the bread that started as a lump of dough turns into a beautiful creation!

Technology can be great, but it is still very important for us to “do”.  Maybe it’s because of what I teach (CTS-Foods), maybe it’s because I’ve been teaching forever, but you can’t take away what we can create with our hands.  Whether it’s a sculpture, a wood cabinet, or a loaf of bread, we are still learning.

Teaching in the 21st Century with a 20th Century Model

The learning leaders course is an excellent opportunity to connect with educators within Parkland School Division (PSD) and all over the globe. As a 2nd year teacher I am very excited to solidify my own teaching style. A philosophy that I hope to never lose is connecting/sharing resources, ideas and knowledge to further develop the learning of students. However, “cherry-picking” from different educators isn’t a new concept at all; in fact, I am constantly reminded that “teaching is all about recreating what has already been created.” A skill that I am learning daily.

Seth Godin explained the educational history of the western world in the 20th century in his video clip” Stop Stealing Dreams.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXpbONjV1Jc I have been pondering his explanation of the “industrial model of education” and can’t help to think that education needs to adjust to a model that is NOT just about efficiency, order and obedience. Now, the 21st century, skill-based projects and inquiry research projects helps move away from this 20th century teaching. However I am curious, to what extent should we move away from the 20th century model where order, efficiency, and obedience are the primary role of education? Are these skills not valued anymore?

I am sure I will develop a solid answer to this question as continue through my educational journey. Let me know what you think? @Ferzlig



I am reflecting on what I think is a pretty cool idea.  Well, at least for me it seems pretty cool. Being pretty new to the profession of teaching I have so much to learn and am so excited that I have been soaking up every tidbit of information about education I can get my hands on. I am lucky enough have some amazing mentors in my corner.  I am connected to some great professional learning communities online through sites like Twitter, Ted Talks, Zite, and Pinterest.  I have deep philosophical discussions with friends and colleagues that are just as passionate about this stuff as I am.  I have read articles and blogs from some of the best educators in the world.  I share the really good ideas with my friends or on twitter or in emails.  Once and awhile there is even a heated debate on a topic that gets me pretty fired up. All these things engage me, they create an incredible learning environment for me and they fuel the passion I feel for my profession as an educator and as a lifelong learner.

In fact, the more I sit here and reflect on it, the more its seems pretty simple and why I never made this connection until today is beyond me. Why are we not engaging our students, our communities and our families the same way?  Sharing knowledge and skills will make huge impacts on our students’ learning and the only way to share is to connect to someone.  Sharing what happens in our classrooms by connecting with families will create discussions at home that are similar to the ones students are having at school. Making our students’ work public and connecting them to a real audience will provide purpose, engagement and excitement.  Creating communities of student experts and connecting them with their peers builds leaders and mentors. It all boils down to connecting learners with each other.  It really does not matter how they connect its just important that connections are made; the more connections made the faster and deeper the learning will be. It is this exact reason why social media is such a great learning tool.

The biggest reason I am starting to blog is to find another way to connect.  I want to connect with other educators so I can learn and share with them, I want to connect with students so that they can see how and what I have been learning, and I want to connect with parents so they can see why their child is so excited about a school project.  The connections I have made with people over the last few years have taught me so much and I am so grateful for what I have gained. It is only fair that we connect our students to this way of learning as well.

Twitter Handle: 


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!!!!

Prep: Learning Leader Program: Session 1 (Year 2)

We are looking forward to our first cohort session for the Learning Leader program starting on October 25, 2012.  Please ensure that you have the following completed:

  1. Set up a Twitter account. (Download the “Hootsuite” app on your iPad)
  2. Set up an “Evernote” account.   (Download the “Evernote” app on your iPad)
  3. Download the “Zite” app.
  4. Read the following blog post: The Blended PLC.  This will be the model of this group.  There is a mandatory blogging component.
  5. 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 (October 25, 9AM-1PM)

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

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 soon!

Final Reflection

How can I fit all that I have learned into one small blog post?  It seems an impossible task.

I have spent the past year learning so many new things.  I will try to use my higher level thinking and rank them from least to most important things that I have learnt over the past year.

5. How to use an ipad and be comfortable using one. Confidence is key.

4.Ipad are not just for games.  They are tools of learning and for learning.  It was great to use them as cameras, video cameras, and tools to strengthen lessons.

3.How to be connected.  There are many ways to talk and share over the internet.  I now have many resources to go to if I need to ask, share or talk with someone about my idea or one I am looking for. Twitter is no longer a word that I roll my eyes to when I hear someone mention it.  It is now a place where I can  quickly jump on, check and connet myself to a world wide web of teacher and educators.

2.Apps – They are so many great apps.  The possibilities are endless.  How creative would you like to be?  Well, apps are great ways to support a lesson and allow the students to it to the next level.  Apps for games, creating, tools, recording, etc, etc.

1. Being open and willing to try new technology.  I have bought in.  Have you?  What is stopping you from getting on board?  This year are made me a better teacher by allowing me to grow in many different forms of technology.  If it wasn’t for the learning leader group, I think I would missed the boat and been stuck in the past.

Ideas that I have done:

  • Pictures to find geometry shapes around the school
  • Recording radio plays on evernote
  • Recording high five routines in gym and watching them later
  • Creating a movie clip on imovie as a teaser for other classes of our upcoming play
  • Taking pictures of PD session presentations that needed to written down
  • Assessaiblity of having an ipad with me to check emails, go online, get connected
  • Use twitter to ask for ideas, help or find answers to my questions
  • Use evernote to easily record ideas and be able to asscess them from all different places
  • Allow my students to explore apps to get them interested
  • Use ipads as mirrors when reading and practice presenting
  • Recording instructions of a big project for students missing that class
  • Recording a conversation, with permission, when I was not able to be there
  • Art ideas through apps
  • Classical music to play in the background when working
  • Music to play off youtube in gym class
  • Record student’s reflections and ideas as a parent center at our heritage lunch so parents can hear their ideas.
  • Take a picture and use it for Art

Flipped Classrooms

“Flip your instruction so that students watch and listen to your lectures… for homework, and then use your precious class-time for what previously, often, was done in homework: tackling difficult problems, working in groups, researching, collaborating, crafting and creating. Classrooms become laboratories or studios, and yet content delivery is preserved.” (http://www.connectedprincipals.com/archives/3367).

This reminds me of university.  When professors handed out reading assignments with a timeline and would just move through the material whether you read it or not.  I was responsible, enough, to do my readings.  I have some students who struggle to bring enough food in their lunch, never mind listen to a 20 minute video on Capacity.  I work hard to keep everyone’s attention during discussions, using cues to listen, proximity to refocus and strategies to maintain good classroom management.

Questions I have:

  • Who will be making sure the students are actually paying attention and are engaged in the video?
  • What ages are kids expect to do this at home?  Is this a high school or Jr. High or even elementary?
  • How can we expect or what time expectation should each student be doing at night?
  • How can we plan a lesson if students do not do their homework? Do they just fall behind?
  • What if the technology fails, dial up is still in use, or some kids do not have access to the computer for a long time?
  • How do families with many children share the computer when everyone needs to do their homework before the next day?
  • What will parents think of this?
  • What roles do teacher play? Can the teacher then become replaced?  Couldn’t we just buy a video?
  • Would classroom size change?
  • Are teachers ok with being viewed by parents and anyone with access to that USB stick or website?

There is a lot to think about.   Perhaps we could have a flipped teacher?

Flip your teaching so that students watch and listen to your lectures……from the comfort of your own home?  Lol ok a little sarcastic but the technology isn’t really that far off.  With Ipads we can use Apple T.V. to watch and write on students Ipads from a remote location.  Would a flipped classroom end up being a threat to teacher jobs? Even with the technology we have,we are not there….. Yet.

Learning and the 7 Stages of Grief

By Kathryn Kindrat – Middle School Teacher, Seba Beach School

Throughout my life I have learned so many new things, I continue to learn every day, and I am excited to continue learning… that doesn’t mean it has been easy. I recently read a Twitter post about a poetry project, made by a university student doing her practicum in Calgary. She and her cohort student teacher partner developed an incredible inquiry based poetry unit, the likes I have never seen before. In her words:

Our Grade 6 Humanities classes completed a three step writing method that culminated in a kinetic poem. Each phase required students to delve deeply into their thoughts and wonders, broaden their knowledge of poetry and powerful writing, become familiar with different computer programs and websites, and tap into their creativity.

Students documented their work using the online notebook program Evernote which was synced and shared so we could monitor progress instantaneously. We placed emphasis on the process rather than the product and assessed students by giving them formative feedback on their written reflections completed after each phase. The student’s ability to communicate their understanding and experiences was our evidence that meaningful learning took place.

To bring their poems to life, students used Keynote to create text animation. I was amazed how quickly they mastered the program and how they naturally collaborated to share their knowledge. Watching the finished products proves that richer language was used to communicate deeper messages and this makes these poems worth producing.

– University of Calgary student teacher, Lisa Nguyen           http://calgaryscienceschool.blogspot.com/2011/11/poetry-that-moves.html

I must note, I consider myself to be fairly current in both new technologies and teaching practices, still I was blown away. I think you will understand what I mean if you check it out. Here is a blog post that will give you a quick intro and some product examples: Poetry that Moves.  And here is the actual class website that outlines the complete process: Poetry Project.

I am ashamed to say, after the initial feeling of awe wore off, my next reaction wasn’t one of excitement; rather, I boarded a roller coaster of emotion and had one heck of a ride. Naturally, as a teacher, I buried any negativity I had, and swore not to speak of it. Then I thought about the, Obvious to You. Amazing to Others., video that we watched in our first session. I reflected on the idea that perhaps my shameful feelings, and the journey that I went on, are things that others could relate to, identify with and perhaps find comfort in, and maybe, I would feel better about the situation if I said something out loud. So here it goes.

Learning and the 7 stages of grief

Shock and Denial

As I looked over the website, the first thing that popped into my head was, yeah this is great, but… there is no way this is the work of a normal grade 6 class, they must be advanced and highly trained in the inquiry process. And I bet the unit took forever! There is no way to actually accomplish what she did while covering the rest of the curriculum objectives… and on and on. Then came the guilt came rushing in.

Pain and Guilt

I felt bad, like I wasn’t being the teacher that my students needed me to be. I had these physical pangs of guilt, thinking about how a university student is utilizing all the newest technology to its fullest potential, at the same time engaging and guiding the kids through the inquiry process. She not only facilitated some incredible learning, she documented the whole thing online, including video reflections made by the kids that actually showed their learning as it happened. UGH! I started beating myself up, thinking of how I needed to do more, be better…

After a little bit of ice cream and Jersey Shore (nothing makes you feel better about yourself than Jersey Shore), I thought about it again. That is when I got mad.

Anger and Bargaining

I thought to myself, of course she is able to do this amazing unit; that is all you have to do in your practicum! I am juggling 3 grades, with twice that in levels and adaptations, I coach, I take care of a home, I am so exhausted from all the work I do already, how can I possibly do MORE?!! I quickly realized that I was pissed off, not because this girl has it easy because that is not true, but because I care A LOT about the work I do and I feel a tremendous amount of responsibility to give my students the best possible education I can. I just want to find a way to reach all of my students, deliver all of the content, create lifelong learners and maintain excellent relationships with every student. Is that too much to ask? Am I just not good enough?

Depression, Reflection and Loneliness

I was upset. I felt sad and alone, because I was sure that no other teacher would have this kind of reaction to witnessing such a powerful learning opportunity. Somewhere between berating my abilities and wallowing in self pity, I started reflecting on my own teaching practices and the things that I can do well, and realized something… I am not doing so bad.

The Upward Turn

I started thinking about some of the new technology and engaging activities that I have introduced/explored with my students, from using Animoto, Edmodo, YouTube, Glogster EDU, edublogs, to performing comedy routines, hosting critical thinking contests, participating in online debates and group poetry; the list goes on. I started thinking about what I could do, instead of the things I couldn’t.

Reconstruction and Working Through

I began brainstorming ways that I could adapt the unit and the process to fit with my kids, the context of the school and the resources available to me. I started getting excited at the possibility of introducing them to something they have never done before, not only in terms of the final product and technology, but also in the process.

Acceptance and Hope

I realized that before I could truly open my eyes and begin learning from my peer, I had to accept that learning can be uncomfortable at first, it can be downright depressing! I started to think about how it might be possible that kids go through similar emotions when tackling a difficult story, or a new math problem. Do they see other kids going through the motions easily and get mad that they are not yet at the same level? Do they feel bad about their own abilities? With support, can I help them get to that “Upward Turn”? Something clicked for me; I am not alone, learning something new, especially those big learning moments, can be hard, it is a journey, for better or for worse. Now I am at the hopeful stage. I am going to give this unit a try, I have no doubt that it will be difficult, especially the first time around, but I know we can do it.

I will leave you with this final thought, you are not alone. Cliché yes, but also true. I encourage others to talk about, not only their successes but also the journey, including all of the hills and valleys that they encountered along the way. If we tell ourselves or others that new learning should be easy, or come naturally, we are bound to give up if it isn’t or doesn’t. As twisted as it sounds, I prefer to think about learning as grieving, I know I will go through some tough moments, but if I give myself time and the benefit of the doubt, I will pull through and be stronger for it.

How does this relate to specifically to being a learning leader in the area of technology? Though the learning curve with technology is steep, being young and involved, I was naïve enough to think that nothing could scare me, but as I am learning, there is always something new – something better. We always have to be ready for that big scary plunge that takes us outside of our comfort zone, and to embrace all of the crazy feelings that are part of the package.