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

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.

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 

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.

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