The Power of Telling Stories

Be sure to listen to them.  Be sure to read them.  Be sure to write them.  Be sure to draw them.  Be sure to tell them.  Stories.  Stories matter.  The more the better.  

As an educator, I often reflect on how important sharing our stories may help others.  Students may see us in a different light and learn from us in ways that go beyond knowing us as an educator.  Colleagues see us in ways that acknowledge who we are as people. Think about it.  Our stories not only define us, they bring us closer together as humans.   Continue reading

Face-to-Face Huddle, On Safari, Open Discussion @AncasterSrPS

Last week for two days, ASPS students and staff hosted E-Learning Contacts from Northern Ontario. Often referred to as eLCs, these are educators whose focus is to support Ontario students with digital learning opportunities.  As well, learning alongside with us were Education Officers from the Ministry of Education.

My Wondering:  
How to organize our time together so that our visitors would really understand our learning community and our collaborative culture? Continue reading

A Collaborative Learning Culture in the Digital-Age

This week Jared Bennett and I presented at the ECOO 2012 Conference themed Learning in the NOW Century. This post shares about a component of the presentation.

The importance and necessity of creating a collaborative learning culture with others isn’t new. In fact, it’s actually quite quotidien in life because we are social beings who inherently want to share and collaborate with each other.  What’s different today is in the how. In today’s digital-age, we are able to collaborate differently through the use of technology and web-based applications.  We can share our thinking, ask questions, make decisions, solve problems, create plans and design solutions through online collaboration. Sustained collaboration that stretches beyond the face-to-face and document exchanges via e-mail transfer. Continue reading

Is Your Connectedness Showing?

The Web is connection.  It’s about how google, twitter, skype, text, facebook,webinar, podcasts, blog posts, skype, wiki and so on connects us.   Thankfully, the list can, does and will go on and on. I’m grateful for my connectedness and how it shows.  There are limitless ways to connect in today’s digital world. This is how we live and learn. Today, I tap, tap my fingers on my keyboard to ask my principal and vice-principal colleagues:  Is your connectedness showing?

Interestingly, it often seems there is a tendency for many leaders to disconnect during the summer because our feet are not planted in the classrooms, hallways, offices nor playgrounds of our face-to-face physical spaces. In fact, come to think of it, I haven’t heard from many of you except for those who I connect with online and in the cloud. Why is that?  Why does the prefix dis come into play in our connected world? Being connected is not bound by time nor place in today’s digital world.  In fact, it is quite the opposite.   Continue reading

Open Post To My Team

Thank you team.  It has been an honour and a privilege to learn and lead alongside with you for the past two years. This post is one that celebrates and reflects on the past two years in my role as the Principal of the 21st Century Fluencies Team, a part of the HWDSB Leadership and Learning Department.

Our vision and strategy and what we do as instructional leaders matters so very much in today’s world of education.  We are about learning with staff and breaking new ground in creating the learning conditions that engage all, conditions that leverage technology, the connectedness of the web and impact how, when and where students and staff learn. Continue reading

The What & Why of Blended Learning

Blended learning means many things to many people and happens in a variety of ways. Blended learning comes in many shapes and sizes and serves the learning needs of students and even professionals in many ways.  It is exciting to spend time conversing with staff about how mixing up online and onground instruction creates learning conditions that blend the best of both worlds, face-to-face and virtual.  We are all learners and how we leverage technology to enable learning anytime, anywhere and any place is key to how we learn today.

Continue reading

Learning Perspectives & Theories: What Makes Sense To Me (so far)

Learning perspectives and theories guide us, as educators, in understanding our learning stance as well as the learning stance of our students, staff and parents. Well, it is Behaviourism, Cognitivism, Constructivism or Connectivism or something else that resonates with you as a learner, teacher and leader?

Currently, as a participant in an e-Course: Teaching Online: Becoming a Connected Educator through Powerful Learning eCourses, I have been doing deep reflection on how I define learning as a lead-learner in relation to Learning Perspectives and Theories as well as most importantly, real-life.  Also, my reflection has me revisiting a story that I wrote last August 2011 entitled:  Why Learning First and Leading Second Matters.  This peer-reviewed story was a contribution in “Why Blank Matters”, a publication that communicates a vision for the future of K-12 education in Canada.  Interesting, my words may be a bit different but my story is remarkably the same whether we are plugged in or unplugged, face-to-face or online, learning is a process that blends our interactions in meaningful ways that are very personal.

What Makes Sense to Me About Learning
For me, learning is a process that is social, involves choice and is very personal to each one of us.  Learning is meaningful when it is constructed through interactions with others and brings forth more questions than answers.  How one learns is fluid and ever-changing depending upon the situation and the context.  Also, learning conditions come into play and are very important in the 21st century as technology leverages how, when, where and why we learn. Learning is an ongoing blend and must intrinsically motivate one to ask questions and reflect on what is next in the learning for each of us and for all of us.  It has to make a difference in who we are as people and resonate with our real life. Let’s say we construct through connections and engage in creating meaning leading to the next level of learning and living in life.

What I wonder about learning:

  • Should we be asking our students to articulate to us their stance on learning more regularly?
  • How would our staff define their stance on learning if we asked them?
  • How do we create meaningful learning conditions that are reponsive to online versus onground learning?

I share this Theories of Learning Infographic as it was a key visual that inspired me to write this update on what makes sense to me about learning sharing my true belief that being a learner matters most when being a leader.

Info Graphic: Learning Styles and Theories
Source: Info Graphic: Learning Styles and Theories



Connected HWDSB P/VPs

Great learning always happens when my colleagues gather together.  On Wednesday October 12th, we came together to discuss how the school self-assessment inquiry process and analyzing data leads us to identifying the  School Effectiveness Framework (SEF) indicator based on student strengths and needs.

Our next step was to making the connection that this then leads our school teams through collaborative inquiry to utilize other data sources and combine this information with the SEF indicator to inform the Teaching Learning Critical Pathway (TLCP) process.

Then we posed this question to our 15 tables of approximately 120 principals, vice-principals and superintendents:
When you are sitting as a co-learner in the Inquiry Process (TLCP), what are the questions  you can ask?

Why ask this question? We ask this question to tap the expertise in the room and share with each other good thinking that can help and guide us back in our schools working together as a co-learner with our staff.

How did we capture all the good thinking and questions?  Each of the 15 table facilitator contributed the questions generated  in the HWDSB Connected P/VP Group in the Commons.

Here’s a screenshot of the question posted:

Please note:  This is a private group for HWDSB P/VPs to network, share and learn together.  I offer the screenshot as a sample.  Actual contributions are not available for viewing publicly.

The HWDSB Commons is our collaborative learning space for all students and staff.   Using the HWDSB Commons as a real-time collaboration tool allowed us to aggregate all the questions from all the tables and facilitated the sharing of questions between tables during the discussion.  Think about it  – real-time, ongoing collaboration that will continue beyond the face-to-face.  All P/VPs members of the group can log in anytime and refer to the thinking their colleagues and also continue to contribute questions, ideas and discussion.  Let’s sustain the learning in our virtual learning space!

In closing, my reflection is meant to focus on collaboration and how collective wisdom is powerful.  Being together face-to-face is very valued however, it is important in today’s world to take steps to collaborate virtually together. This was one of those steps.   The HWDSB Commons is an online learning platform / tool that supports collaboration and networking where we reflect, share and learn from each other because we know the expertise is in the room – whether it be physical or virtual.  Beginning to use the HWDSB Commons is creating our virtual learning space and that’s a good thing.  Thanks to all my colleagues who took the risk, offered feedback and who are reaching out to continue our learning in this way.

Learning Together at Waterdown

Arrival time was 8:30 am and our time together involved two hours of initial set-up, orientation, connecting to personal learning and discussing a plan for how to implement the tool as a communication strategy in the school community.  So, what is the tool?  It’s Twitter, a micro-blogging tool.   It was time well spent with @mvisca@jasonrizza and @ddalexand with lots of problem-solving, discussion and fielding of questions about how and why Twitter is meaningful for connecting, learning and communicating with others.

Initially, it took time for my colleagues to imagine how to pull the tweets together in a meaningful way but once we explored the power of Tweetdeck I noticed how it became clearer for them.  The primary benefits of TweetDeck are its ability to show you everything you want to see at once, in an organized column format.  In addition, the sharing of how educational chat hashtags assist in aggregating tweets into columns with specific categories for learning and networking proved to be powerful for my colleagues. For example, four that I follow and contribute in are #hwdsb, #cpchat, #edtech and #edchat.

Michelle Visca, Principal at Waterdown DHS originally asked for support as she was interested in accessing twitter as a way of communicating with the school community.  So, today #WDHS was created and this is where all are encouraged to share updates, messages and information about Waterdown District High School.  See the first two tweets that Michelle Visca, Principal posted:

The administrative team has begun the journey of using micro-blogging as a tool for networking, communicating and growing in a 21st century way.  I look forward to supporting the next steps with the Waterdown DHS staff and students as they take the risk and explore this new adventure in communication, connecting and learning together.

Interested?  Here is a robust link to check out:  Twitter by Cybraryman. I welcome questions and comments.




Constructivist PD with Livescribe

It’s almost here and this is very exciting!  On June 2, 2011 in Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, a learning fair entitled, Live Learning with Livescribe will take place.  The learning fair structure  and design is based on an open learning style. Participants will construct their own learning by choice in focused areas of inquiry by interacting with facilitators at learning centres.  To understand the design of this learning fair, take a few moments and play this pencast:

Opening learning is active, flexible, participatory, social and self-regulated.  Sounds very 21st century to me!  This is an exploration in professional development and building capacity in staff.  Will this create a model of learning with each other that should be sustained?  Stay tuned as I will be seeking input from all and share my reflections by writing more on this constructivist approach to professional development.

In addition, this learning fair will celebrate the teachers who were very committed to the Live with Livescribe TLLP this school year.  It is an honour for HWDSB to host and organize this learning fair that celebrates in the best way their hard work and year long commitment by sharing their expertise and building capacity in others. This interactive learning fair focuses on how the livescribe is a tool that facilitates student learning and engagement  in many different ways tailored to the needs of the students.  I conclude by saying out loud I have very good vibes!