Monday, 12 June 2017

8 Books to Read this Summer


I love to read...but I never make enough time to read as much as I would like.  Most of my reading is actually listening, since the birth of my oldest son, I have been addicted to audio books.  This summer I hope to get back to the paper books now that my boys are little bigger!  So here is what I am hoping to get into:

Intention: Critical Creativity in the Classroom by: Amy Burvall & Dan Ryder
This book arrived in my mailbox today and I cold not be more excited!  It explores ways to meet typical curriculum expectations in creative ways.  Each idea explores how to do the activity, what students will take away, and links to different disciplines.  I also have the honour of joining author Amy Burvall in Washington DC this summer at the Google Certified Innovator Academy where she will be a trainer.  #WDC17!



IQ: A Practical Guide to Inquiry-based Learning by: Jennifer Watt & Jill Colyer
This one has been on my list of almost a year.  I think inquiry is imperative  in education (see my suggestion later for Trevor MacKenzie's book).  People in my office rave about IQ as an inquiry resource and some even say it is part of the canon of Inquiry Based Learning.  It is full of tools and suggestions on how to get started and running with IBL.





Making Your School Something Special by: Rushton Hurley 
I met Rushton at the Ontario Edtech Team Summit in Kitchener in April.  He was such an inspirational guy.  He captivated his crowd and was full of fascinating stories when I spoke to him one-on-one.  I look forward to reading about his ideas around making school a place wherein EVERYONE feels valued and celebrated.







Start With Why by: Simon Sinek
The one book I have on my list that is not written about education - we can all grow in other areas.  Sinek's TED talk is one of the most views of all time and it is no wonder why.  This book is all about WHY people do things...it gets to the root of motivation and shares how to inspire others.








Want more?  Here are some of my fav books I read this year.

The HyperDoc Handbook by: Lisa Highfill, Sarah Landis, & Kelly Hilton
Last summer I kept seeing #HyperDocs all over Twitter.  I read a few things and knew immediately that I needed to read this book.  I bought it an devoured it.  It revolutionized the way I think about lessons design and delivery and student choice.  I cannot stop talking about this and love the HyperDocs Tribe.






Launch by: AJ Juliani & John Spencer
This was my other OMGoodness book from last summer.  Spencer and Juliani outline project based learning (PBL) to show how accessible and important it is to boost student creativity and instil the maker mindset in students.  It is a call to take back what it important in education to re-engage learners.








Dive into Inquiry by: Trevor MacKenzie
As I mention above, inquiry fascinates me and I hold it as a cornerstone in engaging education.  Until I read this book I never knew how to start.  I thought I had to dive into Free Inquiry.  Trevor outlines the process in a clear, and accessible fashion and made me realise how Inquiry can be done in any class, in any grade!







Teach Like a Pirate by: Dave Burgess
Earlier this year I ran a virtual teacher book club and our first book was Dave Burgess' - we loved it!  It is full of strategies to engage students and find your passions as a teacher.  Dave discusses the PIRATE acronym: passion, immersion, rapport, asking & analyzing, transformation, and enthusiasm.  He also offers 30 hooks which are surefire ways to engage.  If you have ever seen him talk, you can definitely feel his energy through this book.





Guilty pleasure....OK, it's not all about reading for work...a friend sent me Big Little Lies...it will be my beach read!



Do you have others on your want to or must read list?  Share them with me in the comments and consider adding to Hollie Sisk's Flipgrid!

Sunday, 4 June 2017

How to use Flipgrid BEYOND the classroom

I have definitely caught #FlipgridFever.  I am using it every chance I get to capture voice...there is something rich about hearing someone's intonation and see their facial expressions.  About 6 weeks ago, I read Karly Moura's great post about how to use Flipgrid in a class.  I have shared that post MANY times with teachers beginning with, or looking for new ways to use Flipgrid.  BUT, I am not a classroom teacher and get called on a lot by other coaches or administrators to see how they can tap in to the features of this great tool.  I have been sharing ideas with them and thought it might be time to go more public with these uses...afterall, Flipgrid has many great uses beyond the traditional classroom.





10 ways to use Flipgrid beyond the classroom

  1. School Announcements.  In my experience students rarely listen to voice announcements, and people often want to read their announcement themselves.  Why not have a grid for people to post announcements?  Teachers could find time in class to share the grid AND it would be available to the larger school community.

  2. Teacher Daily Reflections.  Having daily reflections is  great practice for teachers.  Why not start a reflection grid that you can keep private, or share publicly?  Check out how Ryan Matthews called out his district and asked for their reflections.

  3. Speaker Corner at Conferences - Until about 10 years ago in Toronto we had a TV show called Speakers Corner.  There were video booths set up around the city for people to use the voice their views, concerns, happiness disdain, with any topic they wanted. It was then edited and shared on the show.  Flipgrid can provide that same opportunity. Why not set up a photo booth of sorts for delegates to share thoughts? Check out how EdTechTeam TN used it for reflections.

  4. Teacher Book Clubs - It can be tough for teachers to carve out time for rich discussion in to a typical school day.  Why not make discussions asynchronous?  Consider starting a teacher book club wherein teachers read a book and share thoughts on a grid?  Not only will you have discussion but it will be archived and shareable!  Check out this one I did with some colleagues about Trevor MacKenzie's book Dive Into Inquiry.

  5. Interviews/Podcasts.  Have you ever met someone great at a conference or PD session?  Have a colleague whose ideas you need to share?  Consider starting a great ideas grid wherein you have colleagues share their thoughts that resonate with you.

  6. Make Introductions.  Nerves are at their peak the week or so before school starts with the unknown faced by students and parents.  Why not introduce your school to community before the school year starts?!

  7. Build community among staff.  Consider having a grid whereon staff share summer adventures and/or learnings.  This will build community and create great back to school conversation beyond the regular small talk.

  8. PD Opportunity - Do you have something you can teach in a few minutes or less?  I have tech tips I post on YouTube for my district every week.  Why not use a grid?  Joe Merill does a great job on his board about appsmashing with Flipgrid.  (Thanks for pointing me to that Jornea Erwin!)

  9. Virtual Cards - Use gruds as virtual thank you and encouragemetn cards.  Someone retiring?  Why not ask people to add messages to a grid?  This way the card does not get lost and poeple from other building can also contribute!  This can be done as thank you cards as well - see this great tribute to mom.

  10. Have Fun! Claudio Zavala's sing a song board speaks for itself here...unleash and have fun!


    Do you have another idea?  Share it on this grid!  Looking forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Cool Ways to use Flipgrid in your class and practice

Looking for some fun ways to use Flipgrid?

 Consider these! Use Flipgrid to....



Explain!

Review and Discuss Books! 
Debate!
  
Give thanks!
  
 Discuss with an expert!   
Have Fun!

Appsmash!

Monday, 17 April 2017

What does great PD look like?

I am taking a course right now and I was challenged to think about what great PD would look like. This is where I landed...


Learning Modules
Building on the success of Massive Online Open Courses, or MOOCs (OSSEMOOC is a great Ontario resource), I would like to see some sort of partially online workshop model.  In my experience, many teachers cannot make it to after school or weekend learning sessions. Moreover, even learning that occurs during the day (like lunch-and-learns) are not always accessible because of commitment to students.  This hybrid solution would roll out on LMS and CMS platforms (Google Classroom, D2L, Edsby, etc.).  It would consists of short, accessible video tutorials for teachers.  (Note: I have a Google Classroom I post in twice a week and teachers can enrol to get notifications or opportunities and tools.  I also have a YouTube Channel whereon I post short videos about various tech tips.  Both are well received but do not have the reach I would like.)  Prior to any formal learning I like the notion of having “get up to speed” videos (Teaching 2.0) so everyone is aware of the ins and outs of technology used in the district.  These videos, however, would need to be monitored or have links to e-mail/message “live” people so that questions could be posed while learning (to avoid the main criticism in the YouTube as Teacher Training Tool article).  Webinars would be another model that could be employed using Adobe Connect or YouTube Live.  My district does after school webinars (with Adobe Connect).  Teachers can participate in real time or watch after the original air date. I think this sort of learning is beneficial to teachers as they have the option to participate in real time wherein they can ask questions or they can find a time that is convenient for them to watch after the fact. I also like the social aspect of this model - as Eric Westendorf, co-founder of LearnZillion, explained in Teachers without Borders, it is important to leverages the expertise of teachers to reduce isolation.


Commitment to Initiatives
I love the aspect about commitment from teachers of 2 years  (like in the Teaching 2.0 article).  I think committing to initiatives is very important for true learning to take place.  With commitment would come release time (time, after all is a teacher’s currency) and a guarantee of others to collaborate with on the learning journey.  Moreover, I think this model would empower all teachers as they would all have a voice in the meetings during release time. Furthermore, I would like to see all stakeholders have a say in what the release time days would look like in terms of learning, discussion, and next steps. (Perhaps a collaborative agenda?)


Involve the Students
I have always felt that a sure fire way to get teachers invested in learning is to involve students as teachers.  (I equate it to walking by a lemonade stand and not buying a drink - few teachers have the strength).  I love Jennie Magiera’s (Google Certified Innovator and Apple Distinguished Educator) use of Speed Dating to Learn Apps wherein students demonstrate apps to teachers in 3 minutes or less.  I also love the Student Gurus/Genius Bar model wherein students act as experts and resources for teachers.  I would love to find a way to implement this into my schools for learning, and into in-service learning for teachers.


Making Learning Visible

The last component my model would have is the publishing/sharing aspect.  As mentioned in Teaching 2.0, the sharing does not need to be as formal as a peer reviewed journal.  At a school level, implementing a Pineapple Chart would be a great beginning.  Beyond that , I would like to see teachers present at workshops, district meetings, as well as sharing on blogs, Twitter and other forms of social networks.  I am also toying with the idea of doing a #passthescope model wherein learner broadcast live from around the world on a common topic and each person is given a 15 minute time block before they pass off to another person for their insight.  This is great for remote areas as it really makes learning global.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Flipped Learning

In the summer of 2012, I attended a symposium at OISE wherein I learned about flipping the classroom. On the Go Train ride home, I watched Salman Khan's TED talk "Let's use video to reinvent the classroom".


I was mesmerized. I could not believe what I was watching. I was so excited. I'm pretty sure I was talking to my screen like a crazy person.  It revolutionized the way I thought about classroom instruction.  I tried it (albeit only a few times), and had, what I would consider, success.

In the fall of 2016, my oldest son started gr. 1.  My views of homework changed drastically.  He likes school...he hates homework.  Evenings, which used to be fun play time, now involve us arguing over him completing a worksheet that was send home, or a book he needs to read (and more than likely has already memorized).  So I haven begun to question, why aren't we giving homework the students want to do? (Have a look at Peter Mullen's great TEDxTalk on students controlling the learning - it's inspirational.)

This got me back to thinking about Flipped Learning.  Was it not just mandated homework?  I understand that there is value is being able to have time to percolate learning, ask questions of you teacher while engaged in the work, students working at their own pace, etc, but, what are we modelling?  Where is the work-life balance?  Flipped learning is built on the foundation that work has to be done beyond school hours.  In an age that we glorify the state of being busy and complain how run down we feel in the same breath, does the flipped learning practice really teach students the skills, mindsets, and value we want to impart on our children?  I hazard to say it does not.

New idea:  Mandate family time.  Mandate curiosity.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Background Music Track (via Videos) in Google Slides

A few weeks ago Google made some terrific upgrades to including videos in Google Slides.  Gone are the days that you can only include videos from YouTube....now you can load in videos from your Google Drive.  Hooray!


Along with this came some new video options.  Once you click the video, a "Video Options" button appears on the toolbar.





Clicking this button allows sidebar to appear.  On this sidebar you can select a start and stop time for a video (this is great for video you have but only want to show parts of).  You can have videos auto start when the slide is presented.  Finally, you can have video play with muted sound (great to create effect - think introducing Omaha Beach with the scene from Saving Private Ryan playing behind you).


All these changes made me think of one of the biggest things I miss from Powerpoint - ability to have music play in the background of a slide show.    I began to wonder if these changes could facilitate it, so I began to tinker.

Here is what I did:
  1. I opened a slide deck my children had created thanks to Eric Curt's Make snowmen on Google Slides activity.
  2. I inserted the video for Dean Martin's version of "Let it Snow" by going
    to INSERT --> VIDEO and searching it on YouTube.
  3. Once it was inserted, I shrunk the size of the video screen as small as it could go.  This way it would be on the slide, but not visible.
  4. I copied the video on every slide.
  5. On each slide, I selected "autoplay when presenting" in video options.  (Note, you need to click the video on each slide to get the video options to complete this step and the next one.)
  6.  This is where I had to tinker.  I wanted to change the start and end times so each slide would have a section of the song.  First I tried 10 seconds per slide. (Slide 1 went 0:00-0:10, Slide 2 went 0:11-0:20, etc).  I found, once published (see next step) it was too choppy, so I changed it to 15 seconds per slides (Slide 1 went 0:00-0:15, Slide 2 went 0:16-0:30, etc).  Still this was choppy so I decided to overlap times.  My final "success" was: Slide 1- 0:00-0:16, Slide 2 - 0:14-0:32, etc).
  7. I then went published it to the web (FILE --> PUBLISH TO WEB), choosing "Auto-Advance Slides every 15 seconds" and "start slides as soon as the player loads" options from the pop up menu that appears (see to the right).
This is what was produced

As you can see, in the end, there was a slight pause as slides changed (which is kind of annoying) but it seems to be the best that I can do right now.  Anyone have another (better) work around?


Sunday, 29 January 2017

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy


In 1994, Gloria Ladson-Billings introduced the term “Culturally Relevant Teaching” (CRT) to describe "teaching that integrates a student’s background knowledge and prior home and community experiences into the curriculum and the teaching and learning experiences that take place in the classroom".  Essentially, she stated that every student is unique and his/her uniqueness needs to be honoured in the classroom to maximize engagement and in turn learning.  

In an attempt to ensure CRT, teachers are encouraged to use inquiry-based approaches.  Inquiry-based approaches could include project- or problem-based learning (including activities like 20 time and project based learning; more about IBL can be found here).  While some teacher may shy away from these practices, there is evidence that suggests that they are beneficial for all learners, not only those who play the game of school well.  Moreover, as stated in the Ministry of Education's Capacity Building series, "the core of these strategies.. a) hold[s] high expectations for learning while b) recogniz[e] and honour the strengths that a student’s lived experiences and/or home culture bring to the learning environment of the classroom".  So, as practitioners, we need to evaluate what it is that prevents us from implementing these strategies in our classroom.

What I see as one of the biggest challenges lies in having teachers "expand upon what is considered as the “curriculum” – recognizing both the informal and the subtle ways in which the curriculum defines what is and what is not valued in our schools and society".  These sorts of projects allow students to guide a lot of their learning which can be viewed by stakeholders as risky.  However, it is exactly this kind of learning that can empower and ready students for what they will face beyond the walls of our schools. 

Furthermore, we often align our teaching with what has been "effective" (or perhaps more accurately, modelled) for us as learners, and many teachers succeeded in (or experienced) a sit and get model of education wherein facts were regurgitated and self-directed learning was not modeled.  We need to break down this paradigm so all learners can experience success.  

By allowing students to explore their own passions by probing into deep, multi-layered questions, we "lessen dominant perspectives in our curriculum so that contributions from different backgrounds can be better understood and integrated into learning".



Work Cited
Dufour, Eve. "Learning Disabilities and Diversity: A Culturally Responsive Approach."LD@school. LD @ School, 22 May 2015. Web. 29 Jan. 2017. <https://www.ldatschool.ca/educator-supports/culturally-responsive-pedagogy/>.

Ladson-Billings, G. (1994). The Dreamkeepers: Successful teachers of African American children. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Ontario Ministry of Education (2013).  Capacity Building Series K-12: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy: Towards Equity and Inclusivity in Ontario Schools ). Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/CBS_ResponsivePedagogy.pdf