Summer Blogging Exposé – Week 4

Welcome to week 4 of the Summer Blogging Exposé. This week our theme is Personal Learning Network.

 Your Personal Learning Network

All teachers have some sort of Personal Learning Network (PLN). This is a group of people with whom they connect and discuss the work they do. It usually includes teachers and other people who are in the educational profession but can include anyone with whom they share the work they do and who affects their learning in some way. The main component of this network is learning. A great example is a post- Justin Schleider just published about the importance of his PLN, or as he describes it his Personal Learning Family (PLF), in his growth and development.

I surround myself with producers and creators who are constantly pushing themselves and others to learn.

These networks have always contributed to educator development and learning. Although it is often discussed in relation to being a “Connected Educator”, a PLN isn’t a new concept and has, I would suggest, always been a part of teacher learning. From short hallway talks to discussions around the photocopier to formal learning activities, teachers turn to other teachers to share and learn. Not all of these discussions result in learning but it is my experience that they are all sites of potential learning. “Each day is a PD day” is something I truly believe and the people around you can really affect the learning you do and the approach you take.

Reflections of the People Around You

I don’t know if this is completely true since for a good part of my life the 5 people I spent most of my time with were all about 13 years old – I was a grade 7 teacher – although come to think of it, I did fit in pretty well…..

The people in our lives have a major effect on the outlook we have on life. As an administrator, one of the aspects of culture I was very focused on was the positive – focusing on solutions that would help move the school forward, ways to build people up, and interactions that were positive and developmental. I wasn’t always successful but I knew that working at this was foundational to success.

I saw first hand how negativity could destroy even an amazing school staff. I was one of the negative people, something that I’m not very proud of, but I did learn that no amount of morale boosting or “rah rah” would overcome the negativity of a group until the negativity was addressed. When I became an administrator, I quickly learned how destructive negativity was for a group – I didn’t have the skills to deal with it in my first position and it ended up eating away at the staff and me personally. But I did learn that negativity needed to be addressed – it couldn’t be left as the elephant in the room – to not address it affected the learning of the students and couldn’t be left ‘to work itself out’.

Addressing the negative isn’t easy but it is necessary. This applies to all aspects of our lives. Negativity needs to be addressed and part of the solution is surrounding ourselves with people who are moving and looking forward. They tend to be grounded in what is happening today, focused on being in the moment and finding solutions. I find these people are very attuned to their own thoughts and feelings and how they affect what they do. They are very aware that not everything is “great” but they look for the positive solution to move forward.

 What Does Your PLN Look Like?

Who is in your immediate circle?

What type of people surround you?

How do these people affect you?

What does your PLN look like?

How important is it to surround oneself with others who are positive?

What do you do when you are in the midst of people who are not positive?

I’m looking forward to reading what others think about this topic.

Have an Edu-Awesome Week!

Summer Blogging Expose – week 3

So this week our topic is classroom/school design. It’s also a first for me as I write this post on my phone while lying on the beach watching my kids play in the water. (I will join them shortly. Short post this time!).

Why Classroom Design?

I’m on a beach but it  is really sand and rock. It’s not comfortable to sit or lay on.  The location, proximity to a large population and the fact it’s 28C would make me think it would be packed. Yet as yet u can see, it’s not.

It’s like our schools and classrooms. Are they designed to be places where students want to learn and explore? Are they designed for the people using them or, like the beach, so they are low maintenance and low cost? The mixture of rocks and sand will last longer  against the effects of wind and rain but it isn’t user friendly or fun to walk across.

I Wonder ….

How do we design classrooms for student use?

Do we consider comfort as well as purpose?

What role does cost/economics play in design?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about this.





Summer Learning – Summer Fun #saskedchat – June 6th

Tonight our topic for exploration Thursday June 6th is Summer Learning – Summer Fun.

Summer – nights by the campfire. Days at the beach. Family holidays.

For many teachers, it’s a time to rejuvenate and refresh, spend time with families and friends and just relax. But it’s also time for learning.

Always On Learning

Teachers have always taken time during the summer to develop and learn. Today, in a time of constant change, this is a necessary part of the summer routine for teachers. It’s important for teachers to continue their learning throughout the summer which means developing a plan that includes opportunities during the summer.

Traditionally, many teachers took some sort of summer classes or attended a PD event such as a conference or a short-course as part of their summer learning.

Conferences – There are so many different conferences for teachers all summer long. EdSurge outlines 50 K-12 Ed Technology conferences for 2017 – 2018. All summer long there are a variety of conferences that teachers can attend dealing with every subject. Although these are great opportunities, not everyone can attend and benefit from the networking and learning that takes place.

Classes – All summer long university campuses across North America see teachers returning to take classes for a variety of reasons. If they can’t make it to the campus, teachers have a variety of options for online learning.

Short-courses – these take place in a variety of venues and are intense learning sessions that take place over 3 to 5 days and are usually focused on a particular sub-group of teachers such as K – 3 or Science & Math teachers or Administrators. These intense course are geared to helping teachers to improve and develop specific understandings in a short period of time.

There are Alternatives

All of these are great opportunities but they aren’t necessarily for everyone. Many teachers just can’t manage to include these in their summer. Thankfully, there are a number of other opportunities for learning that can fit into any schedule.

Twitter chats/Voxer Groups – each of these is slightly different but are available to anyone who has an internet connection and a connectable device. Both offer opportunities for teachers to join groups of teachers who are continuing their learning. Teachers are encouraged to take part in book studies, informal discussions, scheduled chats, subject specific discussions, and a variety of other variations of these.

Online Courses – online learning continues to grow and there are more options for people who want to improve and develop at their own pace. You might explore PCDI Canada, edX, Open Culture, SkillShare, FutureLearn, Udacity, Lynda, Coursera , Microsoft (like Teaching Sustainable Development Goals) and many others. You can also check out the iTunes Online Courses for a variety of options.

Podcasts – Podcasts have been growing in popularity over the past few years. I’ve been listening to them for about 10 years and have even dabbled with a few of my own. Learning to create a podcast is a great  experience which can be used in all classrooms for a variety of learning experiences. I suggest checking out the iTunes library which has podcasts for everything. You can also check out StitcherPodcast Alley, PodOmatic, and LearnOutLoud. Podcasts are a great way to learn while you’re exercising or doing something like cleaning or driving. In fact, as I write this I’m listening to Todd Henry’s Accidental Creative podcast.

Local opportunities- I am fortunate to live in a community that offers classes all year long through a variety of different venues including the library and the local community associations. There are also museums, galleries, and other attractions which offer opportunities for learning.  In the past few years my wife and I have learned to dance the two-step and waltz. Learning isn’t limited to ‘academics’. I highly recommend looking into a variety of options that include a wholistic approach to learning.

Every Day is a PD Day

The opportunities for learning are changing as new options provide teachers paths for learning at their own pace and when it works best for them. “Every day is a PD day” has been something that I’ve repeated to staffs where I was a principal and discussed with other teachers. One doesn’t need to “wait” or travel or spend a great deal of money but  you do need to seek out the opportunities and be open to opportunities. Don’t treat learning like a separate event, it can take place anywhere at any time if one is curious and is willing to ask questions.

I Wonder…..

What are your favourite learning options during the summer?

How do you include learning throughout the summer?

How do you ensure learning continues to be fun and energizing?

We’d love to hear from you and your ideas and suggestions. Leave a comment or contact us at @saskedchat on Twitter.

World Events – #saskedchat – April 14, 2016

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Our chat focused on integrating and using World Events in the classroom. Participants shared how important it is to discuss what is happening in the world around as they are seeing and hearing a great many things and don’t always have a chance to discuss or unpack the events, their feelings or what they think about what is happening.

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Students are seeing and hearing a great many things about what is happening in the world. They are thinking about these things and wondering about them but it’s also important to provide them an opportunity to discuss these things in a safe environment.

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There are a number of great tools for finding news that students can use in the classroom and which are age-appropriate. If you check out the archive of the chat, there are a number of great suggestions for different strategies for incorporating world events in the classroom and some great resources.

Classroom Design – #saskedchat – March 7, 2016

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March  7th, 2016 – Classroom Design

Classroom design is an increasingly important topic of discussion. From the one-room classroom to today’s modern classrooms, there have been many changes but there is also a great deal that remains the same. Across the globe, there are examples of classrooms that are making changes to the design of school and the classroom. 

In her post Visualizing 21st Century Classroom Design – Mary Wade explores a number of different aspects of classroom design. Wade discusses five different aspects of the modern classroom design: Zones, Accessibility, Mobility, Inspiration and Respect. Each of these, according to Wade, are part of creating a 21st Century Classroom.

 By helping them (teachers) envision small, practical steps that will lead them there. Here are five elements of 21st-century classrooms, along with concrete suggestions that teachers can visualize and implement today.

According to Kayla Delzer, she wants to create a classroom atmosphere similar to Starbucks.

As I sat in our local Starbucks this past summer, I looked around and thought—why can’t my classroom look like this?

Kayla describes the process she went through as she re-envisioned and redesigned her classroom.

Before I even purchased a single thing, I thought about why I was doing a classroom redesign. If we truly want to prepare our students for the real world, we need to put them in responsive, dynamic environments that reflect life outside of a traditional classroom. And what’s that life outside like? Full of choices, where adults are responsible for their own learning.

There are many teachers who have worked with redesigning the classroom – from getting rid of the ‘Teacher’s Desk’ to shifting to stand-up desks and tables in the classroom. There are many things that can be done. Whatever you decide to do, it’s important to remember to include students in the discussion – allow them to help design a part of the space.

What are some things that you can do within the classroom to hack the design?

How can you allow students to develop and implement their own design ideas for the classroom?

The transcript of tonight’s #saskedchat on Classroom Design.