Monday, December 16, 2013

Bloom's (is a) Taxonomy...

Via Mia MacMeekin's "An Ethical Island" blog http://anethicalisland.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/blooms-blooming-taxonomy/

I was speaking again recently about Bloom's Taxonomy. I was at a professional development event and the topic of thinking skills came up. The conversation moved (as it seems to most of the time) to a comparison of the higher order and lower order thinking skills. I've always struggled with these terms "higher" and "lower" order. The problem I see with them in relation to Bloom's Taxonomy is that they connote a hierarchy more than a taxonomy.

tax·on·o·my

  [tak-son-uh-mee]
noun, plural tax·on·o·mies.
1. the science or technique of classification.
2. a classification into ordered categories: a proposed taxonomy of educational objectives.
taxonomy. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved December 15, 2013, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/taxonomy

hi·er·ar·chy

  [hahy-uh-rahr-kee, hahy-rahr-] 
noun, plural hi·er·ar·chies.
1. any system of persons or things ranked one above another.
hierarchy. (n.d.). Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved December 15, 2013, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hierarchy

It appears that the difference between a taxonomy and a hierarchy is in the way things are organized. In a taxonomy things are classified into some sort of order. This rings true in a hierarchy as well, but according to a ranked order of importance. A slight difference? Perhaps, but a significant difference nonetheless. As I study the diagram of Bloom's Revised Taxonomy below I have some questions. Is creating any more or less important than remembering? Is analyzing any more or less impacting that applying? To me the answer is no... each level of the taxonomy is relevant and important, and in some cases interdependent with other elements. For example, creating a colorful piece of artwork is only possible if we understand color, and remembering color as in 'ROYGBIV' helps us make creative use of the spectrum of color found in a rainbow.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Camp Everywhere...


I never experienced summer camp. The closest I got to a summer camp experience was what we called Cub Camp, a two day overnight camp when I was a Cub Scout many years ago. I got homesick and didn't think I was going to make it to the end, but I did. I also experienced some good, and some bad family holidays during the summers of my youth, but going to a real week long or longer summer camp never happened for me. I have heard lots of entertaining stories about summer camp experiences from friends who did go though. I'm going to focus on the good ones.


My colleague Everett (@mrtetz) and I were talking last week. We were going back and forth about what we'd do with a million dollars. He has this idea to build a summer camp for kids from at risk environments. Beyond the essentials of providing a safe, non judgmental and supportive environment at this camp, he would like to offer ways for kids to connect; with activities that help build their esteem, and with people who support them. What a great idea, but how to do this connection thing? How would we get kids to learn about themselves, face their fears, try new things, push their boundaries and accept themselves on the way to making these important connections? No small order.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Instructional Leadership...


I was very fortunate to be able to attend ConnectED at the Calgary Science School (CSS) on May 25. I wasn't able to attend on Friday the 24th, but was thrilled to participate as a receiver, and also a facilitator at the conference on Saturday. Glendale Sciences and Technology School (GSTS), where I teach and learn, is connected to CSS, and I've heard many good things about the school. Ours is a collaborative connection that we would like to grow into an even more collaborative partnership that allows both of our schools to mutually benefit from the other through sharing of resources, ideas, projects etc.

I facilitated a session on Glendale's Empathy Reboot Project on Saturday afternoon. It was great to share with folks from Alberta and British Columbia who attended the session, and I learned a lot from them as well. What I wanted to share here though is a really cool story about instructional leadership. I attended a session hosted by the Superintendent of CSS, Dr. Gary McKinnon, and Dr. Pam Adams from the University of Lethbridge. I had the pleasure of learning from Dr. McKinnon four years ago during a summer leadership program for beginning school administrators at Olds College, and have been working with Dr. Adams this past year on an administrative growth plan project within my school, so knowing how knowledgeable they both are, I was curious to hear what they had to say. Their discussion revolved around leadership in schools. At one point Dr. McKinnon spoke about instructional leadership and openly asked the question, "can students be instructional leaders?" (For the record I believe they most definitely can.)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

We don't need any special labels...

Your attitude is like a box of crayons t by katerha, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  katerha 

The following perspective was shared with me by our school's inclusion facilitator recently...
"Inclusion is an attitude and a value system that promotes the basic right of all students to receive appropriate and quality educational programming and services in the company of their peers"(Guetzole).
Inclusive schools embrace the notions that all children belong, and that all children will learn if their educational needs are met. Notably absent from this definition is any mention of children with disabilities or special education. Inclusion is not a special education issue. It is about developing supportive schools and fostering high achievement for all staff and all students.

As former special education teachers, the two of us were having a discussion about inclusion, and how the terminology special education student doesn't really fit the bill anymore as a result of a welcome philosophical shift toward inclusion within the education system. Our school is fully inclusive. We don't offer any segregated or congregated programming at Glendale Sciences and Technology School... and we're (staff and students) doing just fine. My colleague and I were wondering out loud if we should just strike the term special education from our school's common language vocabulary. In the end, we agreed we should.

We agreed because our school is fashioning itself as one described above... one where
all children belong and where all children will learn if their educational needs are met. We intend Glendale to be a supportive school that fosters high achievement for all staff and all students. We believe implicitly that all students do have a fundamental right to receive appropriate and quality educational programming and services in the company of their peers from caring and empathetic teachers and paraprofessionals within the school. We also believe that all staff have a fundamental right to receive appropriate and quality educational support and professional learning services in the company of (and perhaps from) their caring and empathetic peers. This is how we think the collaborative process is optimized.

This is the essence of our Empathy Reboot Project. We are using this project to illuminate the imperative to be inclusive, and as a conduit to leverage empathy as our vessel toward a truly inclusive school. We know that success is measured in innumerable ways, and that by careful application of a strengths-based focus for all students and staff, we will be able to perceive success where formerly it may have eluded us. We understand that "normal is just a setting on the clothes dryer," and strive to value the contribution to learning that every single child and adult makes within our school. Our school does not equate kids or adults with the tabula rasa (blank slate) metaphor that preschool kids are often attached with, and rather think of each other as numerosus rasa... child and adult learners as abundant slates. We think of every member of our school community as a learner with infinite potential to acquire skills and knowledge. This is how we as teachers model never-ending learning, allowing us to teach knowledge, skills and attitudes more effectively from a place of confidence as opposed to anxiety.

We believe an inclusive school culture is one where all feel welcome and respected. It starts from the premise that everyone in our school... students, educators, adminstrators, support staff and parents... should feel they belong, realize their potential and contribute to the life of the school. In our inclusive school culture, diverse experiences and perspectives are seen as gifts to enrich the school community. 

An inclusive school culture is one where diversity is embraced, learning supports are available and properly utilized, and flexible learning experiences focus on the individual student. There is an innovative and creative environment and a collaborative approach is taken. At the heart of inclusion is committed leadership and a shared direction... every member of our inclusive school culture is viewed as a potential leader; staff, students and parents alike.

In our school diversity is a feature, not a bug. We acknowledge and celebrate differences as we divine characteristics that define us as a uniquely individual members of the school family. Twisting our cultural lens a bit focuses awareness of how self-identity is influenced by our perception of others, the world and everything within it. Culture is what we believe. The circumstances that surround every single conversation about culture are a sum total of the perceptions of those participating. If we are to peacefully and hopefully engage each other, we have to try to understand and empathize with each others cultural perceptions.

The cultural perspective we all hold is shaped by our experiences as influenced by our birthplace, our family, our spirituality and the zeitgeist within which we were born; it’s the cultural reality lens we look through. Our cultural identity is learned beginning the moment we’re born. Obvious physical characteristics and genetic traits define our culture in part from the second we’re conceived. After we’re born, the evolving cultural identity we form is largely influenced by our relationships and surroundings. Steve Van Bockern, coauthor of “Reclaiming Youth at Risk- Our Hope for the Future” refers to this identity as our cultural tail. I had the pleasure of attending a retreat with Steve on the Morley Indian Reservation west of Calgary in 2002. He explained that we can’t cut off our cultural tail; it’s always there, behind us affecting our perspective, but also that great things are possible in everyone’s future despite this tail that follows us.

Whether good, bad or indifferent, our cultural tail tells the story of where we’ve come from; who we are in terms of how our environments affect us, but it doesn’t have to predict where we’re headed. From a cultural perspective, in many ways we begin our lives rather innocently. Like clay to the sculptor, we start as unformed material yearning to be molded and shaped into a more tangible form; our growing cultural identity. Just as soon as we see the light of the world we begin forming perceptions and feelings about our culture and how we are different from, or similar to others. We are the sum total of what we think we are. Adults at Glendale strive to be responsible about noticing the cultural perspectives of children so we can help them form positive perceptions about their personal identities. We also need to do this with each other enabling all of us to confidently build relationships and circles of support as we share our perspectives with each other.

Ultimately these evolving personal identities define us as important and valued members of our school culture. We all have a story... we strive to learn everyone's story at Glendale. Our stories are what define us... we don't need any special labels to help us do this.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Collaborators...

Collaborate [11/52] by Brenderous, on Flickr

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Brenderous

They engaged, they listened and they collaborated. Red Deer's and central Alberta's first edcamp unconference is on the books... what a fantastic day it was.

I really appreciate the reflective post, "If You Build It, They Will Camp," by @robertsdrb and especially this comment...
Every session I went to gave me something which either changed, deepened, challenged or furthered my thinking. And there were many other sessions that I didn't get a chance to go to but wish I would have had the time for as well.
There's not much I could add to Diane's excellent recap and reflection of #redcamp13, except to say that I completely agree with this statement. As one of the other organizers of the event, and a host representing Glendale Sciences and Technology School where #redcamp13 was held, I felt responsible for keeping the flow going, and as a result didn't get to sit in on as many sessions as I would have hoped. That's OK though, because stepping back a bit gave me a unique perspective. From the sidelines I was able to make a few observations, some new friends and I had time to think about what we could add to #redcamp14...
  • People. One of my hallway conversations with a school board trustee in attendance (thanks so much for that Cathy:) highlighted the wonderfully diverse nature of our unconference participants. Registered participants included...
School Administrators= 23
Senior Administrators= 2
Local Red Deer Teachers= 41
Out of Town Teachers= 33
External Agencies Supporting Schools= 6
Educational Assistants= 1
University Students/Recent Grads= 12
School Board Officials= 4
University Professors= 2
Seventh Grade Glendale Students= 3
Politicians= 1
Parents= 2
Cathy and I agreed that there are many stakeholders in providing high quality education, and many were represented at #redcamp13, but we could get more. Capturing the diversity in their perspectives is an important goal of the edcamp process.
  • Kids. We had three (committed seventh grade students offered a session off the cuff explaining their edible landscaping project, and how they convinced the City of Red Deer to join them in creating a beautiful community resource on our shared property; an edible garden plan for everyone to enjoy and benefit from...) but more would be better. I had another conversation with a group of redcamp champs discussing the tremendous value of capturing student voice in an edcamp context. We were thinking out loud how great it would be to provide opportunities for students to share their thoughts about what can and perhaps should be done to continue supporting improved teaching and learning. We thought a TED style format would fit very nicely where kids briefly present their position, idea, dream, challenge etc. and then host a dialog around their topic of focus. This came to me during the session I presented addressing authentic and creative learning tasks, and we watched this... 
  • Collaborative Projects. The image at the top of this post made me think about this very cool #redcamp13 session... I'm wondering why a collaborative, one day art, writing, drama or blog project couldn't materialize as a feature outcome of #redcamp14.
  •  Topics. We had a rich and practical list of session topics; all proposed and presented by redcamp13 delegates. Presenters included politicians, teachers, administrators, senior administrators, pre-service teachers, recent education graduates, university professors, external agency representatives and even middle school students... it was an awesome range of choices, and one day just didn't seem like enough to fully address them, but maybe that's what's supposed to happen at edcamps. Perhaps some of these conversations will continue to evolve at the next edcamp offered in another town or city. At any rate, the more choice there is in session topics, the higher the chance we can create engagement and value in our conversations.
So my final words to close out the day included a simple invitation. I asked redcampers to consider that the interactions and conversations having occurred during the event could (perhaps should) be considered as beginnings; not endings. I suggested that the dialog should continue and the connections should strengthen through an effort to maintain a level of social and professional engagement with each other.

One thing I know for sure is that the people who made up #redcamp13 were already attuned to the social side of collaborative efforts.
They were motivated to make themselves visible and to participate. They shared what they knew, tools they had and thoughts they pondered. They showed up at #redcamp13 on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning in May when they could have been doing other things; I think because they saw the value in finding each other. They readily connected and related personally and professionally with each other. They contributed.

Perhaps all of this is why the forming, storming, norming and reforming they did above the social collaboration wave went so smoothly.
I am very much looking forward to #redcamp14!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Social Collaboration...

The Collaboration Pyramid by oscarberg, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  oscarberg 

The Collaboration Pyramid offers a great visual to dive deeper into the nature of authentic collaboration and optimized production.

In traditional team-based collaborative models we experience the "form, storm, norm and perform" process, and it has proved to be very useful in the context of team effectiveness, but perhaps leaves a bit of a void in the area of personal responsibility, or individual motivation to make a meaningful contribution to the team.

The Collaboration Pyramid displays a broader platform to support a different context for collaboration that may eventually lead to more authentic and meaningful personal investment in the team process. I think social collaboration as framed in the diagram is closely related to the concept of morphic resonance. 

morphic resonance [ˈmɔːfɪk]
n
(Life Sciences; Allied Applications / Biology) the idea that, through a telepathic effect or sympathetic vibration, an event or act can lead to similar events or acts in the future or an idea conceived in one mind can then arise in another...
In the first stage of social collaboration it is assumed that individuals have reflectively defined their own purpose and values, and that through reflection, these have manifested as personal philosophies; relative degrees of self-awareness and motivation to be present and contribute. This is the point where individuals become participants; they feel confident to share what they feel, think and do.  Their personal philosophies become known and ideas conceived in their minds can then arise in the minds of others by way of social interaction.  They are sharing, and also receiving...

RCVR from notthisbody on Vimeo.

This act of becoming visible and participating as a receiver creates possibility in teaching and learning. It's where morphic resonance begins. It is the first stage of interaction in the social collaboration process. Putting ourselves out there as receivers in the collaborative process frames our participation in group learning as self-motivated, reflective and social. It puts us in motion toward others who are also self-motivated, reflective and social, and the interdependent levels of the collaboration pyramid begin to flourish.

When we share what we feel, think and do, we are displaying vulnerability in the learning process. Sharing is a fundamental element of social participation that feeds a self-organizing learning environment. When we are vulnerable and put our knowledge and thoughts out there, we tend to attract others who are compelled by similar domains of knowledge and ideas. When we begin to talk about these shared domains, the dialogue may attract new collaborators intrigued by a perspective they hadn't considered yet. People find others and discover their varied points of view, and they choose to connect and relate, or not... and the or not part of this is very important. The foundation of purpose, values, self- awareness and motivation that underpins everyone's relative participation in the collaboration pyramid helps them decide whether to engage, or not. It is more than OK for people to not engage. Choice is the rule of engagement. Everyone has the right to choose whether to engage in sharing and receiving, or not depending on their independent purpose, values, self-awareness and motivation.

The social collaboration side of the Collaboration Pyramid posits a collaborative model where the processes of building trust, engaging with others and their ideas and seeking learning opportunities becomes more ubiquitous, open and visible as a result of our willingness to share, receive, connect and contribute.

APA citation: Berg, O. (2012, February 14). The collaboration pyramid (or iceberg). In The Content Economy: Envisioning the Future of Knowledge work, and Defining the Steps We Must Take to Get There. Retrieved January 10, 2013, from http://www.thecontenteconomy.com/2012/02/collaboration-pyramid.html

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A "Starbucks" classroom...

 
We started with an inquiry question... "why aren't Starbuck's Coffee houses drive through only?" 

We discussed this question for quite some time... here's what we came up with:
  • They wouldn't sell as much coffee (to which we asked why, and the answer was "people like hanging out at Starbucks")
  • They like hanging out at Starbuck's for a number of reasons:
    • The smell
    • The coffee
    • The treats
    • The books (if the store is inside a chapters book store, which they often are in Canada...)
    • The leather couches
    • The fireplace on a cold winter day
    • The free wifi
    • The ambiance (we looked that one up...)
    • The public art (done by local artists)
    • The comradeship; hanging out with friends
    • The patio (on warm summer days)
    • The friendliness of the baristas (we looked that one up too)
    • The background sounds (music, chatter about interesting topics)
    • The "coolness" of it all... the environment as described by the above reasons. We felt it was a laid back, relaxed and enjoyable place to be
    • We even figured out that every time you turn around in a Starbuck's coffee shop, you run into something (and further realized that what you run into is usually for sale:). We realized that cramped spaces don't have to be cramped in a bad way if they're set up right, and if the folks within the spaces get along OK. So we came up with this model of learning and living, and put a giant version of it on our wall.

We reference the Hope Wheel often. We use it to contextualize our learning, to solve problems, resolve conflicts, set goals and teach others (that's the "Elder" part of what we do in the Responsibility phase of the north.) It has become the social, emotional and intellectual platform that our physical learning space is supported by. It's the model we use to think about things. You can learn more about this learning model here.

So we took a look at our classroom and decided that we could create this type of environment to learn in, sans the coffee perhaps:)

We decided that couches, books, free wifi, public art (done by students), comradeship, friendliness and the "coolness" of it all would be easy to emulate.

We got rid of the desks and put tables in their place. We found a couch and a coffee table. We hung (and continue to hang) art created by students. We put some mats on the floor. We created a private corner office that we take turns using each day. We already had free wifi. We created some cool lighting effects with a couple of lamps. Recently we even took a donation of a free electric fireplace! How cool is that?
So now we learn in a "Starbuck`s classroom," and we really like it.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

"We're raising boys..."

This is cross-posted from Grow Boys Red Deer at http://www.reddeergrowboys.com/. I have been involved with the Grow Boys project for three years now, and it has been one of the most rewarding initiatives I have taken on. For more information on the Grow Boys concept, please get in touch and we can talk.

Dad and Son by Ryan Qiu, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  Ryan Qiu 


My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard.
Mother would come out and say,
"You're tearing up the grass!"
"We're not raising grass," Dad would reply.
"We're raising boys." -author unknown

We are raising boys. All of us. No matter who we are in the community, whether we are a parent or not; we all have a responsibility to support the happy, healthy growth and development of boys. Of course we need to do this for girls as well, but Grow Boys is a collective that focuses specifically on what can be done to nurture the particular needs of boys; and there are many. As the dad in the poem suggests, we need to take a critical and reflective perspective toward what our boys need from us, and how we're going to provide for them.

inner child by Dave_B_, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  Dave_B_ 

Herbert Vilakazi's opening address to the National Association of Child Care Workers 1991 Biennial Conference (http://tinyurl.com/yfxzdwn) in South Africa provides one such perspective with his brilliant insight to how we need to think and act if we are to support today's children as our gifts to the future.
"The problems of children and of youth, giving rise to child and youth care programs, can only begin to be solved in that society of humankind’s dream; a more collective-oriented society than at present, when the father of the child shall be every man as old as the child’s father; when the mother of the child shall be every woman as old as the child’s mother; a society of responsibility of the entire community; a society without poverty; without the inequalities of society members, based upon race, class, or sex; a society without the use of violence against other members of society; a society without any exploitation and oppression of any group by any other group; a society of equals; a thoroughly democratic society; last, but not least a society that shall have, once more, incorporated productive labor into the educational process."

Answers need questions...



Generally speaking, questions need answers, but a colleague reminded me this past week that some answers need questions too.

Learning slows down drastically, or even stops completely when we get to a point where we believe we know everything we need to know about something. When we think we have all the answers, perhaps that is when we need to question things even more. Innovation to me isn't necessarily a completely new approach, idea or process. Innovation can often mean a retooling of elements that already exist.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ― Marcel Proust
At the heart of inquiry is the art of questioning. I believe the "voyage of discovery" Proust refers to is entirely about perspective. When learners instigate their own and others thoughts through questioning they are pushing the boundaries of perspective. Challenging our conventions about learning and knowledge happens in that cognitive place where time is taken to deconstruct what we think we know about how things should be, and where unencumbered thought magically turns into innovation. I am encouraging this process within my classroom.

Monday, January 14, 2013

ETMOOC- Redfining Success...



Hello, my name is Sean Grainger. I'm in my 19th year of learning as a teacher having experienced a diverse range of assignments. I am currently a Humanities 7 teacher at Glendale Sciences and Technology School in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. I am also my school's vice principal, (a newly re-tooled K-8 inquiry-based, science and technology focused school.)

Before returning to Glendale this past fall, (I was Glendale School's counselor three years ago,) I was a vice principal in a K-5th grade school here in Red Deer, and before that I worked with kids from at-risk environments in Red Deer Public School District's Alternative Programs for eight years. My career started at Tall Cree Indian Reservation in the far north of Alberta at the end of a four hour drive on a gravel road once the pavement ended. I worked within three First Nations communities for a total of six years before moving to Red Deer. My time working with First Nation's people taught me so much about learning and living; it was a priceless way to begin my career.

I am a firm believer that, more often than not, the path chooses us. If somebody asked me how I thought my career would go when I left undergraduate school, I would not have predicted my story would be told the way it has evolved. I appreciate this. More than anything about teaching and learning, I appreciate the fluid, organic and unpredictable nature of my job... there is a new and different challenge everyday for which I am thankful. I consider it a giant privilege to be immersed in the learning process everyday, and I am blessed to be surrounded by kids who are inquisitive, intelligent and eager to learn with me.

Joining #etmooc is another opportunity for me to learn from others, and to share experiences with them. I have been blogging for three years, and I've been a fierce consumer of educational technology since leaving graduate school in 2006. My learning spirit was rejuvenated there when I was introduced to blended learning through my cohort-based experience at City University, Bellingham, WA. I went to grad school because I wanted to... I had no tangible goal other than to learn on a different plane. I participated on my terms, and it is the most engaging and enlightening formal learning experience I have had. My work at City U opened many doors, but even if it hadn't, I was successful because I was there on my terms. I think I will be successful as a member of #etmooc for the same reason.

Beyond #etmooc, the concept of massive open online courses in general is very intriguing to me. This is my first participatory experience, and I am seeking insight into how MOOC's can benefit learners who don't have the privilege of geographic location, financial means or time to participate in face to face, traditional learning institutions.

Looking forward to connecting!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The story behind the story...

A Chinese hanzi is often made up of multiple characters to create a unique meaning. The hanzi above is constructed of different characters that individually represent ears, eyes, undivided attention and heart. A beautiful alternative definition of the verb to listen is created... to listen means to hear with your heart; to be totally engaged and focused on understanding deeper meanings behind what we hear.

Every day I am reminded how important it is to listen to student`s stories. I am fortunate to have time during the school day to hear with my heart as I listen to the real reasons why kids end up in the office talking to me. Like the young man in this clip, sometimes kids just need an opportunity to be honest and real so we can understand their struggle better.



In my school we don`t think of a trip to the office as a punitive thing. We think of it as a resiliency building thing. An office referral is one of four resiliency pathways (as we call them) within our school that kids travel down depending on the nature of their challenge on any given day. An office visit more often than not means some adverse behavior would have been displayed.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What if your professional development looked like this?

This post was written by my friend and colleague Chris McCullough (a #redcampchamp.) He is a high school teacher in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. He blogs here and tweets here. This post was originally found here.

If you've watched the following video, I hope you've come to understand a little bit about the power of intrinsic motivation and autonomy.

 

With regards to Teacher Professional Development, these seem to be new concepts. Personally I believe many teachers in North America have forgotten how important it is to maintain the professionalism and art that is teaching.

As teachers, we have to do more than handout worksheets, and get students to fill in the answers. As an example, I recently had a conversation with a colleague who explained that a student of hers was complaining that her Social Studies school work was too hard. "Couldn't we just complete worksheets, you know, the kind where the answers are in each chapter of the textbook?" This is an interesting dilemma for a teacher; the idea that a student would complain that their assignments made them think, create, and problem solve. As Professionals it is important that teaching is much broader than handing out questions. Great teachers engage, discuss, and get their students thinking. Teacher Professional Development should be like this too. The #edcamp model is a great example of how this could work, and I truly hope that teachers throughout Central Alberta will give this kind of learning a try. Teachers love to "talk shop" and this un-conference provides an opportunity for them to do just that!

In life, the answer isn't always at the back of the book, and I believe when it comes to teacher Professional Development this is true too. As a profession, we can't be the students who are complaining that they have to think at school. We have to embrace our learning needs, wants, and challenges. We can't let people do this for us. If we do, then we are just technicians, we are less than professionals. Professionals always try to better themselves, so why not try #redcamp. It's local, it's free, and it may just be the kind of Professional Development you're looking for.

For further information, check out this great TED talk by Kristen Swanson.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Comprehensive character curriculum...

flickr image via stevendepolo

I was compelled by this NBC Education Nation presentation. The idea of character development in schools always grabs me, and the panel poked at my brain a lot...


NBC News Education Nation: Can Character Be Taught? from The Aspen Institute and The Atlantic on FORA.tv

Among other elements of the dialog that peaked my interest, the idea at 18:45 was, I think,  particularly important. Collaborating across difference as Russell Shaw referred to it, is a concept I feel educators need to be open to, and explore with increased rigor. I wrote about this idea in chapter 17 of Innovative Voices in Education- Engaging Diverse Communities...
Culture is more than who we are, our skin color, where we come from or our ethnic or religious values; it’s the summation of all the elements of our lives that influence our thoughts, ideas, values and passions. The kind of school I want all kids to attend is one where thoughts, ideas, values and passions are nurtured and shared toward increased understanding of others. When we are exposed to the thoughts, ideas, values and passions of others, our eyes are opened to learning possibilities we may never had considered otherwise.
Alas, it is the differences among us that make life and learning interesting. Each one of us is at a different place and time along our own learning path, and there is no need for anyone to slow down, or catch up. We are where we are, and that is where we all need to be.
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