Posts tagged Open
Call to Action #2 - Twitter Challenge
On June 1st, the Halton District School Board wants to celebrate some of the great things that happen in our schools and community.  The medium for this celebration?  Twitter and the hashtag #LoveMyHaltonSchool.  If you are reading this and are already using twitter, we think that is great!  If you haven’t had a chance to try out twitter yet, or are reluctant to jump into the world of social media, allow us a moment to try to convince you to join the conversation.

We want you to create your own professional twitter account.  We also want you to know that it is ok to sign up for twitter and never tweet a thing.  Being passive in an online community is a great way to be introduced to the ins and outs of the community…and what a community it is!  There are so many educators using twitter, and their practice is enhanced by the sharing that goes on in this space.

So here is our next Call to Action
  • If you use twitter, send out a tweet on June 1st identifying something you’d like to celebrate about your school.  Use the hashtag #LoveMyHaltonSchool
  • If you don’t use twitter, consider signing up!  Then send a short message into the void, introduce yourself, jump into the deep end!
  • Follow some Halton teachers who are already on Twitter to widen your network.  You’ll probably find lots to follow if you search for the #LoveMyHaltonSchool hashtag during the day.

Maybe we should slow down...you might be wondering what the heck a hashtag is anyway?

“Hashtags are keywords that categorize what you’re tweeting about. For instance, you might use “#edtech” at the end of a tweet about how your students use tablets. You can also search Twitter for a hashtag that you’re interested in. This will bring up tweets from other users who have tweeted about that topic.”

Still interested?  Here is a short breakdown of some things you might want to know about tweeting.

Are you an educator, inside or outside of Halton, that uses twitter professionally?  We’d love to connect with you, why not post your twitter handle in the comments!
Want to know even MORE???

Handle
twitter handle @
This is your Twitter name. You want this to be both memorable and easy to remember. Sure, you can use your first and last name, but there are a lot of Jane Smith’s out there. If your name is taken, use something that identifies you. Ours are, for example, @DFJH_Mitchell and @MrColemanArt Some of our friends include @pjdavison and @Mrs_Newcombe. Short, spelled correctly, and identifiable is key.
Tweet
A 140-character public message.
News Feed
twitter home
The home button gets you to your news feed. This is a constantly updated list of everyone you choose to follow. Occasionally you might see promoted tweets too (meaning someone paid Twitter to get seen).
Hashtag
twitter #hashtag
The pound sign before text means that the text can be searched. This is really useful. If you want to find everyone talking about innovative things in Halton you throw the hashtag on the front, and you can find any tweet that someone put #HDSBInnovates in. They can also be used for humor. #MitchellRocks #TwitterIsCool
DM (Direct Message)
All tweets are public and can be seen by anyone at any time unless you use a direct message. A DM means that the conversation is only between you and the other person (or people) in your message.
RT (Retweet)
twitter retweet
Anyone can repost your tweet, which is similar to quoting you. Your name is still attached, but everyone who follows the re-poster can now see your tweet too. This is usually done as a form of agreement or flattery.
Favorite
Hit the heart when you want to say you like a tweet, or agree with it.
Quote Tweet
twitter quote
Quote was formerly a MT, or Mention. You can attach an original tweet to yours and add your own commentary.
Notifications
twitter notifications
When someone mentions your handle, or retweets what you wrote, you will get a notification. You can choose if you get text alerts, emails, or phone notifications in your settings.



April PD Day with Business, Computers, Math and Science!
I really enjoy our April Professional Development day in Halton.  It a chance for our various program areas to get together in one central site to do some sharing.  This past Friday, the Business, Computers, Math and Science teachers from around Halton gathered at Craig Kielburger Secondary School to hear about some of the innovative things that are happening around the board.


The day started with a session on Equity.  The student reflections about equity that we were provided were a sobering reminder that there is always more that we can do to create safe and inclusive communities in our schools.  After reading and reflecting on these quotes we watched a short video on equity by our Director, Stuart Miller.  It feels good to work in a board that values student voice and equity.  I was glad to start the day this way.



This was followed by learning sessions that we got to choose.  I started my learning off by listening to Kristy Morrison and Kristen McCoy talk about ways to provide students with more descriptive feedback.  Their tool of choice is Google Forms, which I have a very basic understanding of.  They dove deep into their method of crafting online quizzes, their rationale behind why they want to provide instant feedback to their students and the outcomes that they have seen.  You can check out their presentation here.  There are some really detailed instructions on how to make your online Google Form quizzes.  I applied my learning right away and was able to push a short quiz out to my students before the session was even over.

After listening to Kristy and Kristen, I was in the presenter seat for the rest of the day.  I led a session with Phoebe Ching titled “Do You Want to Throw Out Your Traditional Final 30%?”  The room was pretty full, so we spent the first few minutes of the presentation circulating through the room asking people what made them decide to attend our presentation.  My favourite answer was “I don’t want to throw out my final 30%, I’m just looking for ways to make it better!”.  Perhaps next time I present on this topic I should retitle it, since I’m not looking to get rid of all final 30% tasks.  I’m looking towards creating tasks that are more authentic, something that our students might encounter in the real world.  I want to give students a chance to be excited about what they’ve learned and share that learning with the class.  As it stands now, I don’t think our traditional Performance Task - Exam mindset allows for that.  I think the end of a semester should be a celebration for students.  I don’t think they are getting that right now.  Of course, I could be wrong, I only really see what happens in math classes.  I haven’t found the magic answer to revising my Final 30% tasks, but I’ve tried lots.  My favourite to date has been offering my Advanced Functions the choice in what type of final exam they completed.  Some chose to write a very traditional final exam where they answered questions that I thought were important.  Others chose to complete a more open ended exam where they provided examples of their own learning that they thought were important.  

Finally I presented with Troy Tennant again on the topic of “Responsible Use of Technology in Classrooms”.  We’ve presented on this topic before and you can read a reflection about it here.  The participants really seemed to like the signs that Troy developed for tech use in his classroom and the Green/Yellow/Red signs that Cindy Cosentino, Instructional Program Lead for Science, adapted from them.  
responsibletechnology.png
I like both, mostly because after establishing the culture of appropriate tech use in your classroom with these signs, your need to use the signs will diminish quickly as students become comfortable with when and how to use tech.  

All in all, Friday was a great day.  I wish there were more opportunities for us all to get together and share.  One day isn’t enough!
How to Create a 21st Century Classroom
I spent last Friday morning presenting with Joanne Eliuk at the Canadian Safe Schools Network 20/20 Conference.  This conference, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Safe Schools Network had a focus on Technology and Digital Citizenship, Diversity and Inclusion and Health & Wellness.  While we were identified as being a workshop that fit into the "Technology and Digital Citizenship" focus, what keeps being reinforced the more we dialogue with educators is that these practices are all interconnected. It all comes down to the relationship we develop with our students and how that relationship can help students learn and grow that creates a 21st century classroom.

Joanne and I gave a presentation on The 21st Century Classroom.  This was a presentation we’ve given before at Halton’s Innovation and Technology Symposium in the fall.  At that time, our presentation highlighted our own “Ten Easy Steps” and then some points within those steps for an educator to consider.

This time, Joanne and I decided to take away the points from our presentation and just provide the steps.  We did this for a few reasons; we wanted a more informal presentation, we were hoping for more discussion, we wanted to be able to field questions more easily.  However, the biggest reason we changed our format was because we believe that there are big picture philosophies that go into a 21st Century classroom but also that the way each teacher dives into those philosophies is different.  Again, as in our classrooms, what we noticed is that the more you allow people to explore their own ideas, the more our understanding grows as well.

Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.  Everyone has different ways they can effect change in their classrooms or schools.  What works for me might not always work for someone else, and vice versa.  Once you peel back the day to day strategies that are used and look at the deeper thinking that goes into a 21st Century Classroom, you’ll see aspects of our “easy steps”.

So what do we identify as the steps needed to make a 21st Century Classroom?

  1. Make the classroom student centered
  2. Create an environment that is invitational
  3. Teach students how to take responsibility
  4. Ask students to be reflective
  5. Have a culture that promotes inquiry
  6. Make the learning adaptive
  7. Have assessment that is performance based
  8. Make your assessment transparent
  9. Mentor your students
  10. Integrate technology

On Friday, we intentionally put technology last, because technology is the least important thing in a 21st Century classroom.  Technology alone doesn’t make a classroom innovative.  Technology is a tool that should be used to improve student outcomes in your classroom.  It is not a magic bullet.  No amount of iPads or Smartboards or Kahoots will make a difference if the other 9 ingredients in a 21st Century Classroom aren’t being addressed.  

Joanne and I enjoyed the conversations that our presentation sparked.  It was interesting to hear so many other perspectives, especially from teachers in the elementary panel.  I found it fascinating to realize how interconnected the steps for a 21st Century classroom are.  We spoke about mentoring many times before finally coming to that step in our presentation.  Many participants spoke of the need to build a positive relationship with their students which ties in well with student centered, invitational classrooms.  

In the end, we spent a lot of time talking about what a classroom “looks” like and what it “sounds” like.  I think the biggest challenge comes down to understanding what it “feels” like to be in our classrooms.  If students feel welcome, included, listened to, empowered and respected that is when true learning happens.  If you are thinking, “My classroom feels like it needs some Chromebooks...”, you might be missing the point.

Notice, no technology
For anyone getting ready to join the Innovators Mindset book club, the look fors that George Couros identifies link up well with the steps Joanne and I spoke about.

I might be paraphrasing...
Creating a 21st Century Classroom of your own doesn’t have to be hard.  Really, it’s been the 21st Century for seventeen years.  If you want to make your own 21st Century Classroom, just find a classroom and walk in.  Maybe we should re-title our presentation to “How to Create a Classroom”.

In the spirit of Open, if you are passionate about creating a 21st Century Classroom of your own, feel free to use our presentation and adapt it for your own building.
What Are We Reading?

Let’s put all the cards on the table before we get into our book list. When we say “reading”, what we really mean is “what pages do we look at after putting the kids to bed”. It’s hard to fit in reading, for professional growth or for fun into a day that is full of work and family. And yet, we try, as we imagine most of you do to.

Given the nature of this project, reading for professional growth has become more important to us. For sure we still try to find the time to read for pleasure but that time is shrinking as we get closer to launching The Shift. Certainly, if we are going to be the conduit through which innovative teaching practices are shared we better have some evidence to fall back on.

We both started by reading Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era. This book was the basis for the companion documentary Most Likely to Succeed, which was screened twice last semester in our board. The documentary itself was attended by over 500 Halton staff and prompted many great conversations in our schools. The film was even shown to students from Milton District High School. The book itself asks, among other things, how should classrooms be changing to reflect the skills needed to be successful in the 21st Century.



We have also moved on to the book Open, by David Price. Open wonders how we’ll work, live and learn in the future. How can our schools evolve in a world where many companies give away their products for free? Likewise, sharing in the 21st century seems to becoming the norm so how can our classrooms and professional relationships reflect that? Certainly we can continue to teach using our current model, which is formal (pre-determined time and place), linear (follows a curriculum) and transmitted one way (teacher to student). Open imagines an education system where learning is social and knowledge is gained as the task or project demands.




At least one of us is reading Burn Math Class (Hint: It’s not Matt). The author, Jason Wilkes,
describes a reordering of the math curriculum where students start with addition and subtraction and create their own mathematical facts based on experimentation and failure. At its core, the novel stresses removing the emphasis on memorization of procedures and instead have students construct methods that make sense to them.


Being a wide-eyed fan of his TED brilliant talks, we have picked up Sir Ken Robinson's Creative
Schools: The Grassroots Revolution that Transforming Education. As we are looking to SHIFT education at HDSB, the promise of direct call to action in this book has brought this one to the top of the "next read" list.


Finally, both of us are looking forward to reading Hacking Assessment: 10 Ways to Go Gradeless in a
Traditional Grades School. Neither of us have opened the cover yet but we can’t wait to dive in. Both of us struggle with the question “What is this worth?” or “Is this getting marked?”. Hacking Assessment is about shifting everyone's thinking away from grades. School should be about the learning, not about the number attached to that learning. We can’t wait to start this one!

It is important to remember that no one book or idea is the magic bullet for our schools. Rather, the synthesis of ideas is important, especially when each individual educator thinks about their strengths and areas for growth. Reflection, as always, is important. We can picture a classroom where project based learning is the norm, each student is learning something different so that they can be successful on their own project and the curriculum is delivered in a way that makes sense to each individual student. More than that, each student engages in the classroom not because it is worth a mark but because they want to learn that material. We aren’t there yet, but we are working on it.

Want to learn with us? Consider joining Innovators Mindset, a book club with a twist! If you are an employee of the HDSB you can join in the discussion and get a free copy of the book. Over the course of five evenings the book will be discussed online. Participate from the comfort of your own home, or meet up with friends and collaborate as a group.


We look forward to participating in the conversation.