Sunday, February 27, 2011

A+ for Energy (Grant Money)

Jen and Sandi, Aug 2009
Probably the second most asked question I get (the first is where did you learn all this tech stuff) is how did you get all of this technology for your classroom.  The short answer is that I apply for anything and everything, and this program has been especially generous for Hythe Regional School.

For 3 years now HRS has been awarded $10 000 each year as part of the BP Energy Education Program, A+ for Energy program for sucessful energy projects.  You can see the winning project applications here.  Projects included junior high Science, Social Studies and Language Arts.

Each project allowed students to have an interesting and engaging learning experience and allowed the school to buy some technology to complete the project.  In year 1 SMARTboards, year 2 laptops and in year 3 more laptops, audio and video recorders.

Jen May 2010

This years deadline is April 6, 2011with the application submitted completely online.  Think up some crazy and creative energy projects and let myself, Sandi or Debbie know if we can help you out.

Enabling Education Through Technology Symposium

Last week I had the chance to attend this symposium with a couple hundred of my IT and ET colleagues.  It was a great event to network, learn and reflect on what we are doing in each of our districts. 

Some of the things that I took away from this event:

1) Microsoft's Productivity and Future Vision

Is this what you see in the future?  When, how far away are we? I know I leaned over to IT Darcy a number of times and asked him when I could get this in our classrooms!
2) Digital Citizenship: Tania Sterling (@taniasterling) was great.  She shared this LiveBinder full of resources for digital citizenship in our schools. There were two ideas that I want to run with
  • Family Acceptable Use Agreement - Parents and students all sign them, but do they really know what they mean?  I want to make a serious effort in engaging our parents in this conversation and education.
  • Students involved in PD - students may be our best resource as we navigate 21st century skills.  It's time to enable and encourage them to become leaders.  During upcoming PD sessions I would like to use students as facilitators.
3) Google - Only Google could fill a room with a sessions that starts at 7:45am!!  The cloud seems to be the direction that PWSD is taking, although we still need to decide between Google Apps and Live@Edu, hopefully soon!
  • Google is in process of totally revamping Google Presentation, otherwise know as the ugly step child of Google Docs
  • Their motto is "Don't be Evil" when they look at doing things
  • 20% on innovation, that is the rule for all Google employees.  Each week one days is spent on something that is not work, can you imagine?
  • Will it stay free for education?  Each mail box cost approximately $1 to create and maintain.  Google charges business $50, keeping it free for education.
4) What are you most excited about in Alberta Education? (I will admit this was easier to answer before the budget announcement Thursday afternoon but...) I am most excited about the never ending possibilities there are in education right now.  It is truly an exciting time to be involved in teaching and learning as it continues to evolve.  More exciting are the amazing people that I get to work with and connect with.  It is not dull and I feel like I have an amazing support system no matter what happens!

Word Work in a Balanced Literacy Jr. High Classroom

This is a first in a series taking a look inside a balanced literacy junior high classroom.

Special thanks to literacy coordinators Jenny McAusland and Rowena Stewart for spearheading this project.!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Math @ Admin Meeting

So much fun to watch our administrators work through a math problem designed by our AISI math team!

The Problem: Using some Peter Liljedahl's ideas, Corry tweeked a math problem for the admin group to tackle.  See the entire problem here.

The Hook: "I have a dilemma that I would like you to help me solve. I LOVE red wine and like to drink a bottle each night."

Random Groupings: Using SMART's random group generators, all admin and central office staff were put into groups and set loose on the windows to work on the problem.

The Answer: I don't think we ever got one answer, but there was lots of discussions, assumptions, arguing and laughter.  Email Corry if you want to know for sure.

Peter Liljedahl is presenting at Mighty Peace Teacher's Convention, you will not want to miss!

Sessions include: all sessions in CP202 in GP Comp High School
  • Numeracy Tasks (K-3) Session E - Fri 9-10:15 and Session G 12:10 - 1:25
  • Numeracy Tasks (4-6) Session F - 10:35 - 11:50 and Session H - 1:45-3
  • Numeracy Tasks (7-9), Session A - Thur 9-10:15
  • Numeracy Tasks (10-12), Session B - Thur 10:35 - 11:50
  • Assessment for a new Mathematics (7-9), Session C, Thur 12:10 - 1:25
  • Assessment for a new Mathematics  (10-12), Session D, Thur 1:45- 3


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

4 ways to create a fake Facebook page

Creating a fake Facebook page for a story character or historical character is an excellent way for students to demonstrate deep understanding.  They have to be able to articulate the connections and relationships this person has, what they would say, who would they say it to, what images would they share or not share.  It becomes an immense critical thinking activity.

There are a number of different ways to do this!

1) A Word Template: I created this last year when I wanted a simple way to create a Facebook page for feudal Japan. I hosted the template in Moodle and students opened it from there to work on.

2) My Fake Wall: This website allow you to create a page that will be saved with a unique URL.  It does require students to create a login with an email address.

3) Google Doc Template: This Presentation template has 4 slides.  Wall, Info, Photos and Video that you can change with your own information.

4) SMART Notebook Template: Another template, this time in Notebook.  I like this one because a lot of the items are locked, so they cannot be moved or deleted.  Also check out the attachments, there is a handy little word document to guide the assignment.

How can you see using this in your classroom?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tweet, tweet with #pwsd

Wow!  I was blown away with the amount of tweets at our district day on Friday.  We had tweets from every session, from people at home and from central office.  Thanks to all of you for making the day such a success!


Thanks to Cisco systems for donating the 2 Flip cameras and the jacket that were used in the Twitter draw!

Right now I have 74 #pwsd tweeps in my twitter list, please follow and let me know if I missed anyone.

How did I pick the winners?

The first thing I did was create a Tweetdoc of all of the #pwsd tweets for the day.  Once I had the document that had all our tweets I used a random number generator to pick the winners.

Rob S from BHRS @hackerob

Darren R from HRS @drob222
Barb B from TPS @gpwonderwoman
Now my #pwsd tweeps, I have something in the works, maybe another little twitter give away.  So tweet away
  • Websites to share?
  • What went well in class?
  • Need some help?
  • Share some resources!
Let's keep #pwsd going!

Cultivating a Digital Classroom (Part 3 of 3)

This group rocks!

Becky, Daniel, Terrina, Lyla, Stacey, Anna, Marion, Shawn, Natalie, Darcy, Sharolyn, Adair & Sarah
 Our three day cohort came to an end on Friday, here you can find Part 1 and Part 2.

Friday started out with a reconnection with our PLN. Revisiting Twitter, update your profile and tweet.  Connect with professionally relevant Facebook pages and look into RSS again.

Anna and Marion's Pecha Kucha
 Our second activity was a Pecha Kucha.  Usually this is 20 slides advancing every 20 seconds presentation.  Since we were pressed for time, we used 10 slides advancing every 10 seconds around the topic "Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century" 

All groups did a fabulous job with the very short amount of time that I allotted them!  We then used a Moodle forum to reflect how we could use this technique in the classroom.

The Savanna Ladies!

Until lunch everyone had time to work on projects.  Some worked in Moodle creating courses, other explored Web 2.0 tools or fought with Word trying to make forms work.  Work was done and laughs were shared.

Adair, Becky, Daniel and Natalie working on their Google Preso!
Before we broke for lunch each person was given some digital scavenger hunt clues.  Such things as old technology, new technology, fun, jump, and the funniest thing you could find.  The assignment was to go out and take pictures with what you had.  Phone, iPod, camera or borrowed camera.  When we got back from lunch we collaborated on this Google Presentation.

This group had the "best" scavenger hunt pictures,
can you find them?
 We experienced first hand the positives (I can add the pictures and you do the captions) and negatives (who deleted my slide!) of working on a collaborative document. 
We also had to figure out how to get images off devices and re size and flip them for the presentation.
A short discussion on blogging and the day was over!

My intention was to end the day with this video

But all groups were far to busy trying to get all their last tweets in to be entered into the draw for the Flip Cameras  :0

Thanks so much to my fabulous group.  They were challenging and engaged, fun and a great colleagues to learn and reflect with.  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We were all a Twitter!

Thanks to the energetic group of teachers and support staff that joined the elluminate session today after school.  I am looking forward to another beginner session and intermediate session in the near future.

Take a look at the presentation and recording link for the 45 minute session.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's been a week since #aisi11

1) It's about relationships

First, as we improve teacher practice and student learning it comes down to the relationships.  Nothing can start or begin to move forward without an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.  For each session I attended a good portion of this year was moving forward because of the relationships that had been built in the previous years.

Second, there is nothing like meeting people in real life that you have known for years online.  I am a big advocate of Twitter and while I am not the most active tweep, I have established a group of twitter friends that I refer to in real life like I have known them for years.  I had the opportunity to connect and reconnect with a number of them here.  Most of you know I am not a big hugger, but I threw a few down at this conference!

2) Sharing.   School divisions like Blackgold have a fabulous website and offer up anything and everything they have created during their AISI project.  

At PWSD we do a great job of sharing.  Both our Moodle sites, ecommunity and collaboration, have large sections wide open. We have launched a YouTube Channel and have our Facebook pages   but there is always room for improvement.

3) New Ideas. As with any conference I came away with some new ideas and tools that I had never seen before.

iPhone charger - I never make it through an entire conference day.  Between tweeting, email and surfing my phones dies.  This is a life saver, special thanks to Lynn for pointing it out. 

Diigo and Firefox - I got schooled in the ways of the interweb by @gcouros, don't tell him but they are actually pretty good. 

The Important Book, Audacity & Movie Maker - I want to do this project that Calgary Catholic School Division showed us.  Special needs students recording  what is important, overlaying images to create their own movie.  Pretty powerful stuff.

This was my first AISI conference and I was so glad that I went.  It gave our AISI team time to talk, plan and get to know each other a little better.  It gave me a better idea of the bigger AISI picture in Alberta and some great ideas for how to move forward with technology in our district.

Twitter to Connect

As most of you know I love Twitter.  It is my go to source for PD, resources, reflection and help.  So when I got this DM (direct message)
I thought it was spam!  So I asked...
Turns out it was legit and the planning document for a birthday present for Alec Couros. @courosa

I joined Twitter in November 2007 but didn't do much with it until I heard Alec keynote in 2009 at the Distributed Learning Symposium and Moodle Moot.  During those conferences I saw the power of the back channel.    I started Twitter by following my family but it was Alec who helped open my eyes to the true power of twitter to connect with other educators to share and collaborate.

So, I recorded my small part, with help of my kids, and this was the final product. 

Dean worked his magic to make the whole things come together, and he nicely explains how he did it here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

iPads for Administration

Thanks to Daren for including me in this presentation!


The Alberta Initiatives in School Improvement conference was held in Edmonton on February 7 and 8.  All of our curriculum coordinators had the privilege of attending, and in some cases, giving sessions.  It was a wonderful experience to hear about other projects, reconnect with colleagues and reengerize to finish the year strong.

Dawne Kurtz-Mcnaught, AISI Coordinator

“We’re learning that early reading success and early writing success have a significant impact on successful high school completion. So one of our goals is quality literacy teaching for every child in every classroom.”

Kathy Anderson, Literacy

I was fascinated by the keynote on brain research and development. In our classrooms, we see kids who have come from such a variety of backgrounds - range of experiences, stage of development, genetic switches turned on or off, and even the stresses their parents felt during pregnancy...we must be so cognizant of each individual in our classroom and how to best meet their needs while not driving ourselves crazy.

The other thing I learned (or revisited) is the idea of rural schools working together to achieve great success. Even though our school divisions across Alberta are unique in their challenges and must create unique solutions, there is so much that we can learn from each other. Collaboration and building relationships are absolutely critical pieces to the AISI (and education!) puzzle.

Jenny McAusland, Literacy

The thing that I noticed the most had to do with difference between AISI projects across Alberta. Not surprisingly, I attended mostly literacy/technology sessions, and I have come to the realization that each district's project was born via a different set of circumstances. Some seemed to come from resources, and then the project was built around those resources; some were driven by assessment tools and results; and some were based on research/philosophy, which was translated into a clear vision. Kind of like the "planned" VS "unplanned" child; both will grow- both can thrive, but as our Keynote said, the stresses we expose our "children" to have an impact on who they are- we are our experiences.

Rowena Stewart, Literacy

Dr. Bryan Kolb’s presentation on brain research was enlightening and challenging. It truly reinforced that every opportunity, conversation and enrichment activity in which we engage our students (and our children) have the potential to impact their lives forever. Consequently, each new day presents opportunity for impact.

Corry Stark, Division 1/2 Math

It is very enlightening to hear the challenges that various projects have encountered and how they have worked together to overcome them. By hearing the passion in the presenters, you can truly tell the amount of effort that people are putting in order for their project to be successful. I love to hear how various projects are organized.
Deb Stone, Division 3 Math

AISI 11 achieved several goals. It introduced innovative ideas in the areas of peer coaching, solutions for scheduling, awesome hands-on, ready-for-classrooms math activities; it reinforced the direction we are taking to improve student engagement and success; and lastly it provided an excellent opportunity to build further resources for the Numeracy III AISI project.
Joan Coy, Division 4 Math

For the inquiry approach, the teacher is more aptly described as an activator rather than a facilitator. A concept I feel is central to success in implementing project based learning.


Lynn Nordhagen, Division 4 Social Studies

We need to share as educators because collectively we can be experts! We also need to ask questions of ourselves like 'am I further ahead today than I was yesterday'? Or 'how can we keep challenging ourselves to engage our students in inquiry based learning'? There was also a lot of great 21st century learning ideas: that technology is not the only 21st skill students need--they need to collaborate, think critically, and be able to access and interpret the information surrounding them 24/7. As for web 2.0 tools teachers can use (or get students to help them use): social media, photostory 3, storybird, google docs, voicethread, glogster, bitstrips, gizmos, etc. One of the great successes for this conference for myself and some of my fellow participants is the use of twitter as a learning and collaboration tool--why only sit and learn about one session when you can learn and comment on what is happening throughout the whole conference? One of the may ways we can collaborate as a group or as an international community of educators to become experts in our fields.
Farouq Hassanali, Division 4 Science

Every experience physically changes the brain. Thoughts are experiences. What a teacher makes a student think – about his/her abilities or about the world – changes his/her brain. As teachers we need to remember that (especially when we start thinking our roles and responsibilities are limited).

Jen Clevette, Educational Technology
AISI comes in many different shapes and sizes.  Some school divisions hire a coordinator and then distribute the money and leadership among their schools, others keep the project to a small number of schools, others to the entire district.  There are lead teachers, instructional coaches, curriculm coordinators and much more.  In the end it always came down to relationships, time and working together to improve teacher practice. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Technology Mediated Student Engagement

Joan Coy, Farouq Hassanali

Using a blend of technology-rich on-line learning resources with traditional classroom teaching environments, we can improve the school experience and engage students in self directed learning. Teachers have created a Moodle site that houses our courses and gives students access to high quality on-line courses (24/7), in addition to classroom instruction. The Moodle site is being used to facilitate inquiry learning and differentiation (e.g., self-checks, self reflections, and project collaboration). An interactive session to share strategies for student engagement. Come hear what students and teachers have to say and see how the classroom has changed!

Farouq's AISI 11 Reflections

Follow Farouq on twitter @farouqhassanali
Farouq is Peace Wapiti School Division's Science Division 4 Curriculm Coordinator.  After attending the AISI 2011 conference last week he shared the following reflections and lessons learned.

1) Why not consider having Math Fairs? Make them non-competitive and have students create their own unique puzzle. Very often, students who hate Math, and who do not excel with numbers, will show talent in creating and even solving puzzles. You can then demonstrate that Math is simply a language for explaining answers to life’s puzzles. Students can showcase their puzzles to the rest of the school or even parents. The solutions should not be found on the Internet (forcing students to create novel puzzles).

2) Parents should be an integral part of educating students. Consider inviting parents to teach certain lessons or concepts in the classroom. Make an effort to contact parents (by phone or email) and tell them something positive about their children.

3) We need to teach students that what we’re used to measuring – income, accumulation of material goods, IQ and even grades – are a small portion of the happiness pie. What of strong relationships, playing, dancing, singing, environmental sustainability, mental/physical/emotional health?

Surviving with Students in a Digital World

I have two parent council presentations this week and I am using the following presentation and videos to guide the discussion.

Is it recess already? Can we do more Math? (AISI 2011 Presentation)

Corry Stark, Geri Lorway

This session is focused on K-6 Math. Find out some examples of engaging openers for math along with some problems that are being used as a baseline for measuring levels of math competency as well as levels of student engagement. Beginning with teachers, then moving to students, and completing the circle with parents and administration, you will see the ways that we are showcasing the revised Program of Studies. Integrating technology is a key part of our work. Come prepared to think, smile, laugh, and walk away some exciting ideas to try next week. 

Presentation Handout

Collaboration Website

Sunday, February 6, 2011

All a Twitter

During the upcoming district day, February 18th, I want to try to leverage Twitter as a back channel for the numerous PD sessions we have going on. We all cannot be in every session, but by using Twitter to share what is going on we get a glimpse inside another session.

Come learn to Tweet! Wednesday Feb 16th from 3:45 - 4:30 in Elluminate <-- Click here to enter the virtual room, try it out!

Tweet! The day of the district day (Feb 18th) using #pwsd

Sweeten the Deal! Every PWSD staff that tweets on the district day will be entered in a draw for some fabulous prizes! (One is an HD Flip Camera)

What do you think? Take a look here for additional resources and a discussion forum!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Introducing PWSD's Community of Practice

Another little project!

From September 2006 until August 2010 Alberta Education ran a research project around 1-1 laptops.  When this research project ended Alberta Education had another call for proposals to create a Community of Practice to extend the 1-1 project.  Peace Wapiti is practicipating in this project with Division 3 teachers around 21st Century Skill development.  You can see the entire proposal here.

For this project we have 24 Peace Wapiti  Division 3 teachers that are using the TPACK model to inform effective instruction around the integration of technology.  These teachers have committed to three face to face meetings, one collaboration day of choice, sharing their resources on Ecommunity and reflecting on the Community of Practice Blog.

Please drop by the blog and see what we have been up to!

I *heart* Sir Ken Robinson

I was introduced first to Sir Ken Robinson with his TED Talk "Do Schools Killing Creativity?"

The line that I frequently refer to in this talk is about William Shakespeare.  It speaks to me and helped change my assessment practices.  1.9 million views can't be wrong, although I am likely about 70 of them!

Next was his Book "The Element: How finding your passion changes everything"  I will be honest, I didn't read it but listened to it on a trip to and from Banff.  Sir Ken narrates the book and has a delightful English accent!  I consider myself very lucky, I think most educators do, in that I have found my passion in teaching and learning.  For myself leveraging technology for teaching and learning has added that extra layer for me and has truly changed everything.

Finally was Changing Educational Paradigms

This was the why piece for changes to education, and if you have been in any of my sessions lately you have probably seen it. 

I am very fortunate to be going to Red Deer next week to listen to Sir Ken speak in person.
Stay tuned for a follow-up after this event!