Offer of Service 2016-17 – How can I help you?

We are at the beginning of an exciting year with all of the anticipation that new beginnings bring us!
Jack's 1st bus ride I need your help in discovering teacher stories to document and make videos about as well as to collaborate on the creation of new PD Mosaic tiles to use throughout the province!

Last week I presented my action plan for the 2016-17 school year to my planning and evaluation committee (made up of directors, consultants, representatives from the ministry as well as from different associations in Adult Education) and it was accepted. This means I have crossed the starting line and hope to catch up with all of you on the front lines as soon as possible!

My plans for the year are very similar to last year’s plans. I do not believe in new projects each year, I prefer to look at deepening the work we do together each year and expanding on what we have already begun.

Avi Spector, our Regional Service to Adult Education, and I work closely together. Our visions are very much aligned and we strive to maintain a consistent vision in the work we do. It looks something like this:

Vision - RECIT Adult Ed English

Like last year, I still plan on documenting as many teacher and centre stories as possible. This year, the focus is shifting to stories about implementing the new programmes. I also want to add some student stories to the mix.
(You can see last year’s stories here: )

I also still plan on collaborating on a variety of PD Mosaic online resources. Again, there will be a broadening focus on implementation this year. Tiles on Reform Math Mindsets, Digital Citizenship, and different elements of Evaluation for Learning are already in progress.
(You can see the most recent PD Mosaic tiles here )

I also still plan on being involved in professional development at school boards, centres, conferences, and online as much as possible. Again, with a growing focus on new programme implementation.

Some of the themes that were highlighted last year are still current this year:
Teacher-centered, teacher-driven PD à la EdCamp (read more about that here – with videos: ) and with other methods (read more about that here – watch videos, too: )

Using stations to facilitate technology integration, differentiation, multi level teaching, and formative assessment (read a bit about that here, more resources will be added throughout the fall: )

Evaluation for learning (there are already two online resources available for this, more to come shortly! (Here is an intro: and here is one on triangulation of evidence: )

Some new themes that are emerging:

  • UDL
  • Learning Spacesdistance ed, classroom management, innovative classroom environments
  • Finding the Citizen in Digital Citizenship

Ideally – I would like to meet with you to come up with PD that is tailored for your community. The document below contains all of the resources and PD I was involved in last year if you are looking for ideas! (direct link to pdf: )

I am looking forward to working with you!

Summer Infoletter: Thanking you all

I love my job.

Everyday is different as I work with the Adult Education community across the province in our joint quest to get better at what we do. I learn so much every single day from all of you.

As we enter the summer season, I want to thank all of the teachers, students, support staff, consultants, and administrators who welcome me into their school boards, centres, and classrooms – who share their work and ideas with me everyday.

Without all of you and your tenacious collaboration, my job would be near to impossible.

A specific highlight for me this year was how I am seeing the use of technology become more integrated in practices across the province. Technology use is becoming less of an event and is starting to be used much more naturally, when it is needed and when it makes sense. This is something I think about a lot and it is exhilarating to see it come to life! Here is a video I created last summer that talks about this very thing.

And finally, here are the fruits of your collaboration! These are some of the most recent resources I have put together with and because of you. I am looking forward to continuing our work in August!

Teacher Stories YouTube Channel
This is where all of the teacher story videos live. Some of them are also included in different PD Mosaic tiles but if you just want to be inspired by teachers in Adult Education from across the province, take a look here.

PD Mosaic
Here are three PD Mosaic resources that I put together in the past month or so. They were created in collaboration with a lot of different people, so be sure to scroll down to the bottom of each tile to see who contributed. While you are there, take some time to look through the rest of the site. You never know, you may see something that inspires you or even someone you know!

  • An Intro to Evaluation FOR Learning – including ideas for why and how to get started from teachers
  • Learning in Stations – including one teacher’s story about how she got started using stations with her adult learners and her plans for the future
  • Triangulation – creating a clearer picture of student learning through formative assessment

(And a special thanks to Susie for inspiring this post 🙂 )

Learning at a Distance (or up close!): thoughts inspired by #REFAD2016

I am in Ottawa at the annual conference on distance education offered by REFAD. One of the opening comments was that distance education is just one of the tools we have to reach our learners and to help frame their learning. I like that the conference started off in this vein. It flows well with my own beliefs in tools – that they are just tools in service of our real work: student learning.

The task then is how best to design learning situations that take place at a distance (or up close!) to reach the needs of our learners in ways that make sense.

The answer seems to lie in relationship and intention.

These are the same themes Avi and I explored with online tutors in adult education a few weeks ago.

CORAL (Complementary Online Resources for Adult Learners) is an online tutoring service offered to adult learners from LEARN Quebec. CORAL’s Barbara and Cheryl asked us to accompany their tutors in some professional development on tutoring at a distance.

At REFAD, presenters from CEGEP á Distance (CAD) told us their story of online tutoring. They talked about the centrality of feedback for success and for fighting dropout rates and absenteeism in distance learning.

What I found especially interesting is that their tutors are all CEGEP teachers, which is a similar situation as our CORAL tutors who are all teachers within Quebec’s English sector Adult Ed system. What the CAD is doing, is providing their tutors with explicit professional development in how to provide effective, intentional feedback as the backbone of their practice.

Roselyne Boyer from Université de Laval spoke about the biggest task in online learning being to manage the human element within all of the technology and in face of the distance. That is, in fact, her vision, as shown in this image from her presentation.


It is really from this point that Avi and I framed our Professional Development with the tutors at CORAL. Our main message was that no matter where we are teaching, the student-teacher relationship frames the work.

Rather than focusing on the technology behind online learning, if we focus on student learning we can then find the tools that make the most sense for everyone within that context.

To return to what I wrote earlier – while the teacher student relationship frames the work, there is also that other human factor that is often missing from the context of the work: the social context.

P., a high school student from Ontario took both online and face to face courses at his school and he shared his experiences with us at REFAD2016. While he did well in his online courses, he preferred his face to face courses because of his friends in the room. I have a feeling that a perfect online course (if that can possibly exist…) will exist somewhere in between the online and the face to face.

So. Flexibility, differentiation, and a recognition of the human element (it is sacred) need to be key factors of learning at a distance. Not very different from learning in presence, is it?

**Featured image: Don’t waste your time or money on ROT! Wellcome Library, London, on Flickr. Shared via CC. BY. ND. NC

My AQIFGA 2016

Throwing John by Chuck Burgess on Flickr CC BY NC NDThe great thing about AQIFGA is that it holds an annual conference that focuses on Adult Education in Quebec.

Every single speaker and workshop highlighted an aspect of adult education …and that is really rare to find! We are usually left grappling with transferring ideas for youth sector to the adult education context. This is not a horrible thing but it is nice to have a place where this doesn’t have to happen.

In total I participated in four workshops – two as presenter and two as participant – and I was super happy to see a growing number of English sector teachers from across Quebec at AQIFGA this year!

Here is a summary of those four workshops:

Can One Teaching Strategy Respond to Many Needs? Yes!
PresentersDaniel Afriyie, EMSB Math and Science teacher and Tracy Rosen, CSSMI Provincial RECIT for Adult Ed

but really, Daniel was the star of the show here. I jumped in once in a while to go into detail about why I love and respect different parts of his process. Earlier in the year I put together a couple of videos about how he uses his interactive white board to record his lessons and share them with his students. This workshop was an opportunity to go deeper into the idea – he talked about the why as well as the how…and he modeled the process by recording the workshop using the interactive white board in the room where we presented. He also talked about where he wants to go with the concept from here.

I loved that, though he presented about how he teaches math, the participants actively talked about how they could use this technique for teaching other subjects. It is such a meaningful way to use technology to improve learning and the teacher/student relationship. Thanks, Daniel – great job!

Here is the presentation from that workshop, if you are interested.

But I’m Not a Math Person, so I’ll Never Get It.
PresentersInes Renner and Jordan Venne, LBPSB Math and Science teachers

In this workshop Ines and Jordan challenged assumptions about Math and demonstrated how our own attitudes towards the subject can affect our students’ attitudes. They focused on developing a positive, growth oriented mindset in Math and how that is what ultimately affects student self-confidence, progress, and learning. I was so impressed by their presentation that I want to work with them to create resources to share with all of you…stay tuned!

Promoting Oral Interaction in the Adult Literacy Classroom
PresentersYusimy Dominguez Travieso, Maria Cristina Toro, and Farideh Raygan, RSB Language teachers

The workshop focused on different strategies to teach second (and third…and fourth…) languages to diverse groups of learners. The strategies were a mix of technology, role-playing, and game based strategies and the consensus was that whatever we do with our learners it needs to be relevant to their realities. I really appreciated the conversation around culturally relevant teaching – how it is not enough to just teach a language but we need to be aware of who our learners are as well as what is happening in the community around us and integrate that awareness into our classrooms in order to make learning stick.

Culturally relevant pedagogy has theoretical roots in the notion that learning is a socially mediated process and related to students’ cultural experiences. Culture is an important survival strategy that is passed down from one generation to another through the processes of enculturalization and socialization, a type of roadmap that guides and shapes behavior. If new information is not relevant to those frameworks of culture and cognition, people will never remember it. If the information is relevant, they will never forget it.

The ideas they presented fit in so nicely with the CCBE as well as the DBE program philosophies!

Have You Thought About Stations in Adult Education?
PresentersAvi Spector, RSB Regional RECIT for Adult Education and Tracy Rosen, CSSMI Provincial RECIT for Adult Ed

We offered participants a chance to learn about using stations in their classrooms by experiencing stations. We blah-blah-blahed for about 15 minutes before jumping right in to the experience. We offered three main stations – a teacher station, a video station, and a reading station – plus an extension station for anyone who finished a station activity early (ha! With 15 minute rotations between stations there was not much time to extend the learning during the workshop 🙂 ). The two of us sat at the teacher station in order to model how it might work in a classroom where there isn’t the luxury of an extra body to make sure all is going smoothly at the other stations. In order to ensure that things DID go smoothly, we left printed instructions at each station.

nobody listens to instructions anyway

I had a GREAT time at my own workshop! The beauty of cycling students through stations is the quality time that each group gets to spend with the teacher. Both Avi and I reflected that we had a richer experience as presenters because we had the opportunity to sit and connect with each of our participants in a small group setting as opposed to talking at a big group, which is what so often happens at conferences and in our classrooms.

Another reason I love using stations is that it helps to facilitate the concept of flipped learning i.e. using video to present material. The fact that we did this at one of our stations allowed us to flip within the classroom – freeing up teacher time to address questions, gauge understanding, clarify misconceptions, etc…

Here are the resources from our workshop:
Workshop Slide Show – Some of this was presented in the initial intro and a lot was addressed at the Teacher Station as well.

YouTube Playlist: Emilie on Stations – These were the videos we asked participants to watch at the Video Station. They were accompanied with a reflective journal activity (described in the Workshop Slide Show above).

Reading Station – participants could choose to read one or both of the following articles and then interview a partner about them (described in the Workshop Slide Show above).
Create Small Learning Communities with the Station Rotation Model by Catlin Tucker
Les Centres d’Apprentissage by Patricia Munante

So that was my AQIFGA 2016. Did you attend AQIFGA this year? What were your highlights?

***The image at the top of the blog post is Throwing John by Chuck Burgess on Flickr CC BY NC ND

A note on turnkey teacher resources…

Lately I have been involved in conversations about teaching and learning in many venues – from program implementation across the province to changing teacher practice in the classroom.

A similar thread weaves itself through all of these conversations – the (expressed) need for ‘clé en main’ resources for teachers.

Do you know why it is so hard to find ‘clé en main’ (turnkey) resources for the courses that we teach? Because they don’t exist. Nowhere else in the world is there another course exactly like the one you are teaching… Right. Now.

teacher + students + content = course

The content may stay the same for a period of time but the rest of the equation is made up of variables. And when just one of those variables shifts…the course is ultimately changed.

As written in this article (by I do not know who, an author who goes by the nickname Love Teach):

Nothing about teaching is one-size fits all

It is a lovely alchemic mixture distilled through …yeah, you were wondering when I’d mention it… relationship.

Our new programs in adult education (which are extensions of the competency-based reform in the youth sector) place the focus on student-centered and community-based learning – both of which are hinged on relationship.

We know that our students and communities change all the time.

Yet, a lot of time and energy is spent on either trying to create turnkey, one size fits all resources or in seeking them out.

One of my recent conversations was with Emilie, a history teacher at Nova Career Centre who was talking about why she organizes her classroom into learning stations.

Another was with Daniel, a math and science teacher at St Laurent Adult Centre who talked about how he records and shares his content with his students as well as how he wants to move towards learning stations in his classroom.

And yet another was with a group of four teachers: Natasha and Jonathan from Place Cartier Adult Centre, and Lethisha and Troy from Pearson Adult and Career Centre who got together to talk about formative assessment.

Again, there was a common thread in these conversations … but it was of a different shade, a different count. Each of these teachers said, when trying something new in the classroom, it was important to start small, to experiment, and to find out what works best for you and your students.

This thread seems much stronger to me than the one about creating turnkey resources.

(One definition of turnkey is jailer…)

(Keys generally only work for one lock and we usually use them to keep others out.)

(image: Key to… by pi di on flickr, licensed CC BY SA 2.0)