June 14, 2017

Transforming thinking with Ayodele Harrison

One evening back in April, I came across a tweet about a Facebook live professional development event given by Ayodele Harrison.

I was intrigued by the title – Strategies & tools to engage disconnected students who hate learning math. Free online PD – so went to check it out. I came in towards the end of the session and knew that I had found a kindred teaching spirit in Ayodele!

Ayodele had not been one of my Twitter contacts before that night so it was sheer serendipity that I found that tweet in my timeline. We are now connected on Twitter and if you have an account, I suggest you click on his picture here and follow him – his tweets and resources will be valuable additions to your professional learning practice!

His message is one of relationship around learning. As teachers, we have the power to design learning situations and create an environment that will allow our students to talk about math and, through conversation, become more engaged in their math learning. Ayodele does work in the area of teaching and learning strategies as well as in an area that is strongly connected to our ability to use and adapt to new strategies – and that is through our own sense of self-efficacy in teaching.

What I just described is a very rudimentary description of what Ayodele can offer. I connected with his message and his delivery so much that I asked if we could use some of the Facebook live footage on PD Mosaic. Lucky for us – he agreed!

He is in the process of turning the hour-long event into a series of shorter videos, each one framing a specific aspect of his message about transforming mathematical thinking in our students. The first two videos are already live on PD Mosaic and the others will be added as they are completed. They form part of a collection of resources called Rethinking Math Teaching and Learning. Click on the image below to go directly to this collection.

Rethinking math on PD Mosaic

I invite you to watch the series as it unfolds on PD Mosaic. These videos are designed for Math teachers however Ayodele also provides great resources for ALL educators. Besides through his Twitter link above, you can connect with Ayodele at the following spots:

  • Ayodele’s YouTube channel – what a wealth of online learning!!
  • His website – “Educating is about positioning all learners to discover, understand and walk in their greatness.“- Ayodele Harrison
  • Ayodele’s Facebook page – Like his page to receive updates about future online PD sessions and other resources!

I am so happy to have created this connection with Ayodele. As I often say – we can only truly get better together!

Posted in: News, PD, Teaching Resources
April 27, 2016

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.
http://bit.ly/1strategyAQIFGA

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. http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-36-fall-2009/feature/relevant-beyond-basics

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 Showhttp://bit.ly/stationsfga – Some of this was presented in the initial intro and a lot was addressed at the Teacher Station as well.

YouTube Playlist: Emilie on Stationshttp://bit.ly/videostation – 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

Posted in: Blended Learning, PD
February 8, 2016

Talking about … Or doing

I’m at #lceeq2016 and let me underline the fact that I am super stoked to be here. I’ve been looking forward to these 2 days for weeks. 

Yesterday I read about Russel Quaglia and thought – oh yeah, he’s all about student voice and teacher voice. Squeeee! 

And now I’m here and I worry that once again we’re at a conference that talks about the importance of something. 

  
The speakers are all ‘experts’. Shouldn’t the speakers be teachers and students? 

It seems to me that listening to teachers and students would be the easiest way to highlight their voices…no?

To be continued after the day…let’s see how this unfolds.

Posted in: PD
January 17, 2016

Have you looked at PD Mosaic lately?

Some of you already know PD Mosaic as a website where you can find articles and resources for the professional development of teachers and other educators.

pdmosaic_website

Click on the image to go the website.

Recent developments and next steps
This year, I am focusing on sharing teacher stories and adding those to the resources on the site. I consider PD Mosaic in constant development because we are always honing our craft – always looking for ways to connect our students to their learning, to manage our classrooms, to make things more interesting, to make things better. A big part of my job is listening to you – teachers, consultants, directors, support staff – and making sure that the resources you need and want are available. Last year, a number of people said that it would be great to see concrete resources that relate directly to Adult Ed in Quebec. So now, I am working on a series of video capsules showcasing teachers in Quebec’s Adult Education community doing some pretty great things with technology. Here are the PD Mosaic tiles that include the stories we have so far – click on the images to go to the tiles on PD Mosaic.

pdmosaic_motivation pdmosaic_reflective pdmosaic_blended

In the works are tiles on Formative Assessment, Stations, and Digital Citizenship – all with an Adult Education focus and concrete examples from centres in Quebec.

If you have ideas for specific tiles or resources to add to existing tiles – please contact me. I would love to talk with you about them!

Some useful features
Anybody can use the site as a guest but when you register to the site, you can access a few other features that you may find useful.

Useful feature 1 – language switcher
PD Mosaic was initially developed in English but it now houses tiles in both French and English. You can also access it in English as PD Mosaic or in French as Pedago Mosaique. If you are not logged in, you can switch languages at the top of each page but if you are logged in you can select your preferred language in your account settings. At all times, you can access both French and English resources.

Useful feature 2 – organizing
The resources are organized in tiles and, once you register, you can group tiles together in two ways – as ‘Want it‘, for the things you want to learn more about, or ‘Got it‘, for those things you already know a lot about. Each of these groupings then, become your own Professional Development Mosaic.

Why is this useful? If you are interested in creating a portfolio of your professional learning, for personal use or to share with others, this can be a great way to organize where you are and where you want to go in your PD.

Useful feature 3 – Note taking
As you work through the tiles that interest you, you will notice a new area on the right side of your screen for note taking. If you have not yet made a note on that tile, it will look like this Click on the image to see it larger.

pdmosaic_nonote

If you do have a note it will look like this, Click on the image to see it larger.

pdmosaic_note

You can also see and edit all of the notes you have created in one central area, like this Click on the image to see it larger.

pdmosaic_notesview

Why is this useful? It’s a great way to remember your learning, your aha moments, your ‘ugh, this will never work’ thoughts over time and keep everything in the same place to reflect on at different times in the school year or over many years.

Useful feature 4 – Survey
Some of you may remember a tool that the RECIT created called My ICT Ease. Basically it was a questionnaire to guide a reflection on where you were in terms of using technology for teaching and learning. That tool is no longer available and some people have asked for something similar. So we developed a new questionnaire to guide a reflection on your teaching practice in general and then how technology fits into that practice. Like My ICT Ease, the survey can be answered multiple times and you can compare earlier results to your latest results. Click on the image to see it larger.

pdmosaic_surveysample

Why is this useful? If you fill out the survey, PD Mosaic can then suggest relevant resources based on the answers you provided. It can also fit nicely into the idea of keeping a professional portfolio as it includes visual representations of your answers at specific periods in time. Click on the image to see it larger.

pdmosaic_surveyresults

***You may not be interested in filling out the survey. No problem! It is not at all mandatory.***

And there you go – some of PD Mosaic’s recent developments and useful features that you might not have known about!

Posted in: PD
January 15, 2016

Shifting the shift – moving away from interesting conversations

Then…
Back in my early days of blogging…somewhere before and around 2007… there was a lot of talk about shifting priorities in education as a result of technology. Just for fun, I looked through my old blog archives and found these articles from that time:

Learning the way they’re living … where I write about the teacher’s evolving role as a connection maker, connecting students to their learning with technology.

and

Why technology in schools? And how do I lead something that is constantly changing? 😉…where I write about how technology can not be separated from the rest of life.

Also at around that time, I remember the hype around Shift Happens. They are a series of videos that were first published in 2007, based on a presentation created for a staff meeting in 2006, called Did You Know? Basically, the videos show us statistics about how and how often technology is used and the underlying message is that we are preparing learners for jobs that do not yet exist.

Now…
lbpsb_google_leadership_tweet
Recently I was at a Google Leadership Symposium where the facilitators were sending the exact same message – that we are preparing our learners for jobs that do not yet exist and that technology needs to play an integral role in that preparation.

10 years later and we are still preaching the same message with as much fervor.

So I ask myself – what has (or hasn’t happened) in the past ten years to replace the skip on the broken record?

Is it time to shift the shift?

A 2015 study by CEFRIO (a centre that facilitates organizational research and innovation around technology) came to the conclusion that Quebec teachers are, at best, in the infancy stage of technology use. Early adopters? That number is at less than 15% of teachers.
CEFRIO (2015) Usages du numérique dans les écoles québécoises (Use of technology in Quebec schools)

So. Preaching hasn’t worked. Scare tactic or shock videos like Shift Happens, haven’t worked as much as we might have liked them to. Targeted training by a network of consultants in technology hasn’t worked as much as we might have liked it to.

I remember a poster in the classroom of a colleague many years ago – it went something like

If you have explained it to me the same way a million times and I still don’t get it…who is the slow learner?

It was in response to well-meaning teachers or tutors who sometimes just re-explain things, only louder and slower, in the hopes that their charges will ‘get’ whatever it is they don’t understand.

So what do we do? Do we continue to offer technology training, only louder?

Yesterday I had a conversation with a colleague about how, too often, the important conversations about our students and the roles technology play in their learning are happening between the people who already agree with the outcomes.

My conclusion? Those are interesting conversations but they are not the important conversations.

EdCamps and Twitter chats – PD that happens on Saturdays, in the evenings, on our own time – are fabulous for inspiration and motivation because when we get together with like-minded people we become a mutual cheering society and that can be motivating in the We. Are. Awesome! kind of way. But again – the conversations are happening with those who already believe in the outcomes. They are interesting but not important in a change the culture kind of way.

Important conversations need to include many voices. Not only the ones that echo each other.

I think we have moved past the point where EdCamps need to remain voluntary and on our own time to be valid. What if we move the edcamp philosophy into our places of work? What if we allow expect educators to have conversations about what is important to them as a part of their in-service PED days? It is something we are experimenting with in Quebec’s Adult Education community.

Simple, truthful conversation where we each have a chance to speak, we each feel heard, and we each listen well. Conversation is the natural way we humans think together. We may have forgotten this, or no longer have time for each other, but it is how good thinking grows into actions that create real change.

~ quote from Margaret Wheatley

Conversations about what matters to us are necessary to the human existence. Necessary! How human to have these conversations in the places where we congregate to help people learn how to participate in society and create a better future for us all.

These conversations may be difficult ones. They may get messy. But, facilitated in a caring, open, and practical way they may likely become the important ones.

I think they will form the basis for the shift.