Priorities

I’ve learned so much this year that it’s tempting to throw myself into every initiative that comes across my desk and to want to change everything about my teaching all at once.

It’s tempting.

It’s also INSANE!

So I’ve decided to set some priorities for next year, and I’m following the model that my friend Kevin shared with me, that he learned from a speaker in his Master’s class. This person held up one hand and said that he was so busy he decided that he would have five priorities (Get it? Five fingers? Five priorities. I guess you only get to have six priorities if you’re the bad guy who killed Inigo Montoya’s father, in which case you’re going to die anyway so…) not just for work, but for your life. If something doesn’t fit one of those priorities you have to say no. Easier said than done, but I’ll give it a try. I just need to figure out what my priorities are.

Well first of all, it seems important to me to make sure that my relationships with my family and friends should be at the top of my priority list.

Then health. That can be physical, mental, and spiritual.

Yikes! That only leaves three left for professional priorities!

All right, well we all know that I want to find ways to bring more web 2.0 into the classroom even if I don’t have a beautiful shiny wifi Apple-sponsored computer lab (But seriously, that would be amazing).

Two left!

Assessment and Evaluation: No big surprise there. I want to continue to refine my understanding of good assessment and evaluation practices and how to bring together the ideal and the reality in order to support students. I like this one because it encompasses a lot of other things that I’m passionate about.

One left! Well people keep asking me what my ultimate goal is in this profession. Do I want to go into admin? Do I want to go back to the board office? Do I want to go to grad school? For now, I’ve decided that my ultimate goal is to be a really really good teacher. To some people that may not sound like a terribly ambitious goal, but it is to me. I think it’s easy to become complacent in this profession. I think that you have to keep pushing yourself to get better and to continue to see yourself as a learner. I never want to have the attitude that “I’ve been doing this for 20 years; there’s nothing new anyone can tell me about teaching.”  So my fifth priority is to view myself as a professional learner. That may sound a bit too vague but I know what it means.

So that’s it for now. I may come back and revise these later. Do you have any priorities or goals for next year?

Hamlet Xtranormal

I heard about this site that lets you create movies simply by typing.

It’s pretty simple and I think the results speak for themselves. I can think of a lot of educational applications, particulary for the media literacy strand of English. What do you think?
I couldn’t resist. Here’s Hamlet’s To Be or Not To Be soliloquy.

Doing more with less

Rumor has it that due to decreased student enrollment in our board, there won’t be any money for computers for our schools next year. My first reaction is a new (and therefore outrageously passionate) technophile, was shock and horror. How on earth can we prepare students for 21st century without the technology resources?

Then I realized, maybe this could be an opportunity. Maybe this will be the push teachers and administrators need to stop trying to ban cell phones and mp3 players and see them for the potential learning tools they are. Maybe we can’t afford a class set of clickers, but most of our kids have cell phones they can use in conjunction with something like polleverywhere.com. Can’t afford a class set of digital cameras? Most of your kids already have them.

Thanks to Mike for his thoughts below:

Necessity is the mother of invention. Right?

Student Engagement and Self Reflection

I’d like to share this video created by a really dynamic York region teacher, Royan Lee. http://www.charleshowitt.ps.yrdsb.edu.on.ca/WritingInThe21stCenturysmall.mov

Royan is working on an action research project along with some other teachers (one from Peel and one from Thames Valley) on digital story-telling. Royan’s portion of the project looks at podcasting and student engagement.

What really impresses me about this video is how well the students are able to articulate not only what they learned, but HOW they learned it. They discuss the process of looking at exemplars and determining criteria and then evaluating their own work. I’m so impressed by the metacognitive skills displayed by these students. This is all a result, I believe, of their level of engagement with the task, and their teacher’s ability to structure the tasks in a meaningful and authentic way.

These students definitely know their content material, but what’s more, I think they’ve learned valuable lessons about how they think, how they create, and how they can set goals and plans to reach those goals.

Well done, Mr. Lee and students!

Will Richardson is teaching me lots today

Just a short post to say how much I’m enjoying today’s conference. Probably the most interesting part of the day for me was watching everybody start to see the potential of twitter as they started to add people.

 

I also learned about hashtags which has nothing to do with anything illegal ;) We used it to see all the tweets about today’s conference. Right now people are learning about blogger so I’m differentiating my learning. 

Will write some more later.

 

It’s Saturday morning and I had a good night’s sleep for the first time in many days.

Just wanted to link this post to some of the things other people are writing about:

Doug spent more time summing up yesterday than I did. He even included a video. I’m glad he included the message from our unions about technology and communication. 

Shannon posted this link to Mike Fisher’s examination of Bloom’s taxonomy and digital technology. It’s an interesting way to sort the different types of technology.

Also Will Richardson replied to my tweet about curling. Just for the record, that’s two replies from Will Richardson. 

I’m a geek.

 

Preparing our students for Yesterday Today!

My brain is full. That’s a good thing though. I think.

At the conference today, the two keynote speakers really stressed the fact that we are preparing our students for a future that we can’t even imagine using technology, strategies, and pedagogy that really hasn’t evolved much since the 19th century.

Public education as we know it today grew to develop a population of literate workers for the industrial revolution. But what did that actually mean? 

It meant that workers needed to be able to read print (maybe), do simple arithmetic, and follow instructions. So we told students to sit in rows, be quiet, do the same thing as everyone else, and not ask too many questions.

Well, jobs that require workers who can do that are rapidly declining.

And yet, the majority of classrooms still bear a striking resemblance to those 19th century classrooms. 

And I can’t TELL you how tired I am of the response, “Well that’s what they’re going to get in university so we might as well prepare them for it.”

First of all, if we acknowledge that something qualifies as “bad teaching” then doing more “bad teaching” to prepare them for “bad teaching” seems ludicrous to me!

Secondly, we as teachers have this mindset that we need to prepare the majority of our students for university (because we did, and probably most of our friends did), when the fact is that very few of them are GOING to university–and not because they’re not smart enough, but because many of them realize that having a degree behind their name isn’t a guarantee of anything anymore.

 Sir Ken Robinson on how schools kill creativity

I strongly believe that the world they encounter within school at least needs to acknowledge the richness of the world that exists for these students outside of school. They’re doing all kinds of learning without us. Think of the potential for learning that could happen if we saw ourselves as facilitators. We don’t need to teach the kids how to use the technology, but we need to give them opportunities to use it to demonstrate to us what they know.

Now, I have to figure out how to do that in my classroom. 

Help?

David Warlick’s Presentation

When I get cranky about technophobia, this is what I’m talking about. David Warlick’s presentation explains why we need to change the way we teach in order to prepare our students for the 21st century. He asks, how much time do we have before our students will expect our classrooms to mirror the real world in terms of being digitally connected?

If you want to learn more about this, go to David Warlick’s blog. He has links to all of his presentations. Super cool.

Our Students • Our Worlds

Blogs and PLCs

Random quick thought:

Everyone wants teachers working together in professional learning communities but we teachers are already so strapped for time–and don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that this should in any way replace release time–maybe blogging is the answer.

My partner’s doing a great job of playing devil’s advocate and brings up a number of good points about teachers not comfortable with technology, and others who would feel that this is yet one more burden they have to deal with on top of the school work. To them I say, no problem. Do your own thing. It’s cool.

But I’m sure there are other teachers out there like me who are interested in collaboration with colleagues who may also be more comfortable with technology. I’m still new at this, anyway.

We work in a vast school board and it’s rare that we get a chance to get together and share ideas. Maybe this is an answer.

Just a thought.

My macbook is hungover

 

I’m trying not to panic since I’m sure it’s a simple fix.

My macbook (named Duncan MacIntosh) has become another appendage for me and right now, he either takes five minutes to load when I turn him on, or he doesn’t want to turn on at all. 

I think it’s really just a hangover or something. I don’t like getting up in the morning after a night of partying either. Which makes me wonder what he gets up to while I’m out.

Oh well, lucky for me, London has a Mac store where hopefully they can solve my problems.