Monday, September 19, 2016

When the ""Cat" doesn't embrace the "Dog"

In our MOOC this week, we have been asked to reflect on the introduction to our book study, "The Innovators's Mindset" by George Couros.  . There is LOTS to reflect on, which will make this blog post too long, so I am going to focus on a commercial George shared, with the tagline, "Be More Dog. 

The commercial is a humorous take on how a cat transforms himself by becoming more "dog", shedding his former aloof, indifferent self, to an exuberant, adventurous, happy-go lucky dog.

George challenges us as educators to embrace the notion of "being more dog" in our schools. I love this idea. He also suggests that "If we want people to take risks...they need to see us leading by example and taking risks in our work." I couldn't agree more.

I was fortunate today to work with a group of educators in my district, who are embarking on a journey of discovery by examining their practice and working to offer their students enhanced learning opportunities, by integrating the use of the iPad into their classrooms. They are risk takers, education leaders in their buildings and I am excited to be walking with them on this journey. One of those teachers, at the end of the day reflected the following. " The thing that scares me about a blog is where to start too. Guess it's just about jumping right in with both feet!" What an awesome attitude!

However, I am thinking about 2 other scenarios based on 2 different lenses. 

1. How do we move the educators forward, who don't want to "embrace being dog?" The ones who say, "But that's the way I've always done it", or , "kids already spend too much time on devices-in my class, I'm teaching the basics.", etc, etc... 
Well as George so clearly states, "You can't make anyone change. However, in Part 3 of the book, we will be examining how we can take action to "create the conditions where change is more likely to happen.  It reminds me of this popular Ted Talk  from Derek Sivers' on : "How to Start a Movement'
So a round of applause to you educators that are willing to "become more dog", and ask the question

"What conditions do you need in order to embrace change and to find ways to embed innovation  in your approach to teaching and learning? "

2. The second scenario is from the lens of the student in the classroom that is more "cat" than "dog". I am reminded of a circumstance last week, where I ran a Breakout EDU Game  at a school I work in. One of the students in that class presents himself as very much "cat":aloof, indifferent, disengaged, and unwilling to work in a group. He spent most of the game "hanging in the fringes" of the activity. After the game ended, we did some reflecting with the class, and were discussing the importance of those 4 C skills, and how those skills translate to the broader context of life. This particular student commented to this effect:, 

"But what about people who don't work well in groups? people that are more comfortable working on their own? "
It was an interesting point. I think as educators, we have to be cognizant of the fact that our classrooms are made up of many types of learners: Dogs, cats, and everything in between. We need to be especially innovative to find creative ways to meet the needs of ALL our learners. I believe that technology provides us with that ability to create unique learning opportunities, and fits well with the principles and practices of Universal Design For Learning. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

My Learning Stew

"In Nova Scotia, it is a particular stew prepared consisting of new baby vegetables (potatoes, carrots, and beans notably). The vegetables are boiled in enough water to cover them and when the baby potatoes are soft; heavy creambutter and salt/pepper are added. Locally, the addition of meat or older vegetables would be considered inconsistent to the tradition." (Source..Wikapedia)

I LOVE stew. This is my Turquoise cast iron pot. I LOVE Turquoise too! One of my biggest stumbling points in starting this blogging process, was coming up with a title or THEME for my blog. Let's see if I can draw some parallels to Hodge Podge:

So a little about me:
1. I'm originally from Nova Scotia, where the term Hodge Podge is commonly used to describe a "Spring Stew". I now live in 100 Mile House, a small rural community in the interior of British Columbia. 
2. I'm a self-confessed "foodie". In my house, one of our first conversations in the morning is, "So what's for dinner tonight?" 
3. I could take up this entire blog post describing my teaching background, but here's the (relatively) short version. I started out my career as a jock, and went into education because I couldn't believe I would get paid to hang out in a gym all day! I am in my 25th? year of teaching and my journey has seen me teach every  academic teachable subject at the junior and high school level (specializing in English, but conquering Socials, Science and even MATH!). Along this journey, I have moved into the field of "Special Education", and have worked in Learning Assistance rooms, "Modified" Classrooms,  Behavior Support programs, Life Skills Classrooms, ELL pull out. I took my Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, and developed a love for building curriculum. All this has led me to my current title of "Learning Support Coordinator". My job entails travelling throughout our geographically large district (we are the size of the province of New Brunswick) supporting  our rural and remote school staffs, to create inclusive environments with all of their students. I am also District Partner for SETBC, which has played a huge role in my own professional journey in understanding the role that technology can play in improving teaching and learning. I see my background as a "HODGE PODGE" that has led me on this journey to where I am as an educator today.  
3. In all my years of being an educator, I am SO EXCITED to be in this profession today.  MY current job has led to incredible opportunities for me to build my professional practice. I have learned so much being able to spend time in a multitude of classrooms. As I build my PLN through Twitter and other social networks, and participate in so many online and face to face proD opportunities, I am overwhelmed with the amazing work, the willingness to share and the innovativeness of the people I have connected with. Education is a HODGE PODGE in the best sense of the word. We are finding all the "new vegetables', and throwing out the "old tough meat"!. And then we add the "Cream", by remixing sharing and extending all that learning. 

My Learning HodgePodge Blog, will be an education stew-a sharing and reflection on my own learning, based on my varied interests in education: Technology, Innovation, Universal Design For Learning, Inclusion, First Nations Education, Teaching ELL, Literacy, Everything GOOGLE!, Classroom Spaces, The New BC Curriculum, the work we are doing in our district...well just a Hodge Podge. Interestingly, if you google image Hodge Podge you are likely to come across many images like this! Chaos and Order! (Not sure what that has to do with "Hodge Podge", but the parallels to education are even more intriguing.)!

Welcome To My Hodge Podge!

Hodge Podge:In Nova Scotia, it is a particular stew prepared consisting of new baby vegetables (potatoes, carrots, and beans notably). The vegetables are boiled in enough water to cover them and when the baby potatoes are soft; heavy creambutter and salt/pepper are added. Locally, the addition of meat or older vegetables would be considered inconsistent to the tradition." 

Welcome to my blog!! It has been a long time coming! Blogging has been on my "Begin" list for a long time. I even took the challenge last year from the Shelly Terrell's "30 Goals Challenge for Educators.", but couldn't make the commitment all of last year. 

I have been wanting to start blogging for a long time, and I know that now that I have started the posts will come fast and furious, so HANG ON! What has taken me so long to do this?? Well, here are my current excuses:

1. I couldn't come up with a title that I liked (more about that in my next post)
2. I have too MUCH to say! Where to start? (Verbal Diarrhea to spew from my mouth!!) 
3. What can I contribute to the amazing, fantastic work that is happening in education across the globe? 
4. Where am I going to find the time!!


1. This year, I am facilitating a group of teachers in my district (SD27 Cariboo/Chilcotin), who are exploring Universal Design For Learning, and how technology can enhance their teaching and student learning. There are 5 teachers in the cohort, 2 of which have been part of my UDL PLC in past years as part of our involvement with our partnership with SETBC.   This is a little video interview I did last year with SETBC about our Partnership, and this is a video of our first Classroom Project, featured on the SETBC site. 
 We are a diverse group, including an itinerant music teacher, a teacher in a rural community with a 4/5 split, 2 teachers/administrators that work in small remote schools with populations of less than 20, and a teacher in a city school with a 6/7 split. 
We have our first meeting on Monday, and one thing I am going to ask the teachers to do, is to blog about their experiences this year. Well, I can't really ask them to do that if I am not doing it myself!! LEAD BY EXAMPLE! 

I plan to share this timely post from George Couros (One of my most favorite CANADIAN! bloggers where he nailed this topic of blogging on the head! It's titled, "The Arrows Go Back And Forth", and in this post, he talks about: 

IMPACT: "If one teacher reads your blog post and changes something for 20-25 students, that’s a pretty big impact."
TRANSFORMATION:  "It is not only what you consume, but what you create."
TEACHER AS A LEARNER: "..the ones that have stuck with it, I have seen grow
Image by Silvia Duckworth
I will also share Silvia Duckworth's image on Blogging.  (My favorite Sketch Noter and another fantastic CANADIAN educator!). 
2. I want to be part of George's MOOC, to dig deeper into his book, "The Innovator's Mindset", which I read from front to back the day I got it in the mail this summer. Part of being in the MOOC is the necessity to reflect and share, and the blogging platform is the most reasonable way to do so. 
3. I have been sharing lots on my EDMODO group I set up for teachers in our district that have shown an interest in the work we are doing with iPads and UDL but it is time for a bigger platform. 
So, NO MORE EXCUSES! Let the blogging/ verbal spew.. begin. I look forward to sharing my thoughts, reflections, knowledge and inspirations with you all. Let's BEGIN!