Category Archives: PLN

Learning Network Leadership – A Path Forward

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If we are to build an effective learning network,

what will it look like?

An effective learning network is complex, changing, growing, shrinking, morphing over old, new and evolving platforms.  It reaches into classrooms and across the globe, held together by personal learning networks (PLNs) that continually build new connections, cultivate new relationships and learning while allowing others to dissipate.

It centres on individual connections and actions, yet provides far-reaching value.

It allows learning to reach the student desk more quickly than our old structures.  It puts an end to the geographic privilege of access, builds collaborative efficacy over distance, normalizes collaboration as a way of professional practice, and amplifies promising practices.

Individual Workflow – Personal Learning Environment or PLE

An effective network is composed of educators who work openly by default.  Their daily workflow (Personal Learning Environment or PLE)  includes personal learning that comes not only from traditional sources, like books and research articles, but also through efficient searching for educator blogs, tweets (microblogs), ebooks, audio books, webcasts, videos and exploring other online digital content that takes them into classrooms and into the minds of educators.  

Content is organized and shared back to the community in a format that will reach their audience (parents, teachers, ECEs, leaders, community).  They connect online with people in similar or different roles to have discussions, share strategies, consider ideas, connect thinking and stay in tune with what is happening in the world of the people they serve.  They bring in the experts they need to ensure student outcomes are improving.

And, as they learn, they document that learning in a way that is valuable to others, considering audience and format, privacy and purpose.  They share that learning back to their audience in a way that models digital citizenship and celebrates the work being done in their schools.

  1. Collecting Information – Leaders dedicate time for professional learning and develop competencies in effectively exploring and organizing relevant content, including blogs, podcasts, discussions, monographs and articles shared by others through social media.  They share these information and knowledge collecting strategies with peers, teachers, students and the community.  They understand how to access the information they need by leveraging the capabilities of the network.
  2. Connecting in Physical and Digital Spaces – Leaders value their connections to others and the learning that comes from conversations in person and online.  They continue to nurture and build connections, bringing value to their organizations and those they serve.  They model the importance of connectivism for students and other educators.
  3. Curating and Sharing Important Learning with Others – Leaders streamline the flow of information by filtering, packaging, and sharing in a way that mobilizes knowledge for targeted audiences. This is a complex skill that all of our students should also master. 
  4. Creating and Providing Value to the Network – Leaders contribute what they are learning and make their thinking visible to others. This involves documentation and sharing skills, modelling them openly for others in the organization.  Networks are only as valuable as the people in them and what they create and share with others.

Documenting Learning: Capturing the learning (and lack of learning)

  • Understanding a process/protocol for documentation (for example, Documenting for Learning)
  • Choosing an appropriate tool and product (text, blog, image, video, webcast, podcast, report, etc.)
  • Developing expertise in editing products (audio and video editing, website development)
  • Technical expertise
  • Reflecting (what to share, what audience, when?)
  • Modelling all of these for those you serve in the organization (students, educators)

Sharing the Learning (Openly as the Default)

  • Consider the privacy protection of those involved in your learning
  • Consider the intellectual property rights of any work you have used or remixed (develop a deep understanding of Creative Commons Licensing)
  • Consider the most effective and appropriate place to share based on desired audience (with open as default) – online open, online internal, conference, learning session. It is understanding the shifting differences and similarities among platforms, and where audiences reside at the moment.
  • Develop visual media, web and information literacies as well as global literacies
  • Amplify the practices that are making a difference.
  • Contribute in a positive way to the network, modelling this for others in the organization.
  • Where are other learning networks you can leverage?

This view of network leadership presents many entry points, and a shifting variety of digital literacies and skills needed for successful participation in networked learning.

Some of these skills are outlined here.

 

*Featured images by Giulia Forsythe CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0

Resources:

Langwitches Blog: Digital Citizenship and Documenting Learning

Harvard Business Review: Are You Network Literate?

The Digital Skills we Must Teach our Children:  World Economic Forum, 2016

The Tipping Point to Transformation: David Culberhouse

 

Extending FSL Learning with Technology: Lakehead University, September 29

Today I was invited to work with pre-service education students at Lakehead University where I learned more about how our FSL teachers are learning to do great work with students in the future.

We explored ways in which they can think deeply about their practice, and how they can continue to self-direct their learning.

Here are our resources from the day.

Slides to organize the conversations:

  1.  Creating a compelling case to use digital tools in the classroom

World Economic Forum: The Digital Skills we Must Teach our Children:

What If? OPSBA 2009

A Vision for Teaching and Learning in a Digital Age OPSBA (2013?)

Robot-Proof: How Colleges Can Keep People Relevant in the Workplace by Joseph E. Aoun 

Canada’s Digital Talent Strategy March 2016

Digital Canada 150

Michael Geist: Digital Canada 150

Automation isn’t new, so what’s the big deal? by Jacob Morgan

Replacing the Professionals: CBC Ideas Podcast with Richard Susskind

The computer that beat GO (video, March 2016)

Learn how to learn

2. Thinking outside the traditional classroom

Using synchronous technology to connect language learners to language experts.

3. Digital Tools

Ministry-licensed Digital Learning Resources for #onted: https://www.osapac.ca/dlr/

School Leader Learning Series: Leading in the Digital Age

Detecting Lies and Staying Safe (by YouTube)

Xpresslab

Antidote

Antidote User Guide (English)

Mindomo

How to use Mindomo (Ministry-licensed in Ontario) video tutorials:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AhjvN01r_wQCogSnJ2_PLVBzrQe3iqJdyNJaD1dU8rc/edit

Printable version to access Mindomo

Using Mindomo (printable)

4. Building your PLN

This morning I put out a general call to my PLN to help me find supports for new FSL teacher in Ontario.  Here are some of the responses.

#FSLChat on Twitter Sunday 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Sylvia Duckworth

Connecting with FSL teachers in Ontario (by Sylvia Duckworth)

Beginning to use Twitter: https://twitterforabsolutebeginners.wordpress.com/

Ontario EduBloggers (Livebinder)

5. Pedagogical Documentation

Making Learning Visible Through Pedagogical Documentation

Pedagogical Documentation Revisited

Documenting for Learning (slides)

6. Further Sites

It’s a language class.  Shouldn’t the kids be doing the talking?

Grade 3 Community Inquiry

 

Featured image by Sylvia Duckworth

Our Incredible Normal

We have the technology now to learn from the best teachers in the world.

We can access our PLN from almost anywhere, through synchronous and asynchronous technologies.

Today, our students need personalized learning options. Our teachers need to learn according to personal and professional interests.  Our leaders need to be able to consult with experts, and meet their own learning needs.  And all of this is simple with a strong Professional Learning Network, and access to digital tools.

In fact, for many educators, this is their normal.  It’s how they work in 2016.

Today I had the privilege to speak to educators at #depd in Ottawa (Discovery Education) as my PLN mate Paul Maguire was presenting and sharing how to connect with other educators through voxer.

Dean Shareski captured part of the conversation in this tweet:

I was thrilled to hear how clear it was, because up here on the north shore of Superior, I was in a torrential rainstorm during a power outage and I was using my car charger to keep my phone battery charged while hoping the cell coverage would remain intact!

But even with all of that, I was able to talk to the crowd gathered in Ottawa.

Incredible is our normal.

For many of us, it has been our normal for a decade or more.

Our creative, curious, bright children can access the best teachers in the world with our help.  Let’s make sure every one of them can.  Their access to the best instruction should not depend on geography or classroom teacher.

And let’s encourage all educators, including our leaders, to build extensive, rich professional learning networks where they share learning, cultivate relationships, build their understanding of digital environments and establish a positive online identity.

Our physical and digital worlds are now one.  Our learners need to be able to flow between them, and thrive in both.

 

Featured image by Donna Miller Fry: CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0

The Pallisades.  Hwy 11 north of Nipigon, Ontario, at sunrise, late August, 2016.

Learning to Podcast

Podcasts have been a primary source of professional learning for me for many years. I have always wanted to use this tool, and this week, I found two teachers in WRDSB who use podcasting regularly.

Karen Blaak uses podcast conversations with her father to set the themes for her online English 3U course.  The personal narrative and vulnerable stance appeals to students.

Carlo Fusco openly shares his process of capturing voices of the people he learns with.

Both of these talented and dedicated educators inspire me to really think about how I can more effectively use podcasting in my work.

My podcast with Carlo can be found here.

 

I look forward to listening to the podcasts with other educators I learn with here:

Jamie Reaburn Weir

Herman Kwan

 

Featured image from Carlo Fusco’s Podcast: Shift+Refresh+Me

A Vision of Effective Mathematics Teaching and Learning

What is your vision of effective mathematics teaching and learning in elementary school?

This is a new question for me.  This blog is Learning About Learning, and I have a lot of learning to do about mathematics education.

I am hoping you can help me.

Here are a few of the things I am thinking about right now.  What can you add to this? What have you learned in your own practice? What do you think about when you consider a vision for teaching and learning mathematics?

I think that efficacy is critical.  Students have to believe they can achieve at high levels.  Teachers have to believe that students can achieve at high levels and that teachers have the capacity to  get students to that high level.

Is mathematics skills (as I was taught), or is it ideas (as Dr. Marian Small suggests)?

Is math about making connections?  Is it important that we work with big ideas rather than teaching skills and concepts only in isolation?

I think students have to be able to choose the tools and strategies they need to help them solve problems.

It isn’t up to us to tell them what tool to use, but to teach them how to use many tools effectively so they might pick the one that is right for them in each context.

Math needs to be fun.  Kids need to be the ones doing the thinking. Teaching through problem solving can be very effective (problems are not add-ons).

Teachers need to collaborate with other educators, to share their thinking openly, to challenge the thinking of others, to read and write blogs about their work.  Isolation is a choice, and isolation is unprofessional.  Kids need the thinking of many professionals, not just the one assigned to them.

As I work through #mathleaderNEO over the next few years, I plan to grow this thinking.

I encourage you to share your ideas too.

Featured Image: shonk via Compfight cc

What’s Best For Kids?

For the past 24 hours I have been participating in the rich, immediate conversations in The Innovator’s Mindset Voxer Group.

Last night, we were thinking a lot about the challenges of innovating from the middle.  When we challenge leaders to innovate their practice, we are seen as “rogues”, as troublemakers (I can’t tell you how much this reminds me of bright, creative children in a classroom!)

In response (at 1:30 a.m. I might add), George Couros generously jumped in and said that it is important to do “what is best for kids”.

And this is exactly where I see the problem.

As educators, we all want to do what is best for kids.

Perhaps “what is best” for a child is passing the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test so that he might graduate.

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In that case, the “best for kids” strategy is to teach the child to write a news report, and to practice it over and over again so that they might pass the test necessary for graduation.

An innovative educator might suggest that in a world where media companies are failing, and people are getting their news through Facebook (CBC Radio Noon, Feb. 4, 2016), Buzzfeed, Twitter, etc., that writing a news report is a ridiculous bar for graduation from secondary school.

What is “best for kids”?

Until the structures in the system align, until we can clearly articulate what school is for, what is “best for kids” will be blurry.

We need even better arguments to insist on innovative practices to meet the needs of our learners in 2016 and beyond.

Please join The Innovator’s Mindset Voxer group and keep the conversation going!IMG_2004

 

 

We Don’t Think Differently (or do we?) – 7/10

Do we think differently, or have we just learned differently?

This post is part of a 10 day posting challenge issued by Tina Zita. You can’t be a connected educator if you don’t contribute. Sometimes we need a nudge to remember that if nobody shares, nobody learns. Thanks Tina!

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Silence.

You’ve felt that right?

You know, it happens when you say something like, “Why would we not just share that openly on a blog for everyone to see?” – and the room goes silent.

For those of us in the Lone Wolf Pack, this is our normal.

We are told that we “think differently”.

I’m not sure I buy that.  I am not sure that I believe we “think differently”. I wonder if we have just been through very different learning experiences.

We have been learning as networked, connected learners for years – decades in fact.  We have been learning in spaces yet to be discovered, yet to be respected, yet to be acknowledged by the status quo in our profession.

We have been learning different content.  We have been learning through ideas.

Ideas just pop into our network all the time.  Seeing and exploring new ideas daily, hourly, but the minute almost, is what we do.

We have had the time to share, converse, think through, research, challenge, ask about – to form thinking about – millions of ideas from around the world.

Then we throw out one of these ideas f2f,  and silence.

We are called names, like “rogue“.

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 9.14.05 AMIt’s not so much that we might think differently, it’s that we learn differently.

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We learn through education 3.0, in a profession that is talking 2.0 while remaining firmly entrenched in 1.0.

 

 

And that’s the problem.

 

Shared by Dr. Jackie Gerstein under a CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 license https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/experiences-in-self-determined-learning-moving-from-education-1-0-through-education-2-0-towards-education-3-0/
Shared by Dr. Jackie Gerstein under a CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 license https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/experiences-in-self-determined-learning-moving-from-education-1-0-through-education-2-0-towards-education-3-0/

 

Featured Image: Shared by Dr.  Jackie Gerstein  under a CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 license

RESOURCES

Dear Lone Wolf by David Truss (@datruss)

 

We Feel Lost – by Will Richardson

35 Years Later – by Tina Zita

 

Katie Martin: 5 Reasons Professional Development is not Transforming Learning.

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http://katielmartin.com/2015/10/05/5-reasons-professional-development-is-not-transforming-learning/

Where’s the Beef? – 6/10

When we talk about “Visible Learning” and “Visible Thinking”, can we now focus more on the Thinking and Learning than on the Visible?

This post is part of a 10 day posting challenge issued by Tina Zita. You can’t be a connected educator if you don’t contribute. Sometimes we need a nudge to remember that if nobody shares, nobody learns. Thanks Tina!

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Recently, I was sharing some learning on Twitter with a colleague from the Early Years Division.  I did my homework, and decided to show her my favourite hashtag – #FDK (full day kindergarten).  This demonstration never fails to bring smiles to peoples’ faces, as it is filled with young children doing activities in kindergarten.

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But this time, my colleague said, “I see lots of activities.  What about learning, how do I find that?”

It made me think, once again, about that word value.

There is lots of “noise” on Twitter.  How do we help educators find the value through all the “noise”?

How do we ensure that we are not looking at flashy “busywork”, but that  we are engaging in online examples of visible student and educator  learning?

This book excerpt from Eric Sheninger caught my eye:

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Excerpted from the book, “UnCommon Learning: Creating Schools That Work for Kids,” by Eric Sheninger, published by Corwin, 2015. http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2016/01/14/how-to-determine-if-student-engagement-is-leading-to-learning/

Just because we see pictures of kids doing cool stuff in blogs and on Twitter, doesn’t mean learning is happening.

Last spring, Andy Hargreaves performed an experiment with the audience at #uLead15.  He showed portions of images to the audience, and asked whether the students appeared to be engaged or not.  The demonstration showed us that we need to question our understanding of the word “engagement”.

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The appearance of student engagement does not necessarily mean that learning is happening.

Seeing “engaged students” on social media prompts questions about whether we are looking at real engagement, and whether or not learning is actually occurring.

Shared by Bill Ferriter under a CC-BY-NC-2.0 license https://www.flickr.com/photos/plugusin/12188001525/
Shared by Bill Ferriter under a CC-BY-NC-2.0 license https://www.flickr.com/photos/plugusin/12188001525/

Perhaps when we are viewing “visible thinking”, we need to focus more on the thinking than the visible.

Not all that is visible on social media is learning.

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Featured image by Dean Shareski, shared under CC-BY-NC-2.0: https://www.flickr.com/photos/shareski/3537232931/

After writing this post, I noticed that George Couros is thinking along similar lines.

… and that David Truss is looking at learning here: How Do You Know When Students Are Learning?

Supporting Inquiry into TELT* – 4/10

This post is part of a 10 day posting challenge issued by Tina Zita. You can’t be a connected educator if you don’t contribute. Sometimes we need a nudge to remember that if nobody shares, nobody learns. Thanks Tina!

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How do we support teachers who are working on inquiries into what TELT* looks like, sounds like, feels like with their students?

*Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching

Today I was fortunate to have the opportunity to support TBCDSB Educators in their work to begin their TELT inquiry projects.

Our work together is embedded below.  Here is some of the fabulous work by educators that we shared as we work to build our PLNs.

Thanks to Cindy Carr, Paul Mackett and Anita Drossis for arranging such a wonderful learning opportunity.


Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano’s Slideshare on Building a PLN

Featured Image Quote: Wayne Gretzky, shared by Dennis Shirley, uLead 2015.

Building a Professional Learning Network (some resources) – 3/10

This post is part of a 10 day posting challenge issued by Tina Zita. You can’t be a connected educator if you don’t contribute. Sometimes we need a nudge to remember that if nobody shares, nobody learns. Thanks Tina!

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Who can help me answer my inquiry question?

Today I worked with my colleagues to support educators in establishing inquiry questions.

Part of our work has been finding the resources to  meet the individual needs of each educator.  The TBCDSB leadership team asked me to join the group to share the process of becoming a networked learner.

I spent the morning getting to know the needs of the learners in the room, and then created these resources tailored to their requests.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 2.23.03 PMI leveraged my own PLN to find the resources.

In learning that several of the educators were teacher-librarians, I asked my colleague, Mark Carbone, about where to find the work he has been doing with Carlo Fusco.

The video we shared can be found here: http://blog.markwcarbone.ca/2015/10/23/shifting-perspectives-on-libraries/

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My colleague, Cindy Carr, shared this video with the group.

This Will Revolutionize Education

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 2.23.31 PM The educator inquiries are around Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching.

We were able to share the work of several educators who have an open practice, and who invite others into their classrooms.

Connecting with other educators does have an impact on student learning.  We are working to demonstrate the value of connections.

The shared resources are in the slides embedded below.

Thanks to my PLN for your support today in helping me to support other educators.

From Anita Drossis:

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