Category Archives: Professional Development

Reflections On Restorative Practices

Ever felt so busy putting out ‘fires’ in your classroom or dealing with challenging behaviour and classroom management issues that you felt a lack of personal connection with your students?

I have!

 

On the flip side,  have you ever felt such a strong connection with your class that you felt that you could challenge them to tackle the toughest learning obstacles without fear and anxiety?

I have felt this way too!

 

Right now I am somewhere between these two extremes.  Restorative Practices has been both my nemesis and saviour along the way.

One area of my own teaching practice that I have been focusing on this school year is building a stronger classroom community where students feel supported and support each other, where students can show vulnerability and feel safe to take risks, and where we are accountable for our actions and learn from our mistakes.  I am a firm believer that the social and emotional needs of my learners need to be met first before any academic learning and growth can occur.  That’s why I have been using the Restorative Practices framework in my classroom for over three years.

Since 2010 I have been following the Restorative Practices framework with mixed success.  Occasionally, I experience real and meaning classroom discussions, personal student growth, and culture change in my classroom, but more often than not, I have felt that my students just going through the motions.  Before attending the recent International Institute of Restorative Practices workshop in Port Coquitlam my understanding of this framework had plateaued and it was evident I was struggling to see the same value I had seen earlier in my career.

Halfway through the first day I suddenly realized what had been missing.  Bruce Schenk, director of IIRP Canada, shared some images from a picture book titled, A Restorative Story: Mary Finds Some Money about a girl named Mary who stole some money from her next door neighbour, and it suddenly clicked.  Not since the first year of implementation had I actually taken the time to properly introduce the design of Restorative Practices, or explained why this way of being was so important.  As an intermediate teacher, I know that students learn a great deal from storytelling combined with visual cues.  Soon after I returned from the conference I ordered a copy, and I am excited to share it with my students. I think it will help them to understand that building and rebuilding relationships is the essence of our community.

“Culture is like a story book; change

the stories and you change the

culture” – Unknown quote

The conference was also useful to refresh my understanding of two key concepts of restorative practices.  The Compass of Shame, based on Dr. Donald Nathanson’s work, explains how people react to shame.  Ever get the response, “It wasn’t me it was …” or the silent treatment from a student when you ask them what happened? That could be shame!  I learned that shame is not good or bad it just is.  We all experience shame to varying degree but it is how we deal with that is most important.  Nathanson explains that people who experience shame show it in one or more of the following ways; attack self, withdraw, avoid, or attack others.  Those who do not have opportunities to express shame in a safe and supportive environment may become disconnected from their community, whereas those who work within the Restorative Practices framework have a space to express their emotions and can lessen the intensity of them.

The Social Discipline Window, the work of Australian criminologist John Braithwaite, refers to the way we work with people, or in my situation how to work with students, staff, and families.  It works on the simple principle that people reacted better to leadership when leadership works ‘with’ people rather than does ‘to’ or ‘for’ them.  When I work ‘with’ students, I involve them in the decision making process and hold them accountable for their actions.  The environment is high in support and high in expectations.  This relatively simple graphic, now embedded in my mind, serves as a gentle reminder of the educator and person I strive to be.

“Human beings are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes in their behavior when those in positions of authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them.” John Braithwaite

 

With renewed energy I have made some plans for the future of Restorative Practices in my classroom:

  1. Return to explicitly teaching the restorative framework using Mary’s Story as an example, and remind students that the classroom is a place for building and rebuilding relationships.

  2. Attempt, in a more formal manner, to directly link restorative practices to an increase in student engagement and achievement.

  3. Continue to use classroom circles to connect each morning, and start to implement more academic circles.

  4. To be more mindful of using restorative language in all aspects of my teaching, work, and life.

Content Curation: Finding The Needles in the Haystacks

Digital Content Curation

In my #TIEgrad class, I have been learning about the value of digital content curation.  I used to think I had pretty strong curation skills because I used Diigo as a tool to collect and store important links.  Fortunately, having had the opportunity to deepen my understanding of content curation I have found the quality of content I now collect and share has increased significantly.  The process of curation is a noble one. Curating content on a particular subject also helps others find those needles in the haystack.

According to Wikipedia:

Digital curation is the selection, preservation, maintenance, collection and archiving of digital assets.

Effective Content Curation

Consume

Between the dawn of civilization through 2003 5 exabytes of data was created…

but that much information is now created every 2 days, and the pace is increasing.

– Eric Schmidt, Google.

Online content can be viewed as a continuous stream of data cascading in front of our eyes like a powerful waterfall.  It is endless flow of user-generated content (blogs, video channels, social media platforms) and publishing (newspapers, websites) and it is ever increasing.  So how do we make sense of it?  Historically, we used search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, but even with advanced search algorithms developed by these companies results are at best ineffective.  No algorithm can compete with the effectiveness of an individual who is knowledgeable in a particular content area, collecting relevant and meaning information on a specific topic, and sharing it with a like-minded audience.  Consuming information, for the benefit of deepening ones understand of particular topic, is best served manually rather than using automated practices such as search engines.

Curate

More than merely collecting content on a specific subject; to curate is to make sense of the information we consume online.  Strong curation involves carefully selecting content and evaluating it for a specific purpose, topic, or subject.  It also involves making decisions about what is and is not useful to deepening understanding of the subject.  Content deemed useful can then be customized and personalized, by the curator, by adding ones professional experience to enhance it before sharing that curated content with one’s learning network.  Curating is a higher-level thinking skill.  In order to curate content that is useful for others the content needs to be synthesized, evaluated, and interpreted before being disseminated.  Well curated topics and subjects help to inform and allow learning to happen at faster rates.

Collaborate

Finding great content online is one thing, but being able to package it into a format that will help inform others is quite another.  Best practices on how to share content involve inviting others to contribute, disseminating curated content on a regular basis, and making sure that the content you share has been evaluated and meets the needs of your target audience.

 Once they find a quality, curated collection, they’ll stay for related offerings.

– Steven Rosenbaum

Difference Between Collecting and Curating

Collecting                                        Curating

– Independent                                                     – Shared

– Lower-level thinking skill                            – Higher-level thinking skill

– Consume content                                            – Add value and insight to content

– Less organized                                                  – Highly organized

– Closed learning                                                 – Open learning

5 Great Content Curation Tools

3 Examples of Content Curation

  1. Restorative Classroom Practices

  2. Self Regulation in Schools

  3. BC Education Daily

Robin Good’s Video Playlist – Content Curation

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMPSL-1qMG8&w=640&h=360]

What Does It Mean To Be An Open Educator?

In my last #tiegrad class we discussed what it means to be an open educator.  Since then, I’ve been developing my own understanding of ‘open practices.’

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Wr2-hFxKBU&w=640&h=360]

 
 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rb0syrgsH6M&w=640&h=360]

According to Wikipedia:

Open education is a collective term[1] to describe institutional practices and programmatic initiatives that broaden access to the learning and training traditionally offered through formal education systems. The qualifier “open” of open education refers to the elimination of barriers that can preclude both opportunities and recognition for participation in institution-based learning. One aspect of openness in or “opening up” education is the development and adoption of open educational resources.”

My understanding of Open Education is that it represents a mindset – a way of thinking of others instead of ourselves.  Educators who engage in ‘open practices’ create a culture of sharing, collaboration, and cooperation.  They work together toward a common goal.  Each one offering a unique perspective, or enriching the process of collaboration with their past experiences and knowledge.  It can start local with team teaching or grade group collaboration within a school, or it can extend beyond the boundaries of the school to the virtual world.  Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), for example, are readily available online, and cater to a variety of subjects areas and topics.  These courses allow learners to connect via the web, share their knowledge, and better their understanding of the subject matter being discussed.  There exists technologies, which allow educators to connect in more informal ways but many of them are hidden behind passwords and usernames.  When we adopt a mindset of open practices, as educators, our practice can flourish and our students thrive.

One of the most exciting aspects of open education, as it relates to my own practice, is the ability to participate in my own personalized professional development.  I don’t always feel like I connect to the professional development opportunities that my school district hosts or those offered by my school, but I do get excited knowing that I can connect with other educators in subject areas of interest, and create, share, and adapt content, which I can then used to enhance the learning experience I have with my students.

Open Education also has real and meaningful impact outside of my own classroom practice.  It has huge implications from a social justice perspective.  I spend a lot of time engaging my intermediate students in service-learning projects that help them to understand, and create awareness around, local and global issues.  Our many discussions over the years always lead back to the root cause of many social justice issues, education.  Institutional-based education is not readily available for many children around the world, particularly girls, so access to education via the Internet is critical to helping us solve this problem.

What Limits Open Practices?

Closed practice educators may be more concerned about claiming ownership of knowledge, protecting intellectual property, or simply feeling like they have nothing to offer others.  I get it!  It is not easy to be publicly visible about your practice because you open yourself up to the possibility of criticism and critiques.

Fear can also limit open practices.  Recently my school district adopted Sharepoint as tool to better connect students and teachers in the district.  It is a step in the right direction but the tool is only really meaningful in the closed environment of our school district.  It’s not possible to share documents, and create content with anyone outside of our group.  Why?  Perhaps schools feel anxious about privacy and the potential dangers of open practices, or maybe they feel the need to exercise control over knowledge and information.  My students can definitely learn a great deal from the skilled students and staff in the district, but I am certain they can learn an awful lot from those outside of my district, as well.

What Tools Do Open Educators Use?

Educators who engage in open practices often need specific tools to help them connect with like-minded professionals.  Some of these tools may be described as Open Educational Resources (OER’s).  In order for an educational resource to be classified as open, it needs to meet four key criteria.  OER’s need to be intentionally created for others to redistribute, reuse, revise, and remix.  Creative Commons work meets many of these requirements.  Unlike a research paper or a textbook, which is created once and is static, OER’s are dynamic.  They are always a continuous work in progress; much like the educator I strive to be.

Keywords relating to the topic of Open Education:

MOOC – Massive Open Online Course – MOOC List

OER – Open Educational Resources

#ETMOOC – Educational Technology Massive Open Online Course

#openedu – Open Education Twitter hashtag

#ceetopen – Community of Expertise in Educational Technology

EDCI 338: Media Clip on Research Background and Interests

This post marks the start of a new educational related journey for me.  I’ve decided to go back to school and further my understanding of the best practices available to engage and motivate my learners.  I’m part of a small cohort #tiegrad and our first assignment is to create a media clip based on our educational interests.
[gigya src=”https://s3.amazonaws.com/boos.audioboo.fm/swf/fullsize_player.swf” flashvars=”mp3=https%3A%2F%2Faudioboo.fm%2Fboos%2F1609093-edci-338-media-and-personalized-learning.mp3%3Fsource%3Dwordpress&mp3Author=Mr_Lister&mp3LinkURL=https%3A%2F%2Faudioboo.fm%2Fboos%2F1609093-edci-338-media-and-personalized-learning&mp3Time=09.54am+18+Sep+2013&mp3Title=EDCI+338+-+Media+and+Personalized+Learning” width=”400″ height=”160″ allowFullScreen=”true” wmode=”transparent”]

I’ve been involved in education in Chilliwack since 2007 and I currently work at Central Elementary Community School.  I am looking forward to the program but I am a little nervous about being able to juggle life, work, and school, especially with my first baby on the way.  The last few years have been extremely satisfying as an educator.  I’ve have started to develop a voice in education, continually try to improve my craft, and started to myself questions like, “What kind of learning environment am I creating?” “Does the activity I’m asking students to do relate to the learning outcome?” and “Am I feeding my students knowledge or posing questions to which we can discover the answers to together?”

I have several areas of interest I’d like to share with.  One area of interested is a part of my weekly schedule I have coined CHOICE – Children Have Ownership In Choice Education.  You might know it as genius hour, enquiry learning, or personalized learning.  I think it’s important to create time in the weekly schedule where students are encouraged to find their passions and explore them.  During CHOICE, I don’t plan to have too many answers for students, but plenty of questions.  I can visualize what it looks like, to some extent, but I’m having difficulty creating a framework to suit all my learners.  I wanted to include it in my schedule last year but couldn’t find the right time.  Perhaps the right time is not when everything is aligned, but now.  I read Will Richardson’s book “Why School?” last year and I loved Larry Rosenstock’s quote:

“We have to stop delivering the curriculum to kids.  We have to start discovering it with them.”

I get it!  It makes sense to me, but I still wonder what it looks like for all my students.  I am looking forward to reading Angela Maiers, “The Passion-Driven Classroom” which I believe speaks to this type of learning.

Another area of interest to me is self-regulation.  I work in an inner-city school with a disproportionately high number of at-risk children.  Many of these children are either too stimulated or not stimulated enough to partake in the learning process.  The need to develop students’ ability to self-regulate has become glaring obvious to everyone who works in my school, so this year I’m working with a new program called MindUP curriculum developed by the Goldie Hawn Foundation.  MindUP teaches social and emotional learning skills, brain science, a positive mindset, and mindful awareness.  Right now we’re working on deep breathing techniques, and will soon be learning about important parts of the brain, and how signals in our brain get blocked during times of stress and over stimulation.

I‘m an avid Twitter user and have found real value in Twitter over the years, particularly when developing learning networks, making connections, and working to improving my craft.  I like to explore student-learning networks in more depth.  The thought of my own students making connections with other students, teachers, professionals from around the world who work in fields they are interested in excites me no end.  I’ve tried them with students with mixed success but never with a whole class.

Game-based learning is an area of education that fascinates me.  I’ve just finished reading Now You See It by Cathy Davidson and in her books she talks about designing lesson in a gaming format where lessons allow for risk taking, meaningful creation, nonlinear navigation, problem solving, and an understanding of rule structures  So many of my students play video games and are engaged, motivated, and incredibly creative with them.  Nothing would please me more than to transfer some of those experiences into the classroom.

Finally, I have to let you into a little secret.  All the areas of professional interest I’ve mentioned already pale in comparison to what gets me up in the morning.  Four years ago I took my grade 6’s to Free The Children’s We Day in Vancouver, and that one experience change my views on education and what’s really important in school.  Building positive healthy relationships with one another, exercising tolerance, forgiveness, and above all else caring for one another is what really matters.  Thanks to We Day, my classroom has become a hub for social justice issues both globally and locally.  We fight hunger, stand against inequality, educate our local community about homelessness and water issues, and advocate for human rights.

I look forward to learning and sharing with you.

21st Century Professional Development: Edcamp Fraser Valley

If you are a new teacher, veteran teacher, parent, student, administrator, or hold a job directly/indirectly related to the education profession, edcamps offer an alternative to traditional professional development opportunities.

Edcamps are modelled after Barcamps.  Barcamps are user-generated conferences hosted by programmers, open-source developers, and techno-geeks, and are designed to develop new skills, share best practices and maintain an open dialogue about the development of the computer industry.  Edcamp was started by a group of dedicated educators, in Philadelphia, USA who saw a need to improve traditional professional development, and who saw the opportunity, and need, for an unconference model in education.

Edcamps are now offered in every major city in North America as well as England and other countries in Europe.  This December an edcamp, Edcamp Fraser Valley (edcampfv), is being offered close to where I teach and I’m excited to be part of it.  Chris Wejr organized Edcampfv with help from David Wees and Grant Frend and a  small group of volunteers.  Here are the details:

What is the format of an Edcamp?:

Edcamps try to capture the best features of traditional professional workshops, which tends to be the conversations that pop up in the workshop itself, or the conversations between educators at lunch or between sessions.  With that in mind, an edcamp can best be described as a gathering of individuals with strong interests in the field of education with the intention of exchanging ideas, sharing their experiences, and learning from others in a hierarchy free setting.  Everyone has a voice in an Edcamp!  There are no expensive keynote speakers, no preset workshops, and no cost.

On the morning of the event, all attendees have the option to lead a discussion by placing their name and the topic of their discussion on a large board for all attendees to view.  Once all discussion topics have been displayed, attends vote on which discussions they would like to contribute to and attended.  Once the discussion begins, others are actively encouraged to contribute and share their experiences in order to maintain or move the discussion forward in way that the groups sees fit.  Best of all, if the discussion doesn’t suit your needs, just move to the next one.  No one will judge you to be impolite.

Who can attend?:

Anyone with strong interest in the education professional.  For example, teachers, support staff, administrators, school board employees, parents, students, etc…

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/16592733 w=640&h=360]

TED Talks for Kids in B.C.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo24PmD9eic&w=640&h=390]

As an elementary educator who encourages student involvement in many aspects of the education system, not just in the classroom, I am incredibly excited about the  independent TED event coming to Vancouver in September of this year.  TEDxKids BC is scheduled for Saturday September 17th, 2011 in Vancouver and will showcase student achievement and celebrate empowerment of students in our education system.  In a similar fashion to the larger and more prestigious TED Talks, TEDxKids BC showcases ordinary students and allows them a platform to share their experiences and inspire others to follow their dreams.

The organizers of TEDxKids BC are still looking for awe-inspiring kids who meet some of the following requirements:

  • Someone who has created a project that has made other people take notice and say: “Wow — what an amazing thing to do!”
  • Perhaps a kid who has helped others without thinking of him or herself — someone who just jumped in to lend a helping hand — and then perhaps the project grew and others liked the idea so much, that they too wanted to get involved.
  • Or maybe a speaker has a talent that they would like to share. They could tell the audience about how they developed this talent — or the effect they see in others when they perform.
If you can have a student in your class already, or know of a student that would fit well into some of the categories above, and would like to nominate himher then please fill out the this form.
You can also follow and promote TEDxKids BC through the following social media sites:

Professional Development Ideas for 21st Century Teaching

Does your school offer the professional development you’re need?

Recently I worked with my Twitter PLN on the topic of professional development.  Directly after the Tuesday Edchat session we worked on a document together, describing the kind of professional development opportunities we wished our schools districts offered.  We also discussed how we could developed our own in the interim.

Here’s a list of my favourite professional development opportunities I wished my district offered:

Personally, this type of collaborative effort excites me as an educator.  I would ultimately like to master my craft (education) and I feel like I move one step closer every time I connect with fellow educators from around the globe.

Many thanks to #Edchat, my PLN, the following educators – @actionhero, @missbartel, @21stcenturychem, @DrTimony, @cybraryman1, @davidwees, and everyone else who contributed to the document: http://bit.ly/aFuWAd

8 Ways To Keep Current With Technology and Technology Integration In The Classroom

8 Ways To Keep Current With Technology and Technology Integration In the Classroom

  1. Create a Personal Learning Network (PLN) and use technology as a method of communicating, collaborating and sharing ideas.  Your PLN may be local: educators in your school, nearby schools, or district wide. Alternatively, you may also decide to develop a virtual or global PLN using social networks such as Twitter , Educator’s PLN, Classroom 2.0, or for Canadian content CEET.
  2. Use a social networking tool such as Twitter to communicate with other education professionals.  Twitter is a micro-blogging web2.0 tool where education professionals share ideas, resources, ask for help, and provide opportunities to collaborate.  Updates, or Tweets as they are known, are restricted to 140 characters.  Therefore communication is to-the-point.  To find education professionals already using Twitter follow the link: https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AmdX57Dqx0tEcE1fWkU1QlMwU2dxRGFibmhsOFoyYUE&hl=en_GB
  3. Participated in Twitter chat such as #edchat – a weekly discussion about education issues at 4pm PST on Tuesday’s, or #teachertuesday
  4. Use an RSS reader such as Google Reader.  An RSS reader brings all your favourite blogs to you instead of having to go out to the Internet to view them.  Once you’ve subscribed to some educational technology blogs, you can share your feeds with other educators.  My Shared Google Reader Feeds
  5. Take advantage of social bookmarking.  Social bookmarking tools such as Diigo and Delicious allow users to store their bookmarks on the web, which makes them accessible from any computer with an Internet connection.  Additionally, these tools allow users to share bookmarks with others.  In other words, if you find a great resource site and you’d like to share with your PLN you can do so with one click of the mouse.  A very powerful tool in the PLN arsenal.
  6. Participate in Virtual Professional Development (VPD).  Sometimes as educators we need to take control of our own learning because our Districts are unable to provide differentiated professional development for all teachers.  With this in mind, I’ve found workshops, webinar’s, and webcast’s covering a wide range of technology related topics everyday of the week.  Here is a link to view upcoming events.
  7. Join and participate in technology Ning’s, Wiki’s, and blogs.  These spaces are kept current by educators who believe technology integration should be the norm and not an add on.  Here are links to my technology Ning’s, Wiki’s, and some excellent technology blogs.
  8. Take some time to share your ideas with other teachers in your school.  Soon you’ll be learning from them.  Sharing and learning with and from others educators makes it easier to keep current with technology and technology integration in the classroom.

Attending Moodle Conference: Cell Phones and Mobile Devices in the Classroom

Welcome back!  This week I’m participating in a week long Moodle conference on the topic of ‘Cell Phones and Mobile Devices in the Classroom.’  The conference runs from April 19 – April 24.  My personal goal at the end of this conference is decide whether or not using cell phones or other digital/Wi-Fi devices in the classroom can be successful and, engage my learners more, and really contribute to a more collaborative classroom.

I really like this video as an introduction to the cell phone culture that already exists in our schools:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXt_de2-HBE]

Here are a couple of cell phone in the classroom article to wet your appetite:

BCTF: To Ban or Not To Ban

  • In this article the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation attempts to open the discuss around cell phone use in school.  At this point it doesn’t seem to have formed an opinion.

CBC: Toronto students banned from using cellphones in schools.

  • Appears as though all Toronto public schools have a cellphone ban in effect, voted on by the Toronto District School Board Trustees.  I’m not sure of a lot of things with this topic but I am sure of one thing.  An outright ban on cell phones in schools will not work!

CBC: Cellphone Jamming Principal Forced to Retreat at B.C. High School.

  • Nice Try Mr. Steven Gray but that’s illegal in Canada.  How did the school district communicate with the school’s administration and how did the staff deal with the block?

It appears as those some school districts in B.C. have developed specific cell phone policies for their schools to follow.  My district,SD33, doesn’t seem to have any such policy…yet.

SD5, SD35, and SD73

As the dialogue continues and I’ll be sure to keep you posted.