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Meaningful Change is On All of Us

The Principal of Change George Couros - 17 May, 2016 - 07:30

I truly loved this post from Ira Socol, “Your School’s UX. What is it? And where to start“.  In it, Ira challenges us to think about the messages our schools send to our students:

What do kids see? What do they feel? What do they smell? What do they hear? What is their experience as they move through your school?

One of the things that is clear is that every single thing kids see, hear, feel, smell, taste, sends a message about your school. Every single thing. And many of the messages schools send are as awful as they are unintentional.

As someone who walks into schools often, I notice things right away and they do send messages about the environment. We often become numb to them so we have to be intentional about how we as educators ensure that we are always paying attention to the words on the walls. I even suggested on Twitter that a great professional learning opportunity would be to read Ira’s article as a staff, and then walk around the school and discuss what you see.

But what if you are a teacher and not an administrator? Is this opportunity for you to suggest to the entire staff?

Short answer? Yes.

Every child in your school, whether you teach them or not, are our kids. If we look at our students this way, then we need all people in the building to challenge, suggest, and lead.  It is essential to the growth of schools as true “learning organizations”.

In my book, “The Innovator’s Mindset“, I outline five areas that schools should focus on to help others move forward.  They are listed below:

The reason I left the last column open was to encourage people to come up with their own solutions, and revisit this space.  It is not very “innovative” if I can prescribe exactly how to make “innovation” happen. Yet this “chart” is not meant for the admin to answer the last column, but it should be a discussion within your community.  How do you bring these questions to reality?  (Please feel free to print off the image above and use for discussion.)

I really appreciated this post from Jeremy Midford, who is part of the ITLL (Innovative Teaching and Learning Leads) project:

I have to remind myself often that you can’t do ten things at once. We all need that reminder sometimes. Designing, planning, and carrying out innovative learning opportunities for with students is the best and most rewarding part of our jobs as teachers. But it’s not the only part. When it starts to feel overwhelming with work on reporting, documenting, communicating, committee planning, etc, I remind myself to focus on one thing that puts students first. One lesson or activity that is innovative, and changes my practice for the better. Then build on it. That is the only way to accomplish the first part of our goal as ITLL leaders in this Winnipeg School Division initiative in innovation. In order to move from the idea of “pockets of innovation” to a “culture of innovation”, you have to put one foot in front of the other, and change one thing at a time.

Despite that fact, I can’t help looking and thinking big picture, and wondering how I can impact the teaching and learning of others in my school. I never really see myself as an “expert”, who might be able to offer insight to another teacher to improve their practice. But then I had that type of light bulb moment when you stop, put your fist to your head and make the sound effect as you simulate the explosion with your hand. My task as an ITLL leader is not necessarily to impart my own pedagogy, technology, or content on other teachers, my job is to bring people together! Connect our school, and the teachers and students in it to the outside world of innovation. It might involve a few Twitter tutorials, or maybe a learning lunch with Google Docs, but mostly my job will be to allow my colleagues to benefit from the same process that I was so lucky to be apart of. Give them a chance to be inspired by new technology. Demonstrate the power of a professional social network. Be a part of the positive change in my school that hopefully results in an environment that reflects a culture of innovation.

It may sound like a tall order. But on the bright side I know exactly how we need to do it. Together, and one step at a time.

Jeremy looks at how he can lead from the position he is in, not one that he is allocated.  He has no admin time allocated nor does he have a formal title; he is just trying to find a way to not only help his students, but more importantly, his school.

The crucial part of his post is that he sees the importance of doing this “together”.  If we expect the “principal” or the “superintendent” to be the only one responsible for moving our organizations forward, meaningful change will either be excruciatingly slow, or not happen at all.

Categories: Planet

Interesting Links 16 May 2016

Well I’m late with this. Usually I write these us Sunday night but last night I was just exhausted. Not in a bad way - just tired. That happens when you have a good weekend sometimes. If you missed an expected morning read I apologize. But better late than never here are the links I collected over that last week.

.@MrAColley a Lead Practitioner of Computing, ICT and T&L  blogs about The BBC micro:bit and shares his resources. I’m starting to see more and more from teachers using this little device with students. Let me know if there is someone you know (you perhaps) with things to share.

Congratulations to Chris Stephenson founding Exec Director of the Computer Science Teachers Association and now Computer Science Education person at Google for winning the ACM President’s Award for service to CS education.

Scratch is the new PowerPoint subtitled (or 'why I am annoyed with free educational software') is an interesting look at educational software by a teacher and Chair of computing at a school in the UK.

Should We Teach HTML? This common question is taken on by Mike @zamansky As often happens there is some interesting discussion in the comments.

It's Official: 'Brogrammer' Culture Is Driving Women Out of STEM Jobs documentation for things most of us already knew.

Some interesting things from Microsoft this week as well.

Categories: Planet

The Experts In the Room

The Principal of Change George Couros - 16 May, 2016 - 00:16

Many educators want to show that they are well read and that they are looking around the world for inspiration and ideas from some of the leading thinkers in the world.  This helps to shape a vision for a more “globally inspired school” than if we are to only look at what we are doing in our own context.

That being said, the notion of “you can’t be a prophet in your own land”, to me, is one that wreaks of insecurity. Acknowledging someone in your own organization seems to make others feel “less than”, as opposed to realizing and celebrating that expertise has been developed within your own culture. That should be worn like a badge of honour, not taken as a slight.

Recently speaking at an event with Winnipeg School Division, the Chief Superintendent, Pauline Clarke, welcomed and celebrated staff before I had the opportunity to speak.  She also shared a compelling vision of what schools can look like, yet when she quoted her references, she did not talk about what she has seen in “Finland” or certain institutions. She referenced, quoted, and connected her vision to what educators had said and done in her own schools.  She acknowledged that the experts were actually in the room, and how her own thinking was inspired by them.

It was a nice reminder and view of “leadership in action”, as she empowered the people she served to continue pushing the envelope of what powerful and innovative learning can look like for their students, and themselves.

It also reminded me that connecting globally doesn’t matter if we can’t connect within our own communities.

Categories: Planet

Ideas — The Learner's Way

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 15 May, 2016 - 15:56


  • Ask any teacher what they wish they had more of and the most common answer is likely to be time. Schools are inherently busy places and there is always much to be done. We all want to meet the needs of every student, add value to their education with breadth and depth, ensure adequate coverage of the curriculum and include aspects of play and discovery. Add up all that is done in a day over and above face-to-face teaching and you can only wonder at how we manage to fit it all into the time we have. So is there an answer to this dilemma, is there a secret method to finding more time in our schedules to achieve all that we want to? - Nigel Coutts

Tags: thinking, education, collaboration, teaching, learning, time

by: Nigel Coutts

Categories: International News

Never Losing That “Look”

The Principal of Change George Couros - 14 May, 2016 - 05:56

This is a little clip from one of my favourite videos online, that shows the sheer joy and wonder of a child.


One of the goals of my work is that kids never lose that curiosity, and we fan that flame. To do this, our own love and excitement for learning as educators should look like this:


What I love about this clip is how the excitement becomes contagious. I have watched new parents look at learning through a totally different lens when they have children. They ask questions, point out wonder, and just have an excitement that their own child exudes.

I was fortunate enough to spend the year with Winnipeg School Division, and I end my year with them full of excitement, as we focused on a renewed view on the power of learning for the educator, not just the student. When educators are excited not only about teaching, but more importantly, learning, their passion becomes contagious.

Yesterday, I listened to the awesome George Pearce share that instead of spending his nights aimlessly looking at social media streams, he now spent his time seeing what his colleagues were sharing of their own learning on a shared hashtag.  It was truly inspiring.

This great post from Stephane Gautron last night talking about his own shift in thinking this year really resonated with me:

Having had my head in the sand for so long, it was a steep learning curve but one that has helped me love and get excited about teaching and connecting with students again. One that has allowed me to share, encourage, ask questions, find inspiration and perhaps inspire. One that has allowed me to reconnect with students at a time where I thought humanity was doomed.

…To learn about Twitter was to become more technologically literate at the least. At best, it summed up and made use of the most recent and important developments in social media and technology from the past 10 years. It allowed me to speak and experiment with this new language. It also meant free professional development anytime, anywhere. The upside seemed appetizing, so I dug in. (Read the whole thing.)

Slowing down to go fast is sometimes important, but only if we are focused on deep and powerful learning.  To watch the journey of so many educators over year become really excited about their own learning has been something that has increased my enthusiasm for my own work.

As it says on the side of my blog, “I believe we need to inspire our kids to follow their passions, while letting them inspire us to do the same”.  Kids should read “learners” as I have been moved by the passion of learning of so many through this project.  If we can be excited about teaching that’s great, but if we become excited about our own learning, the differences we can make in schools moving forward will be immeasurable.

Categories: Planet

NSW Premier’s Teacher Scholarship Study Tour: New York #2

Darcy Moore's Blog - 14 May, 2016 - 05:08

“From its inception, a PDS education was founded on relationships and learning by doing; it valued play as creative cognitive growth and working together as a means of effective progress and the promotion of democratic values. It was about openness to opportunity and growth rather than right answers and closed minds.”

Visiting schools is always interesting but it is rare for me to find one that genuinely has achieved what I see as excellence. One of the key measures is that it doesn’t feel like a school but is a genuine community of learners. Poughkeepsie Day School is such a school.

The school has an admirable ethos evident from chatting with the students and staff even if one did not know anything else about the school’s values or approach to learning. PDS was established during the mid-1930s with the following ideals in mind:

“Our founding families wanted something distinctly different for their children. They wanted a school that honored childhood, took notice of emerging theories about learning and respected creativity while fostering democracy and intellectual effort….”

Josie Holford is head of school and spent a generous portion of her day showing me around. Josie honours childhood. You can sense it in everything she says and does. I really enjoyed her conversation and appreciated the opportunity to talk with so many of her colleagues.

I should mention that Josie has been a Twitter colleague for almost as long as I have had Twitter. Her tweetstream always impresses me as demonstrating her professional values and beliefs clearly. I love it!


The school has very open learning spaces. Once can usually see out into nature and there are wall-sized windows everywhere. Assessment has been de-fetishised and there is no focus on state testing. Learning is everywhere. Learning and creativity and openness. I love how both a teacher and student are celebrated for having their poetry published.

I chatted with many teachers during the day. Brent Boscarino, a teacher focused on citizen science, is engaged with a range of projects that enthuse students. I could see that his passion for “learning by doing” from watching his class dissect a dogfish shark. Later that day he was heading out with students to collect samples for an ongoing citizen science project focused on aquatic invasive species investigations in the Finger Lakes and associated waterways. What a great opportunity for students to be deeply immersed in their learning.

Jonathan Heiles explained how he approached assessment using collaboration in science. Three students were given the open-ended question and 20-30 minutes to prepare through discussion. When the teacher returned to the room, the students do not know who would be asked to answer the question, or the various parts of the task.

I chatted with many other teachers at the school who spoke with great passion about a range of educational pursuits including engaging students with nature and their local community, the year-long approach to deep study of a topic, maker-spaces and technology. Everyone seemed very proud of their school and also acknowledged privilege.

I have had many enjoyable conversations already during this study tour and some of the best have been with students. This group below were talking to me about their interests and what they liked about their school. This photo, taken by the Josie, reminds me of their great conversation which ranged from writing and writers to art, computer games and ethics. I really admire what has been achieved educationally at this school when such fine young people, at the end of their schooling, are able to be so articulate, open and caring. Thank you particularly to Ben, Nicole, Ellie and Emily for their openness. Good luck with your future educational and career plans.

New York City is famous for impressive museums, galleries, parks and gardens. These are national treasures and great assets to students and teachers. The American Museum of Natural History is an extraordinary space. Not only did I enjoy the exhibitions but found myself discovering the importance of John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt in the formation of the national parks. The 3D IMax video narrated by Robert Redford is excellent.

I spent a long period of time at AMNH in The Spitzer Hall of Human Origins. It is a very impressive exhibition and certainly explores the use of DNA analysis in understanding human origins very thoroughly. I have not seen such a focus before in a museum.

The replicas of musical instruments and small carvings collected and assembled in such a way and dating back, in some cases over 30, 000 years, is a powerful reminder about what it is that makes us human. I also enjoyed the personal video messages from scientists about their beliefs.

This permanent exhibition also has very good online resources for educators who are interested in teaching human origins regardless of the age of their students.


Dr Jamie Boyer, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation VP for Children’s Education at New York’s Botanic Gardens, kindly met and provided a guided tour while he explained how citizen science is encouraged. The team focuses on forest phenology and seasonal bird changes but students also collect data from their garden plots too.

flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

Jamie says:

The Garden’s CitSci Program has many facets, but is primarily focused on plant phenology and water quality monitoring in our Bronx River. We solicit the help of adult volunteers and teen interns, and also provide educational programs for students and teachers to encourage field science and engagement with the environment.

You shouldn’t get the idea that the space is merely manicured gardens. There is a huge tract of old growth forest running along the Bronx River that cuts through the gardens. The river is a great resource for schools who visit. I could also tell that students really felt proud of their gardening and research.


The buildings are almost as impressive as the gardens and wilder spaces. Thanks Jamie for showing me around.

flickr photo shared by Darcy Moore under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

Adobe apps*

I mentioned to many of the educators and students that I have met on this study tour that Adobe’s new range of mobile apps, particularly Adobe Post and Adobe Voice, are a great way for students to represent their ideas quickly and professionally. Students very rapidly, when I showed them on my phone, saw what they could do with their own images and words.

These tools will be very useful for citizen scientists endeavouring to represent their ideas and findings simply for sharing.

Featured image: Flickr photo by Darcy Moore https://flickr.com/photos/darcymoore/26315833284 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

*My scholarship is funded by Adobe but I have used their products happily for many years and happily recommend them to educators and students with no hesitation. I think this new wave of mobile apps really worth exploring.


The post NSW Premier’s Teacher Scholarship Study Tour: New York #2 appeared first on Darcy Moore's Blog.

Categories: Planet

STEM can be fun, just do this.

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 13 May, 2016 - 07:35

8 Ideas for Fun STEM Learning with Kids

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

STEM lessons can be fun. Whether it is origami jumping frogs or making a boat out of cement, Mandy Casto has eight high-energy ideas for making STEM fun. She also shares her favorite ways to find new ideas and about the success of school-wide “STEM Time” for the students each week.

Learn about Wonder Workshop Robotics Clubs

Listen to this show on: BAM Radio Network | iTunes | Stitcher

Last year I judged a robotics competition for Wonder Workshop. I was amazed at the incredible things students could do with Dash and Dot. This would make a great summer activity at home for kids or check out their robotics clubs.

Today’s Sponsor is Wonder Workshop: The Wonder Workshop robotics club is a great way to get students excited about STEM.

If you sign up to start a club before July 10, you may be eligible for a $10,000 grant to get your club started. (They also have some cool things to help you get going.)

My son loves the Dash and Dot robots from Wonder Workshop. He’ll be programming them over the summer as I continue to reinforce Computer Science at home. Show Notes:

  • 8 Lessons Mandy used to make STEM fun
  • The benefits of having “STEM TIME” in your school.
  • How to connect all subjects with STEM in unique ways. (You can connect history, ELA and more to STEM.)
  • How Mandy helps students become more courageous and creative.
  • Mandy’s favorite places to find ideas to make STEM fun.

Mandy Casto @thatmathlady is a middle school math and science teacher in Concord, North Carolina. She currently teaches students in a STEM program and is constantly amazed by the impact of STEM education on her students.

Note: I promised the link to the other show where we talked about pumpkin chunkin

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.

The post STEM can be fun, just do this. appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Communities of practice

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 11 April, 2016 - 07:36


  • I am researching the value of communities of practice for early career secondary teachers. This is my short survey. If you are an ECT or would be willing to forward this on to ECTs in your school I'd be very grateful.

    https://usqadfi.au1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_4MDJ57p9jTRN2xD - bernadette mercieca

Tags: communities, learning, education, teachers

by: bernadette mercieca

Categories: International News
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