Ebrownorama's Blog

My Learning Journey …


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Reflections on Becoming …

Becoming … is a process. Change … is a process. Learning is a journey.  Journies … are a process. Many changes have taken place this week in regards to my learning. As an educator, it is important to reflect in order to be able to articulate what this change looks like. Here are several reflections on the changes that have taken place this week.

Power of a Cohort – learning doesn’t happen in isolation. I have experienced the power of my EdD cohort at the University of Calgary this week. There is tremendous knowledge and experience in this group of passionate educators. Many ideas have been presented and discussed, many questions have been asked. We are led by amazing educators Drs. Jacobsen, Friesen and Parchoma. The learning is rich.

Learning Journey – the pressures of intense, deep study are present. I remind myself that this is a journey and to enjoy the route–it is scenic, exciting, and challenging, and provides a rewarding destination, a destination that will be a launch for the next journey. Remember, rest stops are there for a reason!

Becoming a Researcher

The tasks that we have completed this week and those that we have begun, have scaffolding in place that have launched us into research. I am beginning to experience the richness of finding information and finding what resonates with me, or not and am beginning to see the opportunities that abound and need to be explored. The “what if” is knocking as I immerse myself for hours in reading–one finding leads to another and there are many questions that need answers but are not available, yet.

The elements of this blog post–connect, create, share–are all elements of an inquiry approach to learning. We are developing a new learning environment. We are building knowledge. We have model teachers.  We are on our way. There is an itch … it is uncomfortable … signs of change and becoming …

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Scaffolding – Reaching Higher (or Deeper) in Learning

The term ‘scaffold’ conjures images of cranes and heights on construction sites in the theatre of my mind. Placing the supports accurately is critical on any construction site for without this careful planning and development of any architecture, the building would collapse. As the construction progresses, more supports are put in place so that the building will be strong. All of the supports are not placed at once at the beginning of the construction process, but added along the way as the building rises. This construction analogy can also describe the learning process. It is important that learners have appropriate supports in place as they move along their learning journey so that the learning is attainable and at the same time challenging. This scaffolding structure keeps the learner in the zone of proximal development allowing higher learning (or deeper) as the learning progresses. According to Tools of the Mind, “to successfully apply it (scaffolding) in a classroom, it is important to know not only where a child is functioning now and where that child will be tomorrow, but also how best to assist that child in mastering more advanced skills and concepts.”

There are a number of elements that can be instruments of scaffolding. These include teachers, students, rubrics, and digital technologies.

Scaffolding is a valuable approach to knowledge-building. This is a topic that resonates with me and where I see a huge potential to improve the learning for my students, so as usual, I have more questions at the end of this day. The research has only begun …


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Learners as Builders of Knowledge

Several studies resonate with me on the topic of knowledge building. First, Strategies for Engagement by Jacobsen, Lock, and Friesen, who state that “a focus on building and sharing knowledge globally represents a major shift in how we approach teaching and learning.” This supports my blog post from yesterday in that the courses known as options in the curriculum should become the required courses in our education system. The examples illustrated in this research are compelling arguments that inquiry projects can be carried out in any curriculum providing a wealth of learning opportunities for students in the projects. Knowledge Building, by Scardamalia and Bereiter (The Cambridge Handbook of The Learning Sciences) support inquiry projects stating “The driving force is not so much the individual interests of children as their desire to connect with what is most dynamic and meaningful in the surrounding society. That is what knowledge-building pedagogy and knowledge-building technology aim to build on” (p. 113).

Leah Obach and Devon Caldwell, Microsoft Innovative Teachers, in Manitoba, Canada, conduct inquiry projects with their respective kindergarten and grade one classes working collaboratively on real-world community projects and their students contribute to knowledge-building. They practice the “belief that students can deliberately create knowledge that is useful to their community in further knowledge-building and that is a legitimate part of the civilization-wide effort to advance knowledge frontiers.” (Cambridge, p. 113).

Inquiry projects help learners grow their passion and provide opportunities for them that they may otherwise not be afforded. The benefits of knowledge-building in learning environments are huge. My question is: Why isn’t everybody doing it? 


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We’ve Been This Way Before … But Where Are The Breadcrumbs?

There is much discussion and research on changing education–for improvement, of course. The improvement being better learning.

Researchers study education systems and review models that don’t work and models that do work. We are in a rapidly changing environment when we consider educational technology and inquiry based learning. We’ve been in this place before but not in the same kind of way. The curriculum in the K-12 school system and in higher education was set in 1894 and it has not changed. The education system was developed for the industrial age or following the apprenticeship model. We are not in that age anymore. We are in an information age. There are studies that indicate that essential learning comes from studying topics that are not in the prescribed curriculum, i.e., required courses for graduation or certificate/diploma completion. One such study refers to why computer programming teaches so much more than technical skills. It is high time to provide students with the learning that they need for the information age, for jobs that do not yet exist. The curriculum needs to change. Courses that have been optional in the past are the courses that should be the required courses, e.g., technology options.  Examples include prescribed textbooks and resources, the technology of crypt/books, the technology of silent reading which were met with the same criticisms as educational technology and inquiry based learning are facing today.
We’ve been along the road of globalization before–the exchange of culture and monetary systems.
How come it went away? And now we’re back confronted with this again?
Were we not paying attention to what worked and what didn’t work?

We can’t make things work if we aren’t in the classroom with the teacher – we have to be on the front lines.
We have enough research to see what works. Why are we not doing what we know? Good question. Maybe we’ll find out tomorrow …


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Deeper Learning

Dream BIG! Be accused of  being an idealist! And so my deeper learning journey begins.

I have a huge passion for leading and learning! The theatre of my mind has no limits!

As I begin my learning journey, I am reflecting on my thoughts and processes to be able to model pristinely what it means to be a lifelong leader and learner – to my pre-service teachers and to our College instructors (Certificate in Adult Education), and beyond–afterall, a dreamer sets out to change the world!

This reflection on my practices could be in the form of writings and in organizing my spaces, e.g., my ePortfolio, blog, resources, course sites, in discourse with visionaries, in readings and research and who knows where or what else. I need to discern opportunities for my students, what is best and will give them the best learning as I develop projects “on-the-fly” but I would like this to be more discerned, although granted that projects (inquiry) arise and I take advantage of opportunities. While this is my learning journey, I plan on taking others with me, because in the end, it’s not about me, but about ideas and opportunities to change the world!

Improving, no, let’s reword that, reforming teacher education is a huge part of my goal on this learning journey. I am looking to provide best learning opportunities and practices to my students in my courses, but more than this, to provide vision for my Centre for Teaching Excellence, Innovation and Research, and hopefully to other teacher education programs in other institutions.

I have many questions at this point in my journey:

How to be influential to my colleagues, to truly be contagious and inspiring?

CAE program – methods and technology classes – what is the best practice?

How to be influential in helping our provincial education department educate teachers for the future?

Assessment and evaluation for e-learning needs to be solid. I need a good model for this. I am developing a rubric for micro-teaching using a Google Doc and Flubaroo as a small example but am looking for the big picture — remember, change the world!

Students need to publish their work rather than hand it in. What are the assessment strategies for this? Ideas? Peer critique? What are the best spaces to publish their work? How about the nay-sayers, privacy, etc?

Digital citizenship – literacy with ICT continuum K-12 and beyond – best practices for implementation?

I am connecting teacher education programs in collaborative projects–Mystery Skype, Quadblogging – what are other ideas and needs for teacher education programs to research – connect, create, and share?

What are the best practices that North American, and more specifically, Canadian, education systems can glean from other countries’ models? What are the best practices that will work in our culture?

How to make creativity the norm in teaching and learning? Inquiry – authentic approaches?

What is the research to “prove” to skeptics that technology is necessary, not an option? Many teacher education programs require one tech course in a five-year program and teachers are not prepared to teach with technology even at a base level. (ISTE2014– What technologies do pre-service teachers need? Dr. Karl Sprenger, Clarion University) professors who are afraid of technology and don’t want to learn how to teach with technology hide behind excuses, ” we have to remember that it’s not about the technology and that it is about the student” True! So since it is about the student, why are educators depriving the student of the best learning opportunities?  I believe it is critical that decision-makers see the proof to be convinced. This means that I have to develop models of proof.

What is the nugget that I will research to make a huge impact on education? How do I determine this? What are the lead indicators to answer my questions?

We are expecting transformation, we don’t want to be the same–we want to change – we are growing new skin – it’s not comfortable, it’s itchy until the new skin comes in.

And so, I am off and running on my learning journey to change the world. Today I drank from the firehose …

 


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Flipping PD – Pre-Service Teachers Teaching Teachers to Infuse Technology into any Curriculum

I recently had the privilege to share and learn in a warmer climate at the  eLEARNS13 Strategies Symposium in Costa Mesa, California.

So why did I come from Canada to share our learning in California?

My answer is my passion for leading and learning. You might say my PLN led me here! I’m also deeply committed to modelling what I teach and I know there are learning opportunities to be had and I’m going to scoop them up!

I believe it is imperative that educators model what they lead or it is not truly leading … perhaps it is more like floundering.

As an educator in the classroom for over 30 years, I have seen amazing changes in many aspects – teaching strategies, tools, values, focus, etc.

Learning has always been my passion and I am always excited about the amazing learning happening so I want to share that in the hope that many teachers and students will also have that opportunity for learning.

Learning and projects like these generally don’t happen in isolation. We have had amazing support from many people – Kathryn McNaughton, Dean, Centre for Teaching Excellence, Innovation & Research, Red River College; Kurt Proctor, Chair, Teacher Education, Red River College; and Daryl McRae, Program Coordinator, Teacher Education, Red River College –  people who have provided phenomenal support to our learning – Thank you!!

My pre-service teachers are teaching teachers to infuse technology into any curriculum. They are using experiential learning through student-centered approaches, project based learning.

What’s this all about?

Why would we do this and isn’t this backwards?

Shouldn’t teachers who have degrees and experience share their learning and expertise with pre-service teachers?

Shouldn’t cooperating teachers during practicum/school experience teach pre-service teachers?

Where did my momentum come from to involve my pre-service teachers in these projects?

I dub this Flipping PD – or changing the face of Professional Development.

There is a huge need for educators to acquire technology and global education skills in order to meet the requirements of the Literacy with ICT Continuum–A Model for 21st Century Learning L-12, to deliver ISTE Standards and give students the education they need as outlined in the Horizon Report. Many teachers do not have the necessary technology skills to carry out this continuum and provide the learning opportunities for their students to become globally competitive digital citizens. This applies both to veteran teachers and beginning teachers alike. Many teacher education programs are not providing the courses and training needed for teachers to provide students these necessary skills. There are “lone rangers” and “islands of excellence” in classrooms where some educators have amazing on-the-cusp skills to take their students to deep thinking, innovation and creativity, and these educators are connected, lifelong learners. However, the support for these educators to make their teaching contagious so all educators desire to provide these great educational opportunities is lacking in education systems across North America. Governments, school divisions, superintendents and administrators must see the need to infuse technology and global education into every curriculum or our students will not be prepared for their future–for jobs that do not yet exist. Teachers must be given time to acquire these skills with just-in-time professional development and not have to do all of the professional upgrading “after hours” on their own time. While many educators devote endless personal hours to learning, this is not always possible for all teachers, so time must be provided for educators to acquire this learning. There must also be accountability that teachers are actually delivering the skills as mandated by divisions/districts. Teachers close their doors to their classrooms and often no one knows what goes on behind the door. For example, in Manitoba, grade four students are to learn touch keyboarding as outlined in the Literacy with ICT continuum. One of my pre-service teachers, while observing a grade nine classroom on her practicum assignment, discovered that one student in a class of twenty students had the skill of touch keyboarding. That’s one example. Recently, Manitoba created a new report card, universal for all school divisions. The assessment of technology skills was removed. Yet another example. Can teachers now do what they like? Is there no accountability? Teachers teach behind closed doors. Are students receiving amazing learning opportunities behind these doors?

Practicing teachers need:

  • Time to learn
  • Learn what they need to learn–Need and Demand–as per the curriculum, etc. such as Standards.

Finland’s education model provides teachers with time to learn. We need to learn from models that work.

We need to be lifelong learners, modelling our learning to our students, be on-the-cusp providing the best learning so they are prepared for jobs that do not yet exist and are globally competitive digital citizens.

Our education system is fragmented. Often the people making decisions are not those who are on the front lines and don’t know how to provide the best learning opportunities.

One of our local high school principals handed iPads to his teachers–no training provided. I know the tweet that says, “students don’t need PD to learn how to use a technology tool.” True sometimes.  Students learn to press buttons. Teachers need to learn how to use the tool in teaching–so how to press the buttons and the pedagogy.

Anyway, that same principal called us at the College and asked if we had some students who could provide iPad training to his teachers.

Sure. I sent three students and they loved it. The teachers loved it. A need was met.

So let’s get to our projects.

Our program prepares Business/Technology majors for high school. I teach technology skills and pedagogy–instructional methods–student-centered approaches.

Pre-service teachers need to practice their teaching. Formerly they have taught to their peers.

Why not a real audience?

Why not meet a need?

Why not record the lessons for just in time PD?

Why not teach using a variety of teaching methods such as face to face, blended instruction in the eTV studio, in the College Theatres with state-of-the-art technologies, or virtually?

These are questions that I asked and we have answered them in our projects.

The Projects – our website

  1. Northern Project –

The journey began with the Northern Project. My Chair, Kurt Proctor and I met with the director of the Aboriginal Education Centre at our College to determine a need. She provided us with contact information for schools in the northern remote parts of our province that would benefit with this learning.

It grew from there!

Teacher Education at Red River College in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada is providing opportunities for the Business/Technology pre-service teachers to connect with teachers in the remote northern area of their province and to deliver professional development to the teachers of the First Nation schools with skills to infuse technology into any and every curriculum. The RRC pre-service teachers are delivering this global initiative which meets the S-Nets, T-Nets, TE-Nets and the New Coaching Nets. The student teachers determine the need to infuse technology into a specific curriculum and plan the content and tools for delivery, prepare their lessons, deliver the lessons virtually to an actual audience (as opposed to micro teaching to their peers) at a time suitable for both the teachers and the pre-service teachers, and follow up with assessment, evaluation, and reflection. This project provides sustainability for teachers to continue with their PD even after the project is complete by providing the teachers with skills to create and develop their PLN. Both pre-service and in-service teachers acquire a thorough understanding of all NETS.

  1. SAGE –

MANACE Presentations –

Com 10 – Professional Development to Infuse Technology into any Curriculum
Presented by Sarah Brown, Anita Lesage, Janis Ollson, Maddie Wolff
What technology tools should you learn? That depends on your curriculum. And how do you keep learning technologies that you need to learn? This session is hands-on to help educators identify how they can improve the learning of their students by using technologies and then for the educators to learn how to use those tools. You will be all set for Monday morning!

Com 11 – Minecraft – 3D Design and Printing
Presented by Carl Pfahl
Explore gaming in education and 3D Modeling through the exciting world of MineCraft. This session will show you how to set up MineCraftEdu in your classroom and begin introducing your students to the vast world of 3D Modeling. With the innovation of 3D printing, allowing your students to print their MineCraft models, turns online learning into something that is tangible and real-generating the future desire for higher levels of learning.

EBIT presentation

EB-08 Teaching with iPads 2: Energizing Your Instructional Strategies

Red River College Preservice Teachers – Jennifer Kasprick and Taryn Fenwick

Have you ever wondered how you could use an iPad and apps to change your teaching strategies? In this session preservice teachers from RRC’s Business/Technology Teacher Education Program will demonstrate how an iPad and many of the available educational and teaching apps can change your approach to teaching and learning. Participants will walk away with some great ideas for using mobile computing to engage students and energize their classrooms. Bring your iPad and give it a try!

  1. iPads @RRC –
    The Math and Science department at RRC is using iPads in their teaching. The instructors from that department requested the Teacher Education Department to help them learn about and how to use some applications that would assist them in using iPads for instruction and with their students. The RRC pre-service teachers delivered two noon hour sessions including technologies such as Google Drive, Nearpod, Explain Everything, Discovr, and Math and Science Resources. Some of the time was spent in a hands-on format while some tools were presented as to the application/pedagogy in the curriculum.

  2. Global Education Conference –

We are pleased to announce the fourth annual Global Education Conference, a free week-long online event bringing together educators and innovators from around the world, held Monday, November 18 through Friday, November 22, 2013 (Saturday, November 23rd in some time zones). The entire conference takes place online in webinar format.

The Global Education Conference is a collaborative, inclusive, world-wide community initiative involving students, educators, and organizations at all levels. It is designed to significantly increase opportunities for connecting classrooms while supporting cultural awareness and recognition of diversity and educational access for all. Last year’s conference featured 400 general sessions and 20 keynote addresses from all over the world with over 13,000 participant logins.

Red River College pre-service teachers share with participants how to infuse global and technology into any curriculum using student-centered approaches. They will reflect on their experiences teaching teachers in a virtual environment to a remote Northern Manitoba school division and how they will transfer their teaching into their classroom. Technology resources used in the professional development projects will be discussed and participants will have the opportunity to ask questions regarding strategies to infuse technology into their curriculum. Pre-service teachers have participated as Lead Teachers in the Global Youth Debates Project, Flat Classroom Projects, and have also reviewed other global projects. They will share their experiences and findings.

  1. Global Youth Debates –

Announcing a student debate that joins diverse cultures and includes authentic debate for global competence, international mindedness and action. Global Youth Debates is an asynchronous online global debate.

Global Youth Debates provides a valuable global collaborative debating experience suitable for all learning environments and is designed for students of age 10-18.

Global Youth Debates aims to connect schools, teachers and students globally to learn more about the world, with the world through student debate.

Global Youth Debates opens eyes and hearts as students debate on an issue that will bring together diverse ideas, develop transferable skills and create lasting friendships. RRC pre-service teachers were lead teachers in this project delivering Voicethread and Diigo bootcamps to the global educators. More information and the recordings for these bootcamps can be found on our wiki.

  1. Tech in the Theatre –

What else do we have up our sleeves?

We plan on continuing the Northern Project – visit the participants and grow the audience. It is important to make connections and connect f2f–like we are doing here at this conference.

Present to the administrators and superintendents at the next SAGE conference.

We need to educate those who need to come on board so we’ll start at the top! We need to create an environment for innovation by getting these leaders on board.

We are planning a Flat Connections Higher Education conference for April 30 to May 2, 2015. When I left for the FCC in Japan, my Interim Dean last year said to me, “Why can’t we have the conference here?” So here we are planning for the conference for our College. You are invited! Please come. I’ll be tweeting out information and sharing in many ways so watch for it.

I think Badges for Professional Development are an excellent idea and will pursue that.

Action Items Slide –

What can YOU do now?

Connect

Learn

Share

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Innovation and creativity is sometimes challenging and messy. It is not predictable and we must be flexible to allow the learning to happen. It is exciting and amazing.

It is my hope and desire that my pre-service teachers are contagious in sharing their learning and that it be lifelong.

Great learning opportunities happen one step at a time, one teacher at a time, one classroom at a time. Make it happen for you and your students!