10 Disruptions that Can Transform your Classroom

I gave this presentation a couple of times back in March. Here’s the video from the Palm Beach School District Conference. It was a beautifully run conference (Lee Kolbert and friends rock) and they recorded a number of sessions and recorded them with multi cameras and high quality sound.  I also had the privilege of watching Karl Fisch in action. Enjoy his as well.  Here’s one of my three presentations: 10 Disruptions that can Transform your Classroom. I used Cooliris to build it. (It’s a 300MB file so be patient, click the play button, do some other stuff and wait till you hear my voice)

7 things you might not know about me

Angela, Barbara tagged me and I’ll oblige.  I thought I had already done one of these but I guess it’s slightly different.

With the amount of sharing I do, I’m not sure if there are 7 things people don’t know about me, but knowing I’ve likely broke the TMI rule several times, here goes:

1. I never planned to go into education. I began my
undergraduate studies intending to go into journalism.  During my first
2 years, I spent time helping in a church pre-school program (I have no
idea how that happened). Several people recognized my love of kids and
suddenly I did too. Having a blog has rekindled my love of writing.

2. I took my daughter with me to University. I was married at age 20. We had our first child 2 years later while we both attended University. My daughter was born 3AM on a Saturday and I wrote a final exam at 9AM that day. The following year was my last year of school and when the babysitter bailed, I’d cart her to class with me. I don’t recommend it but it worked for us.

3. I taught grade 1 for 6 years. I love little kids. My wife says I relate to them very well. 

4. I cook. I never learned how to cook till I was married
and as two young people trying to figure out our roles, she picked
cleaning and I picked cooking. I’m not that awesome but in general, I’m
in charge of meals.

5. I have an outstanding memory of the trivial. I’ve pretty much memorized every Seinfeld episode, can recall yardages of golf courses I’ve played 10 years ago, and know that the winners of every major golf championship winner for the past 40 years. I’m not sure of all my kid’s birthdays.

6. My faith is of paramount importance to me. While I don’t think this is the space to share it, my faith is really the basis of who I am.

7. I’ve fallen out of love with hockey. For someone who grew up playing the game and even getting as far as tryouts with Major Junior hockey, I rarely watch and never play. I stopped playing about 4 years ago after 35 straight years and haven’t watched more than about 5 games in the past 10 years. I really can’t explain it.

I now tag,

Amy Bowllan

Clay Burell

Darren Draper

Lee Kolbert

Jeff Utecht

Seed Planting

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “how to” style workshop. I’ve purposely shied away from them instead trying to move the conversations more towards, “what might you do that makes a difference for kids?”  I’ve been referred to by a local high school principal as “Big Idea Dean”. I can’t say for sure, but I take it as a compliment. I guess I’m trying to aspire to this:

Wishful+Spring+ThinkingThe reason I’ve not done many “how to” or tool based workshops is simply because as an initial introduction to I don’t think it works. That said, I’ve done some in the past and do support teachers with just in time learning. I’ll get teachers and administrators asking about blogs. My first response is always “why?”. Without a belief and understanding of how it might help kids, it’s generally a waste of time. Instead I ask them to take a step back, do some lurking, determine what you want to do and then dive in. Backward by design. I’ve just seen my early approach of showing how easy things are to be less than successful. I’ve said it many times, just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean you’ll do it or that it has value.

So I do more of these “big picture” style talks, focusing on shifts, and often leave wondering if I’ve done any good.

Lately I’ve had a number of conversations that tells me maybe I have. One teacher in particular tracked me down in a coffee shop and told me, “I get it! I didn’t get it 2 years ago when you talked about it but now I do!”  She went on to talk about how she uses a wiki to provide learning opportunities for her students, about how their work is public and transparent, how the look after each other and how the learn from each other.  I’m less frustrated, less concerned when teachers are banging down the doors to make shifts in their classrooms simply because I or someone else has presented a compelling idea for change. For many these talks and presentations need time to sit and stew.

They are seeing the shifts all around them as well. Whether it’s network news talking about the impact of twitter on election coverage or simply their own experience connecting and posting content on Facebook, teachers are beginning to see how these things might impact their classrooms.

So if you’re out there and feel like you’re a voice in the wilderness, take heart, you’re seed planting.

Image: ‘Planting Seeds

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Connecting the World

A teacher asked me if I would be able to connect her to some people who could talk about where they are from and how they use wireless technology in their work and their lives.  You don’t have to ask me twice.

One email later to three people and the deal was done. Lee Kolbert was gracious enough to let us use their Adobe Connect as a platform which proved to suit our situation well. Tom Barrett would be able to chime in from England and Tim Lauer would have to grab an early Starbucks but was ready by 7:30.

Students asked questions, we gave some answers. Easy squeezy.

This is how classrooms ought to look. Learning from people.

If you generally think of the Internet as a place to look up stuff, you’re missing the best part.

This is not just about “wow is this ever cool”. This is about learning. Learning from someone who:

  • has a lemon tree and grows lemons
  • can see Mount St. Helens
  • lives in the city famous for Robin Hood

Do you see how this might make a difference in classrooms? Is there some potential here? Those of you who do this everyday in your classrooms know exactly what I’m talking about. 

This is my first attempt to do anything beyond a few basic edits in iMovie 08. It captures about 5 minutes of the 30 minute conversation. (the video may not be processed, if you’re one of the early viewers of the post)

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