Who’s Got My Attention?

John Pederson is slightly obsessed with this question and Ewan recently explored this idea as well. I see the Edublog awards are upon us. I'm not going to provide you with my lists but instead offer you some people I've been paying attention to and why you might too. While there are many folks that have my attention pretty much everyday, I hope I can offer you some people that deserve a bigger audience. I remember when Scott Mcleod did this a time or two. 

Shelley Wright. Shelley is a local teacher who recently started telling her story of change. If you want honesty, transparency and some inspiration from a classroom teacher making big shifts this is the blog for you. Start here.

Zac Chase

Photo by Jschinker


Zac Chase. Okay so there's a bit of a trend here in that these are both High School English teachers. Not that they write exclusively about their classes but Zac is just a smart dude that folks ought to pay attention to. Start here.

Chris Kennedy

Photo by: Mola


Chris Kennedy. Chris is a rare breed. A superintendent who is doing some great writing, sharing and tweeting. Start here




So there are a few folks who have grabbed my attention as of late. I could give a few more but I hope one, two or all three of these people might be people you add to your reader. You do use a reader right? Don't simply use twitter as your rss feed. You need to go on a bit of a journey with people and read more than simply a smattering here and there. Consider this your chastisement for the day.

What about you? Anyone I should be paying attention to? Bonus points if you find me someone from outside North America

Disrupting Professional Development

The beauty of the K12 online conference is that you don’t need to panic that you haven’t been able to keep up. It doesn’t matter. The presentations are all there waiting for you. While online learning implies an anywhere, anytime approach, there is great value in sharing the experience face to face. Duh.

So on Tuesday I invited a few folks together to watch some presentations, talk about them and share our own experiences. It was good. There were people there for whom they had never heard of many of the ideas and really needed to wrap their heads around the implications for teaching and learning. For those without a network to support them, this is invaluable. Even if one person can come away with a plan or at least a connection, I’m pleased.

And here’s the other thing. Traditionally we send a teacher to a local conference, pay sub costs, registration fees, mileage, meals and maybe accommodation. You can conservatively estimate a cost of about $500 a day.  I brought it supper at about $10 a person and I would say we had an experience, equal if not better than a day at your typical conference. I’m in the midst of reading Disrupting Class and Scott McLeod’s presentation deals with some of the ideas in this book. This is really an example of disruptive professional development.

I’d encourage you to plan your own local events. Use the essential questions at the bottom of each presentation to guide you. If you have something in the works or just want to flesh out the ideas some more, leave a comment.

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I need more videos

As someone that has the opportunity and mandate to help others understand the changing classroom, I scour my network for new videos that can capture beyond words, what good teaching and learning can be.
I’ve created a number on my own and undoubtedly, these have had at least as much impact if not more than than any book or blog post has done in terms of igniting conversation and action. Getting people to start thinking and pushing them in new directions is challenging. When you only have 40 minutes or less and you want to really make an impact, most of us aren’t gifted enough to do this in a finely crafted talk. I’m not anyway. A well produced video can do this better.
Chris’ recent rant on the Pearson Learning to Change video had me thinking on many levels. I’ve used that video and while it may not be perfect, it creates a conversation. It was disappointing to see them pull it from youtube. Why? Did Chris’ post scare them? Come on Pearson, tell us why?

But here’s the thing. We really only have a handful of videos. We’ve got oodles of books, a gazillion blogs but few quality representation of what true change really looks like.

I had a conversation with Clarence a few months back and I remember telling him that I wanted more from his classroom. What I wanted was a clear picture of what goes on in a great classroom. He has since provided some more visuals. But I want more from Clarence and all great teachers doing great work. I realize that classroom teachers do not have the time to create this type of media. Even if they had the time, they don’t have the expertise to create concise, high quality productions. My most recent production about the learning in our school division took me upwards of 60 hours to create. 60 hours for 7 minutes isn’t often see as productive time but I have already gotten more mileage within my own division from that work than I had expected. I’m fair from being an expert in video production, I’m a one man show but for the purposes of our schools, it gets the job done.

Bob Sprankle is one who captured his classes‘ podcasting approach. It’s a great example of how a classroom operates. Wes has begun to compile a few of these and so has Scott Mcleod. There are some great ones here although many are talks that in round about ways or indirectly address issues. Many are produced by non-educators. The number of videos actually showing classrooms in action or schools really moving ahead are few and far between. We rely on a small number of teachers and educators to produce these pieces, we end up showing the same videos over and over again and I’m bored. There are just too many great examples that could be highlighted in much richer ways if we had the skills and time to create. Teachers need big time support in this area.

Which brings me back to Pearson. The quality of that video was not in question. A well produced piece by professionals, freely given to the world to use. I’m not going to argue the political or even the hidden agendas here, the comments tied to Chris’ post do that well. We need more of these types of high quality productions. The Lucas Foundation has contributed some nice resources. The content and messages are important I’m more concerned with beginning to develop a repository of high quality videos that tell a variety of stories about change. I’ll sort through the ones that communicate the message I think is most important, we just don’t have a whole lot to choose from. Show me…don’t tell me, and Pearson, I wish you hadn’t pulled the plug on your video. More companies with the equipment and talent and money to produced these videos need to be partnering with any number of great teachers and schools and showcase their work

Update: Apparently Pearson did repost the video since there were some errors in the titles (Thanks Chris). My apologies. I still want more.