Scotland Meets Saskatchewan

I’m please to announce a great upcoming event being held in Moose Jaw, SK on Monday, August 25, 2008.

Our school division will be hosting a day long event with Ewan Mcintosh. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Ewan’s work, he is outstanding advocate of social media and has been involved with Scotland’s very progressive curriculum innovations.

Here’s a some more information about the day:

Scotland meets Saskatchewan Outline

9:00-10:30
Presentation: Scotland’s story: how curriculum meets innovation

The new curriculum, developed with the profession and parents over several years, has ‘allowed’ more teachers to break with tradition and take up new technologies to facilitate children’s learning. The curricular moves share much in common with Canada’s states’ and provinces’, so what are the similarities and differences in technology, professional development and the way students learn?

11:00-12:30
Roundtable:Assessment is for learning and making the links through new technologies – share experiences from both sides of the pond
.

12:30-1:30 Lunch

1:30-3:00
Practical workshop:Thinking Out Of The (X)box

Scotland is leading the way in some respects of games-based learning. Experience some of the methodology and ideas in this practical workshop.

6:00-7:30
Focus on Leadership Dinner:
Ewan will focus on leadership and explore Scotland’s approach and experience with leading change.

7:30-9:30
TeachMeet08 Saskatchewan

An unconference for teachers, by teachers. Share something from your classroom or professional learning in a seven-minute micro-presentation, two-minute nano-presentation or simply be an enthusiastic lurker.

To register, email me shareski.dean at prairiesouth.ca by June 22.

$75 Covers your cost for the day. If you planning to attend the evening meal, please add another $25.
Make your cheques payable to: Prairie South School Division and send them to:

Prairie School School Division
Attn: Dean Shareski
15 Thatcher Dr.
Moose Jaw, SK
S6J 1L

This is going to be an outstanding day!

K12 Online Proposals Launch Today

The call for proposals for the 2008 K12 Online Conference is out today. The theme for this year’s conference is “Amplifying Possibilities“.

The growth of this conference over the past 2 years has proven its value ten fold.  We’re looking for creative, enthusiastic people to share their learning during this conference. While many of you share daily, the K12 conference offers a unique format and gathering of ideas that makes it a very easy place to both introduce and challenge each other with new ideas. Please consider submitting a proposal. You’ve got 6 weeks to put something together. You can do it.

Presentations are almost too easy

Today I made 2 presentations entitled “Are you Published?” for Showcase 2008.  You can get all the details including the slidedeck and the video (posted below, so if you’re planning to attend this session on Tuesday, this may or may do it for you). In most cases, I rarely walk alone, whether it’s a pre-call out for ideas or links, or live appearances, I have a plethora of resources that I can tap into anytime. Today was no different.

I invited Will to return the favour (btw Will, you still owe me a few more appearances) and share some ideas (about the 14 minute mark) about publishing which sparked some great discussion and questions. So he gets in from sledding with his kids and chats with us for about 10 minutes. I carry on. Then David Warlick watches via Ustream and at just the right moment (35 minute mark), skypes in to share his thoughts on Lulu.com ( I had asked David earlier so it wasn’t a purely random interruption). So I went to the back of the room, grabbed a water and allowed David and Will to do their thing.  It’s been said often, that the minute you open up your laptop, you’re no longer the smartest person in the room. I never was anyway. But this is what learning ought to look like; finding and connecting to others that help you learn more. Easy, free and personal. Low hanging fruit.

I realize this is not profound or new, but I just wanted to share.

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Online Class #2 and why I love it

I started teaching my second online class at the University of Regina.(in large part due to the recommendation from Alec Couros)  Last summer I taught my first, totally online save for an optional face to face meeting. This class was scheduled to be a face to face class, students thought it was going to be face to face and found out tonight, that was changed. (a strike late last year of administrative workers and others likely meant course offerings were not updated and thus the confusion). I didn’t know, they didn’t know but think I managed to convince them it would be a good thing and after some dry runs of the technology, establishment of their shiny new blogs, we’re ready to take off and learn.

I’m so looking forward to this. I love this stuff, I’m passionate about it and  I live it everyday. I’m excited to be able to watch and learn, share and teach with largely a group of first year pre-service education students. Here’s are the main themes of this course:

  • Learning is social and connected
  • Learning is personal and self-directed
  • Learning is shared and transparent
  • Learning is rich in content and diversity

So much of the work I do in my day job is similar in all but one key way…TIME. Even the best case scenarios allow teachers 4 or 5 days a year for professional learning of this nature. How can they possibly begin to do the kind of learning and thinking that my students will do? We will meet every week for a few hours, they will spend hours on their own and with each other learning. We will be in constant communication. The teachers that I work with must try and carve out time after work to begin to reflect and embrace the idea of a changing classroom. Ever see the video of building a plane while it’s flying? Perfect analogy for today’s teachers. My students get to build it on the ground where it’s supposed to be.

This is not so much me reflecting on how hard it is for teachers to have the opportunity to learn but more on how excited I am to be able to spend some quality time helping these young people consider how they’ll be able to create spaces that are fun, engaging, personal, relevant and authentic. Those aren’t buzz words for me either, I really try to foster that in all the work I do. It’s not easy all the time but it’s what I believe is important. What makes it hardest is not being able to spend the time to really get it. That’s what it’s like for most teachers and I have to find ways to live with that. I can’t expect big things from a teacher who is already maxed out from a day filled with all kinds of distractions, duties and stresses that at times deplete their energy down to almost nothing.  So I make adjustments, try to support them in small ways, give them bite sized chunks of ideas and because most are smart and want to be better, they do pretty well. But most will say to me over and over, “I just wish I had more time”.  This phrase is echoed throughout the walls of most schools on the planet.

But for the next four months, I get to work with people who have the time; not the expertise, not the experience but the time. It’s gonna be good.

Update: Another surprise to me was that many of my students are Arts Education students so if you know of some great teachers of arts education (music,dance,drama and visual art) showcasing their work via blogs, wikis, podcasts, whatever, leave the link here….it would be greatly appreciated.

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