Friday, February 27, 2009

Expanding Our Sitting on the Edge

The edge of my ZPD that is...

I've just returned from a fabulous two days with Will Richardson in Toronto, at the Expanding Our Boundaries Conference. I was invited to be part of a tech team helping the 100 people or so with a hands-on BYOL event.

I LOVE watching people teach and learn. It's the exhilarating (and sometimes exhausting) part of my teaching journey...that I can be 20 years or so into it, and still be learning so much in order to hone my craft! Will did a great job of providing a lot of options to many different learners and the two days supported what I believe about the co-learning that can go on whenever experts and novices engage together in the learning process.

He had us all on the edge of our ZPD in one way or another:

-many folks were trying out Web 2.0 tools like blogs and wikis for the first time, and were led through step-by-step demo-style and with help as needed from the tech team
-a mix of expertise at tables allowed the novices to watch and use the expertise of those right beside them

-dialogue was encouraged in the form of collaboration at tables or in the online chat that went on throughout the day and was archived here
-many of the 'experts' in the room spent their time branching off on tangents and networking to push their learning

So for me, I spent my time engaged in the presentation while continually dropping out to help others and then jumping back in to catch up. I actually really loved that, as it was a good blend for me as a learner and I was definitely in "my element" as Sir Ken Robinson might say.
I'm sure that there was a lot that I missed, but now I've got that chat archive to go back to whenever I want and my new network of incredible people to support me when I need something....just in time learning, basically. Check out Kent Manning's experience where he so wonderfully captured the networking that went on over these 2 days! He mentions so many of the wonderful new people I've met and I really hope that my PLN continues to grow with these folks! Check us out on Commun-IT, I really look forward to the future of this network.

I had some "ah ha" moments too. The biggest for me was the idea of using my network more efficiently to drive my own learning. I have been aware and participating to varying degrees in online spaces (social networks, using rss, IM, skype, email, wikis, blogs) but when Will described this "vibrant learning space that cannot be matched in the physical classroom" and provided me with a couple of new tools to leverage and integrate those networks, the lightbulb went on. I didn't 'get' Twitter before I think I might have a new addiction...but what the heck!

So, I stayed up way too late last night, got my TweetDeck going, set up my igoogle page and moved my feeds from bloglines so they stream into my browser homepage along with some better connections to the things I'm working on (docs) and the people who help me learn (chat, email, social networks). I also cracked Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky which has been in my 'to read' pile for ages!

Other new stuff for me:
and who could forget:

So, I am trying to manage my own learning in this "world where content is not scarce", as Will mentioned this weekend, in order to help my students and my own children build their PLN in exciting f2f and online exciting challenge!

Aren't you glad we aren't alone in all this? I agree with Doug we need each other! :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Expanding Our Boundaries: Teacher Networking

Hi Everyone,

I'm looking forward to learning a lot on the weekend and networking with teachers from around Ontario!

On Friday before lunch I thought I'd share two ways that I'm using wikis in my work with teachers at Upper Grand DSB. The first is and it's for Special Education teachers in our board to share ideas, tips, lessons and links about assistive technology. It's been a bit slow having members collaborate, but teachers are now using the site and sending me things to post, so I guess that's step one.

The other site is and it's a collaborative space for teachers who are participating in a job-embedded PD opportunity using the lesson study model. For most teachers this is their first crack at trying to use a wiki and we have different levels of collaboration going on, but we've had great feedback.

See you on Friday!

Found my ipod! :)

I had a few hectic days recently as I thought I had lost my itouch but with much relief discovered that I had left it behind at home for our weekend away skiing!
Thank goodness! (although I did manage to survive) :)

In general, I'm having trouble maintaining all my places on the web, as they just seem to continue to grow and the balance between work and life seems to be blending in together at a terrible rate!

So, abandoning my blog postings in draft form, I thought I'd jump back in and carry on with the abridged version of my meanderings and try to get back to blogging ...or get the url off my of the two shall win!

I think it's basically an audience issue for me with blogging...although I love to use blogs with my students as a way to bring an authentic audience to their writing, I am preferring to use wikis in the kind of work I'm doing lately with teachers. There is also the issue of the kind of blogs and wikis that our Board can host, which presently don't live up to the host services like Blogger, Blogmeister, Wikispaces or PBWiki, so I'm forced to go 'under the radar' a bit for the time being...if you know what I mean.

Hearing Sir Ken Robinson was such a highlight for me this fall at the CODE conference in Toronto, and the ECOO Conference was awesome as well! I've decided to Chair the conference for ECOO's 30th year in Nov. 09, so this is taking up a fair chunk of my time at the moment. I'm pretty excited about this chance to work with an awesome committee of great people to create something memorable and useful to teachers!

I'm looking forward to attending the ETFO/ECOO event with Will Richardson on the weekend