Sunday, October 26, 2008

Getting In Touch with Your Inner Tortoise

Last week was insane and so was the week leading up to it. Four days of full day workshop sessions plus another day attending a session by the literacy and numeracy secretariat. The week before spent preparing everything because you knew that you were going to be out of the office for 5 days. Ideas flitting in and out of your head but not sticking because you have no time to think because you are trying to fit in your exercise program, eat nutritiously (try this when eating catered all week), attend choir practice, a charity fundraising event and go watch your son perform a concert that's located across the border. Oh, and help your daughter study for a major exam for her medical degree.

I woke up Saturday morning fully intending to keep to my regular schedule of reading my feeds, blogging, catching up with Thursday and Friday's emails and watching a presentation or two from the k-12 conference. But I couldn't - I absolutely could not keep to the pace that I usually set. So I ended up not doing much of anything and felt absolutely guilty about it. After all, in our culture, slowing down is frowned upon. It's not the N. American way of life; of packing in more and more into our day and making the most of every single minute.

Well, imagine my surprise and delight to find this little gem sitting in my reader from TED. watching it alleviated my guilt for "wasting" a day. It's from Carl Honore author of the book In Praise of Slowness. In the video, he speaks about the effects of cramming too much into a day, including the effect of our speed-rushed culture on our students. Take a look:

I found that today, Sunday, I am much more relaxed and ready to get back to work. I'm going to get in touch with my inner tortoise more often.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

K-12 Conference is Here!

On Monday, October 20 the 2008 K-12 Online Conference begins. For those of you who are completing your Annual Learning Plans for this year, this is a great way to attend professional learning sessions from presenters who are leaders in the field of 21st century learning.
Stephen Heppell, who is Europe's David Warlick and was featured at last year's OLA Superconference, posted the keynote address last week but you can still access it here as all of the presentations are archived.

The great thing about this is you can attend the 'live event' ( it's in GMT, but they include a time converter. For example 12:00 noon GMT is 8:00 am here) or you can attend at your convenience; they archive all sessions. You can load presentations onto mp3 players to listen to while you run, drive, bike.....

There are 4 main strands: Getting Started for people new to the read/write web; Kicking It Up A Notch for the more experienced; Leading the Change and Prove It

Here's some sessions that caught my eye:
Stephen Heppell's keynote
Free Tools For Universal Literacy Design
Reading Revolution: New Texts and Technologies
Web 2.0 Tools to Amplify Elementary Students' Creativity and Initiative
Parental Engagement in the 21st Century
Monsters Bloom in Our Wiki
Beyond the Stacks: Using Emerging Technologies to Strengthen Teacher Librarianship
The Write Stuff with Blogging Buddies

I've linked to the teasers. Some teasers are posted to You Tube, so you probably won't be able to access from a school computer, but others have used other tools that are accessible at school. These sessions are for elementary teachers, secondary English teachers, teacher librarians, really any teacher who wants to see how students of the 21st century can be engaged in learning - students as young as grade 1.

For the complete schedule look here. There are some other sessions listed that don't have teasers, so check the whole schedule. Here are some others:

Using Online Argument Role-Play to Foster Learning to Argue and Arguing to Learn in a High School Composition Class
Promise into Practice: What It Now Means to Teach Adolescent Readers and the Impact of the Results

Names to look for: Vicki Davis, Bud Hunt, Sylvia Martinez, Chris Lehmann, Donna DesRoches, David Warlick.

I hope that you'll pick at least one session that interests you and is at your level of initiation. This is a way of providing opportunities to differentiate for your professional learning. So find a friend, pick as session or two and go from there. If you want you can join in the online discussions and reflect with colleagues from around the world.

The best thing about this? It's FREE!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ten Thankful Things

It's Thanksgiving today and I have a bit of time to blog before the family comes. I thought that today I would write a list of things for which I'm thankful. Here it is:

1. I'm thankful for my wonderful husband. He' s been my very best friend for 30 years.

2. I'm thankful for my three children Dana (27), Petar (25)and Stefan (22) who amaze me everyday with their accomplishments and good heartedness.

3. I am thankful for the health of my family. Good health is both hard work and a blessing.

4. I am thankful that both my husband and I are working and have decent jobs. Many, many people in our area have been hit by closures of the automotive and other manufacturing plants and are not so fortunate.

5. I am thankful for my extended family - my children still have both sets of grandparents, several aunts, uncles, and cousins many of whom live close enough for visits.

6. I am thankful that I live in Canada. My apologies to our American neighbours but there are some truly scary things going on in your country. Clay Burell, one of the ed-bloggers I follow posted this on his blog the other day.

7. I am thankful for my friends. They 'get' me.

8. I am thankful for my colleagues. Their support is too valuable for words and they help make me look good everyday.

9. I am thankful for authors who write good books. I don't know how I would spend my summer vacations without you.

10. I am thankful for my running partner Andrea. We have been running together every week for the last 15 or 16 years. Some marriages don't last that long.

Well there you have it. It's nothing profound but a list of the things that have an effect on my life everyday.

For what are you thankful?


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Inconvenient Youth

Find more videos like this on Inconvenient Youth

Blue Man Group has waded into the global warming arena with this video posted on a Ning site called Inconvenient Youth a site developed by teens about global warming. This video lead me to think of one of geographies or sciences that examine global warming. What a great hook for beginning a unit or as a model for students to create their own video about the effects of global warming. Or classes could develop their own Ning focused on local issues associated with global warming.

Vicki Davis who writes Cool Cat Teacher blog also reflects that:

This video from the blue man group on the environment has been widely viewed around the world. Such videos spark social change -- these are not TV commercials but viral videos that spread from blog to blog and email to email. How information travels has fundamentally changed.

I find her comment about viral videos thought provoking. The opportunity that individuals have to cause change - for good or for evil - connects me to what I heard about a year ago when I was able to attend a session given by David Warlick at an OLA Superconference in Toronto. He spoke about the 3 Rs - reading writing and 'rithmatic and what they looked like in the new information landscapes of the 21st century. But he added a fourth component - the ethical use of information. As teachers we must teach our students the responsibilities connected with this ability to spread viral videos or viral podcasts or viral anything over the Internet.

I think that this responsibility ties in nicely with Character Education
. This was taken off our school board's web site in regards to character education:

Schools play an active role in organizing, developing and implementing programs that serve to foster and develop character. We believe that all members of our school community should strive to be: Caring, Responsible, Fair, Self-Disciplined, Respectful, Diligent and Trustworthy. These traits were determined in consultation with our staff, parents, students and community partners. Our interest in developing character is derived from the fact that these attributes affirm our human dignity, promote the development and welfare of the individual person, serve the common good and define our rights and responsibilities in Canadian society.

I'm not sure how this post started with a video about global warming to a connection to character education and ethical use of the Internet. But it did and I am constantly awed by the importance of our jobs as teachers and by the scope of what we do with kids on a daily basis.