Learning from learners

Yesterday, I was able to help support @beachcat11 as she orchestrated a learning session for elementary teachers in KPRDSB. Cathy has been working with a small group of teachers as part of her TLLP project for this year exploring the use of social media in elementary classrooms. They’ve been working with a few different ideas and investigating the purpose and procedures for incorporating some of the social media tools into the classroom. photo

In the session, it was decided to focus on 2 areas, setting up a simple classroom blog that you can use with multiple authors (students) and using Edmodo as a social network for in-class use.

As part of this, Cathy brought along 2 of her students who have been acting as blog masters this year, co-coordinating the writing and posting process by the class. These two students wandered the room and helped the 25 teachers in attendance with getting their blog set up. Of the students’ mom was there, having driven him to the Education Centre. She was sitting in the back working away on her phone.

Later that day, after the students had left, we were talking about the concept of a Professional Learning Network and using Twitter as a source of professional learning. While we were doing this, a tweet came across my stream from @AlanaCallan and referenced our session. I was curious as to who she was replying to, and clicked the link to see more. Turns out the mom who had been sitting there had tweeted out via 4Square about what she and her son were doing.


I quickly brought this up on-screen for all to see, and we talked about how this is only possible through the networked learning environments that we participate in. So, not only were we learning from students, we were able to see how this has impacts beyond our classroom into the community and parents that we connect with. A pretty powerful statement on being a learner, no matter what your age, and on being a networked learner.

Science & Art

Last week on This Week in Science and Education, we had the chance to talk about the intersection of science and art with Dennis McCormac from The Ontario Genomics Institute. Dennis finds unique and engaging ways to get students to see the beauty that can come from science and express it in ways that are novel. It was a great discussion with lots of connections to the work that we do everyday, in many classrooms!

T-WiSE #77

TWiSE #64 – Earth Science @ Waterloo

VROC just posted episode 64 of This Week in Science and Education, where Kevin and I visit the Earth Science Museum at the University of Waterloo.  It’s a very cool place with lots of things to see when you visit there. If you live in the London area, you should check it out. If you teach in the area, it would make a great spot for a class visit to learn about geology.

It’s worth watching the whole episode to see the whole thing, but I want to link a specific part here. I had the opportunity to talk to Kathy Feick, who is a 3rd year student at Waterloo.  We had a short conversation about what she does at the Museum and also about the kinds of things that she has learned about being a university student and what high school students and teachers can consider in order to help with that transition. Click here to jump to the specific part of the episode where we discuss this, or watch the whole thing embedded below. (Jump to 16:09 if you want to just see the discussion I’m talking about)

Stay Curious!

Ran across this video today. I liked it so much I thought I’d post it on my blog. 🙂

Skillshare appears to be a website where you can take classes from a variety of people in a variety of areas. It looks quite interesting.

There’s a lot of good one liners in the video. I like “It doesn’t matter what you ask, just that you ask.. Because the questions you find are more important than the answers”


The Future Belongs to the Curious from Skillshare on Vimeo.

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Concerns Based Adoption

I’m working on a project where we are going to be gathering input from our teachers around the rollout of our 1:1 laptop program. I dug through some papers from my MEd program, as I had looked at the CBAM model in one of my classes. I found this paper that I wrote, and don’t think I posted it at the time, but thought I’d share it now.  It’s  discussion of a research article (PDF) on CBAM.

Teacher Concerns During Initial Implementation of a One-to-One Laptop Initiative at the Middle School Level.

This article discusses using the CBAM model to assess the concerns that teachers may have with respect to their participation in a program that provided both teachers and students with laptops in a one to one ratio.   I selected this article because it’s something that exactly mirrors a project we have in our school district right now, as we are rolling out a project that will result in all teachers getting laptops, and we are considering a CBAM approach to dealing with some of the upfront concerns that teachers will have.   In addition, this kind of approach could lead to different ideas around professional development.

The results show that teachers have widely varying concerns as was expected, and that most of those concerns were in the Self and Task levels of the model, which in my opinion was not surprising. They were mostly concerned with how the program would impact them personally in terms of the teaching, and how they would ‘manage’ the classroom with the change in technology as well as integrate it. I find this to be spot on with my personal observations about teachers and technology in the classroom. Whether its the concern over how to modify their existing planning to include tech, or personal concerns about not knowing enough about the technology they are implementing, it’s the kind of thing that slows or prevents many changes.

In terms of the use of the CBAM model in this case, it was useful to assess the various things that teachers where struggling with. But as this was an academic research article, I was left wondering if there were any actual actions taken by the administration or support staff to help support these teachers and alleviate some of their concerns. In the discussion, the author mentions implications of the research and that recommendations were made to the administration to support the teachers, but there was no mention of whether or not this happened.  They did mention that follow up studies should be undertaken to ascertain if there was a shift in the concerns that were originally identified.

The most fascinating aspect of the paper was in the conclusion where it was stated:

Prior research implies that the use of technology in some way encourages this shift toward more student-centered or constructivist classrooms. In other words, the technology causes the shift. An alternative explanation is that the introduction of a one-to-one computing initiative requires a shift toward student-centered practices.”

Isn’t that interesting? The introduction of an innovation like laptops may actual cause or require a shift in pedagogy to a more student-centered classroom.  Could that be the source of some of the resistance as well?


Donovan, L., Hartley K., and Strudler, N.  (2007). Teacher concerns during initial implementation of a one-to-one laptop initiative at the middle school level. Journal of Research on Technology in Education. 39(3). 263-286

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