Listening

Yesterday, I listened.

Doug Peterson recently spoke with Stephen Hurley on VoicEd Radio and together they discussed one of Doug’s blog posts which highlights some of the work by educators in Ontario.  I paused when I listened to these gentlemen discuss Jennifer Casa-Todd’s post, “Blue Whale App:  What is it and what should I do?”.  I hadn’t read her post at that point but I’m glad I finally sat down this morning to absorb her message.

What I appreciate most about her post is that it serves as a reminder to us, to listen.

Two days ago, one of my students spoke to me in class about the interactions between two of her classmates that concerned her.  The next day, I made sure to follow-up on her concerns by sharing two videos (shown below) and then explaining the reasons why we weren’t jumping in to our academic class activities right away.  I also let my students know that sometimes we forget to act like the people we hope to be.  Sometimes we make mistakes, but we have friends (and teachers) who are there to catch us when we fall.

*I also shared this clip from Will Ferrell’s commencement speech.

Yesterday, my student came and spoke with me about the messages I shared because she wanted to check if I had done this because of what she told me.  Then she smiled and thanked me.

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Thank you, Jennifer, for your thoughtful post.

 

 

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Posted in Art Education, Education | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Leadership: Faith in Others

 

Somehow, through a series of fortunate events, I am benefitting from the support of other leaders.  My career is beginning to evolve and it is only through my relationships with strong and secure leaders that I am able to believe them when they say “you can do it”.  I have faith in them and they have faith in me, therefore I have faith in myself:  can the Pythagorean theorem apply to developing leaders?

A few months ago, I was asked by my friends at OTF to help present at the TLLP training session that was held earlier this month.  (have you noticed the subtitle on OTF’s website?  Your Voice.  Your Strength.)  This session is vital for new TLLP teams, as it provides them with the encouragement and information that they will need to manage a successful project.  I certainly appreciated the lessons I learned at last year’s event.

 

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At about the same time that I was asked to present at #TLLP2017, I had a very interesting phone call.  My Principal watched my class while I spoke with Suzette Clark, the Director of Educational Services at OSSTF.  She was developing and planning the upcoming Embracing Technology conference for May 15th and wanted to know if I would be the keynote speaker.

~ I think I forgot how to speak ~

She gave me some time to think about the idea, and after a few hours (and some deep breathing), I accepted.  I began contacting some of my trusted colleagues for advice — and I relied on the support given by my friends.  Peter McAsh and Doug Peterson acted as my editors as they reviewed my initial thoughts and provided invaluable suggestions while we all collaborated using Dropbox Paper.

The weekend before the conference, I stayed with my friend Lindy (a.k.a. “the Mother of the TLLP), which was so much nicer than staying at a hotel.  Not only did I get caught up on laundry, but she encouraged me to practice my keynote with her, which allowed us to make some last-minute revisions.

The day before the conference began, Doug and Peter traveled for hours to help out.  We met the afternoon before the conference started, became familiar with the room where I would be speaking, went over my notes and slides, and made sure to meet early the next morning to get my equipment ready — everything from making sure my laptop was properly connected, to helping me distribute crayons and play-doh to every table before attendees arrived.

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Much like waiting for Christmas, when it seems that the big event will always remain in the future, it finally arrived.  No more preparations, pep-talks, or revisions.  It was show time.

Contrary to my fears, I actually found myself enjoying the keynote.  All of the attendees at #OSSTFtech were so encouraging while I spoke; their smiles gave me courage and they participated in our activities together — check out the gallery of their work by searching the conference hashtag or by clicking here.

I’ll admit that part of my reason for writing this post is an effort to savour my first keynote (who knows if I’ll get another chance at this!), and another is to thank the leaders and educators who have faith in others.  My hope is to become the kind of leader who can pay it forward.

 

You learn leadership by doing leadership” ~ Carol Campbell 

Posted in Art Education, leadership, technology, TLLP | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Creating a Test with Students

Tests = stress, but maybe there’s a better way to create them…

My grade 11 class is studying the Renaissance, and we have been busy taking notes from the videos we’ve been watching that help us understand the era.  To reduce stress, I asked my students to create 3 questions and their corresponding answers from their notes, and plug them into a Google Form that I shared with them.

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Students claimed certain questions by watching responses come in on our Smartboard (I love the spreadsheet answers available from Google Forms).  When everyone had a chance to contribute their ideas, we sat down and discussed every question and answer.

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For most students, this was their first time contributing ideas for the creation of a test.  We had a lot of decisions to make, including which questions to include and how best to cover the material.  It was so interesting to talk about the style of our test questions:  “Is it better to use a multiple choice question to cover Michelangelo’s use of frescoes, or should we use a true & false question?”  “How should we cover the Medici family?  A short answer, maybe?”  “What if we could have a bonus question that asks people to explain why The School of Athens was seen as an ‘intellectual fantasy gathering’?”…

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“High School”

I am so incredibly proud of Josie, whose career in filmmaking is just around the corner…

 

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Unexpected Inquiry Lessons

I didn’t plan for the conversations that happened in my classroom today. I’ve never had them with a class because I hadn’t thought this way before.

Let me explain.

My grade 10 art class is a unique bunch that thrives on activity.  They really enjoy building their skills rather than responding to topics or themes, so I began a unit with them this past Monday devoted to skill development.

They began by answering a few questions that I posted on the board:

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Students established their goals and made revisions through the week as they began to develop preferences for certain techniques over others.  Some even refined their goal, making it more specific to their needs.

One of my students who decided to focus on drawing, was responding to one of my challenges and I came over to see her progress.  When I didn’t find her work in front of her, I asked what happened.  She seemed to be holding back her emotions as she talked about her disappointment in her work, using all sorts of adjectives to describe what she saw as a failed attempt at drawing.  Immediately, I told her I was proud of her — and that we found an opportunity for some excellent learning, believe it or not!  When we discover what we’re not comfortable with yet, we know where we need to focus more of our work.  Next time, of course, I’ll ask her not to toss out any unwanted drawings; at least not until we have a chance to talk about them first and to figure out how we’d like to adjust our techniques and strategies.

 

Our skill-building unit has begun! #DiveIntoInquiry @tntmackenzie

A post shared by NipRockArt (@niprockart) on

 

Another student, whose goal is to improve his ability to code, created a summary of his knowledge with various computer languages.  While talking about his skills, we also discussed his current experiments with a few programs that allow him to design games.  He demonstrated a few of the games for me, which were quite impressive, but I felt that I needed to know how he was able to create them.  Eventually, with enough digging, I found out that he made the games by selecting certain operations and functions from pre-existing menus that were available from a program he was using.

This revelation allowed us to have a conversation about the need to understand the “behind-the-scenes” work involved with coding, rather than simply selecting material that someone else has provided.  This means more work, but at least we know what we’re dealing with.

Once we had this conversation, we discussed skills with more openness than we ever had before.  We took a good look at his summary of knowledge that he had prepared and talked about the importance of being honest with what we know.

If we try to make it look like we know more than we do, we are doing ourselves a disservice and our work will simply mask our own lack of knowledge.

He used a word that I hadn’t thought I’d hear.  He told me that if we’re being honest about our skills, it’s kind-of embarrassing.

Wow.

What’s even more interesting, is what happened when I shared his summary of knowledge (with my student’s permission) with my friends Doug and Peter, whose advice I cherish.  After they had a chance to take a look at our shared Google Doc, I received this message from Doug:

Just added a few thoughts.  The thing that budding programmers need to learn is humility.  Nobody ever knows it all.  

Before excusing the class for lunch, I told them that I was learning about the importance of honesty within this unit.  Next week’s focus:  one-on-one discussions to help those who aren’t really sure about their next steps.  The only way we’ll get the clarity we seek is through challenging conversations.

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Posted in Art Education, Ed tech, Education Reform, technology, TLLP | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

What do Educators Fear About Using Technology?

What holds us back from embracing technology in our daily practice?

I’ll be talking about these fears with some colleagues in a few months.  I’d love to hear your perspectives.  Please share your ideas in the comments below.  Thanks

 

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Posted in Art Education, technology | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Self-Reg: a Summary in #Sketchnotes

Earlier this month, TeachOntario provided Professional Learning Series session with Stuart Shanker, author of Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage With Life, and founder of the MEHRIT Centre.  My current research into the inquiry process for my TLLP project has led me to investigate the learning environment more than I had anticipated, and I was intrigued by Dr. Shanker’s insights and contributions to education.

 

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I look forward to learning more about Self-Regulation, how I can improve my learning environment, and how I can help students to recognizing stress and achieve a sense of calmness.

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Posted in Art Education, Education, Education Reform, TLLP | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments