THIS IS IT moments piling up

As I’ve shared some of my THIS IS IT moments over the last little while, I started reflecting on those moments over my career.

FPC, the Fallingdale Publishing Company, started as a digital newspaper (yes, I’m that old) and moved in to a media production studio over time. A small group of junior friends would create media products for school events over the lunch hour. We decided to create our own fairy tale remixes and a group of guys decided to create the gassy frog prince (standard topic for a junior group). We were planning our stories in groups, writing a script for our final recording when I glanced over. I watched the group of guys sitting in a circle on a table chatting through their script. In that group there were friends that soared with academics and others that had to work a bit harder, some that were social butterflies and others that preferred smaller groups. It didn’t seem to matter in that moment as ideas bounced back and forth, as the group engaged in collaboratively creating. It was at that moment that I saw the power of innovating and the way a digital tool or strategy could inspire a new approach.

I thought the grade 2 blog was a failure. Our learners were exploring Global Communities and we decided to set up a blog using voicethread to collect ideas and questions. I had big hopes to connect with friends globally and after waiting patiently for a week no one posted to our Voicethread. I was definitely disappointed. I had a sample story of growing up in Europe on our blog so a friend came with a bunch of artifacts one day to add her own voicethread. Over recess we took pictures, put them in her story and had her add her voice. Lo and behold friends kept coming at recess to share more about their culture. Students found a voice in a simple class blog.

I was in one of my last linguistics courses working on a project on Icelandic. How I ended up with Icelandic I have no clue. I couldn’t find much on the topic in the libraries but stumbled upon an email address. So I opened that dark DOS screen email and composed my message. I was shocked to get a reply a few days later. It was my first time seeing the power of technology to create global connections.

My THIS IS IT moments reminded me of the power of technology to spark conversations, share our identities, create connections. We often see posters that peg pedagogy against technology, battling it out to see which one carries more of the weight. I realized as I reflected on my stories that perhaps technology can come before the pedagogical links but above all else it comes after our learners. Each story brought me back to the competent, capable empowered modern learner using the tools to spark new learning journeys, share their identities and create connections to the community.

As much as I love technology, I love the power of technology in the hands of learners more. I have seen it change conversations, engage the disengaged, put big learners in a co-learning stance. How can we resist when we have a chance to empower a learner in new ways? 



Buddy Needed

I’ve shown the clip 100 times, usually accompanied by a long rant about the importance of sharing and yet I sit here feeling guilty because I haven’t blogged in 9 days. Maybe guilty isn’t the right word, perhaps it’s disappointed.

In my job sharing kind of comes with the role and I LOVE it: sharing a quick glimpse from a classroom moment or the great learning experiences colleagues across the board. This blog has always been an opportunity to share differently. Sharing that is a little deeper, more personal and sometimes as much about the downs as the ups. I never realized how much I love to write till I started blogging and each post feels a bit like a release of swirling thoughts.

Yet I sit with 6 draft posts because doubt creeps in.

  • Who is going to read this?
  • Is this worth folks time?
  • Have I said it before?
  • Has someone else said it better? They are much smarter/more followers/better researched anyways.
  • Do I have enough evidence/sources?
  • Why do I need sources?
  • Am I writing this for hits or because it’s what I’m really pondering?
  • I could write something that folks would probably like better!
  • Does it really matter?

Here’s the thing: I know that the questions are just getting in the way. I have lived the aha moment in the clip more than a handful of times and I do want to write. So how do I overcome the doubt?

So I’ve decided I need a buddy. It works for working out, why can’t it work for sharing. I’m looking for a buddy that may be in the same predicament where being accountable to each other will help us push through the doubt. I’m keeping it simple: one blog post a week for now.

Want to be my buddy?

Empowered Modern Learners – This Is It ep. 2

I shared a THIS IS IT moment this spring not realizing at the moment it may become a series but couldn’t resist sharing another moment that made me see our vision document in Peel in action.

I didn’t quite know what to expect as I put a call out to the #peel21st community to try Breakout Edu together. One, because it was the first week of school. Two, I had only done it with adults to that point. Surprisingly the replies came in and I had a handful of classrooms to learn alongside those first few weeks of school. With no experience with escape rooms, I was supposed to lead others. After messing up a lock or two and racking my brain to decipher a clue, I put together the pieces for the Dot Day game and brought it to our first group. Learning a little each time and then tweaking it for the next group.

No matter the age: grade 2, 5, 7, or 12, it was mesmerizing to watch. Every time without fail, you would see friends..

  • collaborating together
  • finding a way to communicate their ideas
  • justifying their thinking enthusiastically
  • problem solving and persisting when their first, third or fifth combination didn’t work

As I stood back I had one of those THIS IS IT moments again. It was like the 21st century competencies from the Global Competencies discussion paper came to life in front of me. I could hear myself saying: This is what empowered modern learning looks like. 

At first glance it may feel like technology didn’t play a big role this time. As I reflected though I could see the little moments it supported the experience. From the first tweet I stumbled upon about Dot Day, the simple retweet that led to a few scheduled visits, accessing the Google Drive folder of resources for the game to sharing the learning with images & video back to the community.

This time the digital tools just played a background role, other times it is more the supporting actor. No matter what the lead in every moment has been an empowered modern learner.