Tag Archives: blogging

The Sharing Continues

Tweet Ignited

Our Engaging the Digital Learner: Learning by Design series continues to be a motivational, inspirational and informative event for the 280 educators that join us each evening. The sessions are designed so we hear learning stories through four Ignite presentations, with table talk in-between, dinner for more continued conversation and then an opportunity to hear a keynote address. The seating arrangement typically includes three representatives from each school, three schools at a table and up to 10 in total. The teams are committed to all sessions with the intention that they take back their learning, share it with others, and experiment with new ideas around teaching and learning. What happens, however, is that the learning doesn’t take place just there in that room each evening. We have it livestreamed so others can watch it at home and even those that aren’t watching the livestream are following along our #sd36learn hashtag. Apparently we were so active in sharing our learning that night that our hashtag was trending during the session. It is fascinating to see how professional learning, in an era of technology, is now spilling out of its traditional boxes and spreading across organizations through the power of the internet and social media.

Nathan Horne is a PE teacher from Singapore that was on his spring break to visit relatives in White Rock. Our PE Helping Teacher Glenn Young reached out and asked if Nathan would be willing to do an Ignite for us. We were not disappointed! Here is his Ignite: Giving our Students a Physical Education for the Future.

Alyssa Becker, a Science teacher from Sullivan Heights Secondary shares with us her passion about travelling to new places with her students, Student Travel:

Curtis Weibe, a Teacher-Librarian from Strawberry Hill Elementary challenges us to Think Differently.

Each night I try to keep something that we are doing a bit of a surprise for the attendees. Bringing in young people, as young as grade 2, to present at Ignite was a wonderful and refreshing opportunity for us as educators to learn right from students. Jaslehna and Mya, two seven year olds from Woodward Hill Elementary School, share their message: You Are Never Too Young.

Our keynote presenter, Jan Unwin, works as the Superintendent of Grad Transitions for the B.C. Ministry of Education. Her presentation was outstanding and she encouraged us not to wait for the Ministry to make changes to legislation or curriculum but to do what we know is right for our students. In her own words, “We can’t wait for the Ministry of Education to clear all the brush. It has to come from you.”

I hope you find the opportunity to enjoy these stories and perhaps even show a clip to your colleagues or use one as a conversation starter at a meeting. We have so much we can learn from each other, let’s continue the sharing.

Note: Special thanks to Sarah Garr for her ongoing assistance with the Ignites each evening. Thank you to Karen Lirenman for providing us with her grade 2 students.

The Co-Blogging Writing Experiment


The Tunnel in Hidden Valley

Co-blogging with my son for spring break was an experiment. Typically when we go on a really long adventure vacation I would stash drawing and writing journals in the car along with books, games, snacks and toys. As we have camped across Canada as well as to the tip of Baja California, we have designed ways to keep the four boys busy. I have always found it difficult, however, to actually motivate any of the boys to write. They have never been that interested. This time I decided to get a little sneaky about it. I asked my one son if he wanted to do a blog with me about the vacation. I would write from my point of view and then he could write from his perspective. He thought it was a good idea. As well, he was responsible for choosing the blogging platform and designing the layout. I made some suggestions, none of which he followed. He is independent and stubborn, just like his mother. I note that this child has not yet had the opportunity to blog in school. He is in grade eight. When he asked if he could do a blog for one of his classes, his teacher said “No.” She wanted a paper copy of his assignment. So, it made sense that he would blog for us as a family. And what was the result? Here are some observations.

1. He was motivated to write. He actually appeared to be interested in writing.  I did not have to nag him. As a parent, that was wonderful. I’m sure he appreciated it as well. And for me, he was writing. It worked. The technology itself was motivating for him. He has kept written scrapbooks before on trips but this was different.

2. He was writing more than I would normally see. I think it helped that this was just a journal reflection. I was not interested in the quality of his work; I was more interested in having him write.  My son is in French Immersion and research has indicated their writing skills can lag. It was just important to me that he record words on the page (or screen, to be precise).

3 We talked about the act of writing. This conversation was natural in this context and seemingly invisible but important. We talked about how exaggeration can make things more interesting for the reader. We talked about storytelling and the importance of opening and closing lines. We even discussed what makes a good title. As we went, sometimes I could see him make the appropriate changes to his own writing.

4. It was an opportunity to build our relationship. We had a new and different kind of connection. He was excited to review his statistics at the back of the blog. “Mom, did you know someone from Vietnam is reading our blog?” he would announce. Or, “Mom, right now two people in Canada are reading our blog.” Or, “Most of the people reading the blog are using mobile devices. Eighty-two percent are using some kind of Apple device.”  On blogger, there are all sorts of interesting statistics that he could explore and then share with me. Of course, it helped as well when he wrote something that was particularly funny (eg. his suntan lotion entry), that captured our family perfectly and would send me into peals of laughter.

5. He had a chance to experience the “social” aspect of the Internet. Thanks to some kind colleagues, a few people wrote comments in response to his writing. Of course, he was sent an email each time he received a comment. “Mom, did you know someone just commented on my blog.” That is reinforcing!

6. We could share our experience easily with other family and relatives. Again, this allowed us to keep connected. Although we were not face to face with these people, they had a sense of shared experience with our adventures. This, too, builds relationships.

7. It gave us a family record of our trip. As parents, we are committed to making memories with our children. Adventure vacations expand their horizons and our own.

The co-blogger in a slot canyon

Finally, I asked my son for his observations on the co-blogging experiment. Here are his responses:

Mom: What did you like best about co-blogging?

Son: I liked making if funny and seeing the stats.

Mom: Was it easier then keeping a paper journal?

Son: Probably, because I could just delete mistakes; it was more convenient, faster and easier to store. I knew I wouldn’t lose it.

Mom: What did you learn from doing it?

Son: I learned how to write better, how to use technology, how to make things funny, how to exaggerate and be sarcastic and how to use hyperbole.

Mom: How has your writing changed?

Son: I wanted to capture the reader’s interest by the title, the beginning and the ending. I might want to make the ending like a surprise or really funny.

Mom: Would you do it again?

Son: Yes, in fact, we should do it every vacation. You and me co-blog.

You can’t ask for much more from a teenage son!

From my perspective, the co-blogging experiment worked. My son wrote and he enjoyed doing it. The co-blogging adventure made learning meaningful for both of us. The fact that the journal was authentic, that others could read it and interact with him had a big impact on him. I also think the notion of “co-blogging” itself, with his mother, was powerful. And truly, this time out, technology did make the difference.

Postscript: Our family’s exploits are recorded here: ArizonaPhoenix. Comments are most welcome!

Who is blogging in Surrey schools?

Blogging in School District #36 seems to be a rather recent phenomenon. Rick Fabbro might have been one of the first administrators to begin blogging as his first post (Rich Babbles) goes back to November 10, 2010.  Many others began blogging but most of them only within the last 8 months. Seven of the administrators blogging belong to the Innovative Learning Designs project. Three of the others are in my f2f Network group. All of the blogs are different in purpose and style but what I find fascinating is the window they provide into each author’s world, their area of expertise or their school and their view of education.

Many teachers have been keeping class blogs or wikis longer. You just have to love Teacher-Librarian Colin Sexton’s library page, The Panther Den, and his terrific tweets where he advises students to: “Forget Santa” and “get your picture taken with Buck the Christmas Library Duck!”  The hot bed of blogging appears to be Sullivan Heights Secondary where many of their teachers are keeping their own websites, wikis, or a department web site. It is that same school that has at least 60% of their teachers on twitter. I have to admit, I personally have learned so much from these posts and from the tweets of these educators.

Of course there are students that are posting on blogs, too. Sometimes I’m not too swift and I had to read someone’s comment to figure out this grade one student’s post in Karen Lirenman’s class: “we have a I paiied.” Yes, they do have an iPad!

Here is a list of some of the administrators and a small sample of teachers blogging in our district. I invite you to check them out!

Leadership Team:
• Mike McKay http://mikemckay.ca/
   Superintendent of Schools
• Rick Fabbro http://www.rickfabbro.com/
   Assistant Superintendent
• Elisa Carlson http://innovativelearningdesigns.ca
   Director of Instruction, Education Services

• Sheila Morissette http://viewfrommyschool.wordpress.com/
   Principal, Fraser Heights Secondary School
• Peter Johnston http://beprincipaled.org/
   PrincipaL, Earl Marriott Secondary School
• Tia Henriksen http://henriksenlearning.wordpress.com/
   Vice-Principal, Bear Creek Elementary
• The Admin Team http://sullivanadmin.blogspot.com/
   All Administrators, Sullivan Heights Secondary School
• Sheila Hammond http://sheilahammond.wordpress.com/
   Principal, Johnston Heights Secondary School
• Rob Killawee http://killawee.wordpress.com/
   Vice-Principal, Johnston Heights Secondary School
• Margaux Molson http://www.tamanawis.com/newsite/?cat=8
   Principal, Tamanawis Secondary School
• Gloria Sarmento http://frankhurtprincipal.blogspot.com/
Principal, Frank Hurt Secondary School
• Faizel Rawji http://rawji.wordpress.com/
   Principal, Senator Reid Elementary School
• Arlene Geres arlenegeres.blogspot.com
Principal, Old Yale Road Secondary School
• John Horstead http://horstead.wordpress.com/
   Principal, Frost Road Elementary School

Helping Teachers Blogging:
• Orwell Kowalyshyn http://surreylearn.wordpress.com/
   Information Media Literacy Helping Teacher
• Amy Newman http://dancingwithelephants.ca/
   Research & Evaluation Helping Teacher
• Chris Hunter http://reflectionsinthewhy.wordpress.com/
   Numeracy Helping Teacher
• JB Mahli         http://www.jux.com/surround/global/users/~courageouslearning/quarks
   Social Studies Helping Teacher
• Jan Gladish http://jglad1.wordpress.com/
   Aboriginal Helping Teacher

Some SD36 Teachers Blogging:
• Karen Lirenman http://learningandsharingwithmsl.blogspot.com/
• Nicole Painchaud
   (on the above are links to blogs for most of the departments at Sullivan)
• Sullivan Heights Secondary Athletics wikis       http://sullivanathletics.wikispaces.com/
• Colin Sexton     http://fcweb.sd36.bc.ca/~sexton_colin/pantherden/main222.htm
• Alyssa Becker http://lysmekah.blogspot.com/
• Hugh McDonald

The list above is incomplete. I know many other teachers have blogs or wikis they use with their students. I am sure I have missed many teachers and possibly some administrators as well. My apologies. If you are keeping a professional blog and you are an SD#36 educator, please feel free to send me a note so I can begin keeping a list. Blog on!