Tag Archives: Shelly Wright

Some of My Favourite Posts From 2012

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Jon Glittenberg

Many people are sharing some of their favourite posts of 2012 from their own blog, but I thought that it would be more beneficial to share some of the great reads I have found out throughout the year.  The one thing that I dislike about the “blogosphere”, is that some of the best posts tend to disappear way too quick.  This is my chance to bring them back for others to read.

The first one though I wanted to share though is very selfish though, yet it was probably one of my favourite days of the year.  This post from Alyssa Lamshed, who I have connected with through her dad and blog, showed me the power of connecting online to create incredible connections offline.  It was just a really cool experience to meet Alyssa in Adelaide and it reminded me why I do, what I do.

Here are some great reads from my year (in no particular order):

1.  Overcoming Digital Dualism – A great post by Dean Shareski (who reads this blog all the time but won’t acknowledge it publicly) on digital dualism which is defined below:

Digital dualism is the belief that the on and offline are largely separate and distinct realities. Digital dualists view digital content as part of a “virtual” world separate from a “real” world found in physical space. 

Dean has some great thoughts on our world today:

My struggle remains in helping people understand that our world now includes digital connections not simply as supplements to relationships but embedded and at times equal to or at least different from traditional non-mediated relationships. Like our computers today, we feel a need to label this and distinguish them as “technology” if only to understand their “newness”. Perhaps someday we’ll not point out these differences and see online connections as less meaningful. For now, I don’t know how to help folks get over that idea without them experiencing it for themselves. I also don’t want this conversation to be about making people feel like “I get this and you don’t”. That’s when the discussion becomes more polarized.

2.  Blogging is the New Persuasive Essay – I could easily share all of Shelly Wright’s posts here, but this one stands out as a favourite.  She makes a very simple yet compelling case on how you could include blogging as a component in your classroom:

I’m not proposing that you need to do things radically different. Teach whatever you teach for Language Arts, or other subjects, but include a blog component.  So if you’re teaching sentence structure, teach your students to create complete sentences while blogging. Blogs, like traditional writing, need great structure.  If you’re focusing on capitalization or punctuation, transfer this skill to blog writing as well.

Another one of my favourite Shelly Wright posts is “I Used To Think“.  If you are ever looking for a speaker to show how much better it is to transform your teaching to focus on powerful student learning, Shelly is a solid choice.  She has such a compelling story that resonates with many.

3.  Everything you know about curriculum may be wrong. Really. – This is just a really powerful post by Grant Wiggins, that uses some simple analogies to talk about how curriculum (and learning experiences) should be designed:

In athletics this is very clear: the game is the curriculum; the game is the teacher. And each game is different (even as helpful patterns emerge). Knowledge about the game is secondary, an offshoot of learning to play the game well. As I learn to play, knowledge – about rules, strategy, and technique – accrues, but it is not the point.

So, it would be very foolish to learn soccer (or child-rearing or music or how to cook) in lectures. This reverses cause and effect, and loses sight of purpose. Could it be the same for history, math, and science learning? Only blind habit keeps us from exploring this obvious logic. The point is to do new things with content, not simply know what others know – in any field.

4.  What it might be: Authentic Student Blogging – I have been watching what Jabiz Raisdana has been doing with student blogging this year, and I have just been amazed at how he has empowered student voice.  As we embark on digital portfolios in Parkland School Division, I have been greatly influenced by what Jabiz has written on student blogging and love his advice:

If you want your students to blog effectively, give them the freedom to experiment and write about what interests them. Stay away from portfolios and forced reflections on their learning, at least until they get the hang of it. Wait until they find a voice, find an audience, and become involved in the conversations around ideas, before you push your agenda of meta-cognition and reflective learning. 

5.  What Leading With Vision Really Means – This is not an education piece, but its implications for educational leadership are obvious.  As we have more access to information from different sectors, educators should be looking outside of the field to see what works for people and business, and then try to make the connection to what we do in schools.  Visionary leadership is needed in our schools/districts so we (as a whole system) can do what is best for kids:

People also want to see that the leader’s farsightedness is based on a deep sense of what’s necessary, right, and good for the business and the team rather than what’s simply expeditious, popular, or self-serving. We want to feel that our leaders’ “far-sight” is focused on the greater good, that their vision promotes the group and not just their own selfish interests. A truly farsighted leader envisions a possible future that responds to and resonates with people’s aspirations for their individual and collective success. When employees or potential employees hear about the good leader’s vision, their visceral response is, “Yes, I want to go there too.”

In my travels, it is so apparent that schools/districts are a huge reflection of leadership and their success.  With that understanding, schools/districts need to put more effort into developing the innovative leadership our schools need, not simply running the same programs with the same objectives of the past.

Here are some other posts I really liked as well:

5 Reasons Your Top Employee Isn’t Happy

The Five Percenters

Is Algebra Necessary

Teachers Should Change How They Teach Students Today

The Question Should be: Why are you not blogging?

Hopefully I have provided a range of great reading to start off your New Year!  If you want more, please feel free to check out my Diigo Bookmarks.  Also, the Edublog nominees for “Most Influential Education Blog Post of 2012” is another great place to look for some great reads.

I am constantly inspired by so many people and could share 100’s of posts so thank you to all that inspire me daily!

Have a great 2013!

You Should Read… (October 16, 2011)

As always, I am finding some interesting content through the connections created on social media that I am hoping I could share with you.  Please take a look at the blogs listed below for an expansion in content:

1.  Cell Phones in The Spotlight Parkland School Division teacher Luke English recently asked his students about the use of cell phones in the classroom and their feedback.  Blogs are a fantastic tool to get feedback from your students and to have some critical conversation, but what was interesting was the expertise that came into the classroom from outside of the classroom.  Although this is a very new component to Luke’s class, and many students started off by discussing using mobile devices as calculators or to text the teacher, some of the responses from others was highly invaluable.  In fact, one teacher from a different school took the discussion to his own class and summarized their responses.  Here is a snippet from that conversation:

5. Above all, I believe the use of a smart phone for educational purposes is an opportunity for teachers not only to instruct students on proper use of a smart phone, but it could also be a way for the students to teach older generations (teachers mostly) about the use of these newer devices. It would be a learning opportunity for both the student and teacher.

Blogs are such a great way to bring innovation from outside of the classroom and tap into expertise all around the world.  This blog post is just another great example of that.  You can also check out Luke’s blog post on “Blogging in the Classroom” to see how his own thought process has progressed.

2.  Twitter ; A Teaching and Learning ToolTom Barrett shares this very comprehensive look at how Twitter could be used in teaching and learning and goes through several aspects of tapping into this social network.  Although this is longer than many typical blog posts, it is great guide for new people who to Twitter who see it as a “Facebook Status Update” tool.   Here is a great quote from his post:

When you plan to involve your network in teaching and learning in your classroom it is basically inviting individuals to offer their voice to what you do. Twitter is all about communication, so when thinking of what you will get from Twitter for your lessons – conversation is the currency.

If you are not on Twitter, this might be a great start.  If you are on Twitter, this might be a great resource to share with your colleagues that are not.

3.  At a CrossroadsShelly Wright, who is probably my favourite blogger, talks openly about her change in the view of teaching and learning, especially with high school students who have been conditioned to the “traditional” model of education.  Her blog is fantastic as it is an open and honest reflection not only of the successes she has had, but also her struggles as well.  In her latest post, Shelly shows her passion for her students making a true difference in the world:

What do I mean by that?  Learning about great individuals who chose to make a difference in the world, but not doing anything like that ourselves.  Learning content and skills to jump through the hoops we call a secondary education, creating assignments that only I’ll ever see — an education that has little current impact on the world outside our four walls.  It’s the way a large part of our North American school system currently functions…I want my students to make a difference in this world, for them to use their voices and talents now, rather than waiting for some future date, after they leave high school.

We do our best to connect learning to the real world, but Shelly recognizes that school for kids is the real world.  What are we going to do with that?

4.  BONUS*** Lego QR Code – My good friend Royan Lee shared the work of one of his students and it is absolutely amazing.  It just shows that if you create an environment where students can be innovative, they will most likely be innovative.  Check it out!

Have a great week!

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by jenn.davis


The Intersection

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by gcouros

There is nothing that will ever replace a great teacher.  Nothing.  A master teacher understands how to connect with students and tap into their passions and create a love of learning.

However, when a great teacher can effectively use technology to help a student explore, connect, and create, this is what will take them, their students, and our schools to the next level.  The intersection where the deep understanding of learning meets the understanding of how to leverage technology to give our students opportunities to explore and become both collaborative yet independent in their learning, is where transformation in schools can really occur.

To do this though, we must immerse ourselves in this process.  I was reminded of this when I was perusing through Will Richardson’s presentation to the College of Alberta School Superintendents, and was reminded of the journey of Shelly Wright.  Shelly openly shared her transformation in her blog over the last year, and I know many, myself included, loved watching the process:

I realize that over the past 10 months I’ve become a completely different person than who I was a year ago…A year ago, I wasn’t on Twitter.  Now my PLN is invaluable.  If every other form of PD was taken away from me, I would continue to grow and learn because of the people and resources at my finger tips on Twitter.A year ago, I didn’t really blog. Now it’s part of who I am. It’s how I actively try to make sense of the world.  And it has connected me to people who challenge my thinking and help me to be a better teacher.

The year has started for many educators, and about to start for others.  Throwing ourselves into this type of collaborative, yet self-directed learning can be a transformative process for not only professional selves, but in my own development and for many I have encountered, there is renewed passion for the profession and learning at a very deep, personal level.

How many will hit that intersection this year?