Tag Archives: you should read

You Should Read… (November 25, 2012)

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I have been off and on writing this “weekly” post but I think that it is important to recognize some of the great content that I am reading out there that may have been missed in tweets and I like trying to culminate some of my favourite content for others to share in one space.  Here are a few things that I thought were great to share:

1.  Teachers Should Change How They Teach Students Today – There constantly seems to be a back-and-forth about changing teaching practices vs. teaching the way that worked for us as students.  In this great article that was a response to a New York Times piece and then offers a comparison to another article discussing students in an Ethiopian village and how they had learned to hack into a device and do some pretty amazing things:

Kids without schooling, without literacy, HACKED the Androids to turn the camera back on . . . without instruction.  That is a breathtaking example of how learning can happen with new technology if we are open to new ways of peer, community-based, shared learning…What the teachers in the NY Times piece need to take from this Ethiopian experiment–what all of us as educators on every level have to take from this experiment–is that, if we do not think learning is something so dreadfully dull that it has to be regulated, assessed, made compulsory, rule bound, divided into disciplines, and in all other ways “measured out in coffee spoons” (as T. S. Eliot would say), then the potential of kids and all of us to learn is enormous.  I have had to unlearn a lot of my own didactic forms of teaching over the years and have had to learn how to practice what I call “structuring possibilities for openness.”   It means biting my tongue, not solving the problem or coming up with the answers, but providing the opportunities in which students can help one another to learn and having faith that, if I stay back, they will in fact learn because, as humans, learning is what we do, it’s how we thrive.

Has learning changed or the opportunities that make it more conducive and engaging?  Just a question I thought of when reading this article.

2.  The Daily Routines of Famous Writers – I just love some of the quotes and thoughts from this article as that many people are exploring blogs and how we can have students engaged in their own writing.  What I get from the article is that there is not “one-size-fits-all” approach to this but we just have to just start:

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”

But if we are blogging do students have to write?  Darren Kuropatwa offers a different perspective on what the blogging medium provides and how text is not the only option.  What are some tips that you have to get students and/or teachers to write?

3.  Freedom < —  A Vehicle For LeadershipKristen Swanson refers to a recent Leadership 2.0 session offered by Chris Wejr and shares thoughts on the differences between “Freedom From” and “Freedom To”:

Chris caught my attention by talking about freedom. While everyone wants freedom, some people want “freedom from” and others want “freedom to.”

In unhealthy, fear-based organizations, people want FREEDOM FROM the rules that exist arbitrarily. They want to escape the entire situation. They seek points, credit, dollars, or some other external reward. A leader in this type of organization must constantly monitor the team’s compliance.

In vibrant, collaborative organizations, people want FREEDOM TO innovate, create new structures, and solve problems. A leader in this type of environment simply needs to nurture the ambitions of the team.

So here is my question on this…can a healthy organization have elements of both?  For example, if a leader provides “freedom from” boring staff meetings so that teachers have the “freedom to” spend more time focused on professional learning, is that not what we want?  Kristen discusses this in her own post but what are your thoughts? Is one more important or is there a correlation?

So Star Wars and Disney have created a partnership and I love this “Disney Song” that was created from the movie.


You Should Read (September 17, 2012)

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Every now and then, I like to go back through my old Diigo bookmarks and look at articles that I have shared in the past in the “You Should Read” category as I know many readers will have missed these at the time when they are posted.  It is truly hard to become a “classic” on the Internet with the number of articles coming your way, but I think through the use of social bookmarking sites such as Diigo (which is how I have always used to compile these lists), we can easily come back and revisit these posts.

With that being said, here are some articles that I have shared previously that I think are worthy of revisiting.

1.  The Creativity Crisis –  I loved this article and often come back to it in the work that I am doing.  The term “creativity” is something that is being used by schools and many organizations, and seen as an essential skill.

The potential consequences are sweeping. The necessity of human ingenuity is undisputed. A recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the No. 1 “leadership competency” of the future. Yet it’s not just about sustaining our nation’s economic growth. All around us are matters of national and international importance that are crying out for creative solutions, from saving the Gulf of Mexico to bringing peace to Afghanistan to delivering health care. Such solutions emerge from a healthy marketplace of ideas, sustained by a populace constantly contributing original ideas and receptive to the ideas of others.

Yet many say that with the structure of schools, creativity is something that we struggle with, yet the author offers a different perspective:

Researchers say creativity should be taken out of the art room and put into homeroom. The argument that we can’t teach creativity because kids already have too much to learn is a false trade-off. Creativity isn’t about freedom from concrete facts. Rather, fact-finding and deep research are vital stages in the creative process. Scholars argue that current curriculum standards can still be met, if taught in a different way.

This is a great article to discuss at a staff meeting.  Ask the question, “how do you promote creativity in your classroom?”, and then have them make that thinking visible.  It is imperative that we share these practices.  (As an addition to this, watch this video on the importance of giving time when wanting our students to be creative.)

2.  The Top 10 Ways to Improve Student Achievement and Create Learners – One of the key words that I have seen overtake conversations has been the word “learning”, which is something that we should focus on in schools.  Although that should be the focus, regurgitation of facts is still the norm with many.

One of the major negatives is that change is rarely welcome. People tend to like the status quo and do not want the apple cart overturned. Our first year was fraught with change; change in vision, strategies, instructional methods and materials. Through it all, our staff preserved as we worked on our improvement.

Here are a couple of the interesting ways that were shared in the article:

8. Teach Students How to Learn — Students are taught what to learn. In order for them to be successful as learners, they also have to discover how to learn and to develop an appetite for learning. I’m convinced that one of the reasons some students do not succeed in college is that they sail through high school learning the prescribed curriculum, but never learn how to learn.

9. Teachers as Learners Environment — Teachers are all about instructing their students. Teachers should also invest in themselves. I’m referring to teachers actively pursuing knowledge because they want to know more. The best teachers continue to grow and don’t rely solely on school designated professional development hours as their outlet to learn new concepts and ideas about education. This could include reading professional development books, blogs, or articles online. One powerful way to continue to grow as an educator is to join an online personal learning network and/or develop one on Twitter.

How do you focus on creating a “learning environment” in your school?

3.  Pupils do get better at school if teachers are not fixated on test results – Just coming back from the US where, unfortunately, the talk often turns to the “Common Core” and standardized testing, I still think this is a valid argument on how you can focus on other things as opposed to tests and still have students do relatively well.  If students become “learners”, can they still not do well in exams?

“Nowhere is this more apparent than in science learning where relentless preparation for tests and exams drives out the important and engaging aspects, especially the practical work,” he said. “All the evidence suggests that ‘teaching to the test’ results in superficial learning and a level of boredom that can turn pupils away from science.

As a final video, I wanted to share this Arnold Schwarzenegger video below.  The words are powerful yet his character (rightfully so) is often questioned.  His words are inspirational, but because of his past, would you share this video with students?  I would love your thoughts.

Have a great week!


You Should Read…(September 9, 2012)

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

This was our first week back to school in Parkland School Division and teachers are eager this year to try new things.  I think the tone was set from our opening day when there was both the “pressure” and “support” that came from our organization.  We are looking at focusing on making learning visible, from not just educators, but more importantly, our students.  We are looking forward to a great year!

Here are some great things that were shared with me through social networks this week:

1.  The question should be –> Why are you not blogging? –  Alan Levine, who has been doing some amazing stuff long before I was connecting on social media, writes a fascinating blog that has a great variance of content.  He has some great lesson ideas, funny personal anecdotes, and thoughts that will push educators forward.  I love the mix.

In his post on blogging, Alan discusses how we need to view blogging in a different way than what we would think of traditional writing exercises (for another great read on this, check out Shelley Wright’s post on blogging as the “new persuasive essay”).  Alan shares how the process of blogging should not be as tough as we make it:

But you will say, “It takes me hours to write a blog, I do several drafts, let it sit, comeback days later….”

That is not blogging. That is composing a paper. That is thinking about a blog as a highly published final piece of literature.


Blogging should be conversational. It should be half baked. Or less. It should (in my case) contain typos –because it is not meant to be (IMHO) a published journal article- it is your own personal thinking, shared out loud.

If you are spending that long writing a blog post, then you are wasting time. And you are blogging wrongly.

This may help change the mindset of many who always looking to write the “perfect” piece; it doesn’t exist.  Are we okay with out students writing quickly and putting those thoughts down for others to see?  I think we should be.

2.  Four Lessons from the Best Bosses I Have Ever Had – Leadership is so important to what happens in schools and I recently heard someone reference Todd Whitaker with the quote, “When the principal sneezes, the whole school gets a cold.” So can we learn from the bad bosses?  Absolutely.  But it is when we are connected to those amazing leaders, they will inspire us to inspire others, not simply say, “that is something I would never do!”  Here are a couple of lessons shared from this post:

Lesson: Let Your People Go. When you find great talent, do what you need to in order to encourage and support them. Treat them justly and do what’s right for them and the organization over what’s right for you personally. Give them opportunities to excel and succeed and air cover if they fail. Be willing to take “personal” risks for the right employee.

Lesson: Light the Fire and Clear the Path. Guide your people’s passion and get out of the way: the autonomy and freedom I was given to create and do my job exponentially increased my passion, excitement and success. My manager-mentors made sure my passions aligned with organizational direction, gave me some high-level boundaries, resources, and introductions to make it happen. They removed obstacles, showed me how to handle challenges, provided opportunities, and took the blame while giving me the credit.

What have some of your best bosses done?

3.  10 Words to Live ByMarc and Angel Hack Life is one of my favourite non-educational blogs as it provides simple ways to make your life better.  Although it can be a little “cheesy”, it is something worth discussing with kids as learning is very tough when we don’t have mental well-being.  Here is a sample of some of the writing from the latest post:

  1. Positivity – The things you think about, focus on, and surround yourself with ultimately shape who you become.  Choose to live with gratitude for the love that fills your heart, the peace that rests deep within your spirit, and the voice of hope that whispers, “All things are possible.”  Right now, pause for a moment and repeat after me: “What I think about and thank about, I will bring about in my life.”  Read The How of Happiness.
  2. Patience – Using time, pressure and patience, the universe gradually changes caterpillars into butterflies, sand into pearls, and coal into diamonds.  You’re being worked on too, so hang in there.  Just because something isn’t happening for you right now, doesn’t mean it will never happen.

Do you think our kids can learn from this type of blog? I sure do.

I hope you have a great week!  Definitely take the time to watch the video below that discusses the “deficit vs. strengths model” that we need to focus on in all levels of school.  Have a great week!

You Should Read…(July 29, 2012)

We have been travelling around Australia and we have seen some amazing things and have met some amazing people.  It is interesting to be on one side of the world with the time change, and see how many new people that you can connect with using Twitter at different times.  I have found some inspiring blogs/articles and feel like I have really expanded my learning network with some amazing educators from across the world.  I can only hope this continues to push my thinking.

Here are some great things that I found this week:

1.  Zen Pencils –  This is a great site that takes different poems or sayings from time, and puts them into a sort of “graphic novel” format.  I am becoming increasingly interested in visuals for learning and this site has some very cool stories that may become more student friendly.  Check out the “Life of Art”, which is a powerful poem on the importance of art in our world.  I also like how the artist shows the process of creating his art to share with the world.

2.  10 Things Parents Should UnlearnEdna Sackson has always been one of my favourite bloggers, and in this post, she discusses the importance of parents learning about how school has changed:

But many parents base their opinions on the only model of education with which they are familiar… their own schooling. Even if they are young parents, I’d like to hope schooling has changed since they went to school.

Edna goes on to list some things that parents should “unlearn” from what they may have been taught either at school or in their adult life (below are her first five):

1.  Learning is best measured by a letter or a number.

2. Product is more important than process and progress.

3. Children need to be protected from any kind of failure.

4. The internet  is dangerous for children.

5. Parents and teachers should discuss students without the learner present.

This is definitely an article that will promote some great discussion with your school and parent community.

3.  6 signs of a natural leader – Are leaders made or do they have skills that make it easier to naturally fit into this position? In this article, the author discusses perhaps some of the leadership qualities that are innate in some people and help them to achieve success in their pursuits.  Leadership is something that can, and should be developed, but are there certain people that are more likely to become leaders than others?

A busy manager who has to deal with all kinds of personalities within a team can overlook signs of leadership and instead see someone being difficult — perhaps asking too many questions, questioning their direction or stepping on their toes when it comes to guiding other members of the team.

While these behaviors can be initially challenging, they are all signs that the individual has the potential to be a great leader. It’s up to the manager to notice these signs, identify the leader and guide them in the right direction. Recognizing the personality traits is the first step so here are six signs of a natural leader.

Do effective leaders have to have similar qualities to be effective or can they range in types and personalities?  How much does that matter?

As a final post, I would love to share a video about the #1st5days movement that is starting to happen.  I believe that spending time at the beginning of the year with students, staff, or whomever you work with, is so important to the success of the year and your community.  Getting right down to the “nitty gritty” may seem to promote success, but does it really help to build it long term?  Check out the video below for some inspiration.

First Five Days: Day 3 from Alas Media on Vimeo.

I hope you have a great week! I am off to the wave pool :)

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

You Should Read…(July 22, 2012)

I have been connecting with so many amazing educators all over Australia and it is always inspiring to see how much educators continuously want to grow in their practice.  I was thinking about not doing this “weekly post” over the summer, but I have always written to share what I am learning.  Since I am still learning over my summer break, why would I not share it.

Here are some great links I found this week!

1.  You are a Difference MakerJeff Delp, who is amazingly awesome guy, is even more so in person.  To welcome back his staff to the school year, he openly shares his welcome back letter for everyone to learn.  This is a great idea to help continuously build the culture of your school while also setting the tone for the year.  Here is a snippet of what he writes:

When our students walk through the front gates on Monday morning, please remember thatyou are a difference maker!  The small gestures you make to welcome students, and demonstrate an interest in their lives, will have an impact.  There is tremendous power in a smile, a handshake, or an encouraging word.  In the coming year, you will have opportunities to build confidence where it hasn’t existed, develop connections that have never been present, and generate hope for students who’s academic careers have been marred by hopelessness.  All of these are truly super powers!During yesterday’s training, the presenters shared the following quote – a powerful reminder of our ability to make a difference (either positive, or negative).

To all of the educators out there, this is a great way to welcome your students and staff back.  Thanks to Jeff for sharing and hopefully it inspires many others to do the same!

2.  10 Things in Schools That Should be Obsolete – Just an awesome, quick to the point post, that gives us some ideas of how we can continuously improve our schools.  Here is one of the things the author believes we should get rid of:

ISOLATED CLASSROOMS. Tony Wagner of the Harvard School of Education and the author of the Global Achievement Gap says: “Isolation is the enemy of improvement” and yet most schools are designed in a way that isolates teachers from each other. Teachers often learn to teach in isolated boxes and perpetuate that style throughout their career. Interior windows get “papered over” and blinds are shut. Yet out of school, people work in teams and are visually and often aurally connected.

I often think about if we could start a school from scratch, would it look anything like it does now?  The “Blockbuster” video below from the Onion would help to also build upon this discussion.  Would we invest in a Blockbuster now?  In ten years, what will we be laughing at what we used to do in school?  (Check out the video below; awesome for a great laugh but to also spark some discussion.)

3. How computers can hurt schools –  Although technology is something we should be very comfortable using in our classrooms, relationships are key to what makes a great teacher.  If we really want education to become transformative, it is great teachers that will use technology in effective ways to improve and personalize learning that will really make a difference;  it is not simply having the technology.

For at least a century, school districts have bought new technologies to save money. They assume the kids will learn more with the new devices and the school won’t have to pay so many teachers. This has turned out to be false. Radio, film, television, computers and the Web have all been hailed as potential saviors of our schools. In each case they have had little effect without good teachers in charge.

There is so much more go having a “21st Century School” (I hate this term) than simply dumping a bunch of iPads in the classroom.  How we connect and what we do with technology is extremely important.

Wherever you are in the world, I hope you have a great week!


cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Ken Whytock

You Should Read… (July 8, 2012)

As I sit in the Vancouver Airport waiting for a flight to Sydney, I thought that I would continue to share some of the things that I am reading over the summer.  I think it is nice to keep up with different articles but I am enjoying looking into some different blogs.  It is nice however to have a break and just relax.  I think over summer you can have both (or winter which I will be experiencing in about 16 hours).

Here are some posts/things I saw this last week:

1.  Less Confident People Are More Successful – A friend set me onto the Harvard Business Review and I have read some great articles already but was really interested in this article.  I was actually kind of surprised at the idea that confident people would struggle.  Here is one point that I struggled with:

Lower self-confidence makes you pay attention to negative feedback and be self-critical:Most people get trapped in their optimistic biases, so they tend to listen to positive feedback and ignore negative feedback. Although this may help them come across as confident to others, in any area of competence (e.g., education, business, sports or performing arts) achievement is 10% performance and 90% preparation. Thus, the more aware you are of your soft spots and weaknesses, the better prepared you will be.

What I struggled with here is that it would seem confident people would be more willing to accept criticism and move forward with it than someone who lacks it.  A confident person would be able to take that feedback and realize it is not personal, but an effort to make some better.  Am I way off here?  What are your thoughts?

2.  Letters to a first year teacher (Compilation) – This is just a cool little resource that has a lot of inspiring words for both new and experienced teachers.  Something that is definitely worth looking at as many prepare for their next school year.

3.  The Evolution of a LectureJeff Utecht, who has some amazing ideas and does some very cool things with his students, talked about what many still know which is that the lecture still has a place in our schools.  Just as many complain about PowerPoint presentations, the reality is, if used properly, that type of lecture can still be useful.  The reality of it is that if done with some interactivity, the lecture can be a quite informative piece of the classroom:

There are so many ways to engage your audience when giving a lecture that it should be just what we expect from a lecture in today’s digitally connected world.

We also know more about the brain then ever before and know the brain needs processing time, or think time about every 10 minutes. Which is why whenever I’m giving a talk, about every 10 minutes I give the audience a 3 minute talk and process time. This also allows me to look at notes, chat rooms, tweets, or whatever system I have set up and reflect on how the lecture is going, see where I need to make changes and adapt to the audience. Again TED Talks are so good because they are no longer than 18 minutes and most are much shorter than that. Giving us that perfect chunk of knowledge that we can handle, process, and make meaning of.

Jeff offers some great suggestions of how you can improve the lecture using technology and engaging students in a different way.  Definitely take a look at the article.

Alec Couros (who actually blogged twice this week!) shared this really powerful image of a “life in 3 pictures”.  It is emotional to say the least:

I also thought this video of someone conducting an interview with themselves from 20 years ago was a pretty cool highlight this week:

My flight is boarding and I am off to Sydney!  Have a great week!

You Should Read… (June 17, 2012)

Only a few more weeks until school is over for many in Canada but the learning will continue throughout the summer, anytime we are open to it.  Here are some links that I found interesting this week:

1.  Amplify the Positive Outliers – Seth Godin, one of the most popular bloggers on the Internet, talks about the importance of building culture by highlighting the work of those that are making a change:

“The tribe is hyper-aware of what’s being celebrated, and when you celebrate those that are moving in the right direction, you create a powerful push in that direction. It’s tempting to spend your time extinguishing bad behaviors, but in fact, spreading the word about the superstars is far more likely to change the culture of your market.”

Cultures are so important in the work that we do at schools, so this leads nicely into the next post.

2.  Starting the Conversation on Rethinking Awards CeremoniesChris Wejr, a good friend and principal, often talks about how awards impact our students, and provides this post to help schools start the conversation.  He asks some great questions:

  • Does your year-end awards ceremonies and/or student of the month program align with your school vision, plan and/or goals?
  • What does research say about the use of awards/prizes to motivate (or demotivate) learning?
  • At which age do awards become necessary – 5? 10? 15?  Why?
  • How much of the award is based on culture, language, parents (particularly cultural capital and income) and teachers that the winner has/had and how much is based on the person’s work ethic?

So where is the balance between highlighting the great work that is being done by our outliers, but also building a culture of collaboration?  These two pieces will provide a good starting point for that conversation.

3. The Best Twitter Hashtags for Teachers – Just a simple article to help teachers start using Twitter to do their own learning.  This offers some great connections to Twitter hashtags in the classrooms, but it leaves out two that I follow exclusively which are #ConnectedCA and #CPChat.  Which ones do you follow for your learning?

4.  I love this picture from 22 Words about cheating:

We have to look at what “cheating” means in our schools today.  If collaboration is a skill we are promoting in skills and organizations are begging their employees have, does cheating in our schools today look the same?  Something that I have said to many groups when I have been asked about the concern of using Google to cheat on a test is that if you can look up the answer to test on Google, is the question very good?

Maybe this picture can start some conversations on the topic of cheating and collaboration.

Hope you have a great week!

You Should Read… (June 10, 2012)

As many of us go into summer vacation, we have big plans about what we are going to do going into summer, and how we are going to come back better as educators in the fall.  I wanted to share a few of my favourite stories/videos, that give me that little extra push to get out of bed in the morning and get better.  I hope you enjoy them.

1.  World’s Strongest Dad –  I first heard about this story when I read Rick Reilly’s article in Sports Illustrated, and I was blown away when I saw the video.  An amazing story of the bond between father and son.

2. The Derek Redmond Story – This is easily one of the most emotional stories that I have ever seen from the Olympics. Again, it involves a father and son, but more importantly, it is about never giving up.

3. Are you going to finish strong? – When we often complain about what we are missing in our lives, we often forget about what we have. This short speech made by this amazing man to a group of students talks about how we need to continuously get back up. Watching the kids hug the speaker at the end is as emotional as his speech.

4. How bad do you want it? (Part 2) – This video is not only for those who enjoy an active lifestyle, but it talks about the dedication it takes to be successful. I loved the first video in this series, but this one talks about the dedication it takes to be successful. I listen to the words in this video when I work out, over and over again, and it really pushes me. Hopefully you find some use of it the message.

5. Will Smith on Success – I was blown away by the words of wisdom and dedication to excellence that I saw from Will Smith. With lots of great little quotes and thoughts, this is a great video for discussion in the classroom. It is definitely worth watching.

Hopefully one of these videos have inspired you! Have a great week!

You Should Read… (June 3, 2012)

People are often muddied by the waters of technology believing that all of the learning that happens through social media is either about technology or, more specifically, social media itself.  There is so much that I have learned about the areas of leadership, assessment, school culture, pedagogy, and a host of other topics that have both personal and professional meaning.  I have learned about them through strictly informational sites but I have also learned a lot through the people that I have connected with.  There is so many opportunities for learning out there that many would not even know where to begin.  That is one of the reasons I try to provide this summary of some of the posts that I have read.  Here are a few this week:

1.  To learn or not to learn, that is the questionKathryn Kindrat, one of the participants of Parkland School Division’s Learning Leader Project, writes her final reflection about the program and shares how sometimes the technology can be overwhelming.  She also discusses the importance of focusing in on learning a few specific things, not trying to learn everything:

My challenge to you, a challenge that I have also given myself, is to successfully implement three new technology related tools in your classroom next year, then share your successes/challenges with your school and the division through PD and blogging/Twitter. In order to successfully implement a few, it is likely that you will need to experiment with many; this phase has already started. The great thing, is that none of us have to do it alone!

The cool thing about the learning leader project is that through the reflections that the participants had, I as the facilitator learned a great deal myself.  The David Weinberger quote that “the smartest person in the room is the room”, holds true in this case.

2. How To Change an OrganizationI personally have talked about the importance of school culture, but in this Leadership Freak post, the author discusses the importance of leadership and the types of climates that they create:

Culture but how? If you want to change an organization – grow new leaders.

Manville said, “The most successful organizational culture changes I’ve seen were framed as leadership development programs.

Cultures change when:

  1. You catalyze new kinds of leadership.
  2. More and more people take leadership.”

Brook said, “The king and subject model doesn’t change cultures.”Great leaders don’t change people; they create environments where people change themselves.

Leadership programs are more important than ever in our schools/districts, but it is essential that we look at continuously developing those programs as well to reflect the changes in our world as well.  If you are using the same leadership program that your organization used 10 years ago, would it not be outdated?

3.  Ways to use Facebook Effectively in Class – I am all for using social media in schools although I do believe that “friending” students is not good practice.  With that being said, this is a great article on some ways that you can use a social network that is used by almost a billion people in the world.

Facebook as a communication platform can be used to present ideas, for online discussions, to share interesting and relevant material — including websites, video and images — and as a way for educators to connect with their students.

There is concern from school administrators and teachers that connecting to students online may have more detrimental effect than benefit — due to inappropriate communication or content, privacy exploitation or cyberbullying. However, if the correct strictures are put in place and content is monitored, then social media can become a valuable an interactive teaching tool.

To finish, I would like to share this awesome Nike video.  I think the idea of “stories” are so powerful, and sites like YouTube provide such a great opportunity to share these stories that move people to make a difference in their own lives or the lives of others.

I hope you have a great week!

Being Realistic

You Should Read…(May 7, 2012)

Twitter is such a powerful tool for connecting and learning.  Conferences in other cities can be attended virtually through following a simple hashtag.  Links can be shared, while also following conversations that educators are having about certain topics.  I really believe that it is always better to be face-to-face, but when we don’t have those opportunities, we can still be opened to a world of learning.

For an example of this, I am going to share links from watching, via Twitter, the IT Summit in Saskatoon that is happening right now.  You can actually follow the information and conversation that is happening as it happens over the next few days by searching the #ITSummit12 hashtag on Twitter (whether you have a Twitter account or not).  Here are some of the links that I caught from my brother’s keynote this morning.

1.  My Favorite Liar – This post starts off with, “One of my favorite professors in college was a self-confessed liar.”  An interesting statement about the methods used in this course to keep the attention of students, while also promoting them to challenge ideas and critically think about the information being shared.  This is a great skill we need to teach our children as move them away from an education system built upon compliance and subversiveness.  Thinking is a skill that can be continuously honed and crafted, and this method helped sharpen the saw for many:

“This was an insidiously brilliant technique to focus our attention – by offering an open invitation for students to challenge his statements, he transmitted lessons that lasted far beyond the immediate subject matter and taught us to constantly check new statements and claims with what we already accept as fact.”

Definitely an interesting article and something teachers should consider in their classroom.

2.  Digital Storytelling (Resources) – This compilation of resources and articles on Digital Storytelling created by Alec Couros is a great way to not only discuss the topic of Digital Storytelling, but it is also a great way to display how a Google Doc can be used to quickly make a webpage to share and link resources.    Making a webpage years ago took quite awhile, but with Google Docs, familiarity with Microsoft Word and being able to ‘share’ the document are all you need to get information out that is updated continuously.  Some great resources are shared here but it might also spur people on to share or collaborate with others to make their own document.

3.  Nine Dangerous Things That You Were Taught in School – Although this article was not shared in the links, I did find it by clicking on the “Creating Innovators” link from the keynote.  This short and sweet article would be a great discussion piece for any staff meeting on the continuous changes that are happening in schools.  Here is one of the ‘dangers’ that was listed:

There is a very clear, single path to success.
It’s called college. Everyone can join the top 1% if they do well enough in school and ignore the basic math problem inherent in that idea.

One of the final things that I would like to share is this hilarious video on the Video Rental industry and how things have changed significantly.  Again, this would be a great discussion piece for educators to talk about some of the out of date practices that are happening in our schools.  Check out the video below:


Thanks to Alec for sharing his links with the audience as well as the world.  The world is becoming so much smaller and it is amazing how easily we can all learn together.