Posts Tagged ‘dougpete’

In typical Twitter fashion the connections between education folks has Kevin Bacon’s six degrees beaten hands down. Lisa Parisi, Brian Aspinall and Doug Peterson lobbed the ball to me (among others) to complete this blog meme. Lee Kolbert‘s challenge connects many of us.
Be sure to read all the way to the end because you may have been tagged to do this on your own blog.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers.
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

11 Random Facts About Me

      1. I’m a Creative Writing and English Literature double major.
      2. I love French toast, cooking it, sharing it, eating it. (real maple syrup only.)
      3. Before becoming a vegetarian in 2004, I could put away 2 Big Macs, a 9 piece chicken nuggets, a large fry and a chocolate shake. Scary.
      4. I put myself through university as Marmalade, goofy side-kick and jester for Canadian children’s entertainer Beebo. I played instruments, sang and danced but mostly acted like a clown for cheap laughs and children’s smiles.
      5. I can moon walk and do the worm. I do the worm (on the front lawn) on the last day of school every year as the buses leave.
      6. The second album I ever purchased was Michael Jackson’s Thriller on cassette tape.
      7. A team of 4, including myself and my wife, created two of the first academic “hypertext” websites for the University of Windsor, English Department. Christina Rossetti, Romantics Writer was our subject. We had to code every line. Our prof. would only mark the work if it was printed and bound. That is hilarious!
      8. I married my high school sweetheart.
      9. I cannot do the Rubik’s cube. Not even one side.
      10. I share a birthday with my first Principal as a teacher. – Mrs Keillor.
      11. I’m qualified to drive a semi, fully rigged transport truck in case this principal thing doesn’t work out.

11 Answers to Lisa and Doug’s Questions (I mixed and mingled them)

1. My favourite quote is:

“For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.” ~ Carl Sagan From his fictional work entitled Contact. A piece of writing that inspires me to do my best as an educator is given to us by George Bernard Shaw:

“This is the true joy in life, that being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

2. Have you been to a concert?

A tonne of them. I am an Indie rock fan so my favorite spot is Magic Stick in Detroit. You can see great bands early in their career. The venue is small, the amps are loud. The building also houses The D’s oldest bowling alley downstairs.

3. Favourite book as a child:

In grade 5 Mrs. White read Robert C. O’Brien’s “Z for Zachariah “. I was captivated every day she read it and to this day it remains the only book I have read more than twice. I subsequently forgot to return it to the Maplewood school library and it is still in my possession to this day.

5. What movie do you think everyone should see and why?

I don’t answer should questions.

A movie that changed my perspective and ultimately changed my lifestyle is “The Cove”. I love documentaries. This one made the four of us weep (my kids included) As a family we do not purchase tuna and visit zoos or marine parks any more.

6. What is your favorite park?

My favourite park is “Big Hill Park” in Essex where I grew up. The kids named it that. The park is 3kms from my house with a man-made hill in the middle. I remember going down the hill on my bike for the first time when I was 8 years old. I took my son down the hill on his bike just this summer. The look on his face reminded me of the feeling I had. Exhilaration. Funny part…my home is taller than the hill.

7. What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

Most of those need to stay out of the print medium so my son doesn’t try them as a teenager. A double black diamond in Sunshine Valley, Maine was crazy. It was a natural run with trees and powder, like something out of a Warren Miller film. It was the closest I’ve ever come to actually flying. My brother-in-law bailed on his snow board and we thought he’d caused an avalanche. I have the whole event on video tape in my mind. It was awesome! Then there was the hike into the Tofino, old growth rainforest to the natural hot spring on my honeymoon to Vancouver Island. We started in at dusk. We didn’t have flashlights. My wife hits me in the arm to this day when I bring it up.

8. What are you better at than anyone else you know?

Easy, my hand written signature. I’ve been working on it for years.

I’ve been told in educational settings that at critical moments in meetings and conversations, both formal and informal, I use silence very well and know just the right questions to ask to keep the conversation critically productive. Critically productive does not mean comfortable. That being said. I’m self-aware that my biggest strength is also my double weakness.

9. If you were to know any language other than English what would it be?

Anishinabek / Ojibwe – I have a deep respect for First Nations people and culture. I would love to be able to speak the language and teach it to ensure it lives on. It is an honest and clear language. So far I understand that things are described in very natural terms, there is seemingly no hyperbole to distract the communicators from the truth.

10. What is the best picture you have taken?

My partner Tricia is the family photographer and my sister is a professional. For me though I got this one completely by accident last March break. I credit @jaxbeachteach for convincing me to stop off at Neptune Beach outside of Jacksonville, Florida on the way home.


11. What is your dream vacation?

This year I started a 4 over 5 with the intent to travel to 3 different continents during the year away from work. We have a family goal to write a book while away. We are busy narrowing down our list of 100 to 10 things we must see or do on the planet.

I nominate these great people to have fun with this activity: (If you don’t have a blog let this be your “About Page.”)

Jodie Nardone: @IteachELL
Zoe Cowper: @Zozibella
Shannon Hazel: @Shannonhazel73
Terri Barrette: @teach_terri
Connie Ellis Leclair: @ConnieEllis
Kelly Moore: @kellmoor
Chris Knight: @knightchris
Jenny Ashby: @jjash
Shelly Pike: @shelpike
Aviva Dunsiger: @avivaloca
James Shelly: @JamesShelley (my first twitter conversation ever)

Here are your 11 Questions:

1. What has been one of your most significant learning experiences?

2. Talk about something that, for you, reason can still not explain.

3. Rural living or big city life, why?

4. How did you get your name?

5. Name something you couldn’t live without.

6. If you were a professional wrestler what would your name be?

7. What are you pretending not to know?

8. If I dumped out your junk drawer what would I find?

9. What is a powerful lesson you learned from a parental figure?

10. Where were you on 9 / 11 / 2001?

11. If you could give all your time and wealth to a charity…who/what?

I need to mention this to Doug, Brian and Lisa…this blog post took me longer to format than the previous 80.

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Cross-Post Thursday!

Today’s Blog post is a cross-post shared by Doug Peterson of Off the Record.   The interview took me some time so cheating here and using it in my 21 day event made sense.  I’ve had the honour of knowing Doug for some time.  Since I came on to teaching  actually.  He has been influential to so many educators by turning them on to some new tool that invoked critical thought or creativity in students.  Want to know what is going on in innovative Ontario classrooms?  Follow Off the Record.  You will be in the know.

An Interview with James Cowper

Posted on October 22, 2013 by @dougpete

I’ve had the pleasure to work with James Cowper in a couple of schools where he has served the Greater Essex County District School Board as an administrator.  He’s a supporter of teachers, as you would expect from an administrator, but he also “walks the walk” when it comes to using technology in education.  Recently, we met for a coffee to chat and solve all of the world’s problems and that served as a launchpad for this interview.

Doug:  Thanks, James, for sharing your thoughts via this blog post.

James:  No problem Doug.  I am happy to talk and listen with you.  I am quite flattered that you wanted to hear my thoughts and stories of days in the schoolhouse working with learners of all ages!  I appreciate it.  Thanks.

Doug:  I recall our first encounters with technology – it seems so long ago that you were involved in a technology project when you were at Mill Street Public School in Leamington.  What did you learn from working with students at Mill Street?

James:  I learned that kids are kids everywhere you go.  I came in on the front end of an ICT project in which recycled computers along with millions of meters of RJ45 (EthernetPicture1 cable) were deployed to a 350 pupil K-8 school.  The computers had competent capabilities and the staff and students were anxious to use them.  What I learned about kids and computers was that it is the creativity that we must exercise with the tools of the trade.  Using the computers, funny I don’t even call them that anymore, to drill and kill or surf and turf is just not the ticket.  Kids need to create, collaborate and communicate with the technology.  I learned an awful lot about what not to do with technology funny enough.  Of course we were doing the best that we could do at the time.  PL around the high-end use of the devices was not structured or supported in a way that would lead to critical use of the tools.  I learned that you couldn’t fool kids.  Saying that computers engage kids and then using them as word processors, encyclopedias and digital worksheets only lasts so long.  If you do this for too long the kids will video you teaching the class, put it to music, morph Albert Einstein’s head onto your body and post the video for all their tweeps to see.  Seriously.  It is not the computers or the iPads that “engage” kids.  It is the access to the world, the creative quotient and the ease of collaboration that engages them.  Those things are not done with a device, a computer alone.  They must be married to the facilitation and supervision of a learning teacher.

Doug:  Since that time, you have been promoted to Principal at Eastwood Public School in Windsor.  During our coffee, you indicated that you’ve been there for five years now.  So, a question – if someone is making their first trip to Eastwood – what would they see that would invoke the understanding that this school really has its act together with respect to Technology?

Picture3James:  Well, we don’t have hover boards and wear silver suits yet.  Kids are not glued to screens with robotic teachers.  Books and board games is still the best part of the day at first nutrition break so I am not sure you would really be able to see a difference.  I apologize for my sarcasm.  I mean no offence.  Really.  If you had asked me what school would look like in the year 2013 when I was in grade 5 I would have said flying in cars and learning from robots!   (I think Ms. McTavish assigned that project!) You can feel a difference at Eastwood School.  At least that is what almost every visitor has said to me at one point or another.  What you can feel is a calm energy that comes when we are all functioning at very close wavelengths.  Kids are working at learning and teachers are learning while working.  It is symbiotic.  The technology that is incorporated into the day and the learning is organic.  Getting an iPad is not a monumental event.  Students do not run full tilt to the power cart.  It sits open and students get them when they need them.  There are no more labs.  We do not covet our tools in closets or the Principal’s office to gather dust.  I would say that the novelty of the device is gone.  What is left is a new type of pen and pencil.  Kids view them as tools to do the business of learning.  It is not the device that has made the difference at Eastwood it is the inherent connectivity that has.  The device without Wi-Fi access would be like having a Porsche without tires.  You can enjoy the look and the rev of that awesome engine you just couldn’t go anywhere.  Kids do walk around with devices.  We have BYOD norms.  Before you even walked in the door you would recognize we have a pretty substantial online presence.  Short of that we have a staff that continue to learn and grow in the area of tech. utilization, integration and content creation.  We are as careful as we can be with regards to where and how we spend our limited budget dollars.  We also are always looking for innovative ways to build community partnerships.  Two years ago we were awarded a reading grant, the first in the district, and we gained the opportunity to spend eighty thousand dollars on learning resources.  So as a school that has its act together I would say that we have found the reasonable and appropriate place to infuse technological tools to enhance our learning.  I would say that we have been responsible digital citizens.  I would also say we’ve lots to learn and much work to do.

Thanks Doug for allowing me to share here.  If you wish to read the interview in its entirety please follow the links to Off the Record.

Tomorrow’s post–Hey Principals!  Are Those Teachers on Twitter?

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