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With a month to go I am getting very excited for our second EdCampSWO this year being held at Tilbury High-school in Kent County. This year we are innovating by offering a few sessions from EdCampLondon, being held simultaneously, over WiFi!

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Here are my top 5 reasons to attend EdCampSWO.

5. Collaborate. Leading up to the day of our event I get to collaborate with amazing people. Brian Aspinall, David Fife, Sue Bruyns and the entire team for EdCampSWO are some of the most dedicated and innovative eds I have met. This year the collaboration has extended to working with EdCampLondon folks in order to offer simultaneous EdCamps with virtual connections using google hangout and LiveStream (Listen to @dougpete speak on An Educators Digital Footprint at 1 pm!) The collaboration keeps me on the cutting edge of understanding learning innovations. The collaboration deepens when I sit back and listen to the individuals who have chosen to use their Saturday to connect with other educators and continues long after the event.

4. Dialogue. Human understanding evolves by way of dialogue between mutually passionate perspectives. Conversation at EdCamp crosses the line into dialogue. When speaking with educators about professional learning the common theme of dialogue comes through. Educators appreciate and yearn for the dialogue that drives deeper understanding and allows them to share risks, mistakes, successes and celebrations. EdCamp provides safe space to do this. Participants choose where to dialogue, what about and with whom. If the dialogue does not meet the participants learning needs they are free to move to a space that does.

3. Own Your Learning. At EdCamp participants run the show. They determine the sessions, deliver the sessions and create the content by virtue of the dialogue that happens within the session. Participants vote with their feet. If they are not feeling it they are encouraged to leave and find a session more suited to their needs. One cannot possibly get to all sessions. At EdCampSWO we have the capacity for upwards of 50 sessions. Participants can go as deep or shallow as they wish. The learning is free of charge and costs the participants only the time they decide to devote to the learning. This is a day to extend your PLN with F2F meet ups, take risks by sharing your learning story and challenge your current classroom practise.

2. Technology Integration and “SAMR.” At EdCampSWO we can guarantee you will learn of some innovations using technology to the power of SAMR! Teachers step up and share apps, tools, devices and other innovations that are capturing student voice and learning and further redefining learning in their classrooms. Teachers are leveraging the tools in the classroom to deepen understanding and broaden applications of students’ critical thinking.

1. Leadership Exercise. Whether you come to EdCampSWO with a plan to step up or to make room you are coming with a growth mindset. By joining us you are exercising your leadership potential. Your students are relying on you to find new ways, seek new understanding and change methodologies in order to meet their needs. To do these things, to learn essentially, you need to exercise your leadership and change your way of doing things, permanently. Bravo.

We trust that you will have a great experience at EdCampSWO this year. Please take the time to register, participate, present and buy the T-Shirt!

We can’t wait to see everyone!

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First things first:  A thanks to the team from edcampSWO 2012!

The event would never have taken place without the dedicated efforts of:

@shannonhazel, teacher GECDSB

@mraspinall, teacher LKDSB

@globeandtims, teacher WECDSB

@TOBluejay12, administrator GECDSB

@CCHBiology, teacher WECDSB

@mrwideen, teacher GECDSB

@mrswideen, teacher GECDSB

Thanks also too:

@knightchris, consultant GECDSB

@sadone, administrator / consultant WECDSB

N.Fegahli, teacher GECDSB

The Students from Catholic Central Highschool (for being our welcome, sign in and video crew!)

These individuals came through huge in order to secure sponsors, get t-shirts made, take care of food, troubleshoot technology, create websites and SM and generate ticket sales.  They did all of this splendidly in order to pull off the first event of its kind at the University of Windsor, Faculty of Education.  It is rather interesting to note that all of our plans were done through google+, hangout, email, twitter DMs, texts and one 45 minute f2f meeting.  Preparations begin on the car ride home from edcampDetroit in May and ended the morning of October 13, 2012.  Amazing times we live in!

Preparing for an edcamp is scary.  As I stated the morning of the event; you make all the plans, secure the venue, pump out your message via SM/Blogs and then pray people will show up.  And that is not the end of it.  After you have 80+ educators in the room you then start to pray, even beg, for folks to sign up on the matrix board to facilitate a conversation, evoke a question or present and share some valued information.  Prayers were answered (thanks Chad and Ian) as we had 65% of our ticket takers show up, 15 % send regrets and 20% no shows.  As for #2, because of the participant driven Professional Learning, we offered  21 sessions: 10 conversations and 11 presentations.

Our session matrix had 21 options!

The University of Windsor, Faculty of Education, and specifically Dean Clinton Beckford and Dr. Finney Cherian were our gracious hosts on the day of the event.  The University provided the space, the custodial staff and free WiFi for the day to edcampSWO.  Without this location the day would never have run so smoothly.  Hosting an edcamp at the Faculty of Education brought with it an inherent feeling of professionalism and eliminated any chance that the locale would determine specific board dominance.  We came together to learn and we learned differently on Saturday.  We learned with autonomy by offering, selecting and participating in learning that we determined we needed based on our reflections and dialogue.  As a result educators left with new ideas, action steps and most likely something new to try with kids on Monday!  Most also left with plans to hit #edcampDetroit in May!

Thanks to all participants that came and stepped up to the plate.  We look forward to hearing about your work with students as a result of your learning at edcampSWO!

We had a great day.  While reflecting on the learning at the Rock Bottom afterglow we secured two more edcampSWO leaders!  We also guaranteed that there will be an edcampSWO 2013.

I have a call to make to Dean Beckford first thing tomorrow morning!

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A video that was inspired by @Johnwink90 ‘s 136 character tweet.

On Saturday, July 18, I participated in #satchat.  I had some time while the kids were playing Plants versus Zombies (the “Cowper Game App of the Summer!”).   I had a coffee and my partner was reading beside me.  I figured….why not.  The topic of the day was “Back to School” and leading us was @DCulberhouse.  I knew that the majority of the educators were West Coasties and I was interested in their take on Back to School.  Of course there were many other participants from all over North America.  Until the spammers got ahold of the hashtag things were going great.  Of course the infiltration of spammers has nothing to do with the good people leading or participating in #satchat.  On the contrary.  The fact that we were trending a topic on a Saturday morning across the continent (and warranted the most inappropriate spam) speaks volumes about the quality of the 140 character content.

As @dougpete explains in What does Twitter for PD Mean; Twitter can be a launching pad:


The best learning for me happens when the conversation takes off and doesn’t necessarily stay in the social media.  I like following the links – take me to news reports, research, forums, wikis, and blogs where the meaty stuff resides.  You don’t get the full monty 140 characters at a time but like the library card catalogue, it should be there to tease and inform you about where the good stuff is.

After reading @dougpete’s blog entry and considering many conversations with incredible learning leaders like @kellypower and @globeandtims I continue to rehash the essential question:  Is Twitter a Professional Learning tool?

Well, in this particular instance,:

  1. I participated in the chat on Saturday with a group of like-minded educators passionate about learning and opening the school year (from all over North America).
  2. I learned of a myriad of ways other leaders are handling logistical issues that are ever-present in the first weeks of school.
  3. I grabbed a few nuggets of wisdom that resonated with me.
  4. I learned of many ideas, best practises and innovations for having a successful Back to School Night.
  5. I learned of one Principal (@JohnWink90) making “How To” videos for his parents and community.
  6. I made the committment to “give it a go” (thanks for the lingo @jessmcculloch) myself with an iPad, iMovie and our Eastwood Eagles YouTube account.
  7. I filmed the entire video using my own children and a few adult helpers as “actors” on the very same day.
  8. I then sent the video to three individuals (@avivaloca being one), I have never met face to face, for their perspective and assistance (as well as an administrator in a neighbouring district.)
  9. I also sent the video to two Vice Principals in my district for their perspective and assistance.
  10. Finally I uploaded the video to our school blog and mailed it directly to our faculty (we have some new faces)

I have captured the moment I got the idea with this image:

This endeavour involved professionals, learning, technology tools, acting (doing) and reflecting.  I will undoubtedly get feedback from the community, other school leaders and the kids.  Granted there is not a direct impact on student achievement.  I still believe firmly that the reason I engaged in the entire process was because I am a member of an ever-expanding professional learning network through Twitter.  Again, in this instance the power of social media lead to deeper learning experiences.

For me Twitter has not been the best professional learning I have ever engaged in.  I believe that saying this is hyperbole.  On the contrary I have had some incredibly moving learning experiences with one, two or three people in a room making dialogue over work, learning, dilemmas or successes of our profession.  These are the professional learning experiences that have been the most riveting and influential.  Funny thing is. . . without Twitter I may not have had the opportunity to have these conversations with the likes of those mentioned above (not to mention the 34 #UnPlugd12 -ers from last weekend!).  Twitter has turned me on to some individuals who have led me to question, bolster, appreciate, act on and essentially change my perspective on just about everything I have learned to this point.

Thanks good sir.  I hope it helps our school community this September.  I am going to have some fun filming a trailer for this academic year next!

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I have embarked on a major project as part of my NSDC Academy Class of 2011.  I am working with 20 other elementary administrators like myself in some ways and very different in some ways.  We are engaging and learning together with a critical friend from another jurisdiction on the continent.  Our critical friend is a fellow learner, administrator and a skilled facilitator of adult professional learning.  The goal of my work is to enhance, develop or initiate the facilitative leader in all of us.  We are building on leadership skills that we all have.  We are building on the facilitative skills that lie in the realm of pressure and support.  We are working in the realm of relationships and protocols for engagement.  We are working so we may harness the true power and expertise of our teachers for improved student achievement.

First things first.  I am using technology to engage with my counterparts.  Using Twitter, Blogs, YouTube, Wikis and Google proved to be far to complex for many of my colleagues.  The learning curve was simply too steep for many.  I went to the one stop shop for professional educators:  The School Improvement Networks, PD360.  This on demand professional learning experience is tailored for educators.  It combines almost all the components of the above mentioned network tools in one place.  There are limitations however.

I look forward to updating this blog entry regularly as it will serve as my journal for my work with colleagues.  So far…14 of 22 have signed in for the first time.  Not bad.  We have two different physical meetings scheduled including our first….how to….coming up soon.  In all we will be working through protocols for PLCs from the School Reform Initiative and Michael Fullan’s newest Motion Leadership.

There is work to be done.  I am doing the work alongside my friends and colleagues.  I am engaged in and implementing the learning simultaneously.  Exciting and tiring.  Our kids are worth it.

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Clearly technology is not the sole answer to the teaching  learning gap.  It is just another channel to watch.  I view Twitter dialogue (#edchat) as a Protocol for my learning.  140 characters is concise to say the least.  A person of my loquaciousness needs boundaries.  Twitter gives me that structure.  Because it is on the public timeline I have also maintained public integrity.  I know that my digital existence is infinite.  I will be held accountable for my words.  Thus there are inherent “norms”.  My efforts are to get my colleagues to the table to discuss the issues in the same light.  I do not have a lack of faith or belief in any of us.  I know that people don’t “hate” me for talking it up.  On the contrary I understand that each of us has deep understanding for the role that education has played in our lives and we wish to provide that to our communities.  Technology is one avenue to get to that conversation outside of the time crunch and certainly outside of your circle of influence.  I have pictures of technoids sitting in rooms with handhelds engaging in Tweetups!  This is a structured protocol.

My friend’s email was included as a response because it helps me recognize the obstacles to having other educational leaders join the conversations.  I respect my friend immensely and thus view these perceptions as real concerns and obstacles for other professional educators.

  1. The time needed to learn the technology.
  2. The superficiality of the “Twitterverse”.
  3. The feeling that being self-referential is a bad thing.

1.  The technological learning curve is actually quite steep.  With the likes of WordPress, Twitter,  and other Web 2.0 applications that are web based there really is no length of time to learning these pieces of software.  There are oodles of people willing to help you once you are actually plugged in. 

2.  It is simple, only follow those people who offer something to your professional learning profile.  When they stop offering something to your professional learning profile stop following them.  Likewise you will notice that you can allow only those people you feel are following you for professional learning reasons.  Sure the web is full of stuff that just isn’t adding to the collective social consciousness of the world.  So are book stores.

3.  Delete self-referential and insert self-reflective.  T.W.I.T.T.E.R.-The World’s Intellectuals Taking Turns Exchanging Resources.  This was a Twitter post late last week by an educator I follow.  “Resources” are practical applications, web resources or could simply be the ideas, feelings, opinions and experiences that keep your mind actively assimilating new information.  Twitter provides a timeline for your self-reflection.  The self reflection you offer can stimulate others self-reflection.  It is essentially self-reflection for collective wisdom.  Please do not tell us what you had for breakfast.

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A recent Blog by dougpete  (How Time Changes)  helped me continue an internal dialogue where I am attempting to support my Elementary Principal counterparts in joining me in the Twitterverse once a week  as their time permits.   As an NSDC academy class of 2011 I have determined personal learning networks are a great place to  begin the conversation about helping my Principals become the facilitators of professional learning in their respective school houses .  I will actually use a portion of his post here.

“One of the other topics of discussion for us dealt with having administrators lead and model this new approach so that teachers and students are encouraged to do their best.  Why isn’t this happening everywhere.  I hypothesized that it’s because of the level of transparency that the new approaches requires.  In the good old days, when your creations were a project or a document,  you had total control over who sees and, more importantly, comments and evaluates it.  As educators, we all grew up in a system where there were clearly right and wrong answers.  Taking the results of these tools and publishing for the world (or at least a portion of it) to see is a big risk.  What if I make a typo?  What if someone vehemently disagrees?  What if I blog and someone posts something inappropriate?  What if I post something to Twitter and draw the ire of everyone with a keyboard?  It’s not so easy.  It’s not so comfortable.”  (dougpete)

The conversation does continue dougpete….. I have noticed with Twitter alone the professional adults I am surrounded by daily ask “Is that like the social networking thing?”  Trying to qualify the applications (or their lack of participation) with one singular definition.  I have started saying “No, it is a 4 dimensional social learning tool which allows you to participate in conversations far beyond your current 3D world.”  They then look at me kind of funny.  I am going to have to come up with a better sales pitch. 

I believe you are right when you talk transparency.  Transparent to a “twitter native” means exposing your life because mainstream media has coloured the picture of social networking with the brush of “Hollywood.”  The real power of twitter is for our colleagues to publicize their learning and then invite other colleagues into that conversation in an effort to do the same.  I had a wonderful quote in my session at NSDC two days ago. . . “Outside ideas of wrong doing and right doing there is a field, meet me there.”  Rumi.  The field is the PLN and all educators will eventually find their way there.  Lets continue to point to that place when people come to us for directions. 

Sitting here this morning in the lobby I walked to “the field” with Crystal from Buffalo.  She is a staff developer (and an Academy Class of 2011 member) and looking for a way to communicate with her teachers.  I presume that the new 4D world of twitter will generate some new learning.  Keep it up Crystal.

Are you a Principal with the GECDSB?  If so….join me.  Lets learn.

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