Sharing and Telling Stories

I am still thinking about so many things walking into the start of my week after a full Saturday and Sunday at the GAFE Summit in Vancouver. New ideas of what is possible in education have caused me to reflect on how I want to be doing more. It is invigorating and life giving to be part of a community that is dedicated to changing education. The community has realized that educational reform is going to take a willingness to share and work together.  I do feel like every person that attended the GAFE conference walked away with something- a new paradigm, techie trick, or  new contact.  This weekend, I was reminded that sharing and telling stories are at the centre of building communities and generating momentum for change.


The GAFE Summit was filled with the spirit of community and of sharing. Every breakout session had the slides and resources posted online for attendees to read, glean, and share. It was a member of the Google team that said, “It is the conference that keeps giving,” because the sessions continue to live online for re-visiting. You can go to any summit, anywhere in the world, for the past 3 years and read, glean, and then re-share. Here is the detailed sessions with links to the presentations from this weekend –

I was able to learn many new features like: 2 -click collaboration functions with GoogleDocs, Chrome extensions like, save as PDF and save on GDrive, and various add ons (Doctopus and Goobric) to use in Google Spreadsheets among others found here .  There were useful videos and analogies and websites and presentations galore. There was so much that was useful that it was somewhat overwhelming. As a framework, the two days had current topics of technology integration, digital citizenship, and educational change that served as appropriate bookends at the breakout sessions. It served as a confirmation to the direction and ideas I am sharing in my district.

Beyond the content, the conference offered a community of people who were willing to share and tell stories. It was this immersive experience that caused me to think deeper about my own actions and purposes.  The reunions with close friends, shared experiences with new colleagues, or new connections with people who shared the same passions are what I will carry long beyond the conference.  In fact, the reason I continue to return to Twitter and attempt blogging is the relationships that are created which have the power to challenge, support and inspire me to do more.  If Twitter were just a place to broadcast myself, it would have died for me long ago along with Facebook.

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Telling Stories

The first keynote in the first morning given by Dr. Yong Zhao, (@YongZhaoUO) . What stuck with me the most was his presentation style, as he presented from his iPad camera roll. It was fluid, dynamic, and captivating, as he thematically connected ideas through visual analogies. There was no flashy tool, animation, or software. He knew where the images he wanted to speak to were, and in a tap and a flick, he had  his next big idea as a chart or image. He was storytelling.

In a similar vein, Brad Ovenell-Carter (@Braddo) shared his ideas of student generated content and knowledge in another session through the use of building a visual story called a Sketchnote. Sketchnotes definitely were the buzz throughout the conference on social media and within the sessions, and I think it was rooted back to the fundamental desire for telling stories and the connecting of ideas.


In both cases, Dr. Yong and Brad made it possible to visualize their points while I was listening to their explanation of their perspective.

I am finding that the bulk of my job should be about sharing ideas and telling stories, and after attending this conference I am inspired to do more of that.  I feel like I have been continuing to collect reflections and resources, and now I will strive to share what I have through effective storytelling.

Thank you @MsVictoriaOlson for being relentless in the pursuit of innovation and for being an ultimate early adopter. For your great session on #geniushour – here and awesome back channel on Googledocs here.

Thank you @paulkellybc for being a great sounding board and listener, book recommendations, and for the laughs.

Thank you @dpoe68 for being willing and excited to share your experiences of Google Apps for Education in High School.

Thank you @LS_Karl for introducing yourself across the room at your own session, I was honoured!

Thank you @gmbondi for being an inspirational and articulate writer who encourages me to read more. Thanks for being willing to chat.

Thank you @tmith4205 for diving in and taking it all on, and getting excited for the new frontier.


The One iPad Classroom

With the recommendation that teachers spend time with an iPad long before they expect to use it with their students for deeper learning, we are seeing several staffs across our district outfit teachers first with iPads as part of their implementation plan. Here is brief talk I did for Monterey Middle School last month on the One iPad Classroom.

I also came across this article called 10 Steps to a Successful School iPad Program from Abbotsford School District #34 that confirms a lot of the recommendations I am making to schools as well.
– Dave

Reynolds High School – Project-based learning in #sd61learn

This morning I was able to see innovative teacher @brad_cunningham‘s Grade 12’s in the Flexible Studies Program at Reynolds High School.  The grade 2 students from Breafoot Elementary, were just arriving at the high school to receive a children’s book that had been created by their big buddy with them in mind. This was a project that has been running for a few years and built around reading buddies. The purpose is to teach the conventions of children’s books to high school student and provide the elementary school with handmade library books and shared reading time.

IMG_9474IMG_9484What was particularly exceptional with the whole project was the quality of the books. Brad filled me in with the million’s of questions I had for him -scaffolding, framing, organization, and assessment. It was made obvious to me that it wasn’t the assessment of the final product that was the motivation, but the process of self-organizing, reflection, and student pride that drove everything.  To begin, the high school students looked at children’s books and analyzed them for structure, form, and voice. Then students needed to self-organize into a group of three – the artist, the writer, and the binder – and come up with a concept from the interests of the grade 2 student.IMG_9469IMG_9471

Each book was created totally different. Some were completely done on computers, some illustrations done by hand and then imported onto computers, and others didn’t use a computer at all.IMG_9485IMG_9477IMG_9478
Most interestingly, the final book was not assessed. Brad has his students tell ‘the story of the story’ and it is a self-reflection and self-assessment process. In Brad’s words, “After hearing all the grade 2 students be so excited to receive a book that was hand made specifically for them, how could I assess one book a C and another book an A.”

I heard a parent say, “These books are so well written!”  Brad then spoke to the effort the students made in grammar, punctuation, and choice in words.

The books will be on display and be able to be signed out from Braefoot Elementary.

I could feel the buzz in the classroom and had a hard time leaving for my next appointment. Thanks Brad.

An Inspiring Monday

To start my Monday today, I visited James Bay Community School and was blown away by the innovative educational practices. I was so excited with what I saw in so many of the classrooms, that I instantly wanted to call colleagues or run into offices to share. And I did. Then I taught to share it here so that more can see what I saw today.

One particular classroom that I will focus on for this entry is that of Ms. Joy Nugent’s Grade 4/5 classroom.

The physical layout of the class had no desks. Students had options to work at tables that faced windows, to stand at high table,  to sit at bucket chairs, at round tables, or on mats.

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At the front of the room was a smartboard and document camera, and students would take chairs and form a semi circle for instruction and discussion time.

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I was only able to observe the first 20 minutes of the day. But the day began with a MindUp exercise where the students were quiet for 5 minutes and focussed on their breathing. It seemed like something they did three times in the day, but wasnt sure. I could tell they had done the excerise before, and some students shared about how they were working their “prefrontal cortext” and how each second of focus was strengthening their brain in that area. There were charts and diagrams on the walls describing the brain and its different areas. As an adult observer, I benefitted from the exercise.

As I walked around the room, I noticed the daily schedule, specifically including “Think Tank Fridays” and “The Inquiry Unit” on Canada.

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I didn’t have time to ask Ms. Nugent about it, but I felt a certain curiosity and saw Project Based Learning and Inquiry Based Learning characteristics all over it. I couldn’t help notice the incredible student questions that were generated. I noticed the heading  at the top – “what is community?, What is Canada? and Who are we”  that I recognized from BC curriculum. I left thinking about how each question could be a unit in itself – “Why is Alaska not part of Canada?” or “How many Canadians died in World War II”. It caused me to think about how Ms. Nugent structured the class discussion, how the questions were recorded by students, and how the units would move forward. It was fascinating.

Since seeing this classroom and others at James Bay Community School, my mind was official blown. I left with so many questions.

“Is this where more classrooms need to go?”

“What does technology look like in this classroom?”

“What are the best tools for this classroom?”

“What resources can I help provide for this classroom?”

Thanks for the inspiration today Ms. Joy Nugent. I felt proud, and it made me want to shout it from the hilltops. So can I come back?

Diversity, Curiosity, and Creativity

It is nice to hear a a confirming message, like the latest from Sir Ken Robinson, regarding the topics that often come up between my colleagues and I. Like Sir Ken Robinson, we are recognizing how education is failing and we want to be part of the solution. It has started with recognizing the needs, creating solutions, and striving for innovation.  
Enjoy some Friday inspiration:


Ken Robinson: How to escape education’s death valley