Talking Library at Queen’s Park

It was #libraryday at Queen’s Park today and I was part of it! Today was the first of many annual events to come where library advocates from the Ontario Library Association meet with MPP’s, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Policy Advisors to share information about the impact of libraries across our province.

#libraryday@ Queens Park

#libraryday@ Queens Park

My team began our day meeting with Deputy Minister of Education George Zegarac and Assistant Deputy Minister Grant Clarke. We had a wonderful conversation talking about the impact of effective school library programs on student literacy, TL’s as leaders in digital literacy, the importance of the  library learning commons as community connectors and safe havens for our students. We also discussed the importance of embedding the role of the Teacher Librarian in pre-service training for teachers, how effective library commons can support the needs of First Nation, Metis and Inuit learners and curriculum. It was a great conversation and the Minister was very interested in learning how the OSLA and Teacher Librarians across the province could support teachers in all of these areas. Our team was very encouraged and look forward to following up on this conversation.

Shortly after we had the opportunity to meet with Katie Williams, the Policy Advisor to Education Minister Liz Sandals, she too was very supportive in our conversation and was eager to learn more about the impact of The Forest of Reading programs on student literacy.  We will be inviting Katie and the Minister to our upcoming Superconference and Forest of Reading Celebration for sure!

I attended question period in the house for the first time in my life! What a ruckus!! It was interesting to see Premier Kathleen Wynne and all the MPP’s in action, but I certainly was left wondering how anything actually gets done! However, seeing this part of the democratic process in action in real time was pretty darn interesting.

Our day was wrapped up by each team member meeting as constituents with our respective MPP’s to share the big picture messages about School Libraries, Public Libraries, First Nations Libraries, and Academic Libraries.  The conversations were rich and focused on our home turf.

So now I’m home and I’m thinking about the day, the impact we may or may not have made and about our next steps. I am encouraged that so many of our elected officials are interested in hearing our stories and learning about how libraries curate the culture, support communities, engage all learners and are so very relevant in a digital age.


New Beginnings

Education follows a predictable pattern, ever moving forwards to the next landmark in the school year.  For me this year it means I am moving on to a new position, having decided that after four years of learning beyond the classroom, it’s time to return and put my learning into practice. The hard part is the not knowing.  Currently, I don’t know what school in my district, what subject area or grade. It is both unnerving and exciting.Deb's a travellin' girl

The interesting thing I find about this entire process is the very mixed responses I get from people when I tell them my plans. They range from: “Who gets your job?” to “Oh I’m sorry to hear that!” Rarely do I hear “Well done you…we need teachers like you in our system!”  It makes me wonder, why so many people involved in the education of children and young adults strive to leave the classroom and returning to one is perceived as a step backwards?

I entered teaching after working in business for ten years. I chose to be a teacher because I like kids, I’m a creative person and learning excites me…it’s fun.  I have worked as a teacher in schools teaching from Kindergarten to grade 12 and have learned something new with every new experience. My work as an adult educator has taught me more and the learning I have had the priviledge to be part of has been outstanding. I can’t wait to work in a school, with kids again. I will miss the different experiences I have had in this role but I am sure equally  wonderful experiences await me in my next chapter of learning.

Reflections on the ISTE Conference

Three days at the massive ISTE conference in Philadelphia has me really thinking about educational technology, professional learning, and our needs in a Canadian context. I found that the bulk of the offerings were focused on tools,rather than teaching. Frankly I was disappointed by this. Having never attended this conference I had hoped that there would be stronger offerings by leaders in education that focused on implementation of change in teaching and learning to reflect a 21st Century context. This was not the case.

ISTE promotes it’s international status, but I found myself continually being referred to the American context. Being the polite Canadian that I am, I kept these thoughts to myself until I connected with several Australians who had the same thoughts. I’m thinking that Canada and Australia have much to share and learn from each other and will be looking for opportunities to connect and continue to learn from these new colleagues.

Things I enjoyed most at ISTE: connecting and sharing with like minded professionals in the unstructured caves, over dinner and lunch. Loved learning about the research conducted by Dr. Sofia Pardo and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Rob Mancabelli was a new voice working with @willrich45 great discussion about moving yah but to change. Enjoyed the masterful facilitation skills of Scott McLeod in the Tech Savvy Principals session and all the TSP’s on the panel and I thought that Roger Pryor from Australia did a wonderful job of integrating multiple modes of teaching into his discussion about change and planning forward for our learners.

Overall, ISTE had many sessions that certainly made me think. Philadelphia was a wonderful host city, and I have much to ponder over the summer as I take a break and plan for next year’s learning adventure.


Nintendo 3DS – Augmented Reality & 3D???

OK, My son brought home a Nintendo 3DS, and I am impressed. Please realize I live in a household with teenage boys, who have basically every gaming system going and I have never been attracted to gaming. I watch them play rock band, shooters, racing games I have even tried to understand the attraction to things like grand theft auto but I have never been attracted to any of these games. Well, maybe rock band. Anyway, in comes Nintendo 3DS with those cool little AR cards and I am absolutely enchanted! I was poking Mario in the tum! My kitchen counter exploded to reveal a dragon! I love this stuff!

Now as an educator, I have been reading about Augmented Reality applications in this year and last year’s Horizon Report. I have been intrigued by AR applications in use in some musuems and cities around the world. All I can think about is what this can mean for learning. How can we use AR in the classroom? Imagine if students can take 3D images of AR characters to use in their digital storytelling. Better still, how long will it be before our students can begin to customize AR code to create their own images using this technology? Can you just imagine? This is a Nintendo game that kids carry around in their backpacks!

Better still, Nintendo has allowed for backwards compatibility with the software so that educators can access existing games that many are using as part of existing classroom activities. This wireless, handheld device is a game that most students will either own or have access to and in a school with ubiquitous wireless….well just imagine the possibilities! I sound like I’m gushing but this device is totally awesome and I’m going to have to buy my own, since my son won’t let me touch his new toy!

Leadership for change

Last week the ABEL program hosted the second Leadership Summit at York University.  The intent of the ABEL leadership summit was to gather system leaders together to focus their thinking about leadership for change in this day and age.  The impact of the day was impressive.  Conversations about system change were thoughtful and  explored how to best support education systems as they attempt to become move forward to effect 21st C change (for want of a better phrase).  It really makes me proud to be part of such a forward thinking group of leaders!

I was really impressed by Heidi Hayes-Jacobs’ presentation via Skype, not only was her message right on the money, but she also demonstrated very effective and engaging use of Skype as a videoconferencing/presentation technology.  (Something that is always important when we are promoting the effective use of ICT for educational purpose!)

All in all it was such a great day to connect with my virtual network, meet new leaders and plan forward for future learning and system reform advocacy and planning.  It was such a pleasure to work with such a committed group of system leaders.

End of a year, start of another….

The holiday season is always a time to reflect upon the past year.  The activities and accomplishments of the past year are always interesting to think about but it’s a great time to begin planning forward.  I have had a very busy fall working with educators across Ontario as they work to embed technology into their classroom practice as part of their daily practice.  Shifting from a paradigm of the technology “event” to effective learning that happens to use technology.  We have some wonderful educators in the province who are doing great things with their students every day.

The challenge is in moving our system leaders forward to ensure that we move from pockets of exemplary practice to school and system wide foci.  It’s difficult striking that balance between the data, the practice and the professional learning.  I honestly believe that we have to involve our system leaders, and classroom teachers in learning that looks like what learning should be in 2011.  Heck, we are ten years into the 21st century, what are we waiting for?

As educators we need to join the rest of the world.  Digital literacy isn’t really new, it’s literacy reflected in a variety of different media, if you are an educator in this day and age and don’t get this I’m a little worried.  21st century learning is now, not something to plan for, when do we stop referring to this like it is some rare breed of learning and just start engaging in it?  New media that we refer to isn’t so new, education is just slow to notice and embrace it.

I think this is an exciting time for learning, we have such easy access to information and such opportunity to shift learning so that students of all ages can participate and direct their learning needs.  It’s a shame that systems are so slow to change.  Yes, change is scary but it is inevitable so why not give it a shot?

The new year will bring me challenges and changes and I welcome them.  I look forward to my own learning in the coming year and can’t wait to share with all of learning colleagues.

Photo licensed under creative commons