Tuesday, August 31, 2010

21st Century Job Skills: Rchard Halkett

I just listened to Alan November's interview of Richard Halkett. He talks about 21st century job skills. You can listen to it here.

He lists 8 skills for the 21st century worker, how many of these are you addressing in your classroom?

  1. gathering, synthesizing and analysing information

  2. working autonomously

  3. leading autonomous workers

  4. being creative and turning creativity into action

  5. thinking critically and asking the right questions

  6. understanding others perspective and the entirety of issues

  7. communicating with technology

  8. working ethically

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mike Wesch on the anthroplogy of Youtube

As a member of the planning committee for the IT Summit in Saskatoon (read Dean Shareski's blog review) in the spring of 2011, I was looking for possible keynote presenters and came across Mike Wesch. He is an anthropologist from Kansas Sate University. You may have seen this presentation before, but I have just viewed it for the first time. This is a presentation he made on the anthropology of youtube! Youtube is a fascinating phenomenon. It is even more fascinating that people are studying it to further understand the behaviour of human beings. Hope you enjoy it.

Change from within at Confederation Park Community School

Here we go! School has started at Confederation Park Community School! We began our school initiative to use technology effectively to transform learning. Our PD plan can be found at google docs.

I have also just returned from the Prosci/Adpro Change Management Certification course in Banff, Alberta. The course was very challenging, thought provoking and will serve me well in being a change agent for 21st century schools. It occurred to me at the course that what we are trying to do at Confed. is to change the culture of the classroom that has existed for a long time. We look forward to using Change Management principles (based on the ADKAR model) to transform our school and our school division.

We are initially focussing on making sure our teachers incorporate the NETS into their classrooms. It will not be enough for us to use technology occasionally to teach critical thinking or collaborative skills to our students. We are attempting to change the entire culture of learning so that it is based on:

  1. the learner empowered as opposed to teacher centered
  2. student choice driven by curiousity and critical thinking
  3. collaborative learning by the developing of learning networks
  4. differentiated learning in part enabled by technology
  5. creative communication of student learning enabled by web 2.0 (not to mention traditional forms like drama, dance and visual art)
  6. learner based assessment of learning as opposed to teacher centered

Making such a culture change is no small task. It will not be easy and will not happen overnight. I am confident we will make it happen! As I was speaking to our staff on Friday I noticed that we have a number of fresh, new faces on our staff. It occurs to me that we have the expertise and enthusiasm to do this! We can change our classroom, school, even school system culture!

I was reading Joe Bower's blog the other day about innovation and change in schools. He was quoting from Rosabeth Moss Kanter's blog post "Innovation: Who Else is Doing it?" and I found myself quite impressed with her message.

"The search for innovation benefits from listening to people who are not the usual idea generators, who might look and seem different. "Open innovation" has become a popular catchphrase, signifying that it is acceptable to look outside the organization for new ideas because all creativity does not lie within. But then I see another conservative bias toward external innovators, even when more of the creativity might lie within, in the minds of junior employees or occupants of routine jobs that are treated disdainfully. Better a maverick from halfway around the world or crowd-sources on the Internet than a nerd in one's own organization. People already in the organization are often the most under-utilized asset."

Most of us have a pretty good idea of how the world is changing and that some schools are leading the way. Confederation Park Community School has the capability, the people and the heart needed to lead our students into the 21st century!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Alfie Kohn on .......

Alfie Kohn is a favorite author of mine. He does not write about technology, he talks about how schools should change how kids learn. I wish I could say I found all these videos myself. I owe Joe Bower the credit for posting them on his site. I hope you enjoy Alfie's thoughts.

Assessment from Gary Stager on Vimeo.

Learning from the Inside Out from Gary Stager on Vimeo.

Teacher as Facilitator? from Gary Stager on Vimeo.

Motivating Students from Gary Stager on Vimeo.

Monday, August 16, 2010

New Brunswick 21st Century Learning Model: a three year plan

I was reading David Warlick's blog post on New Brunwick's technology plan for schools and was impressed, but not suprised to see some very common themes. You can view a PDF of the plan if you want to see the details. They have also produced a video outlining what 21st century learning would look like in New Brunswick, as seen above. They have outlined a three year plan, central to which are clearly defined 21st century competencies. They are not unlike what I have proposed in my classroom, the ischool in NYC or the NETS. New Brunswick's new competencies are:

  1. critical thinking and problem solving

  2. collaboration

  3. communication

  4. personal development and self-awareness

  5. global citizenship
The report goes on to give 13 objectives to create a 21st century learning model. (the bracketed number represents my ranking of my board on that objective) They are:
  1. to ensure provincial curricula include clearly defined outcomes and 21st century competencies with related performance standards. (1)

  2. to ensure performance standards provide a continuum from which educators identify individual learner needs (1)

  3. to ensure educators are highly skilled in 21st century pedagogy and have a deep understanding of the overall essential learning outcomes (1)

  4. to ensure instructional practice reflects engaging, personal learning experiences and includes relevant cross-curricular connections (1-3)

  5. to incorporate authentic assessment practice with high quality standardized testing to ensure assessment is systematicaly balanced (1)

  6. to ensure a balance of technology enhanced, formative and summative assessments are used to measure student mastery of 21st century competencies (1)

  7. to ensure schools and classrooms are ICT-rich environments with adequate technical support and infrastructure (1)

  8. to ensure schools have flexible physical spaces and organizational structures (1)

  9. to ensure opportunities are provided for personalized anytime/anywhere learning for students and teachers (1)

  10. to ensure professional learning throughout the province is focused, personalized, effective and standards-based (1-3)

  11. to ensure leadership capacity is built individually, locally and provincially (1)

  12. to ensure school communities across the province share a common understanding of practices leading to school effectiveness and these are in place in every school (1)

  13. to ensure school communities districts and the department have access to rich data sources and expertise for data analysis (1-2)

  14. to ensure school districts enhance and sustain processes to maintain effective school practices consistent with provincial standards (1)

For fun, I decided to rank my school board and province on each of the above. I am proud to be a teacher in this school, this board and this province. That doesn't mean I think we don't need to work hard to change! My rankings are just my opinion and may not represent reality! They do presently represent mine! For what it's worth, I am working hard to promote similar objectives in our school, our board and our province.

I used a three point scale; "1" is not yet meeting, "2" is meeting and "3" is exceeding! My scores are in brackets beside the objective. My school board and province scored between 14 and 19 out of a possible 42 points!

How does your organization rank?! What are you doing to promote such objectives within your school, your board and your province?

Welcome to my class blog!

One of the methods I use to transform my classroom into one for 21st century learners is by using a class blog. I have used it now for two years and it is far from perfected. I love it as a tool for communicating, collaborating, creating and enabling out of school learning. As it appears in August 15, 2010, it has many features such as:

  1. links to web sites and information- enable students to have the same information as the teacher and to access it easily
  2. wikis- allow collaborative work and us to create documents which build on others' work
  3. student projects- multi-media creations such as podcasts, movies, animations and cartoons
  4. links to social media such as digg, del.icious, technorati, fickr, blogs
  5. teacher created posts to emphasize an idea
  6. thought provoking links to stimulate critical thinking and essential questions
  7. various widgets communicating anything from blog visitors to recommended books
  8. many links to web 2.0 tools to communicate creatively

After two years of class blogging, I have revised the purposes of our class blog (subject to the approval of my class). The main purposes of our class blog are:

  1. for each student to learn about, communicate and express opinions on a subject of their own choosing
  2. for each student to develop a global on-line learning network or community from whom they learn and to whom they communicate their learning
  3. for each student to share their critical thinking projects on their blog in a creative way
  4. to provide the teacher with a convenient platform to encourage and enable students to communicate, create, collaborate and to extend their learning beyond the classroom.

My class blog is one of the 21st century tools I have to bring about transformative change to my classroom.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Perfect Storm or Climate Change?: Richard Halkett with Allan November

My RSS feed includes Allan November's blog. He includes a podcast of an interview with Richard Halkett (Cisco) and they talk about if schools can be changed with technology. Cisco is a company in the business of collaboration technologies and works with educators. For the full interview check out the link, I have summarized Halkett's main points for you if you don't have 15 minutes for a podcast!

  1. Schools can not be fixed with more technology or using technology in the same ways.

  2. Educators need to manage change in the classroom so that it is effective. One cannot experiment too much. Effective strategies must be implemented. (Of course, his company will help you with this!)

  3. Some people say that there is a perfect storm coming to education. He disagrees and describes it more as climate change. He prefers climate change because after a storm, everything returns to normal. Climate change brings drastic, irreversible change.

  4. The world is experiencing global, technological and demographic changes that necessitate sweeping changes in education.

  5. The world is spiky, not flat, as Friedman in "The World Is Flat" claims. Technology has flattened the world so that it is amazingly interconnected but is is not uniformly affected. Cities and "developed countries" have an advantage in business and education. Technology has the potential to flatten out those spikes.

  6. There is digital divide that exists between have and have not countries. He claims that this is not as bad as we think. He says that only 2% of people used to have an encyclopedia, whereas now 50% have computer with internet.

  7. He says we need to look at success stories like the ischool in NYC. He didn't expand on what they do there. Check out the video below.

  8. Finally, he states that it is difficult if not impossible to make changes in a school, yet it is even harder to bring about systemic change to school boards and provincial/state or federal education.

I agree that their is the equivalent of drastic climate change in education. I plan on adapting and thriving. How about you?

Main Components of 21st Century Education/NYC ischool

If you were to ask me what 21st century education is, I could summarize it in a few words. It is not about technology but the skills technology enables. The main ideas are:







Check out the video below on the New York City ischool and see what theirs are!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Purpose of Schools?

When I was in university many, many years ago I took a course called the "philosophy of education". It was mostly lost on me but I do remember the prof. asking us to read a series of articles on the purpose of education. I remember one author's hypothesis was that the purpose of education was to socialize students so that they would know how to behave properly in an ordered world. Learning was not one of the primary goals according to this author.

Do you write down your goals for your classroom? What are they? Do your goals mention your philosophy on how your students will learn? What do your goals for your classroom and your school have to do with the world as it exists today?

Check out the Seth Godin video on the purpose of schools. Show it to your students. See what they think. I'll use it as a critical thinking exercise and a jumping off point for us to determine what our goals for our classroom are.

Change Management Survey

In a few short weeks, our school (Confederation Park Community School) will begin our change initiative, “Using technology effectively to transform learning” in our school. We will be using the ADKAR model of change management. It is important to know that people experience change differently. It will be essential to know where each of them is in the process of change so that the change management team can plan differentiated professional development and support. Staff at our school will be using the survey tool below to help us with our planning.
The outline of our PD on using technology effectively to transform learning can be found on a googledoc.


1 2 3 4 5

“Do you understand and agree to the reasons for making this change?”


1 2 3 4 5

“Do you want this change to happen or do you want things to stay the way they are? What would cause you to want this change to happen?”


1 2 3 4 5

“Do you know about the change and the desired skills to support the change?”


1 2 3 4 5

“Are you capable of performing these new skills?”


1 2 3 4 5

“Are you receiving the necessary support and reinforcement to sustain the change?

Monday, August 2, 2010

It's not what you know, it's the quality of your PLC!

At the IT Summit in Saskatoon last spring, Will Richardson had a lot of great ideas for us. I asked him what was the best way to build an on-line personal learning community. He said that he started blogging 9 years ago and we as teachers should consider professional blogging as well. I agreed wholeheartedly and am enjoying the journey.

As well as being very fun to do (primarily because of the learning you must do to write one), blogs are a great way to show the world what you have done, what you have to offer, what you believe in and that you believe in the power of a personal learning network. He suggested that the days of getting a degree and submitting a resume to employers may soon become (or is now)outdated. It is very important now to leave a digital footprint. With a keystroke, employers can access your profile on-line through blogs, facebook, twitter and many other social media. One presenter stated that if you don't have an on-line portfolio today or if a google search of your name comes up blank, you might as well not even exist!

Will Richardson has written a blog post on the importance of e-portfolios. He writes eloquently and convincingly and educators need to heed his warning and help students learn how to market themselves and their ideas on-line and to build safe and productive on-line learning communities. He writes,

"the traditional two-page resume has been turned into a “personal productivity portal” that empowers prospective employers to quite literally interact with their candidate’s world".

How are you doing this in your school? In your classroom?

We need to talk about and use facebook, twitter, blogs, wikis and other social media. Students not given the opportunity will power down and will miss the opportunity to learn how to survive and thrive in the world of the 21st century.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Reinforcing Using Technology Effectively to Transform Learning

“Reinforcement includes any action or event that strengthens and reinforces the change with an individual or an organization”. (“ADKAR: a model for change in business, government and our community”, Hiatt)

Reinforcements are a necessary component of change management following the implementation of the awareness, desire, knowledge and ability stages. Reinforcements for using technology effectively to transform learning are successful when:

1. They are meaningful to the person recognized.

2. They are associated with actual accomplishments.

a. Accomplishments should reflect goals set up in the awareness and desire phases, to use technology effectively to transform learning.

3. There is an absence of negative consequences for desired behavior.

a. Change represents improved learning using technology.
b. Problems with using technology to transform learning are minimal and temporary.

4. Accountability mechanisms are in place.

a. Stakeholders are held accountable for using technology effectivelyto transform learning and the change is lasting.

There are various ways to accomplish reinforcement. Reinforcing using technology effectively to transform learning can be done in the following ways:

1. Celebrations and recognition
2. Rewards
3. Feedback from employees
4. Audits and performance measurement systems
5. Accountability systems

In concluding this series of blog posts, there are many models of change management out there in the literature. ADKAR is one that I am familiar with and seems to me to be simple and effective. I am using it as a template for this project and will keep you informed as to what I learn as I go!

Creating Ability for Using Technology Effectively to Transform Learning

“Ability is the demonstrated achievement of the change.” (“ADKAR: a model for change in business, government and our community”, Hiatt)

It is not enough to gain the knowledge to use technology effectively to transform, one has to have the demonstrated ability to carry out the change. Factors affecting ability to change are:

1. Psychological blocks
2. Physical abilities
3. Intellectual capability
4. The time available to develop the needed skills
5. The availability of resources to support the development of new abilities

Ways of enabling ability to change are:

1. Day-to-day involvement of supervisors

a. Class visits by change management team members
b. Class visits by administrators

2. Access to subject matter experts

a. Effective and on-going PD
b. Sharing celebrations in PLC’s

3. Performance monitoring

a. Effective change assessments
b. Effective curricular assessments
c. Anecdotal assessments/monitoring

4. Hands-on exercises during training

Having created awareness, desire, knowledge and ability to use technology effectively to transform learning, we are now ready to move to reinforcement of change.

Building Knowledge for Using Technology Effectively to Transform Learning

“Developing knowledge is a primary activity for most project teams. They view training to be instrumental in the success of new processes, systems and job roles.” (“ADKAR: a model for change in business, government and our community”, Hiatt)

Having created awareness and desire within your stakeholders for using technology effectively to transform learning, training and PD is the next step to implement change. According to Hiatt, the type and level of training will be dependent on:

1. current knowledge level
2. capacity to learn
3. availability of resources
4. access to needed information

As the change management team provides resources and information, the knowledge level and, arguably, the capacity to learn of the stakeholders will increase.

Schools (all stakeholders) wishing to use technology effectively to transform learning will need:

1. Training and education on the skills and behaviors needed to change

a. How to use technology tools to transform learning

2. Detailed information on how to use new processes, systems and tools

3. Understanding of the new roles and responsibilities associated with the change

a. How the classroom will look differently than it did before, what will the students and professionals do differently?
b. What products will be produced by the students?
c. What will assessments look like in the changed classroom?

Some of the methods used to train stakeholders are:

1. Effective training and education programs

a. Professional development in and out-of-school

2. Job aides

a. Visiting other classrooms
b. Peer coaching

3. One-on-one coaching

a. Peer coaching
b. Tutoring

4. User groups and forums

a. Professional learning communities on-line and in school (communities of practice Etienne Wenger)

Having created awareness, desire and provided training for knowledge for using technology effectively to transform learning, stakeholders are ready to develop the ability to implement change.

Creating Desire for Using Technology Effectively to Transform Learning

“A common mistake made by many business leaders is to assume that by building awareness of the need for change they have also created desire.” (“ADKAR: a model for change in business, government and our community”, Hiatt)

Creating awareness for changing the way students learn is an on-going process. I believe it has to be communicated frequently to stakeholders why change is necessary and what the consequences of not changing are. As quoted from the book, assuming that creating awareness is done effectively does not guarantee that people desire to change the way our students learn. Desire to change is dependent on the following:

1. The nature of the change (what the change is and how it will impact them)
2. The organizational or environmental context for the change (their perception of the organization)
3. An individual’s personal situation
4. What motivates them (those intrinsic motivators that are unique to an individual)

Hiatt suggests several ways for creating desire for change within an organization. I have added ideas to create desire for transformative change in schools. They are:

1. Effectively sponsor the change with employees

a. Talk to each stakeholder about what their part of the change will be.
b. Help them to determine how they will change how students learn in their classroom.
c. Share with them successes and challenges of implementing change in their classroom.
d. Help them to determine a change assessment measure.

2. Equip managers to be change leaders

a. Provide time to meet with change leadership to establish goals and strategies
b. Provide training to change leadership team

3. Assess risks and anticipate resistance

a. Identify potential difficulties and resistant staff
b. Plan strategies to deal with the problems and resistant staff

4. Engage employees in the change process

a. Meet with individuals regularly to assess difficulties, celebrate successes, revise goals. This could be done in private or in PLC’s.
b. Celebrate successes in regular staff meeting time (this should not take time away from staff)

5. Align incentive programs

a. Provide release time to observe successful implementation in other classrooms
b. Provide PD time for training for special interest groups

An extra word on resistance to using technology effectively to transform learning. There will be resistance to change within schools. Resistance to change is normal. Hiatt writes, “As a basic principle, managers must first view the task of creating desire as more than managing resistance. Adopting a “resistance management” focus can take a business leader down a trail of reactive management actions that often turn into firefighting and damage control. In other words, you should not introduce a change and then wait to identify those groups or individuals who are resistant to that change. Rather, you should adopt those strategies and tactics that have been used by effective leaders of change that are positive and proactive”.

Once we have created awareness of the need to use technology effectively to transform learning, we will need to create or empower the desire. The next step is to help stakeholders get the knowledge to implement the change.

Creating Awareness for Using Technology Effectively to Transform Learning

I wrote previously in a blog post about the ADKAR (“ADKAR: a model for change in business, government and our community”, Hiatt) model of change management. The first step of the model is “Awareness”. In this stage, stakeholders need to have awareness for the need for change and have the following questions answered. To illustrate the general point, I will give a brief example from our school’s project of “using technology effectively to transform learning”. Our school is in the initial phases of this project, look for project updates regularly!

1. What is the nature of the change and how does the change align with the vision for the organization?

a. How will we transform learning and how will it reflect the outcomes and indicators, skills, attitudes and behaviours contained in our curriculum?

2. Why is the change being made and what are the risks of not changing?

a. Why would we need to transform learning and what happens if we don’t?

3. How will the change impact our organization or our community?

a. How will transforming learning impact our students, teachers, paraprofessionals and community?

4. What’s in it for me (WIIFM)?

a. What are the benefits for me in my classroom?

"Awareness for change is easier to create in the presence of external and observable drivers such as market forces, financial pressure and curricular mandates. Changes that are driven internally (ex. by an individual) or by reasons that are debatable face greater challenges to building awareness". Many factors influence the process of building awareness within individuals during a change. The main obstacles to building awareness are:

1. Acceptance of awareness messages is greatly influenced by a person’s view of the current state. Those strongly invested in the current state may discredit or deny the reasons for change.
a. Teachers who believe they are successful in their classrooms may discredit or deny the need for change.

2. An individual’s cognitive style impacts how they perceive the need for change and how they solve problems. Some may already see the need for change, whereas others may be caught off-guard.

a. Each stakeholder will need to come through the awareness stage for transforming learning in their own way. Many would have preferred to have come to this stage on their own, not everyone will be convinced of the need to use technology effectively to transform learning in the same way and in the same time.

3. The credibility of the sender of awareness messages and the organization’s history with change will weigh heavily on whether or not the awareness message is believed and accepted.

a. Change leaders for transforming learning need to be passionate, knowledgeable, sincere, hard working, compassionate, problem solvers and determined. Most of all, they must gain the trust of the stakeholders. Teachers in particular have been witness to many change initiatives, many of which seem to be the “change de jour”. Stakeholders need to be convinced that redefining learning is a long-term priority and will positively change the way students learn in our classrooms.

4. The presence of misinformation or propaganda in the background conversation can stall efforts to create awareness of the need for change; in some cases, overcoming misinformation presents a major barrier for change.

a. transforming learning may be lost in a sea of other system/school priorities. Misinformation and diluting of the priority must be dealt with openly and directly at the source if possible.

Building awareness is the first and perhaps most important stage of change within an organization.