Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Disruptive learning - are two iPads in the classroom enough?

Recently over dinner, my wife (newbie teacher) and I debated on the merits of technology in the classroom. As a primary educator, she believes while mobile technology stimulates students to engage in the learning process - nothing beats oral stimulation, reading and writing. Additionally she argues, why should we invest in to technology when we are sadly in need of quality teaching materials.

According to the Journal, teachers spent ~ $3.2 Billion on class rooms tools. Roughly half of that cost is out of pocket expenses. I didn't understand why and how a teacher could invest in inventory until I starting making more shelves for books, games and toys in our house. Every garage sale became an opportunity to gather and build up the treasure chest. Our basement could double as a mini JK Library.

Monday, 4 March 2013

The Importance of Learning Outside of the Classroom

Last week, we discussed innovation in the classroom and the importance of influential mentors to help shape our ideas, encourage us to dream big and the courage to take risks and try again. This week Alicia Bedard provides some great insights from field with how our students can engage in a rich learning experience outside the classroom.
Guest Blog: Alicia Bedard

Drab beige walls, grey commercial grade flooring, the hum of incandescent lights fill your ears while sunlight from a small window filters into the corner of the room. Where are you? If you guessed a classroom – you’re right! Other acceptable answers include a retirement home, on a bus and an airport waiting area, none of which are particularly engaging or inspiring. As a child of the late 80’s, this is how I remember my learning environment.

Some of my fondest memories from my formative education are from experimental learning outside of the classroom – competing on a sports team, performing in the choir, volunteering at a homeless shelter and going on field trips. All of these activities provide real-life experience and create framework for lifelong learning (both inside and outside of the traditional classroom).

What’s changed?
Major technological innovations have been introduced to many classrooms over the last 10-15 years. Most students have access to computers, tablets, mobile devices, flat screen televisions and smart boards. The way in which a student accesses learning has changed drastically, ultimately enhancing the learning experience. However students are still stuck in the same room. (probably with the same paint)

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Innovation starts in the classroom

On Sunday night I PVR’d the GRAMMYs hoping to skip thru all the meaningless commercials to get to the best part of the show - the performances. Aside from the killer Bob Marley tribute (big shout out to Sting and Bruno Mars), the defining moment of the evening was the announcement of an award to honor music teachers – the GRAMMY’s Music Educator Award

Presenter Ryan Seacrest expressed that, “For every GRAMMY winner on this stage tonight, there are thousands of great music educators working behind the scenes to provide the inspiration, the passion, and the skills our young musicians need.” I agree – innovation and creativity begin in the classroom thru collaboration and empowering our students to think big.

For me, that teacher was Terry English – a bold no nonsense  educator who had a love of music. I was about to go on stagein front of my classmates to do my “thing” when she stopped me and said, “If Willie Nelson can do it, so can you!”  While Willie might not be your cup of tea, he has a loyal following and continues to be successful - which is more than you can say for Billy Bob Thornton who opened for Willie in 2009 and barely made it through his set based on his interview on Q with Jian Ghomeshi (Watch Billy blow it) Lessoned learned, be polite and gracious you never know when it might come back to bite you. Secondly, not everyone will like your idea the first time out –  failure can be followed by thought provoking breakthroughs for those that are patient enough to innovate and learn by their mistakes  – see Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln. To learn about Willie Wonka's take on innovation see my previous blog post