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What does it all mean? March 9, 2011

Posted by burnabysouthadmin in General.
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Over the past year there has been a great deal of public discussion about education and what is best for student learning.  In this post I will try to provide some background information that may help you develop a clearer picture of some of the great things that are happening in classrooms around the SD41.  You may have heard talk about changes in education as the world around us changes.  Some of the terms you may have heard, among others, probably include:

Personalized Learning

21st Century Learning

Independent Directed Studies (IDS)

As your familiarity of these terms will vary I included links for each of those sections.  If you are completely new to this (and that is completely understandable) your ability to choose which links to click or to skip them altogether  has allowed you to personalize your learning!

Personally I am not convinced that the term 21st Century Learning captures the full meaning of what we are doing.  This is not meant to devalue  the great research and time devoted to this title, I simply prefer the term Personalized Learning in the 21st Century.  Or, to take it a step further, I am even more comfortable with the notion that we are personalizing learning in changing times. I prefer this because we live in an era that is changing so quickly that students (and educators) are learning with rapidly advancing technology.  Due to the rapid nature of this change, it is challenging to predict  what the world will be like for our students ten years from now let alone throughout the 21st Century.

IDS courses allow students to pursue their personal interests, with the guidance and facilitation of a teacher.  To me this is a perfect example of personalizing learning in changing times because this form of learning puts the student squarely in the driver’s seat of the learning.

The descriptions above are by no means exhaustive nor definitive as there are teachers, administrators, parents and students who are actively exploring what those terms look like and mean to learners across SD41.  If you are reading this and you have your own definition or examples of those terms, I encourage you to include those in the comments section to help push the thinking forward on what is best for learning. (more…)

What do you do on Pro-D anyways? November 30, 2010

Posted by burnabysouthadmin in General.
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So last Monday our school had a school-based Professional Development Day.  The students look forward to these days as a long-weekend and a recent conversation with a group of students indicated that some think school staff view these days in the same way. After this conversation I thought this was a great opportunity to shed some light on the great things that happen in schools during Professional Development.

Last Monday began with coffee and muffins and some great conversation with colleagues.  During the welcome period, videos played capturing the theme of our day – Personalized Learning.  The morning focussed on the role technology plays in 21st Century Education.  After a presentation exploring our topic we broke into groups to utilize technology in a brainstorming exercise.

This led to eight different break-out sessions that further explored some key themes in Personalized Learning including differentiated instruction, assessment, social media in the classroom and Tribes Learning.   Staff signed up for one of the smaller group workshops to provide an opportunity for each participant to focus on an area of personal choice.

Following lunch we resumed a closer look at Personalized Learning.  Click here for the slide deck to my presentation.  The afternoon portion of the discussion focussed on 21st Century Learning separate from technology, focussing on a Paradigm Shift that is beginning to take place in public education.  This shift focusses on the way students learn, how they become engaged in classes and how we can continue to best meet the needs of all our learners through a variety of different approaches.  We managed to pack all of those activities in before 2pm when staff returned to their specific Departments to continue the discussions that we began throughout the day.

The above description captures the essence of what we explored throughout the day at our school.  At other schools I know that there were a number of exciting opportunities where teachers also engaged in meaningful and important discussions about topics that are relevant to their students and those staffs’ professional interests.  These types of Professional Days model the pursuit of lifelong learning and capture the spirit of our Personalized Learning.

I hope you found this useful in creating a visual for the next time you find yourself wondering what happens in schools during Professional Development days.