Day: August 27, 2009


I put my Blackberry on a counter yesterday and consequently missed the opportunity to take a picture and I really had intended to do so.  I could kick myself.

It was Day 3 at the Vision to Practice Conference and time for our full-day session dealing with SMART Boards.  The morning is an introduction to possibility and the afternoon was an opportunity to learn how to create their own personally crafted notebooks.  It’s also an opportunity to share some implementation strategies – this is not a drive in theatre, this is not an excuse for full-class instruction, this is not just a big monitor for your computer.  This is part of a suite of tools that you have to reach out and immerse students in whatever the topic de jour is.

Engagement and immersion in the subject matter is the goal.  So, into the conference meeting room we had set up 5 of our stations which include a mobile stand for the SMART Board, the media cart containing the computer, data projector, speakers, and LCD monitor.

The point of this post is not the content of the workshop.

Before we went down this road as a district, we field tested our setup with five teachers.  The group, known as ELTIP (Early Literacy Technology Integration Project) were given a setup for their exclusive use and learned together the possibilities and ways that this admittedly intrusive setup could be used in their classroom.  Obviously, they were successful, but the aspect of the project that has always impressed me was the fact that they were not able to find perfect resources and so created their own.  Even more importantly, the students collaborated and helped shape the resources as they were developed.  I’ve been in their classes and I know that all of them are totally alive with authentic activity.

It was a big step but eventually this group felt that their resources were “done enough” to share with other teachers in the system through our internet conferencing system.  The next commitment was to ask them to lead a session at a Vision to Practice Conference three years ago.  I remember so clearly our summer meetings with the angst of the presentation and the emails flowing non-stop about how nervous they were to share their expertise with others.  They persisted and pulled off a couple of sessions and served as motivation and inspiration for their colleagues.

That unleashed monsters.  Since that initial presentation, along with me, they have become standing presenters at following Vision conferences, at the RCAC Symposium, and are constantly asked to come and present at other schools during PD Days or at after-school sessions.  The original nervousness has been replaced by confidence and competence.

So, yesterday, I do the opening hour and then step aside as the hall breaks down into smaller work groups.  I went to the back of the hall and watched and then moved in to each of the groups to observe what was happening.  What I saw was a high level of professionalism and incredible poise in the delivery of their content.  In preparation years ago, I explained how I never use speaker notes and read to the audience and we had agreed at the time that this approach, which requires more work, is preferable.  There was nary a note in sight.

Instead, it was professional educators shooting from the hip showing what they know about the technology and how to use it.  You could envision this used in a centre to complement the other activities that happen in the classroom.  You could see the students digging deeper into the subject matter.

I was so proud of this group and am happy that I’m part of it.  The poise and confidence that was exhibited yesterday should serve as motivation for those in attendance.

And yes, I missed the photo opportunity.  I would have had to interrupt some of this learning to grab my Blackberry with the camera.

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