24 Hours of Communication and Learning

As I was getting ready for another exciting day today, I started to reflect on yesterday and how communication and modern communication tools had made it such a great day.

I started out as I do most mornings and checked on Facebook to see what’s up with my friends and family.  With The Boy being out of town this is a great communication vehicle.  He works on the show Survivorman and they were up for a Gemini Award Monday night in Toronto.  I was hoping to see pictures of Les Stroud accepting for the cast.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be.  “The winner is … not us.”

Then, time to finish off the blog post about story telling about an idea that had come to me in the middle of a presentation Monday night.  I wanted to see if it would actualy work.  Absolutely.  It works very nicely.  I’ll get some mileage with that.

Then it was out to pick up some snacks for an afternoon workshop.  I ended up at a grocery store I’d never been in before and then realized that I better get in gear to get to Lakeshore Discovery School for a scheduled meeting.  Thankfully, my Dad had given me a Mio GPS for Christmas a couple of years ago.  It took me through the maze of streets that is East Windsor and out to the school as quickly as possible.  The school is new and so not in the GPS but downtown Emeryville is.  You can see the school from there.

We had a good meeting.  It dealt with trying to make all users of the internet comfortable with a content filter that both enables teachers and students while at the same time keeping everyone, including the network, safe.  It was an interesting challenge to chair, be the recorder, and also put in my two cents worth.  Right at the end, I received a call from @MindShareLearn who was coming for a visit and wanted a recommendation for a restaurant in Belle River.  Naples is always a good choice!

Within the hour, he arrived and we took a tour of Lakeshore Discovery School.  Robert and I have done a lot of talking in the past as to what the perfect school should look like.  I had talked to him about our LDS and our board’s approach with building themed schools so he wanted to see it first hand.  I was able to nab a superintendent and the first principal of the school to lead the tour.  It’s an impressive place with things to discover around every bend – just like you would see in an active museum.  Throughout the tour, Robert would stop to take a picture with either his iPhone or take a movie clip with his digital movie camera.  The “short little tour” took over two hours with all the questions and interactions.

The neat thing was going into a Grade Two class that was working with the life cycle on their SMART Board.  But, this was a French Immersion class.  It’s not SMART Board or le SMART Board – it was a tableau tactile.

At the conclusion, Robert wanted a short interview with the superintendent for the Mind Share Report and we went back to the Carolinian Forest and I recorded the interview with Robert’s camera.  Hope it turns out OK.  When I do a handheld recording, I’m very sensitive to the fact that I’m breathing.  Does the camera jiggle?  As we’re walking down the hall, I got a chance to flip on my iPod and noticed that I had a mention on Twitter.  This lady had read my blog and was going to use the idea in her own professional learning community.  Cool.  Someone actually reads my ramblings.

Next up was Essex for an afterschool workshop using Comic Life and BitstripsForSchools.  Getting there was easy; it’s a due South shot from Emeryville and I get there and, with the help of Net Support School, the computers are fired up and ready and I distribute some sample images to the desktops.  My friend Karen showed up early and we were talking about engaging students and getting them to write.  We both reflected back to our elementary school days where we just wrote because we were supposed to.  It was an expectation from the teacher and our parents supported the teacher.  There was no question about it – we just did it.  It was a great setup for the workshop.

We worked through many of the ideas that I’ve blogged about on here before.  It went well and the consensus of the group was that, if this doesn’t motivate kids to plan and write, what will?  Everyone left promising to give it a shot in the near future.  I can’t wait to hear their successes.  They all have Bitstrips for Schools accounts now and know that Comic Life is on their network.

The day ends in Windsor, straight up Highway 3.  There was to be an informal gathering of the participants of the Ontario Powerful Learning Practice group.  We’re got two incredible groups of educators who are taking part and I’m a fellow!  I get there and am actually the first in the room so I take a few moments to catch up on email.  We still have a couple of problems in the system like the spell checker not working in French but the Help Desk will make it happen once they know that it’s an issue.

This meeting was neat.  It was a chance to catch up with @markcarbone where we always promise to solve the ills of our respective worlds and end up realizing there are more sides to any issue.  Mark’s three barrels aren’t enough at times.  @sadone was the host and had the munchies all set up in a short period of time.  I finally got a chance to meet @msjweir face to face rather than on Twitter.  Most of our teachers that are participating in the project showed up and we had a great time catching up with Charlotte’s bus and Debbie’s prep time and laptop batteries and …

All good things come to an end and it was time to head home.  There were just a few things to take care of before sitting down to enjoy “Law and Order” with the family.  I took at look at the minutes and, yeah, it looks like I really enjoyed the discussion to the detriment of some of the details.  No problem.   I post the recording to Google Docs and invite the group to review and revise my recording.  I flip over to Facebook to see what’s up with The Boy and he’s already moved on to the next important issue of the day.  Great.  My daughter will be training a new person in her department shortly.  Great as well.

I flip over to Seesmic Desktop and @msjweir notes that we didn’t decide on a hashtag for the PLP Ontario group.  I’m sure that will be addressed as part of our PD today.

Time for one last check of email – I’ve got one principal who wants to use Google Wave for a collaborative environment for his hub.  I had to break the sad news that there may come a time when it’s the perfect tool but as a limited beta, it’s not ready for prime time yet. I’ve got another teacher who’s interested in embedding a blog into the middle of her page. What a great way to keep the content fresh.

Whew!  It was a big day in a number of different communities and with diverse groups of people.  The key to staying on top of it all for me was having access to the proper tools, whether in my hand or on the web.  Upon further reflection, it goes deeper than just the tools – they’re just “stuff” in one of Mark’s barrels – the real key is that there are incredible people trying to do incredible things for the benefit of the students that we serve.  We can never miss sight of the fact that that is why we’re doing all this to begin with.

When I woke up, I never dreamt that I would use “tableau tactile” in a sentence twice.

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