A Great Starter Kit

Now, probably the great readers of this blog won’t need this but will download and pass it along, I’m sure.

When I think of all of the Professional Development activities that I’ve attended over the years, few really leap out to me as game changers.  However, when I think of the great learning activities that I’ve been part of, it’s hard to name just one.

And they weren’t always as a teacher.

I recall a memorable experiment in my high school.  For one day, attendance at school was optional and all regular classes were cancelled.  Instead teachers opened their classrooms doors and they all gave short seminars about things that they were  passionate about.  I distinctly remember a certain mathematics teachers who always wore a black jacket, black pants, and maybe a coloured tie to go with his white shirt.  He was the definition of straight laced.  So, a bunch of us math nerds decided to see if he was passionate about slide rules.  We couldn’t have been more wrong.  It turned out that he was a pretty good artist.  He brought in some of his good works and some that weren’t so good and told us the stories behind each.  It was fascinating.  Actually, the whole day was.  In this experiment, there was the possibility of halls and classrooms being empty.  But, like kids who could actually stay home on a snow day, we showed up, participated, and were hooked for the entire day.

Later, I attended what could have been a success.  We were going to “do Open Court”.  By the time that we were doing listening to and reading the rules and laying out the parameters, the moment had been lost.

Without a doubt, one of the best events I had the pleasure of being part of was Minds on Media.  It was learning at its finest.  Your feet lead the way to the learning activities that you felt you needed.  It reminded me of the high school event.  Participants are driven by their passions and needs rather than a timetable driven by someone else.  Similarly, the Waterloo CATC Camp model provided the same sorts of learning experiences.  I can’t help but note the power in the learning when it’s driven by the learner and not by someone with an agenda who has to cover the concepts.

In time, I had the opportunity to send a couple of teams to participate in a Powerful Learning Practice event.  This was even more unique in that you had the same dynamics of learning but it took place over a much longer period of time – in our case it was over a school year.  The results are still evident today, a couple of years after the event, one of the teams in particular gets together to work and share with each other.  The attitudes and skills that they took away from the learning took each of them into different directions for continued learning and that doesn’t really matter.  The key was the continued energy and enjoyment of professional learning.  Some wiki, some blog, some Twitter, some Facebook, some …  It’s funny how it took the group into different directions.  None not necessarily “better” than any other, but personal learning that lingers after the event is over.  I’ve tried to encapsulate that with my own online summer course “Eight Weeks to Web 2.0“.

August 2012 is the Connected Educator Month.

I didn’t know either.  Heck, every day is full of connections for me.

To support the initiative, Powerful Learning Practice has been supported in the production of a 30 day roadmap to connected learning.

You can, and absolutely should, download the document from this link.  Then, you need to immediately share it.

It’s not a PDF to read; it’s a PDF that’s a call to action.

I would recommend that you download and take a look at the items in the index.  If you’ve been online, you’ll see that it’s a pretty comprehensive and aggressive course load.  If the friend that you forward this to is intimidated, they should be.  But, they will be joined in the learning and the activities by educators worldwide.  Why wouldn’t they participate?

And, there are badges.  What’s a good MOOC without badges?  In this case, think of them as breadcrumbs documenting your process through the month.  Where to put them?  Check out Day 11 or Day 14.

As I look at the activities contained within the month, I can’t help but notice the similarities to great activities that I’ve enjoyed from the past.  There isn’t an event that’s a “sit ‘n git”.  If you’re going to be successful, you need to be actively working your keyboard, your mouse, your mind, your imagination.  At the end of it, you’ll be prepared to go to the next level with your students because you’ll be a motivated and active learner yourself.  What could be better?

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5 thoughts on “A Great Starter Kit

  1. As ever, thanks for the kick in the butt. I will be a “disconnected educator” for much of August, and have therefore been filing my notices from PLP about this event under “look at later”. Thanks for drawing my attention, as you often do, to something I might otherwise have missed. I will share this, and I will take a more detailed look at it later, because, as you remind me, I am connected every day.

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  2. margo sanger says:

    Yes Doug, the ELTIP and PLP experience were life changing for me! I learned so much from both projects, the entire team and you! I took part in the 8 Weeks to Web 2.0 and with the PLP experience, my personal learning still does linger from those experiences. I love to learn about all of the web 2.0 and more importantly, I love to share this knowledge with my students. I am able to engage them and keep them interested as they never know what is coming next! I would love to follow along with the PLP course but I think my brain is too full at the present time. I will check it out and see if I can follow along as an observer. New for the fall – class participation in the Global Read Aloud 2012! I can’t wait! Thanks Doug for all you do!

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