Documenting the #RCAC13


During October and now December, I’ve had the privilege of co-chairing two conferences with two amazing folks – Cyndie Jacobs and Doug Sadler.  Both events were instrumental in bringing together Ontario Educators for an event of learning, sharing, and reflection on practice.  The most recent event was the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee’s Symposium 2013.  Hashtag for the event was #RCAC13.

This is a really unique event.  Unlike ECOO which tries to reach out to the province, the RCAC Symposium’s audience is Directors, Superintendents, Principal/Vice-Principals and technology leaders within districts and schools in Southwestern Ontario.  There are lots of PD events for this type of people but the RCAC Symposium allows for a smaller, intimate, intensive, one day learning event about technology and teaching.  I’m not aware of any professional learning event that attempts to do this in the same way.

It’s always nice to sit back and reflect on a conference when it’s complete.  If you have more “that worked wells” than “wish we’d done thats”, it’s a success.  My sense is that we had more “that worked wells”.  It wasn’t perfect – as my co-chair noted, “if it’s all working perfectly, you’re not using enough technology”.

The biggest thing, and it’s always a technology conference bugaboo, is that the internet worked – and worked well.  We’ve gone through a number of different attempts over the years with the Lamplighter Inn and this year’s implementation seemed to work nicely.  I had only one complaint and it was shown to me on a computer that was connected and we looked at an email together so…

In this post, I’d like to share three ways that the conference was documented for me.

The first was just one of those things that fell into place.  My co-chair, Doug Sadler (@sadone on Twitter) and I were having a last minute check of things on our “minute-by-minute” document on Wednesday night after all of the helpers had headed off to bed.  We were pretty happy with the way things were shaping up and, as we typically do, we were sharing our latest technology finds.  He showed me this new app (Noom Walk) that he was using as a pedometer on his phone.  I showed him a graphing app that I used (My Tracks) for much the same thing but I thought it would be a hoot to try out the app that he showed me.  Besides, my old pedometer had gone through the wash and no longer works!  He indicated that his goal was to walk 10,000 steps a day.  My dog would love being with him!

Next morning, I was up and working on things at 4:30am and I just slipped my phone in my pocket as I was out to check the setup in the ballroom, the foyer, and the breakout rooms.  The restaurant in the hotel wasn’t open when I was ready for breakfast so I hopped in the car and headed out to Tim Horton’s.  I had to get some donuts for a purpose during the conference anyway so it was no biggie.

Then, Symposium hit and the typical tasks were done.  Checking that presenters were good to go, moving door prizes in and out of the big ballroom, walking and talking with people, attending a session, etc.  At day’s end, it was a matter of packing up all the stuff, filling the car, and heading home eventually to be greeted by the dog who needed his evening walk.  Later, I had a chance to sit on the couch and wondered why my feet hurt.  I remembered – Doug’s app – I looked and it had indeed been counting for me.  12,157 steps!  That’s a lot of walking.

The second documentation was pictorial.  Yes, I had my phone and took some pictures but they pale in comparison to having it done right.  But, here’s a picture I took anyway – the Lamplighter Poinsettia tree.

Poinsettia

Andy Forgrave had his amazing camera and tripod on the go.

Now, I know he probably would have taken a ton of pictures but he put together a nice collection in a Flick gallery.  If you couldn’t join us, or if you just want to remember, take a look here.

And, finally, what’s a technology conference without Twitter.  We used the hashtag #RCAC13 and put it right on the cover of the program. There was no excuse for not knowing what the hashtag was.  People didn’t miss the opportunity.  Tweets were flying from all over the place.  Certainly, the majority of them came during the two keynotes but you’d find them in every breakout session as well.

All the way home, I could hear my smartphone chirping away letting me know that there was another tweet in the works.  I was dying to read what was happening but, of course, you don’t tweet and drive.  Upon my arrival, there were a lot of private messages but certainly even more to add to the activity from the day.

To keep track of things, I created a Tagboard of the day’s tweets.

I also put together a Storify document of all of the Twitter activity.

What a great collection and it’s interesting to work backwards through the timeline to remember what a great day we had.  If you’re not into Tagboard or Storify, certainly just a Twitter search for #RCAC13 will get the job done.

I know that those in attendance, and those who were ineligible for door prizes but joined us virtually all found that something that expands their understanding and learning about how technology makes a difference for students in the year 2013.  After all, to paraphrase keynote speaker Gary Stager, you can’t be teaching the 21st Century learner if you’re not a learner yourself.

And, I’ll award the “Tweet of the Day to Rodd Lucier”…

If you attended the conference or were just following the hashtag, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Please add them below.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Here’s a most recent roundup of things of interest coming from the fingertips of Ontario Edubloggers.  As always, a great collection of wisdom shares.  Check them out and pass along to your colleagues.

How Do You Jump Into the Pool?

Kristi Kerry Bishop posed a question about change in school that inspired a number of replies, including one from me.  It’s good reading, both from the perspective of a teacher and an administrator.  I was inspired, as a teacher, to share a big moment of change for me as a first year teacher.  Hint, it involved a sweating vice-principal with a big grin on his face.  Change has to be something carefully thought through.

I remember the advice given to me by a colleague as we car pooled to my first professional development session.  “Beware of anyone who says I’m from the Board Office and I’m here to help you.”  There’s a danger in statements like that and their effectiveness.  It’s like “I read a book on PLNs | Collaborative Inquiry | Inquiry in the Classroom | ” and now we’re going to do it.  There needs to be an element of readiness and part of that is laying the ground work.

In this case, my reply was inspired by a personal event and also by the quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

Got ideas of your own?  Add them to her replies.

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Another Brick in the Wall

Peter Skillen, as luck would have it, has the perfect blog post to address at least some of Kerri’s concerns.

He expands on his thoughts in the post with a number of “bricks”.

  • Practise what you Preach
  • We perpetuate myths through one-line wisdoms
  • We need to educate – not subjugate
  • We are ferociously fickle. We ‘surf the surface’
  • It IS about the tools
  • Educate the public

If this doesn’t make you think….

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Students as Teachers:  Week 2 in the Makerbot 3D Classroom

As noted earlier in the blog and on hers, Heather Durnin has a new tool for her classroom and is using her Makerbot printer for “exciting, vigorous learning” in her classroom.  The blog post talks about the excitement that the students have and anything that gets kids working over the lunch hour has to be good.  I like the pictures that she shares in the post; it appears to be one very excited classroom.

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Clouds and Records

For those who are fear mongering that education is selling out to big corporations about student data without thinking it through, you need to take a look at Mark Carbone’s recent post.  The OASBO people are taking this topic very seriously.  As Mark notes,

 “The provincial committee is examining school board privacy and records management considerations
for business functions as they relate to cloud computing.”

As visible evidence, a recent meeting of OASBO folks online with a Google Hangout, the conversation was recorded and made available for anyone who wants to take the time to view it.  Mark has it embedded into his post.

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100th Post: Welcoming an administrator to blogging

Congratulations to Brandon Grasley on the occasion of his 100th blog post.

I think the post speaks to his qualities as an educator helping other educators.  Many bloggers, upon reaching such a milestone would blog about “me“, “hey, it’s my 100th” or the like.  In Brandon’s case, he used his post to promote the blogging efforts of another educator.

Doesn’t that speak volumes about him on a personal level and on a more global level how we can use the blogging platform to build a better place for all of us to learn online?  Let’s join Brandon in welcoming David Jaremy to the world of blogging.

DavidJaremy

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#RCAC13 Final Program

If you’re able to make it to London on December 5, you’ll absolutely get a great day of Professional Learning at the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee’s Annual Symposium.  It’s just one day in length but you’ll get a chance to hear two inspirational keynote speakers – Travis Allen and Gary Stager – as well as attend sessions from educational leaders from the Western Ontario region.

Oh, and you’ll have a wonderful Christmas dinner.

Full disclosure – I’ve been asked to co-chair the conference again with Doug Sadler.  It’s been a local event that I’ve been so passionate about since my first year as a consultant with the Essex County Board of Education.  I always used to bring my superintendent and key principals to hear what’s happening in other school districts just up the 401.  Every other school district would do the same thing and we would serve to push each other to greater and greater things.  It’s a full days of ideas and inspiration.

As Rodd Lucier notes:

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You’ve got to admit – it’s another great week of reading and ideas from some of the educational leaders in the province.  Thanks to the above and to everyone in the Ontario Edublogger list for keeping us engaged and thinking about the big issues in Ontario Education.  Please take the time to visit the blog entries above and see if you don’t agree.

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Here’s some of the great things that caught my attention this week from the fingertips of Ontaro Edubloggers.

Using Google Apps to Make Interactive Stories

Sylvia Duckworth produced a very helpful instructional blog showing yet another use for Google Forms.  This time, she gives a step by step set of instructions for creating an interactive Adventure.

And, it comes as no surprise that her demonstrations include one adventure in English and another one in French!

This was but the beginning – she continues to show how to create interactive stories in Presentations, Google Docs, and YouTube.  If you’re looking for a little something different, there’s a great deal here.

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The Appearance of Credibility and Other Useless Pursuits

There was a gentleman in my first school who had this assessment myth attributed to him.  Come report card time, he would call each student to stand in front of his desk, look the student up and down, and then generate a mark for the student.

Of course, that’s the stuff of staff room lore and had no basis in truth.  But, it was a good story!  Assessment and Evaluation have been hot professional development topics that have been “done” recently.

In this post, Tim King spins his own thoughts about assessment.

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#ecoo13 review

You can’t beat a good blog post.  But, what is a blog anyway?

Does it have to be something that’s done in WordPress or Blogger?

Or is it the content and the message that’s important?  Of course, it is.

Lisa Noble, instead of using a traditional blogging platform, used a presentation format to share her thoughts and takeaways from the recent Educational Computing Organization of Ontario conference.

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The 3-D MakerBot Arrives at F.E. Madill

Very cool things are happening in Heather Durnin’s class.  She blogs about the 3-D MakerBot’s arrival and ultimate setup at the school.  If you read the blog and see how the setup was done, you’ll be confident that the “kids are alright”.  This will be a very nice addition to her classroom.  I’m jealous.

I cracked a big grin when she asked if these two printers could co-exist!

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#RCAC13 Final Program

If you’re able to make it to London on December 5, you’ll absolutely get a great day of Professional Learning at the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee’s Annual Symposium.  It’s just one day in length but you’ll get a chance to hear two inspirational keynote speakers – Travis Allen and Gary Stager – as well as attend sessions from educational leaders from the Western Ontario region.

Oh, and you’ll have a wonderful Christmas dinner.

Full disclosure – I’ve been asked to co-chair the conference again with Doug Sadler.  It’s been a local event that I’ve been so passionate about since my first year as a consultant with the Essex County Board of Education.  I always used to bring my superintendent and key principals to hear what’s happening in other school districts just up the 401.  Every other school district would do the same thing and we would serve to push each other to greater and greater things.  It’s a full days of ideas and inspiration.

As Rodd Lucier notes:

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Please take a few moments to read this posts and check out all of those in the Ontario Educational Blogging community.  My collection can be found in the LiveBinder located here.

Registration is Open!


The Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee annually hosts a one day symposium highlighting some of the very best initiatives happening in the school districts in Southwestern Ontario.  This year’s event will be held at the Lamplighter Inn in London, Ontario on December 6.

Check out the list of offerings for this year’s symposium.

  • You Got Your F2F In My LMS (Derek Stenton, LKDSB)
  • Chromebooks in the Classroom (Mark Carbone, Ron Millar and Jamie Reaburn Weir, WRDSB)
  • Parent / Teacher Communication Made Easy (Doug Sadler, WECDSB)
  • Big Ideas, Little People (Janet Martin and Cheryl Leis, WRDSB)
  • ThinkPads to iPads (Catherine Montreuil and Theresa Harrietha, BGCDSB)
  • Digital Human Library (Leigh Cassel, AMDSB)
  • iPads:  The Magic Window for Learning in a Grade 3-4 Class (Michelle Cordy,TVDSB)
  • Going Paperless (Travis Allen)
  • Conversation with Gary Stager
  • Are We Getting IT Right? (Brian Englefield, BHNCDSB)
  • Literature Circles 2.0 (Carey Eldridge, LKDSB)
  • Blend It Like Beckham (Rose Burton Spohn, eLearning Ontario)
  • iPads 1 to 1 (Paul Hatala, HWDSB)
  • Increasing Student Interactivity – Our Journey Beyond the Interactive Whiteboard (Chris Knight, GECDSB)
  • OSAPAC Updates (Danuta Woloszynowicz, SMCDSB)
  • What’s Your Favourite App? (Diana Doctor, AMDSB)

The day also features two keynote addresses.  Travis Allen will begin the day highlighting his iSchool initiative and Gary Stager shares The Best Educational Ideas in the World: Adventures on the Frontiers of Learning.

The registration flyer can be downloaded by clicking here.  (PDF File)  The Western RCAC’s new website is located here.