Tuesday 15 August 2017

Happy Fifth Anniversary!

Five years ago this fall, we hosted our very first Manitoulin IGNITEd session in Little Current on Design Thinking and Makerspaces. Since then, we've hosted over 90 individual participants (many joining us on more than one occasion) to learn about new and exciting topics in the field of education. Not bad for a little island in rural Ontario :)

As part of the registration for each session, we poll our participants to see what they would like to be learning about, and then building our schedule from their input. Though we try to pick dates in advance, we never know from one session to the next what we'll be learning about. We love the diversity of topics that this brings!

This past school year, we explored:

We also expanded our sessions to include a simultaneous presentation in both M'Chigeeng and Sudbury, and we look forward to building on these connections throughout the upcoming year.

As we get ready to jump back into a new school year, we're already getting ready for our first fall session on student mental well-being, with details ready to publish soon. Until then, be sure to check out the posters and archives above, as well as our Twitter hashtag #2017IGNITEd. As usual, let us know what you'd be interested in learning about by commenting here on the blog, or on Twitter at @ManIGNITEd. 

Best of luck with the new school year! We look forward to seeing you at one of our sessions.

Sunday 4 September 2016

Manitoulin IGNITEd - Year FOUR!

As we get ready for the new school year, we find it hard to believe that it's been three full years since we started Mantoulin IGNITEd as a way to connect educators and further our learning. Though we haven't been keeping up with our blog (oops), we have hosted some fantastic sessions lately, each time connecting us with new innovators and allowing us to try new things in our classrooms. 

Just this past school year, we've been able to: 

We're already looking forward to new sessions this year based on what past attendees would like to see! We have our second GAFEcamp coming up on September 24, and are in the planning stages for a session on coding in the classroom in November.

We invite you to follow along with our learning at #2016IGNITEd (make that, #2017IGNITEd once January rolls around!), to join us at our bi-monthly sessions (either in person or remotely), and to let us know what topics you'd like to learn about!

All the best for an exciting new school year!

Sunday 1 March 2015

Feb. 21: Digital Citizenship

Last week a small but enthusiastic group of island educators met to learn more about digital citizenship. In Ontario, it is a topic many of us have heard of, but we have had little - if any - direction as to how to implement digital citizenship topics into our classes.

Kristen Mattson (@mrskmattsonNaperville, Illinois) was our guest speaker. In her role as a Professional Learning Specialist, she supports PK-12th grade teachers by designing and developing effective professional learning opportunities. Her passion for Instructional Technology led her to pursue a Master's Degree in Instructional Design and Technology, and she is currently researching Digital Citizenship Education for her doctoral dissertation. She joined us via Google Hangout.

Her presentation "Digital Citizenship - Moving Beyond Internet Safety," started by introducing us to the different levels of citizenship (personally responsible, participatory, and justice oriented) and how those extend to citizenship online.

We looked at some of the most recent publications on our new "digital reality," and how being constantly connected impacts all of us (society in general, but particularly our students). 
Supposedly, we are becoming a more narcissistic society.
In other news, here's a selfie at the session!
There was a lot of back and forth discussion as we were just as interested in hearing about Kristen's research and resources, as she was in hearing about our classroom and Guidance experiences. 

For me personally, one of the biggest take-aways was how there is a mentorship gap when it comes to building an online presence. What can we do, as adults (as role models!) to demonstrate how to behave online, or how to harness the power of global connectivity and make a difference in the world? I find this to be an especially tricky topic in a time where we, as teachers, are cautioned to not engage in ANY public online communication with students.

Toward the end of the presentation, Kristen introduced us to many great resources, both to address the topic of digital citizenship in the classroom, and also to learn more about the potential impact of good digital citizenship through online projects. One of the lenses in which to focus the idea of good citizenship is to look at shifting away from purely "self-serving" uses of technology and look more toward modelling connectivity and collaboration.

Traditionally, after our guest speaker's presentation, we take time to explore resources and tools, reserving the last hour or so of the session for discussion, implementation, and collaboration. And while we had good intentions of doing just that, the group quickly turned to pure discussion, and continued until our time was up! 

In between bites of brunch, we talked about how digital citizenship can be introduced into the citizenship unit in the grade 10 Civics/Careers course, how to best model being online, reducing anxiety of students when it comes creating digital resources, and whether digital citizenship is best taught through a top-down or bottom-up approach.

Conversations like the one we had remind me that when you bring together educators who are passionate about a given topic, it leads to some tremendous discussion and a wealth of ideas on how to start making a difference in our classrooms. We all came away from the session both with lots of ideas to still process, but also a more clear idea on how to get started with our own students.

For more information on Manitoulin IGNITEd sessions, check out other entries in this blog, or follow us on Twitter at @ManIGNITEd.

Saturday 20 December 2014

Dec. 6: Robotics!

One of the things we strive to do with our IGNITEd sessions, is cater to what participating teachers want to learn. At the end of the summer, one of our previous participants suggested an introduction to robotics, and we were happy to comply.

On Saturday, December 6, Manitoulin IGNITEd welcomed Darren Foy from Algonquin Public School (Sudbury) and volunteers from his school's robotics team to introduce an enthusiastic group of teachers to LEGO EV3 Mindstorm robots. He put together an amazing workshop that combined lots of play time with the robots with information as to what this robotics thing is all about.

Darren giving us the overview of the day, and introducing us to resources.

Most of us had never had the chance to play with robotics like this before, and weren't sure what to expect. Darren started us off with a couple of videos showing us the best of the best - what do the most advanced robotics groups do with this technology?

We then talked about how FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO Robotics League works, including the emphasis placed on fair play, sportsmanship and team work. The robotics team shared with us how they witness students practice persistence and become more creative in their approach to programming, as well as how students quickly learn that it's better to get really good at a few tasks rather than being mediocre at many tasks.

Algonquin's team display at the recent FIRST LEGO League competition, which focused on growth mindset.

Darren walked us through how to best apply for funding, and how the club works at his school as well as at a couple of the high schools in Sudbury.

After a bit of discussion, the robots were unleashed! Each student expert was paired up with a couple of adults who tackled a couple of basic challenges, such as programming a robot to follow a line, or to turn before a robot runs into a wall.

We finished up with lots of questions and answers for our hosts, a curriculum scavenger hunt, yet more hands-on time, and several grapes being launched across the room by robotic arms!

We ended the day with at least two grant proposals being put together to try and get robotics to the island. Huge thank you to Darren and all of our parent volunteers and student experts for a thrilling workshop, true to the IGINITEd spirit!

Thursday 2 October 2014

Sept. 20th IGNITEd: Learning Through A Lens

Saturday, Nov. 20: teacher-led & teacher-driven PD, style on Sept. 20, 2014 with Rob Ridley (@RangerRidley):

Rob Ridley (@RangerRidley), Coordinator of the Field Centres for the Peel District School Board, will be our guest speaker for the first hour.

Notes from Rob’s talk:

Specific links from our Twitter feed:

Take 30 minutes to go out into the school. Find five examples of different parts of speech. Be creative!
  1. Use a device to take photos of your examples
  2. Use Skitch to annotate your photos - which part of speech are you showing and a synonym for it.
  3. Be prepared to share!

Here’s the result of some of our efforts!

Once back in the room, we’ll look at tools to help us share these images.

Take some time to plan how you can try some of these ideas in your classroom with your curriculum! We’ll have a handout to help guide you, but the time really is yours to collaborate, try, explore, research and create. Let us know how we can help!

At the end of the session, a storify record was made of all the tweets from today. You can find that record here.

Playing with Skitch

Great group to learn with:

Next IGNITEd session will be in November. Stay tuned!

Saturday 29 March 2014

Reflections on Redefining Student Learning with Technology

Our most recent session (March 22) was looking at ways to redefine student learning with technology. In particular, we were trying to reach the ever-elusive upper levels of the SAMR model.

The SAMR (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition) model, developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, is a spectrum of sorts, demonstrating how we can use technology in an educational setting. The spectrum begins with direct substitution (instead of looking at a hardcover textbook, one could look at an e-book of the same text), and finishes with a complete redefinition of the learning environment - having students create their resources and communicate their learning with the world.

Our guide for the morning was Neil Finney (@igniteincite), a teacher from the Simcoe County District School Board who has been very active in not only engaging students with technology, but also having them create new products, reaching out beyond the boundaries of the classroom.

After a quick introduction to SAMR using a grade 2 science example, we let Neil take over for the first hour. He introduced us to a great many tools - some familiar, like Skype, Twitter and Dropbox, others new to many of us, such as Screencast-o-matic, blogging tools and todaysmeet. There are so many ways we can help our students reach out to others outside of the classroom, and it was very inspirational to see examples in action.

One of the group's favourite example of student collaboration was how Neil had his senior elementary students plan an outdoors, Olympics-like event for the junior students. All of the planning and collaboration was done online with another group of students, however the product was anything but digital - it was all the events and activities for the younger children. What a great idea to meet the students where they are and engage them using technological tools, but end with a result of physically getting out of the classroom and involved in their community!

Image from http://www.thinklinkgraphics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/2013-OELC-web.png

Neil also introduced us to an image of how students imagine the future of Ontario's education system (above). How can we use the tools available to us to help students get what they want out of their education?

The idea of screencasting also impressed us. Neil used this to have his students not only demonstrate their knowledge (of math, in particular), but also to practice their learning. One of our participants noted that having students literally talk their way through problem solving while their work was screencasted was not as "high stakes" as a test, and might help relieve student stress, while still having them complete higher-order thinking tasks.

After Neil's talk, we took the time to discuss whether we thought the idea of SAMR was a linear process (teachers new to using technology in class should start with substitution, and progress through augmentation and modification to redefinition), or whether a teacher could jump into the middle of the spectrum wherever they pleased.

Discussion around the table.
...and then we jumped in wherever we pleased, trying new tools. One teacher took the time and created a class blog, whereas others played with pinboards like padlet, and screencasting tools. We were given a handout to help us get started on where, in our own curricula, we could begin the SAMR process.

One of my personal favourite parts of these IGNITEd sessions is that we have the time to discuss what we've learned from our guest, and actually start to implement some of these ideas into where we are in the classroom. Thank you, Neil, for your inspiration and for documenting some of the amazing things you and your students are doing to redefine the learning process, and then sharing them with us!

Monday 13 January 2014

Reflections on Global Collaboration

We seem to be two-for-two when it comes to scheduling IGNITEd sessions on days when the weather makes the roads treacherous. Our first session, on design learning and the maker movement, saw several participants unable to make it due to highway closures. Our second session this past weekend on global collaboration only had 4 of the 12 registered participants gather in Little Current after a night of freezing rain.

But instead of hampering the organizers' efforts, this actually served to demonstrate just how powerful collaboration across the miles can be. Six participants were able to join the Adobe Connect room our guests had set up and still participate in real time. We asked questions on behalf of others, linked up via Connect, Twitter, GHO and GoogleDocs, and all managed to be inspired by our guests and their experiences.

Mali Bickley and Jaclyn Calder (@jaccalder) joined us remotely from Newmarket and Penetanguishene respectively, to speak with us about the benefits and possibilities when it comes to engaging students in social justice, and working with other students around the world. Mali, one of two co-ordinators for iEARN Canada, started us off with a quote by Jennifer Corriero, co-founder of Taking it Global:

"I wonder... if young people were actively engaged in all aspects of society, and thought of themselves as community leaders, problem-solvers, role models, mentors and key "stakeholders"... how would the world change?"

How exactly would the world change?
We heard wonderful stories of students who started an Earthwatchers project - collaborating with other students to monitor an assigned plot of rain forest land for clear-cutting activity - in science class, but continued monitoring their land long after they had finished the course.

We heard of students who started reading ingredient lists and refusing to buy (and forcing their parents to not buy) products that contained ingredients that were not sustainably harvested.

We heard of students who began speaking out against war - not because "war is bad" but because they learned first hand through discussions with other students about the effects of war on their schools, homes and families.

And we learned that connecting our students with other classes around the world can be as traditional  as exchanging letters (or books or artefacts), or as 21st Century as sending GarageBand files back and forth to compose truly international music or teach students how to speak English over a Google Hangout.

With the digital tools at our disposal, and access to organizations like Flat Connections and iEARN, the connection part becomes easy, while the content of our collaboration can suit whatever needs we have for our various classes. How amazing is it that we can take our students around the world and have them make a difference in another student's life!!

It is often easy to always look elsewhere for experts in the field, but we should never forget about the wealth of experience local colleagues can also share. We were fortunate to have two teachers with us who could tell us more about Skype in the Classroom and the Flat Connections projects (as well as their pros and cons), and share their resources with us.

Regardless of the amount of global collaboration experience each participant had prior to this session, I know that each of us came away with not only a new idea or two to try, but also the excitement that comes from working/planning/discussing with enthusiastic colleagues. Thank you Mali and Jaclyn, and all our participants for making this another great IGNITEd session!