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Tag Archives: 21 century learning

Staff Development with George Couros

On June 14th, nearly 50 of our staff participated in a lunch time session with George Couros, Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning from Parkland School Division in Stony Plain, Alberta. George talked about social media for teachers and it’s importance and uses in classroom teaching. He also describes how we need to prepare students for a future that is rapidly changing. George’s dynamic presentation uses lots if youtube video clips and twitter examples. He shared some great initiatives that he has started in his own school division, for example  184 days of learning.
Every day one person, student, teacher, admin, or support staff are highlighted showcasing their learning. 184 days of learning.

This initiative has grown into a new one called #365learn that will be open to staff in other school districts to contribute as well.  Many teachers and administrators in the Surrey School District are very enthusiastic about contributing to #365learn.

He has also started a Learning Leader project that we are eager to learn more about.  In addition, George has started a Connected Principals hashtag on twitter #cpchat that I enjoy staying in touch with.
George Couros is an energetic and enthusiastic speaker who managed to get many teachers thinking they should get onto twitter for all the professional learning it offers as well as to use social media in their teaching. You can follow George on twitter @gcouros. It was exciting to have him visit our school as we had some really rich conversations about teaching and learning and inquiry based learning. He challenged us by always asking why we are doing things the way we are. This in turn forces you to think about your practice and be able to talk about it and further develop it. Embracing technology in the ways that George showed us will help us move forward with 21st century learning in our classrooms.






Conversation with Alec Couros

About a dozen of our teachers were able to have a wonderful conversation on April 10th with Alec Couros, professor of Educational Technology, at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan. The first thing Alec Couros did when he arrived at Fraser Heights was check in on Foursquare and check out our open wireless campus.  He was very pleased at how open our wireless is as he was able to access everything he was looking for and he knows that our students can do the same.   What a treat it was and what rich conversations we had.   Dr. Couros was in the Surrey School District for a few days to meet with teachers and administrators about 21 century learning. His session was called:  Anytime, Anywhere, Anyone:  Transitioning Toward 21 Century Learning.   Our informal conversation at Fraser Heights covered lots of ground. Its safe to say everyone in the room found the conversation stimulating and engaging.  It  was at times challenging and provocative and really stretched our thinking.  We talked about a quote that I thought was from Alec’s brother George @gcouros who also recently visited our school district but the statement is actually from Scott Mcleod @mcleod and it is “If you are not using social media, you are slowly becoming illiterate.”  We discussed what is meant by this and how our definitions of literacy are changing.  For example if you or our students do not know what a hashtag is or a retweet  then you are slowly becoming illiterate.  Alec Couros showed us the new standards of literacy developed by NCTE National Council for Teachers of English  framework for 21 century curriculum and assessment.  The standards for literacy are changing in what some would call a post literate age.

Our conversation also lead to assessment practices.  One teacher asked how you can assess a blog vs a powerpoint vs an imovie for example? Dr. Couros suggested we ask the students which we are more able to learn from and why.

Some of my other new learning from the conversations with Alec Couros includes:   Commenting is as important as blogging.  We often encourage our students to blog but students can learn just as much from commenting on others blogs as from their own blog writing.  That we need to ask our students how did they contribute to the learning of others?  That learning is social and that it needs to be shared.  How are we teaching digital citizenship in our schools?  We saw examples of what 21st century learning looks like.  We also saw examples of student’s work whereby students were  are able to share their learning in a variety of media. Sometimes they shared learning where the learning all came from the web or YouTube. He told us that  reading and writing changes in the post literate generation.   And that hypertext changes everything about learning.  Books are no longer one dimensional.  We watched a YouTube video of Joe’s non-netbook.

Here was an interesting teaching idea for an English teacher to use twitter.  Ask students ” What would Hamlet tweet?”

Our conversations gave us many  new ideas for teaching and learning in this digital age.   We are grateful to Dr. Couros for his visit to Fraser Heights Secondary and to the Surrey School District.  We have a new friend who has given us a lot to think about.