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Posts Tagged ‘TEDx’

TOP3

Welcome to my final blog post of 2013 – My “Top 3″ lists for the year.  This has become a tradition with previous Top 3 lists for 2012 (here), 2011 (here) and 2010 (here).  I know we are abandoning ranking and sorting in our education system, so this is more about highlighting some of the blogs, videos and ideas that have engaged me over the last 12 months. As always with these kind of lists hopefully it will start some discussion and debate as well.

Top 3 “Culture of Yes” Blog Posts which have Generated the most Traffic this Year:

1.  What About Final Exams?

2. Dr. Shanker and Self-Regulation – Continuing the Conversation

3.  Hopes and Dreams for my Kids’ Schooling

Top 3 Used (and often overused) Quotes in Education for the Year (some are past winners):

1. We need to focus on the learning

2. It’s not about the technology

3. The 21st Century is more than 10% over (YES – people are STILL using versions of this one!)

Top 3 Growing Trends I See Continuing in the Next Year:

1. Embedding Aboriginal teachings across the curriculum — BC’s new draft curriculum is a great example

2. Devices becoming invisible — more and more kids have devices, and I am noticing them less and less

3. Rethinking of report cards — we are in the midst of a dramatic shift in reporting

Top 3 Books I have Read this Year that have Influenced My Thinking:

1.  Spirals of Inquiry by Linda Kaiser and Judy Halbert

2.  Calm, Alert, and Learning – Stuart Shanker

3.  Communicating the New – Kim Erwin

Top 3 Professional Development Events I have Attended:

1.  TEDxWestVancouverED – it has been so great to have a TEDx event in our community with so many of our staff and students involved

2.  Connect 2013 – a wonderful chance to see so many Canadians present who I have met over time through Twitter and our blogs

3.  Barbara Coloroso – the Guru of parent education was hosted by our District Parent Advisory Council

Top 3 BC Superintendent Blogs You Should Follow:

1. Jordan Tinney — Surrey

2. Steve Cardwell –Vancouver

3. Kevin Godden — Abbotsford

Top 3 Non-education New Twitter Follows:

1.  Roberto Luongo (Canucks)

2.  Gerry Dee (from Mr. D)

3.  Mr. T (of pity the fool fame)

Top 3 Jurisdictions We Are Going to Turn Into the Next Finland:

1.  British Columbia — high achievement, high diversity, high equity – lots to interest people

2.  Quebec – Just what are they doing different than the rest of Canada in math?

3. Shanghai, China — We are concerned about their methods but their results are stunning

Top 3 TEDx Videos from WestVancouverED (that I bet you haven’t seen):

I earlier wrote a post here that highlighted some of my West Vancouver colleagues, so these are some of my favourite from the non-West Vancouver staff

1.  Katy Hutchinson — an extremely powerful personal story of restorative justice

2.  David Helfand — a new approach to university leadership

3.  Dean Shareski — he has a wonderful perspective and a great way to connect with people

 

Top 3 Fun and Interesting Educational Videos:

1.   What Came First — the chicken or the egg?

2.  Canada and the United States — Bizarre Borders

3.  What Does Your Body Do in 30 Seconds?

Thanks to everyone who continues to engage with me on my blog and push my learning. Some of my greatest professional joy is writing, reading, engaging and learning through my blog and with all of you.   I look forward to continuing to grow and learn together in 2014.

Chris Kennedy

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In April, I wrote about TEDxMania sweeping West Vancouver when we hosted two amazing events, TEDxWestVancouverED and TEDxKids@Ambleside. What has become so powerful about the TED and TEDx presentations is that they take on a life of their own on the Internet. Full credit and thanks to the teachers and administrators who organized the first event and to the elementary school students who organized the second one. Also, a huge “Thanks” to so many students who assisted with the video production — a great example of “real-real” learning.

I have previously written about my experiences – Hopes and Dreams for My Kids Schooling, but I would also like to highlight some of the other presentations from both events. Each one (presentations were a few minutes to 20 minutes) is well worth watching and sharing.
Here are a few presentation highlights by West Vancouver School District Staff at TEDxWestVancouverED:

Provoking thoughts from Gary Kern on what he wanted for his grandson, Jackson:

Scott Slater reflects on the process of change and the implementation of Outside45:

Kelly Skehill gives a changing perspective of math:

Zoltan Virag shares his passion around music education:

Other videos from the day include (click on the link to open the video):

Lauren Bauman (WVSD student) – Accidental Learning
Bruce Beairsto – A Framework for Professional Learning
Qayam Devji (WVSD student) – How Teachers Can Help Students Achieve Big Ideas
Tracy Dignum (West Vancouver parent) –Rethinking Memory & Retention of Learning: Tips for Parents
David Helfand – Designing a University for the New Millennium
Ron Hoffart – Environments for 21st Century Learning
Katy Hutchinson – Restorative Practices to Resolve Conflict and Build Relationships
Dean Shareski – Whatever Happened to Joy in Education?
Shelley Wright – The Power of Student-Driven Learning

Turning to TEDxKids@Ambleside, a couple of videos I would like to highlight:

Kevin Breel – his presentation: Confessions of a Depressed Comic has already be viewed more than 100,000 times at the time of publishing this post:

Alex Halme gives a first hand account — from a student’s view — of the differences between the Canadian and Finnish School Systems:

And again, there are so many wonderful videos worth watching and sharing, and you can see them all from the day here.

Once again, congratulations to all those involved, particularly Craig Cantlie and Qayam Devji. I know people are already excited about TEDx returning to West Vancouver next spring.

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TEDx

Being a part of a TEDx event feels like being invited to an exclusive party, in a room full of smart people and the kind of place I look around and feel ridiculously inadequate.  I did have the opportunity in the fall of 2010 to be part of TEDxUBC and speak about my experiences working with students during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.   This past month I had a second opportunity to speak at a TEDx event, this time TEDxWestVancouverED,  an event organized by four of my colleagues from West Vancouver, Craig Cantlie, Cari Wilson, Brooke Moore and Garth Thomson.  It was a particularly great experience to hear from some of the interesting and passionate people I work with in a format that lends itself to telling a story — stories we don’t often get to tell in our busy day-to-day routines.  When  I first spoke at a TEDx event I highlighted some of what makes these events unique and special:

- the format forces presenters to be concise

- the discussions between presentations are valued

- there is a great mix of people attending from a variety of professions

- the presentations live on through the web

- it is all about ideas

My presentation was based on a blog post I wrote last fall, Some of My Parenting Wishes for My Kids where I shared some personal stories of my own hopes for my kids’ learning.  Here is the video of my TEDx Talk:

And you can also see all the slides I used here:

Thanks again to all of the organizers and volunteers (including our West Van students who helped edit and publish the videos) and, in particular, Craig Cantlie who took the lead.  In the coming weeks other videos will be posted, and I will blog more about this event – there are several must-see presentations.  I will also share the ideas from TEDxKids@Ambleside – another great TED event that will have its videos posted shortly.

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iwonI want to share a struggle.

I have written before about ‘candy for rewards’ in the classroom – A Candy for Your Thoughts?, and my challenge with this is on a couple of levels: first, unhealthy, sugar-filled treats are seen as a reward for doing things correctly, being good, or essentially is giving prizes for (good) behaviour.  I have also written a piece on my struggles with book clubs rewarding students based on the volume of books they read – I Blame You Twitter. I have seen students (and my own children)  intentionally select easy books to ‘win’ and perpetuate the notion that reading is something that needs to be incentivized.  I have been well  indoctrinated by Alfie Kohn, Daniel Pink and others who raise the concern flag over rewards, and passionate Canadian edu-bloggers like Joe Bower and Chris Wejr who have regularly challenged the use of rewards in school.

I can remember rewards working for me in school.  I struggled with reading, but I recall a reading-fundraiser to raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society where family and friends sponsored me to read books and if I hit a certain number (I think it was 20 books) I got a certificate — I read for those months like I have never read before.  I also can remember engaging in social responsibility initiatives like raising money for prominent and worthy charities, knowing that if I reached a certain level I would get a free Frisbee or Yo-Yo.  But, shouldn’t I have read because of the pleasure of reading? Shouldn’t I have engaged in charity to support the community?  I’m not entirely sure I would have done either with such fervor if it were not for the incentives.  And, I’m also not sure if I would have studied so diligently every Thursday night for the Friday spelling test if I didn’t know a star on the board, at the front of the class, was on the line each week.

I am currently pulling together a presentation for the upcoming TEDxWestVancouverED around my parenting wishes for my own kids’ schooling.  I keep coming back to this idea that I want learning to be the prize for them.

I wish that I could say that I was more intrinsically motivated.  And, keeping the learning as the prize makes perfect sense in theory, and is a worthy goal, but for me it has always been an ongoing struggle.

Are others sharing this same challenge?

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The TED conferences have recently been in the local news with their announcement about the global conference moving to Vancouver and Whistler in 2014, but TEDxMania IS coming to West Vancouver this May. Of course, since June 2006, when Sir Ken Robinson spoke at TED on creativity, the education world has been captivated with TED.  Since then, TED videos have become integral to classrooms and to our professional learning.

And since then, an off-shoot from the TED conferences — the TEDx events — has been created:

“Created in the spirit of TED’s mission, ‘ideas worth spreading,’ the TEDx program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis.”

I have had the opportunity to speak at a TEDx (UBC), where I shared my story of working with students during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. I really loved the event format because speakers had to be concise with their presentation within an 18-minute time limit. The format also lent itself to participant discussion between presentations, with a good mix of ideas from people in a wide-range of fields and with different perspectives; it was live-streamed on the web and afterward archived on YouTube, and it was focused on ideas. Talks from that day, like the one Barry MacDonald gave on Boy Smarts, I reference to this day. I was also so impressed with those who volunteered to organize the event because it is a huge undertaking, but a wonderful service for the community.

That said, two groups in West Vancouver have caught the TEDx bug and are setting up for an exciting May:

TEDxWestVancouverED comes from the dedication of four thoughtful and passionate West Vancouver teachers – Craig Cantlie, Cari Wilson, Brooke Moore and Garth Thomson. The event, first hatched at an EdCamp in Delta last fall, is focussed on the future of education and asking some big questions, sharing ideas, and inspiration. Their event, at the Kay Meek Centre on May 11, will celebrate and also challenge – it is the very best of our profession. I am honoured that I have been asked to speak, and I am busily trying to recast a previous blog post on Some of My Parenting Wishes into a TED-worthy presentation.

The second event is TEDxKids@Ambleside, also at the Kay Meek Centre, on Friday, May 17 (for many BC schools this is a professional development day). Focused on curiosity and wonder, and led by the ever-dynamic, Grade 7 student, Qayam (also the event’s curator and founder), it is taking on real shape. The event is also supported by a team of students who would rival any organizing committee in their dedication, focus and execution. It is a thrill to be a support for these students, seeing the event gel, watching them solicit sponsors, weed through speaker candidates, promote via social media and turn a concept and idea into a solid event. Currently, the organizing committee is in the final days of accepting speakers, and has already filled more than 50% of participant seating for the day. The event is truly by the kids, for the kids and will feature some amazingly powerful young speakers.

The power of TED is the engagement that takes place on the day of the event, but it is also what Sir Ken and others have shown – the spreading of good ideas and the sharing of videos that emerge to give these ideas legs. Hopefully, many in my network will be able to attend one or both of the upcoming events, either in person or virtually “full of good ideas worth sharing.”

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Growth

I have written a fair bit about how my teaching has changed.  The post I wrote earlier this year generally described three basic stages.  At the start of my career I saw myself as a content provider and storyteller. When I became more comfortable with the craft I gave more ownership to students over their learning, which created a range of simulations and role-playing opportunities.  More recently, I have searched for more ways on how to do give students ownership and, now, opportunities for real world experiences as well.

Just as my teaching has evolved and changed, so has my learning. Early in my career I was hungry for any and all professional opportunities.  This was pre-social media and during the early days of the Internet.  I wasn’t that selective, but I did know I wanted to know more and improve.  I would read any article or book I was given. I would take gently read copies of Educational Leadership from my principal and vice-principal, and attend any opportunity offered for professional learning – from classroom management strategies and instructional design, to creating a democratic classroom.

As I moved into school administration I loved the big names and the big conferences. It truly was exciting to see and hear the big thinkers on education around the world. And, truth be known, there was something thrilling and honouring in attending these big conferences; the kind where thousands are in the room together – and I was one of them!  I sat at tables with some of the key leaders in my district, the province, and the world.  We all heard the same message from Michael Fullan to Sir Ken Robinson and had perspectives on where key leaders in our educational world thought we should go. I was sharing the room with edu-celebrities (I liked this word that Chris Wejr used recently, and committed to using it in a blog post).

Having recently attended two well-run, high-profile conferences, I realize these events with the speaker at the front of the room with all of us listening to the same message, no longer really works for me.  They are still great events, but I don’t feel they are actually pushing my learning.  What I need now is a chance to spend time making sense of what I am hearing — I crave the opportunity to engage with the smart people who are with me in the room.  I like Rebecca Rosen’s notion that “The smartest person in the room is no longer a person but the room itself.”  I have seen what is possible in the social media era. If I want to watch a speaker deliver a keynote I can watch it on YouTube. If I am going to see that keynote in person, I need to have some focussed engagement with others on what is being said.  If I am going to travel to conferences, then I need it to add value — not only to come away with new ideas, but new tools that I have had the chance to try, and the experience I couldn’t have had if I were not there.

I don’t mean to criticize the traditional conference because it DOES have value and there IS something powerful about being in a room of people hearing a similar message. Personally, however, I have moved past the learning options that were available to me a decade ago.  So, having also recently attended an EdCamp, I can say there is something between that and a traditional conference that would be best for how I want to learn.  And, I am okay with giving up a Saturday (with the promise of a bagged lunch) to sit in a high school to talk teaching and learning.

A couple of TEDx events I attended were also closer to hitting my learning mark, with shorter times for the keynotes and longer times for participant interaction. I am also finding events that bring people together from outside education, other government sectors, non-for-profits, or the corporate world, to be valuable in adding a range of views and perspectives to conversations.

And what else do I find is making a difference?  Focussed visits to districts, schools and classes are very powerful, with specific objectives and learning in action and not only in a presentation.  I also find the traditional ‘study group’ to continue to have a huge impact on my learning.  My first principal, Gail Sumanik, would bring donuts and coffee an hour before school started on Wednesday morning when interested staff would discuss an article, a strategy or part of a book.  I have carried this simple structure forward to other roles and find these conversations to be extremely valuable.  Another structure that I find valuable is some sort of networked learning – the kind that Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser have led so well in BC for well over a decade.

And yes, I find the ongoing engagement on my blog, the dozens of others I regularly read and other ways I connect in social media, to be very powerful on my learning.  I love the opportunities, both face-to-face and virtual, that are about sharing and learning together.

Last, but by no means least, I guess what I want for my learning is what I want for my kids, some form of personalized learning.  And, I am realizing my learning has changed, and that I have become a different learner than I was even five years ago.

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Twitter, or more specifically those who I connect with using it, has influenced my thinking and work in a number of ways. Although, from time to time, I do hear “Twitter is a waste of time,” my experience has been that if it is a waste of time you are following the wrong people.  While it is not the greatest tool for a discussion, or the best place to share deep, thoughtful commentary, it is a wonderful place to connect.

Here are the three ways it has influenced me as I look ahead to the next couple months:

My kids won’t be joining the library book club this summer

Every summer, we go to the local public library to get our sticker book and then make the weekly visits collecting stickers and exchanging books.  If there is one topic I have been most influenced on this year, it is likely the use of rewards and motivation.  From the powerful examples of Daniel Pink in Drive, to the sharing of Alfie Kohn’s work, to the thoughtful discussions around the use of awards in school from local educators like Chris Wejr,  I am much more conscious now of using external motivators.  I want my kids to love reading, and not because of a sticker.  I am not as firm in my belief as some of those on Twitter around external motivators, like stickers or candy, I am much more conscious of it now than I was a year ago.

I am not going to any major conference this summer

Once students leave for their break, it is often an ideal time for adult learning.  In past years, that has included attending a major conference — whether it be an event hosted by ASCD or the Building Learning Communities.  These major conferences are a wonderful way to be invigorated, connect to wonderful educators, and meet informally with many people who may only be previously known through their blog.  It is just not the only way to do it anymore.  There are many other choices and options.  Twitter allows me to drop in to a number of conferences across North America by following along with the conference hashtags.  Many of the major presenters are also streamed live for those who are not in attendance.  There is absolutely something about “being there” but it is not the only way.  For less money and travel I can sample a number of different events, and learn from a range of thoughtful leaders.

We are going to try un-conferencing with our administrators

I have been fascinated by the growth of the “un-conference” as shared on Twitter. So many people I follow describe their experiences as the best professional learning of their lives.  Whether it is the informal learning that is associated with TEDx events, the Edcamp events that seem to be all the rage in British Columbia, or a range of other participant-driven events, there are more people moving away from structuring professional learning around a series of “sit and get” Powerpoint presentations.  It is common to hear educators talk about Birds of a Feather events, lightning talks and world cafes.

We hold an annual summer conference with our school administrators and will try to model the un-conference format.  Our August event has often been heavy on information and outside speakers.  We will try to use some less structured formats that take aspects of the Edcamp model, and also experiment with Pecha Kucha (another term I hadn’t heard before Twitter).

I will probably blog a little less frequently over the next two months, but I will be learning and growing on Twitter.

All the best for a wonderful summer break and thanks for your ongoing support and engagement in this space.

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Much is being written this month as we celebrate the first anniversary of hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. From tourism to the economy to amateur athletics, various sectors are examining the impact of the Games.

It is also worth considering the effects the Games have had on education in B.C.  I have written about my own participation connected to the 2010 Winter Olympics, and shared some of that in my TEDxUBC presentation.   Looking back, here are some of my reflections of their effect on education: 

1.  To make broad-stroke generalizations across the province would be impossible. Communities that hosted sporting events (Richmond, Vancouver, West Vancouver, Whistler) clearly had more opportunity for engagement in the Games. The Board’s decision to close schools in West Vancouver during the Games is also seen, in retrospect, as a very wise decision — it was almost universally praised by staff and families.  One of the legacies in adjusting the 2010 Spring Vacation calendar is that it has stimulated more discussion over the validity and suitability of non-traditional breaks in school calendars.

  2.  The Games linked social media and schools.  While projects like Students Live were overt in their use of social media, all media outlets leveraged Facebook, Twitter and other social tools.  For many schools in BC, the Olympics were the first event they had ever tracked through social media.  While some classes have used social media to follow world events in Iran, Haiti and elsewhere, the Olympics brought social media into classes — and, in many places, it has stuck.

  3.  The Games created interest and curiosity around sports beyond hockey, soccer, baseball, and basketball.  There is a range of winter sports available that were highlighted during the Games, and schools embraced these with field trips and “school-versions” of them.  Primary students think about participating in luge, speed-skating and snowboard cross now – sports very few kids knew existed two years ago.

  4.  As much as the Olympics had an impact on education, I would suggest the Paralympics had a greater impact.  Give the Canadian Paralympic Committee and the organizers of the Paralympic Games credit — they did an amazing job of getting their message to schools in advance of the Games and engaging students.  Thousands of students were able to attend Paralympic events, and the Paralympic School visits leading up to the Games were powerful learning opportunities.  Students had the opportunity to test-drive Paralympic events, and hear from athletes.  As a result of the Games, young people in many communities have a new understanding of the word “disabilities” and they now recognize that people should not be defined by them.

  5.  The Games forged new relationships. In West Vancouver, they provided an opportunity for students from both public and private schools to work together toward making the Games relevant for all.  That same spirit has students from public and private schools working together again this spring, on a community-wide event for youth.  The Games also created a showcase for student talent — a district choir that came together for the Torch Relay has been replicated, in a slightly different form, for other events in West Vancouver.  The Games brought people together, who would not normally have had the opportunity to connect, and some of those relationships and partnerships have continued on to build to new opportunities.  With the Centennial approaching for the District of West Vancouver and the School District, many are looking to the Olympic experience as a model for engagement and celebration.

  6.  The Games tested the notion of teaching without a binder or textbook.  In some ways, the technology and overall readiness were not prepared for the vision.  One of the criticisms of the 2010 Olympic Education program was that there was no binder like with the 1988 Calgary Games.  The vision was forward thinking – it provided learning resources, lesson ideas, content, and allowed teachers to craft and construct learning with students, and to make meaning of it for themselves. This happened in some places, and elsewhere, it fell flat.  We are clearly moving into an era of fewer text books and more digital content, and I think the model will work better in five years than it did last year.  That said, many districts, with the support of the Canadian Olympic Committee (with excellent resources) and VANOC, created some great learning experiences in class.

  7.  For many students, teachers and classes, Olympic learning is now an ongoing  part of what they do.  Whether it is exposure to a range of winter sports, the use of Olympic athletes as motivational speakers, or the inclusion of resources available from many sources — including the Canadian Olympic Committee — teachers and schools have, in many cases, not treated the Games as a one-time event, but have found ways to weave the lessons and values learned though the Games into their ongoing practice.

8.  At a time when we are often looking to find connections between subjects to promote deeper learning, the 2010 Games modeled that topics including arts, sports, culture, politics and sustainability could all be part of the same conversation. 

  There was a definite concern the Games would go through our community, but that the schools and young people might miss out on the potential opportunities. One year out, not only do people reflect fondly on the experiences of the Games, there are clearly a number of legacies that continue to play out in our schools.

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I had the real pleasure to participate in TEDxUBC on October 23rd.  TEDx events are part of a large and growing TED movement devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading”.

The TEDxUBC team describes their events as:

TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxUBC, where x=independently organized TED event. At our TEDxUBC event, TEDTalks video, passionate, live speakers and entertainers, will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in an amazing small group of 100 leaders, innovators, stakeholders and change agents.

I loved the experience for a number of reasons:

- the format forces presenters to be concise

- the discussions between presentations are valued

- there is a great mix of people from a variety of professions

- the presentations live on through the web

- it is all about ideas

Thanks to the organizers of the TEDxUBC event, it was one of the best PD experiences of my career.  Special kudos to Bret Conkin – a great leader!

The videos of the presentations are being posted to YouTube (search via TEDxUBC tag) on a fairly regular basis.  Lots of great discussion starters.

I had previously posted my script here, but here is my talk on personalized learning:

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