Sunday, December 29, 2013

Random Facts & Some Homework for You

I have recently received two homework challenges from two members of my PLN (Peter Jory and Aaron Akune) . The "homework" is as follows: share 11 random facts about yourself, answer the 11 questions provided and invite 11 others to answer 11 questions that I ask them. 
So in an effort to share a little bit about myself and deepen the relationships in my own PLN here are some random facts and questions:

11 Random Facts About Me:
  1. During high school and university, because of proximity, I spent a lot of time at my grandparent’s house. I enjoyed playing cards with my grandfather and listening to him talk about his time during the war and his story of immigrating to Canada from Italy. His stories (and my parents own immigration story) continue to be sources of pride and inspiration for me and my own children. 
  2. I almost didn’t become a teacher (that’s a whole different story).
  3. The Oregon Coast and Mexico are two of my favourite places to vacation.
  4. I like to golf a minimum of 25 rounds a year. Anything less and I turn into a pumpkin.
  5. I can eat sushi every day. 
  6. I played high school football. I was a fullback and linebacker. My teammates are still some of the best friends I have.  I also coached football up until I became a principal. I even did a short term guest coaching stint for the University of British Columbia football program about 10 years ago. 
  7. Despite what people may see and think, I still get “butterflies” when I have to speak in front of groups (from 5 to 5000)
  8. I exercise so that I can enjoy the delicious food in my life (my wife is an amazing cook as is the rest of my family) 
  9. On my mother’s insistence, we have weekly dinners at my parent’s house with my own family and my brother’s and sister’s families – (that’s 15 people!)
  10. I once spent an entire summer playing Zelda and EA Sports NHL 1997 (on a Nintendo 64) with a roommate. 
  11. I have been to China on 9 different occasions..
Both Peter Jory and Aaron Akune asked me some questions so I decided to answer both sets of questions:

Questions from Peter Jory:

1. Where did you grow up, and what place that still feels like "home" when you go there?
  • I was born and raised in Vancouver! I have never left. Not sure I ever will.  Because of this I don't own winter boots and I when I need to scrape ice off my windshield I use a credit card.
2. When did you decide to do what you do?
  • In grade 9 - my grade 9 social studies teacher was the motivating factor for me becoming a teacher.
3. Describe something that you struggle with and what you've designed as a coping skill or compensation.
  • I am not handy whatsoever.  I have had save an inordinate amount of money to pay people to do work for me.
4. What makes you the proudest when you think of your work?
  • Watching students and teachers find personal success.
5. Who got you started on Twitter?
  • I attended a TEDxUBC event about 4 years ago and saw all these really smart people using Twitter.  I figured I'd better give it a try.
6. Name your all-time favorite fictional character, and describe how that "person" has influenced you.
  • The boy in The Alchemist.  His journey to finding his "treasure" took him to exciting places and introduced him to interesting people - only to realize the treasure he was seeking was at home the entire time.
7. In what way are you quirky?
  • I can get obsessive about a cluttered email inbox.  I have dozens of folders for my emails.
8. Describe a very public moment that didn't work out for you.
  • I am not the most fluent of writers.  Often times I will put out a blog post with some errors or typos.  I usually get a few DM's from folks who will point out my errors.  Fortunately this doesn't deter me from blogging.  
9. What is the best fruit?
  • Nectarine 
10. Describe an event where you had a surprisingly brilliant time.
  • Singing Karaoke  - I'm always an unwilling participant but end up having a blast.
11. What would you like people to say about you after you are gone?
  • He cared about his family and the people he encountered.

Questions from Aaron Akune:

If you could meet one person in the world, who would it be? Why? 
  • Pope Francis - His compassion and "people centered-ness" are an inspiration.
If you had one do-over, what would you do differently? 
  • I don't really like to live in the "regretful past" too much.  I'll pass on this one
I’d like to thank my wife for everything
Your favorite meal is? Sushi.
Where would you like to vacation to next? Hawaii
What book are you currently reading? Humanize
What do you do most often? Phone, text or tweet?  Tweet
What excites you the most about the work you do? The people I meet and work with
One area we need to pay attention to in education that wasn’t as important 10 years ago is digital citizenship and literacy (broadly understood)
A blogger who has seriously impacted my thinking is too many to list - I'll go with PLN.
10 years from now, I will be healthy and happy.
11 Random Questions for you: 
  1. What keeps you up at night?
  2. What would you consider comfort food?
  3. What is one thing you would change about your job?
  4. What is one thing you would change about schools today?
  5. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone?
  6. The biggest inspiration in my life is___________________?
  7. What was the first music concert you attended?
  8. What is the first movie you attended?
  9. Other than work, I have a passion for_____________________?
  10. If you wrote a book, what would the title be?
  11. When I grow up I ______________________
I challenge the following people to do their homework:
  1. Darcy Mullin
  2. Chris Kennedy
  3. Maricel Ignacio
  4. Denise Lamarche
  5. Ian Doktor
  6. Ron Sherman
  7. Sheila Stewart
  8. Ryan Bretag
  9. David Wees
  10. Michelle Baldwin
  11. Dean Shareski

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

11 Edu Myths I Encounter

As I continue in my learning "travels", I am noticing some reoccurring "myths" about students, teaching, learning and schooling.

Here is short list of  "11 Edu Myths" that I continue to personally encounter:

Myth #1: Lectures
I continue to encounter many teachers who are somewhat "meek" to admit that they use lectures in their classes.   I hear teachers sometimes declare - "this may not be a good class to visit - I am only lecturing. You should have come last week when students were presenting..."
To be clear, direct instruction (Hattie) and the use of clear instructions by teachers is a legitimate pedagogical tool when it comes to teaching.  However, not all lectures are created equally and a good lecture must be also matched with a teacher's ability to capture student voice in the learning process.

Myth #2: It's all about technology
Wrong.  It starts with good pedagogy.  The teacher matters.  Increasingly, technology can be used to engage students in their thinking.  Teachers have a role to play in triggering learning and thinking.  Technology increasingly has a powerful place in that process.

Myth #3:  Students are Internet savvy
Perhaps one of more dangerous myths in education is that students are "digital natives".  I would argue that this type of thinking gives too many adults a certain "crutch" to abdicate their ethical duty to teach digital citizenship.  I have written about this here: Scarcity at the Table of Abundance

Myth #4:   Public vs. Independent 
As a someone who has worked in the independent school system (in British Columbia) I have seen too much rhetoric "pitting one side against the other" often with stereotypical, misinformed comments  .  The more I work with folks from both the public schools and independent schools the more optimistic I am that EVERYONE is working to serve all students.  At the end of day, they are all our children.

Myth #5: Teaching to a Preferred Learning Style
As a beginning teacher, I remember the emphasis on teaching to a preferred learning styles of our students.  The modern research has now completely debunked the idea of teaching to students  "preferred" learning styles.  A study of the proliferation  of "neuromyths" in education explains the learning style myth this way:

An example of a neuromyth is that learning could be improved if children were classified and taught according to their preferred learning style. This misconception is based on a valid research finding, namely that visual, auditory, and kinesthetic information is processed in different parts of the brain. However, these separate structures in the brain are highly interconnected and there is profound cross-modal activation and transfer of information between sensory modalities (Gilmore et al., 2007). Thus, it is incorrect to assume that only one sensory modality is involved with information processing. Furthermore, although individuals may have preferences for the modality through which they receive information [either visual, auditory, or kinesthetic (VAK)], research has shown that children do not process information more effectively when they are educated according to their preferred learning style (Coffield et al., 2004). 

Myth #6: Boys and Girls
Below is a 3 minutes YouTube clip is from a researcher from the University of Notre Dame talking about the impact gender segregated classes have on academic achievement.  Bottom line?  Boys and girls are different in many physiological and neurological ways (duh!).  While there is no academic harm in gender split classes, the overall effect on achievement is "neutral".  A better approach may be to identify the individual learning needs of each student - beyond gender.
(I have little experience in this area so I welcome comments from those who have more insights)

Myth #7: More is better
More homework?  More school days?  More school hours?  More awards?  It seems that many want to equate "more" with "better".   There is a growing amount of research about the effects of homework,  year round schooling and longer school days.  My travels have told me that more is NOT necessarily the total solution in any of these areas.

Myth #8: Educators are using Social Media 
The more I visit with educators, the more I realize that I am in a bubble when it comes to the use social media to share, learn and grow.   As  a profession we need to continue to be more vulnerable with our own learning and network with others.

Myth #9: Faith & Reason
I increasingly see how many want to divorce all matters of faith from reason.  My personal belief is Catholic, K-12 schools can learn from the Catholic Intellectual Tradition that forms the foundation of many Catholic Universities and Colleges.  A definition of this tradition that resonates with me is as follows:
Perhaps the most fruitful way of thinking about the Catholic Intellectual Tradition is in terms of two aspects: the classic treasures to be cherished, studied, and handed on; and the way of doing things that is the outcome of centuries of experience, prayer, action, and critical reflection.” The treasures ...include certain classic texts, art and architecture, music, as well as developments in science and technology. When these things are appreciated as part of the Christian intellectual heritage, they are studied in a way that tends to integrate the disciplines by relating everything to the meaning of human life in its relationship to the transcendent.  
The other aspect of this tradition is the way we have learned to deal with experience and knowledge in order to acquire true wisdom, live well, and build good societies, laws, and customs. Fundamental to this process is the understanding that faith and reason do not conflict. Rather, the continued pursuit of understanding leads ultimately to wisdom. The Catholic Intellectual Tradition invites us out of isolation and into a community whose cumulative efforts contribute to the construction of a whole—a wholeness that is a Catholic hallmark. (Monika Hellwig) 

Myth #10: School is not "real world"
I hear many folks talk about preparing students for the real world.  I often greet this statement with a few questions:  What is the "real world"?  What is that makes school "not real"? How can we make it "real"?  So often schools and teachers create policies, procedures and cultures on a false sense of what the "real world" actually is.  Any discussion of preparing students for the real world requires a genuine understanding of that the current "real world" actually is.   

Myth#11: Recognizing winners and losers helps motivate students
I am not an expert in human motivation and/or psychology.  As an educator and a parent I have witnessed situations where publicly pitting one student (child) against another in the highly personal and "messy" act of learning has caused alienation, disengagement and embarrassment.

Please feel free to comment and add some of your own "Edu Myths"......

Saturday, November 30, 2013

100 Days of Inspiration

I have been in my role as an Associate Superintendent for about 100 days. It's been a whirlwind and the learning curve has been steep.

But without a doubt, my first 100 days have been marked with profound inspiration and admiration for the incredible work happening within the CISVA schools.

One of the greatest parts of my job, thus far, has been my ability and privilege to visit nearly half of our 46 schools.  Whether meeting with individual principals, entire staffs, Parent Education Committees or visiting individual teachers in their classrooms - I have been completely inspired by the faith, dedication, passion and commitment to "best practice" of men and women working in our schools -  in humble service of our students.

Walking into our schools, not only do they "look" Catholic but the Gospel values permeate the hearts and minds of staff and students .  The daily actions of staff members and students embody the life giving values that honour the "whole child"- with their many and varied blessings, talents and challenges.  I am sensing a genuine and overall happiness from students at school.

I am learning things about schools that I never noticed before or even had access to.  Here is a small collection of noteworthy items happening in a few schools that caught my attention over the past 100 days:
  • Learning Supported by Technology: a school's 3:1 iPad initiative, a school using Google Chromebooks, a teacher is awarded the Prime Ministers Award for  her use of technology in the classroom, and how other schools are using BYOD and other resources to empowering learning through technology
  • An outdoor Kindergarten program 
  • some high-school teachers moving to "grade-less report cards" 
  • Schools moving to more holistic grading guidelines - placing the focus on student learning as opposed marks
  • a school taking Gr. 7 students to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre for a week  -where students actually "become marine biologists" 
  • a school community (parents, staff and students) coming together to raise funds and  build a new playground
  • Schools empowering students, teachers and parents to be agents of change for those less fortunate at the Door is Open and at the Agape Street Ministry
  • Students in our schools learning to code and even gaining employment in the field 
  • Schools using Social Media to connect with their communities- see the growing use of the #CISVA hashtag   
  • Schools being intentional about the spiritual, social and emotional health of students.  Whether through programs like Second Step,  I am a gift from God or high school peer counseling programs
  • Early Childhood Intervention Programs and Literacy initiatives that place an intentional focus on meeting the learning needs of individual learners at an early age.

I know that there are many more incredible things happening in our schools that I am sure to encounter in the coming months.

I have come to learn these things because my new role has allowed me to connect with people and schools on a different level.

And yet I think we are missing out on a system wide opportunity.

We need to get to a place where my "privileged" position as an Associate is irrelevant!

With today’s access to social media, we increasingly have an opportunity to tell and share our own story to a broader audience - beyond our local communities.

More importantly, as we look grow in our own faith, improve our own professional practice as Catholic school educators and enrich the teaching and learning in our school’s  we need to look to each other for support, sharing and learning.

The first 100 days have been full of inspiration.  I want others to see what I have seen.  Let's continue to create networks of learning across school communities, in an effort to share and inspire each other to continue to meet the needs of every student entrusted to our care.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Ethics of Innovation & Reform in Education

I recently read an article about the innovative and creative exploits of Google.

The article attributed many of Google's most innovative and successful projects to the idea of "moonshot thinking" whereby Google takes on "highly experimental projects that will become industry changing success stories or total failures"

Such thinking has been attributed to projects such as Google Glasses, Project Loon , self driving cars and more recently Calico - a health company that "will focus on health and well-being, in particular the challenge of aging and associated diseases"

The creative and innovative energy around these initiatives excites me. I want to create that same energy in schools - for both students and teachers.

As a teacher/administrator I want to inspire students to strive for "moonshot thinking" in their own lives.  After all, which educator wouldn't?

Yet, I'm left wondering.....

Is unfettered, radical innovation and reform in education morally ethical?

Is Google "totally failing" at a project the same as a school reform initiative "totally failing"?

Google losing a couple hundred million dollars (out of a couple billion dollars) is not the same as a school potentially "losing" even one student.

Reform in education is challenging. It involves real people in their most formative and vulnerable years.

I can't help but wonder about the effect on failed reform initiatives for generations of students - from the US polices of "No Child Left Behind" to turning schools into educational call centres

Picture taken from:

As educators, perhaps, before we look to the corporate world as exemplars, we need to think about who we are serving and the consequences of our actions.

I offer the following suggestions:

1. Ask yourself "why" before you moving forward. What are your school's values? Are your actions in alignment with these values?

2. What will be the possible impacts of your action? Predicting and applying systems thinking to this process is critical. Like Peter Senge writes: "today's problems are a consequence of yesterday's solutions"

3. What does the current research reveal? Research is important, but know the limiting aspects of your research as well..

5. Is this work creating the most good with the least possible negatives (there is always going to be potential "risk")

6. Ask yourself: Would you want your own child to participate in this "innovative program?"

I like the idea of "moonshot thinking". The world has changed. Education needs to change. But education is not the same as Google. The stakes are much higher in education.

Still figuring it out....

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cutting through the Fog of Student Improvement

I recently had the opportunity to spend two days working with  and listening to John Hattie and his team at Visible Learning unpacking his research on what has the greatest impact on student achievement.

Hattie's research on "Visible Learning" has garnered world wide recognition and is being referenced as a vehicle for cutting through the fog of school improvement.

Before going any further, Hattie himself made a point of highlighting some of the "limitations" of his research. For example, Hattie's work strictly deals with student achievement in the academic domain.  His research does not deal with student well-being in the affective domain (social and emotional learning). Nor does it address the spiritual domain of student well-being.  Any educator, school or district looking to implement Hattie's work needs to understand the potential "limiting" context of this work.

So what DOES "work" in improving student achievement?

According to Hattie, the research demonstrates that 95% of what teachers do has some sort of positive impact on achievement. In other words almost everything "works".

Hattie suggests that we shouldn't ask what "works" in improving achievement but rather what is most effective in improving achievement.

The following are some of teacher interventions that have the greatest impact:

According to Hattie: "feedback works when a culture of error and mistakes are welcome." Feedback to students is most effective when the learning is appropriately challenging and raises expectations.
Feedback can have both a positive and negative impact on achievement. The best and most effective feedback needs to be "just in time, just for me and delivered when and where it can do most good" and must come from both teacher and student. 

In general, feedback falls into four categories: self praise, task orientated (how is the new task being performed), process orientated (feedback regarding process underlying the task) and self-regulation (feedback that supports learner to regulate and monitoring actions toward achieving goal)

During the workshop, we were given an opportunity to "give feedback" and to examine different types of feedback. My general observations is that as the person giving feedback you need to have a certain degree of expertise in the topic you are giving feedback on - it helps to have some sort experience with the material - for the feedback to be helpful. Also, "task" orientated feedback is usually given when introducing new material. As the learner becomes more familiar the different levels of feedback given do not fall in a linear sequential pattern. The various types of feedback vary according to the situation.

The bottom line? Giving varied feedback takes awareness and deliberate practice. We need to aware of the different types of feedback and more importantly, we need to equip ourselves and our students with capacity to effectively use the appropriate type of feedback for any given situation. Of course, quality feedback is rooted in level of trust in the relationship.

It should be noted that this concepts can also be applied to how we provide feedback to each other as professional educators!

Meta Cognition
Meta-cognition is essentially the skill of thinking about thinking. The research reveals that learners that can take control of learning and self regulate themselves improves achievement.

Teachers need to deploy both cognitive and meta-cognitive strategies with students.  By comparison, cognitive (thinking) interventions are related to the learning process that enable learners to make progress. Meta - cognitive interventions are related to the self management of learning skills - enabling learners to control progress

At the heart of this "impact" is the idea that teachers (and students) need to model meta cognitive strategies in their own learning. It is also clear that meta cognitive strategies can be taught and can be applied across learning areas.

In needs to be noted that these meta-cognitive strategies are not taught as an "add on" but rather within related content/subject areas.
The following is a link to how meta-cognition  can be used in an elementary school language arts class.

Teacher as Evaluator: Capturing Student Voice
An important teacher "mindframe" that Hattie identifies is "teacher as evaluator". 

Teachers must be primary concerned with understanding their impact on student learning on a daily basis.  A teacher needs to answer: How am I doing? Where to next?  How am I going to get there?

To get an accurate picture of their impact,  a teacher must capture authentic student voice.

How many schools actually ask students, teachers and parents "What does learning at our school look like?"

During the workshop we were presented with a few examples where entire school communities engaged in a school wide goal of determining student attitudes toward feedback and learning.

It was fascinating to observe examples of  how school communities went through the process of creating a common language around learning, teaching and feedback - a worthwhile and powerful process for sure!

Assessment Capable Learners & Teacher Expectations
The research reveals that students are very good at predicting their achievement level - which affirms the use of self assessments in the classroom. Furthermore students in classes where teachers raise expectations, beyond what the students believe they can do, and provide necessary supports to reach those expectations, do better.

The bottom line is that in any given class, students (& teachers) should be able to answer "where am I going? How am I doing? Where to next?

Collective teacher efficacy
Student achievement improves when when teachers work together to make each other better. From planning for instruction and assessment -  to teachers should NOT be working alone

Learning Criteria & Teacher Clarity
Teacher clarity of instruction and clear and transparent criteria improves student achievement.  Achievement improves when students are clear of the learning intentions and success criteria. (Learning intentions are the learning goals of the lesson. Success criteria are related to the what the learner must demonstrated at the end of the lesson.)  The clearer and transparent the learning intentions and success criteria, the greater the achievement. In the same way, the use of "exemplars" are extremely effective in this capacity.

Response to Intervention
This is a model of instruction where specific and varied interventions by teachers have a positive impact on student achievement. Watch this video  for a quick reference to RTI

Teacher Knowing Student prior knowledge
The research reveals that 60-70% of what teachers teach the students already know. Teachers must be very diligent in getting an accurate read of students prior knowledge or they run the risk of disengaging most of their students.

Other Interesting Revelations:

The research reveals that homework has little positive impact on achievement at the elementary level.  It does have a relatively greater positive impact at the high school level.   When combined, homework does have some benefit in improving achievement but not a significant one.

The overall effect of school leadership on achievement, is not huge.  Further exploration reveals that leaders who mostly focus their energies towards being instructional leaders does have a positive impact on achievement.

Class Size:
The research reveals the class size is not a significant indicator of student achievement.  This topic elicited some conversation and questioning.  On a personal level, I believe that effective teachers are those that can establish strong relationships with their students.  It is far more challenging to establish relationships and respond to the individual needs of your students in a class of 35 than a class of 25.

The salient point of the research, however,  is that teachers in smaller classes DID NOT change their teaching practices  to reflect the smaller sizes!  Teachers in classes of 20 taught the same as when they had classes of 35!

Boys & Girls
Hattie suggested that schools that spend time exploring how boys learn different from girls are spending time answering the wrong question!  The research reveals that difference in achievement levels is minimal and not worth the energy. 

Learning Styles
Hattie was clear on this topic. Teaching to different  learning styles is "nonsense".  There is no evidence to support that it increases achievement. 

Problem Based Learning
Problem based learning has a positive effect on student achievement provided students have a have a solid base of subject knowledge

Technology itself does not improve achievement.  Technology used to enhance meta-cognition, feedback,  problem solve and think critically has greater capacity to improve achievement.  In other words, technology needs to be seen as more than a tool for accessing information (the 21st century textbook)

Implications Moving forward:

A couple of quotes that resonate with me:

Visible learning and teaching occurs when teachers see learning through the eyes of students and when teachers help student become their own teachers
When observing classes, do not watch teachers teach, but rather watch students learning, through the eyes of students...

As I continue to absorb Hattie's work and it's implications for our school system, I am left thinking about how this research can inform our school, teacher and principal growth planning/ evaluation systems.

Lots to think about and still figuring it out....

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Parents: To Inform or Consult?

I recently attended a seminar dealing with how schools should interact with parents.  The seminar, hosted by lawyers, highlighted some recent examples of case law where interactions between schools and parents broke down in relation to children with special needs. 

The salient point of the seminar was that schools and parents should enter into "meaningful consultation" with each other and how that consultation should look like.  

It was noted that consultation is not the same as merely informing.  Giving options, both parties willing to listen to each other, "give and take", getting to a "win-win" and "having an open mind" were some the terms used to describe "meaningful consultation".  

It was also noted that schools should not develop a plan of action in isolation and merely ask for parental support.  Schools should, for example,  include parents in developing a plan of action.

Of course all consultation should be conducted from a student centered perspective and should vary in form and type according to the specific needs of the child.

One of questions that came was "who has the final decision making authority"?  Legalistically speaking, it was stated that schools have authority over the final decision related to the school based educational program  but only after "meaningful consultation".

That last question unsettled me a little only because I realized situations where we rely on "the authority to make the final decision" are precipitated, usually, by a breakdown in trust and healthy dialogue.

Interestingly enough, shortly after attending this seminars, I came across a blog post where one educator states, in relation to curriculum and testing: 
Parents do not have a right to tell the school what their children will and will not be taught and as public school administrators and teachers we cannot follow parent directives.
I can appreciate this comment, perhaps from a legalistic perspective  - but it does unsettle me as an educator.

One of the values we espouse in our Catholic school system is that parents are the "primary educators of their children".  I hold that value close to my heart and mind whenever I speak with parents.

I am always struck by the inherent (and required) trust parents place in me.  This trust is one of the foundations that make our schools safe and caring communities of learning. 

I am, for example, still asking myself about my own approach to communicating with parents - Do I tend to inform or consult?  I suppose that best answer I can offer is that "it depends" on the matter at hand.  

But what comes up for me over and over again is that whether informing or consulting with parents - regardless of the subject matter - I always see parents as the primary educators who are doing there best, often sacrificing so much to provide for and raise their child.

In my interactions with parents, this mindset has allowed me to sort through challenging issues in a respectful way.  It has helped me deliver good news in a joyful manner and, perhaps most importantly, it has allowed me to apologize in a vulnerable way when I've made mistakes.

Still figuring it out....

Friday, September 27, 2013

My Latest Teaching Assignment

This year, like last, I am teaching a course (hybrid - on-line and face to face) at St. Mark's College on the campus of the University of British Columbia in the Masters of Educational Leadership Program.

I am two weeks into teaching my latest course: Curriculum and Instructional Leadership.  Here is a summary of the course taken from the syllabus I developed:

Learners will examine the rationale and context for the current trends in curriculum transformation both globally and within the British Columbia K-12 education sector. Learners will explore the potential pedagogical implications of these shifts on student achievement and school leadership. Learners will also review the latest research related to curriculum and pedagogy and how both impact student achievement. It is within this context that learners will be asked to develop their own vision, skills and working knowledge to serve as instructional leaders.

To further develop their skills related to instructional leadership, learners will to explore problem-solving opportunities related to curriculum, pedagogy, student achievement and overall school growth.

Learners will critically examine the rationale and themes for current trends in curriculum reform initiatives globally and within in BC. Learners will be asked to examine and refine their own “pedagogical creed” (Dewey) in light of both curricular trends and the latest research on teacher pedagogy.

Students will be asked to examine and reflect on such questions as:
  • What are the ideas, themes and values ideas behind “21st Century Education”?
  • What is the purpose of schools and the curriculum taught within them? 
  • In an information “rich” world, brought on by the proliferation of the web-enabled and mobile technologies, what is worth “knowing”?
  • What are some the implications for Catholic Education in light of some the current trends in curriculum reform? 

Learners will also be asked to examine the impact the current curricular trends are having on teacher pedagogy. Learners will also examine the latest research on the impact various pedagogical approaches have on student achievement. Within this context, learners will develop a better understanding of the impact instructional leadership has on student learning.

Learners will be asked to examine and reflect issues such as:

  • Role and impact of technology on student learning (blended learning, flipped classroom, etc.)
  • The impact of assessment and grading practices in the learning process and further explore such ideas as. Assessment For Learning, standards based grading, the growth mindset versus the fixed mindset (Dweck)
  • Understand the constructivist versus didactic approach to pedagogy and the possible limitations to each approach 
Finally, learners will have an opportunity to develop their own vision for what it means to be an instructional leader in today’s schools. Learners will be asked to examine and reflect on such questions and ideas such as:
  • How can school leaders be supervisors of instruction for learning?
  • How can instructional leaders create positive and effective learning conditions for both students and teachers? (e.g. professional learning, teacher isolation, collaboration, learning communities)
  • What are the conditions for “learning for all” in a school (for students and teachers)
  • What is school culture and climate? How can leaders shape school culture and climate to enhance student learning?
  • How can/does a leader motivate learning for all? 
Already the learners are pushing my own thinking on many of these issues.  

Of course, any insights or suggestions are most welcome....

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Undermining Student Improvement

Have I missed the mark re: student improvement?

I am beginning to wonder if, in my earnest desire to to do what what's best for kids and their learning, I have inadvertently enabled complacency and undermined improvement.

Let me explain.

Recently I have immersed myself in John Hattie's book Visible Learning Visible Learning - a book, I believe, every educator, at all levels, must read.

The book is a culmination of years of research and analysis of what has the greatest positive impact on student achievement.

So let's cut to the chase. Hattie identifies a number influences on student performance and ranks them in order of positive impact.

In summary, the most positive  influences on student achievement put the individual teacher at the centre of the improvement. Whether it's providing quality feedback, understanding how different students think (meta cognition), how open a teacher is to the evidence of their impact on student learning and how they respond to this evidence or how a teacher enables students to become their own teachers - all of these "impacts" place the teacher and their actions at the centre of improvement.

On the flip side, some of the lesser "impacts" on achievement include those that I would label as "external" (to the teacher) changes and  include such things as: ability grouping, class size, problem based learning, inquiry learning, homework, school scheduling, web based learning and various other school based "programs" (Hattie, 2012).

So getting back to my point....

As a teacher and administrator I feel passionate about doing what best for students and their learning. I often talk about changing the system . As a school administrator I often meet other team members to solve various problems. I've looked at change timetables and calendars, lower class sizes, change teacher schedules etc.

As administrators we talk about the importance of school growth plans, literacy and numeracy programs, we develop assessment and grading protocols and implement technology based programs in schools.  

I am the first one to speak about the need for curriculum reform in our post industrial, Internet driven world.  

I like system improvements.  They make me feel good.  They give me a sense of satisfaction.  They give me something to report out - "look at what we are doing now",  "look at how innovative we are"!

But what is the true impact of these system and "external" reforms on student learning and engagement?

I surmise that Hattie would argue that these "external" reforms and interventions are needed and they do assist many students both in achievement and engagement. 

BUT, by placing the focus on various "externally" driven initiatives, have I inadvertently, caused teachers to shift their focus away from their own practice?

In so doing, have I unwittingly undermined student improvement by not explicitly placing enough focusing on teacher level improvements related to formative assessment, the teacher as learner and the meta-cognition of each student?

Moving forward, in my desire to help students and as I consider school wide or system wide improvements, I need to ask myself this these important questions:
  • How is this initiative (school goal, program, initiative, intervention, etc.) empowering teachers to be at the centre of their own learning?  
  • How is this learning requiring teachers to be reflective and critically open about their own students' performance? 
  • How is this learning related to providing quality feedback to students and  knowing and understanding students as thinkers?

Still figuring it out.....

Sunday, September 1, 2013

What do I Amplify?

As a principal I spent a fair bit of time reflecting on ways I could support and empower teachers at the school. By supporting and empowering teachers, I felt, would go a long way in creating a culture of support and empowerment in the classroom - a sort of "trickle down effect" - ultimately benefiting the students.

As a principal, I always felt a tension in deciding on WHAT to amplify.  There was no shortage of information.  

As a school level administrator, I sometimes felt the crush of the "management" side of the job. Finances, funding, budgets, fundraising, government mandates, policies, daily schedules, etc.

It could, at times, consume me.

Yet I made the conscious decision, on most occasions, to deal with those issues "quietly". I rarely made those management issues staff wide agenda items. Instead choosing to amplify and make a lot noise about teaching and learning.

In many ways I saw my role as principal as mitigating the impact of "administrivia" on teacher so that they could focus on the teaching and learning. 

This is one significant way I supported teachers.

Two weeks into my new role, I realize that perhaps I need to support and empower principals in the same way.

I am not dismissing the "management" side of school administration. If not done well and efficiently, it could undermine a principalship and/or a school.

With principals, like with teachers, I need to find that sweet spot in communicating some of important management details of the job, while consistently and "loudly" finding time to amplify the instructional leadership part of the job.

If we empower and support principals in this way it might create more a than "trickle" down effect but rather a "tidal wave" of support and learning for teachers and students.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Email & Diminishing Returns

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of time...."

This is how I am starting to feel about email these days.  

While I see the need for email, I am starting to realized that for many of us, we need to stop and ask ourselves if the law of diminishing returns is alive and well.   I am becoming convinced that email  is reducing productivity for administrators and getting in the way of the transformative work in education

This following video clip is a great example of how not to use email:

Nonetheless, the practical side of me knows that we cannot totally eliminate email from our lives.   There are some legitimate and productive uses for it.

At an upcoming meeting of principals I will be leading a conversation regarding email etiquette (here is the link to the Slides).

The following is a listing of basic email etiquette points that will form the basis of our conversation:

Train your staff.
Make sure your staff is trained in e-mail/social media communications – don't assume they know what they're doing, and what is considered professional. Set up e-mail standards that everyone at the school should abide by.

Seek balance but respond in a timely fashion. 
Balance is important. There are times when you need to unplug. Instant responses are not necessary. Nonetheless, you should respond within a day or two

No diatribes.  Keep messages brief and to the point & Be clear in your subject line.
We live in a time of information abundance – you might even call it “data smog”. Some folks receive hundreds of e-mails a day. Nothing is more frustrating than wading through an e-mail message that is twice as long as necessary. Also, it is essential that your subject line gets to the point.

Only discuss public matters. Be careful with confidential information
When emailing or using social media I picture myself speaking to an auditorium full of parents. Extremely sensitive and confidential information should be dealt with privately – face to face or via the phone. Ask yourself if the topic being discussed is something you'd write on school letterhead or post on a bulletin board for all to see before clicking "send."

Don't "e-mail angry” or overuse exclamation points.  Use CAPITAL LETTERS sparingly.
E-mailing with bad news, expressing anger, reprimanding someone, disparaging other people in e-mails is inappropriate.  E-mail/social media correspondence can last forever. Also, USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS LOOKS AS IF YOU'RE SHOUTING. Using all lowercase letters looks lazy. 

Don't clutter other peoples Inboxes.  Use the (BCC) blind copy and (CC) carbon copy appropriately.

Don't use BCC to keep others from seeing who you copied.  It can be unethical.  Instead you should you should directly CC anyone receiving a copy. You should use BCC, however, when sending to a large distribution list, so recipients won't have to see a huge list of names. Be cautious with your use of CC; overuse simply clutters in-boxes. Copy only people who are directly involved. Do not reply to an email if your CC’d. Only the person directly email should respond.

Beware of the "reply all."
Do not hit "reply all" unless every member on the e-mail chain needs to know. You want to make sure that you are not sending everyone on a list your answer—whether they needed to know or not.

Remember, your e-mail/digital communications are a reflection of you.

Also keep in mind that as professionals we must always maintain personal and professional boundaries when communicating digitally with staff and students. All staff should be familiar with personal and professional boundary standards.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Two Year Journey Begins...

Tomorrow, my two year secondment as an Associate Superintendent for the Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver Archdiocese officially begins

I'm both excited and unsettled

What unnerves me....

I am unnerved to leave the comforts of being a high school principal. I like comfort. And yet to grow, perhaps I need a little "discomfort".

I am unnerved to leave behind a highly functioning and active learning community.

Over the years, I have noticed that everyone involved education has an opinion about the "the central office" - from policy decisions, HR issues, programs, funding models - it seems that everyone has a "better way". And of course, there are those that will look to "blame" the central office for those complex and "unsolvable" problems. Working in the central office, I wonder how I will respond to these stereotypes?

It unnerves me that some folks may expect a quick and easy answer to their issue if they call on me. Chances are, I may not have an answer immediately. Chances are my suggestions may be wrong. There will be a promise, however, to assist and support the person work through the issue.

With this new role, some may expect a certain perfection or "getting it right, 100% of the time" from me. I am not perfect nor am I an "expert". I consider myself an active learner. I am a firm believer in the growth mindset. I am successful when I am vulnerable and honest with my myself and those around me regarding my shortcomings, challenges and gifts.

While I am excited about thinking and problem solving from "35,000 feet", I am more unnerved about losing touch with day to day student life. I am worried about losing the daily interactions with students. As a principal, my daily conversations with students kept me focused on what truly mattered in the school. 
To be effective in this new role, I need to manage the tension between system thinking and student thinking

What excites me....

I'm excited to work with some amazing people both in the central office and throughout our school system. 

The opportunity to think and problem solve at a macro level. Viewing issues and challenges from "35,000 feet" will be new and exhilarating

I'm excited to be able to more easily connect and dialogue with fabulous professionals across our school system. I look forward to leveraging those connections and amplifying the best practices happening across the our school system. 

I feel privileged to have the opportunity to have those connections and amplifications create meaningful collaboration and dialogue.

Tomorrow morning marks the beginning of an exciting and unnerving two year learning journey. I look forward to bringing all of you along....

Monday, June 24, 2013

Assessment Disgrace

I'm frustrated and angry.

Just today I read a Mathematics 10 Provincial Exam Study Guide written by two Canadian educators (one from BC and the other from Alberta) published by a large, well known, publishing company.

In the section titled "To the Student", there is an explanation of and rationale for provincial exams.  It states:

Most provincial exams are designed to evaluate a students proficiency  in the curriculum at different levels.  In some jurisdictions, for example, a mark of 50% denotes competence, and mark above 80% is considered to indicate excellence.
It is expected that students will demonstrate different levels of competence.  In fact, most jurisdictions design exams so that: 
  • 20% of of students who write exam do not pass (score less than 50%)
  • 60% of students who write the exam score between 50% and 80%
  • only 20% of students who write the exam demonstrate excellence (score above 80%)
For this reason it is important for individual students to set personal goals and use this goal to help them decide which questions are within their ability.  For example, if you expect to score at the 70% level, then 30% of the questions on the exam or test are not written for you.

This is disgraceful.  

Where do I begin?  

So much for standards based grading.  The bell curve is alive and well.  Somehow engineering what success looks like is good for students, teachers and the discipline of mathematics 

Assessment for Learning? Forget it.  We use assessment to label students  - 20% of them as failures and 20% as winners.

The growth mindset?  What's the point - some students will forever "decide" their ability in Math.  Some of you will always be failures

I could go on - but I'm afraid I might write something I will regret.

And we wonder why so many students struggle with and "hate" Math.

I am not aware of the design standards for the Mathematics 10 exam in BC but I hope that the above design elements are NOT used here. 

IF these are the design standards for the Math 10 Exam  - please stop - our students and teacher deserve better.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

“See you around” and a “Sort of” Goodbye

As some of you may know, I have accepted a two year secondment as an Associate Superintendent for the Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver Archdiocese.

I am going to miss the parents, teachers and students of St. Patrick Regional immensely.  I've been blessed to work in such a caring, hardworking and inspired school community.

At our year end assembly I was showered with many kind words of appreciation and gifts.

The most sentimental (yes, I tear up every time I watch it) and enduring gift came from the staff and students in the form of this video (below).

I am so lucky to have been apart of this school community.

There are no good byes, only good memories.....

Some have asked that I provide a copy of  the
closing remarks I gave to the school community .  I have attached a copy of the text below....

For the next two years I will have a different job. I will still be connected to St. Pat’s and you will see me from time to time at the school.

Nonetheless, I think it is important that I say a few words to you the parents, teachers and students

To the teachers:

You are one of the reasons St. Pat’s is the school that it is. Your service to your students is incredible.

You care for you students as if they were your own children. You love them as your own.

You don’t just teach courses or learning outcomes. You seek to transform the individual hearts, minds and souls of your precious students

You push your students to new heights – to places they are not even aware they could go.  Most importantly you provide a path of support to get them there!

You provide your students learning experiences that last a lifetime.

Your knowledge, expertise and passion is inspiring.

Your love of Jesus radiates out from you - with more than just words – to transforms our students

You have reminded me that the quality of school is proportionate to the quality men and women who work within them

Remain soulful and steadfast in your service to the students.

To the parents

8 years ago you trusted a 34 year old inexperienced rookie to be your principal.

Thank you for that trust in me. Thank you for being patient with me. Thank you for supporting me.

Your dedication, commitment, sacrifice and love that you extend to your children and this school has been a great source of inspiration to me.

To Reverend Father Vince 

I have seen and experienced Jesus through your pastoral compassion and generosity. Thank you for all you have  done for this school these students – often quietly and in the background.

I have been blessed to work with you and this school is blessed to have you.

To Mrs. Nannery

You are a master teacher. Your understanding of curriculum, assessment and literacy runs deep down to your core as a professional

Your care for students - for their learning and their overall well-being radiates from you

Thank you for being a mentor and inspiration both in the area of pedagogy and in my life  as father to my own children.

To Mr. Donnici

You are one of the corner stones of this community.

Next to your own family – your love and care for this school, the teachers and students is awe-inspiring

You've been a confident and trusted adviser.

More than that - you've become a friend and a bit of an older brother.

Of course I am looking forward to beating you on the golf course

To both Mrs Nannery, Mr. Donnici, and Mrs Jaffe, Mr. Laurless, and Mrs Kerin:

I want the world to know that whatever accolades or promotions I have received in connection to my principal-ship here at St. Pat’s - you deserve them more than me.

Your tireless work in the “day to day” running of the school - in service of the students - has been monumental.

Your exemplary service has allowed me to do the work that I've done.

I've appreciate your wisdom, advice and even our disagreements.

Please know that I could not have done this job without your unwavering support and faith in me.

I am eternally grateful to all of you.

And finally to you, the students:

You are my saints and heroes

You've made me angry, laugh and cry. Your genius and your joy has been the greatest source of inspiration.

Your faith, support and care for each other has allowed be to see Jesus with more clarity and purpose.

Your commitment to your work, each other, your community and this school has driven and inspired me to come to work full of joy each day.

Your intelligence, athleticism, service, leadership, creativity and your faith has made me a better teacher, father and Catholic Christian

Teaching, at its core, is about being of service to others.

As a teacher, you give in service, not expecting anything in return.

I stand before you feeling  a little guilty because in truth, I feel that I have received more from you than I have given you.

I leave you with with a wish....

Eight years ago, in my first week as principal, while talking to a student - they referred to St. Pat’s as sort of “second class” school.  I've never forgotten that conversation.  And it has motivated me these past eight years.

Let me be clear and to the point.

There is nothing second class about this school, its parents, its teachers or it’s students and the WORLD is hearing about it!

Just last week I was invited by the Ministry of Education here in BC - to speak to all ministry staff about the wonderful things happening right here at your school - St. Pat’s .

The "world" sees this school as a "1st class" school for British Columbia

So my wish?   Always be proud to call yourselves Celtics - Be proud of your school for it is a world class, 1st class Catholic School

Thank you and love you

Monday, June 10, 2013

Breaking Down Silos - Real Learning, Integration & Inquiry

Some new and exciting ideas are taking hold at St. Patrick Regional next year.

In a previous post I spelled our school's Digital Literacy goals and initiatives for 2013-2014.

In a future post I will also high light a new High Performance Program.  The program will formalizes our current practice of individualizing and accommodating student schedules and timetables to meet their out of school, passion driven, competitive needs.  We are seeing a growing need from parents and students to bridge the gap between school life and participation in high performance athletic or artistic community based endeavors.      
We are looking to break down curricular silos....

Another exciting development is in the area of Problem Based Learning .

Next year a working group of teachers will explore how an integrated, cross-curricular approach to curriculum delivery - incorporating “student inquiry”/problem based learning  - will "look like" at St. Patrick Regional.   This working group of teachers will explore the “ how and what” of this initiative and look to implement a trial program for September 2014.

We are living in different times. “Do I have to learn it if I can Google it?” is a legitimate question.

We are living in a time of information abundance. Teachers no longer need to control the flow of information. We do, however, need to worry about the scarcity at the table  of information abundance

The Ministry of Education for BC is transforming curriculum   to reflect some of these changes – placing a focus on competencies, skills, enduring understandings and yes, some content.

Learners today are demanding that their learning be “real”. Not pretend.

This year, one of our Building Experts  teams spent time learning about Problem Based Learning. Teachers experimented with PBL in their own classes. They faced many challenges, but in the end, teachers came to realize the trans formative potential of PBL for students

The team also came to realize the power of PBL was limited by the curricular silos that exist in our school.

This, in combination, with the proposed curriculum transformation happening in BC, the team decided that this would be the perfect time to THINK BIG!

The main recommendation from team to the school?  Remove curricular silos and create an integrated, cross-curricular approach to delivering curriculum through a problem based (inquiry based) pedagogy.

The team will consist of this year’s members in addition to others who are interested in joining this task force

What & How
The team’s mandate is to determine how our school can best implement this initiative - beginning at the Grade 8 level.

Other questions they must consider:

  • Will this involve all Grade 8 students? Or just a cohort?
  • How will inquires or “problems for exploration” be generated? What role will students and teachers have in this process?
  • How will assessment and grading be handled? What will report cards look like?
  • What are the scheduling and timetabling implications of this initiative? How can the school create a timetable that allows for both student and teacher collaboration and exploration.
  • How will parents be included and informed?

The goal is to have a a trial program in place prior to the start of school in September of 2014.

Some other thoughts:

Despite moving into a different role next year, I intend to support this team in developing this initiative. It is important.

We don’t want “paralysis through analysis”. Although there are lots of important questions that need to be answered, we should not think that we need to get it perfect.

Let's "real" student learning at the center of what we are doing.  More to the point- we should judge our efforts by the artifacts of learning our students will leave behind as a result of this program.

I like common sense.  Let’s keep our thoughts simple and intuitive. I have seen too many good ideas fail because the focus was too broad based. We are not going to change the “system” in one year. Let’s keep our focus on individual students and the artifacts of learning.

As look to shift some of our practices and systems, I am excited for what the future may hold for our teachers and students

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Pedagogy - Public Opinion Gap

I contend that there is a Pedagogy-Public Opinion Gap in education.  For the sake of this post, I would define this Pedagogy-Public Opinion "gap" as:

The gap in understanding between what professional educators and researchers, who work with students on a daily basis, see as "best practice" in education (teaching, learning and schooling) and those "outside" the world of professional education - whose ideas, understanding and opinions about teaching (pedagogy), learning and school are formed, primarily, from their own personal experiences and memories.

 I also wonder if this "gap" is widening.

I invite you to read some of these examples and draw your own conclusions:
  • The "No Zeros" Debate - check out these articles and comments -  here and here
  • Check out these public opinion comments on the Homework Debate? 
  • Should we stop giving grades to students when reporting learning?  Check this on-line "vote" and comments on the CBC website
  • Awards in School?  Check out the hundreds of comments related to the story of a high school principal who wanted cancel academic honours awards.
  • My recent post on "unpacking" of academic excellence  was prompted, in part, by this perceived "gap".
It is my contention that one of the causes of this gap is the presence of "Edu-Blah."  In a previous post on this topic I wrote that:
We do ourselves, as educators, a huge a disservice when we use "Edu Blah" to communicate with our students, parents and greater communities.
We lose them.
And if we, as educators (and schools), can't communicate our own "story" effectively, we run the risk of creating a communication void or vacuum- leaving it to someone else to potentially distort or misrepresent
So how do we bridge this "pedagogy-public opinion gap"?  I offer the following suggestions (and I certainly welcome others to offer their own suggestions)

Individual Students at the Heart of the Matter
Keeping individual students at the heart of our practice and decisions will provide greater understanding and clarity.  For example, our school has a Grading Policy & Guideline.  The policy provides teachers direction for dealing with students who struggle to meet deadlines.  It recognizes that, in most cases, the students who struggle to meet deadlines are our most vulnerable students.  It provides support to students who need to learn the value of meeting deadlines and setting priorities.  With this in mind we place a heavier focus on our  junior students (gr. 8-10) in a effort to identify and support students with challenges long before they become senior students and graduate.

Research Rooted Practitioners
Whether it's brain based learning, assessment practices, student motivation, instructional practices or technology integration - as educators we have a professional and ethical obligation to be "up to speed" with what the researchers are discovering.  Books like John Hattie's "Visible Learning"  provide "evidence-based research into what actually works in schools to improve learning."

Mission & Vision to Set Priorities
"It is far better to do a few things well than to undertake many good works and leave them half done." St. Francis De Sales
There is no shortage of initiatives that we can direct our energies.  To do any of them the proper justice they deserve, we have to determine what students and communities need and prioritize accordingly.    I have found that revisiting your mission, vision and values as a school community or teacher can help with establishing priorities.

It's all about Communication
There are many aspects to an effective communications plan.  I am certainly not an expert in this area.  What I have found, however, is that any communications plan is as effective as the quality of the one on one conversations we have within our communities.   It's about responding to questions, providing exemplars, painting a vivid picture of the preferred future, explaining our "why", deep listening, admitting our mistakes, documenting our struggles, successes and doubts - these, I would argue, are the enduring and effective aspects of communications.

These are a few ideas that may help us close the Pedagogy-Public Opinion Gap.  At the end of the day, our children deserve what's best....

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Digital Literacy and Tech Integration Plan

Regular readers of this blog will know that our school is on a 21st Century Learning journey  that, among other things, calls for a re-visioning of our  school library, and the adoption of a BYOD approach to technology integration.

Related to this larger plan and thanks to the good work of our "tech-brarian" and many others, we now have a specific Digital Literacy Curriculum and Technology Integration plan for St. Patrick Regional. This year's achievements and future goals are listed below.

Special thanks thanks to our tech-brarian"Jill Belanger , for overseeing this plan and making much of it come to life!

Digital Literacy and Technology Integration
Achievements in 2012-13 & Goals for 2013-14

In the areas of digital literacy and technology integration, we have:

Developed a curriculum for Digital Literacy:
·         Created 3 broad standards or objectives for the 2013-14 school year (Note: The Ministry of Education for BC has created draft digital literacy standards .  Our school has chosen to focus on 3 of these standards - Research Fluency, Digital Citizenship , and Technology Operations)
o   Each of the 3 standards are broken down into more specific skills.  (One exciting example is the creation of a 21st Century Research Guide by our Social Studies Department - which will form the foundation of our Research Fluency Standard!)
o   Each of the skills identifies an expected entry and exit point: expected competency level in grade 8 and grade 12
·         Developed a plan for integrating digital literacy throughout the subject areas and the school in the 2013-14 school year:
o   Intro to Technology Operations Basics at St. Pat’s: All grade 8s in September
o   Integration of digital literacy skills development that are grade-level appropriate into English classes - co-taught and/or supported by the techbrarian
o   Digital Citizenship integrated into grade level workshops / retreats
o   Staff supported by the techbrarian to integrate digital literacy skills development into all subject areas
·         Formed a team of teachers and administrators to collaborate in the planning of a digital literacy curriculum
·         Provided Digital Literacy professional development for staff
o   Shared information about digital literacy and plans for integrating the curriculum as part of our Building Experts Sharing Day

Supported teachers and students:
·         Created a database of resources about digital literacy to share with teachers
·         Implemented a framework for Techbrarian support in class that can vary depending on the needs of the class:
o   Task-based: Students develop digital literacy skills specifically as it relates to the task at hand
o   Subject-based: Students develop digital literacy skills in general and related to the subject
·         Provided support to teachers with regard to technology integration, with regular meetings for those whose professional development focus was on technology integration
·         Created a virtual learning space for students: St. Pat's Media Resource Centre
·         Created a virtual learning/sharing space for teachers: Building Experts Professional Learning

Next year, we intend to:

Continue to develop the Digital Literacy Curriculum:
·         Collaborate with the Problem Based Learning Team as they develop a cross-curricular approach for the 2014-15 school year – assist in integrating Digital Literacy
·         Review the existing 3 digital literacy standards and associated specific skills that we have focused on this year and consider additions/revisions
·         Assess the existing opportunities available to students to learn about and practice digital literacy skills:
o   Identify gaps
o   Search for ways to further integrate digital literacy
o   Consider how to track the learning opportunities to ensure that all standards are being addressed

Continue to support teachers and students:
·         Develop an online/interactive version of the Research Guide to the MRC website and introduce school-wide as a resource for digital literacy
·         Review LMS options and consider how an LMS might support technology integration and digital literacy skills development among the students and staff
·         Develop and deliver workshops for students about digital citizenship
·         Continue to assist teachers in integrating technology and search for new ways to expand technology integration through teacher support