Monday, May 28, 2012


I spent the weekend at the most amazing conference, the inaugural ConnectEd Canada (#ConnectEdCA) conference.  I'd like to preface by saying that I am a conference type person.  I love PD, I go to as many as possible and occasionally have to talk myself out of going to too many workshops and sessions.

I love learning and discovering new things and I love to talk about teaching and education. 

This conference was different.

I learned so much and connected with so many people, I'm not sure if I can accurately reflect on the whole experience.  I'm not sure if I've been able to process the whole experience yet!

The conference included a tour of the amazing classrooms of the Calgary Science School, with my knowledgeable tour guides, George (gr 4) and Chris (gr 9).  They showed us each classroom, helped us understand how classes were set up, answered a lot of questions, and helped us make connections with students in the classes we visited. It was SO great!

The workshops were both inspiring and validating.  It was great to have some feedback on some of my current teaching practices and ideas about inquiry, and to be challenged and supported in my desire to keep going forward on this path.  I learned about design-based thinking & wicked problems through role play and thinking out of the box with Mark Szabo ().  I talked about 1:1 iPads with Dan McWilliam (), Jody Pereverzoff () and Lisa Nelson.  I participated in a Skype chat with Brad Ovenell-Carter () about the ancient ideas of education and about how teaching kids how the world works is more important than delivering proscribed curriculum. That was all just in one day! 

The next day, I learned about inquiry in both English and Science high school classrooms.  Shelley Wright ().  She reminded us that we need to ask our students three main questions: 1) What do you want to learn?  2) How do you want to learn it?  3) How are you going to show me what you know?  After that session, I realized that I have often asked 1 & 3, but have missed 2.  I won't do that next time.  I also loved this quote by Shelley, "I ask a lot of questions.  I don't give a lot of answers."  That reminded me that I'm not the "Holder of the Knowledge,"  It's not about who is right.  It's about the kids finding out and creating their own knowledge.  I think I needed that reminder at this point of the year, as I try to finish up the curriculum without just "covering" it.

For the last session, I couldn't decide where to go.  I didn't want #ConnectEdCA to be over!  I ended up workshop surfing a bit.  Joined in on both Formative Assessment with Bernie Soto () and Collaborative Teaching with Deirdre Bailey (), Amy Park (), Ivy Waite (), and Jaime Groeller.  Both gave me some great food for thought.  Bernie reminded me that no one is an expert in Formative Assessment, but that I'm on the right path.  There was a lot of talk about how assessment should be a conversation, not a judgement - love it.  In the other session, I was reminded of how wonderful collaboration is and the inspiration and support that one receives when working with a partner.  I don't have many embedded opportunities to collaborate in my school, as I am the only grade 4 Progressive teacher, but this inspired me to find other opportunities for rich and meaningful collaboration! 

I spoke to so many great educators, many of whom I'd already "met" through Twitter, which is a fantastic source of PD and an online PLN.  At one point of the conference, I can't remember the exact context of the discussion, but it was something about social media and the comment that came up was, "What, you don't like to share?" This became a bit of a tagline through the weekend.  It reminded me that I need to take the next step in my online PLN.  I read blogs, I tweet, I take part in #edchats, but I haven't taken the last leap.  I haven't shared or reflected on my classroom and teaching practices.

I think I'm ready to do that now.  Thanks, #ConnectEdCA!

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