#saskedchat Feb26, 2015

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Another great chat tonight. We were discussing creating a positive classroom environment and the ideas and sharing was awesome. We had a number of new chatters tonight which was awesome. I have to say that having more people join has really added a new dynamic to the chat. At one point I could follow most of the conversations taking place. Now, even with two columns for #saskedchat in my tweetdeck, it’s still hard to follow along and keep up.

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For anyone new to the chat, there have been a number of suggestions for following along. I use tweetdeck to organize for the chat. If you are looking for some ideas for following along with the chat you might try tweet chat. It has some neat features that make following a bit easier.

Screenshot 2015-02-26 22.33.53  You’ll log in using the #saskedchat hashtag

Screenshot 2015-02-26 22.34.54 you will authorize the app with your twitter account

Screenshot 2015-02-26 22.42.48 Here is the page where you will follow the chat.

Twubs is another online tool that you can use.

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Screenshot 2015-02-26 22.46.09 You can either enter the hashtag OR

Screenshot 2015-02-26 22.47.20 create an account and sign in.

Screenshot 2015-02-26 22.48.20 The #saskedchat hashtag is registered with twubs.

Once you log in or enter the hashtag, you will be directed to the #saskedchat page

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Like other twitter clients, the stream will flow on the page. A nice thing about twubs is that you don’t have to enter the #saskedchat hashtag, it’s already there so you just need to add what you want to say. Screenshot 2015-02-26 22.53.46

If you click the Enable Chat Mode, you get more space for just the chat – all the other distractions are gone!

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Both of these work really well on a laptop or desktop. For iPad, I have used Hootesuite and the twitter client and prefer Hootesuite. For a laptop or desktop I would recommend tweet deck.

If you use tweetdeck, you can login on a browser and it will show you a duplicate of what you have on your desktop version – so if you are away from your computer you can still use tweetdeck just like on  your desktop!

Screenshot 2015-02-26 22.57.20 Screenshot 2015-02-26 22.58.48


If you have any questions, please let me know by contacting me @kwhobbes on twitter or go to my website http://www.kellychristopherson.ca and leaving an email. Thanks again for all the great sharing and the time each of you take to make your classrooms better learning environments for your students.

#saskedchat – Feb 19th, 2015


Topic – Professionalism – teacher well being

We had a great chat tonight with a number of new participants. Our focus was to discuss well being and ways that we, as professionals, can support ourselves and each other to be the best we can be each day.

The topic was prompted by a blog post by @stangea – Burning Out which then became our #saskedchat blogging challenge topic for the week. There have been a number of post that deal with teacher burn out and a number of response posts that discuss why teachers are not leaving teaching and staying. I won’t discuss either of these. Instead, I will refer you to my own experience, my last experience, with being at a cross-roads – Free Falling

Thanks to everyone who joined the chat and took part – we appreciate your sharing and the time you take to come together each week. Thank you!


It’ in the Attitude

For years I was a painter — I put myself through university and spent a few years afterward running my own company painting houses and commercial properties. At one point, the company had 20 summer students and 3 full time people besides myself. Like many ventures, what started off as a way to make some extra money turned into to a full blown job which led to an entrepreneurial endeavour. I learned a great deal about what life was like outside of education.

At some point, the work I was doing went from being something I enjoyed and took great pride in doing to being “a job”. I don’t know when it changed. It wasn’t necessarily what I was doing that changed but my own attitude about what I was doing. In my early twenties, I was sure there was “more”.

They made it Better

I worked one commercial job that still stands out for me. Not because of the work I did but because of two other people who were on the job. One was Tony, a tile setter and the other was Mike, a drywaller. I don’t remember much about them but I remember how they made me feel. Some people do something and the way they do it and the attitude they have forever changes the way you see things. It may be a commonplace thing but afer you see them do it, it becomes different. It leaves an impression on you that lasts a lifetime — you are made better by that exeperience. It’s not necessarily their passion for the work/thing they are doing that sticks with you but the passion for life that they have that permeates the work they do.

For me, as I worked along side these two who were doing hard , backbreaking work, I was impacted at their amazingly positive attitude. They had a presence that was ‘incredible’! They were happy and took pride and pleasure in what they were doing but it was more — it is still hard to describe. The world was made better by being with them. For that time, I once again enjoyed what I was doing.

These two would be, I think, what Liz Wiseman would call “multipliers” — they made other people better — not because of what they did but because of who they were. They had a positive effect on others. There were some people, however, that weren’t as impressed — they seemed threatened and were down and hard on them. It would make me mad sometimes but Tony would tell me to “Tend my own garden, plant my seeds and not let the weeds take over”. It took me a long time to figure out what he meant!

Attitude is Important

                                                          Mindset is important

George Couros asked this question the other day —

I think I understand what he was getting at — that what students do needs to have relevance, be connected to their lives, connected to their passions, meaningful to them as individuals — it needs to matter. I agree. I also know that there are many things that need to get done that can be drudgery and can seem like a waste of time. There were many things that I did while painting that were drudgery — but they were drudgery mostly because of my attitude. Over time, I’ve come to see that how I approach things, my mindset, makes a huge difference — in fact, it might make all the difference.

Writing for….value if…

As a student myself, very little of what I ‘produce’ sees the light of eyes. Even work that I have created and put online for an ‘authentic audience’ has seen little exposure — with a limited amount of feedback. In fact, as I type this, I look over to see a shelf full of papers I’ve written and, if I were to open a few files, there would be posts that have been published with zero views. In reality, much of the work I’ve done hits the “waste bucket” if I look at the ‘authentic interaction’ it has received. Does that means it’s a waste? Or is there value in the learning that I did? Can we always separate things into ‘value/no value’ piles? Do all the things we do need to have some immediate value to them to be worth doing? I write here to work things through myself and maybe get some feedback, maybe. But if there is no feedback, is there no value? Does the value have to be immediately visible? What if I were to return to this idea at a later date having grown and rethought things? What if others disagree with me? Does it now have less value? Or if they agree — more value? Does their status matter?

It’s part of LearningPart of my learning and growth has been to realize that being different and seeing things differently isn’t a problem or an issue or a “career crippler” as I have been told for most of my life. As I stumble, make errors and mistakes, take missteps, and agree and disagree with others, I learn so much about the world, about myself and the people in my life. Much of what I have done has been discarded, like assignments in a waste basket, recycled for other purposes. But the learning — that’s stayed with me. Sometimes, it’s what I’ve learned by having to push myself through, to not just quit and walk away that has allowed me to see things differently on the other end, to see the greatness in others who do ‘ordinary things with extra-ordinary attitude’.

The Story is in the Stones

Often, when I visit the mall in Saskatoon, I can still see the stones that were laid by Tony — worn from years of use. The shops where Mike did his drywalling are still there as are the headers and other work. Covered over — no one the wiser. And I smile — it makes me feel different/better — and I’m thankful because I was changed by my relationships with a stone setter and a drywaller — and I can see that now.

I wish I could thank them.

The relationships with students and the impression we leave with them aren’t because of the ‘great assignments or the amazing lesson plan’. It’s not the ‘great BYOD policy and walkthrough report’ you wrote. It’s those mistakes I made early in my career. Yes, having students do work that is meaningful is important; having them interact with authentic audiences is important; having them create and produce instead of consume and respond should be an essential part of what students do in schools. But do you do ordinary things with extra-ordinary attitude? I know I didn’t.

Some people are able to work with their life passion while others are able to bring their passion for life to their work.

School Change – Breaking Free

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Despite the massive amount of changes taking place in society, schools continue to resist. However a small number break free of the traditional classrooms, halls and desks to embrace different designs that permit students to engage and embrace learning and allow creativity, imagination, and collaboration to gain an equal footing with the traditional reading writing and arithmetic. The article by Matthew Jenkins Inside the Schools that Dare to Break with Traditional Teaching explores how some schools are breaking free and choosing to build their own paths – something that is so often quoted but seldom truly encouraged in children at school. As Jenkins states

Just as we are still waiting for someone to market hoverboards and self-tying shoelaces, we have yet to see a radical shift in teaching models, despite the ebb and flow of education reforms.

Which is true in so many instances. Although there is great discussion of reform, what type of reform is the question. Too often, reform, especially any reform that deviates from the traditional, is slow and hampered by the skeptics cries of rigour and relevance. A recent article in the National Post “public-school-spending-up-dramatically-in-canada-despite-falling-enrolment-fraser-institute” explores why spending on education is up despite dropping numbers. Too often, it’s the statistics of rank and sort testing that determines if the returns on investment are worth it for education instead of looking at the needs for the future from a progressive lens. In this same way, Elyse Watkins article on ending the grading game, points to the need to move away from archaic modes of assessment and embrace creativity, life-long learning,  personal development and collaboration through new methods of reporting. As Watkins explains

While some would argue that higher grades are a reflection of ambition and hard work, they are more so a distraction from a deeper learning process. If we want to create a truly equitable education system with excellent learners, we need to stop this futile metric.

Our system of grading has changed little since schools began yet our society has progressed and developed, almost like schools and their policies were left in a systemic time-warp. Moves to change these systems are often met with extreme resistance with cries to “return to the basics” and “more rigour” being hailed as necessary in schools where “no one fails”. Schools are seen to be the ranking and weeding ground for the rest of society, a place where students learn what the real world is like and the gifted are separated from the rest through their excellent grades. Yet, time and again, we see that not only is school not anything like the real world, but the rigour of the testing machine isn’t found outside schools! Instead, as Grace Rubinstein points out, some schools are seeking ways to shift to portfolios and other assessments.

Typically, these assessments come in the form of portfolios and presentations — tasks that bear something in common with the kind of work students may ultimately do in college or in a job.

Yet, as is often the case, these changes are making slow progress. As Marc Tucker explores in What Teachers Hear When You Say ‘Accountability’, the testing regime that has been implemented, especially in the United States hasn’t produced any major gains.

There is little doubt—whether test-based accountability is being used to hold schools accountable or individual teachers—that it has failed to improve student performance. That should be reason enough to abandon it. But it is not. The damage that test-based accountability has done goes far deeper than a missed opportunity to improve student achievement.  It is doing untold damage to the profession of teaching.

Teachers, as professionals, have been undermined by policies and policy-makers who continue to add to the growing demands for accountability through increased tracking, form-filling and other data-gathering methods which do little to develop the foundational relationships between students, teachers and parents that are essential to the learning environment in schools. Instead, continued focus on grades and testing ignores the social changes that are developing outside schools.

As I mentioned in my last post, a recent study The Future of Work – Jobs and Skills in 2030 outlines that by 2030 employees with need an increasing agility and hybridization of skills

  • Portfolio careers, whereby people combine several different paid activities at the same time, become mainstream. Personal agility, such as the ability to adapt to or embrace change and acquire new skills and competencies, becomes more important.

This is a trend that is growing as people seek new and different ways to strike a balance between career and home life, searching for ways to develop and maximize their talents, no longer satisfied with careers or working for managers that do not allow them to grow and develop their own talents.

It’s one of the oldest jokes in the business world: Two managers are talking about training their employees. The first one asks, “Yeah, but what if we train them, and they just leave?” The second responds, “What if we don’t train them, and they stay?” The Week

Changing Mindsets

There are some schools working to break the traditional mould of schools and there is a growing movement of teachers who are working through grassroots movements such as edcamps to change professional development to meet their needs and the needs of their students not fulfill a PD requirement or implement a new program or strategy. Teachers are developing Personal Learning Networks (PLN’s) via social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Plurk, Instagram, tumblr and other platforms in order to connect and share their ideas about teaching, learning, digital literacies, collaboration, assessment and other topics that are essential for shifting the current status quo paradigm found in most schools. In my experience as a teachers and an administrator, once teachers begin to experience the power of connecting and sharing, other aspects of their teaching also begin to shift and change. As I’ve seen over and over again, teachers who connect and develop a PLN experience a shift and change that can be career changing. 

Change takes Time
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Although many early adopters saw twitter as being the tool for connection, instead there is a growing number of tools that allow people to connect and learn together. Too often, the association is that if teachers aren’t on twitter, they aren’t growing – they lack a growth mindset – which couldn’t be farther from the truth. If we all did the same thing and thought the same way the world sure would be dull! Remembering this, one needs to look to see that many teachers are in fact embracing the use of technology and shifting. Continuing to support them and tell their stories is, as far as I can see, the best way to continue to help teachers as they shift and go through various stages of change. In my experience in a few different schools, it take about 3 years to make a shift in the culture and see large scale changes in classrooms and the school.

What about you?

What are you doing to support those around you make a shift? How do you lead through example? How can I help you as you these shifts yourself or lead others?

#saskedchat Feb12th, 2015

Our last #saskedchat focused on mentorship and the role it plays for teachers especially in regards to new teachers and internship. The chat was very lively with many of the contributors willing to share ideas and insights about the importance of mentorship for new teachers and interns but also for themselves as veteran teachers.

That was Then

As an administrator, it was sometimes difficult to know who to talk with about certain things and I sometimes would call on someone I considered a mentor to talk and bounce ideas around in order to get feedback and suggestions. I confess that I had few mentors as a young teacher/administrator and relied more on the collegial support of colleagues and peers than any mentor-type individual. At the time, mentorship, especially in education, consisted of the usual “Don’t smile until Christmas” and “It’s you or them so you’d better make sure it’s you!” type of stuff (Really, I heard those two lines as a new teacher!). As a profession, sometimes I wondered at the lack of support for new teachers as many young teachers I started with became the “out in 5″ statistic because of the “trial by fire” mentality that young teachers had to endure.

Shifting the Burden

Over the past 10 years I’ve seen a slow shift toward a growing realization that young teachers and interns need mentorship and support. Instead of throwing  them in the deep end to see if they swim, schools and school districts are providing support through mentorship-style pairings within a school to at least provide a young teacher with someone to go to for guidance. Although this is a great improvement, it still can be less than satisfactory especially if the two in the pairing aren’t “compatible”!

Teaching is slowly evolving away from the stoic teacher in isolation – which still harkens back to images centuries ago of teachers in isolation teaching students away from the general populace, of boarding schools and one room schools on the prairies. Finally, there are cracks in these facades as school connect to the world around them and open up, sometimes virtually, to people and places all over the world – yet, there is still a sense of isolation somehow that has not quite been overcome. A separation, almost like schools are still a cycle behind, not quite yet up to speed and teachers, for all some are connected, still have many teachers who work in isolation in their classrooms.

The Chat Archive

There are so many great conversations, ideas, insights and just great exchanges in this chat. It’s well worth the time to go through it!


84 (And Counting) Bloom’s Taxonomy Tools Worth Trying

See on Scoop.itEducational Discourse

We know y’all love a good list of Bloom’s Taxonomy tools. And the one we’re highlighting below isn’t only good – its growing, because it is crowdsourced by awesome teachers like you! Created by NJ Superintendent Scott Rocco, this list is chock-full of tons of different apps that can fill out just about every category of …

Kelly Christopherson‘s insight:

This has some good ideas for anyone looking for inspiration. 

See on www.edudemic.com

Minecraft Is Shaping A Generation, And That Is A Good Thing

See on Scoop.itEducational Discourse

These worlds children build in Minecraft aren’t just virtual. They are creating the very real culture of their time.

Kelly Christopherson‘s insight:

Yes, Minecraft is shaping a generation – just as PacMan, Atari and Star Wars did. As is pointed out, it is a global connection with people – all types of people – playing, learning, socializing and building relationships. But the game is also bringing together playing and learning. Having 4 boys playing and learning as they build, connect, share, destroy(yes they do that), invent, create, challenge, reshape, remodel,…..  has reenforced for me that having fun and learning can happen at the same time. 

See on www.forbes.com