Coaching Perspectives

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a learning coach.  I try to treat students the same way as I work with teachers, showing them ideas, explaining a concept quickly and having people explore.  Working with each individual at their exploration process to take them to the next step in their discoveries and then sharing our learning.

I want to encourage this model for teaching with the iPads.  Students are all at different levels and have the opportunity to create many different things. This individual focus allows student to achieve their personal best.

When students are working together to meet a common goal that that they had a part in creating I’ve personally seen a much deeper sense of engagement.  They want to know more, they willingly share their work with many others and they are receptive to feedback to create something incredible. 
I think  George Courus mentioned in a conference in Bangkok that this generation of learners publishes first and then edits.  This seems to clash with the teachers who want to edit first before presenting.  I think we need to have teachers open up and not be afraid to make mistakes. We all need to publish, get feedback and improve.  
As a coach, I’m trying to again push this idea of being a beginner and that everything can be edited and changed (even once published).  We need to make sure our whole school community has chances to fail and learn from their mistakes. 

Sustainability and Tech

It is budget time and as I ask for more devices for my students, I wonder about the social and environmental cost behind my request. I’ve seen the videos and heard the horror stories of the “recycling” plants in China and around the world. I worry about the personal cost to people in these situations too, and wonder what is being done about it.

Since our school has started an iPad program I thought I would look into how Apple was thinking about sustainability. Apple says they are committed to transparency and are a member of different third party organizations to confirm this. I started reading their report on sustainable practice.

I guess I realized that everyone wants to be committed to sustainable practice but actual action is harder to take.  From their report it looks like Apple firmly believes in helping their workers (including third party workers) gain fair wages, working conditions and success.  I think all these things are true, but I do wonder about third party monitoring.

Going back to earlier post ideas, I wonder about recycling and design process.  How can we start designing computers and tablets, and whatever else to be fully repurposed.  I heard a program (forever ago it seems) on the CBC about tech designers looking at how the companies would have to be responsible for the waste (it would be included in the price or something) they then started talking about renting equipment.  The point was you could pay the company (Apple, Samsung, Motorola, etc.) for a specific package, when the time to renew that package came up the company would take the phone and hopefully reuse the different components to make a new phone or tablet, etc.

Cradle to Cradle has been a focus for me these last couple of weeks, if it doesn’t show.

Cradle to Cradle

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about the holiday season, gift giving and how those thoughts impact the environment.

Aitana Leret Garcia » DP2.- Cradle to cradle: Waste = Food : taken from -

Aitana Leret Garcia » DP2.- Cradle to cradle: Waste = Food : taken from –

So I bought a back pack for my travels around with this philosophy.

I got it from kickstarter if you want to check it out

Anyway, with my focus on permaculture the last couple of weeks as an individual and my focus on design as a teacher this cradle to cradle philosophy has really got me wondering about how we can teach students more about the ideas behind sustainable design.

Taken from

I read this book three years ago, and was really concerned that tech people weren’t buying into this philosophy.  So I want to make lessons that incorporate this idea.  I love the idea of publishing ebooks rather than wasting paper, but we’re still using important resources in order to produce the tech to make the ebooks.

How can we bring the cradle to cradle philosophy to class?

I think a lot about my implicit and explicit teaching.  When I work with students how can I reinforce the idea of sustainable design explicitly and through my implicit actions?  This is my focus for this week: being really aware of how I promote sustainable design.  Any help is more than welcome.

Permaculture Principles

I’ve been reading this book on permaculture recently.  I’ve looked through these ideas before, but one of them really caught my attention this week.

The edge of the Pacific Ocean

To me, especially when teaching, I feel like my colleagues and I don’t do enough of this.  Too often we are trying to really focus on teaching the bulk of students and making the curriculum work. We don’t often look towards the edges of our students.  I also wonder how often we look to the edges of our teaching and learning.  How often are we just looking towards accepted practice rather than trying to try something new?

I do realize that with students we need to make sure we are doing the best we can, and often parents have  a memory of school that they want to see in the classroom.  So, what does teaching on the margins and edges look like?

More than that I guess is what are we doing as teachers to have students look to the edges?  I want students to be able to see the great things that are happening at the edges of our natural worlds and our tech worlds.

I guess more than anything this idea of looking towards the edges really gave me hope on mixing my two passions.  Where two things meet is an opportunity to discover great diversity. Having people who can see two different worldviews (embracing permaculture principles as well design technology) is the way I want our world to exist. I think it is here where design will change the world.

Please message or post about how we can use the edges and margins to enhance education.

Learning group

After school yesterday we had our first meeting for the blogging group.  I’m looking forward to see what my colleagues are doing. Too often I feel like I don’t get to see secondary, understand how they teach, what their focus is, so I’m really looking forward to learning more with this group.

We plan to use the 3-2-1 method, reading three blogs a week, commenting on two and writing one blog post.  Hopefully this inspires our little community. I hope to see it grow.

Truthfully yesterday was already more than what I had expected. We had more people show up then I thought, and people seem to be keen to learn more and contribute. It’s an exciting school when people want to get better, use tech, and inspire students.  Happily for me, some of them are also in the environmental action group we have on campus. It will give me more of a chance to delve into the same questions I have.

Embracing being a beginner

Earlier in my blogging I talked about being comfortable being a beginner (thanks Jeff Utecht).  For now I think I am, I know I am constantly beginning something, and as I trek forward with tech, I just have to know that I am a beginner, constantly, so embrace it right?

With my tech job I realize it’s not just me who has to be comfortable.  Some of my colleagues are getting frustrated with trying to keep up with “all this tech stuff”. I try to remind them that it is all a process, we are only trying to use a couple of apps right now on the iPad and we are working on students creating.  I want them to be the coaches I wrote about earlier. But some of them still feel the need to be knowledge givers, not continuous learners.

So I’m wondering how do I help foster this with my team.  We talk about it all the time, I model it in my team teaching classes.  I am comfortable being a beginner but I know not everyone is… so what do I do?

Loved working with the research tool on google docs, totally opened up so many doors!

Note Taking and Random Thoughts on Repurposing.

Did a fun note taking class today with googledocs.  Learned all this from a coworker who learned it from Jeff Utecht. Using googledocs I had students work in threes (I will make only three students in the class do this later, I’m just practicing skills right now).  On your googledoc I had them create a table with two columns.  One column was for big ideas, and the other column was for facts.  One person would be responsible for one column, the another person would be responsible for the other.  The third person in the group was responsible for finding images.  I found the students way more engaged in the note taking activity when they were responsible for a single task, not trying to see the big picture and the small details.  While they were working away, I would add comments to their work to extend their learning.  By giving the students options in the future (especially in high school or university, this would’ve made my life way easier) they can choose now between working on their own or working collaboratively.  Student choice is important to me and this activity game me an opportunity to really embody that belief.

Today is also Remembrance Day so I got to thinking about my grandparents.  One day my grandma asked if I would be working outside, I affirmed this idea and she handed me a thin sponge tied to an elastic band (like we have in pants or shirts).  She told me it was a sweatband and it worked really well.  I try to go beyond just the three Rs and think about sustainable design.  My grandma was great at this, always repurposing things.  I try, but it’s almost always easier for me to find something that fits a specific need. With apps for the ipad I try to remind my teachers we are going for actual creativity. By repurposing apps and giving students fewer directions we can use specific apps for different ideas. The apps that are specifically for a function always seem limiting, but Showme, educreations, and most of iWork and iLife seem to work really well for getting students to push boundaries.  Although my grandma was never into tech, it is a great way for me to repurpose her ideas.

This week we are starting our tech/teaching group. We’re looking for a name and trying to blog more and tweet more.  Hopefully it will help us all integrate tech that leads directly towards student learning.  Building my community to keep me focused, thanks for the help with the forming good habits!