High Scores

When I log into my school board email system I am presented with a news feed that is received by all the teachers in the district.  Usually there are short stories about the accomplishments of different students/teachers in the board.  A few weeks ago I saw a “news release” that told about two students in our board who graduated high school this year with an average of 100% (based on their best 6 grade 12 courses).

100%?!?!

What kind of assessments are these students exposed to such that they are able to score 100% on EVERYTHING?!

I can see how it may be possible for a student to demonstrate all of the knowledge requirements in a course, but as teachers we are responsible for far more than knowledge-based assessments.  I can only assume that if a student can finish with 100% in all her courses, then there has definitely been an over-emphasis on traditional tests and projects.  This is disappointing to me.

As teachers in the 21st century we need to create engaging learning environments where students are challenged to be critical and creative thinkers.  We need to develop assignments that encourage students to be resourceful and self-directed.  We need to provide opportunity for students to have meaningful collaboration and teamwork.  And we need to be aware that we are preparing our students for a world where the problems that need to be solved don’t fit on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, nor will they be solved with “test taking skills.”

Over the past few years, I have been trying to make the following changes to my classroom:

  1. Students learn from each other as much as possible.  Nurturing a classroom community is very important.
  2. Developing assignments that absolutely cannot be completed by copy/paste, memorization or “cramming.”
  3. Creating some projects that are broad in scope to allow students to “make it their own” in meaningful ways.

Personally, I think that the tradition of publishing the names of the students who have achieved the highest overall average in the board is an obsolete practice.  It comes from an era in which marks were emphasized above all else and the marks were based on old-school assessment practices like traditional tests, quizzes and homework checks.

In today’s fast-paced, hyper-connected world, achieving high marks in high school will only be one predictor of future success – and not the best one by far!  Instead, look for students who are intrinsically motivated, who are creative thinkers, who are self-directed learners, and who are able to build and maintain personal learning networks.  These are now (and have always been) better indicators of future success than a student’s graduating average.

Image Credit:  clspeace

What Does Watson Mean To You?

Perhaps I am being too bold, but doesn’t Watson, the IBM supercomputer and “Jeopardy! champion,” demonstrate clearly that there is very little value in the memorization and regurgitation of information?

For those who may not already know, Watson is an artificial intelligence program developed by IBM to answer questions posed in natural language.  What makes Watson so remarkable is its ability to interpret some of the nuances of human language (puns, jokes, cultural references).  Recently, Watson competed in a special Jeopardy! series of “Man vs. Machine” and won by a significant margin.

It has been clear to me for some time that we live in a world of information abundance, which has changed our lives in profound ways.  At our fingertips we have access to an unmeasurable amount of information – providing answers to virtually any question.  But until Watson came along, we still needed a real human’s critical thinking skills to process the information.  After every Google search, humans naturally ask questions like, “is this the information I was looking for?”, “does this information seem accurate?”, “is there a bias in the results?”, etc.  Now, I know that there is still a LOT of thinking that a computer can’t do, but it seems to me that the gap is getting narrower.

As teachers in the 21st century, we need to help students refine their skills, not fill their heads with content.  In this day and age, information is cheap and readily accessible.  Our energy is much better spent instilling within students a curiosity for life and love of learning.  We need to help students think critically and develop problem solving skills.  We need to provide them opportunities to communicate and collaborate.  We need to empower them to be independent and self-directed people.  We need to give them a place to discover their talents and appreciate the talents of others.  We need to nurture their creativity and innovation.  And we need to help them care for one another.

I think that every teacher should ask the question of themselves:  At the end of my course, what skills will my students have developed?  I don’t think that Watson will be able to answer that question any time soon.

Blogging – Year 2

It was just over one year ago that I started this blog as a new year’s resolution to myself.  I am proud that I have kept up with it.  In 2010, I was able to produce 35 blog posts, which is an average of almost 3 each month.  Of course, I was not able to write as much as I would have liked, but I am glad that I didn’t give up.

As of yet, I do not have a new year’s resolution for 2011, but I am mulling things over right now.  I may not be able to clearly outline an official resolution – instead it may be a general conscientiousness.  I recognize that I need to get better at scheduling my time, being more productive, and trying to find a better work-life balance (you may notice that I am writing this blog at 1AM on a Wednesday).  For me, these three things are very closely connected.

This year Edublogs has created the Teacher Challenge, which is intended to give new edubloggers a kickstand to support them, or give more experienced bloggers a kick start to get them writing more in 2011.  I think it’s a great idea and I am going to try and participate as much as I can.  For the first challenge, I will address the topic 10 things you should know about blogging.

My 4 Things (because 10 was too many for me)

  1. Blogging is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. This is something I have had to remind myself many times over the past year.  It is easy to put expectations on yourself (e.g. how often you will write), and then feel disappointed when you fail to live up to your own expectations.  Whenever I start feeling bad about my blog, I remind myself why I started blogging in the first place.  Needless to say, “to make me feel bad about myself” was not on the list.
  2. Blogging builds connections. One of the highlights of my first year of blogging was the first time I was quoted on someone else’s blog!  It is really great to feel like my posts are a valued contribution to the edublogosphere.  Writing a blog helps you create an online identity and opens opportunities to connect with other outstanding educators.
  3. Blogging is a bit of an ego balancing act. On the one hand, you should be writing for personal reasons, not for public attention.  Your blog will be interesting to read because it comes from you, and your thoughts have value!  However, it is difficult not to get preoccupied with “readership.”  After all, you could just use a journal if you didn’t want people to read your blog!  I have a number of widgets on my blog to track the readership because I like statistics, but I really try not to focus on that – The motivation to blog should be intrinsic.
  4. Ideas are easy – coherent thought is more difficult. I currently have about 25 draft blogs waiting to be written.  The reality is that coming up with ideas to share is actually pretty easy.  About once a day I think, “that would make a good blog post.”  But, when the fingers hit the keyboard, the story changes.  All of a sudden, the idea is not as fleshed out as you originally thought, or you begin anticipating the criticism, or you’re not sure how to communicate the ideas concisely, or you just don’t have the time to give your ideas the one-on-one attention they need.  In the end, I still think it’s better to catch the post in a draft, then have it slip away forever.  One day, it will get its chance.

If you are thinking of starting a blog, I highly recommend it.  If you already do blog, how much does my list ring true for you?

I wish everyone a happy new year.  I hope 2011 will be filled with tremendous growth and accomplishment.

Photo Credit:

Scrap Pile

Mystery Breeds Intrigue

mystery

This past November, I gave a presentation at the Science Teacher’s Association of Ontario annual conference.  The presentation was called, Social Networking in Science Education:  Learning Beyond the Classroom.

In the presentation, I tried to make the case that our students are, in many ways, different than the generations of teenagers who came before them – primarily because of the world in which they have grown up.  Furthermore, that recognizing exactly how students are different must inform our teaching practice if we are to remain relevant to students in the 21st century.

One of the ways that I have been expanding my ability to reach students has been with the use of social networking sites in my classes (like Ning, Edmodo, and grou.ps).  There is no doubt in my mind that social networking has been a phenomenal success with my students and I continue to be excited about using this tool to break down the walls of my classroom.

The following was the printed description of the presentation at STAO:

Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized the way that people interact online.  This presentation will discuss how teachers can leverage social networking technology within their classrooms to improve student engagement and extend learning beyond the walls of the classroom.  The presentation will demonstrate how to use many different free online services to create moderated social networks that uphold student privacy and maintain safety.

Previously, at the 2009 STAO conference, I delivered a presentation called Wikis in Science Education.  The turnout was wonderful – 45 attendees, who filled every seat in the room.  Going to this year’s STAO conference, I expected a similar turnout.  After all, everyone knows what social networking is and I thought that my description would have been perfectly clear and unambiguous.

As it turns out, only 8 people came.

I still feel the presentation was a wonderful success and the small number created a very intimate sphere (of which I was very thankful considering it was my first time giving this talk.)  In fact, because of the small group, we were able to have much more discussion and audience participation, which I think brought a more personal element.

Reflecting back, I have wondered what made the difference in attendance from one year to the next.  I would have thought that if “wikis” could draw a crowd, then certainly “social networking” would be an even bigger pull.

Then it dawned on me – teachers may already think they know what social networking is all about!  Moreover, many teachers hold the belief that social networking is the opposite of what their class needs.  After all, Facebook consumes the attention of our students, drawing them away from good ol’ fashioned learning!  A teacher might only read the title of my presentation before deciding that they already know everything they need to know about the presentation.

Yet, few teachers really know what a wiki is.  That word is still novel in the world of education, and because it is a little bit mysterious, it develops intrigue.  I think that when I prepare presentations in the future, I will be more careful in the wording of the title and description – specific enough so as not to mislead, yet elusive enough to generate interest.  Of course, this idea is just a working hypothesis.  It is entirely possible that my wiki presentation in 2009 sucked so badly that no one wanted to hear me talk again in 2010!

I am lucky enough to have opportunity to deliver the social networking presentation again in May at the conference for the Ontario Association of Physics Teachers.  This gives me an opportunity to test my hypothesis.  Any suggestions for a new title and description that would develop more mystery and intrigue?

Image Credit:  turboalieno

Thank You

nominated_newblogI am honoured to have been nominated for the Edublog Awards in the category of “Best New Edublog.”  When I started this blog in January of 2010, I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into.  I only knew that:

(a) Blogging would help me to be a better reflective practitioner in my teaching.

(b) Blogging would allow me to give back to an online educational community from which I have benefited so greatly.

Looking back over this first year of blogging, I can be certain of (a).  The act of intentionally taking time out of my busy schedule to reflect on my teaching practice, and attempt to articulate my thoughts and ideas clearly, has given me a greater sense of perspective and strengthened my approach to teaching and leadership.

Having been nominated for an Edublog Award this year gives me confidence that I am having some impact with (b) also.

When I began this blog, I decided that I wanted to write for my personal benefit – that I would not be concerned about the number of posts I am able to write, or the number of hits each blog would generate.  Having said that, I think you would agree, that it is nice to be appreciated.

Thank you to everyone who has read my blogs along the way.  I hope that you have, in some small way, gained something from my efforts.  If you feel so inclined, please consider voting for ideaconnect in this year’s “Eddies.”

Levels of Classroom Management

I was looking over my stockpile of draft blog posts when I rediscovered this one and thought I would finish it.

I have been thinking more about approaches to classroom management this past month because I have been working with a student teacher from OISE/UT.  In trying to help my student teacher understand the subtleties of classroom management I was telling him how I have come to understand that there are three levels of managing student behaviour in a classroom setting, and that I have progressed through each of the three levels over my years in this profession.

Level 0 – No management

This is not really a level at all, but it’s where I began in my first year.  The basic mistake that I made is having the assumption that if you simply treat students nicely, then they will do the same for you.  The problem is, students and teachers don’t always have the same definition of “nicely.”  At the time, my definition of “nicely” was “please sit quietly and take down all the notes without talking to each other.”  I didn’t yet understood how to engage a teenage brain for 75 minutes.  Looking back I think that my students must have been pretty bored, so it is no surprise that they felt the need to be disruptive – their brains needed to!

Of course, students have some inherent ability to behave due to their socialization, so my classroom was not complete mayhem.  Some good learning occurred, but it was not a great “learning environment”; equipment got broken often because there were no firm expectations on students; I was usually exhausted because I was always putting out fires and reacting to small behavioural interruptions.

Level 1 – Compliance

I didn’t take long at Level 0 before I realized that if I was going to keep students in line, I was going to have to demand it.  This was the stage when I created a list of classroom rules and referred to it often.  I started requiring students to be absolutely quite during lessons.  I started to rely on consequences more readily – calling home, detentions, lectures, and sending students out of class.

I don’t want you to get the picture that I was a strict disciplinarian because I really wasn’t.  Discipline is not in my nature, so it was very foreign for me to give students detentions or send them to stand in the hallway, but I did it because I thought I had to.  This stage was also pretty exhausting for two reasons:  First, I always felt like I was giving lectures, calling home and using my personal time to supervise detentions; Second, I had to present myself as a bit of a “tough teacher” in order to demand respect.  As I have said, this is not my personal character at all, so it was very tiring for me.

Level 2 – Tone (agreement)

Level 2 is where my classroom management really started to go in new directions that had positive results and that fit with my personality.  I call this level “Tone” because I really started to hone in on the atmosphere in my classroom as mechanism for moderating student behaviour.  I remember the first time I delivered instructions in a new way.  I communicated my expectations about student behaviour before starting a lab … then I stood there silently looking at the students, holding their attention for a few long seconds (though it felt like 5 minutes).  I was not upset, or demonstrating frustration – Instead, I was holding their attention so as to communicate just how important my expectations were.  In that class, they internalized my high expectations for their behaviour and I realized just how much of an impact my tone would have on student behaviour.

The tone or atmosphere of the classroom moderates student behaviour.  It makes students accountable to the teacher and to each other, not because students believe they will get in trouble for misbehaviour, but because students internalize the sense that poor behaviour is unacceptable.  If you are a new teacher, you may have a hard time understanding what I am saying here (I am struggling to explain it), but if you seek out a role model teacher at your school, you will feel the difference in their classes and the ways that they interact with their students.

I think that this level of classroom management can also be called “agreement” because it involves getting students to “buy in” to the expectations of the learning environment.

Level 3 – Community (engagement, empowerment)

Building “community” is the highest level of classroom management that I have achieved so far, and it became a major part of my approach to teaching only 2 years ago.  I realized then, that having a positive tone of high expectations might dissuade some students from using disruptive behaviour to “take away” from classroom learning, but it did not inherently encourage students to use positive behaviour to “give back” to the classroom learning.

Creating a classroom community takes time, but it is time worth investing.  At the beginning of each semester, I allocate a significant amount of time to community building activities and teaching students to interact with each other in positive and fulfilling ways.  Each year, the activities change, but they generally emphasize the following points:

  • Everyone must know everyone else’s name (students will be working with everyone at some point in the semester)
  • Creating a sense of belonging (every person has something to contribute and is a valued member of our community)
  • Developing a set of norms that facilitate learning (My three questions are:  What do you need from me to help you be successful?  What do you need from each other to help you be successful?  What do I need from you to help you be successful?)
  • Teaching students the value of cooperative group learning

At the level of classroom community, every behaviour can be measured by its ability to contribute to the classroom community, or take away from it.  At this level, students will mostly manage themselves.  When intervention from the teacher is required, simply asking the student to reflect on how their behaviour is affecting the community as a whole is often enough to bring them back into the sphere of learning and sharing.

If you are trying to get a better sense of how I build community in my class, you may be interested to see My Intro Day Presentation, or look at A New Approach to Classroom Expectations that I tried this year.

If I have learned anything about classroom management, it is that managing student behaviour is a personal journey.  The levels I have outlined above are the levels that I progressed through and they represent approaches to classroom management that resonate with my personality and teaching style.  I also know that my journey is not complete.  I hope that in a few more years, I will be able to tell you about Level 4-6 as I discover what they are.

Photo Credit:

mick62

maczter

massdistraction

I Love Technology

Technology is a major part of my life – so much so that I often take it for granted.  However, every once in a while I realize the absolute awesomeness of what I am able to do with technology that would not have been possible when I was a teenager.

I snapped this image of my desktop a couple of minutes ago:

Technology_is_Amazing!

Here is why I think this picture is so cool:

  1. On the left hand side of the screen, I am watching a YouTube video of Eric Mazur delivering a talk about his program of “Peer Instruction“.
    • His talk is interesting and engaging to me personally because he is a Physics teacher and so am I.
    • His talk is available free online.
    • I am receiving some wonderful PD while at home in comfortable clothes, at a time that is convenient to me.
    • The link to this video came from my Twitter stream within which I am connected to hundreds of educators who share my passion for education and technology.
  2. On the right side of the screen, I am helping to plan a small good-bye party for my student teacher.
    • Within a few minutes, I have created a document with a sign up list for the party and shared the document with all of my students.
    • Already I have students editing the document and volunteering to bring items (a cake, pop, etc.)
  3. I am able to capture and edit an image of my screen in a matter of seconds using Jing.
  4. I am blogging about my passion for technology to an audience worldwide.
  5. The readers of this blog are going to write a comment telling me about a time when they marveled at how amazing technology is (hint, hint) facilitating a two way conversation across time and space!

I love technology!

Small Successes

Although I am a strong advocate for the use of instructional technology, I have never been a proponent of “technology for technology sake.”  In actual fact, my approach to education has little to do with technology and much more to do with creating 21st century learning environments that will prepare our students for a world that is rapidly changing.  Of course, technology is one component of creating these types of learning environments, but not the most important part.  Instead, we need to help teachers think differently about what “their job” is, and help student think differently about what “school” is.

The past few weeks I have had a few interactions that have made me believe that positive changes are happening in the world of education.  I wanted to share these success stories with you.

My Grade 10 Applied Science class has 22 really nice kids.  Generally speaking, they are not excited about Science, but I do my best to make it interesting and engaging for them, and we usually have a pretty good time.  I have always worked hard to model for my students an appropriate use of technology.  I am probably one of the few teachers in my school who does not have a “NO CELL PHONES” policy – Instead I have an “APPROPRIATE USE” policy.  At the beginning of each year it sometimes feels like I have opened Pandora’s box because I am constantly having to manage students’ use of their cell phones.  It takes many focussed conversations and a lot of modeling, but eventually students start to “get it” and I don’t have to work so hard any more.  This Monday, my Grade 10 class really got it and it was so cool to see.

Students were doing some reading in small groups about the different ecozones on Earth.  One of the short articles made reference to flying squirrels and one of my students asked me what they were.  I tried to explain it but I knew that a picture would communicate the concept much better so I pulled out my phone and Googled it.  They thought that was pretty great (and that flying squirrels are pretty creepy).

Ten minutes later I overheard Jas say, “what does epiphytic mean?”  It wasn’t 30 seconds after when I heard Nicole reply, “It’s a plant that can grow on another plant.”  I was completely caught off guard (mostly because even I don’t know what epiphytic means!).  When I asked Nicole how she knew the definition, she said, “Sir, I just looked it up on my phone,” as if I had just asked her a mundane question like what she ate for lunch.  I got so excited that I called everyone’s attention to praise Nicole publicly and reinforce her decision to use her cell phone in an appropriate way for our classroom.

Of course I expect that my students will still make poor choices about their cell phones from time to time, but I believe the message is getting through and that is a success story worth sharing!

Other success stories came from a few teachers at my school who recently attended the OSSTF Toys and Tools:  Technology in Education conference with me.  I was pleased to hear that they enjoyed the conference and have been trying some new “tech”-niques.  Some teachers from our Social Science department were inspired by Danika Barker’s presentation at the conference to start their own social network using Ning.  When I was talking to these teachers, they were excitedly telling me how the social network has already become an enriching experience for their students because …

“students are learning and sharing outside of the classroom, any time they want”
“students are learning from each other”
“students are making deeper connections”

It was like music to my ears!

Also in the past few weeks, I have had many teachers come by my office to tell me how they have been using web 2.0 tools in their classes:  PollEverywhere to facilitate a unit review, Voicethread to facilitate online discussions, MixedInk to practice writing lab reports, and the list goes on!

As a teacher who endorses the vision for 21st century learning environments, it can sometimes feel like we are very far away from reaching that goal.  However, a significant shift will take time and it is important to step back and recognize the small successes along the way.  These small successes give me a lot of hope for the future of teaching and learning.  If you have a success story to share, please tell us about it in the comments.

Image Credit:

Cell Phone – Mykl Roventine

Flying Squirrel – nikoretro

The Last 5 Years

It is now one week into summer holidays and I wont stop thinking about school, which is a good thing.  I find myself reflecting on the amazing/hectic/exhausting year I have just finished and looking forward to the amazing/hectic/exhausting year coming up.  I cherish the summer time to think all the thoughts I didn’t have time to think over the past year, read the books I didn’t have time to read, and hopefully write blogs that I didn’t have time to write.

Looking back over the past year, I recognize now that this was an important year in my career because I feel like I have really begun to come into my fullness as an professional educator.  I can see this development in both my classroom teaching and my professional expression outside the classroom.

Breaking into full stride

While I was in Teacher’s College, I remember hearing that after 5 years of teaching you really begin to “get comfortable.”  At the time, I imagined this meant that after 5 years, I would have enough experience so that I could ease up on the throttle and just coast, tweaking little things here or there – as if teaching would get easy or even dull.  Obviously, this was naive.  Now that I have completed my 5th year, I can say that I do feel different than before, but not in the way that I imagined.  Rather than considering the analogy of a car that has eased up on the throttle and beginning to coast, I feel more like a sprinter running the 100 m dash.  After 5 years, I feel like I am breaking into a full stride – not slowing down, or coasting, but really pushing myself at top speed.  And, it’s exciting!

This year everything started to “click.”  However, I would not say that my development as a classroom teacher took a giant leap forward.  Instead, I think I am finally beginning to see the results of the effort I have invested over the past 5 years.  Since day one, I have been pouring my heart into this job – trying to improve the practice of teaching and learning, trying to navigate the jungle of assessment and evaluation, trying to build community within my classrooms, trying to hone my skills in classroom management, trying to embed my curriculum with technological literacy and 21st century skills, and trying to empower my students!  In all of these areas, this year felt different.  It’s really rewarding to feel that hard work pays off.

Teacher leadership

A year and a half ago, Stephen Lippa – a friend, colleague, and mentor of mine – encouraged me to submit a proposal to the Science Teachers Association of Ontario annual conference to do a presentation on how we had incorporated the use of educational wikis into our science program with considerable success.  I was hesitant at first.  Although I had done many PD sessions with the staff at my own school, I had never put together a presentation for teachers I didn’t already know.

After the presentation, many attendees went out of their way to tell me how much they enjoyed the session and how they were excited to take back what they had learned to their own classrooms.  This feedback was tremendously encouraging to me and it helped me realize that, although I have only been teaching for 5 years, I have valuable experience to share with other educators. In addition, it became clear to me that many educators were hungry for the type of teaching expertise I had to offer! The experience of presenting at STAO has motivated me to explore and refine my role in teacher leadership. Since then, I have been accepted to present at two conferences in 2010 on the topics of social networking in the classroom, and using collaborative technology to integrate new literacy in physics education. I am very excited about getting involved in more opportunities for leadership.

Creating ideaconnect (this blog) is another example of why this year was an important one for me. My PLN has been such a huge part of my personal professional development, so I made a new year’s resolution in January to start a blog of my own. Mostly I see this blog as a way to deepen my involvement with my PLN and participate more in a community to which I owe so much. I still struggle to write every post (each one usually takes me a few hours to compose over multiple sittings), but I’m sticking with it.  I hope to write more often, share more intriguing ideas, and develop my writing style as the years go on.  Without a doubt, I have enjoyed the intellectual and emotional process of writing this blog.

Thank you

I want to end this post by expressing my gratitude:

I am thankful to all of you who read my posts – it is tremendously flattering that you give your time to me in that way.
I am thankful to my school administration for giving me the freedom to explore my passions in the classroom.
I am thankful for all the amazing educators I have had the pleasure of working with over the last 5 years – they have spurred me to new and exciting places.
I am thankful for my students who challenge me every day to be a better educator and a better person.
I am thankful for my wife who is ever-loving and supportive of my passion for teaching.

I can only hope that in the next 5 years I will grow and learn as much as I have in the last 5.

Image Credit:  frankjuarez

Feeling Left Out

One of the formative experiences in my life happened when I was in grade 4. I vaguely remember a time when someone (I can’t recall who) had a birthday party that I was not invited to. On the Monday after the party, everyone (it seemed) was talking about all the secret things that happened at the party, and even had a new handshake just for people who were in attendance. Although the hype lasted only a day, I felt completely cut off from those in the know. To this day, I struggle to be “outside the circle.” Of course, my priorities have changed a lot since then – instead of worrying about missing a “party,” I sometimes feel left out of a great professional development opportunity, for example.

During the day today, I had a moment at school to jump into my Twitter stream and everyone (it seemed) was tweeting about #ontarioplp.  But, what is #ontarioplp, I wondered?  I had no idea and I immediately felt outside the circle.  What made it worse was that people were saying things like:

  • @pmcash We wish you were here too Pete! This experience is one that all teachers should have….I hope it spreads. #ontarioplp  (@sherrymason09)
  • @pmcash You’d love it, Peter. It’s a buffet of ideas and passions coming to fruition. #OntarioPLP (@dougpete)
  • #ontarioplp I think my brain is on fire more now than it was on the first day… so many great projects and ideas (@jmoz)
  • Wow – lots of good stuff coming out of #ontarioplp #plpontario – good vibes, pictures and ideas!! thanks for Sharing!  (@AlanaCallan)
  • Learning how to ‘Leverage the Wisdom of the Crowd’ at #ontarioplp (@msjweir)
  • Fellow PLPers having fun learning together. The projects are very inspirational! #plpontario #ontarioplp (@sadone)

It was hard not to feel like I was missing out on a great opportunity to learn and connect with other educators.  Although I’m still not quite sure what Ontario PLP is, I am glad that so many people enjoyed it.

Driving home today, I was reflecting on how our world moves so fast these days, and how hard it is to keep up with all the new changes and developments.

In fact, it’s downright impossible to keep up.

In fact, you would go crazy just trying to keep up!

This personal lesson first became apparent to me when I starting using Twitter three years ago.  I remember nights where I would continue to go further and further back into the stream of tweets, not wanting to miss out on anything wonderful that had been shared.  It wasn’t long before I realized that this approach was unsustainable.  Now I know that while I may have missed some great tweets, I did catch some great ones too.  I try not to think about the tweets that got away.  If the universe really wants me to watch another inspirational TED Talk … it will find a way to send it to me again.

I guess I realized today, that as our world gets more connected, and as more teachers join the Ed.Tech. revolution, it wont just be tweets that go flying past – it will be entire conferences!  But, if you miss one great conference, another one is coming down the stream shortly after it.  After all, there is no “party” with everyone at it but you … the social media revolution is the party, and we’re all invited, and it’s going on all the time!