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Connecting Amidst Connectivity

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This was the first lecture as part of the Promise and Peril of Emerging Technologies: Research Colloquium

I was super excited to snag a table facilitator position and attend this event.  Two years ago a similar event was held that had my mind spinning and me questioning the impact of technology on our minds, bodies and relationships.  This one did the same.

First one


Michael Rich

Center on Media and Child Health


The Key Ideas that I captured from this portion of the day….

  •  Blindly embracing, mindlessly running away OR can we be mindful?
  •  10 hours 45 minutes is the daily average screen time for 8-18 year olds
    • Only 7 hours 38 minutes of media use but because of multiple screens this adds over 3 hours
  • Multitasking & Influences
    • What is the effect of multiple screens?
    • Second/third screens are not filtered by our critical thinking, does this make them more influential?
  • Have you heard from your students?  “When I stay awake at school, I don’t remember.”
    • Missing sleep cycles that move things from our short term to our long term memories
    • REM sleep is important for consolidating memory and we are getting less and less
  • MRI scans & the value in boredom
    • Doing nothing, mind wandering has more brain areas light up
    • When we have nothing to do we build our sense of self
    • Creativity time
  • It didn’t happen until it is shared
    • FOMO – fear of missing out
    • Stay online for self defense – need to know what is happening
    • Don’t tell adults because the first thing we do is take away access to technology
    • We are behaving the way we have always done but the environment is different
  • What can you do…
    • Learn alongside your students and children
    • Respect them enough to enter their world
    • Be the student
    • Tech tools to create, critically think
    • Choose what are exposing our attention to
    • Digital Sabbath – 24 hour period without media

The one that blew my parenting mind was “Do not put limits on screen time, but rather fill their 24 with priorities. Media is not the forbidden fruit.”  In my house we exceed every average for screen time but we do put limits on time and this is where the fighting and negotiation happens.  In hindsight helping children (and some adults) prioritize their daily life is a far more useful skill than putting hard limits on time.

This was the first hour of the day and I was already reeling!


Year in Review

The demise of Posterous really cut into my 365 project this year.  I dabbled with Tumblr but think I have settled with Instagram.  I love looking back at our year!

Looking back at 2012

Back even further, 2011.

Changes in Education, Changes in Assessment

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Moving right along to Chapter 2 in Talk About Assessment, it comes down to this…

Flickr Some rights reserved by William M Ferriter

Flickr Some rights reserved by William M Ferriter

It is time to get on the Criterion Referenced bus.  It should no longer matter how long it takes a student to meet an outcome, so long as they are moving towards and eventually meet this standard.  Instead of sorting students we can certify that students have met a standard of achievement.

The Alberta High School Flexibility Project is redesigning high school experience and has had to rethink assessment and instruction.  One of the project focus points was on credit recovery, much like criterion referenced assessment, it allows students to meet a standard when they meet it.  At my school this turned into credit recovery, extension and acceleration and allows students to meet outcomes not always according to the semester system.  Has this meant that students return to try and learn again?  That they are more engaged and motivated to learn?  The initial data, high school completion rates, credit completion and student engagement figures say yes.  It works, it is not perfect but it is a work in progress.

But how does this prepare students for real life if they are given numerous chances to complete?  It does, because education is changing and so must assessment.  Think about the last time you had to learn something, what did you do?

I am trying to figure out how to make buns and I am struggling.  They taste fine but they look horrible.  So I researched a recipe and


tried it.  It didn’t work.  So I did a little more research and watched some videos.  Still no good.  So I thought I should switch from dinner buns to hot dog buns, no hot dog ever managed to get in those buns.  Then I talked with a colleague who makes the most delicious and visually appealing, perfect buns and got some advice.  Still no good.  Next we are meeting and doing it together.  In the meantime, my cinnamon buns look fantastic and I still attempt to make dinner buns when I think about it.  Should we get multiple attempts to do something, learn something or should there be an arbitrary time when this learning must be complete?  Do we want students who return and persevere or have a DEADline they need to meet to learn something?

The Big Ideas of Assessment

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As I make my way through my summer reading pile, the one that has risen to the top is Talk About Assessment by Damian Cooper.  The book starts with 8 Big Ideas about Assessment.IMG_0622

  1. Assessment serves different purposes at different times.
  2. Assessment must be planned, purposeful and accurate.
  3. Assessment must be balanced and flexible.
  4. Assessment and instructions are inseparable
  5. Assessment, to be helpful to students, must be in words not scores.
  6. Assessment is collaborative; self, peer and teacher.
  7. Performance standards are essential and must be criterion-referenced.
  8. Grading and reporting requires teachers to exercise their professional judgement.

Looking at my current practice the big idea that is most evident in my classroom is #3, that assessment must be balanced and flexible.    My students advice to next years class is to always have a conversation with Mrs. C and to have a plan to meet the learning outcomes.  Their are guidelines not timelines and suggestions for demonstrating understanding, but ultimately a conversation can change any of this. When I look to see what I gather as evidence of learning, it varies.  Blogs, exits slips, presentations, performance tasks, oral reports, foldables, image analysis, conversations, emails and lots of choice.  With one notable exception, no tests this year.  I have been moving in this direction for a number of years and this year I did it, however I wonder if it should be a part of, or perhaps a choice in, a balanced assessment plan.

Talk about Assessment imageThe big idea least evident in my classroom is #2, assessment that is planned purposeful and accurate.   I have taught social studies 9 about 5 times now and I am getting closer to hitting the essential understanding targets, but I still find myself flying by the seat of my pants every once and awhile and missing the target.  I know what I need to do and I am envious of the math department at my school that has sat down and mapped out their essential understandings, formative and summative tasks.  Now I need to do the same.  The author, Damian Cooper, talked about how he used to leave the Evaluation portion of his lesson and unit planning blanks and I can totally relate.  While some of my planning is bang on, and you know when that happens.  Students are engaged, the classroom is humming and together we are moving towards a goal we all understand.  And some of the time I get part way there, but then I stumble with a poorly designed rubric or timelines gone sideways.  This is the piece that our Social Studies Div 3 cohort was working on and off over the last couple of years, but we have not had the consistency of meeting and talking to get it done right.  But I know this is where I need to concentrate my energies.

Where are you at?  What is most or least evident in your teaching practice?

Edcamp Tech Smackdown

My obsession with Inforgraphics has led me to stockpile resources and then try my hand at creating my own.  It is but a first attempt using Piktochart,

Outline 2012 Inforgraphic


Runner Up: Today’s Meet as a back channel

EdCamp GP


What Does That Mean?

Come enjoy a day with colleagues from the Peace Country area and beyond. Arrive with an idea for a session that you would like to lead or with the anticipation of a day of learning. A session might explore a technology tool, a discussion about best practices, or a collaborative presentation with multiple facilitators.

During the first half hour, you will have time to meet other teachers over coffee. There will be an empty session board where you and all attendees can post session titles.

Over the course of the day, you will have the opportunity to attend up to four sessions. The rule of the unconference is to “vote with your feet”. If a session doesn’t meet your needs, simply get up and move on to another room.

You will learn something new, maybe make a new friend, and receive information that you can immediately apply in your classroom and professional life!

When and Where?

EdCampGP will take place on Saturday February 9th, 2013 at Peace Wapiti Academy from 10 am until 3:30pm.


Register at  to reserve your space. Registration is limited.


EdCamp Grande Prairie is free. Lunch will be on your own at a local eatery. We will have a sign up board for ordering out as well..

 What Should I Bring?

Bring a friend. A laptop with wireless Internet is useful. It will allow you to view the session board online, take notes, and view websites discussed throughout the day.


Please feel free to send an email to


Gerald Logan @gloganETCATAlogo_reasonably_small

Jen Clevette @jenclevette


2012 – Reflection on Balance

For the past couple of years I have been using a single word to guide and focus my year. (Find last year’s post at

So last year, 2012, my word was

Nest B Christmas Sparkle letter A letter L letter A letter N c letter E

This was a tough year for me both personally and professionally.  I started a new job, as a vice principal of a 9-12, not only was I a first time administrator, it was my first time at a high school.  My saving grace was that I was teaching social studies 9 again, so I had a little bit of breathing room.  Personally my son had a rough couple months at school, it was tough on the whole family, but we seems to have turned a corner and he LOVES going this year.

So overall, I give myself a solid SO-SO…

  • The Good – Professional Development for me.  This year I have stepped up finding what I need to do my job better.  Instead of being the facilitator, I am sitting in sessions acquiring the new skills sets that I need.  Baking, I love to bake and have been making time on Sundays to do that, most of the baking then heads to work (much to my husband’s dismay) but it’s a start.
  • The Great – I took more personal days that I ever have.  For my son’s birthday, for a girl’s weekend to Phoenix for my daughter’s Kinder graduation.  We went on family vacations to Mexico, Banff and fishing.  I have even managed to sneak away to watch gymnastics Wednesday afterschool.  Taking care of me has also improved.  I bought a SPA membership and I used it, at least once a month for a massage.  I have also made those much overdue medical and dental appointments, no more putting them off.
  • The Bad – as a family we still live for weekends, as much as I love to cook, this seems to be the only time that I get a chance to as I still have trouble getting home at a reasonable time.  While I continued with my 365 project, this year was my least amount of posted pictures.
  • The Ugly – still having trouble saying no.  On top of continuing with two ATA positions, I added a Teacher’s Convention position.   Something will have to go!

So while it was not perfect, it could have been worse.  I know this is something I will have to always have to work on.  I am my father’s daughter, we work hard but we also play hard…when we give ourselves the time to do so!

What do you do to help keep yourself balanced?