Tuesday, 23 July 2013

ADE2013 ~ Scattered Reflection

Wow. That was a grossly over estimated goal of writing a reflection a day or even any during that conference! Throughout the week my head was exploding with ideas of innovation as well as the many new connections I made!

ADE 2013 Summer Institute
Picture by @Liz_Castillo
As many other ADEs have expressed in their written reflections (see @techgirljenny's post to see some more), to describe last week in words is a difficult task. The overwhelming feelings of nervousness of what was coming, excitement about being a part of it all and the feeling of "why the heck should I be here", were apparent in almost all new ADEs. The amount of times I heard these words or ones similar, astounded me. There were others feeling the same way as me!

Kind of happy to be there!
We were welcomed to the conference centre by checking in and registering through 5 or 6 stations. We even got our own personalized stickers. This was so we could meet others and swap stickers to add to our own passports. With 300+ people attending this was going to be big job!

It was an unbelievable feeling being welcomed in as the new class of 2013. 49 educators from
across Canada, 90 odd from USA and roughly 11 from Mexico were all welcomed in. It was amazing. the Alumni that were present did an unreal job of welcoming us in and making us feeling welcome and incredibly special!

As I wanted to post something almost everyday, I started writing a couple of things. Here is a couple of things I started during the institute:
One of the biggest things I am finding with this experience is the connections I'm making already. It's so unbelievable to meet people that you've spoken to online and/or follow on Twitter. People that are new Apple Distinguished Educators and people that have been in the ADE community for a longer period of time. Everybody here shares at least two same passions and probably more. The first is for education. Every single person I have encountered is passionate about teaching and speaks with enthusiasm about what they do in their building. That has been so refreshing to hear and is getting me excited for the new school year all over again.
The other passion people (all 300+ of us) have in common around here is obviously a love for everything Apple (and technology in general). This is my biggest WOW! The things that all of these people are doing in schools and universities are unbelievable! The innovation I'm seeing this week has blown me out of the water. It makes me feel like I've only just begun to use technology. It has made me feel incredibly humbled to be a part of this community of educators.
The tiredness kicked in after day 2 finished and day 3 started. It was exhausting (but still awesome) flying high all day, every day attending professional development workshops, attending full group sessions, eating with newly made friends, and even seeing a couple of Austin sites.

I was lucky enough to be included in a special @MrHooker. We saw the famous Bat Exodus where up to 1.5 million bats leave daily their home daily just before sunset. Then we ate some BIG FAT GORDOUGHs (unhealthy but amazing donuts). We also went out for a Texas style BBQ lunch the next day. It was amazing to experience these few things in an already jam packed schedule.

My roomie and fellow bow tie buddy, Jon Patry and I also ventured out on the last day to see the awesome sight of the Texas Longhorns COLLEGE football stadium. And of course I snapped a few token pictures of the University of Texas Clock Tower, which was right down the road from our conference centre.

I tried to remember (and of course I missed a ton of people) to take pictures of all the tweeps I met and have conversed with on Twitter prior to the Institute. I managed to snap some selfies!

Rebecca WildmanChristine DiPauloTanya Avrith

Rebecca StockleyCarl HookerCathy Yenca

Karen LirenmanDavid MaloneSue Gorman

Leah LaCrosse

I also got to try out Google Glass, thanks to Christine DiPaulo who was amazingly willing to share the experience!

Here's is some of what we did throughout the week:


The work that we would do throughout the week was centred around Authoring our One Best Thing in iBooks Author. We attended workshops that would help supplement the work we do to write our chapter that could possibly end up in a Multi-Touch book published by Apple. If that will happen my work will have to be the best professionally produced work possible! We learned our way around iBooks Author and let me tell you, this is an amazing App that produces the most amazing multi-touch books for iBooks on iOS devices.
Apple iPad with Retina
Apple iPad image used by agreement

The 4 As

We learned more about the the four As of the ADE program. These are the 4 primary roles of Apple Distinguished Educators.  I would love to write more about these and plan to in the near future. The following descriptions come from the Apple Distinguished Educator Home Page

Advocates - ADEs are passionate advocates of the potential of Apple technologies and they provide expert assistance and best practices to educators and policy makers. ADEs are frequent presenters at local, state, national and international educational conferences. 
Advisors - ADEs provide valuable input to Apple on the realities of integrating instructional technology into learning environments.  
Authors - ADEs publish authentic work to share with peers such as teaching and leadership best practices, exemplary lesson ideas, and a range of content items that showcase Apple products and technologies for the advancement of education.  
Ambassadors - ADEs are innovators in building community and capacity for teaching and learning in a global context. Through online projects and collaboration tools, they empower each other to expand the walls of the classroom and bring global experiences to classrooms everywhere.

The following video is also made by Apple to describe who and what ADE's are about. This copy is from YouTube (and I'm pretty sure is not authorized). I'm not sure that I can upload the original file but will do, if I can, once I have found out.

App Developer Session

One of the evening sessions included a chance to meet 28 different App developers. The highlights for me was meeting the three following people. I know most people would be highlighting these three people too but I just have to. All three apps have inspired a lot of the work I have done in the last year.

Evernote and Skitch Apps

It was amazing to meet these guys. Skitch was probably the first app I came to love when we got our iPads. Such an amazing tool to taking photos and drawing/writing over the top. 
Evernote and Skitch Developers

Book Creator App

I've tweeted Dan Amos before and shared some amazing work that students have done using Book Creator App . Meeting him was amazing!
Dan Amos - Book Creator!

Explain Everything

Reshan Richards is responsible for creating Explain Everything. He also a fellow ADE Class of 2013. Enough Said! Reshan is Awesome guy and an inspiration to many of us! It was funny, as earlier that day I was partnered up with Reshan to play an Improv game showed to us by Rebecca Stockley. I had no idea who he was!
Reshan Richards - Explain Everything
I hope this post doesn't seem to scattered. It certainly still feels all scattered in my head!

There will be more to share as my brain decompresses. I plan to write more as I think and use some of my new found knowledge, also as my One Best Thing unfolds.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Apple Summer Institute 2013

I'm on board flight AA2189 bound for Austin, Texas. So much excitement is in the air with the four new ADEs on our flight. TeamYYC is ready for whatever hits us this week. 

The anticipation for this trip has been building for months. Since being inducted into the Apple Distinguished Educator Class of 2013 in February, I have connected with so many amazing educators from around the world. This week will be a chance to meet and connect some of them. With 300 innovative teachers converging in one place, I'm sure there will be lots of action, fun, and learning to be had. I'm told it will be the most amazing 5 days of my career. I'm sure I will be in awe most of the week. 

That being said, my plan is to take in as much as I can, meet as many people as I can, and learn a whack sack (love this word used a lot by Dean @Shareski) of new things. I'm sure I will feel overwhelmed at first but I'm hoping to get over that fast and get into the swing of things straight away. I don't want to miss any opportunity I come across this week as this will more than likely be one of lonly a few trips I do like this in my career. 

I have never been to Austin, Texas. I hear it's an amazing city and one of a few technology hubs in the U.S. According to our ADE13Austin schedule we do not have a lot of time to explore outside of our conference centre (a top secret location;). Any free time will be at night time and early morning will be the time to explore Austin. This could be difficult as a lot of the networking and connections with people apparently happen 'after hours'. Maybe the connections will happen while tiki touring or in a bar or mall? Who knows? Whatever happens I'll embrace it with open arms.

So they said rest up before the institute - Yeah right! My first two weeks of my summer break has been busy with spending time with my family and doing my usual beginning of summer jobs around the house. With my parents arriving from New Zealand two days after I return, the house needed to be ready for the 'king and queen' before I left. Realistically, resting was never going to be an option. I'm sure I'll run on adrenaline for the next 6 days and the well see what happens after that. 

Throughout this week, I plan to reflect daily at the end of each day or through the day and share share by tweeting and taking photos on Instagram of things I have learned. I know we work on projects while we are here and so hopefully I'll be able to share those as we work through them. 

One of these projects will be my 'One Best Thing'. We have been asked to think of something that we have done that was amazing. Something we could share with others and that could be replicated by anyone else. I have been thinking about doing something about making Learning Visible. This has really has been what has got me where I am today. Without all the sharing I have done, I would not have collected all the evidence of learning that I now have. Although this is a very broad topic I may still make this my One Best Thing. If not the visible learning avenue, I may look at doing one 'easy to replicate' project that I did on iPads with our kindergarten students. We called it real world math and it was something that a lot of other classes/teachers connected with in our building. More to come on that one...

I really hope I can keep up my reflection through blogging this week. We'll see how long the adrenaline lasts and the energy to reflect at the end of each long day.
    • Reflect via my blog at least three times (hopefully every day)
    • Tweet aha moments and interesting things
    • Take photos to tell my story
    • Connect face to face with those I have meet online
    • Learn more Final Cut Pro X - an Apple video editing suite
    • Establish my One Best Thing
    • And most importantly, have FUN!
Here's to #ADE13Austin! 

Sunday, 7 July 2013

The Amazing Year That Was...


What a year that was! I can't believe that 10 months of learning went by so fast. I remember thinking this time last year how excited I was going into summer and how much I was looking forward to the 2012-2013 school year. For some reason, I had a feeling it was going to be HUGE!

And HUGE it was! My 9th year of teaching would turn out to be my biggest year yet! After getting connected on twitter (stevewclark) and through blogging the year previously, I knew my learning would explode throughout this year. I just didn't know to what extent.

I started, and finished, the year off as the lead teacher of the learning commons at my school. Our learning commons was beginning its 3rd year of transition and the school had made the decision from the start to have a full time teacher working in the space to work with students and teachers on inquiry based projects that included the integration of technology. This was a dream job for me and one that I had worked my way towards through a lot of hard work (and convincing of) with the staff at my school that this would benefit all stake holders in an around our learning community. In the previous 2 years we had tried a varitey of staffing models in our learning common and finally it was decided that it would be best to have someone dedicated to the space to build capacity in teachers and support learners in a variety of ways in our school.

Throughout the year I worked on a wide variety of projects with a wide variety of grade levels using a wide variety of technologies. Man, did I learn a lot! I documented a lot of what I did through two of my learning blogs:

  • www.a3lc.blogspot.ca - A collaborative Learning Commons blog that I co-created with and amazing and passionate colleague (@Mik-enzie) to celebrate the amazing learning that is happening in learning commons within our area!
  • www.yycipads.blogspot.ca - A blog I started to share amazing projects we did on our iPads.
Early in the year of 2012, I had signed up for notification when the Apple Distinguished Educator program would be open for new applications. In November, I received an email that the doors were open for applications. It took me a few weeks to muster up the courage to go for it. After a few tweets to a colleague, (and now good friend @jtpatry) we both decided to go for it. My winter break consisted of making a 2 minute video as well as a written portion. I couldn't believe how much time I ended up spending on making a short video, even after collecting a ton of evidence through my first few months of the school year. In February 2013, we both received an email to say we had been accepted! This is something, to this day, I still cannot believe (I will have another post about this coming later in Summer - After our Apple Summer Institute in Austin, Texas). 

As well as sharing my/our work online, I had numerous visits to our learning commons from people within our system looking for ideas and/or feedback, or just to see what a learning commons looked in action. It was great conversing with many other colleagues about this amazing and exciting concept that makes a space, what often is a dull and boring place where books are just stored, into an engaging and dynamic learning space that students want to visit on a regular basis.

As the year went on, I kept revisiting the thought of what my professional future might look like. I was having such an amazing year that it would be easy to stay and continue with the work that was happening in our building. Or, after 7 years of being in the same building, was it time to try and move? After the Alberta budget restraints hit our school board it would become apparent that there was going to be very little movement within our system. In a board that is around 10000+ teachers strong, there would surely be a ton of people who would want to move and not many jobs to move into. I wanted to be particularly fussy about what job I would want apply for but was nervous about the prospect of actually finding/getting anything. After becoming a resident expert in the learning common concept, I was hoping that my expertise would be 'noticed' by another admin/school, if there were any job postings.

When the 'quietly released' postings came out, I was told there were a couple of positions that might interest me so I applied for both. After being offered an interview for both positions and visiting one of the schools, I was beginning to get excited about the prospect of a new job. Both settings were incredibly different. One being an Arts Centred Learning school and the other a Traditional Learning Centre (TLC), meant I had some difficult decisions to make if I happened to have both jobs offered to me (I seemed to be fairly confident and excited about both). After my first interview, at the TLC, I nervously awaited the call-back. While I was ready and waiting for my appointment day to attend the other interview and got 'the call' that they wanted to hire me at the TLC. I made the tough decision to take the job with a lot of thought and discussion with my wife. I must admit, the Arts Centered School sounded like a dream job but was geographically a LONG way from my own community and also started and finished much later in the day. It was going to be too much of a challenge for our young family. It was a commitment that I couldn't make at this point in my life. I was very pleased to accept the job at a the TLC (what some would consider a controversial decision for someone like me). I was/am nervous about this new placement but I'm suer excited for the challenges that lie ahead!

My thoughts on next year will be in another post - coming soon!