Category Archives: Education


Teaching is more than a prescription or curricula

So, the BC Government just released a grocery list of Curriculum amendments. After last years’ BCEdPlan there remains very little consensus. About direction. Consultation was superficial and clouded by election campaign and a severed teacher’s negotiation. Education for a decade since contracts were torn up and policy, designed around Fraser Institute reports, has been in turmoil. Year2000 Royal Commission long forgotten. Despite this, BC public education has excelled. Our children have been served pretty well compared with other global jurisdiction. Spectacular special needs integration, economic crash, teacher relations upheaval and some major social change have all been adapted into schooling as best could be expected.

Perhaps the only trend now I’m sensing is a big disconnect between the stakeholders. Our students don’t follow all the hoopla and are essentially not informed or asked. Perhaps children shouldn’t be consulted either? They are children after all. Professionals and parents should be leading, guiding, parenting- the village should be raising them. Perhaps we have already gone too far already. Helicopter parenting and an enabling school system that is creating a generation of very anxious and neurotic youth. ( medical experts claim so) Some say our children are spoiled, other say they are neglected. I see both every day. I also see beauty and wonderful gifted youth.

Government and parents have a paradoxical love hate relationship. School boards and the Ministry try hard to make parents happy with policy tweaks yet major erosion of services and funding has caused grievances. I say funding because while budgets are large the 21stC has also seen private school underwritten with substantial monies and this has impacted the distribution of resources. A squeeze if you like. The recent CUPE contract to point. Costs have to come from current district budgets. Something in public school service to kids has to give. Duh.

The teacher stakeholder group is indifferent, frustrated if not disheartened. After decades if teaching, I have never seen teachers work so hard and tackle so many variables inside and outside the classroom but my real thesis today isn’t the hardships but the uniqueness of our plight. Teaching isn’t about curriculum or pedagogy or new prescriptive methods discovered in fain land or Louisiana( BC educators are already some of the most skilled and innovative already) it’s about relating to students as people.

I had a young woman drop by our KSS learning commons today and ask for Mr. Smith. :-) Our loyal on the job library assistant Mrs Kole naturally directed her so she could find me. As a hundred times a day, I expected some kind of inquiry about books or technology or whatever… Today was different. Today I was reminded about why teachers and direct relationship building is vital. Connected learning and blended learning is fine but education is greater than the sum of its technical pedagogical parts.

The young lady wanted to know about a few of my acrylic paintings I had recently displayed in the library. On a whim and encouragement from some art students I hung my own art projects in the library. She asked, “someone said you have paintings here, can I see them?” I felt honored if a little embarrassed. I’m not used to that kind of personal inquiry but we had a delightful talk about art, personal motivation and why we try new things.

You see I just started painting this spring because some grade 12 kids coaxed me. I was a quasi fine arts patron at KSS setting up a gallery in the library and trying to help out whenever I could, . visiting shows etc. This delightfully mature girl was on a mission of inquiry. She was seeking a spark of interest. She was reaching out for the human experience. Taking risk. Building personal relationships of exploration and trust such as this, big or small, are priceless investments in our youth. No curriculum or trendy political motivation or school of thought will change that. We need to invest in our people- in our children, not shiny new things. Years ago I liked the expression Hi-Touch over Hi-Tech. I think it still applies more than ever.





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Filed under criticism, Education, KSS Student Body, Reflective Learning

EDcampOK13- the unconference invades the valley

The Okanagan valley often has a problem of confronting noxious plants, alien weeds and foreign animals invading our delicate desert ecosystems. Some drastic actions are often required. Today the education unconference known as EDCamp was transplanted from lower mainland and other regions by @carolyndurley @clairethompson @naryn . Some trendy transplantation from foreign lands are toxic. EdCamp Okanagan had nothing noxious about it. It was a valuable and enjoyable way to engage with new colleagues. Thanks everyone.

20131102-155911.jpg So why would this old teacher and @literateowl bother to spend a Saturday indoors doing free pro-D? Well, firstly it’s free. It’s organized and driven along by teachers but mostly it allows free flowing discussion of big ideas that rarely get the time or light of day. Ideas like Genius Hour, Assessment, Chromebooks, social-emotional considerations, collaboration models….

We often work and even think in isolation. Twitter and Google+ etc have helped provide me valuable insights and knowledge about teaching but some face to face sharing in smaller groups was a worthy experience. It gives me insight and context when I’m planning or questioning my practices. It is a joy to listen and share to professors, superintendents, consultants, directors, kindergarten teachers, or private school math teachers. It is a joy to finally meet nose to horns, with colleagues from our neck of the woods, but who I know only virtually online. It’s also fun to affirm that my virtual perceptions of them were close but so completely inferior to meeting them in person. It renders hope that connectedness enriches us but doesn’t replace the value in gathering once in awhile face to face. OMG I met @nsearcy17 librarian !

I shared a book, Quiet, by Susan Cain, because I know some introverted and quiet types can get drowned out by well-intended extroverted bulls like myself sometimes. EDcamps do help bring a smaller setting for some. Participants can respond or add to Twitter stream if they like. I think we could do a better job of generating some silent writing or sharing out methods next time? Maybe a Google form? Or a EdCamp blog invitation? It would be good to find some small way to compensate for the noise bull moose like myself might make while we stomp up and down the professional landscape foraging on the great education topics voted on by teachers :-)

If you get a chance, attend an EDCamp near your neck of the woods.

Take Away:

1. Chrome books
@paulkellybc from Heritage Christian
Thorough demo and explanation of his school rollout of Google apps and $250 Chromebooks for senior students. Pretty sweet integration and student management opportunities. Nb. Also uses Moodle for courseware. Parent Permission forms. 25% of usual Tech service costs.
We discussed OS, platform, privacy, FOIPPA , apps issues.
#messyed great hashtag
Bottom line. They work very well for 90% of student activities.

2. Collaboration in schools. Don -District Admin. Penticton.
How to build teaching innovation, skills and capacity in collab way ? Culture? Set up Teams by topic:. Using collaborative models TF and others…. Adjust bells to build block times for teachers. Using 2 August days for early dismissal afternoons. Including some form of teacher created consensus and accountability important. School had mix of Short term and long term goals and time lines. See @nsearcy17 the collaboration deer

3. Integrating Technology . With Claire. Penticton district helping teacher.
Diverse group. Passionate topic and ideas for many. It cab empowering yet many teachers are overwhelmed with choices and technical obstacles.
Range of services from school to school and district to district a concern. Have or have not.
BYOD brings a need for planning.
Issues around Tech Dept vs Curric Dept. The need to have a curric road map is vital but difficult. Planning and skills dev tricky with rate of change. The average user/teacher now has computing power in his hands but not sure how to best use it? Not confident how to handle self-regulation/ devices with class management: there are mixed messages and value opinions in the community. Who’s job is it?

4. @Math_Johnson sucks ;-) LOL just kidding.


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. New York: Broadway Paperbacks, 2013. Print.


Filed under Education, Personal Learning Network, Professional Development, Reflective Learning

Bill Gates, Ken Robinson, and TED Are Coming To PBS

Bill Gates, Ken Robinson, and TED Are Coming To PBS.

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Filed under Education, Media Literacy, MultiMedia, Professional Development, Teacher Professional, technology

Pink Shirt Day Feb 27 in the Oknagan

The Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs are once again renewing our stand against bullying by marking
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 as this year’s Pink Shirt Day in the Okanagan.

We hope you will join us!
Pink Shirt Day 2013 will once again be an opportunity to increase public awareness in the Okanagan, and to demonstrate that we are all a part of the solution and won’t tolerate bullying any longer. The Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs will be joining this National movement for the fifth year in our valley, and together in partnership with our schools, families and with other community partners we are working to create an environment of respect year- round to make our Clubs, schools, and streets safer.
Please join with us by purchasing your new 2013 designed Pink T-shirt and wear it to work, school, and out in the community to make your statement. (See order form attached.) All proceeds from T-shirts sold will help support anti-bullying initiatives throughout the year within the Okanagan
Boys and Girls Clubs.

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Filed under Announcements, Education, KSS Student Body

Lights out- April 22 school board challenge…

Climate change is already being felt around the world, with the world’s most vulnerable people shouldering the brunt of its consequences. Do your students feel empowered to take action?
Lights Out Canada ( is an annual event, during which schools turn off their lights and follow lesson plans we provide on climate change and how youth can take action. Our materials seek to engage students with the science of climate change andempower them to take action. Participants lend their efforts to a national movement for change involving hundreds of thousands of students, teachers and administrators across Canada.
This year’s Lights Out Canada will be held on April 22, 2013.
Our resource packages (K-12) are available online in English and French and will be sent to registered schools. The materials include posters, a press pack, lesson plans and step-by-step instructions for how to organize Lights Out. We understand if turning off the lights is not possible in darker areas of your school.

Register online at for the 8th annual Lights Out Canada, to be held onApril 22, 2013. The full Lights Out project summary and more information can be found at under “Downloads”.
School boards across Canada are challenging all of the schools in their districts to sign-up. Why not be the one to lead the challenge in your district?

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Filed under Announcements, Education, Global Informed, Media Literacy

Engaging Learners through Digital Storytelling: 40 Resources & Tips

Engaging Learners through Digital Storytelling: 40 Resources & Tips.

Currently, I am moderating a free online course, Digital Storytelling for Young Learners, with a dream team of moderators who are phenomenal at working with young learners, Esra Girgin, Barbara Sakamoto, Özge Karaoglu, Jennifer Verschoor, David Dodgson, and Michelle Worgan. Over 250 participants have joined and have shared incredibly imaginative stories in our online class portfolio. One of the most surprising discoveries, though, was that 62% of the teachers who took our survey said they had never had their learners create digital stories. Our language learners have powerful stories to share and often share personal stories in blogs, Facebook, Youtube, or Twitter. Through digital storytelling we motivate our learners to apply, contextualize, visualize, and personalize the language they learn. There are 100s of free digital tools and websites to inspire your learners to create extremely imaginative stories and share them with a global audience. I hope the following tips and resources will help you along your journey towards integrating digital storytelling into your curriculum…..” (Teacher Reboot Camp )


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BC Digital Literacy Standards draft plan Gr10-12


Comments so far…


The following experiences with technology and digital resources are examples of learning activities in which students might engage during Grades 10–12 (ages 15–18):

Design, develop, and test a digital learning game to demonstrate knowledge and skills related to curriculum content. (CT, CI)
Create and publish an online art gallery with examples and commentary that demonstrate an understanding of different historical periods, cultures, and countries. (C, CI)
Select digital tools or resources to use for a real-world task and justify the selection based on their efficiency and effectiveness. (C, CT, TC)
Employ curriculum-specific simulations to practice critical-thinking processes. (CT, CI)
Identify a complex global issue; develop a systematic plan of investigation, and present innovative sustainable solutions. (C, CT, CI)
Analyze the capabilities and limitations of current and emerging technology resources and assess their potential to address personal, social, lifelong learning, and career needs. (CT, PR, SR, TC)
Design a Web site that meets accessibility requirements. (CI, PR, SR)
Model legal and ethical behaviours when using information and technology by properly selecting, acquiring, and citing resources. (C, CT, PR, SR)
Create media-rich presentations for other students on the appropriate and ethical use of digital tools and resources. (CI, PR, SR)
Configure and troubleshoot hardware, software, and network systems to optimize their use for learning and productivity. (CT, TC)
The numbers in parentheses after each item identify the cross-curricular competencies (C, CT, CI, PR and SR) most closely linked to the activity described. Each activity may relate to one competency or to multiple competencies. A sixth ISTE Standard, Technology Operations and Concepts (TC), does not correlate directly with B.C.’s Cross-Curricular Competencies so is included as an additional skill area.

B.C.’s 5 Cross-Curricular Competencies

Matching ISTE Standards

1. Communication

Communication and Collaboration

Research and Information Fluency

2. Critical Thinking

Research and Information Fluency

Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making

3. Creative Thinking and Innovation

Creativity and Innovation

4. Personal Responsibility and Well-Being

Digital Citizenship

5. Social Responsibility

Digital Citizenship

6. Technology Operations and Concepts

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MEMORY, forget everything you thought you knew-NewScientist

The current issue of New Scientist is just being circulated ( thx our sweetheart colleague- Dini ) watch for this amazing article- even you humanities types! Also the Library provides teachers with access to the digital archives of this terrific British journal. Megabytes of good stuff!

**  to login from anywhere grab the user ID from > I://staffshare/library/passwords/facultyDB.docx  , email me or TXT me 250-878-0578



(Image: van Wanten Etcetera/Souverein. Page detail: Anne Frank Fonds/Anne Frank House via Getty Images)

“…We are all collections of memories. They dictate how we think, act and make decisions, and even define our identity.
Yet memory, with its many virtues and flaws, has puzzled for centuries. How are memories made and stored in the brain? Why do we remember some events but not others? What do other animals remember? And how can we improve the flawed instrument handed to us by evolution?
In these articles we answer these questions and many more, starting with a revolutionary new understanding of memory’s purpose…” (Robson, 32 )

Robson, David, and Emma Young. “Memory.” New Scientist 6 Oct. 2012: 32. New Scientist. Web. 16 Oct. 2012.

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Filed under Education, Helpful Material, Library Events, Periodicals, Reading

Teacher-librarian core secret weapon

The Librarian in the Middle, by Kristen Hearne, is a great South Carolina TL blog to follow.  Also read,

” Check out this EdWeek article about the role of the school librarian in Common Core.  I think you will see that much of what is being done by librarians around the country is what we have always done, but now we are getting more attention…”

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A Commons crux- growing pains or success stories

REACHING A CRUX…. a learning commons update

A high school learning commons may seem like an oxymoron to some folks but to us it’s a happy educational stew cooking on a light boil. We are struggling with as our KSS Library has evolved. In no specific order…..just a few observations as we enter a busy June

1.) mission: even with a tradition and a school library culture of open access, literacy instruction and intellectual scholarship the purpose of a program is high-jacked by other agendas and mythologies. Reclaiming or re-purposing staff, schedules, services and resources in a timely fashion is not only costly but logistically challenging ( see JComfort >

2.) food: our site and student body are getting messier and messier. I am not a janitor. We are in serious shortage of custodial service already. It is an awful problem. Check out out student parking lot. My casual nature and love of the latte is conflicted but I also appreciate the need for a clean and healthy carpet. I do not wish the ‘learning’ side of learning commons to be invaded by the common sticky slurpy.

3.) space: I have the luxury of a large space at KSS yet I have to be a field manager and parking lot attendant or sometimes policeman. The demand is too great. I have been innovative and designed niches that are always utilized. When kids suggest they need to leave the commons area and find a quiet place to think or do work, I get very worried. There are no quiet environs in the building with exception of the broom closets!

4) laptops: lovely devices yet… unless I am booked at capacity with classes ( which is frequent ) I loan out ThinkPads to students by the dozens. To help maintain inventory for each block, I choose to barcode and circulate the units. It’s a hassle but I get them back. We cannot afford to have units all over the school when we need for a class next period (I do get circ data too)… but it can be so busy sometimes I feel like a laptop jockey….

5) patrons: the best part of any learning commons is students. The added bonus as a teacher-librarian is the professional rewards of serving and collaborating with teachers. Students receive a rich learning experience when we can engage with them and their teacher. Perhaps the most interesting and dynamic patron of our Library is the ‘casual’ or drop in student. As a senior high school we welcome an average of 1100 teens across our threshold each day. The resource period students, DL students, DIS students, teacher preps, etc and the am/lunch/pm crowd that uses the commons for reading or homework or whatever, is a diverse and unpredictable crowd. We serve a large and dynamic community. We are challenged to provide resources and develop new teaching strategies in a huge range of curricula.

6) books: the popularity and demand for print remains very high. “Good morning Ms. Bede, huuummm do you have any THINKING books?” Well there is a new expression we are going to


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Filed under Education, Library Update, Personal Learning Network, School Library, Teacher Professional