Monday, October 22, 2012

Results of BaseData for Communicating with School web site.

The results are in with some surprises, and explanations of the data.  We got 50 parents who answered the survey.  It was amazing how many parents did not want to complete the survey which only took 2 minutes.

Excellent news that parents are using the web site an recent as well.  Although I did get two parents who personally talked to me and told me they found out about the parent teacher interviews a day before it happened and they were unaware of the changes from a PDF newsletter to the School Newsletter Blog, there was a note of the interviews on the main page, every parent did receive a magnet with all important dates (including the interviews) on it, and the sign in front of our school did have the Interviews announced.   The school also did two callouts to parents announcing this event.

Notation:  we need to advertise the Newsletter blog on the sign in front of the school to get parents to sign up for the blog emailing system, a simpler way of informing parents of what is happening in our school.  Our admin team is aware of this and are working on having parents sign up for the newsletter.

I added this question out of curiosity as well as comparison.  Close to twice the amount of parents visit our school web site because it is more relevant to them then the district site.

Notation:  Seems the district has to do the same, campaign more for parents to be aware of the changes in the district website.  I am unaware of any means they have used to do this, but I am sure it has been done.  The same website is used for the new website, so perhaps the information on district site is not relevant to many of our parents.  23 parents have been to the district site in the last two weeks, 21 have never been there.

Notation:  The PE department has made it a priority to promote their wiki of all events, schedules, sign up and data for outside coaches to follow, making sure the communication is out there to parents.  Some of the parents who said no to this question stated that they did not have a child in a sport at that time and that's why they did not go to the site.  It's important to note out of the above numbers stating who has been there most recently, the data below state and more then 62% of the people surveyed knew about the site.  Also, it is important to note that at present the PE Wiki had more then 400 hits in one time period.  See data below.  

Data form for September's views

Data from October's views, these last two weeks.

 The end results were summed up in the information below, the usefulness of these sites to parents and giving us data if there is a need to change what we present on these means of communication with parents.

Excellent to know that our administration is on the right track for the use of our new school website design.

Notation:  This is a blog attached to our website, a feature that should be added to all school templates, and should be added to the program.

Finally, the final aspect of our survey asked for email addresses of parents, to be added to the growing list of followers.  The main reason for people saying no is because they already follow the school Newsletter.

Altogether the data looks solid, gives us a focus point to follow and improve.  At the next parent teacher interview we will conduct another survey.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Was given this video and quote at a STA training session, and it stuck.

The Definition of autonomy "Thinking for oneself in uncertain and complex situations in which judgement is more important than routine".  By Pitt & Phelan 2008.

Reflections of Grade 9 Students....

OK, I'll admit right now, he's one of my "great" students (Your a genius!!! - from Terry Small @terrysmall).  But that's not why I've chosen to share the Eportfolio blog reflection of these students.  You'll understand why after you read the blog.

When my students entered my classroom  I had a youtube video ready for them to watch.  We've been working on Social Networks in my Information Technology 9/10 classroom, hoping to teach some understanding of the negatives and positives of these tools.  We use a lot of social networking at Sullivan Heights, web classrooms, blogging portfolios, and tweeting out homework, successes and updates of our school.  The idea is to teach the students about your digital persona but also to make sure they understand that no one controls the Internet and when you put something out on the net, there's no going back.

So here's one of the videos I showed students, and below it is the blog entry I requested.  I asked students to write 100 words or more about what they learned from the video.  This entry makes me smile with pride that a student went further then just reciting was he heard or saw, he analyzed the information and came up with his own conclusions.  He extended his knowledge, and applied the learning of MySpace to Facebook.  Read below and hopefully it will make you smile as well.  He's in Grade 9.

 "   This video mainly introduced what Myspace is, and the dangers in the use of Myspace. Myspace as a social networking site is convenient and easy to use, and everyone wants an account in it (now its Facebook having the same thing happening). While friend can communicate about all sort of things on it, there are also many hidden dangers. But many teenage users are not aware of the dangers. The girl in the video, Shannon Sullivan, only thought it was her friends reading the information on her page. So she threw on everything needed to find her in person, and she "didn't thing twice about it". She put on a fake age, even though she was underaged to use Myspace. Like many other teenagers, she had no idea about the online predators stalking people like her.
Because her mother had settings that allowed her to see the internet use on the computer, she found out about Shannon using Myspace. She grounded Shannon for two weeks, then had her place private setting on her page. This is very fortunate compared with other parents who has not the slightest idea about things like this. Teens put on all sorts of revealing pictures and personal information about themselves, and the online predators takes advantage of this. That's why parents have to monitor the use of social networking of their teens, to protect them from harm. I believe this is very important, and applies to all social networking sites, not just Myspace or Facebook. Teens should be careful about what they put on the internet, and what they do put on should be protected by private settings."

Just to show that not all students are as proficient in writing in my classroom, the intent to show learning is still there in other examples and show just as much learning.

"      In infotech today I watched a vodeo on how myspace can be "the" site for predators. in the video, it explained how a girl signed up for myspace when she was underage she signed up, and I was thinking, who's to say that people that are under the age of 10 are signing up. and if that happens it clearly means that they know a lot less about pravicy settings. So what I am trying to say is people signing up under age makes it so much easyer for predators to find people. 

         In my opinion i think that there should be a perant part of the sign up form so if there underage, so that way kids wont sneek on websites like myspace to sign up without permission"
Remember, it's only been a month for these students, and we're still in the process of setting up the eportfolios,and understanding critical thinking and analysis but they do understand that when they blog, it is an opinion and they explain their opinion to show their learning (critical thinking skills).
Both entries make me proud.  We're on our way to expanding our learning and developing learning skills.  ;)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gathering Data on Your School Website.

It's a little difficult to gather data when an entire school has the freedom to do research on anything they want, when individual goals are used to motivate teachers to grow and expand in their field of expertise.  It's even harder to gather baseline data when one of your goals is to build communication with your parents by using the new website development program your district has put out and the address of your website has now changed.

I'm not complaining (well maybe a little) but the challenge is there, where do you start?  For our Innovative Grant we've have a number of subjects that we're working on, a range of reasearch from going paperless to using both online free websites, wikis and twitter to communicate more fully with both students and parents, from assessment to project based planning.  We'll be doing base data in each and every form for all these areas, but not the general baseline data that the district wants because it's not applicable to our area of study that we need.

So how do you get a baseline of data for communicating with your parents when your parents are not in the school constantly and you have over 1000 students in the school (that's a lot of parents)?  You do it during Parent teacher interviews and use an IPad and a Google Form to get it done.

Our baseline started simple, asking parents is they use these sites, and asking them to register for our blog that we hooked up to the SurreySchools website.  The blog was implemented last year to replace our school newspaper as well as having the ability to update any important data to our parents inside the district our outside.  All administration have access to this blog and one of our office staff updates it in a moment notice.  The blog ranges from important information to accolades of our students and staff.  When parents sign up for the blog they get an email anytime something comes up, so they don't have to go to the site, they can read what's going on with their phone or at their work office.  No surprise, most schools are doing this.  But the goal is to now get parents to be aware of this change and to get them to sign up.

Our Base Data Survey (please do not submit the survey as you will corrupt the data) is below.  We used Google Forms for it which gives you an excel sheet as well as graphs your results for you.


The results of this survey will be in the next blog.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Another year starting and my students are on Eportfolios again. This time we're using Webnode, a program I've been examining and using for the past two years. We 've been exploring/studying/using Eportfolios for a year now and this year's process has become easier for the initial set up. The website has a photo gallery for screen shots of work or Photoshop examples. There is a homework/assignment section, and best of all a blog section for reflection and critical thinking evaluation.

UBC had an explanation of Eportfolios and learning ( but I believe their best quote of what is reflection is the following - "thinking that enables self-awareness, personal and professional growth, and improved teaching and learning experience." I believe that students DO teach themselves when they stop and thing of what they just heard or read, and consider what their position or opinion is on this learning.

That's why I blog, to reflect on my own learning, and what I should do next to continue my path of learning. Don't we all? But more importantly, I'll be using these portfolios for assessment. See this study on this subject

So why am I exploring eportfolios and blogging?  Because of an entry of one of my student just this year reminding me that students who enjoy learning learn deeper then those that don't.  My next post will give more details on this.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sick and Still Tweeting, Blogging and learning.

For the past 3 days I've been sick with the stomach flu, with massive headaches, upset stomach, and fever.  There was 3 days of bed rest, but thank goodness with my IPad.  I've been reading articles, writing blog entries, emailing my colleagues web sites that may help them with their learning goals, and more.  Does this make me sick in the head as well?

What it makes me is a lifelong learner, someone driven to continue to learn and be a better teacher.  I'm not alone in this manner.  Many of my colleagues do the same thing, tweeting others to discuss something they learned, asking for help at school, reading articles, signing out research books from our Professional Development Library, and more.  Everyone helps everyone in our school, evident in the Professional Development day yesterday, where many colleagues stepped in to help train each other, sharing their knowledge, their ideas, etc. 

That makes our school an exciting place to work at.  It also still makes me sick in the head, and still a little sick in my stomach....  Going to stop blogging now....  ;)

Individual Goals of our School

Someone Requested that I publish this again in regards to individual Goals for Professional Development for staff, so I thought I would do it again.  So here it is...

The school is on the upswing of considering goals, what the staff wish to develop this year, and where they wish to grow professionally. Teachers took some time and seriously considered their answers when filling out a questionnaire that helped guide them to what learning they wished to pursue.  It's an revised list from the first year the Professional Development committee did this last year (see this link to visit the first document).  The document was created to generate thinking, dig deep into what staff was considering doing, and also to help the Professional Development Committee put together networks at our school and outside of our school to continue the learning.  A copy was given to the Pro D committee, a list was comprised, and pairing started to happen, as well as giving out of resources online and in our school to help them with their learning.  From the data received, this Pro D we held workshops on Blogging, Twitter, and learning how to use a Document Reader. 

 The list of goals is long but when you look at it in total, there is a common theme.  Most of the research is in the manner of learning how to improve communication with students, teachers, and parents, in their assessment, their aide at home, and in their learning with new networks of teachers both inside the school and outside the school, for the purpose of building networks of learning and support for the students, with the students.  The goal is to create student ownership and pride in their learning, creating independent and confident learners.  

This does seem like a lofty goal, but one that can be achieved by many of our staff.  Below is an example of the goal sheets teachers filled out.

I hope this information helps you to change the paradigm of learning in our school.  The staff's pride in their school and in their learning is evident.

Teacher's Goal Sheets

Teacher Initiative for Professional Success –
One Step at a Time
Individual Professional Development Plan

Name: ___________________________________________________________
Date: ____________________________________________________________

1.     Who You Are Use the diagram below to briefly outline your strengths, weaknesses, interests and experience as they relate to your professional life.


2.     What You Want: Write your professional goal statement
This year I want to…

3.     Why You Want It: Provide a rationale
I want to achieve this goal so I can…

4.     How Does It Fit: Describe the connection between this goal and your teaching assignment.

5.     How You’ll Achieve It: Set a plan
To reach this goal, I will…

6.    What Will Help You: Identify allies and resources
The following can help me achieve my goal:
PEOPLE (colleagues in this school & elsewhere, parents, district personnel, other school districts, etc.)

BOOKS (don’t forget to check out our professional library and/or recommend titles)


7.     Assessment
What would progress on this goal look like in terms of your teaching practice? How will you know when you have grown in your learning?  What can you show to other teachers to substantiate your growth?

8.     Professional Experiences I Want to Have

9.     Things I Want to Do Less (Or Stop Doing) in My Teaching Practice

10. Things I Want to Do More (Or Start Doing) in My Teaching Practice

11. Things I Want to Learn About

Revised from Nicole Painchaud, Jennifer Spain, 2012  and Jim Burke, The Teacher’s Daybook, (Heinemann: Portsmouth, NH); 2012

Professional Development for Sullivan Heights

We've had a huge success story about Sullivan Heights in regards to our individual plans of Professional Development of our teachers, letting them choose what they want to work on, considering that every teacher has different strengths and weaknesses, this only makes sense to us.  Teachers are more involved, more motivated because this is what they want to learn, and through our Grant we supply them with the material and support they need to grow and help change our school environment as well as their teaching practises.

We've done a lot of work on technology in our classrooms, as well as new methods of assessment, goal orientation and a lot more.  Now we're on to the next step, seeing if what we're doing is making a difference.  The only way to do that is through assessment again, but this time of our own practises.

The question is "Has the learning that the teacher done made a difference in our school?"  Although you can sometimes see this difference right away, there could be a number of other factors that have affected the student to make the change, so this year not only are teachers setting their individual goals but they are now using the SMART technique to assess if what they are trying to accomplish is making a difference.  Goals need to be clear, attainable, and measurable.  We need to share with colleagues in our school and outside of the school.  Although we started to do this last year (with some data showing a difference in some of the teachers learning) our goal is to increase the research basis of our learning, and to prove that we are making a difference with good solid data.  This is our goal for the end of the year, to show solid data on our blogs.  Is that a good enough SMART goal for you?  ;)

See the Prezi below for our intro in September....

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reading for the Summer - "Developing More Curious Minds"

I started Developing More Curious Minds by John Barell at the end of June, and had to put it away for a while, but I'm back at it now.  Although I agree with the principles of the book - the importance of developing curious minds in students, which in turn lead to more learning.
I loved the Study Guide that comes with the book from ASCD. The questions are thought provoking, and give you actual ideas to do with students.  Asking students to write letters to the next year students, and consider what the students would write about.The entire idea is to consider how to change the school culture to make students question everything, to make a school of inquiry.  So what would you do?  What elements of your school culture would you like to work on and why?
  • Setting high expectations
  • Teacher modeling
  • Sharing our stories
  • Developing positive scripts
  • Asking questions and getting responses
  • Creating assignments and assessments
  • Improving the quality of peer interaction
And in our school we have another area that many of the teachers wish to work on - developing engaged students.  This book talks about engaging the students, getting them to ask their own questions of inquiry, thus being engaged in their learning.One problem I had with this book is the fact that the author continuously talks about the power structure of the school and the teacher in particular, stating the teacher does not want questions in the classroom.  Yet I always tell my students "There is no such thing as a stupid question" and all questions are welcomed.  I am a little offended that a summarization of all teachers is through a major part of this book.  Remember, we are told (and rightly so) that all students are different and to treat them this way, please remember that teachers are the same.    

So here we start a new year, and after reading "Developing More Curious Minds" I am entering a new style of teaching to see if I can get students more engaged, more positive about learning and more excited about developing their minds....  Wish me luck.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Change of Education needs to consider the Teacher 
I've been reading all these different manners of changing your educational practises, from Backward Planning, to Activating Students' Creative Thinking, and the list goes on.  With the changes in our school of "No Marks", "technology implementation", "Using Web 2.0 Tools", "Eportfolios", and many more that we are exploring, we all need to remember one thing.  Even though one of these methods looks great and alive (The exploration in our Physical Education Department is absolutely fabulous - tweet Ryan Neufeld - @teacherneuf and Jeff Vaughan - @CptKudos  for more information), this doesn't mean it will work for everyone.  Not all teachers are the same, we may have similar training, and have gone to the same classes, but the personality of the teacher does come through somewhat, in some way, or manner.  This means that not all methods of teaching will work the same for every teacher due to this personality.

The great news is that if every teacher is different from the next, students won't get use to one style of learning, and this is a reality of life - no two things are the same (look at the picture - really look - and tell me if you see the exact Flamingo twice - look at their coloring). 

So as teaches this is what we normally do  (Sorry for speaking for a group of teachers but after 25 years of teaching in a number of schools and acting as a computer facilitator of learning technology - I've seen a lot of styles) - we take what we like the most out of every learning experience and we use that.  Sound familiar?  So do students.  We do not criticize the different manners in which a student learns, we try to instigate a number of ways of learning in our lesson plans, try to touch all (or as many as well can) of the different ways students learn.  Why can't we accept the same of teachers?  We learn different, we use what we've learned, to the best of our ability.  Some of us learn quickly, some of us take more time to contemplate things, but in the end, almost all teachers have the same goal, to be the best that we can.

Think about it.  How much do you use what you've learned compared to a colleague?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It's summer time and here's the pencil....

I'm reading educational books, I'm blogging, I'm learning new crafts and skills, I'm upgrading my Java....  What is wrong with me!!!!  Then I got my sense of humour back when I found this picture on Pinterest....  I wonder which one I am....

I hope my students are the 3rd one.  Only by our mistakes do we learn....

Weebly Analysis from the Students' Point of View.

With all the summaries that I've posted last month in regards to the learning of my colleagues at the school I realized that I have not posted my own summary.  For the past 3 months I've had two groups of students  doing e-portfolios on Weebly.  The program is simple to use, lets you have 40 accounts for free, and for teachers to assess, instead of gathering up the individual web addresses of each student who creates a eportfolio web site, Weebly lets the teacher control the sites, make it private or not, and change the passwords.  See my blog entry on Weebly to understand the Pro's and Con's of the program.

At the end of the school year I asked my Grade 8 students a number of questions in regards to Weebly and doing electronic portfolios for their learning.  The following is the results of the 28 students that answered the survey.  

I was happy that students realized that reflecting on their learning through the eportfolios helped them learn more and helped them realize that they were learning.

The data below did surprise me.  I asked twice for parents to assess their child's learning with the electronic portfolios.  From these results it's clear that I need to do a better explanation to parents of the reason for electronic portfolios and what they can do for both the child and the parent in talking about the learning.

I was happy that students realized they were choosing the activities and what they added to their portfolios, giving them ownership of their learning and help them understanding their learning more.

The data below was no surprise.  I knew that by reflecting on their learning, they would learn more.  What I am hoping for this coming year is more peer assessment, opening up their electronic portfolios to their friends.
 After reading about developing curious and creative minds (John Barell - Developing More Curious Minds)

I can honestly say that I did not use the blogging section of the electronic portfolio to it's full capacity, I should target a day (Friday would be good) with a reflection question every single time, so students can get use to this and be prepared to come up with their own reflections.  Although I am happy with the results of the survey, I could of done more.

Finally, you can see from the data below that the students did not need to spend the entire class to do their portfolios, it ranged from 10 - 30 minutes, depending on what they were working on, and this was not every day, only 1 - 2 days a week.  This is manageable in regards to time for any teacher.

The final question was a question of preference that I had asked my class and it was completely different then the response I got from  my 1st term class.  The 2nd term loved Weebly more then Webnode, whereas the 1st term students like Webnode more then Weebly.  The only difference was which web designing site was introduced first to the students.  Students liked the 1st web site introduced to them best.  In the 2nd term I introduced Weebly to the students first, and here are the results.  Interesting to look into more.

I hoped these results helped you as much as they intriged me.

New Procedures and Ideas for Professional Development.

Sullivan Heights continues to think and learn with new ideas procedures for professional development. We'll continue to make Individual Learning Goals our goals.  Most of the school's goals last year were in regards to learning new technology or new methods of assessment using apps, Web 2.0 tools online and growing with learning networks online using Twitter.  Below is a slide show from Jane Hart (excellent blog to follow) on the impact of social media on the workplace (and relevant to the educational field of learning).

It's true, our school has been crazy with learning last year.  Everyone wanted to try something new, learn something new, do something new.  We've explored numerous areas of learning with technology, but we've also examined new ways of teaching and/or assessing with our students in regards to this technology.  With all the learning last year, this coming school year our school needs to look more closer at the impact of this learning on both our teaching styles, our new manners of assessment, the learning done by the students and ask ourselves if these changes that have developed are actually helping our students.  

Change is good but it can also be stressful, the handling of the impact and  logistics of change.  Change can sometimes be uncomfortable because it forces us out of comfort zone; even when the change is good. Not everyone embraced the learning, but some recognized that they needed to change with their fellow colleagues.  The difficulty has to do with the rippling effects of change in the school. It forces teachers to create new routines, new ways of thinking or believing and new perceptions of the world around them. With any sort of change one needs to sit back and reflect on these changes:  Has it made a difference to me, to my students, and/or even to parents?  Has it improved my/student's situation in the school or even outside of school? Has it been beneficial?  

The changes in our school with Twitter was like a tiny pebble thrown lightly in a pond, the ripple effects went farther then anyone really thought it would, in our school and outside to PLNs most of my colleagues at school have made.The only way to recognize this effect was to stop for a moment, take account of events and the situation around you, reflect and document what you have learned, to actually take the time to assess the change in the students and in your environment, and note what has come about with the change.  

This is where we need to go for this next year.  We need to reflect on the effects and affects of our learning.  We need to assess our learning and the learning of our students:  is it worth the change?  We also need to realize that this change may be affecting our students as well, in ways we should look at.

With all this change happening in our school, we need to ask the questions:
  • Why are we doing this?
  • Why are we making this effort to change?
Because the world is changing, the students are thinking differently (their experiences in today's world have taught them to think differently), and working in today's world is a lot different as well.  Thus we need to understand what changes we as a school need to make as well, and you as a teacher need to consider.

There is a  deeper issue at work here that Sir Kenneth Robinson so eloquently underscores in his book "Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative?" At the heart of most schools Sir Robinson believes is our obsessive preoccupation with academic ability and the confusion of academic ability with intelligence. To Robinson there is "much more to intelligence than academic ability and much more to education than developing it." John Bareell agrees with him in "Developing More Curious Minds".  Both point out the truth, that it is not so much the academic ability to memorize and recite what is learned as much as the importance of teaching students to be creative and to be curious about learning, to develop further the love of learning, and instilling in students a curiosity to continuously learn or want to learn.  That's what this change is about, to change and help students become more creative in exploring new information on the information highway, to collaborate and learn form each other, and to question what they learn, be it questioning the sources, question the books, the Internet, even the teacher.  This means different ways of teaching (backward planning, project based, differentiating, collaborate group work, etc), assessing differently (no marks, skill sets, rubrics, etc) and grabbing students curiosity (through the internet, web tools, blogging, critical thinkings, etc).

That's a lot to ask for.

As my mother once said to me and I have repeated numerous times to my students "There is no such thing as a stupid question, it's just stupid not to question". 

so that's what I hope our school continues to do, not just change but to question our change and see if it not only develops a curious and creative mind in our students but to show the students that the teacher as well is curious and creative.

Let the questions continue.... with the learning ;) and the assessing of our learning.