Minds On Media – The learning continues

Today we had a Minds On Media event with at least one teacher from every school in our board (105+ schools). We held two half-day sessions. Our best guess is that the morning session was attended by 80-90 educators (teachers, administrators, consultants) and the afternoon session about 50-60 educators. The enthusiasm in the room was contagious. We were lucky to have Peter Skillen and Brenda Sherry, who created the Minds On Media model for professional learning, join us for the day.

One of the things that stood out to me today was how many people from our school board joined in to support the learning:

  • The IT team was there for both sessions with technicians and engineers supporting teachers and helping us with equipment and set up. They also joined into a number of sessions. All of these things were way above and beyond and demonstrated their 100% commitment to teachers and education.
  • Superintendents and other administrators joined in and learned along side with teachers
  • Consultants (instructional strategy, special education and student success) helped out and joined in the learning
  • Privacy and Information Manager joined us and held impromptu conversations with teachers about working in an online environment with students
  • A teacher created all the required signs for the day in addition to prepping and running a station
  • 10 teachers led amazing sessions for the entire day. They took the time to set up and put resources on the wiki and prepare wonderful sessions. This point goes to show how many amazing educators there are in the county who are willing the share and go over the top to support and share with other teachers
  • Custodians and office administration facilitated the registration, room set up and sign in for the day, saving the organizers from last minute frenzy and disorganization
  • Communication department documenting and posting updates to share our learning with the community, in addition to providing material to post on our wiki that supports teachers with social media

Without the participation of each member of this team, our Minds On Media session would not have been successful. In addition, this joining of forces really reminded us all that while we all work in different areas and specialties, we are all working towards the same goals. Student learning.

While I am still in brain overload from the day, one overwhelming observation that resonates with me from today is how engaged everyone was. Teachers took risks to learn something new, made connections between new technologies and their curriculum and talked about shifts in education. My favorite conversations were with a few teachers throughout the day about “how do we build capacity for this type of change in our schools?”. Those conversations were amazing because they really helped me realize how the culture is shifting and developing in our county. We have spent the year trying to “decentralize” or “delocalize” the learning and knowledge and empower educators to share, collaborate and work within families of schools. Having these conversations where teachers were actively thinking about how they could build these networks was incredibly encouraging.

A HUGE thank you to all educators who participated in todays Mind On Media session. It requires a big shift in participating in a session with so little direction where you are all of a sudden in charge of your own learning. Your risk-taking is greatly appreciated. Thanks to all!

Here is a podcast created by Sean McGaughey as part of todays podcasting session: http://mcgaughey.edublogs.org/files/2011/05/mindsonmediacalder-1diahvs.mp3

The wiki for todays session can be found here: www.scdsbmindsonmedia.wikispaces.com

Prepping for Minds On Media

Next friday (May 20th) our school board is hosting a Minds On Media session for one teacher from every school. We’ve worked with the “makers of” Minds On Media, Brenda Sherry and Peter Skillen in the past to run a small pilot at one high school. The response was overwhelmingly positive, so we’ve decided to do it with a teacher from each school (with permission and wonderful support from Brenda and Peter). I wrote about the small pilot here and here.

My concern with this fridays MoM event is that we are working with one teacher from each school and then sending them back alone. That is always difficult when you don’t necessarily have the support and collaboration when you return. In this instance, we do not have the option to release two teachers from each school because our system is so large and there aren’t enough supply teachers to cover that many releases. Our work around for this is to help support collaboration among Families of Schools. This has been a year-long goal and the hope is to continue developing local support systems.

Back to Minds on Media… in planning for Friday we have created a wiki as a place to store links, resources and share ideas. We have booked a million laptops and projectors. We have put a call out to get as many extension cords and power bars. This is going to be our biggest barrier yet – getting enough power to support the stations and teachers neediing to power up. We are lucky that our big conference room has power drops in the floor at regular intervals. This will help tremendously. We’ve also got our hands on chart paper to put on the walls as projection screens (makeshift solution). The IT department knows about the day and graciously offered to have technicians and technical folk on hand for the first part of each session (we have 2 half-day sessions).

We have chosen stations that look at tools that are universally accessible in our school board. For example, voicehtread, blogging, networking (twitter, evernote, livebinders), pod casting, digital storytelling, WordQ and SMART technologies (focus on the notebook software which is on every computer not the hardware which isn’t available in every classroom) and ABEL/Learning Connections (we have a board-wide ABEL license so every teacher can access ABEL or Learning Connections).

One teacher is creating signs for the stations, we have an opening message that will include the guest wireless password and link to the wiki, we have an exit ticket (google form).

Any suggestions? Have I missed anything?