Connections and Learning

21 10 2012

I just spent a day at a teacher librarian’s conference where I was surrounded by people who are excited about change in education and at the same time scared stiff.  Chris Kennedy, Superintendent of West Vancouver School District gave the Keynote speech.  He talked about the role of teacher librarians in technological implementation in schools. I was intrigued by a few things that he said, so after reading his blog, I took a look at the work of Will Richardson, via this TEDxMelbourne presentation .

Richardson is a big voice for educational reform.  He has some interesting ideas, but one in particular made me crazy.  He said something to the effect of there is no point in learning facts, you can look them up on google.  I have to disagree, a lot.  Education is more than learning facts.  Could you google an article on foreign policy and read it if you had to look up every country, every politician and every big word?  I know I couldn’t. How about math? If you don’t know basic addition are you ever going to understand algebra? Calculus? Chemistry? No.

Education needs to be about training your brain how to find answers, not about getting them.  There is merit in learning basic facts, they allow us to make connections to other ideas and form questions.

I am very interested in the work of George Siemens who is the founder of the Connectivism: Open Social Learning theory.  He argues that learning is all about making connections. Something elementary teachers have been fostering for years.  This is not a new idea, but how we use it in a technological age is. Siemens talks about “Sensemaking not learning.” When learners have the tools of their sensemaking under their own control, they have the capacity to shape and direct the activities that they find meaningful.”

He says that Open Social Learning is:

  • responsive to the needs of the individual
  • adaptive
  • fluid, varied and contextual

I’m not convinced that this is not already happening in elementary schools.  We use “think, pair, share,”  we encourage group work and group learning, we take advantage of “teachable moments,” we adapt lessons and curriculum to the needs of the students, we try to teach in themes to make sure our students are learning in context. Perhaps our educational leaders need to be elementary school teachers instead of University Professors. That is one thing I do agree with Richardson about.  Teachers need to start screaming about what we believe in, and stop being so polite. Otherwise we are going to have an education system which is built by politicians and businesspeople.


BC Teachers Job Action

24 06 2012

If you are wondering at all about what the teacher’s job action is all about, this video is a good summary made by  Surrey Teachers.

Want to know how class size and composition affects your kids?  I have 6 diagnosed Special Needs kids in my class, and 2 who are waiting for testing – their parents can’t afford the private testing.

How this affects these kids – we have one aide, she does a great job but between the two of us, we don’t really get to many of the kids, the worst 2 get most of our attention, partly because it is a safety issue for the other children. Obviously if you are spending all your time with 2 kids, then trying to help the other 6 who have difficulty,  the “regular” kids don’t get the attention they deserve either. (don’t even get me started about the bright ones.)

I am frustrated beyond belief, and it doesn’t look much better next year.

We asked for more Learning assistance time from the “Learning Improvement Fund” but we got more CUPE (non-teaching) time instead.  The school district decided they know better than we do what we need. (or could it be because CUPE has already settled their contract?)

Only one more week.  I am seriously considering changing professions again.



Techie friends are Important

10 11 2011

I have a new one on staff which is great.  Justine and I spent a morning this week preparing a “Technology Implementation Plan” for our school, which is a fancy way of saying we wrote down what we consider to be best practice on a piece of paper so that we could use it to fund some technology at our school.

This was a new experience for Justine, and it was great to have her bubbly excitement every time there was and idea between us. I am a little more jaded I guess, it felt like it was homework for my Masters degree coming back to haunt me in some ways.  Fortunately after doing that MET degree, this was pretty easy for me, just don’t look at how I did my citations…

In the spirit of cooperation, I am posting the plan here, in case one of you fellow techies need to write one.  It will give you a template to use or ideas to borrow or add to.  If you do write one using this as a template I respectfully request that you post it here as a comment so that we can all share.
Creative Commons License
Ross Road Technology Implementation Plan by Carolann Fraenkel, Justine Frazee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Do you have any of these things hanging around?

17 02 2010

I have a friend who is off to Tanzania next week and is looking for items to help out some children in an orphanage.  If you have any things to donate you could drop them off in the music room at Ross Road.

  • colored pencils (used are ok)
  • backpacks (used are ok)
  • frisbees
  • a cordless drill
  • an electric sander
  • men’s size medium t-shirts or polo shirts


More budget cuts

28 11 2009

Well it seems that our school district is still feeling the effects of the recession. At a meeting on November 18th it was suggested that they cut the time of teacher librarians to 50%, which effectively cuts the time to music programs district wide as well. If you don’t understand how this works essentially teachers are given 100 minutes a week to prepare lessons and do marking etc., while each teacher is having this non-instructional time, someone has to be with their class. Traditionally this role fell to music teachers, who provided a music program in this time. This year  teacher librarians were told to fill 25% of this time, and next year it will be more.  In my case this year it meant that there are 3+ classes who don’t get music from me, and I am teaching math learning assistance instead of music for part of my day.

I wonder if parents realize what is happening? Will music programs become like band and strings programs in our district, and be funded by parents directly? Could they?

It is very sad.

Please come to the meeting on December 1st at the Lucas Center to voice your opinion. Budget Challenge 2010 is a meeting about funding for our schools that will directly impact music programs across the district. Please come and make your voice heard to support our music program.