Opening up thinking about education today for tomorrow - Imagining possibilities and solutions

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A few interesting things

I have a number of highlights of my trip.

Toronto is a great city. The people are friendly. The weather had been great. the food is fantastic! Canadian wines aren't too bad!

Had the opportunity to meet with Barbara McMorrow (former principal of Mary Ward Secondary School). She is now with the Ontario Catholic Principals Council). They have done some interesting work on professional learning communities in a Catholic context. She had done some brilliant work in Mary Ward!

Visited Halton District School Board. Some interesting work being done on teacher voice and student voice related to school improvement via on-line surveys. They are extending this to parents in the next month. The data collected from the surveys is aggregated (where possible) and principals receive information relevant to their school.

Halton also have a process of bringing together schools with a common alliance(eg. secondary schools with their feeder primary schools) to determine literacy and numeracy targets. This promotes (according to Halton) understandings of contexts and greater collaboration and sharing of results, goals and challenges. They use the motto: keep the faces of the students in your mind when establishing the targets!

Head to UK tonight. Red-eye trip!

Pics of Cabbagetown - a near where I was staying

Monday, May 01, 2006

What Year level might this be?

The class were grappling with the following:
If it is sunny outside why do we have to wear snow pants?

These are pictures of the students work explaining possible answers and also transcript of one of the discussions.

What Year level do you think it might be?

The WOW factor in use of ICT

I saw a lesson with Year 5/6 group at the Institute of Child Studies school.

The task was to identify ways in which the distance jumped could be improved. Bear in mind that the focus in the school is on depp understanding and building knowledge.

The students had videoed three attempts at a long jump. Students had access to all the video clips via their laptops.

They used two programs. The first was Maths in Motion (MiM) that allowed them to plot distances and angles on the selected videos of the long jump.

The second program was a product called Knowledge Forum that has been developed by OISE/UT that allows for knowledge to be developed through stusdents contributing what is simailar to a mind map. The program doesn't map conceptual knowledge as such, but allows students to post questions and responses to the questions and responses to the answers provided.

The Learning Consortium Visit

I have had a full schedule since arriving in Toronto.

Wednesday 26 April:
Met with Dorothy Fowler and Joy at The Learning Consortium, which is based at OISE/UT. Very interesting discussion about the how the Consortium came to be, it's possible directions, political agendas at Province and Federal levels. A lot of similarities with Australia.

Thursday 27 April:
Visited the Institute of Child Studies. This is a laboratory school established in the 1920s in partnership with OISE/UT. The focus is very much on a child-centred curriculum (read strong focus on the child as a learner). The philosophy of the school and of learning is very much on deep thinking and knowledge building, not only for the students but also for the staff.

What was evident was a strong culture of professional inquiry into what works (or doesn't work in classrooms). See other entries for a couple of examples of what I saw.

Had the opportunity to attend a PD session on Cognitive Coaching being conducted through the Toronto District Schools Board. here I met Rita Simmons who has established a Virtual Leadership portal to support teachers and leaders in the development of leadership at all levels and across the system (teachers, non-teaching staff, positional leaders, school-based and office-based). It was very impressive.

Friday 28 April:
Met with with Carol Rolheiser (Associate Dean, OISE/UT). Carol has been a key player both in the Institute of Child Studies and The Learning Consortium. She has also worked closely with Michael Fullan and School District Boards with a focus on improving professional practice and tri-level reforms. The meeting was extensive and fruitful.

What is becoming very evident is the significant impact that strong, structured partnerships between universities, school boards and schools has resulted in a strong professional culture focused on teaching and learning.

Next week:
Attend Ontario Staff Development meeting
Meet with Barbara Bodkin, Director of Continuing Education (OISE/UT)
Meeting with Cam Fraser - Principal on secondment to Charles Sturt University, Totonto
Meeting with Don Marshall - Coordinator, Research and Evaluation, Halton District School Board
Meeting with Pat Blake - Principal (Halton District School Board) and Gail Grant - Principal (Halton District School Board)

Then onto England and the Leadership for Learning Centre in Cambridge.

Niagara Falls Pics

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Some pictures of Toronto

CN Tower - Toronto Landmark
Wind Mill

View of the city skyline from Lake Ontario

House of Parliament

It's a matter of context

I wonder if it had beginnings in Australia?
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