Tuesday, November 7, 2017

8th Canadian EdTech Leadership Summit 150

“Designing Next Generation Schools for Today’s Students”

Congratulations Robert Martellacci on celebrating 8 years of bringing together education and technology leaders to share a vision of the future and engage in discussions focussing on next steps towards students achievement and well-being.

Robert Martellacci is president of MindShare Learning Technology™ and Conference Chair of Canadian EdTech Leadership Summit. He is passionate about bringing together educators and technology providers to support student success from K-12 and post-secondary education.

Since being the 2009/2010 Classroom of the Future Central winners along with Kamla Rambaran, Robert has become a regular guest in my class community; appreciating the value of seeing students in action. He takes time to connect with students, listening to their ideas that have been put into action, asking probing questions and responding in kind. I am honoured and humbled to have been invited as a new board member at MindShare Learning and look forward to discussions building upon the possibilities of promoting lifelong learning.

Below I highlight some of the awesomeness from inspiring leaders across education and technology providers. BUT first, let me put a spotlight on my students who joined me at the EdTech Summit…
As each of the speakers shared virtually or live on stage, my students attentively listened to the messages, making connections to their own experiences and reflecting on potential for changes in their own environments. Sure, I smiled every once in awhile as they turned to me and whispered, “Ms.T we are already doing this”, “Ms.T you have already set us up with these choices”, and “They are talking about our classroom”. However, our side discussions were more intriguing as they asked questions of clarification, “why are they saying only star students get to do things”, “what do they mean by pockets of innovation”, “why do teachers teach to the test” and “what does teaching and learning in silos mean?”

The truth is, in our class community along with Ms. Rambaran, we, teachers and students have been collaborating in creating a class space that is flexible; where each student has the opportunity to step up and lead at-school, within venues across TDSB and outside our school board. We work together to create learning experiences that are transdisciplinary, although at times focussed subject mini-lessons are needed to introduce new concepts or support of information. Students have comfortably moved between my class and Ms Rambaran’s class knowing that support is available between us and our students.

So, we whispered as the speakers continued and then, stepped outside when they were struggling with their questions. I asked them, “within our own school, how many other classes share a common learning environment as ours?” They took a pause and had to think about it. They did acknowledge that, they themselves had not experienced our learning environment in past years, but have noticed a shift in our school as more teachers were co-teaching and sharing each other’s spaces. This is true. A shift is happening… slow but a change is beginning in our school. We continued to share how change is hard and why some teachers, students and parents would be cautious pushing boundaries with risks and a chance for failure. We laughed at a slide that stated “don’t wait for permission” as we looked back on some activities that were messy, tedious and needed many iterations or our monthly (or more) excursions that were long, and at times needing more that one visit to gather information. All things that took time past the class time table or students took upon themselves beyond the school day. Activities that parents couldn’t relate to because it didn’t connect with their own learning experiences back when they attended school. My students appreciated that some days were unpredictable and that ‘lessons’ were flexible and adaptable to address the need at the time.

They were filled with more questions and ready to share their thoughts, which is why I was thrilled that Robert was open to have students join us at the EdTech Summit. Thank you to everyone who took the time to connect with them, ask questions and listen to their stories.

A few highlights of the day:

Master of Ceremonies Dr. Karen Grose, Vice President, Digital Learning TVO gracefully moderated a jam packed agenda filled with powerful thought leaders and inspiring speakers.

Keynote/Closing Note presenters:

Lord Jim Knight, Former Minister of Education, UK Government emphasized the importance to listen to and observe our students in action, with an emphasis on human skills that leverage technology. “We learn more about our students based on the questions they ask, rather than what we ask of them.”
Randall Fielding, Founder & Editorial Director, Design Share took us through a series of sketching our ideas by rethinking the learning environment. Focussing on creating collaborative learning spaces, flexible learning cycles with an emphasis on transdisciplinary learning. Learning becomes powerful as students create solutions to real problems in their world.  
Bridget Morales, CEO Natural Pod emphasized the importance of student needs in spaces that support well-being. Being intentional when creating experiences and learning environments that allows students to move, redesign and create.

Cross Canada Checkup made up of influential members across Canada including our own Peter Singh, CTO Toronto District School Board and Classroom of the Future Central Winners from Cedarbrea Collegiate Institute.

My students particularly enjoyed visiting each of the Makerspace Showcase booths highlighting the latest in EdTech innovations.

Ideas are always pushed to new limits whenever I have the opportunity to meet up with inspiring educators and technology leaders like Sandra Chow, Lia DeCicco, Kevin Bradbeer, Marlena Rivett, Katina Papulkas, Stephen Hurley and David Carruthers.

Canadian EdTech Summit, Ignite the Night, with Brian Aspinall and Jennifer Casa-Todd and friends was AMAZING! Yes, I stuck out the day into the evening because I was not missing a chance to listen to all these educators in one place, share their Ignite Talks. From 'Being really good at playing the game of school: We Must Do Better' by Jenn Giffen to 'TEDEdClubs promoting curiousity, creativity and community' by Will Gourley to 'What social media are you on and what will I learn about you' by Jennifer Casa-Todd and much, much more!

Anxiously awaiting the opening of MindShare WorkSpace before the end of this year! A co-working innovative space committed to nurture a partnering working community.

A shout out to Stephen Hurley for providing live broadcasting of the day via voicED.ca #voicEdRadio.  

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