Friday, August 26, 2011

Why Connections Matter

As many of you know already a fantastic event happened in the beginning of August.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

Unplug'd was a summit of Canadian Educators who came together because ________ Matters.  We got together, networked, talked and were a group for three intensive days.  What came out of it was a terrific document and more importantly were connections.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

Every week the connections and people we met at The Edge in Ontario get stronger and stronger.  We read each others material, we chat in twitter and Google+ and find new ways to collaborate and make our pedagogy stronger. Already new collaborations are on my horizon  with @aforgave, @hdurninand @alanahcallan!!

Being part of the ds106 broadcast and lurking in on Google+ it was fun to see the personalities of Allanah (Her Smile and boat distractions) and Gulia how was working the board from behind the scenes with a Cheshire cat grin on her face.  I love all of you.

Why do you have to have Conferences, meetings, meet-ups with collegues who give a damn..... it is because we are not alone.  We are connected.  It is fun and great to share ideas and collaborate with each other.

Unplug'd Rocked. Correction Unplug'd is still Rockin!!

Running for a Purpose

   have been an athlete for many years. I started swimming when I was 12 and continued until I was 20.  The following years were a combination of trying out different sports.  I ran, ran the Timex Road Racing Series in Winnipeg and even tried triathlons.... but it wasn't until last year where I hooked up with a trainer/friend and started training for marathons.  My first real training since I was a swimmer.  It felt great and I love training again.  But wait this is not why I am writing this post.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

Part of my training regiment for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon is to run a Half Marathon on September 5th.  No big deal I have run dozens of half marathons.  It is the cause that got my attention.  Most half marathons have a cause that you can fundraise for.  Normally I shy away from this and use my entry fee as my donation.  This half marathon is different.  The cause is Diabetes.  Normally that wouldn't do much for me until May of this year.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

During the month of May one of my twins Colin started to have headaches and wetting the bed frequently.  We took him to the doctor and we were sent immediately to the Endocrinologist. We informed that he had Type 1 Diabetes.  Colin had lost the lottery and was the one in 600 kid that had a bad pancreas. It just stopped working.  Colin took it stride, we as parents learned how to give him insulin, and life moved on. New routines new challenges but life moved on

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

Interestingly enough soon after Colin was diagnosed lots of stories in the news was talking about new advancements in Diabetes Research.  It was most promising. Perhaps in Colin's lifetime he will be cured of this disease.

I have friends with Type 1 Diabeties, @cogdog has run many a marathon to raise funds for diabetes. Now it is my turn to ask for help.  You too can play a part in curing this disease.

Link to>>> Sponsoring my run....<<<< 

 will provide funds to search for a cure for diabetes. I know there are many of you out there.  If we all do a little it is amazing how those "littles" become so much.  Thank you in advance.  I will keep you posted on the fundraising and the result!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Unplug'd Experience

The Unplug'd Participantscc licensed flickr photo shared by unplugd
From August 5 to 7th 2011 forty Canadian Educators got together to spend time talking about "Why ________ Matters!".  It was a truly Canadian experience. Why had we gotten together and were would this be leading us too?  These are questions I still wrestle with today when explaining to people what we accomplished that weekend.  Perhaps the Unplug'd website would help. Here is what it said:

UnPlug’d brings together Canadian educational change agents to share peer-reviewed success stories; to deepen relationships among participants; to publish the collective vision of the group.  Grassroots educators will share their first-hand experiences, collectively considering modern approaches to learning.  The summit will culminate with the release a publication that communicates a vision for the future of K-12 education in Canada.  
 Forty educators, 40 stories made for passionate discussions.  It was the discussion that was so special about Unplugd.  Most of us were familiar with each other from our online PLN.  We had talked, chatted in 140 characters or less but never sat down and looked each other in the eyes and had conversations.  It is always fascinating to meet people in our online network and family F2F.  Things change and we start to hear the passion behind the words that we read so often.  This is one of the reasons why Unplug'd worked. We did deepen relationships with other participants such a powerful experience.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10
We were able to unhook ourselves from the network. Have a F2F network of people all gathered around a table, canoe, dock, lake, cabin, meal anywhere you could sit or be with someone conversations were happening.  Real conversations.  This was so rich.

All of us came with our homework completed.  An essay of 250 to 400 words.  Something you were passionate about.  We were grouped into small pods or chapter groups with a loose connection between us.  What was amazing is that when we all shared our stories and essays it was obvious that we were meant to be in that specific group.  The Organizers had grouped us based on title alone.  As we read, shared and became a team you could see the threads holding us together.  As the organizers said in their introduction
to publish the collective vision of the group.  Grassroots educators will share their first-hand experiences, collectively considering modern approaches to learning.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

When I walked into this project it would be fair that my batteries were on low.  I had gotten through the year, had great students, used tech to capture their imagination and allow them to be producers of learning but still felt empty.  I had not done something new, not found anything to push my envelope of learning.  Unplug'd changed all of that.  Personally I am recharged and have done 2 blog posts in a week.  Reflecting, thinking and sharing thoughts.  Wow! It is fun to write again. All of this would not have happened if it was not for that weekend.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10
But where do we go.  The book has been published.  The Introduction and Chapter 1 are available now  and the next chapters will be published every week.  This allows for discussion, debate and conversations in manageable chunks. I hope you all read the book and soak in the messages that were shared.  Something will resonate with you.  Take that thought, that bit of knowledge and use it to recharge your batteries.

This was a bit of a rambling post but hey I got it done.  There will be more posts to come. Just like a sunrise:)

cc licensed flickr photo shared by charbeck10

Thursday, August 11, 2011

London Riots

Before I begin to unpack the fantastic adventure I had with the #unplugd11 crew out in Ontario a new post popped into my head yesterday.  Yes a new post.  Been a while.  Since April.  Bad Blogging.... but here it is.

As I was driving to pick up my son at his camp the CBC news came on and they were talking about the Riots in London and why they were happening.  One thing mentioned was the disenfranchised youth.  Kids that have been forgotten by social programs, can't find work, or do not want to find work, who are using social media to gather and loot and riot.

Image from London

cc licensed flickr photo shared by tgeasland

This was disturbing in many ways.  The riots in Vancouver show that this is not just a London problem.  Youth these days see it as OK to go on a rampage and destroy things.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by Charles de Jesus
Look around you at the litter on the streets and the malaise with so many 20 somethings.  I deal with 13 and 14 year olds.  Most of them keen on life still and less than 20% would be susceptible to joining these RIOTS just because they could do mayhem. So where does it break down.  How do we go from happy kids to ..... lets go break things and be "bad".

This brings me back to the CBC report yesterday.  They interviewed a youth in his 20's in Manchester. What struck me about his interview were the following statements (paraphrasing from memory sorry)
  • Are you not afraid you are going to be caught? Nah I go out all the time till late in the morning.  Never been caught.  How many have they caught anyways 3 or 4 maybe 10 they won't get me.
  • What will happen when you get home? No one cares there. Are they going to ground me? Yell at me. Whatever.
 Here is a youtube video (language warning) not the interview I heard but similar

The tone of the interviewee was so nonchalant, almost I am doing this because I am bored.  That is the scarey part for me.  Just because I am bored I am going to wreck a city and cause lots of damage and hurt people.  Yep I have nothing better to do.

I hope we can find a way to improve peoples way of life.  Give them something to look forward to.  Allow them to find a passion that is something other than looting, violence and mayhem.  Perhaps we can all do our part.

Explain to our kids, tell them what is going on in England. Why it started and how it is able to maintain its intensity.  After we have dealt with our family we then need to figure a way to use this in school to explain to our students the COST of what is happening.  Instant riot leads to long term pain for so many people.

It is a bit of a rant I know but we need to take action now before that youth malaise settles in here and floods over onto the street.  The world is going through a rocky rough time right now.  We all need to do our part.

Just thinking out loud.