Let’s Get Together presents a Virtual Parent Expo

Let’s Get Together presents a Virtual Parent Expo

So, how do you cover a virtual event live on the radio. Well, we’re going to find out today as Toronto-based Let’s Get Together takes its popular Virtual Parent Expo online for the day.

Let’s Get Together is a charitable organization that creates opportunities for parents, youth and communities to access learning resources that provide educational assistance and support student well-being. The mission is to empower parents to become more engaged in their children’s education and inspire youth in their learning while making it more equitable and accessible.

Today, November 16th, they are posing the question, “What comes after high school?” It’s an effort to gather ideas, resources and perspectives that will help parents consider options and pathways for their child’s post-secondary journey—whatever that happens to be.

voicEd Radio is pleased to offer full coverage of the sessions throughout the day. We begin our broadcast coverage at 8:30 am EST and will be with the Expo until its conclusion at 3:30 pm. (Note: We will be breaking away at 9:30 for our weekly live broadcast from the Blue Sky Schools, Ottawa.

So, check out the Expo schedule, register to be part of the event and listen in live at voicEd.ca

New voicEd Radio Series: Reversed—A Memoir

New voicEd Radio Series: Reversed—A Memoir

There is something pretty incredible that happens when we send our kids off to school for the very first time. I use the word incredible because, when you think about it, that very first day of school is one big act of trust, isn’t it. We trust that as we, quite literally, hand our children over to another adult who we may never have met before and reluctantly walk away, that things will be OK. We trust that they will know exactly what to do. We trust that what we value, they will also value. We trust that our children will be safe, cared for and protected from harm.

It’s a huge leap of faith, but one that is made year in and year out right around the world.

But what happens when our children don’t quite fit the mold for which our schools were designed. What happens if we sense that those young ones that we have spent so much time with in their early years might face some challenges along the way. And what happens if the system doesn’t have the capacity or resources to meet their learning needs and the associated social challenges.

Well, in the case of Lois Letchford, you take things into your own hands! Lois’ middle son, Nicholas, struggled to learn how to read. The system seemed to be at a loss as to how to help him and, after many emotional attempts to get Nicholas the help he needed, Lois committed herself to becoming Nicholas’ reading teacher.

Reversed: A Memoir is Lois’ personal journey to help Nicholas learn how to negotiate text and, in so-doing, negotiate an important part of his world. We are honoured to have Lois Letchford join us on voicEd Radio over the next six weeks for some very poignant conversations about that journey.

To be sure, Lois’ story is very personal, but we’re confident that it will resonate with so many other parents and educators.

Tune in Wednesday evening at 7:30 PM EST for Reversed: A Memoir by Lois Letchford

What’s The One Thing In Your Teaching Life?

What’s The One Thing In Your Teaching Life?

This evening’s #ONedMentors was brought to you by the film City Slickers and, in particular, one brief minute from the film featuring Jack Palance and Billy Crystal. It’s the scene where Jack gives Billy, in a rather poignant way, gives Billy “the finger”:

This evening, we used this clip to inspire a conversation about our one thing as teachers. If you were to strip away all of the strategies, all of the technologies, all of the paraphernalia that accompanies the teaching life, what would be left.

So, for Sarah Lalonde, our voicEd Community Manager and a second year teacher candidate at U of Ottawa, the one thing was respect. Florida educator, Brad Shreffler identified change as his one thing while I declared connection as the thing that has defined my teaching life over the past number of years.

What would that one thing that defined your vision, your energy and your life as a teacher. A difficult question for some, if not most of us. But the attempt to answer it might provoke some good personal thinking and, possibly, some good staffroom discussion.

What might happen if you were take that statement of your one thing and post it in a place where you could see it every single day for the next year? How might it help you to stay on track and in line with what you believe about your work?

Here’s the conversation from tonight, but we’re hoping that this not be the final answer but, instead, the beginning of a lively and dynamic conversation about the one thing in your teaching life.

Feel free to add a comment here or, if you would prefer, write a blog entry of your own. Let us know where we can find it and we’ll link to it!

Why a Tech Conference Might Just Be The Best Place To Fail!

Why a Tech Conference Might Just Be The Best Place To Fail!

Well I could call up any number of literary quips at this point in my day.

“All the world’s a stage—even when you fall off”.

“The best laid plans of mice and men—all look good before you press send!”

“If at first you don’t succeed—reboot and start again.”

Any one of these might act as a little bit of consolation as I unpack the equipment from today’s attempt to broadcast live version of This Week in Ontario Edublogs live from the #MindsOnMedia event at BIT17 in Niagara Falls.

The stage that Rob Scott had set for us when we arrived was great. The plan that Doug Peterson had worked out for the broadcast was brilliant. And the technology in which I had invested worked beautifully—before I left the house. In fact, it worked beautifully when I took voicEd Radio MOBILE for a test run at Monday’s Mindshare Learning #CDNEdTech17 Summit at Mars Discovery District on Monday.

Doug had gathered 5 regular Ontario Edubloggers in the room for the broadcast. The plan was to bring each of them onstage during our live hour and, for the first time in TWIOE history actually hear their voices, their thinking and their passion for their work.

But when I went to hit the “ON AIR” button, I realized that no sound was coming through the broadcast software. I fussed and I fiddled, I rebooted, reinstalled and rebooted again. As Peter Skillen tried to hold the fort, I did everything I could to figure out why all of the equipment seemed to be working, but wasn’t.

I was more than a little embarrassed. After all, when you’re trying to build confidence and energy around something as a 24/7 Radio station dedicated to education, you want everything to be perfect all of the time. But I put on a brave face and we went on as if nothing were wrong. As Doug observed later, in the 33 weeks that we’ve been doing this show from the comfort of our own homes, this was probably the best. And I think he was right. The only problem is, we don’t have any evidence of that. Without a broadcast, there is no archive. Without an archive, there is no evidence. And without evidence, today was just a moment in time, only appreciated by those who were in the room.

After our “show” ended, I spent the next hour trying to figure out why things didn’t work. All of the indicator lights on my Rolland Rubix 24 USB Interface were lighting as they should. All of the connections were secure. The broadcast software was newly installed.

And what’s more, my Microsoft Windows 10 software had just been automatically updated when I arrived on site at 7:00 that morning! (Foreshadowing for ardent Windows users)

After an hour of trying to get to the bottom of things, and acting on a little bit of a whim, I went on to the Rolland site to download the latest drivers. I installed the most recent update and tried again. Slam! Everything was back up and running. Sound was passing from my interface to my software and out onto the airwaves. I wanted to call everyone back and redo the whole show, but that wasn’t going to happen.

We talk about embracing failure, building resilience and honouring perseverance. Today’s experience might just allow me to do all three.

Here’s what I’ve learned from my #MindsOnMedia experience:

  1. There is something special about meeting people face-to-face. After 33 weeks of talking with Doug Peterson over the voicEd Radio airwaves, it was great to finally meet him in person. Since 2009, I’ve followed over 3500 people on Twitter. I would consider Doug a friend among the “followed”. Always seek personal connection.
  2. Declaring, “Well, it worked at home.” doesn’t cut it. Test everything on site. And then test it again. And, just before the curtain rises, test it again!
  3. Turn off Auto Updates on Windows 10. Thanks Rob Scott for that piece of advice.
  4. As soon as something doesn’t work, immediately look for an opportunity to try it again somewhere else. (Luckily, I get to take voicEd Radio on the road this weekend at the researchEd Toronto conference at Trinity College.
  5. The best place to encounter a technical failure is at a tech conference. Practically everyone in that room today will have an epic fail story to tell. The fact that they were in that room is encouraging!

Thanks to all who participated in today’s not-a-broadcast. Let’s try this again real soon! Thanks to Aviva Dunsiger, Eva Thompson, Cal Armstrong, Ramona Meharg and Jim Cash.

Doug and I will be back live on voicEd Radio next Wednesday at 9:15 AM!

A Word in Progress—Unpacking the Technologia

A Word in Progress—Unpacking the Technologia

I’ve been fortunate to walk alongside Derek Rhodenizer since the start his latest Sunday night program on voicEd Radio. A Word in Progress seeks to dig deeper into some of the words that have become part of our discourse as educators. They are all very familiar. They roll off our tongues with ease. In many ways, they have become the tools of the trade and the foundations of our practice.

So Derek is looking to challenge our level of comfort with these words in an effort to define, refine and, in some cases, confine their use so that they actually have some actual meaning for us. It’s a lofty goal. Maybe that’s why I look forward to Sunday evenings so much.

This past Sunday, Derek invited Andrew Campbell onto the show to unpack the word technology. 

“Wait,” I hear you say. Technology? Isn’t that one word on which we can all agree. Surely the only act of unpacking that needs to be done is the one that involves anxiously tearing at cardboard boxes and bubble wrap? You would think!

In fact, when Derek announced the word of the week, I assumed that we would get the definition out of the way quickly and get into a conversation about how best to use technology in our varied contexts. As it turned out, I could hear more than one penny drop in my own tiny brain.

It probably wouldn’t surprise many if I suggested that technology has had a relatively short history in the our lexicon of edu-talk. The Google Ngram below would seem to indicate that, in fact, the use of the word on a more general level began to come into its own about 50 years ago.

But that didn’t stop the etymologist in me from digging a little deeper, only to discover that there the word technologia was used in the world of the ancient Greeks to describe a systematic treatment of an art, craft, or technique.

I carried that little nugget into Sunday’s broadcast with me, thinking that I was going to rock the conversation with an insight. Instead of having a systematic knowledge of the tools that we think of when we refer to technology—instead of being true techno-logistsI suggested that many of us (myself included) had become techno-philes: lovers of technology. Well, as you’ll hear, that argument didn’t go over too well.

And for good reason.

As the conversation continued, Derek and Andrew helped me understand that the art, craft or technique to which the ancient use of the word might refer had little to do with the tools that have become so closely associated with our conversations about technology. Instead, the art, craft or technique to which our attention should really be directed (and frequently redirected) is that incredibly beautifully complex practice of teaching. This is where we need the systematic treatment. This is where we need to continue to dig deep, both as a profession and, as professionals. Now, it would be very difficult to remove all of the technology from our lives as educators—to really clear the decks. But, I think that we can play with the idea conceptually, asking questions about the what, the how and, most important, the why of our technology use.

As a point of reflection, we could sit down individually, in small groups and in larger gatherings and think about the five principles that we have found to lead to effective teaching for us. When have we been at our best as educators? When have we seen the best results from our students? When has the teaching/learning dynamic been at its peak? When have we felt the greatest sense of efficacy? Once you have listed the five principles that, you believe, have contributed to your effectiveness and the effectiveness of your students, look around and ask the tough questions about what tools you need to make those moments happen more often.

Many of us could find multiple ways to use practically any technology that is put in front of us. Sometimes we can even become overwhelmed by the sense of possibility that seems to be presented to us. But what would happen if we reclaimed that ancient meaning of the word technology and spent some time focusing on the core principles that enliven our work as educators? What technology (in the modern sense of the word) would we need to make our classrooms tick?

So, if you missed it, here’s Sunday’s episode of A Word in Progress. Enjoy!

You can catch the show live on voicEd Radio every Sunday evening at 9 PM EDT and in the ON DEMAND section of our website a few hours later.