Last year I was given the opportunity to lead a project in the AMDSB that I authored: Blogging as Digital Portfolios. I was inspired after hearing George Couros speak about this topic and Connect2012 in Niagara Falls. I couldn’t stop thinking about how he transformed student learning and improved student outcomes across his entire school district – my eyes were opened to the much bigger picture.
Modelled after George’s work, my project began with a total of 10 teachers in the AMDSB who would use blogging as a platform for learning to improve student outcomes in the areas of 4C’s and a P (communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving). Each teacher in my project group received iPads at a 2:1 ratio, an Edublogs license, and release time to inquire about the pedagogy of blogging. We all created our own class blogs first, followed by the creation of individual student blogs. I also started an AMDSB Technology Learning Community blog – a space where teachers in my project could share their learning, discuss challenges, share resources, and collaborate with one another.
Our project was a huge success – we had all been inspired by our students, and each other. There were documented gains in student learning across the board and it was the best professional development any of us had ever had. And what was even more incredible was that we finished the year with a record of our learning.
I am now working for the AMDSB as a Technology Coach, and continuing to teach half-time in Grade 1/2. My colleague and I both received funding from the Ontario Ministry of Education in the form of a TLLP grant to continue on with our project work, and double the size of our project group this year. In addition to leading my TLLP group, I am also leading a Documentation Project with Sandy Lee, AMDSB’s Assessment and Evaluation Coordinator. We will be using blogging as a platform to document student learning with a focus on using the triangulation of data (observations, conversations, products) as assessment of, for, and as learning.
There is also a third group I will be supporting this year, and that group is our Board’s Next Generation Learning (NGL) project team, formally known as the 1:1 Project in AMDSB. Every year AMDSB grade 7 students receive their own iPad that they use for learning from now, until their high school graduation. There are over 65 teachers in this project group and over half will begin blogging with their students this year.
There is such a buzz of excitement from teachers in my Board about blogging as a platform for deep learning. Teachers in schools where projects are happening are keen to get involved. A total of 100 teachers and counting are also ready to begin blogging in their own classrooms, supported by the other teachers in their buildings who are receiving professional development and experiencing the success of this change in pedagogy.
So after beginning with 10 teachers in 2013, by the end of October 2014 there will be close to 200 teachers in the AMDSB using blogging as a platform for learning. Below is the slideshow deck I put together to introduce teachers in my Board to Blogging as Digital Portfolios. After taking the time to revisit posts on my class blog and student blogs from last year, I felt even more inspired to tell the story of our learning.