The Future of Public Education in BC

On the evening of October 5th, The Tyee is hosting an evening of discussion on the future of public education in BC.

The evening will feature speakers who will explore what is, and what could be, for public education in British Columbia. From innovations to challenges, and from the perspective of teachers, academics, students and parents, the discussion will delve into the possibilities ahead for BC’s education system.

The Featured Speakers:

  • Dr. Gillian Judson, lecturer, Simon Fraser University, director, Imaginative Education Research Group (IERG), and coordinator, Imaginative Ecological Education (IEE) program
  • Jennifer Stewart, co-founder, Families Against Cuts to Education
  • Hana Woldeyes, Youth Advisory Team member, Fresh Voices Initiative
  • Sajedeh Zaki, Youth Advisory Team member, Fresh Voices Initiative
  • Trevor Stokes, teacher, Streetfront Alternative Program

Other speakers will be announced soon.

Location of the Discussion:

  • Segal Building, 500 Granville Street, Vancouver
  • 6:30 pm Doors open
  • 7:00 pm-9:00 pm Talks
  • 9:00 pm-10:00 pm Reception with drinks and light refreshments

For Tickets:

Rethinking Your Message

If you add into your email a message such as, “Sorry for sending you this email” or “Sorry this email is so long…” then you really need to rethink your message. 

Why are you apologizing? Own your email – assume that it is important information that the recipient is looking forward to and will value. 

If you are apologizing because of the length of the email, then shorten it up. Cut out the extraneous information before you hit send. 

Ten Things to Know About BC’s New Curriculum

Here are the 10 things you need to know about B.C.’s new curriculum:

  1. The basics of reading, writing and math remain at the heart of the education systemStudents will learn – and be tested – on these core skills needed to succeed in university, in the workforce and in life.
  2. Tomorrow’s skills today – collaboration, critical thinking, and communications. New curriculum is designed so students learn these skills – which are exactly what post-secondary institutions and employers say they need.
  3. New curriculum builds on success. British Columbia has rising graduation rates and some of the best learning outcomes in the world – and the Province is building on this so B.C.’s kids keep succeeding.
  4. The focus is on concepts. Students will understand and work with the big ideas, rather than simply memorizing the facts.
  5. In this together. B.C.’s new curriculum was developed in consultation with more than 200 teachers nominated by the BC Teachers’ Federation, the Federation of Independent School Associations and First Nations Schools Association. Together, global best practices were looked at.
  6. Coding is coming for all students. Coding is a path to careers in the booming tech sector – and it teaches logic and critical thinking needed in almost every path in life. By 2018, every student will experience basic coding between grades 6 and 9. Government is helping train teachers this year to implement the module.
  7. Broad perspectives are embedded. Aboriginal perspectives are included throughout the curriculum and students will learn about the historical wrongs faced by East and South Asian immigrants and Aboriginal people in B.C.
  8. Provincial exams will test bedrock skills. Between grades 10 and 12, students will write provincial exams in English and mathskills that cut across every subject and at the heart of the courses that universities and colleges look at during admissions.
  9. Testing will be rigorous. In other subjects there will be rigorous classroom-based exams, assessments, tests and projects to measure student progress.
  10. Training the teachers, buying technology. Government is providing $6 million for teacher training and technology purchases, as well as dedicated training time, so schools can bring coding and the new curriculum to life.

Email Etiquette and Eliminating Reply-all

While it is easy to get frustrated with the person who hits reply-all on an email just to say “thank you” or some other inane comment that should have been sent solely to the writer of the first email, the individual at fault in this situation is the person who sent the original message.

When sending an email to a group of people it is important to ask yourself, “is there any good reason for everyone on this email list to see who else this email is going to.”

Typically, the answer is no.

When writing an email to a group or a list of people, put the list of email addresses in the BCC field so that the reply-all option is eliminated.

That’s it. Be proactive to avoid email embarrassment.

Connecting a Chromebook to the Internet

Chromebooks are dandy devices but they work most effectively if you have Wi-Fi. However, the reality is that not all classrooms in all schools have total Wi-Fi coverage.

If you want to connect a Chromebook to the Internet and you do not have Wi-Fi coverage you can still “hardwire” the Chromebook into your school network. 

To connect your Chromebook to your school network, unplug the network cable (the network cable is the one that looks like a heavy duty phone cord) from the back of your desktop computer. 

You then plug the network cable into a “dongle” that plugs into a USB plug in your Chromebook.

If you are lucky, you can get a “network to USB” dongle from the tech department of your school. 

The “network cable to USB connecter” can also easily be obtained from a store like Best Buy or London Drugs. They are not expensive – no more than $10 or $15. 

That’s it. Your Chromebook is now connected to the school network. 

Google Classroom; Link to an Existing Assignment

Some of my colleagues have asked how they can make it so that a particular assignment they have posted on their Google Classroom Stream can become a “recurring” task.

For example, you do not want to have to create a new assignment each week telling students to write in their journals. However, students often need reminders to get them started on their assignments.

Rather than re-creating an assignment, you can link to an existing assignment. Have a look at Alice Keeler’s blog post on how to complete this process.

Google Classroom: Link to an Assignment

Adam Bellow on Doing More With Less

The fact of the matter is, technology has an ever increasing role in the education system. So I found Adam Bellow’s blog post on Edutopia to be quite an interesting read. 

The highlights from the blog post for me were: 

Make sure tech training is available on a continuous basis. That is part of the impetus behind me starting this blog – I wanted to have a place where I could share tech tips and tricks with colleagues. 

But going beyond the blog, schools need to foster an environment where learning and questioning are welcomed. 

Another takeaway from Adam Bellow’s blog post – computer labs are relics from the past. They are a waste of space and they send the wrong message to staff and students. 

Rather than having a computer lab, develop your school’s mobile capacity. Build carts of computers – computers on wheels – COWS. Or have sets of mobile devices (iPads, Chromebooks, Android tablets or what have you) available to be used by staff and students in classrooms. Devices that can and will be used in a variety of settings. 

And everybody’s favourite – how are we going to pay for all these tech “toys”. The fact is, there are many affordable resources for staff and students. Chromebooks are a very affordable option to get devices into the hands of people quite quickly. 

Then there are other more creative and “out of the box” options like Raspberry Pi computers. I recently bought a Pi-topCEED for $99 – a little tiny computer built into a 14″ HD screen. 

Since then I have purchased another Raspberry Pi kit that I will be building into a the cutest little desktop computer. For less than $100. 

The Raspberry Pi concept has the added benefit where students do not only bring their own device, they can actually build their own device!! That is empowering for learners!

And finally, Adam Bellow says something I have been repeating since forever; USE Twitter to learn about free resources and to develop your personal learning network. 

I encourage you to read the rest of Bellow’s blog post on Eduopia. And follow Eduopia on Twitter!!

*I have written this blog post on my iPhone so I will check the formatting later when I get a larger screen in my hands.