Be The Change

This is my pecha-kucha presented at the TeachMeet at Northern Beaches Secondary College – #TMSeaChange on the 25th of June 2013. I did plan to share this straight away but time just flew!

Anyway, here it is as a PDF with relevant links:

BeTheChange (pdf)

and a ‘movie’ version, condensing my 7-minute PK to under 2 minutes.

The presentation is divided into the following major sections:

  1. Pressures that make teachers feel “cooped up in the box” or overwhelmed
  2. Change is everywhere: Teachers who’ve made changes in their classrooms and they look like they’re having “fun in the box”
  3. Inspired changes I have made in my classrooms – ideas I’ve “stolen” like an artist
  4. It’s ok to “steal” ideas like an artist (there’s a book) and it’s ok to get lost (we make our own map)
  5. An invitation for teachers to “Be the change” and to share…so I can steal more ideas 🙂

In case you’ve missed it, this presentation is a hat tip to my tweeps (by order of appearance) – links in PDF shared above:

  • @cuttheknotM – shared story of H Fawcett’s unique way to introduce and teach Geometry
  • @brucew_o – weekly newspaper to enrich engagement and learning of Biology
  • @7MrsJames – use Instagram to showcase and inspire student work
  • @whatedsaid – promote curiousity and wonder through Inquiry; build community of teachers
  • @samjshah – motivation for teachers swamped with report-writing
  • @dbatty1 – inspire students to lobby for and run a new elective: Minecraft
  • @cpaterso – give feedback before grades
  • @biancah80 – goals, medals, missions and also campfire, watering hole, cave
  • @dcox21 – problems vs exercises
  • @maryannreilly – getting lost is a privilege (for students and teachers) and we make our own map

I’ve been inspired by so many and it was difficult to limit to the above…but hopefully, you get the drift….change starts with us and it has already started.

Be the change.

Be amazing!

We could all do with a bit of motivation sometimes; a reminder to keep believing in ourselves and our capacity to do something of value.  I am very fortunate that motivation comes when most needed.

Good Thinking Made Public

 This is a book I received from @kathleencushman, the author.  In it is a ‘with compliments’ card saying “…thank you for your good thinking made public”.  I’ve previously blogged about this so won’t re-hash too much.

This came early in my blogging career when I certainly didn’t assume my thinking was particularly good, or good enough to really be made all that public.  Truth is, I started blogging for me – read more in “Reader, you are important to me“.  For the most part, I still blog for me, as part of my thinking and learning process. However, I have come to believe in the power of getting it out there – good or bad! well-articulated or not.

As an aside, I have read Fires in the Mind since that previous post and I can tell you that this book is gold.  Kathleen’s work is practical as well as inspirational.  It is practically a handbook for helping youth discover the values of mastery and develop skills accordingly.   If you don’t trust my judgement (which is fair enough), perhaps you will @shannoninottawa in this post.

Ordinary to you. Amazing to others.

This is a gift from @whatedsaid who invited me to join the Inquire Within community.  She gave me the link when I voiced my doubts of being good enough;  I was very touched.  The video itself is powerful, for sure as evidenced by the replies and kudos I got for tweeting the link.  It is even more powerful as a targeted gift; Edna honestly believed it was true for me  – I’m still hoping she’s not somehow deluded.

So I write this post not to say that my thinking or blogging are any better though I certainly hope I’m improving. The point really is to show Kathleen and Ed that their gifts have kept on giving because in my ordinariness, perhaps I have been amazing after all.  So then, my dear reader, be inspired enough to be amazing in your ordinariness….and generous enough to give this gift to your peers and/or students.

We can all….

Be amazing!


Trick or Treat?

This was my micro-presentation for #TMSydney hills yesterday – Halloween. As there are only 5 slides, I thought I’d blog it rather than slideshare it.  In truth, I found it very hard to create something for just 2 minutes.  I guess it’s kind of like my philosophy or approach to tech integration and working with people.


Jack Skellington by Verónica Bautista, on Flickr Trick or Treat

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic Licenseby Verónica Bautista

If I can deliver anything of value in 2 minutes then that’s my trick.

If you can get anything of value in 2 minutes then that’s a treat!
I’m going to give you a glimpse of how I work as an IT integrator.

Spring Ball by Anna Fischer, on FlickrCage-Shaker

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by Anna Fischer

I ask a lot of questions. I like playing the ‘devil’s advocate’ (and for effect, wearing plastic red horns).  Who? What? WHY? When? How? Where?  and What if?  Now there’s a good question as it opens up to lots of possibilities and opportunities.

I first heard of “Cage-shaker” from @whatedsaid. Her Learner Profile post explains this concept better than I can ever do in 20 seconds!  That post helped me distill my thoughts into a 2-minute presentation.
Baby Cage (1930s)
Reg Speller/Fox Photos/Getty Images


I am a creative thinker. This photo shows a 1930s nanny in the UK using a patented baby-cage to ‘solve’ the problem of space in the home.  As an IT integrator, I think of solutions that may actually seem ‘out there’ and admittedly, may not always be the best solution.
Cage-maker is a metaphor for creative thinking rather than poor solutions – I hope you got that! 🙂


i have no idea why that caged bird does by emdot, on FlickrCage-Buster
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  emdot 

I’m a cage-buster. I open up possibilities and opportunities.  But sometimes, the bird inside is too paralysed to fly out.  I think for these people, workingn with me is more a trick than a treat.

So this is what I do.
I think: critically, creatively and reflectively.
I act: coach, model, workshop. I provide training. I communicate. I talk. A lot.
All this amounts to a ‘trick or treat’ experience for some people.  I know that it can feel like a treat for some but  I hope that for the most part, working with me is a treat.
That’s my presentation. Happy Halloween. I hope it was a treat.

TeachMeet – a first-timer’s experience

Thanks to @7MrsJames and @KarlaO_dtn for inspiring me to blog about my first TeachMeet experience.  Here’s @7MrsJames’ version and @karlao_dtn’s. And now, here’s mine….

I’ve been hearing about TeachMeet for a while now on Twitter.  With all the buzz around the idea of unconference, I thought it was about time I went to one.  I’m happy to report that this time ’round, curiosity did not kill the cat. On the contrary, curiosity brought lots (and I mean LOTS) of opportunities to learn…and it began even before I got there thanks to @townesy77, a colleague at work, who inspired me to collaborate on a joint presentation.  So not only was I going, I was presenting as well. Madness (in my opinion).

Collaborating with @townesy77 is a story in itself but suffice it to say that we had FUN creating a pecha-kucha (my first – oh yes, this was indeed an afternoon of firsts for me!).  I learned how to create a pecha-kucha (20 slides each running at 20 seconds each), find Creative Commons images via Compfight and present one.   It’s amazing really how 20 seconds can seem so long and so short depending on what I’m talking about. 😉

Of course, the beauty of TeachMeet itself is connecting and chatting with other educators.  At this one, I met Twitter friends like @EduSum (even better in person so truly awesome), @FionaR_B (friendly and generous), @cpaterso (fantastic host and emcee), @karlao_dtn (not at all dramatic) and @whartonag (enthusiasm personified). And friends I’ve met before like @plu (got me into Twitter and blogosphere, owe this guy big-time; can only pay forward) and @rolfek  (a welcoming familiar face when I first got there). I also met new Twitter friends like @7MrsJames (passionate educator), @sarah_bowman (pre-service teacher and already out there teachmeet-ing and presenting as well) and @poska (exudes much happiness).  I wish I met more including @henriettaMi@betchaboy and @mylescarrick to name a few.  Maybe I should have gone to TeachEat after all (maybe next time!).

It would be very difficult (impossible really) to walk away with nothing going to a TeachMeet.  It is, in fact, rather amazing that presentations as short as 2 minutes can be challenging – think zone of proximal development here.  Here are just some of my takeaways:

  1. Re-think meetings. They don’t have to be all about administrivia and curricula and programs.  Why not a book club session?
  2. Try programming with kids. Use Scratch.
  3. Welcome conflict in teams. Sure it needs resolution but conflict are opportunities for learning and growth.
  4. Middle schoolers have special needs as they transition from primary school.
  5. FLIP lessons: F for flexible. L for learner-led. I for in-time intervention. P for personalized

So there you have it, at least 3 reasons to go and I haven’t even mentioned FUN (doesn’t start with a C).  Don’t worry if you’ve missed this great one, apparently there’s plenty more and perhaps at a location near you. Just check out the TMSydney wiki.  And if you’re reading this outside of Sydney, beyond Australia even, know that TeachMeets are popping up everywhere. It is definitely in the UK where it started thanks to Ewan McIntosh (@ewanmcintosh).  There must be some in the US as well and other parts of the world (I don’t know the contacts – I’m new at this, remember? so if you can help spread the word…need I say more?)

To all who shared my first #tmsydney experience, thank you.  You are now part of my story.  And it’s only just begun really.  Isn’t that exciting!