Month: July 2014

Experimentation Week: Get out there and try something new!


You’re out for dinner at one of your favourite restaurants about to order your favourite menu item (which you’ve eaten multiple times before because its delicious!) when all of a sudden the waiter tells you about tonight’s special – something wild and exotic that you’ve never tried before, like octopus ravioli. It sounds enticing and you want to order it, but you’re reluctant to pass on old reliable – spaghetti and meatballs – because you know it will make you happy.

The age old dilemma of trying something different and new, or sticking with what’s comforting and predictable. It comes up a lot in teaching. Do you you pull an old lesson plan out of the file box or play with an idea that’s been nagging you? The latter has more potential for excitement and discovery, but can also result in complete and utter failure.

As I reflected on all my colossal classroom flops from the past year, one thing that struck me was how much – despite hair-pulling frustration at the time – I had gained from every single one of them. In fact, I actually learned quite a lot more from experimenting and failing than I did by succeeding with tried and tested methods.

This made me curious about how other teachers approached the subject. One thing that became clear during last week’s discussion was how unafraid teachers are of taking risks with their craft. For most, experimentation is central to being an effective teacher.

(“Worth his salt” – I like that expression. It sounds old schoool!

Good on ya Barb! I hope I can say the same thing 25 years from now. Thankfully, we have teachers like yourself to connect with on twitter. I loved how eager everyone was to share their own learning experiences with experimentation in their classrooms…

(Well, the ego’s not THAT important…is it?)

(As a perfectionist, something I have to remind myself constantly!)


I’m totally stealing some of these. So many new ideas!

Of course, teachers expressed the need for a supportive environment, where risk-taking is encouraged and failure is accepted…


We even heard from some Ed leaders on how they inspire their teachers to experiment!

(The risk-taker motto!)

(Love the open-mindedness here!)

In the end experimentation is what school’s all about: Imagination, investigation, discovery, learning and FUN!


After all, what does anyone have to gain without getting out there and trying new things!










Photo Week on #slowchated

It was Fourth of July week on #slowchated and what better time to whip out your smart phone and take some pics!  I was inspired by Nicole Dalesio (@magelacanela) and used (with permission) some of her basic instructions for taking better photos and letting your creativity flow.

I used Nicole’s TEDxFrontRange talk as our introduction.  Videos just work as an intro to big ideas.  Love that.  The big idea, for me, was less about taking pics but more about being creative.  We carry a powerful computer around in our pockets and purses but do we use these to stretch our amazing creative potential?  And let’s not get into the argument about being present.  I get it.  I’m not suggesting we miss the beauty of the journey and spend our time behind a lense ‘capturing’ the moment.  Nope.  That’s not it.  Nicole’s video actually suggests being more present than you would be by just being on the journey.  She suggests noticing everything.  Notice the world around you such that you see the details, light, point of view and then feel moved to capture those little moments.  Not a million pics of Disneyland, Yosemite or the camping trip.  That’s something different.

Then jumped in with a question about our own habits with pics.

The responses were numerous and varied.  @Jamisonluke keeps track of his class and has a GoPro too!  @MrLeBrun (like many of us) takes lots of pics of events trying for the amazing one or two, but tries to be present.  @mrsmikesell says her hubby takes lots of pics while she’s totally utilitarian: need a pic, take a pic.

But let’s get to the pics of the chat!  We started with ‘zoom with your feet’ one of the biggest take-aways from the iPhoneography session I attended with @magelacanela at an @nbcue event in May 2014.  Pinching the screen to zoom just makes for a poor quality photo.  Don’t pinch, just walk closer!  Duh!  Now there are many situations where this won’t work, but if you can zoom with your feet, you should!  Here are some examples from our chat:

And Barbara even added her own take on ‘zoom with your feet:’

Our next endeavor was #angle and #lighting.  Don’t hesitate to get down close, take a pic from above or below… #angle can make an image or scene uber interesting.  And lighting… don’t get me started on the rules I learned in junior high photography class… sheesh!  Play with #lighting… create a silhouette, use the shadows to make something amazing.  Here’s what we created:

And this, one of my favorites from the week.  LOVE how weird this looks.  You can’t tell if it’s huge, microscopic, under water or what!?!?  Alien plant species–#angle and #zoomwyourfeet

Not to forget the ED in #slowchated, our almost final question had to do with using pics with students.  Ross Lebrun shared, “A4: I’ve had Ss take pics of projects they’ve done with subs in the room and submit. Ensures they never lose their work!”  And Seena Rich added, “A4:I have had Ss excitedly share work w me,” and “A4:Had Ss take pics and document a session I led at PD,” and “A4:take selfies w Ss…they like it!!”  @mrbradfordtech shared, “A4: I used pics last year to have students document a class project, visually tell a story, and help build community.”  And this from @ajay460, “A4: did an amazing lesson with her K Ss. Taught a new letter & had them take pix of things that started w letter.”  And a discussion idea from @barblarochelle, “A4 During novel discussion Ss took pics of items characters might use or need during certain scenes & posted to Padlet.”  “A4 Pair Ss. Stare. Interview. Take 12 photos of partner. Pare down to 6. Turn into digital story. Courtesy of ,” from @teylaramsey.  Thanks all for some great ideas!

Then, just for fun, we messed with #filters and #apps:

And last but not least an great example of creative photography & student learning from @tborash: In the lesson, we cleaned loose feathers using a variety of detergents- magnified photos were helpful to compare detergents,” and the amazing pic:

And how could we not close with some patriotic pics?!?!  Day 5 was share a pic from the Fourth of July (very anti-the-rest-of-the-world, but I knew #slowchated could never compete with good ‘ole 4th of July festivities).  Enjoy!

A big thank you to Nicole Dalesio for allowing me to use some of her material for the chat!  Hope you enjoyed it, and if you weren’t able to join us, get your phone out, consider #angle, #lighting and always #zoomwyourfeet when you can!  It’s about being more creative for your own edification and considering more use of pics with your students too!



REPORT: Rebels Surface on #SlowChatED (June 23-28, 2014)

cross-posted on The Constant Happiness by Eric Démoré



The S.Q.U.A.W.K. (Status Quo United Against Wayward Knowledge) is keeping an eye on the situation.

Particular scrutiny is being placed on the following individuals, whose contributions to the forum referred to as #SlowChatED appear to have left an impression on their moderator (street name @EricDemore), an unkempt fellow with an unhealthy obsession with the arbitrariness of life.

 In no particular order, they are:



Street name: @dannywoo15

AKA Danny Woo

Spotted raising hell in: California

Mumblings from his manifesto:



Street name: @FarleyJeffrey

AKA Jeffrey Farley

Spotted raising hell in: Beaumont, Texas

Mumblings from his manifesto:



Street name: @MrLeBrun

AKA Ross LeBrun

Spotted raising hell in: New Jersey

Mumblings from his manifesto:



Street name: @SeenaRich

AKA Seena Rich

Spotted raising hell in: California

Mumblings from her manifesto:



Street name: @musicmom99

AKA Jennifer Chobotiuk

Spotted raising hell in: Vancouver, British Columbia

Mumblings from her manifesto:



Street name: @paulpichursky

AKA Paul Pichursky

Spotted raising hell in: Crowsnest Pass, Alberta

Mumblings from his manifesto:



Street name: @SLOlifeKevin

AKA Kevin Ashworth

Spotted raising hell in: Morro Bay, California

Mumblings from his manifesto:



Street name: @morgetron

AKA Jodie Morgenson

Spotted raising hell in: Springfield, Nebraska

Mumblings from her manifesto:



Street name: @KeithFavre

AKA Keith Favre (AKA Cool Youth Anarchist)

Spotted raising hell in: Beaumont, Texas

Mumblings from his manifesto:



Street name: @mrsmikesell

AKA Kelly Mikesell

Spotted raising hell in: Florida

Mumblings from her manifesto:



Street name: @tritonkory

AKA Kory Graham

Spotted raising hell in: Minnesota

Mumblings from her manifesto:



Street name: @barblarochelle

AKA Barb Larochelle

Spotted raising hell in: Parts Unknown

Mumblings from her manifesto:



Street name: @rwoconn

AKA Ryan O’Connor

Spotted raising hell in: Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Mumblings from his manifesto:



Street name: @sjsbates

AKA Samantha Bates

Spotted raising hell in: Brentwood, Tennessee

Mumblings from her manifesto:



Street name: @mssackstein

AKA Starr Sackstein

Spotted raising hell in: New York

Mumblings from her manifesto:



Street name: @SeanHCole

AKA Sean H Cole

Spotted raising hell in: Johannesburg, South Africa

Mumblings from his manifesto:



Street name: @TheWeirdTeacher

AKA Doug Robertson

Spotted raising hell in: Oregon

Mumblings from his manifesto:



Street name: @ecsaibel

AKA Eric Saibel

Spotted raising hell in: Marin County, California

Mumblings from his manifesto:




AKA Kit Luce

Spotted raising hell in: Barrie, Ontario

Mumblings from her manifesto:




AKA Lauren Taylor

Mumblings from her manifesto:




AKA Luis Lucero

Mumblings from his manifesto:




AKA Brian Costello

Spotted raising hell in: U.S.A.

Mumblings from his manifesto:




AKA Steve Mouldey

Spotted raising hell in: Aukland, New Zealand

Mumblings from his manifesto:




AKA Ryan Bradford

Spotted raising hell in: Los Angeles

Mumblings from his manifesto:




AKA Tony Borash

Spotted raising hell in: Charlottesville, Virginia

Mumblings from his manifesto:



Street name: @p_kopp

AKA Paul Kopp

Spotted raising hell in: Mentor, Ohio

Mumblings from his manifesto:


The aforementioned rebel learners are at large and presumed dangerous for their ability to light fires and stand up for students.