This past weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to attend Edcamp Toronto. If you don’t know what Edcamp Toronto is it is an unconference. Instead of people pre-planning workshops and lectures, the participants show up and suggest topics that they would like to discuss. Then the different discussions are posted on a big board and anyone interested in discussing that topic is welcome to join in.
During the first session I attended we discussed “What is literacy?”. As I am thinking about doing my Masters of Education in this area I was interested to get ideas of what I might look at. One point that was very clear is that there are many different definitions of literacy (from multi-modal literacy to digital literacy, to mathematics literacy etc) – and that literacy has grown and changed in recent years with technology. In the digital age, it is important to really focus on the fact that “texts” are more than just books. The definition I like to use is “What the author has to say” which is very encompassing of many forms of texts and gets students to be more critical consumers of all information.
At this session, three of the attendees were members of The Association for Media Literacy (http://www.aml.ca/home/) which I have not heard of before. With so many different Associations out there it is hard to keep track of all of them, but I am glad that this is now on my radar.
One of the challenges that was discussed was that it is more difficult to manage multiple forms of media that are now in use and making systems for students to hand-in and keep track of their assignments is going to be growing in importance. This really struck me as the importance of developing digital portfolios with my students to assist in teaching them these skills.
The second session I attended was on Creativity. This is a topic that has been on my radar for sometime after reading “21st Century Skills” about a year ago. I think I have always considered myself not a very creative person for the same reason many people do – that I am not artistic, however, I am a very creative person usually in terms of problem solving and developing new and innovative approaches. One interesting program I learned about was at the Buffalo State University and their International Center for Studies in Creativity. I am very fortunate to be close to this University (about 1 hour) and may look into some of the the courses.
At lunch, the sharing continued as I connected with some of the good friends I have made in this education community through the ISTE conference. If you ever have the chance to attend ISTE I highly recommend it.
After lunch I attended a session on homework – the dreaded H word. As I continue to struggle with my ideas around homework and its use it was great to hear other peoples ideas and understand that I am not the only one in the same position. Sometimes just having the chance to discuss things openly in a non judgemental forum allows you to really work through your ideas.
The final session I attended was one that I suggested on supporting teachers in their professional inquiries. I am still working through the ideas that we discussed there and will do a separate post on that…..
The last thing I learned was its not about the answers or the one size fits all solutions – it is about the questions and really thinking them through, creating more questions, and developing solutions that fit your personal situation and class!