A Month of Excellent Professional Development

I have been fortunate to have participated in some wonderful professional development opportunities in the last month, I will spend the next month following up on the excellent leads, contacts and information I have learned.

I attended the Alberta Teacher’s Association Annual Science Conference in beautiful Lake Louise on October 20 – 21. It was the first Science that I had ever attended and it was excellent. Jane Goodall did the keynote address at the very end of the conference and she is an really engaging speaker. She is 77 years old and travels 300 days a year, she spoke well, and passionately without notes, tying what she was saying to teachers of Science. What a role model. I am going to look into her Roots and Shoots Program for 1Earth, the environmental club at IHS, they are interested in animal rights, among other things, this year.

I attended several excellent sessions. I need to check out the resources at Let’s Talk Science. I am using a strategy I learned in Trinity Ayres and David Gowan’s session on Inquiry Based Learning in my grade 8 Science classes this week as use microscopes and prepared slides and specimens in a lab.

There was a session about the Leading Light Iniative from Star Ecoworks, whose tag line is Technology with a Social Purpose. Dave has ordered a sample portable solar light for us to use as a demo model. Each portable solar light costs ~$240, they are assembled in schools and other social clubs and and sent out to where they are needed by the donors. We plan to fund raise to purchase some lights and then assemble them with 1Earth and the Nerd Herd. Maybe we’ll ship them to somewhere in Central America with Change for Children. At the end of the Leading Light presentation Aaron Dublenko spoke about his action group SLICE and their fundraising project for Leaning Light as well as their project Life Straws. Dave and I spoke at length with Aaron about his projects and are excited to work with him.

Dave Dale and I presented a session about using technology to engage students in junior high Science. We had hoped to talk equally about low and high tech solutions but the high tech portion of the talk took too long we ran out of time and were unable to do the Inquiry lab we had planned. We plan to return next year with a longer time slot and present both sides of the story.

On October 24th several teachers and administrators from the Alberta Distance Learning were at IHS to teach us how to use their website and how to correct and interact with students on their site. This year our students are taking many more ADLC modules than in previous years, and we are correcting a lot of those courses in house. Our teachers learned about ADLC and met the teachers assigned to the courses they are correcting. It was really worthwile and I am glad I organized it.

Our school district’s annual professional development day fell on Halloween this year. It took place on the wonderful Olds High School and College campus. The keynote address was about Intellectual Engagement. I attended an informative session with tips about student research at the Olds College Library Computer lab. Then I backed up Shelly Wood from Olds High School in a presentation about using Photoshop in the CTS classroom. It was good to connect with other CTS teachers at the district, I sometimes feel I have better connections I have never met in person than I do at the school board. Shelly did an excellent job and I did very little during the session.

I spent the day at the Calgary Zoo on November 3rd at the GenE Workshop for Energy Educators. Sessions took place at the newly renovated LEED certified conservatory. I attended sessions about Cochrane High School’s Sustainability projects, which have been taking place for 7 years. At the session by Colin from EnMax I learned about the latest renewable energy technology and Calgary innovations. Educators from Olympic heights talked about their sustainability project at their elementary school and retained their cool through a lot of technology stress. After a wonderful lunch Gareth Thomson from the Alberta Council of Environmental Educators informed us of the resources available at their site, the GenE program which will be accepcting applicaitons from schools outside of Calgary this year, and then led us in guided networking. I was with a group of high school teachers that included Aaron from Edmonton and was facilitated by David and Trinity who were all at the Science conference in Lake Louise.

This weekend, I finished a Connected Coaching course that I have been taking with PLP. It is a follow up to the year-long Professional Development program I did with them last year. I am not finished with the coaching course yet, I don’t think that any of us are ready for it to end and we are going to continue to meet in the Ning set up for the course and work on our Connect Coaching Tool kits.

Finally, this month I am also taking part in an on-line course from the University of Calgary about Anxiety in Students. It is an on-line asynchronous course and I should start it soon, it is only taking place this month.

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