Bloging Stars Align

After being curious about it for years, I finally had the opportunity to participate in Cohort21 today. A fantastic group of dedicated and enthusiastic educators met for the day to kick off what Garth Nicholls described as a year-long “accelerated incubator for personalized learning”.

Throughout the day, I encountered many good ideas that I hope to adapt and use. It reminded me of Austin Kleon’s book, Steal Like an Artist, that basically has the premise that no ideas are completely new – they are all built upon the ideas of others.

The opening plenary reminded me of some things that I want to be sure to share with participants at the start of a workshop I am planning about technology integration:

  • I’ll aim to model teaching strategies participants can use use in their classes and document them in a toolbox for future reference
  • We will try things that may make participants feel a little uncomfortable because it might be new or challenging, or the tech might fail! So seek help, talk about concerns, try to find solutions.
  • Technology tools are like a waterfall: enjoy them, use them, turn away from them sometimes; you can swim in the water or just grab a cup and take a drink – the choice is yours.

I was encouraged by the enthusiasm around Design Thinking – a topic I explored quite a bit last year. It would be so amazing to have more teachers familiar with this process so that we could employ it on a regular basis to consider creative solutions to the myriad of issues that arise in schools.

Leslie Mcbeth, shared a mindfulness energizer that let us meet another participant as well as get up and moving. She learned the activity from Roni Habib, founder of EQ Schools and, like her, my reaction was, “Wait, what? Mindfulness can be active!?” I may borrow the activity that had us writing our names in the air and with our hips both both alone and while mirroring a partner. We certainly weren’t focused on anything else at the time – we were present and in the moment.

As the participants learned more about Twitter, Google+ and WordPress, I assisted Christina and Derek in the Diigo session. At first I wondered what I had gotten myself into since I hadn’t used Diigo in a few years. But I was happy to be reminded of the power of social bookmarking. It’s interesting that while Diigo has many advantageous tools, the visual format of Pinterest has led to it being a much more widespread platform for sharing links. I think that it would be easier to sell others on the benefits of Diigo if it had a more pictorial presentation.

Kahoot was used as another energizer to wrap up the day with a quiz that contained tidbits presented throughout the day. It was a fun way to review and energize.

I thought that an image from Steal like an Artist would be a good thing to post here. But when I checked Austin Kleon’s website I learned about another book: Show Your Work! that claims to promote “ways to think about your work as a never-ending process, build an audience by sharing that process, and how to deal with the ups and downs of putting yourself and your work out in the world” That kinda sounds like a blog!


Just last week I had decided that one of my Professional Goals should be around blogging. It is something I started a long time ago but have only done inconsistently despite the fact that I enjoy it. The stars seem to have aligned – the excitement around Cohort21, setting professional goals and the desire to do something creative have me giving blogging another go. Hope to see you around the blog…