Day 2 of the forum began early Wednesday morning with Team Canada breakfast, followed by opening remarks and a keynote presentation. Anthony Salcito delivered an engaging keynote, which we really enjoyed and we heard many points that resonated with us. Two of these points were:
The value of service based learning – Anthony made this point in his presentation and we really have experienced the power of service learning in action. We know from the Little Hands Extended project that having students make a difference in their communities is an opportunity for authentic, engaging learning. Our students have learned from activities such as organizing Farmer Appreciation Day, working with seniors in the community, fundraising to help at-risk frog species and hosting a garage sale to raise money for people in need. These service projects have been positive experiences for students and teachers alike.
Tools are just tools, it’s the learning and teaching that are important – This was another strong message that really aligns with our teaching practice. An important shift in our approach to teaching has been a change in our perspective on technology tools. We really strongly believe that we should set learning and teaching goals first, then find the “best tools for the job”. Tools are there to support learning and they are very important, but they are just that – tools. The learning and the teaching need to be at the forefront. However, we also need to be good at identifying educational uses for the tools that we have available (or that students have available).
Next, we were presenting and sharing the Little Hands Extended project at our exhibit booth for a few hours. We also had the opportunity to connect with others and hear about the learning projects in their classrooms. It’s very inspiring to hear about the impressive things students and teachers are doing in other schools, classrooms and counties. We are planning to have a collection of project summaries to share later this week thanks to Eric Patnoudes (he is collecting the information for all projects featured here!).
Next up on our busy schedule were panel sessions. Some big questions for our panel Engaging in 21st Century Thinking and Learning were: To promote 21st century learning, what skills do teachers need? what professional development is helpful and necessary?
Our final conference agenda item was a focus group discussion that we were invited to participate in to give feedback on collaboration tools such as Skype and Lync. Since we use Skype often to connect our classrooms, it was nice to be asked to give our input.
We finished working around 7:00 last night and we were definitely ready for some supper. We went back to the Gothic Quarter since it has been our favorite area so far. We walked a similar path to our food tour and stopped at 3 different places. We enjoyed tapas and had to find the gelato shop for more creamy, delicious gelato for dessert. It was a relaxing evening after a busy day of work!