The easy answer to the question in my title is “Me!” I’m a technophyte, at least I was and in many ways I will always be a technophyte, but let me try to explain.

I first began this blog ten years ago after reading / connecting and being inspired by an amazing educator (Shelley Wright’s Wright’s Room). I was engaged and active on Twitter and I was absolutely recharged — ready to begin my neophyte journey in the #EdTech community. So, you’ll see that my English teacher brain just combined the idea of education technology and being a neophyte to come up with my own term “technophyte”.

So, flash forward ten years – I’ve been part of two Google Summits, presented at #TVLitCon and eLearning conferences (On the Rise K-12 aka OTRK12), and I’ve spent lots of time on Twitter and I’m no longer a technophyte. I am definitely still learning and growing, and loving every second of it — even when it’s hard! The journey has been filled with lots of challenges and I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but I’m most definitely here to stay. #technophyte #edTech #TLAP


Time Flies….

Posted: March 18, 2018 in Uncategorized

So, I found this post tucked in draft mode on my dashboard. The title is even more fitting as it has been eight years since I wrote the original post! So much has happened / changed, and there’s no end of this learning journey in sight.

It’s been a month since I returned to work. My return has been great. As I stepped back into some of my regular routines, I stepped away from many of my classroom routines. During my recovery, I discovered Twitter, the idea of the flipped classroom, and project / passion based learning. With that discovery came a hunger and desire to re-invent myself as a teacher, thus April 1st marked the first day of my re-invented teaching style.

Now, suddenly, it’s May 1st! Where has the time gone? Two of my three classes are currently moving a bit slower than I had originally thought, but in each of them the kids are driving the learning. I would be lying if I said it’s been easy. I have been uncomfortable — a lot! For the first time since I was a rookie teacher I am completely out of control as the kids direct their learning, make choices based on interest and need, and I guide them instead of lead them. I hope it gets easier eventually as I, wait, WE figure it out together.

These growing pains and the discomfort has almost caused me to jump back into the comfort of my old “tried and true” lesson plans, but I made a promise to my kids and to myself and I will continue to fight to keep it.

The kids love the choice, but they have nine, ten or eleven years of classrooms where they’ve been told “how to do” school and suddenly I want them to leave most of that behind them and it’s hard and they aren’t used to this kind of hard. The thing I am struggling most to figure out is how to maintain the forward momentum for the kids. The “un-structure” (at least as it is currently unfolding in my classes), is uncomfortable for the kids too and that discomfort has encouraged some of the kids to slack off because the typical checks and measures aren’t there. Some of the other kids aren’t enjoying the experience because they aren’t sure what to do and my inexperience means I don’t have the answers or ways to build in meaningful checks … yet.

While the journey to change to become a student-driven / student-centred classroom has been and continues to be ‘messy’, it has definitely been rewarding. Kids are engaged because they are interested. Other teachers are noticing and they are asking questions about what we are doing and how it’s going. So, I haven’t got a huge following, but curiosity is a great start and I’ve got that from both groups!

Okay, so to say I was disappointed yesterday would be an understatement. Twice in my career I have had the opportunity to sit and listen to George Couros. The first time, I left the room brimming with ideas and challenges and inspiration. The second time, well, I didn’t get to attend. Two hours before the workshop, I accidentally smashed my cell phone as I stood up from lunch. Even though the Apple store fast tracked me through a repair process, I arrived back at the conference fifteen minutes before George’s session ended and I just couldn’t bring myself to be that rude and attend for the last fifteen minutes.

Fast-forward 24 hours and I’m searching a colleague’s blog looking to see if I can find his post about using Chromecast to mirror from a Chromebook when I discover TVDSB EDUCATORS, LET’S INNOVATE TOGETHER! DON’T MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY!. Now, at first I just scanned through David’s blog roll looking for the Chromecasting information, but as I scanned, George’s name and #IMMOOC 3 caught my attention so I began reading. Now, I haven’t been living under a rock (although my blog may look like I have), so I know what #IMMOOC is and I just couldn’t ignore an opportunity to take part in something this great with some amazing colleagues.

I am most definitely not sure where I’ll find the time to do this, but I signed up to be a part of the TVDSB team to take part in #IMMOOC 3 and I am truly looking forward to doing it. I’ve been asked four times in the last two weeks why I’m not blogging about the things I’m doing or reading, so David’s invitation was the final “tap on my shoulder” or proverbial “kick in the pants” to get me back out of my comfort zone and into the innovator’s zone. I’m looking forward to wherever I / we end up next and I am thrilled to have the opportunity.

Now, I’m back to figuring out how to mirror the Chromebooks so my kids can tell me the story of their week this week (while I was away) using emojis to tell the story! Thank you Eric Curtis for the idea. I’m excited to see what my kids come up with and I am super excited to explore #IMMOOC3 with my TVDSB colleagues. If you’re curious, give me a follow, sign up for #IMMOOC3 yourself, and who knows where the adventure will lead, but it will be great for us and our kids.

Thanks for hopping on the LoriTheLAW discovery train, if even for just a little while.

So, maybe I’m not a blogger?

Posted: November 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

Last January a colleague posted a link to Shelley Wright’s blog (my tools aren’t working correctly so it’s not letting me provide the link and that post inspired me to start my own blog. From Shelley’s blog I began exploring other blogs which then led me to Twitter. Before I knew it my reader was brimming with incredible ideas and insights from people around the world and I loved it! I was active on Twitter, reading blog after blog and well, kind of active on my own blog.

As I continued to grow and learn, my blog became something I thought about, but seldom acted on and the more blogs I read, the more I believed I was a blogging failure. Time and time again the value of blogging was demonstrated and I can see the value, but I just can’t put it at the top of my list of things to do. So, this isn’t good bye, but I don’t think it’s quite the right time for me to have an active and passionate blogging career. Or maybe I just haven’t found my blogging voice quite yet.

In the meantime, I’m loving sharing the things I’m learning with my colleagues and continuing to learn and grow and who knows, I was inspired to write this blog after a bit of a hiatus, maybe this is a new beginning!

Saturday! I made it. As my body alarm went off at 6:11, I groaned just a bit because I wasn’t ready for my brain to be awake, but alas it was. This past five days were my first full week of teaching in almost eleven months. On Monday I was afraid I’d never make the end of the week, but last night as I sat dozing in a comfy chair, surrounded by close friends, I celebrated my return to the world.

My most recent bout of health issues gave me pause and a reason for some real soul searching (walking close to death does that I guess). In my reveries of times past and things to come, I forced myself to truly look at who I was and what I was doing. Two years ago when I first got sick, I almost left teaching because I just didn’t feel like I was being the best teacher I could be. Sure, I inspired kids to do good things and I helped kids find their way, but something just didn’t feel right and I was unhappy. I only ever voiced those words to my husband because it was scary to say them out loud. I’m not afraid of change; I’ve reinvented myself three times so far and I thought teaching had finally allowed me to find my niche — my passion.

It wasn’t until I found Twitter and started connecting with an incredible PLN that I realized that I’d lost my passion and that was why I was unhappy. Now, with my passion firmly in place, I’m reinventing myself as an educator. I’ve never been so tired, so excited, so scared.

Five days ago, I introduced myself to my kids and gave them a tiny bit of insight into who I am. I shared my beliefs about technology and what I think learning should be. Four days ago, I started rolling out how I thought our classes should look and asked them their thoughts and for their feedback. I was met with many a snicker of disbelief, blank stares, and a few interested looks. I desperately want them to direct the learning and not wait for me to tell them how. I want them to make choices for themselves because they want to learn and discover and explore. I want the things they learn to be things they’ll use in their lives or that are relevant to their lives. I want to teach them how to learn — not what.

Three days ago, I asked them to show me how we could meet the curriculum expectations. I told them what was considered to have successfully completed the requirements of the course. That day, I asked them questions and then asked them to show me what they wanted to learn and how we could publish the products they create. I sat watching and waiting, knowing that wait time was more important now than ever before. And I waited and waited, but nothing was offered.

Now, I realize that what I am trying to do was quite possibly something they’d never encountered in an academic class before and quite possibly way out of their comfort zone, so I threw out a couple of ideas. I really wanted them to take ownership for what we do, but I really can’t expect them to dive in head first, can I? You can’t undo thirteen years of training in two days (I have to keep reminding myself of that.). (I should mention that this is only what’s happening in one of my classes — the one I think is the most resistant to the change).

That night when I got home, I was exhausted and worried. I’d given my kids the freedom to choose, to make it relevant and as I moved among them, talking and listening, I was discouraged as many of them were off-topic and just enjoying the freedom from ‘worksheet hell’ (not that I’ve ever been a worksheet distributor). As I sat working on where I thought we should be going I was so tempted to step back into my safe and secure, tried and true lesson plans, but my heart won out over my head and I put together a handout to give my kids some guidance while still allowing them the freedom to choose.

I used that handout on the last day of the week and although I still had some kids off-task, most of them were exploring and seemed to really understand what I’d hoped they’d get out of the lesson. So, tomorrow, I’ll be exploring how to provide my kids with guidance without hemming them in. I’ll also be wandering through the resources shared by my PLN to reassure myself that this really is a great idea and to stick with it even though it’s exhausting. I know all the work is really worth it — for them — for me, but oh, how I wish there were an app for that.

So, hang on kids, we’re in for quite a ride as we figure this out, but I promise it’ll be different and worthwhile.

Oh, I almost forgot — the kids have decided to publish a magazine (for which my generous principal has offered to pay the publishing costs) for the school. I couldn’t ask for a more authentic audience and it hits all of the required reading / writing tasks and it’ll let the kids who want to use tech to use it, and those who don’t, don’t have to. We hope to publish four issues before the school year ends. So, here’s hoping that we can actually pull it off and put it together.

So, yeah, I’m exhausted and I’ve only been back a week, but it’s a happy exhausted. Now, if I could just get my brain to shut off for longer than five hours, I could really enjoy a leisurely Saturday or Sunday morning.

I think I’m procrastinating. I have chores around the house that need to be done, my income tax isn’t filed, and my lessons for tomorrow aren’t ready. Now, I’ve been avoiding household chores for years and it doesn’t really cause me stress anymore and I’ve been teaching for thirteen years so I’m not particularly stressed about the lesson plans, but then again, I kind of sort of am.

I’m stressed because I’ve been inspired to revamp my teaching style and add project based learning to my two classes that haven’t traditionally done so. I have the idea of where I want to go (see my last post about my Literacy Epiphany) and where I’d like to end up, but it’s all new territory for me in those two classes. (Did I mention I haven’t even thought about what I want to do in my class that has always been a project based learning class?)

Yesterday, I went out and bought myself three flip video cameras because my idea may result in kids who want to create videos so I wanted that resource available for them. I vaguely told my principal about my plans, and as usual, he supported me and was excited about the direction I’m heading. (He has even offered to pay for materials for the Literacy project – woo hoo! Maybe when I show him the work I’m doing with the Flip video cameras we can purchase some for the school.)

I was nervous and anxious about going back to work after such an extended absence, but being with my kids on that first day reminded me just how much I love what I do and how important it is that I continue to do it well and continue to reach beyond my own comfort zone.

So, I’m a lot disjointed today, a lot excited, a little bit stressed and a little bit crazy, but hey, I like it here. I think I’ll stick around for a while and figure it out.

Tomorrow, the real work begins — I have to convince my students that I’m not completely crazy, that we can and will try a new way of learning, and that it will be worthwhile for all of us. I think I’m up to the challenge — I hear the Little Engine That Could chanting in the background, “I Think I Can, I Think I Can…..I know I can, I know I can…” Toot toot! Here we go!

Literacy Epiphany

Posted: March 31, 2011 in School Life

So, I start back to work tomorrow after an eleven month absence. That in itself is a whole other post. As I lay in bed this morning contemplating what I needed to do to complete my day today, I reflected on the past two months. In February, I was encouraged and supported while I discovered Twitter. And Twitter has revolutionized / re-energized / impassioned me. So, now what?

Well, back to my morning epiphany — as I lay there thinking I began to consider what I wanted to do with each of my classes. I’ve promised myself that my kids will have input and that we will use technology (when it’ll enhance the lesson not just dress it up) and that if my classes aren’t ‘flipped’ then they will be project based learning. My Leadership class (GPP30 for you Ontarians) is already project based and has been since the day it started so it’s the no-brainer for me, but my grade 9 academic English and the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OSSLC), well they’re a different matter.

My epiphany had to do with the Literacy course. I’ve spent time the past two months exploring curriculum documents more than I ever have (well since teacher’s college) and as the requirements for the course wandered through my brain (Writing – News Report, Summary, Opinion Piece and an information piece; Reading – informational / graphic / narrative texts) I kept thinking about how I could give these kids an authentic audience and then it hit me! We (the students and me) can create a student newspaper for our school since we don’t currently have one. What more authentic audience could they have and I think it’ll cover all of the curriculum points.

My next step, what the heck am I going to do with my Grade 9 class? Anyone have any ideas? Oh yeah, I start tomorrow and I don’t have a lesson plan, but that’s okay 🙂