07 Aug

The Importance of Stories


I love stories. In fact, I have spent the better part of my life immersed in them. When I was a child, I read voraciously. Stories were a window to the world. They allowed me to imagine the impossible, to test my convictions, to think about serious issues from another person’s perspective and sometimes, to just escape into fantasy. As an adult I became fascinated with the construction of the story. I wanted to know more about the authors, the traditions, the influences and the cultures out of which the stories came. I wanted to read and be exposed to more stories. That passion has never abated. I love stories so much that I earned degrees in literature and then teaching so that I could spend my life reading and sharing stories with others, and sometimes even creating them myself.

04 Aug

Beauty and Truth in Makeup Ads

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty, -that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." -John Keats

Last week, the Advertising Standards Agency (UK) banned two ads for foundations by L'Oreal. One was for their Maybelline brand, featuring Christie Turlington and the other was for their Lancome brand featuring Julia Roberts. British MP Jo Swinson launched the complaint, saying that the ads were too airbrushed. The ads were banned because L'Oreal could not provide the "before" pictures to show that the airbrushing wasn't excessive and to prove what the cosmetics do.

14 Jul

Planning Continues for EdcampTO!

Earlier this week, the organizing committee met once again to sort out the details for Toronto's first Edcamp. This time, we decided to meet at a local pub and make it a more social event. We ironed out details for sponsorship, narrowed down site possibilities and formulated a communication strategy. We're in the process of implementing all we discussed in that productive meeting. 

We spent a great deal of time talking about the purpose of edcamp. There were some common threads. We all noted the changing vision of education, we spoke about collaborative learning experiences and the value of connecting learners to enhance the educational experience. We thought that it might be best to organize the day around questions and we're very excited to see the questions that the participants propose. The truth is we won't know what we'll be talking about until the actual day, when voting determines the topics for discussion, but we thought it might be nice to get some ideas in advance and to have people start to think about the kinds of questions/sessions they'd like to discuss. If you have an idea, visit our Wiki and submit your question here.

Heidi Siwak has written another comprehensive recap of the session, and more blog posts will follow. I want to thank all of the people who are making this day possible. You can see some of them on the left, but there are many others who aren't pictured here, a few of whom we have never met in person, who are also working behind the scenes. We really appreciate all of your efforts and contributions.

03 Jul

Edcamp Toronto

Every once in a while, you hear an idea that inspires you. Several months ago I heard about Edcamp, an "unconference" for teachers. It began, says co-founder Kevin Jarrett, as an idea, inspired by teachers who attended Barcamp (another type of unconference). They ran the first edcamp last year and just had their second this spring. In between this model for professional development has spread throughout North America (you can see a full list on the right side of the edcamp Wiki). I began wondering if it would be possible to do an edcamp in Toronto? I wasn't the only one. Just days later, I saw Stephen Hurley's Tweet, asking if anyone wanted to help organize edcamp Toronto. I emailed him right away and the planning committee met for the first time on June 18, 2011. The above photograph is a collage of pictures I took during that first meeting.

The planning has officially begun. We have a tentative date (October 15, 2011), a great team and a shiny new logo (logo by: Nathan Chow):

22 Jun

Reading the Street

I recently completed my Media Specialist AQ course, and I can not say enough great things about the course and my teachers throughout the three parts. I was lucky enough to learn from the best (thank you Neil Andersen, Barry Duncan, Ian Esquivel and Sylvie Webb)  and I hope that my efforts in the classroom and online live up to the standards they set. I often find myself thinking about what they have taught me outside of the classroom. They changed the way I see the world, and the most obvious way is that I can't seem to help reading the street.

"Reading the street was one of the most interesting activities I did in all three parts of the course. We would take a Saturday and travel to a specific part of the city and then do an extended walk. We were asked to take pictures or record audio or video (usually in groups). We had to create a media text and really think critically about what we saw, essentially making the familiar strange. On the left are a couple of the images I captured on that walk.