Making my Garden Grow…..

When I learned that Dave Cormier was going to be lecturing on Rhizomes, MOOCs, and Making Sense of Complexity I have to admit that the first thought that popped into my mind was..

“What do rhizomes have to do with learning?”

Then I did the next thing that many inquiring minds do in high school, I checked Wikipedia  and found … but using my critical eye explored further to find

Hmmm I thought… let the learning begin.


Rhizomes are a root system that allows plants to spread. A little piece dropped in a new enviroment creates more growth. Rhizomes are resilient, messy, and they keep on growing (this reminds me of my learning during the #etmooc process)
Although the learning is messy, what distinguishes a MOOC from a social gathering is a students ability to set personal goals for learning which are based on interactions in the process. Student responsibility is CRITICAL to the processes.
As I was follow the chat last night I Alec’s thought really struck me:

We all decided to walk through the same door in the Internet so we could think together @alec
OPEN SYLLABUS= Social Contract…..
This could be done through a Social Network Analysis (used as part of assessment)- How are you supporting other people.

I related David’s description of the modern teacher’s role as being similar to my current role as a counsellor. Encouraging students to push past their limits but also letting them know that you are there to catch them if they fall. In my counsellor training I was constantly taught that the difference between a counselling session and a chat is purpose…and we learned skills for developing and collaborating with our clients to create client centered goals.


Throughout the presentation it was clear that the rhizome learning processes could not be teacher outcome based (as this stifles creativity). A positive working alliance needs to be forged between the instructor and the learner. This is done through developing a student contract. The following links provided some ideas around:


facilitating an open classroom

cynefin learning theory

Click to access Article%20for%20Marketing%20-%20Mary%20Boone.pdf

*please note photos were clipped from Daves #etmooc blackboard lecture on Jan 28, 2013

Connection In a Self- Directed Learning Environment: Learning and Teaching in the Digital Age

What’s going on inside the building of Bishop Carroll is not only exciting, but innovative, educational and engaging. Not only are the halls of Bishop Carroll High School buzzing, but inside the offices of several educators learning is taking place.

Bishop Carroll High School is a part of the Canadian Coalition of Self- Directed Learning.

Bishop Carroll works together with other members of the coalition to improve the self-directed experience of all the learners. These schools meet together on an ongoing basis as well as convene at a yearly conference to look at ways of improving the model for students.

All of us at Bishop Carroll agree that we have never been in a school where so much focus and dialogue on instruction takes place on a regular basis. In fact, our staff has biweekly professional development meetings to ensure that we are able to collaborate on best practices and share new ideas. Teachers are continually focusing on how they can make things better for students in a self-directed learning environment. ,

Bishop Carroll has been around and functioning for over 40 years. Changing visions and learners have meant that staff has also adjusted to honor the shift.  Within the last four years, the staff started making a technological commitment. Innovative practices, sharing, collaboration, encouraging our students to experiment with different formats and technological materials has produced growth for not only students, but also teachers. Students have many choices in how they choose to receive information ranging from personal exploration of a topic, pod casts, discussion forums, Google- docs, multimedia presentations, digital learning guides and a focus on digital citizenship.

Technology has not replaced teachers, but has enhanced the learning experience for both the teacher and the student. Technology can be seen as a launching pad for further and more in depth discussions.

Three of us at Bishop Carroll have signed up for an educational experience like none other.  Seeing as we already focus on technology as part of our teacher professional growth plans, we felt that getting involved at an international level would be very beneficial. This is a first MOOC for all three of us. What is a MOOC? It is a Massive Open Online Course. We are taking #ETMOOC and are so happy we are involved in this process as it reminds us of what it is like to be a student in the 21st century. For more information go to

How are #etmoocers like students in our self-directed school?


  1. are self- directed learners.
  2. set our own learning goals
  3. at first experience an increase of  anxiety in a new learning environment
  4. are following a personalized program
  5. are excited about learning in a place that honors the way we want to learn
  6. are encouraged to be autonomous and have opportunities to direct our own learning
  7. are taking risks (we ask students to do this every day)
  8. are critically examining what we do and why we do it
  9. look to teachers to guide them through the process
  10. are self- paced, involving continuous progress
  11. are student centered environments with a focus on active learning, reflection and collaboration
  12. ask for HELP, and often it’s  just a click away

Today we chose to collaborate to write this blog post as part of the sharing experience. As we progress through this open forum we hope to continue to share best practice in both the teaching realm as well as what we are doing in the role as school counsellors.



Happy blogging

Personal Learning Communities for Me


Last night I experienced my first successful blackboard collaborate session. I logged in half an hour early just to tinker around, I was a bit nervous… but once Alec prompted me (using my first name what a powerful tool) I felt that I could try some things out. Within 2 minutes of feeling safe in my environment I was able to talk, sing on-line (la la la la la la la) ,have fun, use emoticons interact with others, change my profile. I really became connected to that learning community… I was engaged and I wanted to learn more.

I often hear a few of my colleagues reminiscing on the good old days a time when one “Lesson Plan” fit for years at a time. There also seems to be a lot of concern around “authorship” with some of my colleagues.  I know in my heart that this is no longer possible, that children today cannot be molded into a one size fits all model, but I wasn’t entirely clear on what was causing that shift… and then I participated in the discussion last night (images were copied from the blackboard)….

I’d never really reflected on the changes in technology all in one place before

Older teachers grew up in the age of the television.–nitVjLoQ

And therefore need to make the paradigm shift from sole expert to guide of the educational experience.

Traditional Teaching

21st Century Learning Teaching/PLE- new teaching environments
#edchat, #ipaded, #schoolcounseling


Part of what I need to do to both become and model being a 21st century learner is to always be willing to explore, morph and change….. and also allow my students/ colleagues to become my teachers.

shifts – networking documents


We also need to convince our parents and educational partners that education is more than controlling the environment… it’s about teaching and modeling responsible Digital Citizenship

Sometimes when I counsel in a school I feel like a small fish swimming in a big bowl….


However links and groups like the following, help me to realize that I am actually one of a “school of fish”

School of Neon Fusiliers where do good ideas come from


That’s What Friends Are For- January 21, 2013

One of the first things I need to do tonight is send a big shout out to my #etmooc pals from work @HeatherEnzie and @SSpellmanCann.  These ladies not only provide me with feedback on my learning, but they also encourage me to continue to take risks and have fun in the process. We all teach in the same building and so we had arranged an actual face to face for Monday morning to regroup after our first week of #etmooc, to share our experiences and to give each other a bit of advice around WordPress (as none of us had tried this format before).

Discoveries I learned from my “teachers” during that session included:

Things to try:

Popcorn maker (tools)

Photostory 3

Print a screen

Command shift 3 or 4- on my mac: to iphoto and then crop

Upshift PrtSc – on my PC: use the snip it tool from the start menu

Word Press

To put in a Haiku deck, take a picture of the first screen, put in blog and then add the link after

Snip it Tool (PC)

Use it as a screen shot

Google Hang Out

Added effects both visual and auditory (the random face creator was a hoot)

3 of us logged in today

Appears with faces at the bottom

Priceless information that I wouldn’t have had time to look up in a book.
fyi- Peter is playing the role of Heather in this picture