365 Opportunities to Learn – My Story

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Lots of exciting learning going on in the Surrey School District I teach in. Thank you to Kristy Sveinson for starting the “Teaching Ideas” group on Facebook around April of last year.  At that time the few people I chatted with collegially were either down the hall from me or former colleagues I worked with at another school.  I had yet to discover Twitter and was starving for the personal and professional connections George Couros (@gcouros) talked about when I was invited to hear him lead our Surrey School District’s “Movers and Shakers” Pro-D, as described by Elisa Carlson (@ecsd36).  Here is my story that George encouraged us to blog about.

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.netI’m happy to say I was one of the first people invited to the Facebook Teaching Ideas group, and I am so happy to see the community and the sharing grow.  I was so excited by the premise of everyone sharing their expertise, teaching strategies, and learning that I invited every teacher from my friends list to the group (took me about an hour).  Kristy’s vision gave us a collegial outlet beyond our friends & neighbours in our school. I learn a lot from all the people contributing!  Pro-D in your pyjamas 365 days a year 24hours a day/7days a week.  Pro-D whenever and wherever I wanted it!!  This group and Twitter have helped me explore my practice in ways I never thought of before.  Thank you Kristy and everyone else in the Teaching Ideas group for helping me examine my practice, give me ideas, and expand the learning opportunities for myself and my students.  I’m excited for the summer to begin and more excited that I have another network of teacher learners I can lean on next year and beyond.


The Teaching Ideas Facebook group is only a part of my story but a key part of it.  If I wasn’t on Facebook there would be no way I would have known about a Surrey School District colleague of mine, Tia Henriksen’s (@henriksent) journey of sharing, learning, discussions, and reflection on Twitter.  I followed her tweets and early blog entries during the summer of 2011 and slowly started to dip my toes into tweeting and eventually blogging.  Like many others who try something new I wasn’t sure of how I could articulate my ideas on this platform.  I have an addictive personality and I love to read, learn, and listen to others perspectives.  It seemed like the perfect place for me, but I was cautious and didn’t know where to start.  Tia gave sound advice.  Follow some of the Education leaders she links to on her blog, see what they are tweeting about, find and read tweets on topics that interest you, involve yourself in a chat, and build your Personal Learning Network (PLN).  My first chat was an #edchat and it introduced me to many interesting and thoughtful educators from around the globe.  Check out this video “Twitter in 60 Seconds”.  It is what I use to now to help colleagues understand the benefit Twitter can have on your teaching.

Soon my colleague Gallit Zvi (@gallit_z) and I were having daily conversations at school about the interesting learning discoveries (Genius Hour, student blogging, e-portfolios, iPad Apps, student tweeting, Project Based Learning, Assessment For Learning, etc..) we were making on twitter.  The conversations centred around making sense of what were learning, and discussing how we were going implement them into our practice and why we were doing it.  We met numerous teacher experts from our district and around the world that helped us find our voice and share it with others.  We were collaborating, sharing, and questioning our learning with our students too.  Our students saw us as learners and guides into a world they didn’t know but were excited to check out.  It was different, fun, and a bit of unknown for all of us.  We explored together what is possible with your own learning when you make your learning visible for others to synthesize, appreciate, question, and share.  As the year went along many of our students transformed themselves from passive observers in their learning to engaged owners of their learning.  Gallit and I experienced a similar transformation in our teaching.   What more can we ask from our students?  See every day as a great day to question, learn, and share!  What great thing did you learn today?  This is the start of my story.  What is yours?

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We are thankful for the guidance and support from our admin team Antonio Vendramin (@abvendramin) and Sundeep Chohan (@skc99).  They helped answer questions, find materials and help us transfer our learning from twitter and Facebook to learning experiences brought to life for students in our classrooms.

If you enjoyed this blog entry, please consider sharing it!


Hugh McDonald


This entry was posted in Blogging, Differentiated Instruction, Education, Genius Hour, Personal Growth, PLN, Twitter and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to 365 Opportunities to Learn – My Story

  1. Ms. Lirenman says:

    Awesome Hugh! What a wonderful journey we are on hey. You’re also very lucky to have Gallit and your wonderful admin team right there joining you on your journey. K

  2. Thank you Karen! Agreed! I’m also lucky to connect and learn from talented and knowledgable educators like yourself. Excited for the summer but even more excited for next year!

  3. georgecouros says:

    Love the post Hugh! The great thing that I learned about you real quick is that with all of the learning that you are doing, you are more than willing to lead by example and help others. That is what great teachers do! Keep up the amazing work and keep sharing!

  4. Lianne McBride says:

    ..And you could share the “power of blogging” in regards to sharing resources…or in my case..a call for softball equipment! The ability to use social networking in a positive way, to locate and share resources in the school district, is such a powerful tool 🙂

  5. Lianne,

    I could not agree more! Social networking is an powerful way to share knowledge & resources in our district and beyond it. We are building an awesome community of learners & sharers in Surrey. I’m proud to be part of it! It was great experience you made happen for your students! How did your tournament go?

  6. Tia says:


    I just came across this blog entry tonight. Not sure how/why I didn’t see it earlier.

    What a journey it has been! I feel very fortunate to consider you a part of my PLN. I learn so much from you each day. Thank you for your enthusiasm, your dedication to life-long learning, and your positive energy.

    I look forward to continuing our journey together.


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