Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Zen of Facilitation

While getting ready to go back to work after being off for the Thanksgiving holidays, I came across the article, "The Zen of Facilitation." I read the article at a session at the NWP Annual Meeting in Philadelphia the week prior to our holiday break.

The article is by Joellen P. Killion and Lynn A. Simmons. It differentiated between the behavior/beliefs of a “facilitator” and the behavior/beliefs of a “trainer”. The article really helped me come to a better understanding of what it means to “facilitate” rather than “train”. I wish I would have read the article years ago. It’s a great article and I enjoyed reading it because I can reflect on the past years as a facilitator and identify with some of the points made by the authors.

One quote in the article that I really liked was:

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need... My best work is done when I forget my own point of view; the less I make of myself, the more I am... This is the wisdom...: to let go in order to achieve.
This reminds me about how I need to make the effort to read and talk with others who don't necessarily share my point of view. I need to become exposed to new perspectives in order to generate my new often I forget this. Through this Zen-like process we can all expand our view, increase our knowledge, and deepen our learning.

Another thing the article mentions, which caused great debate at the table in which I sat was:

... facilitation decisions are made spontaneously rather than by a set of specified outcomes.
As opposed to trainers, who operate from a pre-established plan that directs the participants toward specified outcomes, Killion and Simmons argue that facilitators do not begin with a set outcome or resolution - that the plan emerges as the participants work.

What are your thoughts? Does facilitation have pre-conceived outcomes?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Philadelphia, PA

Below are pictures from my trip to the 2009 National Writing Project Annual Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The strangest think I saw was the Yellow Skeleton painted on the crosswalk. Perhaps this poor person had been run down by rush hour traffic and left to molder in the crosswalks. I assume it’s a commentary on traffic’s menace to pedestrians, but maybe they’re just for fun, who knows? Maybe it's a reminder to pedestrians that when the sign says “Don’t Walk," that means stay on the side walk and out of the street! Nevertheless, I had a great time and learned a lot!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Reliable Information

In this digital age, we talk about the amount of information that can be found on the Web, and how easy it is to access the information we need. With that, comes an issue: how can we become more selective and critical regarding information that is on the Web. How do we know if the information that is out there is reliable? I don’t know if the authors of the video below had this in mind when they created it, but I relate it to the importance of teaching critical thinking to our students. What does this video mean to you?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Virtual Schooling

This past Friday, I had the opportunity to attend Tech Forum Southwest 2009 in Austin, Texas. When it came time to attend the Roundtable Discussion, I decided to attend the one on Virtual Schooling. Below are my notes from the discussion:

~Plano ISD began their eSchool in 1999. The website can be found at ~They currently use Blackboard.
~Students can take up to 3 online courses for either credit recovery or for additional credits in order to get ahead and prepare for college.
~Plano charges $250-$300 per course.
~Teachers get paid a stipend to facilitate the courses ($125. per student)
~Students from all over (not just Plano ISD) can enroll in the courses.
~If you are a provider district of online courses, TEA sends 3 reviewers to review your courses based on Bloom's, TEKS, and iNacol Standards.
~When a students completes a course, the receiving district gets $80 (unless the student is in your district - a district can't be a provider and receiver).
~Teachers at Plano ISD create the online courses.
~These teachers are hand picked and have experience in developing curriculum. Some have TxVSN certification.
~It was mentioned that the state will be requiring certification to teach online courses very soon.
~All courses are 18 weeks in length, however, a student can finish it as early as 6 weeks if they decide to work ahead.
~There isn't a set minimum of participants required in the course. The teacher decides this. They may take as few as 5-10 students during the school year or up to 25 students during the summer. It all depends on the teacher's schedule.
~Policies and Procedures for the online courses have been established. They can be found at
~Statements on Academic Integrity are important.
~Before students can register for an online course, it must first be approved by the school counselor.

I loved it when our table leader said, "Design your course around what you want the end result to be."

Picture Trail

Exploring Picture Trail -

Check out my "Get a Wiki in SAISD" photo slideshow.