Archives For Uncategorized

Show Up and Refuse to Leave Keynote


Net Smart by Howard Rheingold

Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks by Nicholas Christakis

Presence by Amy Cuddy

Mindfulness by Ellen Langer

Websites/Apps: (Also mentioned in Demo Slam)

GoNoodle Body breaks and meditation for kids




The Hidden Influence of Social Networks TED Talk by Nicholas Christakis 21 minutes

Your body language shapes who you are TED Talk by Amy Cuddy

Let it Go ~ Think About it by GoNoodle


GAFE and iPad: BFFs 4EVR

This is a beginner session.  Please bring an iPad.

View GAFE and iPad: BFFs 4EVR slides here  or at 

Get your own copy of GAFE and iPad: BFFs 4EVR slides here


Get Google to Give you Time ~ Productivity Tips

This is an Intermediate session.  A lap top or Chromebook is recommended.

View Productivity slides here or at

Get your own copy of the Productivity slides here

Copies of Book Talk assessment (to use with Autocrat Mail Merge) here

Assessment and Pedagogical Documentation with iPad

This is a beginner session.  Please bring an iPad.

View Assessment with iPad slides here or at (Case Sensitive)

Get your own copy of the Assessment with iPad slides here


This blog post is a spot to see some resources and ideas I am speaking about at the Reading For The Love of It Conference in Toronto, Canada.

My session with Lisa Morris is called “Inquiring Minds Want to Know: Inquiry with iPad and GAFE”

Get Harvey and Daniel’s book Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action here.

To See the Keynote Slides from the session (without Video), look here.

Download the Magnet Lab book here.

Download the Friction Lab book here.

Download the Light Lab book here.

Get the Google Apps For Education slides here.

Watch my YouTube video on how to create your own Custom Search here.

Make better Movies

Thanks to Jose Martinez, my students and I will make better movies. We might even feel brave enough to call them films! His session (description here) was called “Lights, Cameras, Action!” and you can find all the key information, with examples, on his blog.

Key Learning:

  1. Plan! Story board first. Don’t pick up the camera until you have your shots planned out.
  2. Have kids name camera angles in their work. Great idea for being consciously skilled and assessing media literacy conventions.
  3. To get students to make watchable videos, give them a theme and keep it short. As in 20 seconds!

Thank you also to Ernest Agbuya and Daniella Marchese for their session called Storytelling with the Moving Image. I learned that there are professional development opportunities through TIFF and there is an Kids Film Festival through TIFF too! Imagine!

Passion and Compassion

Colleen Rose might be one of the kindest people I’ve met.  She’s brilliant, smart and incredibly tender and responsive to her students’ needs.  Her session about Personalized Learning through Assessment was a poignant reminder of how we can reach out to kids while working through the curriculum and the school day. All her resources from her session can be found here.

A New Tool

Thanks to Tim Hawes I walked away from Bring IT Together with a great new tool!  His session New Ministry Licensed Web-Based Graphic Organizer focused on a rad new tool Mindomo. Think Mind Mapping software + Popplet + Padlet and more.  Fab!

Scratch and nkwry

Thank you to Brian Aspinall and for the great session on Coding in Math. Learning about algebra and variables? Get kids using Scratch to apply these concepts in a practical setting that is fun too! He’s a clever lad and a programmer in his own right. He has developed a Pinterest type web-based app for helping students curate information, check out nkwry – amazing stuff!

Bringing people together

This is what it’s really about!  My PLN is so amazing. Thank you to all of you, and big thank you to my new pal Brian Smith for making this wonderful picture of friendship and collaboration!

Photo by Brian Smith

Photo by Brian Smith

iOS 8 is a bit of a bummer.

September 20, 2014 — 6 Comments

iOS 8: A total bummer, but not for the reasons you might expect.  (This blog post was updated 10 minutes after posting thanks to Greg Garner and John Shoemaker. Thanks guys).

Short/TLDR version of this blog post.

Girl buys new iPad and expensive case.

Girl realizes that new iPad doesn’t have enough space for iOS8.

Girl feels old when she realizes that 16G used to be massive, but is now tiny.

Girl thinks she should refer to herself as lady or woman, now that she knows she is old.

Woman decides to refer to self as womyn.

Womyn spends hours getting new iPad 36G from Apple Store, updating 16G iPhone to iOS8 and. then. it. happens.

Womyn realizes that she is going to have to update 50 iPads at school on bad wifi.

Womyn realizes she may only have one more good year with her current set of iPad devices.

Panic. Heartache. Frustration. Fear. Sadness. Realization-of-first-world-problems. Dinner. Hope.

Womyn writes blog post.

I am not going to write here about new features. I did that this morning on Twitter.  Read Tony Vincent and TechChef4U for her blog post and Listly on features and articles.

The day 16 G became teeny tiny.

On September 8, twelve days ago at the time of this writing, I purchased a new iPad Air. I spent the extra money to go for the Air and not the Retina display. But, I couldn’t bring myself to spend another $100 for the 32G, so I settled for 16G. Plenty, yes, plenty of space. I splurged on a gorgeous case from Grovemade instead of getting a 32G. Life’s all about choices.

I only partially regret that decision.

Today, Saturday, September 20 rolls along and I go to update my new iPad to the biggest iOS release ever and I see:



When did 16 G get to be so small? Realizing 16G is small is about the same thing as realizing that I may need reading glasses or longer arms. This is not a happy moment.

And. It. Gets. Worse.

This is the complaining part of the post, you’ve been warned. It took me bits and pieces of a perfectly good Saturday to update my devices. After pleading with the Apple store people to let me exchange for a 32G, I had to figure out how to update my 16G phone.

How to Install iOS8 on your teeny-tiny-eensie-weensie 16G iOS device OTA.

OTA = Over the air.

Step 1: Backup your iDevice Settings>iCloud>Backup to iCloud

Step 2: Reset your device to factory settings Settings>General>Reset>Erase All Content and Settings

Step 3: Set up your iPad as if new (do not back up from iCloud) and Install iOS8 Settings>General>Software Update>Download (let it download for 30 mins – 1hour)> Install

Step 4: Reset your device to factory settings *Again* Settings>General>Reset>Erase All Content and Settings

Step 5: Set up your iPad as if new and restore from iCloud backup

Why the tedious process?

Well, iOS8, if you haven’t heard is a *big* update. It takes over 5G to install, but once installed only requires about 1G. It’s like an incredible-shrinking-iOS. It’s acting a bit like Alice might.


What this means for my classroom.

This is my third year of running a one to one iPad program. Each student in my class has an iPad assigned to them for the year. They do not take them home, but they access the device throughout the day. I speculated that I would get 5 good years out of the devices before I would no longer be 1:1. I expected that some would be damaged so I wouldn’t have the ratio. Or, I expected that after 5 years I would no longer be able to update to the new operating system. Like a hole in your favourite sweater, I expected things would unravel from there. Old technology doesn’t feel cozy like ripped jeans. Old tech feels heavy and cumbersome like storing a friend’s furniture or pet sitting for your parents. Old tech isn’t terrible, it’s just that it starts getting in the way instead of enabling. Five years. I thought I would have 5 years to deploy and innovate. But, I feel like for two I have deployed and wrestled with the devices and now at the beginning of year 3 it’s going to take a massive amount of work to update 23 devices and the new 23 I just purchased. And what happens next year when iOS9 comes out? I suspect that I will not be able to update the 23 iPad (iPad 3, 30 pin). And then, how long after that will the devices still be powerful? How long after that will they feel like an enhancement instead of a burden? Will future version of Apps I love be backwards compatible?

Update:  Maybe it’s not all that bad.  Greg Garner suggests:

“Plug one into an Apple computer and back up to computer choosing “download only” for the update. Once backed up, update the iOS. For each subsequent device: plug in, back up, click update. It won’t need to re-download the OS, since it is already on your computer.”

Am I telling you not to buy iPad tablets? No, that is not the point.

I still think iPad is the best tablet. This is not an Apple problem, this is a problem for every tablet. Actually, I suspect iPad and Apple devices will have the longest life of any of the tablets out there. I do know that Apple products are the most eco-friendly and environmentally conscious technology products available. I promise the same will happen with other tablets too, even less expensive tablets that have an operating system that largely based online.

The solution

The solution is not to stop buying iPad devices, or to stop buying tablets altogether. That would be like Alice leaving Wonderland before she had an adventure and learned the true meaning of her life and place in the world. No, we who have jumped down the rabbit hole don’t get to jump right out. And, AND, we must continue to encourage others to jump down into edtech with us to make sense of this mess. Teachers especially have to be engaged. If not, powerful companies and uninformed district personnel will decide our tech fate for us.

The solution is to, more than ever before, really honestly drink from the cup of pedagogy-before-technology. We must push ourselves to be more than our devices. We must push the technology to it’s edge, to the point where it will break and then go one step further. Then, we must write honestly and openly and publicly about our trials and tribulations.

Anyone who is writing about how Edtech is easy is lying. They are (or should I say “we are”) not lying in the sense of telling untruths, but the simplicity of the message is a lie by omission. And, it’s not helping anyone.

Womyn goes to bed. Decides to post without editing. Why bother checking my post over for spelling? (I hear your collective gasp you English teachers who actually read entire blog posts).  Predictive text should be better soon, editing is so iOS7.

Sunshine Blog Award

December 2, 2013 — Leave a comment

How sweet to get a tweet from Cathy Yenca @mathycathy and to be one of her 11 choice blogs.  This is what I love about the Internet: it’s about community and people being nice to one another.  Cathy Yenca is a supremely awesome mathematics educator who blogs and creates and shares.  Thanks, Cathy, for the shout out.  It was a nice gesture, so I think I’ll keep the good vibes going forward.

Sunshine Blog Awards go a little something like this (copied from Cathy’s Blog post):

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger. (Done and done!)
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

11 Random Facts about me

  1. A few months ago I started a father daughter book club.  It’s just me and my dad.  He is a huge reader and reads mainly history. We walk together once a week and discuss our books.  It’s the best.
  2. I love candy.
  3. Mayonnaise is gross.
  4. I own 4 bikes and a motorcycle.
  5. Until October, I hadn’t had a cell phone for 5 years.
  6. I don’t colour my hair.  I stopped colouring my hair and gave up my cell phone to help pay for motorcycle insurance 5 years ago.
  7. I share a birthday with Miley Cyrus, and I am okay with that.
  8. I love math.
  9. My childhood dream was to be a downhill ski racer.  I like high speed!
  10. I don’t have my own biological children. When people ask me if I have kids, I say “Yes, 20 or more a year!”
  11. I am terrible at coming up with Halloween costumes.

Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.

  1. What is your favorite movie of all time?  Out of Africa
  2. If you could have attended any concert anytime in history, what would it have been?  Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” Music and Ballet that nearly caused a riot.
  3. What do you do for fun?  Hobby?  Ride bikes.
  4. What two guests would make the best comedic pair as co-hosts for the Oscars?  ?dunno?
  5. Cat, Dog or Goldfish? Why?  As pets? As tattoos? No thanks.
  6. How do you caffeinate?    Espresso!
  7. Favorite twitter chat?  #1to1techat #cdnedchat
  8. Best place you ever vacationed? Whistler, B.C. is pretty epic.
  9. Best book you’ve read in 2013? Ready Player One. Here is my list of reads from this year.
  10. Favorite television shows?  Don’t watch TV.
  11. What is one thing you never/rarely share that you are exceptionally proud of?  My husband.

My Sunshine Award Blogger Nominees

  1. Kristen Wideen
  2. Tracy Clark
  3. Holly Clark
  4. Courtney Pepe
  5. Susan Bruyns
  6. Megan Valois
  7. Jon Samuelson
  8. David Fife
  9. Kyle Pearce
  10. Doug Pete
  11. Rolland Chidiac


I present Leah Buechley:

Leah Buechley

Dr. Buechley did some simple counting. She looked over the 36 issues ever published from Make magazine and went looking for who makers are according to who is on the cover and who is writing stories.

Who are makers?

Of 36 issues of Make, featuring 40 people on the cover, here is the breakdown of boys, women and people of colour:
85% boys and men
15% girls and women
0% people of colour
The editorial staff at Make includes 15 people. 87% are men, 13% are women and none represent a visible minority.
Leah Buechley suggests that this is not really a problem if Make is a niche subculture doing it’s own niche thing.  But, when Make spawns a not-for profit with the same branding, then, she points that there is issue with this lack of representation.

What are the makers making?

Not only is it predominantly white boys and men, but the projects featured are overwhelmingly about electronics, battling robots, and vehicles.
What is making?

So, we know who the makers are according to Make (white males). We know what they are making according to Make (electronics).  Leah Buechley suggests that the magazine has a responsibility to reflect other forms of making, like textiles which is her area of expertise, in order to be broader. Particularly if Make is moving into the educational realm and public education.

Who will bring the maker movement to public schools?

The teaching force, in case you didn’t notice, is mostly women.  So, if the people that are championing Fablabs and maker movement want to get anywhere in public education, I think we need to consider that the teaching force is largely female and very few of whom have a science background.  I think the maker movement, if it is going to gain any traction at the school level (public school especially), must resonate with a female teachers.  That may be hard to accomplish if the perception of maker, as presented in the media, is white males with electronic-battling-bots.

Every child a maker? Hang on a LED-flashing minute.

In the spirit of Leah Buechey’s semi-challenging talk, I too would like to throw another rock at this movement to shake things up a bit further.  I am uncomfortable with the slogan: Every child a maker.  Like Leah Buechley, and many of the people at Fablearn, I think Making is marvelous.  But, I worry about making children make.  Forcing children to make electronics is normally called a sweat shop. I think we easily vilify traditional school activities and hold up complicated, expensive and literally flashing activities as reforming education.  But hang on a LED-flashing minute.  What if a kid is not into making?  That child could be white, black, brown, yellow or purple for all I care, but if they don’t want to make, they shouldn’t be coerced into making.  Buechley points out that the enthusiastic maker disciples who want to spread the message must  “come with your excitement, but come ready to listen and hear what kids are excited about.”  I think we need to ask who wants to make? We need to ask what do students want to make.  Otherwise we are yet again reducing the learning experience into a really fancy, expensive, flashing 3D worksheet equivalent that happens to also be potentially dangerous and often lacking in connections to the curriculum.
A child can be just as bored with a worksheet as with attempting to program a robot, sew a flashing teddy bear or watch a 3D printer (especially the last one). There, I said it.  You can’t make your way out of boredom and move away from less than perfect teaching by throwing a child and her teacher into a Fablab.  Creating plastic artefacts that have one foot in the landfill is a dangerous way to think about educational reform.

Making is about engaging the head, hands and heart.

What will change education is exposure to rich and meaningful hands on tasks that engage the heart, head and hands as Gary Stager suggested in his keynote.  We need to empower and support a largely female-non-science-educated teaching force with tools, tool kits, guides and guidebooks to lower the barriers to equipment and increase access to making at any price point.  We need to keep our vision locked on student learning.  We must regain and maintain a laser sharp focus on the process, inquiry, problem solving, debugging and nurturing passion and engagement that I think FabLabs are more than capable of facilitating.

Maker boys and girls

I think this movement is going to work. I would not have flown across the country if I didn’t believe that. But, we must be aware of the face of the teaching force and the face of the students we serve. We must also keep the focus on choice and exploration. We must focus on opening opportunities not shutting kids into sweat shops.  We must honour that the tradition of making has been around a long time and with many women at the centre of crafting and textiles.  Let’s name the gender and race issue so we can hopefully in the near future erase them completely so a hammer or a sewing machine are no longer dripping with dated notions of men’s and women’s work.  I would love to see the day where a hammer or a sewing machine are as gender neutral as a pencil or an iPad.

“Make, you haven’t earned my trust.”

Leah Buechley said “Make, you haven’t earned my trust.”  One way to garner her trust is to “be honestly generous to what people are invested in.”  She is completely right. We must honour what teachers and more importantly what students are interested in, or else this is as bad as test prep only worse because you can’t burn your finger tips when filling out bubble sheets.

Fablearn 2013

Fablearn 2013 Digital Fabrication in Education Conference began yesterday and concludes today.  A small conference with a focused topic is a nice contrast to the two large anything-goes conferences I have just come from.  While it’s great to have a zillion choices at large conferences, having the opportunity to go deep on one topic you love is just fantastic. The conference organizers describe the event as follows:

“FabLearn is a venue for educators, policy-makers, students, designers, researchers, and makers to present, discuss, and learn about digital fabrication in education, the “makers” culture, and hands-on learning.”

In a word, it’s about making.


Curiosity number one for me was to check out the Fablab at the Centre for Education and Research at Stanford (CERAS). A small yet optimally utilized space full of all the tools tricks and goodies one could image for a maker space.  The bright colours and easy access reflect Paulo Blikstein’s aesthetic. He suggests these spaces should not feel like a garage and should be gender neutral.  People working in the lab, including children, should have access to materials with ease. Dangerous tools should be labelled and there should be lots of visual support so that it is obvious what something is for and can do.

FabLab Fablab door FabLab picture of inside

Workshop 1: Teaching Children to Program

Gary Stager guided participants through the how, what and why of teaching computer science to children.  We also played with Turtle Art which you can download for free here.  I made this turtle art goodness with some help from Gary, an activity card, and my new friend Amit.

Turtle Art

Amit Deutsch Googler, Programmer, all around nice guy.

Amit was kind enough to rock the Hack the Classroom sticker!

Workshop 2: Effective Prompt Setting and Making Across the Curriculum: Integrating Project-Based Learning into the Classroom

Sylvia Martinez talked to conferees about the conditions for making a good prompt to guide instruction and learning in a maker space. A good prompt is brief, ambiguous, and immune to assessment.

IMG_0057 IMG_0059Sylvia Gerstein and Gary Stager

New friends at Fablearn and their soft electronic creations

Thank You

Thank you very much to the organizers of Fablearn for providing me a scholarship to help me attend this conference. It would not have been possible to attend with their support. I am also fortunate that I had some support from an angel back in my school board who helped with the release time and covered the cost of supply.  You know who you are, I just don’t know if you are aware how grateful I am. Thank you.


dongle I need


I am in need of this little dongle to do my presentation today.  Hopefully the wifi at the conference is awesome and I can project my iPad on my computer using the Reflector App but the wifi is never good at technology conferences.  So, hopefully some angel will bring me one of these.

Today I am presenting on the idea of making thinking visible.  Here are some of information I find super interesting that I will mention briefly but people might like to investigate further.

Thinking Ideals

Thinking Routines

Visible Thinking Core Routines


Howard Rheingold’s course syllabus on Mind Amplification

History of writing ancient numbers (Wikipedia)

Blog post on Denise Schmandt-Basserat and writing as a “quirky accounting system”

Summary of Non-Zero: The Logic of Human Destiny

Fantastic halloween costume ideas ripped from recent headlines.

Book List:

Net Smart by Howard Rheingold

Too Big to Know by David Weinberger

Non-Zero: The logic of human destiny by Robert Wright

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman




For the Keynote file about todays talk “iPad: Creating meaning, participating, and democracy” please click here.  This will be up until Sunday, April 14 5 p.m. EST.



Several years ago, while doing my Master’s of Education degree at Western, my supervisor George Gadanidis told me a story.  I had just found out that I was not short listed for a job I wanted, and he shared this story to make me feel better. It has stuck with me.

He told me about “a friend” of his, as these stories often go, that was interviewing for a job.  The company had completed the process of reading job applications and there were two lists: the people to be called and offered an interview and those that were to be called and NOT offered an interview.  These notes were passed along to an administrative assistant.  The lists got switched!  Somehow, those people that were supposed to get the sorry-we-are-not-interviewing-you got the call saying they were to be interviewed.  The company had no choice but to select from the candidates on the ‘reject’ list.  So, in my dismay over not getting a job interview, George shrugged and said “maybe they called the wrong list.”

Well, if you allow yourself to think that in bad times, I must also consider this to be the case in good times.

I have just received my email saying that Apple has selected me for the Apple Distinguished Educator Program.  I am thrilled!  But, a little cloud of humility hangs over me, and I am glad it does.  I hear George saying “they called the wrong list.”  I am reminded that luck often has a lot to do with these things.

Congratulations to my fellow colleagues who applied for the ADE class of 2013.  Right list, wrong list, selected or not: we are all on this journey together.

Photo Credit: stargardener via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: stargardener via Compfight cc