Technology Can Be Invisible

  "Technology should be present but ‘invisible’. When we pick up a pen or pencil, we don’t call it a ‘pencil activity’, the same goes for any other technology." ~ David Truss   It's amazing how things come together. On Friday I was fortunate to be covering for a principal at a school close to mine while she attended a meeting. Fortunate because I was invited to be a guest in a grade 5 classroom that was presenting their research findings to the local member of provincial parliament ( @JeffYurekMPP ), the mayor of Central Elgin , representatives from Kettle Creek Conservation Authority and Erin Mutch our learning coordinator for environment education. The project was designed by the classroom teacher and Jen Aston , an instructional coach with our board. As I moved from group to group and talked to the students I began to formulate this blog post in...
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GAFE You Have Me Convinced

 It is the framework which changes with each new technology and not just the picture within the frame ~ Marshall McLuhan There was a time when I was unconvinced about the power of web 2.0 apps and in particular Google Apps for Education (GAFE). Over the years I became more and more comfortable working with web 2.0 apps such as Evernote, Animoto, and Diigo. But for some reason the suite of Google Apps just didn't do it for me. It wasn't because they didn't work as advertised. I was impressed with the ability to collaborate on projects and share documents with a group. I just had this niggling voice in the back of my head that kept saying "What if your work disappears? Stick with Word, it will always be there." Well this week that all changed for me for two reasons. The first reason came to me as I...
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ECOO 13 ~ Bring IT, Together

If you live anywhere near Niagara Falls you really need to check out the ECOO13 Annual Conference from October 23-25. There are hundreds of sessions to choose from, as well as social activities such as a photo walk, dinner and networking and a morning run along the Falls! I'll be leading a session on Engaging Student Voice through Video, and I'd be happy to share my experiences with you, in fact I'd love it! There will be keynotes from  Amber MacArthur, Jaime Casap, Kevin Honeycutt and Robert Baker.   Check out the ECOO13 website and register today. It's going to be amazing!      
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Thoughts on School Design

"School is a building that has four walls with tomorrow inside." ~ Lon Watters If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that in September I will be starting a new vice principal assignment at a large elementary school that is only 4 years old. In June as I met the staff and toured the school I began to notice things with the building that had me thinking about the principles of the design. It is a lovely new building with all the amenities that one would think a new school should have. However, that is simply a superficial look at the building. Looking deeper at the design I started to wonder how the school could have been built to suit the needs of students today. I admit that I don't know the building code or specifications for new builds from the Ministry of Education but...
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Stratosphere - A Book Review

  "The teacher as change agent is crucial, or we will get aimless multi-tasking" ~ Michael Fullan   If educational technology is an area of interest for you then Stratosphere by Michael Fullan is a book that you should consider reading. This brief review provides my thoughts and impressions of the book but by no means is it a comprehensive review. It is a very quick read that will provide many areas of thoughtful discussion with your colleagues as you move to more meaningful integration of technology in your school or district. In typical Fullan style, he uses his knowledge of change, without being too verbose, to set a framework for the use of technology in the classroom. He cites the work of Mark Prensky, Tony Wagner and John Hattie to illustrate the need for a new pedagogy, one in which students are partners in learning and teachers act as...
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A View into a 1:1 iPad Classroom - Part 2

"Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have faith in people, that they're basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them." ~ Steve Jobs     After interviewing Michelle Cordy ( @cordym) and visiting her classroom it's taken me a couple of weeks to reflect on what I saw in Michelle's class and to form my own opinions about the impact of a 1:1 iPad classroom. While not many teachers will have the opportunity to teach in a 1:1 environment there are lessons to be learned that can help support any method of technology use in the classroom. If you read the interview with Michelle you will note that she has experienced challenges with the implementation of a 1:1 program. This should give everyone pause for thought. Regardless of your experience with integrating technology instructional design needs to be purposeful. You...
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A View into a 1:1 iPad Classroom

I met Michelle Cordy ( @cordym ) around 2004 when I was a learning technologies coordinator and she was a young, energetic teacher looking to make her mark in the classroom. I knew at that moment in the computer lab at Althouse College that we would cross paths again. Since that first meeting I have watched Michelle grow into a fantastic teacher who integrates technology into her classrooms providing her students with amazing opportunities. I recently learned that she was successful in obtaining a grant that started with investigating the use of ePortfolios and then evolved into a 1:1 iPad classroom. With my own school moving to purchase more iPads I was keen to see how a master teacher utilizes iPads to engage students. Before making a visit to her classroom I decided to ask her a few questions to get a deeper understanding of her experiences plus I thought...
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Netbooks vs iPads

It has been a very busy couple of weeks for me with writing a paper for my comparative education course and reading 8 sets of classroom report cards. I'm happy to say they are both behind me and I'm ready to blog about something that has been on my mind for a long time, Netbooks vs iPads.  My first experience with Netbooks came during my time as a learning technologies coordinator. I failed to be impressed with the device on a personal level but more importantly confused on how they would be used in schools. Those first impressions have stayed with me and became more evident during the past couple of months as we introduced iPads into our school. Students have been engaged creating book trailers , Haiku Decks , and paper slide videos  with the iPads. These same students have a teacher who embraces BYOD, have access to a...
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Reflections of Book Trailer Project

On Monday our grade 7 & 8 students completed their iMovie Book Trailers and over the last couple of days we've had time to reflect on the project.  What worked well? What didn't? What would we do differently next time?  Below are our reflections. What we were happy with: the technology worked flawlessly and the students had no difficulty using the software the students were completely engaged in the storyboarding/writing stage all groups worked well together the storyboard templates were excellent organizational tools  videos were very well received by the rest of the school during our video announcements (we heard many students commenting that they couldn't wait to read that book!) What didn't work so well: some students didn't quite fully grasp the concept of a book trailer not all the iMovie templates lend themselves to the concept of a book trailer some students didn't use their storyboards during filming...
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Creating Book Trailers with iMovie and iPads

  This past Friday was supposed to be much different than it turned out. Teachers in the province of Ontario had planned to hold a one day political protest against the government and Bill 115. That was until the Labour Relations Board ruled that it would be considered an illegal strike. So at 6am the Thames Valley District School Board made a decision that all schools would be open to receive students. The result was not many students showed up, at least at my school. About 50% of the students were not in attendance which left the office scrambling to make safe arrival calls and teachers trying to put together instructional activities they didn't think they would need based on the union's decision late Wednesday. With our new iPads configured and ready to be used our intermediate teachers came to me with an idea to help keep the students engaged during...
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School Life with No Connectivity

Thursday and Friday were interesting days at Tweedsmuir. Someone decided it would be a good idea to cut the fiber optic cable supplying the school. A act of purposeful vandalism is what the Bell technician told us, along with the fact that we would have no internet, printing, photocopying or access to home directories until the fiber was fixed. We could expect it to be operational again on Monday morning. Not only would this cause problems with teachers and students completing projects and preparing for lessons, the office would not have access to our student information system, attendance phone line, our supply teacher booking system TVARRIS or communications via FirstClass, Twitter, Facebook or our website. Would things grind to a halt, or would the school community roll with the punches and get on with learning. An interesting two days indeed. Initially I joked that we should probably shut the school...
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The Changing Computer Lab

This year my administrative partner and I decided to move our staff toward utilizing the computer lab for project-based learning and away from the traditional scheduled periods on our 10 day cycle. There were a number of reasons for this decision but largely what we were seeing a lot of was meaningless game time with no end product. The move to guide teachers toward booking "chunks" of time for project-based learning is a powerful way to engage students with their learning. Initially, I was unsure how staff would respond and work with the new direction. I finally came to the idea of "nothing ventured, nothing gained". I knew we had staff who were comfortable with technology and were developing excellent project-based learning activities for their students, but we also had staff that were not as confident with technology but certainly accessed the computer lab on a regular basis. How this...
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Bring Your Own Device

BYOD is the anagram.  It stands for Bring Your Own Device and it's a concept that is gaining popularity in school boards across North America.  I recently came across an article from the Toronto Star  that outlines Peel District School Board's plan for technology use in their schools.  153,000 students in Peel District schools are encouraged to bring their smartphones, iPads, tablets and laptop computers to class in what the board calls its “21st century” learning plan. Classroom computers It's a concept that leverages students personally owned devices for classroom instruction because it is getting more difficult for school boards to fight the use of them in the classroom.  In 2008  I was fortunate enough to be asked to organize and run a "Student Voices Forum on Technology".  The goal was to bring students in from all our high schools and get their thoughts and opinions on technology use in our schools.  It...
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