PGP in Review


Once again a school year has quickly passed and I am reviewing the work that I have developed and participated in as a Curriculum Educational Technology Facilitator with my school division. Upon reflecting on my two main goals this year (see FULL descriptions HERE) of:

1) developing and fostering a learning environment that enables respectful, professional relationships, builds staff capacity and supports high performance for all, AND

2) leveraging the use of inclusive technologies to meet business goals, enhance team productivity, engage PSD staff in best practices (effectiveness and efficiency) and remove barriers for students, I…..

list the following overall feedback from PD (that I’ve facilitated) participants, Learning Services team members (who I work closely with) and some personal comments:


- like that I was able to have other blogs/resources to use so that I can learn from those who are having great success at blogging

- the student blogging opportunities chart which outlined the k-3 expectations/guidelines is quite helpful to see how the skills which are developed through blogging can build and become more complex through the grades. This information may nudge me in the direction of developing these skills more purposefully with my students

- very organized

- like handouts/links/resources shared

- very useful PD….Nicole is skilled at presenting ideas in a non-intimidating way!

- thank you for these opportunities to grow my primitive technological skills and to help refine the list of a million plus resources out there!

- it is truly productive to have the time to explore

- the information I now have will improve how I can support student learning in at least 3 subjects

- the course gave me many things that I can take back and start using with a specific special needs student in all core subjects

- this session will help me run more engaging literacy centers

- Nicole opened up so many new possibilities for moving forward in utilizing SMART(notebook)ideas.

- Her energy and passion for enriching students’ learning is contagious!!!

- I left knowing that I had learned new things

- I really liked the exercise on developing criteria! I’m going to use it tomorrow

- thanks for coming to our school site

- I attempt to respond to any/all messages within 24 hours even if I don’t yet have an answer

- I use the weekly ONline newsletter as a main means of communication for upcoming PD sessions on/offsite, tech tools/resources, tech tidbits (research)

- I tweet out often from conferences, meetings, and great things happening in #psd70

- connect various teachers and administrators with the work going on in PSD, in Alberta, nationally and internationally as needs/wants arise

- really happy to see the amount of growth in the Library Staff group – 21st C thinking, creating and moving forward with PSD libraries.

- sharing and using more extensions and applications in Chrome environment to remove barriers for students (and even teachers)

- connecting the purpose for a classroom blog to the practical environment pieces (what can you communicate? how to effectively set the blog up… examples from other teachers….)

- inviting teachers and students to present how technology is making a difference in their learning and teaching


- more time to play with the ideas presented

- more mentored time on task – to further develop the skills and confidence implementing them

- ensure that all tech resources have the same access to specific software/tools so that participants can be on the same page

- it would be helpful if the sessions were designated as beginner, intermediate, etc. or something of the sort to help people choose if the workshop is a good fit

- would like to see more time spent with one app

- choose days with better weather

- I need to seek out, listen to and understand various perspectives (ie. effect that a particular project may have on IT, WebOffice, Communications, etc.)

- to keep my lingering emails to a minimum

- work more on evaluating the impact of change on teachers and analyze all relevant evidence and past experience that is available

- LISTEN, really listen to others (slow down, take time to take what is being said)

- read and comment more on blogs (regularly schedule this for upcoming year)

My experiences with PSD staff, students and other organizations this year has been filled with many conversations, resource sharing and creating, networking opportunities and growth in the Inspiring Education initiative in Alberta. My days of learning, listening and leveraging resources (personnel and materials) were always filled with some adventure, questions and connections to the work I do to support teachers making an impact on students learning. I truly appreciate the experiences that I have had this year and even now am thinking about what 2014-15 will bring for me.


We Are Teachers

This is a fantastic video just posted by the We Are Teachers organization. This group exists to support teachers with resources, materials, opportunity for discussion and sharing.

As you watch this video, think about you and your colleagues, what would you say or add to this video? What would you remove and why?



An Apple a Day….

Part of the vision of Inspiring Education is for the education system to support each student to become an engaged thinker “who uses technology to learn, innovate, communicate and discover.” It should play a broader role in the classroom….and ultimately its power should be harnessed in support of learners’ innovation and discovery. Understanding the educational nuances of the iPad is part of this process.

We are very pleased to have Apple Distinguished Educators guiding us through interactive, hands-on and informative sessions on the way that they’re using iPad to transform learning for our students.
With over 130 participants from 14 different school sites, PSD participants were treated to a day of memorable learning, creating and connecting. Thank you to all who assisted in the planning, setting up, attending and clean up – you made the day of learning a successful one!
We all shook our “trees” and down came a variety of “apples” that allowed teachers to delve deeper into developing their skill level, application knowledge and content creation. See the flow of thoughts through the Storify Overview.

Emerging Technologies – Promise and Peril

Promise and Peril intro

Today, I had the opportunity to sit and learn with people from across North America, the UK, Finland and Australia from various sectors of education, health, research, police, trades and government.

This is a time of infinitesimal technological change where we all need to understand the immense impact of the digital environment has on our health and well-being.

I had the honor to facilitate the thoughtful conversations that occurred between keynote speakers at my table. This blog will reflect my personal thoughts, table thoughts and that of the main group attending the research colloquium.

The intended goals were to:

- consider the extent to which technologies are (re)shaping the minds and bodies of children and youth

- identify the issues, perspectives and contentions emerging from current North American research

- generate key questions to guide policy decisions and future research on emerging technologies, learning, teaching and the well-being of children and youth


Dr. Michael Rich

Dr. Michael Rich, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Associate Professor of Society, Human Development, and Health at Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, United States Full Bio

Centre on Media and Child Health – Explore Dr. Rich’s extensive work on behalf of Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public HealthCBC national panel discussion on Youth and Technology (February 2014)Ask the “Mediatrician” a question

Dr. Rich took us on quite a journey:

-         The average 8-18 year old uses media for 7 hours and 38 minutes per day

-         Kids are getting less sleep because they are using their devices during bed time which means less sleep = less consolidation of learning (the brain cannot process the days learning since it isn’t in full REM long enough or deep enough)

-         Those students who are heavy users (16+ hours/day) have poorer grades, are twice as likely to get in trouble and have low personal contentment.

-         What we feed a child’s mind is as important as what we feed their body

-         There is value in boredom – do youth have time to be bored anymore with the large amount of time spent with media content?

-         ¼ of 8-9th graders say that video gaming gets in the way of their studies

-         Video games are set environments and conditions where players direct, rehearse and are rewarded for behavioral scripts

-         Kids don’t understand that when they set up their profiles in various social media sites that advertisers are already connecting their products to those profiles

-         58% of cyber bullied victims do not tell adults for fear of losing access to their media. Many youth stay online in self defense as they fear of missing out.

-         Social media is neutral; human nature makes it the promise or peril

-         A lot of characteristics of drug addictions are consistent for addictions to media/technology

-         Take a digital Sabbath – 24 hour period once a week where you turn off your devices.

-         The following news items are great to share with parents or in school newsletters. For even more check out and

online happenings


-         Use media with your children in their digital space, talk to them about the experiences and don’t use time limits on screen time, rather, prioritize their life with rich and diverse activities

kids want tech

-         Kids with severe health issues are able to connect online with their clinicians

-         Embed media literacy with the curriculum through mindful reception, critical thinking and thoughtful responses


Panel Information

Catherine Adams, Assoc Prof from University of Alberta

Nicole Sherren, Director, Norlien Foundation

Michele Jacobsen, Assoc Prof from University of Calgary


-         Technology as pharmakon – it can be seen as a remedy and as a poison. Too little and it doesn’t work, too much and it is poisonous

-         Technology not only affects the individual but the entire system

-         Neural circuits are developed from the bottom up. The brain strengthens the circuits used most. Positive builds positive.

-         Executive function helps kids navigate their world n succeed in life + based on cog, social, emotional competencies

-         AB Family Wellness Initiative  – fantastic site w/brain resources

-         Stress shapes brain architecture – types: + (brief acts, required), tolerable (serious but temp), toxic (prolonged, damaging)

-         New research: 78% of 12-17 yr. olds have mobile phones, 47% have smart phones.

-         If we value our kids, they can acquire AND contribute ideas to shape their society

leverage tech

issues tech

Dr. Valerie Steeves

Dr. Valerie Steeves, Associate Professor, University of Ottawa, and principal investigator of the largest Canadian research study on children & teens’ online habits. Full Bio

Cyberbullying: Dealing with Online Meanness, Cruelty and ThreatsOnline Privacy, Online PublicityLife Online

-         99% Cdn students access internet outside of school, 62% use tablet/mobile device

-         Children’s’ internet use is highly gendered

-         25-33% students post digital content, but only 4% do so frequently. 50% search for info/current events

-         students’ frequent online activities – gaming, downloading, reading SM posts, Twitter following n posting

-         content creation focuses mainly on students social lives

-         The idea we can throw tech at kids and they will instinctively innovate does not appear to be supported by research

-         Top sites for Cdn Kids – YouTube Facebook and Google

-         Over 50% of Canadian grade 11 students report sleeping with their cell phones. 20% of grade 4 students report the same thing

-         kids who choose 2 go offline – spend time w/friends/family, quiet time, outside sports

-         Besides the gr8 resources, Media Smarts has an informational edtech blog 

-         Influence of photoshop and girls images of themselves

-         Who do kids say they learn digital literacy from? 45% say from parents 41% say from teachers

-         Cyberbullying – big range of behaviors – mainly drama-based from kids points of view – they say adult standards are unreasonable

-         Internet filters & blockers don’t build trust with students. How do we create avenues of trust when we’re putting up barriers?

reality bytes


- it’s about the relationships both online and offline

- marketization of the online environment – children’s data being used by companies

- we need to unplug but need some solid “how much”/core direction to move forward

- talk to children/community about when and how much screen time is appropriate




Engaging and Inspiring Leaders and Learners

CASS PSD Cisco Webex intro page

Today 90+ participants from around Alberta congregated at PSD Division Office for a day of learning from our resident teacher experts. The morning keynote was headed off by George Couros, over to 9 breakout sessions and a final keynote starring our own students (they stole the show)! Sessions and keynotes concentrated on the Learning and Technology Policy Framework which connect with the work from Inspiring Education. Sessions concentrated on innovative learning environments, resources, BYOD implementation, personalized and authentic student learning opportunities, collaborative and imaginative ways to integrate technology, sharing the PSD story, successes and challenges for access, infrastructure and digital learning environments to name a few. We even had 40 virtual participants through our live webex streaming links.
Apr14_CASS_main groupApr14_CASS_main group2






Please take a moment to scroll through the session descriptions, tweets and links at It was definitely a day to celebrate the amazing growth surrounding creating, communicating and collaborating with technology that has occurred over the last couple of years in the Division.


With more student-owned devices making their way into the classroom and with teaching and learning changing, we will continue to plan for the pedagogical, technical and content knowledge uses for technology (think TPACK) by carefully looking at where the Division, the administrators, the teachers and the students are at through rich discussions, pertinent questions, deep and continual professional learning and consistent sharing and networking.

I’d love to know what other schools, school divisions and even teachers are doing to encourage, to innovate and to create authentic learning experiences for their students, please share below and/or tweet using #psd70.


Favs in Discovery Edu Canada

DE canada


Every month I meet with interested teachers for an afterschool session on the topic of Favorite Activities/Ideas/Resources using Discovery Education Canada. We share successes in using DE Canada and the I share some of my favorites and we look at how these favorites could be integrated into their classrooms.

- Using DE Canada images and input information into Thinglink

Teachers and students are doing amazing things with Thinglink, and interactive online poster, and here are some links.

Our teachers were quite excited about the ability for students to search for images and information within DE Canada and then utilizing that information to create a Thinglink.

- Science TechBook

  • As a Star Discovery Educator I have access to the DE Science TechBook and I was sharing some of the highlights of this book. It is a web-based resource which includes multi-modal content, model lessons, and activity guides. Built-in accessibility features like highlighting text, taking notes, glossary terms (with animations, audio, images), and inclusion of Mythbusters, Planet Earth, Frozen Plant, Life and Human Body video series where appropriate. Although our teachers don’t currently have access to this TechBook, I am wanting them to see the possibilities for students and for learning.



One Game, One Grade will NEVER define me!

slow stop

Photo Credit: wiring71 via Compfight cc

Over the past many years, our school leaders and teachers have worked towards a more growth-mindset learning environment. We’re following some of the powerful suggestions found:

  • in Carol S. Dweck’s book Mindset
  • by utilizing Growth Mindset Feedback (see the growth minded language frames below)
  • in Susan Scott’s book Fierce Conversations
  • in Rath and Clifton’s expanded edition of How Full is Your Bucket?
  • with The Leader in Me focus

We’ve even revamped our K-9 report card, now in its third year, to ensure that it is more student-focused and emphasizes ‘how’ students learn as opposed to just ‘what’ they learn. This better supports the growth and development of our students.

Yet, what sparked this interest and reflection of having me review how our division is modeling strength-based learning? It was a blog by Principal Doug Enders, specifically his December Message that I just read this morning. And once again, it reminded me the importance of the power of our language and our actions. We can always improve ourselves with hard work and effort.

Here are the Growth Minded Language Frames: (From Mindset Works EducatorKit and PSD70 Inclusive Ed Leads)

As students work on their learning objectives, growth minded language frames (seen below) will allow teachers to ensure students remain persistent, resilient and focused on the process of learning.

When they struggle despite strong effort

  • OK, so you didn’t do as well as you wanted to.  Let’s look at this as an opportunity to learn.

  • What did you do to prepare for this? Is there anything you could do to prepare differently next time?

  • You are not there/here yet.

  • When you think you can’t do it, remind yourself that you can’t do it yet.

  • I expect you to make some mistakes.  It is the kinds of mistakes that you make along the way that tell me how to support you.

  • Mistakes are welcome here!

  • You might be struggling, but you are making progress.  I can see your growth (in these places).

  • Look at how much progress you made on this.  Do you remember how much more challenging this was (yesterday/last week/last year)?

  • Of course it’s tough – school is here to makes our brains stronger!

  • If it were easy you wouldn’t be learning anything!

  • You can do it – it’s tough, but you can; let’s break it down into steps.

  • Let’s stop here and return tomorrow with a fresher brain.

  • I admire your persistence and I appreciate your hard work.  It will pay off.

  • Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  • There is no wrong answer

  • The expert in anything was once a beginner.

  • We learn by doing.

  • It’s about the effort not the product.

  • Try, try again, you have nothing to lose.

  • There is no wrong answer, just a different question.

  • If you think you can or can’t you’re right.

  • We all learn from our mistakes.

  • Let’s just break this down. You did OK on this, let’s build on it.

  • Would you like to look at this? (show example)

  • Not to worry…other people are struggling too.

  • Everyone has strengths in different areas.

  • How else can we look at this?

  • Do you want a partner?

  • Let’s break this down.

  • Einstein (or other) struggled with concepts as well and look at what he accomplished.

When they struggle and need help with strategies

  • Let’s think about how to improve (the accuracy of) this section/paragraph/sentence/word choice/logic/description/problem/calculation.

  • Let me add new information to help you solve this….

  • Here are some strategies to figure this out.

  • Describe your process for completing this task.

  • Let’s do one together, out loud.

  • Let’s practice (skill) so we can move it from our short-term to our long-term memory.

  • Just try – we can always fix mistakes once I see where you are getting held up.

  • Let me explain in another way with different words.

  • What parts were difficult for you? Let’s look at them.

  • Let’s ask —— for advice—s/he may be able to explain/suggest some ideas/recommend some strategies.

  • Let’s write a plan for practicing and/or learning.

  • If you make ______changes, we can reassess your score.  Let’s discuss a plan for you.

  • Show me what you know.

  • You start and I’ll stay with you.

  • Let’s try working with a buddy.

  • Let me show you an example.

  • Teach me how to do this.

  • How can we help you?

  • We learn by doing.

  • Use the references around the room.

  • What is another way we can do this?

  • Show me your thinking.

  • Let’s break it down.

  • Let’s have (student A) and (student B) show each other.

  • Let me show you how I would solve this. I will say my thoughts out loud so that you can see/hear what I’m doing.

  • How can we break this down?

  • Let’s work together.

  • This is what works for me.

When they are making progress

  • Hey that’s a tough problem/task/concept that you’ve been working on for a while.

  • What strategies are you using?

  • I can see a difference in this work compared to ___.  You have really grown (in these areas).

  • I see you using your strategies/tools/notes/etc.  Keep it up!

  • Hey! You were working on this for awhile and you didn’t quit!

  • Your hard work is clearly evident in your process/project/essay/assignment.

  • I really like what you’ve put down here. What else might you add?

  • Look how far you’ve come. (Show example of previous work compared to current.) I wonder how far you will come in another month?

  • I’ve seen growth in your work.

  • What is your next goal?

  • What strategies have worked well for you? Not so well?

  • Good job at using the criteria!

  • Positive communication (video, audio, email, text, notes) with home by student/teacher.

  • Show the Principal the good work you had done.

  • Present your learning to the class.

  • I would like to use your work as an exemplar for other students.

  • Your hard work is making a difference.

  • What has made the difference in your growth?

  • Encourage the perseverance.

  • I am impressed with your determination.

When they succeed with strong effort

  • I am so proud of the effort you put forth to/in/with ______.

  • I am very proud of you for not giving up, and look what you have to show for it!

  • Congratulations – you really used great strategies for studying, managing your time (behavior, etc.).

  • I want you to remember for a moment how challenging this was when you began.

  • Look at how far you have come!

  • All that hard work and effort paid off!

  • The next time you have a challenge like this, what will you do?

  • What choices did you make that you think contributed to your success?

  • It’s exciting to see the difference in your work now when I compare it to your earlier work.

  • I can see you really enjoyed learning ____.

  • That’s awesome, what did you do differently?

  • Look at your success when you try your hardest/do your best work?

  • How did that make you feel?

  • I knew you could do that! Way to go!

  • What was different for you today that made you work so hard?

  • What is your next goal?

  • How can you apply what you’ve just learned to….?

  • You took a risk and look at your results!

  • I would like to share your success with the rest of the class – your effort paid off!

  • You’re a great model.

  • Remember the feeling of success.

  • How can we transfer this effort?

When they succeed easily without effort

  • It’s great that you have that down. Now we need to find something a bit more challenging so you can grow.

  • It looks like your skills weren’t really challenged by this assignment. Sorry for wasting your time!

  • I don’t want you to be bored because you’re not challenging yourself.

  • We need to raise the bar for you now.

  • You’re ready for something more difficult.

  • What skill would you like to work on next?

  • What topic would you like to learn more about next?

  • Wow, look at the gifts you have.

  • Could you be our expert resource on….?How could you extend this? Take further?

  • Please teach this to the rest of the class/group.

  • What would be the next step – how can you take it further?

  • Find someone to help.

  • Create a project/research topic that demonstrates your understanding.

  • How can we generalize this skill to another area?

  • Show them the skill sequence. What’s next?

  • Do you feel you put forth your best effort? How can you improve on this?

  • Intentionally praise the effort not the product.

  • How can we take this in a different direction?

  • What would you like to do now?

What other resources are you using to promote a strengths-based learning environment? It’s always great to hear what other administrators, teachers and parents are framing their conversations and learning.


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