Recently, the Canadian Education Association released its latest poster regarding some neuromyths connected to learning and teaching. Take time to read each of these three myths and share how you are taking current neuroscience research to change your teaching practice and students’ learning environments.

edcan_neuromyths  1) Adapting instruction to students’ learning styles (K,S,A)

The promising practices that I do see making are difference are:

  • multiple means of representation – information/content is shared via audio, images, video, text so that students can engage with it in a variety of ways, not just their “preferred” way. I often share with staff and students that there may be times when I would just read the content on my own while another time I’d like the computer to read it to me or watch a brief intro video instead. It’s the opportunity for access to these options that I find crucial.
  • cooperative learning – engaging students by learning with and from each other via ‘scripted’ learning and sharing opportunities exposes students to a variety of experiences so even if the student prefers a specific way to learn, they are supported through practicing other ways in a safe and engaging manner.

  2)  No such thing as brain dominance

Promoting Passion Projects (197 examples, in the classroom), Genius Hour or Innovation Weeks (GCMS) where students study, explore, create a level of learning that is very personalized and student-centered allows opportunities to further develop their talents and/or skills in a particular area OR dip their toes into something of interest that they may never have pursued.

3) Cognitive capacity and function improves after 30 mins of vigorous exercise

Initiatives like Daily Physical Activity (DPA) and Physical Literacy offer fantastic opportunities for students to get up, moving and socially connecting with each other and themselves. Brain Breaks (such as GoNoodle) give the brain a break and may regroup students’ attention but do not necessarily improve cognitive capacity.

So, go ahead, share this poster with colleagues, print it off and take turns speaking about it during a PLC/Staff meeting. What are your thoughts regarding these neuromyths?


Future Thoughts

In the book by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, there is a girl who wonders whether she’ll be as tall as a house or the tree, whether she’ll wear sensible shoes and say sensible things.

Students: Read through these four questions and watch the video. Then take time to have a discussion with a partner about what the story was about as well as sharing your responses to the questions.

1. Do you think some of her beliefs about the future are possible, and some of them are impossible?

2. What is an example of something that seems impossible? What makes you think it is impossible?

3. Could it be possible? What would have to change to make it possible?

4. Do you think any of the things she imagines definitely will happen?

Teachers: How does this story affect how you create a “five star learning environment” for your students? What about yourself? Are there any beliefs about the future that you hold onto to turn the impossible into the possible?

1. Is there anything you know for sure about your future? How do you know it?


Posted by on September 8, 2015 in Uncategorized


Go Ahead, Be Creative!

Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 8.14.48 PMMy professional growth plan for this school year isn’t that much of a departure from my previous year’s (see 2014-15), however I do feel that I have a more “leadership” type of focus that overarches my two goals this year. Whether it is modeling what kind of questions to ask of staff during walkabouts, or trying new apps, extensions or add-ons or even blogging/tweeting what is occurring in their school, this will be one of the facets of my work this year. (Our school division is part of the LTPF Leadership Community of Practice hosted by Alberta Ed and I have 4 Principals, 4 Teacher-Leaders and 2 IT personnel collaborating and learning together with 9 other provincial groups this year.) As well, the Learning Services team has undergone changes with new team members. So, my work may change a little or a lot depending upon how each team member requires support and how each school staff require professional development opportunities.


Be Creative is my theme for the year. As you can see in the image to the right, (created based on CrazySexyCool’s poster shop in Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa) I not only am holding myself accountable (see goals below), but I want to remind myself daily (the poster will be hanging on one of my office walls) to ENJOY the opportunities along the way.


These are exciting times and each day brings new learning opportunities.



Facilitate, cultivate and design learning environments that provide rich experiential learning and sharing opportunities connected to Parkland School Division’s (PSD’s) Vision, Mission and Inclusive Ed philosophy as well as Alberta Education’s Learning and Technology Policy Framework (LTPF).


  • Acknowledge the diverse needs and contributions of all
  • Offer physical spaces and PD to develop knowledge, skills and engage learners
  • Create virtual spaces and connections both local, national and global
  • Access resources, services, information and collaboration opportunities
  • Hone academic, social/emotional and physical skills through knowledge-building, creativity and innovation
  • Utilize a variety of resources, technologies and spaces to support learning for teachers leaders and students through thoughtful instructional design and collaboration as well as effective assessment of learning
  • Model and share learning experiences to empower real-world and relevant learning experiences


  • Learning Services Team
  • Senior Exec
  • Admin Teams
  • Inclusive Education Leads
  • LeadercastNow daily videos
  • Frameworks: Fierce Conversations, Cognitive Coaching, Bucket Filling, Cooperative Learning, Critical Thinking, Universal Design for Learning


  • Ongoing
  • Monthly meetings: Lead Team, LTPF Leadership Community of Practice, Inclusive Education Leads
  • Biweekly: Learning Services Team

Indicators of Success

  • Contribution to Learning Services work is recognized
  • Learning Services Team work plan is moving PSD Vision, Mission and Commitment Statements forward as per Admin meetings, PSD Voice, Student Advisory Committee
  • Learning Services Team incorporate the LTPF throughout their work with staff


Advance, model and assess the successful use of inclusive technologies to meet business goals, enhance team productivity, engage PSD staff, and remove barriers for students.


  • Refine instruction for essential digital literacy, research and inquiry and communication skills
  • Develop opportunities for staff learning and innovation to be demonstrated, shared and showcased
  • Build staff capacity to ensure sustainability and attainment of PSD/School Ed Plan/Tech goals
  • Advocate for the essential and effective uses of technology
  • Refine and demonstrate strong digital literacy skills
  • Explore and connect personalized learning while embracing the use of digital literacies and skills to empower independent learners
  • Foster an active online networking culture
  • Assist staff in taking ownership of their digital rights and responsibilities in building their digital skills


  • Listservs: QIAT, ATLE, ORC
  • Alberta Education, School Technology Branch
  • PLN
  • ERLC Advisory Committees
  • ATLE and ATLE ProLearn
  • TCEA
  • Frameworks: TPACK, SAMR, UDL, DI, RTI, SETT, LTPF
  • Twitter feeds and weekly chats (#edchat, #atchat, #gafesummit, #edtech)
  • Blogs
  • 2Learn
  • GAFE
  • Synergyze
  • PSD – IT Dept, Senior Exec, Lead Team, Learning Services, staff, students


  • Ongoing
  • ATLE Conference – November 2015

Indicators of Success

  • Staff utilizing, documenting success and sharing how they are using technology in learning, for efficiency, etc.
  • Marked improvement between Fall 2014 and Fall 2015 ET/IT survey with Admin
  • LTPF Leadership Community of Practice group is sharing their experiences not only with their staff but with colleagues.
  • Well attended PD sessions and follow up work with staff


Step It Up with Summarizing


Photo Credit: London Permaculture via Compfight cc


In order to boost student comprehension and achievement, students must understand how to effectively summarize what they are researching, learning and applying. Using a variety of online resources, teachers can support students with a variety of tools to assist them in summarizing more effectively. These are by no means all inclusive, there are many strategies and tools that are both low and high tech that one can use – here are just a few ideas for you to try out.

The power of being in a GAFE environment, allows students to be able to personalize their learning experiences so that they can engage in the curriculum and demonstrate their learning at their level.

    • Readability – chrome extension, declutters websites. Great to then take the decluttered article/info and copy & paste into a Google Document while researching.
    • SpeakIt! – chrome extension, text to speech. Just highlight the text, click on the SpeakIt icon in the extension toolbar and it will read the text to the student. (Think about using headphones for this.)
    • Announcify – chrome extension, paragraph text to speech, blurs out extraneous text. This extension will pop up a separate tab and automatically start reading.
    • VoiceNote II – chrome extension, speech to text. Click on the world icon to set the language preference, then onto the mic icon and speak away! Copy&paste the text into a Google Doc. Great dictation tool. Works very well on Chromebooks without a mic and headset, however other laptops may need to use a mic+headset.
    • Google Dictionary – chrome extension.
    • Read&Write Gold/Google – chrome extension with Word Prediction, Speech Input, Text to Speech, Vocabulary List….There are so many tools in this extension. Schools/school divisions must pay for student licences. Check with TextHelp.
    • GDoc – Add-on > tag cloud generator. A great way to make a text visual. See the two resources on how you could use this in the classroom.
    • Connected Mind – chrome app, mind map. You must bullet all your information including the title in order for the mind map to work.
    • Instagrok – chrome app, research/info mind map tool. Click all the pins you would like to use, delete those that are unnecessary, share the interactive “grok” via a link or insert into a blog/website.
    • Newsela  – chrome app, differentiated news articles in a variety of topic areas. Have all students read specific articles in a variety of subject areas at their level. One of my favorites. (Goes along with TweenTribune from the Smithsonian that I have shared over the years.)

Make literature pop/stand out with:

    • Flocabulary – subject area topics learned via rap songs – very catchy for all students. These range from K-12, topics are American so Social Studies and Math may not all connect to the Alberta curriculum. Subscription based, but does offer a trial period.
    • 60 second recap – of various literature by an amazing librarian. Many middle years to high school references.
    • SparkNotes online literature summaries, mainly from grades 5-12. See some examples such as MacBeth, Bridge to Terabithia. Teachers could easily copy&paste this information or grab the link to a particular piece of literature and input this into Google Classroom/Sites for students to utilize.
    • Litcharts – online literature summaries similar to SparkNotes, nice interactive theme overview. Compare this Macbeth info with that of SparkNotes.
    • Text Compactor – an online text summarizer where students paste in copied text and choose how much (a %) to summarize. 
    • Rewordify  – text simplifier where students paste text and various words throughout will be simplified. Hover over the changed words to see the original wording.
    • Graphic Outline – use various templates/graphic organizers that are tiered and shared via a template through GDrive/GClassroom for students to use throughout the year.

Extra Resources


Invest in Inferencing with Students


Photo Credit: Gwen Vanhee via Compfight cc


I work most often with teachers and administrators in my role as Curriculum Ed Tech Facilitator in my school division. Over the years, I have come to recognize that a majority of students struggle with inferencing. They can most easily gather evidence and observations, but when it comes to applying these pieces of information to draw conclusions, students are at a loss as to how to achieve this.

These skills are needed for all sorts of school activities and learning, in all subject areas. Inferential thinking is a complex skill that will develop over time and with experience and teachers need to explicitly teach this to students throughout the school year.

There are many resources that can support teachers, below are a few examples as well as more resources to allow both teacher and students to engage in various inferencing activities.

For me, information comes in many forms – think about text (articles, newspapers, textbooks, poetry…), but also audio (lyrics, transcripts), video, and imagery. One such example of how powerful images and symbols are is found in this VIDEO. Teachers should use enticing images to build student’s background knowledge and even to replace text!! Watch the video – what do you think about these images and symbols? Are they not powerful? Think about how you can add and/or replace text with images to enhance the learning environment. Images can be found in a variety of places. For Alberta Teachers, the LearnAlberta website has many curricular-based images, just use the Search and Format features. For everyone, check out’s image gallery (make sure to click open the index), Creative Commons Search, use Discovery Education Canada (if your school division subscribes to it) and even Google (with proper copyright criteria).

Another resource (Explain the Image) that I like to share is one that was created by The Critical Thinking Consortium (TC2) where the template can be used at any grade level (just adjust the amount of text and add visuals for your younger students). It is a great one to use throughout the year and is easily scaffolded from a whole class activity, to small groups filling in specific rows, to small groups filling in the whole template to even individual work. Try it yourself! Click on the IMAGE and then have the QUESTIONS document open at the same time. (Make a copy so you can type in your info online). Input the Evidence/Observations column first and then add your Inferences next. Finally, summarize your thoughts. I’ve seen this used effectively with any text, audio, video and images with a variety of grade levels. The discussion between students about the artefact are SO amazing.

As a trainer for the Stepping Out Literacy Program, I also like to share this template – It Says, I Say, And So. In this example, I am only showing one row of text, but as a teacher, you may be looking at a longer text that would require several other rows to be filled in. Teachers would enter specific portions of text that they want their students to tackle. Once again, scaffold how students learn to use this template.

For those of you who live in the GAFE environment with their students, make sure to take advantage of:

    • GDoc > Tools > Research
    • GSlide > Tools > Research

These tools allow students to work within the Google environment with a separate pane right where they are working. And if they find some great information but are unable to tackle it as easily, do show them how to use text to speech (like chrome extensions, VoiceNote, Read&Write Google, or even Announcify). The citation pieces that come with this are fantastic. (Show students how to read the links to understand where the online information has come from.) As well, I also introduce, as young as grade three, GDoc – Add-ons > like Speech recognition (speech to text), SpellRight (proper spelling), Mindmeister (mind mapping).

If students are unable to write well (when they hold a pencil or pen it seems to drain all their thoughts and they are unable to write anything) or unable to type but can certainly speak out to demonstrate their knowledge, try out an image + audio iOS app/website for Fotobabble.


Extra Resources


If Teaching Were a Sport…

As some of my American teacher colleagues return to their classrooms, I wish them all the best in having a successful, exciting and effective 2015-16 school year. There is much preparation that goes into setting up a classroom, getting to know students and parents, digging into the curriculum in authentic and interesting ways and ensuring true engagement is occurring to each student’s level of confidence and understanding. Just remember to take those needed rest breaks throughout the year AND show your students how to take brain breaks as well throughout the day! (GoNoodle is a great curation tool for this.)

Below is a video via K&P from Comedy Central which not only got me to laugh, but also find the appreciation of all teachers do (without the large salaries!).

Enjoy and have a great start to the school year.


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Posted by on August 5, 2015 in Communicates to Inspire


EdTech Trends, Challenges and Developments

5077453679_3f51278a13_mPhoto Credit: Marlene Manto via Compfight cc

Each year, the NMC Horizon Report provides information about various educational technology trends. For this post, I am concentrating on the newly released 2015 K-12 Edition.

Key Trends in accelerating K-12 educational technology adoption are:

  • long-term impact (5+ years): rethinking how schools work and shifting to deeper learning approaches
  • mid-term impact (3-5 years): increasing the use of collaborative learning approaches, shifting from students as consumers to creators
  • short-term impact (1-2 years): increasing the use of hybrid/blended learning designs, rise of STEAM learning

For the school division that I work with, we have focused that last several years in rearranging the entire school experience by being part of the High School Flexibility Project, looked at various project-based learning throughout the school year such as Innovation Week, CTF Showcase, Genius Hour and continue to utilise Critical Thinking challenges (from TC2) and Cooperative Learning techniques (from Kagan Structures) to change the typical classroom environment to one of creativity, innovation and flexible learning for all students. We also are fully vested in the GAFE environment (sharing the various Chrome apps, extensions and add-ons to have students participate at their level) as well as building our digital presence via Edublogs (for classroom blogs and student showcase eportfolios), Twitter (check out #psd70), Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram.

Challenges impeding this adoption are:

  • solvable (we understand and can solve): creating authentic learning opportunities, integrating technology in teacher education
  • difficult (we understand but solutions are elusive): personalizing learning, rethinking roles of teachers
  • wicked (complex to define/address): scaling teaching innovations, teaching complex thinking

I work within Learning Services that supports all schools, their staff and I also work closely with our IT department and other departments in using technology and embedding curriculum in interesting and engaging ways. We have facilitators who work with staff to create more inclusive environments for all students. We have staff who are experts in curriculum, early years education, etc. We also have many expert teachers throughout the district who are willing to share, collaborate and create together. We continue to talk about the Learning and Technology Policy Framework (student-centered learning, research and innovation, professional learning, leadership, access, infrastructure and digital learning environments) and see what are readiness is and where our schools need to work towards to move along. We also work closely with our New Teachers throughout the year to build their confidence in using the technology that is available at our school sites – projectors, document cameras, Smartboards, Chromebooks, BYOD, iPads – to name a few. There are always many professional learning opportunities for staff throughout the year. We are also looking forward to see where all the work in the province of Alberta on Curriculum Redesign will go after our new government has had a chance to review it.

Developments in educational technology are:

  • > one year adoption: BYOD, Makerspaces
  • 2-3 years: 3D printing/rapid prototyping, adaptive learning technologies
  • 4-5 years: badges/microcredit, wearable technology

BYOD or Bring Your Own Device Initiative has sprouted to various school sites and grade levels throughout our school division. A couple of our schools (one K-4, one 5-9) have delved this past year into 3D Printing and more are interested in using this tool in the learning environment. (For some its a budget concern and for others its pedagogical.) With Makerspaces we are seeing our Library Learning Commons staff taking the lead in introducing this to their school sites and some keen teachers taking it further and making curricular connections (ie. Caines Arcade). Some adaptive learning technologies being used are IXL Math, Accelerated Reader.

Overall, my school division sees the value in integrating technology into the learning and teaching environment. We see the many opportunities it creates for ALL our school communities from creating new ways to express and demonstrate learning, removing barriers (such as print or writing or reading) to engaging with each other, other schools and even other countries.

Take a quick read through the NMC Horizon Report Preview 205 K-12 Edition and then for a “meatyer” report, check out the full meal deal of the NMC Horizon Report.


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