Day 33 (of 185) thoughts from @cuebc #cuebc pro-d event

Day 33 (of 185) thoughts from @cuebc #cuebc pro-d event

I’ll admit I always get nervous when someone comes up and says “I’m looking forward to your session”….but there is always such a positive energy at events like the annual cuebc event… big this year that they actually had to close down registrations! 
–>and I was shocked to see how many people were crowded in my room for my share on coding k-12… @jagill and I estimated at lunch’ about 10% of the conference wanted to learn more about bringing coding to younger learners – which is absolutely great to see!
My slides:

But so good to see so many leading educators who have inspired me here. And of course having students sharing how valuable they found the ability to use 1:1 mobile technology in ALL learning environments as well as sharing how valuable they found their eportfolios…..nice to hear affirmation of what I’ve been encouraging for…..well, quite a while now…

Keynote with @chrkennedy 
Love that he’s starting with a great game: awesome or not:
1. Coding as a course. (And my discussion was with a kindy teacher who wasn’t sure how it would work with younger learners – exactly what I’m sharing later today)

2. The state of social media in schools (as Chris nicely said: I think kids are doing less crappy things on social media than a decade ago)

3. Future of cuebc in 5 years (tech teachers shouldn’t be separate from other educators….but each year more and more pushing those boundaries….and coming to conferences like cuebc)
Here’s what we have now in BC:
We have reliable internet connectivity in most places (most of the time) compared to just a few years ago
Most districts have mobile devices in teachers hands
Got a plan(s) for byod that work (equity not separate from this)
(Generally) accepting phones in classrooms
How to embrace (power of) social media
Unblocking (YouTube et al) is a big mindset shift

But we are still in routine of doing old things better….


And what can the “stuff” do – things that would not have been possible without the tech

5 obstacles
No need

No money

No hurry

No desire 

No trust

Easy work done – the yes/no (but like to rediscuss these because they’re easy)



Phones in school

Harder: what do teachers want….what makes learning better for kids

Moving to 1:1 opportunities. Not just about 1:1 with devices. 
And yes, there is a connection between digital & outdoor learning. And I agree – even though I’m about the tech, I equally champion “getting outside” – they are not in opposition. 

Challenge time: find a video that highlights the promise of technology. Posting it on twitter using #cuebc


In WestVan – Google has become our go to place and took….moving from “it could do that” to “it just works”. 

Digital tools like @freshgrade and Techbook as growing in popularity and become something we have to do….because it’s working for the learners…!

Coding and robotics have gone from nowhere to everywhere. And treating it like Band. Part of school but sits outside of timetable. 

since BC has moved away from (one size fits all) provincial exams, we can rethink how Ss show learning…..And no longer thinking one tool (smart boards) for all……right?

Hexagonal thinking w Karl @LS_karl

Problem solving approach

Allowing you to see problems from new, different ways
Really like the concept of breaking a project down to its smaller pieces (for us, we took concept of students going to an alternate learning environment) and then sorting the topics into related groups….

And then we looked at one based on visuals..

Has such great cross curricular connect ability!

Really glad Karl has married a Canadian and joined BC Education!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 32 (of 185) a fire alarm drill where we did not leave the building

Day 32 (of 185) a fire alarm drill where we did not leave the building



October 20th is this years #shakeoutBC day – a time where we all take a minute to talk about what we do in case of an earthquake:



As I explain to students, it’s about knowing what to do even if you do not live in an active earthquake area, because people travel and our journeys often take us to areas that may experience earthquakes.


I also use it as a way to kick off awareness about our three main types of drills/alerts that we have at school:

Earthquake Drill (not likely, but good to practice)

Lockdown Drill (not too likely, but important to practice)

Fire Drills (very rare, but get the most amount of practice….though usually during nice weather….whereas the only fires I have had friends involved in have been in miserable weather where we learned two key things:

  • ensure you are dressed for the elements (grab boots/coats because one of the school evacuations was in the winter as a fire was started by christmas lights on a door decoration….yep….and everyone got out fast, but very very very cold. Fire chief did his best to “clear” the gym asap to get everyone back to warmth, but also told us – while speed is important, ability to stay safe in the elements is equally important)
  • drills need to be about more than just “how fast”. They need to identify some key issues because it is very unlikely that a real “alert” will be called when everyone is nicely sitting in a classroom with their outdoor shoes and coats on. Questions such as:
    • can windows be blocked out?
    • can doors be locked? unlocked?
    • what if someone is in the bathroom?
    • what if they are in different rooms?
    • what if we are in the gym?


But today, I decided to rethink my fire drill and do something that also needs to be practiced: the one time that a fire drill should not lead to an evacuation.


So, I walked the learning community through our drills:

We talked about what to do in case of an earthquake. Even talked about how often so much shaking will trigger a fire alarm which would have us exit the building.


We also had a lockdown drill. That meant we had to do what we could to “hide” and remain quiet until we heard the all clear signal. I even introduced the “3 bell” system  – because while on quiet relaxed days where all students are sitting nicely in their classrooms with their outdoor shoes and coats on are nice, more likely than not, students will be all over the place and probably even outside – so we ring the bell 3 times and that lets students know they need to get inside the building and then inside the closest room right away.


But what happens when the fire alarm rings while we are in a lockdown?



That is the question I wondered, and so we put that into todays drill activities. Especially since it was looking especially rainy and we wanted to limit the amount of transitions….

So we tried that as a discussion point in classes and agreed, if the lockdown alert (3 bells) goes and then the fire alarm sounds, we will follow our lockdown rules first – and then evacuate when an “all clear” signal is shared.



So for the first time, I actually did do a fire drill in which students were not expected to head outside at all. Out next one will focus on the “time” it takes to leave the building. But no rush!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 31 (of 185) coding centres (final prep for fridays @cuebc pro-d day)

Day 31 (of 185) coding centres (final prep for fridays @cuebc pro-d day(

I won’t give away too much, but I always like getting ready for sharing things like coding centres. It’s always fun to re-explore, re-think, re-flect and re-practice good ideas when they are in the hands of multi-age learners….



My coding centres came about most recently (and more focused) thanks to #hourofcode – and the challenge/opportunity to have more students thinking about coding …. and realize that it’s not the image of lonely people in basements – that it is a vibrant way of thinking and doing!




I appreciated the book The Innovators by Walter Isaacson which pointed out how the first coders were females…something I like to share when students (and parents) say “its a boy thing” – coding is so much more than a gender specific job. From Ada Lovelace to Steve Wozniak, coding has continued to be as much about “thinking” as it is about “programming”.



I try to design my coding centres in three stages: emergent, exploratory and expertise:



My emergent stations (which I focus my kindys and early primary students on) have a lot of hands-on opportunities while also forcing them to work collaboratively –> sharing and knowing that what they are making may be broken or changed by future students. It’s an important mindset – that very little is ever “done” and things can be re-examined and re-purposed and re-imagined over time.



My exploratory stations (grades 3-5ish) expand on the hands-on nature of some stations (like lego and graffiti) and start to push them onto more screens…and there is no shortage of web-based and app-based programs to drive them into zones of frustration!


I choose “zones of frustration” meaningfully – because at all ages, I prepare the students for the fact that depending on the centre, they will be frustrated. Either because I am not giving them enough time to really explore the centre or because something isn’t going easily. So we talk about what “frustration” can mean – and that a little bit of frustration is okay (which is why I keep the first week of centre exploration to about a minute each) but staying frustrated isn’t good.


Which is why I also add in some centres that are more (?) about self regulation than just coding….though there is often a fair chunk of overlap….but more on that on friday



My expertise stations can often duplicate as exploratory – consider minecraft – it can easily begin with a “game” feel to it, but can quickly expand well beyond that. My son did an application to a project based learning program via minecraft, and some genius created a scientific calculator using it: Minecraft Scientific/Graphing calculator – Sin Cos Tan Log Square root …

and just because we are at school, it doesn’t mean we have to/need to limit the creative possibilities of our students. I’m pretty certain that the mindshift coding will have on how the library is seen and used is going to lead to so much more – maker spaces, and mobile technology are the natural next-move when exploring coding.



I’m looking forward to sharing the ups and downs of using centres as a way to bring learners into coding. And also share how I/we have to “embrace the chaos” (or “trust the process” – depending on the adult comfort levels) and roll with students who are sometimes for the first time responsible for their own learning and doing and sometimes the only “help” they have is to try something different….and coding has so many different levels of accessibility and use ability – from visual blocks to drop to html and beyond!


after all,

01101001 01110100 00100111 01110011 00100000 01100001 01101110 00100000 01100101 01111000 01100011 01101001 01110100 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01110100 01101001 01101101 01100101 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01100010 01100101 00100000 01101001 01101110 00100000 01100101 01100100 01110101 01100011 01100001 01110100 01101001 01101111 01101110  !!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 30 (of 185) a “wow” moment with anxiety

Day 30 (of 185) a “wow” moment with anxiety


After a long weekend of driving to the coast and back, our son was having a tough monday. He was dragging and moaning and embellishing coughs etc this morning.  He was getting frustrated with me (my wife) reminding him that he needs to remember that when he is not feeling well he has a harder time self regulating and that while I know he isn’t feeling well life doesn’t stop for a cold and he needs to push through…


She then drove our oldest girl to school and came back for him…


He got in the front seat and said “Mom, can you and dad try not to push me past my limits.  It’s like asking someone who can only lift a certain amount to lift twice that weight.”….the conversation continued and he broke my heart a little when he said “don’t you think that I want to be normal?….I want to be able to get through a whole day in class and not need to leave…because I need to do that so I can meet my goal to work at Nintendo one day”….when I said something about him being “normal” he said “I’m okay with being a little bit odd because as Dr. Seuss said – ‘you have to be odd to be number 1’…”



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 29 (of 185) re music in schools

Day 29 (of 185) re music in schools

Saturday night my wife and I went to the big city to support the Thank You For The Music Society that I was asked to be on the board of. Our mandate is to keep music in schools and get instruments (specifically a specific keyboard and ideally a hybrid Yamaha piano) into schools. 

I am thrilled that I am part of a district that has kept music important. I’ve been in two other districts where we “reduced music prep time” and by that I mean minimized any music experience for students k-12…and I learned: once music leaves a school district it is REALLY HARD to get back. I have (and will continue) spoken out in favour of maintaining “what we do in music” – it’s enabled choirs to exist in schools where they otherwise wouldn’t and for students to explore musical instruments that elsewhere they couldn’t. 

In my school I am fortunate to have students, parents and staff who support our fabulous music teacher (who I helped hire last year – and the principal of music and myself routinely hurt ourselves patting our backs for that decision) and she has been a powerful force….she wanted two tubas for our school band…and got them. It’s this passion that helps inspire students  – one of which has a goal of being our trumpeter at our Remembrance Day Assembly. 

My own music talent stopped at clarinet in grade 7….though I am adept at blending music for our month in review videos! Not the same, but I appreciate how valuable music experiences can be for (most) learners. I’ll admit I’ve had a few students join me in my office rather than go to music class, but only because there was a lot going on in their worlds and one more transition was tough….but the goal was always to have them re-involved in the musical experiences as soon as possible. 

I hope that the actions of groups such as  can help reintroduce and re-involve robust music programs by planting seeds (aka pianos) into schools where it is needed… soon as possible!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 28 (of 185) using my “principals voice”

Day 28 (of 185) using my “principals voice”

I was lucky enough to have my two girls come to my school as part of our districts Toonie Tuesday/Me to We assembly!  They are part of our district student leadership team which sends students to each school to talk about this event. 

So, a “bragging dad” moment happened. I was very proud of them standing up in front of the assembly and sharing stories about what our does and what they, as students, can do to make a difference (and how the district committee can help out!). 

Now, it was part of my bigger “reflection” assembly – once a month I like to get the whole school, together so I can introduce some specific topics:

The excess of litter on the ground

The upcoming ShakeoutBC event and the other drills we will do that day

My tech rule: tool vs toy (tools enhance learning, toys distract)

Up coming events & our “month in review” video (I always have a camera with me and document the learning going on in the classrooms and share via video with music. 

When I asked my girls what they thought of my assembly, they made fun of me saying I was using my “principals voice”
My family will often call me on it if/when I use that voice. My wife will sometimes warn me not to use it…..but to me, when I’m at school I think that is an appropriate social register:
Loud enough to carry to the back row

Delightful pauses (as my daughter calls them) when I want students to do some quick-reflecting time

Attempts to do jokes 

It was a neat experience to have 2/3 kids with me for the day (my oldest even did some 1:small group work with the trombone musicians in our school bands) and I was able to note that during their part of the assembly……

Well, apparently they too could be educators as they were using many of the same cadences/emphasis/”delightful pauses” that I use. Looking forward to pointing out when they are using their “daughter-of-a-principal voice”……yeah – I can already hear the groans and see the eye rolls!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 27 (of 185) re Health & Safety (school committees) w thanks to @adamkreek

Day 27 (of 185) re Health & Safety (school committees) w thanks to @adamkreek 

Today we started with a share by Canadian Olympian Adam Kreek. He emphasized the importance of Focus. He compared his trek as part of four people rowing across the ocean being safer than riding a motorcycle (on a % comparison) and made an analogy to driving a car – sometimes more safety features makes you less focused… yelling in back, phone ringing etc vs foci of riding a bike (not answering phone as lack of doors et al increase focus/awareness of everything else going on….and you can bet that when they were on the ocean they were VERY focused. 

Though even then it is possible to have moments where attention can be lost. That is where preparation matters. When they misjudged a wave and an oar broke….they were able to deploy a sea anchor and ensure they were safe in order to get things fixed (mentally and equipmentally). 

And then an example of what happened when the boat capsized. And yes, even though they had prepared for this…in theory….the reality really emphasizes how you deal with Change effectively. Make sure you can catch your breath. Observe what the changed conditions (reality) are. 

Tell stories = forget

Teach philosophies = remember

Involve the audience = learn 

Change is tough. Kind of like the implementation dip:

You Can resist OR Can take on responsibility
Some things we can control:




Challenge: what is your next Gold Medal moment? What are you moving towards?

What are you doing to get ready?

Preparation matters. 
Mental wellness…mental health is enhanced when there is a goal….a purpose in your life…a gold medal opportunity

Gold Medal Moments need pursuit of:


Community service



(And removing negatives of those)

More than achieving: wealth beauty and fame (but pursuit of internal wellness has a side effect of the external benefits)
and… medal moments are brief. Even a gold medal 🎖 is great for next few hours…then normality sets in again. Even clinging Mt Everest…standing on top of the world for about thirty seconds…then it’s the next persons turn….and you have to get back down….

Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the strength to continue that counts. -Churchill

Similar to CBT, stress et al is your body reacting.  Listen to the body. 

Breathing hint: 4-7-8
Breathe in 4s
Hold breath 7s

Breathe out 8s

Breathing deeply changes fight/flight to relax/recharge
“For 99% of the species on this planet, stress is 3 minutes of screaming terror in the savannah – after which it’s over or you’re over” Robert Sapolsky
Stress = performance energy.  Until it becomes “too much” – reaches a “not good” tipping point. 

Lots of healthy ways to recover from stress. And when we do (like a workout) we can build our capacity. Increase you capacity-sphere. Staying within comfort zone means no growth…
And gotta watch out for addictive “stress maskers” like nicotine pills alcohol gambling etc. 

Watching for: pleasure –> coping –> addiction –> abuse
Easy to chase what you’re missing when change is creating stress. Pleasurable experiences can quickly become harmful. The harm-line is when coping shifts to addiction. When coping you need to be aware. Once it’s addictive you need to seek help – it’s an increase to self-harm. And very personal issues. Need to get help in order to Recover Wisely. 

Valuable to: reflect *  learn  * grow * let it go

4 year “Olympic plan”
Year 1: try new strategy; innovate

Year 2: project success and plan

Year 3: qualify

Year 4: training to win
Then each year is broken into yearly plans (6-8 week cycles) and down to a daily plan. 
Hmmmm – very similar to the CBT Coping Steps Plan!
Why? Races can be won by the smallest of margins. Each “gain” can be very important – Adams team won by one second. 220 inches. 220 strokes per race. One inch of improvement led to a gold medal. 
To be achieved gold medal moments must be broken down into smaller wins. 
Van Gogh: great things are done by a series of small things brought together. 

When ‘the boat capsizes’ focus on what you can control

(and when help is offered……be willing to accept/use it – that’s what it is there for….its part of what your preparation was all about) 

Final thought: inspiration has an expiry date. What are you looking at/working on?
And why do Olympics happen every 4 years? Breakthrough theory days it takes about 4 years (like university, electoral terms, business plans….etc)
And it’s okay to “look up” every now and then to make sure your destination is still where you want to be moving to. Redirections okay. Returning to an earlier goal also good. 

It’s not about what you get, it’s about who you become. So what’s your plan?

And at the end of the day……sing like Kreek:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment