Spring Break – getting ready for #ReadyPlayerOne by @erniecline

If you don’t want to read: Short story – I’ve played a lot of the video games mentioned in Ready Player One – and I found links to those games: https://technolandy.wordpress.com/arcade-classics/



As I get ready to do a video parody singing ‘Where Are You Springtime?’ (instead of Christmas) I am getting excited for the movie adaption of Ernie Clines book “Ready Player One” – and a tad surprised it took me as long as it did to discover it a year or so ago! I am aware that Spielberg will put his own twist on ‘the book’ – and many people hoping for a text-to-screen treatment will be disappointed – but the preview highlights the DeLorean and the Iron Giant – and the text is awesomely full of 80s easter eggs!



But right now it is raining. With a mix of snow. Onto the overloaded snowfield that is our yard – still – way too late in the year for our neck of the woods. Not quite cabin fever, but needing an outlet in between reading books (and writing a secret project) I decided to match the games that Ernest Cline put into his book and the ones that I recalled from my own gamified youth – I freely admit that the Apple IIe my dad brought home helped my academics (previously I had to do way to many rewrites due to ‘messiness’ – even though I won a blue ribbon at a fall fair for penmanship, it was not possible for me to duplicate it on a regular basis – but my typing was just as nice and neat as anybody elses – and that helped me (and my teachers) focus on the content rather than the neatness (and transferring the ‘legibility learning outcome’ from messiness to grammar).



So I made a page in support for my virtual assignments page – but games not necessarily as connected to the academic learning outcomes as opposed to the other ones I typically add to the list (for math, reading, spelling, ADST, etc). These games do some teaching though! My Arcade Games page is new and has some fun links while we wait for spring….and wait for #ReadyPlayerOne to be released!


Some of the learnings include:


  • that there are extra lives to be won when you are successful and going on to a more challenging area
  • that there is a reset button when things are not going as well
  • sometimes ”levelling up” just means things come at you faster and faster (kinda like life)
  • that collaboration is not the same as group work (just because you could share game cartridges did not mean everyone could play at the same time) but…
  • teamwork is necessary (need to share what you learned or else you’ll never get out of the first room in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
  • patience is necessary (gotta take turns and be nice!)
  • Multi-task or perish – be aware of the surroundings -both virtual and in real life – factors in the room you are playing in can impact your game….much like playing your game while someone is calling your name can impact your life….
  • rigor is important – and sometimes perseverance is necessary to be successful….whether your objective is just to finish the game or finish with the highest score possible King of Kong  and so many more too: https://conceptartempire.com/video-game-documentaries/
  • forward/strategic thinking is important – if you eat all the power pellets in PacMan right away…..the game becomes a tad more difficult (and if you know the patterns of the ghosts….things can be easier – especially if you discover the “rest spot”
  • believe it or not – video games are social….even though there can be hours ‘alone in the basement’ – thats not always the full story. Gamers share strategies (thats how the first easter egg in Adventure was learned about – not a well kept secret….if you know who to talk to) and games in this millennium are even more social – with ‘playthroughs’ able to be found on youtube to help people through difficult sections (and darn near impossible ones on Mario Maker!)
  • creative thinking and mental work – there is no ‘one’ way to solve or finish a game – and sometimes ‘mindlessly’ going through a familiar game can help the brain do some ‘other thinking’ in the background (that multi-tasking mentioned earlier) and sometimes playing video games is indeed a mental workout!
  • Risk Taking is needed – knowing that when you face a Boss (or Mike Tyson at the end of Punch-Up) that defeat is far more likely than victory ….and until recently,  very rarely was there an option to ‘save’ where you are and restart at that point


Its not just me – others are sharing skills you can learn by embracing the video game world….https://www.gamesradar.com/10-useful-skills-you-can-learn-playing-video-games/


Video Games can be part of a school experience. And I’ll support the ‘no shooting games involving guns’ rule in the computer lab….because there are many more games out there that push the brain and even encourage rigor…..and goal setting (my son hopes to finish new games within 48 hours – depending on how big the game playing universe is – like the latest Zelda game…..very different from the first one! Because that’s the other lesson we should learn – games improve and get better over the years….so should classrooms and teachings….don’t get stuck on ‘level one’ – look for ways to Level UP!!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 122 (of 186) is extreme lateness a good thing? I’m saying it is…

Day 122 (of 186) is extreme lateness a good thing? I’m saying it is…

I’ve always ranged from supporting “being on time for class” to being flexible when Learning communities had a track record of “gradual starts”. I’ve adapted by having silent reading start the day to starting the day in the gym to having “project time” to get things going.

I’m proud that I have parents state that their kids like coming to school each day – and even having one specific student who (due to anxiety) preciously has a day a week “off” the previous year hating when she couldn’t come to school due to either sickness or competitions. I like that kids like coming each day even if they know one of our thematic days may be a challenge for them (our math days are fun, but the sense of a full day of math still makes some cringe – I’m working on that though!!)

But is there such a thing as “too late” in the day to show up? I wonder this because the days going into spring break had two “lates” that I haven’t seen previously – one boy who woke up sick (and called in sick for the day) suddenly showing up after lunch. He took his meds and slept some more and woke up feeling better….and asked if he could come to school for the afternoon. I know that if I was too sick in the morning I don’t think I would’ve made a change and go in for the last hour and a half.

Even stranger I also had a student show up with less than half an hour at school. And this student has some “significant reluctance’s” to school that we have been working on – so his desire to come to school after a doctor appointment surprised me! Perhaps his regular desire to want to go home instead of being at school is changing??

I always welcome student as they arrive – even (especially) the ones that struggle to arrive when the bell says they should…and I’m going to count kids coming to school when they would not have previously and indeed had every right to be absent for the whole day, as a positive!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 121 (of 186) on the saddest Pi Day

Day 121 (of 186) on the saddest Pi Day

Ironic that Pi Day (march 14 3.14 with dismissal just before 2 so kids can be aware of the time connection: 3.14159 – 1:59) is the birthday of Sir Isaac Newton – the guy who made up Calculus (in about the same amount of time that it takes the average student to learn it…) and now sadly the passing of Professor Stephen Hawking.

And a correction – I mixed up my geniuses – thought I heard it was Newton’s birthday when really it was the 20th century genius Einstein – which makes it even more appropriate – the guy who started the theory of relativity was born on Pi day and the guy who extended it to the black hole degree passes away on it….

I do like that Pi Day fits nicely into the thematic “Day of ___” that we have been doing in our class – even though some did groan that we were doing “another full day of math” – the same groaners also complained that the day went by too fast….

I like showing (with examples like Pi) how math connects and interconnects with so much of life – and in this case in particular with circles and pyramids – how something as irrational as Pi (literally) is a mathematic constant in that it is inconstant – I’m also the teacher that pushes thinking by raising up the debate rather 0 is a number or digit or none of the above…. the “rules” that we use for math are similar to those rules we use for English – unless you fully understand them….sometimes it doesn’t always make sense (and when you fully understand them then you know it rarely makes sense) – but I am digressing like putting Pi over 0 (and making it further undefined).

In other words – it is a day where we can look at math from a different perspective. With Art. With mindless calculations (practicing with calculators). With some art. With some design thinking even! Different activities make for an interesting day. And to help keep us grounded, I also have a “Weird and Wacky” (booklet concept I stole from a fabulous teacher) to keep us grounded (aka self regulated) when things get too wordy…or thinky… or mathy…..

Day of Pi

I like bringing in some of the information about Sir Isaac Newton during this day as well. Some of his thinkings and why they were so important – especially how we even have classes in high school that are based on math that he literally made up – my usual gripe about my lack of success with calculus has always been that it’s like somebody just made it up – ongoing bad joke….but I am a Dad as well after all!

But today we also blended in some sharing about Doctor Hawking. How his thinking built upon theories and thinkings by other ‘geniuses’ (especially Einstein who many students still seem more familiar with) which of course leads to a fun class discussion on how we can be okay with ideas being “borrowed” by others (Sugata Mitra calls this ‘research’) and then build upon their work….it’s what we do in education – learn what works, experiment with what might be better, learn from outside the field (the work that has been done on Brains and Growth Mindsets has been important in how learners learn – information that we didn’t have 20 years ago…..in some cases not even 5 years ago! Dr Hawking has been “the go-to genius” for my generation – and already his passing seems to have created a “gap” – but as one of my educator role models said: nature abhors a vacuum; when a challenging student moved due to family issues, we could be sure another complex learner was on their way – so I’m looking forward to seeing who my kids “go-to genius” will be inspired by….

So Pi day does more than just reinforce the value of knowing that it converts to the digits 3.14 – that it is a starting point into a variety of other mathematical thinkings – and that math thinking can be as fun (or at least as interesting) as it is challenging!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 120 (of 186) still debating cell phones in schools? Thanks @shareski & @pasi_sahlberg

Day 120 (of 186) still debating cell phones in schools? Thanks @shareski & @pasi_sahlberg

Sigh. Dean posed “the question” again

Too often I see mixed messages: teachers telling students to hand phones in at the front rather than turning them into powerful tools. Indeed many teachers ban student phones while not following the message they are preaching (pushes the trust factor a bit) – and for teachers who don’t have use cell phones….well they appreciate missing out on some amazing opportunities to communicate while mobile.

Tool vs Toy. We don’t ban pencils or sharpies when they are misused- and kids tuning out by reading a paper book face much less punishment than those reading on a screen. Are we blaming the tool universally or just the ones “we” didn’t have when ”we” were in school?

I’ve been “talked to” about texting during a meeting – only to get a apology when I show them the notes I have taken. I’ve also been “told” by a student when I questioned if she was using her device as a tool or toy that it was being used as a toy because she was frustrated and needed to play a game to calm down to get back to work. She said she needed 5 minutes. When I came back she was indeed working on-task and in a much more relaxed mindset.

Calculator vs phone? The TI-whatever runs about $120. An equivalent app ranges from $4 to……free…..

The timing is great though as Pasi Sahlberg also did some thinking about this:


And of course my kids at home have asked my opinion which continues to be that “we live in an amazing time where the most amazing tool for differentiation fits in our pockets – why wouldn’t we use them…..appropriately.” – like language, communication can be positive or negative but we don’t pan pencils or vocal chords when misused – we focus on better use…not “not using it”.

So….how successful is a cell plan? Depends on what the focus is….and if adults are using mobile tech – isn’t that a great way to model acceptable use? Sure there are some topics to deal with such as photos and social media – but those are always good topics to be talking about to have better “netiquette”. Saying “don’t use it”…..well, don’t use it…say “how to use it’ to make things better, not hidden.

If your cell phone policy isn’t successful, keep working with it – success with these tools is definitely worth it!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 119 (of 186) keep remembering: it’s the first day after the time change aka maybe Newfoundland has things right

First days after weekends of time changes are always a little wonky. I expect to see (and get to see) tears, rudeness, anger, tiredness, sickness……if we could assign Zones of Regulation to the calendar – the Monday after a time zone is full out “Blue Zone” …. which can lead to people being “stuck” or shifting to Red Zone” thinking (or non-thinking/reacting) instead. And I’m not just talking about the students – this is an “all years” issue and at home as well as school.

Now, I remember being confused as a kid with tv and radio announcements saying 7 eastern 4 pacific and 6:30 in Newfoundland Labrador. I learned it was because in lieu of doing the annual moving of the clocks, they switched it by 1/2 an hour and were done. “A Newfoundland thing” is what we called it laughing at it. Maybe a smart thing. Maybe Arizona (and a few other regions) has this one right….

I also see the time change as another “necessity” of a bygone era – when we were an agrarian-focused society – needing the start of the day to roll with the sunlight – something that made sense “once upon a time” but in a more 24/7 world….perhaps the clock and “specific time” needs to change…differently.

Especially when the lead up to spring break is often one of the toughest periods that we continue to forget about: https://technolandy.wordpress.com/2018/03/07/day-116-of-186-still-that-time-of-year-for-a-reminder/

  • It is valuable to remember to take that extra breath.
  • Go for a walk and enjoy the sunshine (today was our first day in double digits -Celsius)
  • Sip that coffee rather than chug it. Same with tea. Avoid the wine and other temptations for a couple of days.
  • Read a book.
  • Take a “boredom break”.
  • Look at the calendar as a friend rather than an adversary.
  • It’s why I like how efolios enable us to focus on the Learning rather than the calendar to ensure units are “done” prior to an artificial mark on an increasingly irrelevant calendar. I’m postponing a couple of activities so that we can focus on the quality of what we are doing rather than the quantity of what we get done.

When things get “busy and high energy” react with calmness and patience. It’ll make a world of difference. And be mindful that you don’t “cancel Christmas” (make a threat or consequence that cannot be carried out) because he weight of that decision will be heavy on everyone. Make decisions that will make things better, not worse!

And if you need to blame something (rather than someone) blame the time change!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 118 (of 186) on a district raising the topic of white privilege #sd74 @downsteresa

Day 118 (of 186) on a district raising the topic of white privilege #sd74 @downsteresa

Not an easy topic to bring up. Many immediate (and valid) “exceptions to the rule” around what has been termed “white privilege”. This is not a secret organization. No secret handshake. For many, probably not even something that they would be aware of….which is why it is sensitive to being up….because there will be backlash – as School District 74 Superintendent @DownsTeresa was no doubt prepared for (at least at a local level though maybe not for such a wider audience):


And while it is true that there are some “tests” you can take, when I took one, as a white male, I thought that I would’ve “scored higher” than I did (and I stated that to the room)….but was still a higher score than many….so there is definitely “more to the story” but….

⁃ I’ve never had difficulty seeing role models ‘that look like me’ in media – and my role models have quite a range (though we could have a discussion on how television stereotypes “dads” [of all races])

⁃ When stopped by police I’ve been more nervous about what my mom would think than what the officer would do

⁃ While I’ve been a minority ‘at times’ it’s never been ‘all the time’ (yes even being a white male is not always an advantage)

⁃ I admit I’m not a fan of affirmative action programs – but mainly because I would like to think I always make judgements based on actions rather than skin colour or gender, but I’ve become “better aware” of why affirmative action is necessary – because not everyone thinks and acts as I do and things haven’t been systematically fair nor equal (even more so when socioeconomic gets added in!)

⁃ I am aware that there may have been privileges granted to me that I was unaware of (ie carrying a backpack in a store) and that I assume would be ‘universal’

⁃ I’m also aware that there is a “guilt by association – or stereotype” that is felt – especially when “jokes” or silences are heard. If you’ve got nothing nice to say…. and racially coded language can “feel better” : urban inner-city disadvantaged (which should imply that some are overadvantaged….right?)

⁃ I also know that while change (and new) and addressing “old wrongs” done by different people (residential schools Komagata Maru, head taxes, detainment camps etc) can be awkward – how far back do we go to address wrongs…..kids do what they see – and if they see adults doing better….so will they


update: I’ve never had to prepay for a meal https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/15/us/maine-ihop-race-trnd/index.html in a restaurant that didn’t make everyone prepay for their meal.


In the end, I feel confident that with more discussion about (and not around) this topic that SD74 has provided an opening to have…..well, in my experience it’s like bullying – in many instance it is more of a lack of awareness than it is a direct point of action, and with awareness….it stops. It changes into something better. Something more focused on equality. Something truly “universal” where experiences are based on how you act rather than how you look.

Don’t focus on what SD74 did to start the conversation – focus on the conversation that SD74 has started.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 117 (of 186) Guided Reading – Using Comics to start conversations and inspire reading…..hopefully!

Guided Reading – Using Comics to start conversations and inspire reading…..hopefully


I’ve previously blogged about using comics to spark reading….  https://technolandy.wordpress.com/2018/01/22/day-85-of-186-comics-to-classics-reinspired-by-a-chat-with-theweirdteacher-and-excaliburpdx/


I have a few learners who don’t yet know the joy of reading. I’m trying – I’m going slower than I hoped to, but I’m trying to focus on quality to build an interest in reading quantity – and of course with today being International Women’s Day – today was the perfect opportunity to share the origin story of Diana Prince – the first female superhero: Wonder Woman (and yes – the girls in the class were VERY happy to read a story with a female lead….if you write them, they will read!


Recently I stumbled upon some one-page origin stories that I composed some thinking questions (not comprehension) to try to spark some conversations in Guided Reading – it even inspired some work around Design Thinking as we created our own Super Heros, Super Villains and Super Lairs (everyone wants a BatCave or Fortress of Solitude for their very own, right?)



Share….read…find “graphic novels” to explore and love! My son always likes to go against the flow, so of course he’s interested in Aquaman…..sigh….hurt a little until I stumbled upon the Peter David “reimagining” which started to make Aquaman cool (so much more than ‘talking with fishes’) Or check out some other great series to read – but be mindful that not all comics are Kid stuff…..! Best Comics to Start with      (and then follow the links on the side!)



Batman Hush Origin

batman origin

Batman origin story Qs

Captain Marvel Extended Origin

Captain Marvel Origin

Captain Marvel Origin Qs

Green Lantern Origin

Green Lantern Origin Qs

Hulk Origin

Hulk Origin Qs

Joker Origin

Joker Origin Qs

Riddler Origin

Riddler Origin Qs

Spiderman origin

SpiderMan Origin Qs

Superman Origin Qs

Superman Origin Story

Two Face Origin

Two Face Origin Qs

Wonder Woman Origin

Wonder Woman origin story Qs

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment