Day 130 (of 185) Canadas “real” birthday (not alternative news…or is it…)

Day 130 (of 185) Canadas “real” birthday (not alternative news….or is it…?)
When most people are asked, when is Canadas birthday? They will respond with the typical answer of July 1 (and when pressed, 1867) making this Canada’s 150th birthday. That was when the British North America Act was passed so that another nation created the Dominion of Canada. Not the same as our American cousins who celebrate their ‘fight for independence’ as Canada’s ‘fight’ was more economical and political in nature.  
But is it really Canadas birthday? I know I had one history professor who had two alternative dates to consider:
a) 1982 – when The Constitution Act finally allowed Canada to make changes to its constitution and how it is governed without petitioning a request as a constitutional monarchy. This act was passed on April 17
b) April 9-12 in 1917 was Canada’s first military victory. The first time that, as a nation, Canada had its citizens engaged in a battle flying its own colours. It may not be a popular sentiment, but he did make a compelling argument that it takes a willingness for a country to defend or fight as an independent entity that creates a true sense of independence. And because of our system at the time, when Britain declared war, Canada wa automatically at war…and not ‘on its own’ until Vimy Ridge:
That is why today is being recognized as Vimy Ridge Awareness Day – not to celebrate a battle, because nobody wants to have wars, but we can learn a lot by reflecting on our past actions and decisions – both the easy and hard ones. 

It’s nice to think about 🇨🇦  especially when I can wear a tie to get conversations going about why we might take a day to think about a time Canada was involved in a military battle…..but it is a significant step for a nation to be recognized – because not all “nations” are recognized by other international states – famously Taiwan, Palestine, Israel, Cyprus and even China….

There are many concerns this year around “alternative news/facts” but there are also times that it is good to ask questions to get better understandings…..because sometimes  there can be more than one answer – which is why my kids at home cringe when we play ‘fun facts’ because they know the history-geek in me will always bring out multiple answer….!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Day 129 (of 185) intention vs interpretation

Day 129 (of 185) intention vs interpretation

How you say something can great influence how it is understood and responded to…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 128 (of 185) assessment day reflections & ongoing questions

Day 128 (of 185) assessment day reflections & ongoing questions

Today the team that worked on our pre-spring break assessment/communication day

to reflect on what we heard, what we saw, and what might be next. 

Two key thinkings resonated with me: the first around practice – specifically a wonder about why we spent time looking back on the elements of AFL:
but if AFL permeated everywhere, we wouldn’t need to re-emphasize it’s importance. Sometimes reminders are important. That’s why reflect on what we did, do, and are planning next!

The next area for consideration was around  that element of ‘what next’. The feedback was the desire for a new report card – but our committee task was to focus on some guiding principles (my view on report cards can be found: ) and yes I was teased for being an outlier (and retorted with a reference to @tweetsomemoore bowling pin analogy because if I were to go away, there would just be another outlier!)

Anyways, my push was to continue to consider the importance to have an emphasis on the quality of the assessments we do and share rather than a quantity. I still have that plan for my “what’s next” – to continue to focus on quality over quantity of student work. That is one of the viewpoints I will be continuing to take forward on further discussion on k-12+ assessment discussions. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 127 (of 185) takeaways from @duckworthw “Grit”

Day 127 (of 185) takeaways from @duckworthw “Grit”

I really appreciate that the book Grit acknowledges the importance we give ‘talent’, but how talent itself is not enough…..but when ‘others’ succeed in areas we would like to, it’s a great excuse: they had ‘more’ talent…..

I appreciate her emphasis on how ‘talent’ may start people on a path, but it’s not enough to keep them there. She uses a neat formula: 
talent x effort = skill (acknowledging that a talent for music isn’t enough if you don’t actually use it)

and skill x effort = achievement (acknowledging that ‘just using it’ isn’t enough if you’re not pushing yourself)

Rigor is about effort – but a focus on quality, not simply quantity; though quantity of swimming laps (in a Mark Spitz example) does help to refine the quality of what is being done! Some people may be ‘born to do something’ but it helps if they like to do that (made me think of Andre Agassiz who was always a very skilled tennis player, but when he learned to enjoy it and become of the greatest ever!)

I like how she shares an idea from Warren Buffet: list your 25 career goals, prioritize five – just five – and then avoid those other 20 ‘distractors’ at all costs to kee[ your focus on the goal(s) that matter most. <— this is hard. Duckworth tried it and hated it….I tried it and hated it….but I am going to do it again….

in large part because if you have a clear compass heading towards your passion/priority it will make it easier to deal with rejection (most writers experience 96%+ rejection) and obstacles that make you ‘try, try, try again – then do something different’ – or as the green berets say: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.

Grit is also about overcoming reasons for quitting what you’re doing. Four common thoughts:

I’m bored

The effort isn’t worth it

This isn’t important to me

I can’t do this, so I might as well give up
and there’s nothing wrong with these thoughts – especially when ‘exploring what’s available’ (this is what I do with my young learners during geniushour – follow a passion or eliminate what you thought might be a passion….but isn’t.)

Gotta have:
Interest: passion means intrinsic worth to doing what you do
Practice: need the capacity to do things better tomorrow than you did yesterday

(gotta want to to improve, whatever it takes!)
Purpose: a purpose allows you to keep working on ‘it’ for a lifetime (another connection to geniushour was when parents weren’t happy when I explained that the “due date” was never…..or at least a passion project should never ever really be “done”)
Hope: you need to know why you want/have to ‘rise to the occasion’ – and if knocked down, knowing you’ll get back up.

Then the comparison of “the good old days” approach of schools prepping students for the struggles of the “real world” vs those who have been encouraged to “follow your passion” vs those that are doing what they do because they “were told to”. 
An interesting mix of stories leading to some shares around “going to do what you love”

– if you like what you do, you are satisfied with your job

– you also perform better

Passion = a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening

There is also a message about “praise” – via a story about Jeff Bezos explaining an invention to his mom, who listened asked a question and nodded encouragingly – but didn’t understand everything <— this connects to Sugata Mitra’s GrannyCloud – an online service providing “granny’s” providing positive feedback to learners around the world – the focus is on positive praise and wondering “whats next?” as part of encouragement. Nice that this focus on positive feedback is being reinforced time and time again!

And I really like the “exploration rules” taken from “How to Solve the New York Times Crossword Puzzle”:
Begin with the answers you’re surest of and build from there.

Don’t be afraid to guess….

Don’t be afraid to erase an answer that isn’t working out (this is probably the hardest – especially if you’ve put a lot of time into it….)

Then there is the need for “deliberate practice” – and this isn’t ‘because you have to’ (though you do) it is about ‘because you want to” (either because you enjoy it or you recognize you need to in order to accomplish something ‘more’.

And as for figuring out your ‘sense of purpose’, there are some ideas:
– reflect on how the work you’re already doing can make a positive contribution to society

– think about how, in small but meaningful ways, you can change your current work to enhance its connection to your core values

– find inspiration in a purposeful role model

I also found it interesting to see that a study was done with Teach For America applicants around Grit, optimism and happiness – all of which have good research that supports their value (not to mention growth mindsets) that I can’t help but wonder if they would be a valuable part of an application process into a program….a district…..a school? (Rethinking my interview strategies….) – and Angela does a great synthesis of Dwecks work!

I spent a lot of time thinking about her observation that experiencing trauma without control can be debilitating – especially for learners in poverty who aren’t getting enough opportunities to show/experience mastery and the kids who cruise along until they experience their first failure and get stuck, uncertain what t do ‘next’. 

One of her comments around parenting for Grit stuck with me:

Do I think every moment of a child’s play should be scripted? Not at all. But I do think kids thrice when they spend at least some part of their week doing hard things that interest them. 

Page 239/240 talks about learned industriousness – hmmmm tasks vs learning – into s important to have some struggles to overcome, but there needs to be an identified purpose 

And she winds up with some examples of the importance of being part of a culture of Grit. By associating with likeminded “oddballs”, great accomplishments can be achieved! She also compares it to the Finnish mindset of Sisu – not quite a perfect translation to Grit, but means to ‘get the better of bad fortune by proving you can stand worse’; modelling by firmness, courage and determination. 

As she shares some sports cultures (with a positive shoutout to my Seattle Seahawks) I like the reference to the culture of the North Carolina Women’s Soccer program: we’ll try anything and if it works, we’ll keep doing it!

I was surprised to see her refer to the Beep Test (a Canadian running test – but has best impact when the athletes understand that it is a mental test as much as an aerobic challenge…..and then to see that some programs (specifically West Point) reduce attrition significantly by eliminating hazing <– not/never a good ‘test’ for culling the weak. Instead the culture is to treat everyone with respect and when someone is struggling, to provide a plan that will lead to success. A Growth Mindset focused on positive reinforcement (yes you can) rather than negatives (quit, you loser). 

In other words, Grit can lead to a culture of social multipliers; learning from each other so that each person sees, models and shares so that all succeed. Summarized even by Pete Carrolls question to the author: how can this day be helpful to you? Because it’s not about one thing (one challenge, one long worksheet) it’s about a million smaller details that all work together – and it’s not about “winnng” but about competition in the purest sense- personal excellence that includes wins and fails to compete together – not about creating losers. This is an interesting MindShift for me: To compete so that even fails aren’t seen as anything less than a best effort – because even the best decisions can lead to the worst possible outcomes because of uncontrollable factors (see how the Seahawks finished Super Bowl 49)

Grit is more than ‘doing more’. It’s more than just doing what you love. It’s about finishing strong. Finishing at the ‘right time’. About having a plan and support to finish well…not just finish more stuff. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 126 (of 185) ….. #likeagirl …..

Day 126 (of 185) ….. #likeagirl …..

Asked a student how a new practice was going – baseball has a niche market here – a focus on quality rather than quantity of players & teams. He said first practice was good but when they were working on some form throwing he didn’t know how to respond when the comment was made that he threw like a girl. 
I thought about a classic video:

And then shared what I would’ve said – he liked the idea:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day 125 (of 185) email communication changes

Day 125 (of 185) email communication changes

Changing email formats can be tricky. And in our district we are making the move from FirstClass to Office 365. Now…as much as I’m a mac guy, I was also a Microsoft fan for a long while…..though I became disenfranchised when Microsoft Publisher faded away and the 2007 versions of ppt moved me further away. I still use Microsoft at times and understand why it is popular but when I moved on…..I moved on…..but I still dabble to see what’s what😜 (I’m also dabbling in google as well as Apple)

Now with the upgrade needed for FirstClass being costly, we are going to migrate over to Office 365. Unfortunately the first weeks have been tricky- I know that any shift to different technology has its glitches, but I worry that less-tech friendly folks may not be as patient (or aware that glitches happen – such as our online printer not always working – and knowing that things like this are not a Microsoft issue, but as it’s the product staring people in the face….)

Worry: we will go back to the ‘wild west’ where many (me) used two email addresses – one for ‘business’ (because it was cumbersome to check) and one for ‘use’ (because it was easy to access). 

Hope: with some key “hints” and work, that our communication can be continue in a positive format….I was impressed with our Manager of Tech and his saying: it may be better, it may be worse, but really…’s just different.

Landy Hints for O365

1. create folders. Do not let your inbox fill up. Keep your files titled appropriately and other move the emails into a file or delete the – O365 can be very overwhelming if the inbox(es) get too full. This rule can not be over emphasized. 
2. groups are good. There are some good communication pieces that can be shared via Groups. 
3. Documents can be held in a common onedrive place which can be helpful for storing repeated items (such as WAGS – week at a glance)
4. this isn’t new, but it is new for some. Working in the cloud? I’ve been doing that for about 6 years….but my twitter handle is @TECHNOlandy – I know not everyone is an early adopter around tech, but even the OneDrive is much better than the old “H Drive” that many understand….being able to access files from any device is a big deal….but move forward at your own pace. 

Will there be some misses? Sure:

1. The ever popular MarketPlace is gone (this was a key method to get some onto FirstClass) so new ways to attract users are needed…..hmmmm maybe T4s only available on O?
2. Phone messages weren’t going to any email… if you tried to call me at school me over the overlapping spring break weeks……and while I can now get phone messages, our receptionist can’t…..hmmmmm
3. Our common folder where we saw who was away and what TOCs were coming in can’t be found – but the TOC for our teacher going to a writing workshop did arrive, so Whew!
4. Lots of “reply all” being used – but techies now have a reminder set to pop up to ‘make sure’ you really want to send ‘that’ email to everyone. every. one. 
5. I mentioned keeping up to date by moving things into folders. I got lazy for a couple of spring days….and paid for it. Keep moving things into folders and keep “inbox zero badge-eligible”

Well….badges are motivating me to stick with O365!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Spring Break Update 2: the role of tech aka stop banning cellphones

Spring Break Update 2: the role of tech aka stop banning cellphones


I stumbled upon an online article:  that had me thinking about the co-evolution of technology and education – especially when I was teased about ‘calculator controversies’ which reminded me of the debate that ensued when I bought a TI-68 the first year it was available ( ) to help me with my math classes. Assumptions were that it was a ‘banned’ calculator. I persevered (with some family support) to use it….and my marks clearly indicated it’s not about the tech…it’s about how it’s used…..


Now, I also know one of my colleagues is currently going through a sexting issue at her school…..but again, for me the tech isn’t the issue – it’s the behaviours (and full disclosure: I saw similar/worse done when I was a student…..but maybe it was just at my school…..)



Anyways – the smartphone ‘problem’ got me thinking about the tech disruptions that have already occurred in education – some of the tools that people wanted banned….once upon a time….



Now, the first classrooms made good use of slate and chalk – boards of which can still be seen over 125 years later in classrooms…..


and the first disruption was a fad that allowed for portable printing (and cursive) and probably the greatest cause of graffiti and those first social media messages (pssst…pass this note). Pencils were great….but they needed another resource….paper (which finally began being made in affordable ways in the  mid 1850s)…..and until these disruptive pencils would be accepted quills were would remain the standard – sure the kids needed to sharpen them with pocket knives, but…..


Then came another social media disruptor in the 1920s: radio. Kids would start focusing only on the square box and let others tell stories to them through those invisible rays that (probably unhealthily) could send send programs and what those darned kids called music into their houses (and with transistor radios even outside of home as well) Sure some companies tried creating “schools in the air” to send lessons out during school times, but it was so easy for kids to just change the channel – all the technology’s fault?


In the 1930s, to join chalkboards as a staple in classrooms for way too long, came the first overhead projector – used by the US military they were quickly adopted into schools so that a single example/task at at time could be worked on…..because the military, much like the industrial revolution, valued common learning and common doing…..


At this time, typewriters were first being used in schools. But typing vs writing – the actual beginning to the question that keeps getting asked even today: which is the more valuable skill (personally I choose spelling, composition and synthesis).


Finally int he 1940s, the challenge to the long enduring pencil arrived: the pen. Sure it was invented in the 1880s, but it took time to be able to make it in affordable ways. And when vandalizing, pencil can be rather easily erased….penmanship is much more enduring….Funny sidebar: when nasa put a call out for a pen that could write in a variety of non-gravity conditions, the cheeky response was: use a pencil (or: )



Also in the 1940s came the mimeograph. And I still remember the smell that filled the room when the handle started being cranked when I was recruited to help my dad in his schools office. Great ways to make multiple copies of….common tasks….worksheets….maybe too easy….



Then came the use of headphones so that students could listen to lessons repeated over and over again. Sure some radicals might pursue a different approach to help the student learn, but louder and repeated is a strategy…..



and then the first big cheat to make math students more reliant on tools than their own brains and reams of paper: the slide rule. Kind of like an abacus, it works – and for some retro hipsters can be a very cool conversation piece…..but there are better tools that have come around since then….and by better that means: easier to cheat (apparently)



VIDEO: filmstrips in the 1930s, personal filmstrip viewers in the 1960s, VHS in the 80s: When VHS became the dominant form at home, they also became regularly used at school. Sure there were some video tape machines used, but it could be very complex to line up the video film with the audio tape (which had to be started at the same time – my personal favourite was the ‘beep’ that prompted the picture to be moved manually if the picture did not move on time (I don’t think it ever did). But VHS blended video with audio and brought in a variety of entertaining and informative (aka not-entertaining) tapes to share with students. Unfortunately they would often quickly appear quite ‘dated’ and an expensive investment meant that even if the information presented was out of date (aka proven wrong) it was still shared. Except for Bill Nye – The Science Guy can still captivate a class. This film system first started in the 1930s (and probably some of the machines are on the top shelves of many hidden storage rooms) and became simpler with the VHS/TV unit being unsteadily wheeled into the classroom (as books and pencils would quickly be stored into desks knowing that the lights were going down soon). It also led to many confrontations between copyright & convenience…..and netflix/youtube availability….


And in the 1950s there was a lot of work being done around Skimming:


Finally in 1959 the Photocopier began replacing the earlier mentioned mimeographs (and other systems like photostat, carbon paper etc) Which led to it being even easier (and cheaper) to make common worksheets…..but started an awareness of the digital revolution and possible reliance on less use of actual pieces of paper (and almost 50 years later, we’re almost there……and a vital reminder: a pdf version of a worksheet is NOT digital learning)



To help out the photocopier (my opinion) came liquid paper. Because when you’ve run off 50 copies and then notice a spelling error…..easier to white-out one part than to re-type or re-write an entire page (this is what killed my interest in writing: good copies. I could almost guarantee that the final line of my slowly created good copy was where I would mess up and need to start again….)


The bane of some math teachers came in the 1970s: the TI-83 was the first multi-use (and affordable) calculator. But of course, they would undermine the learning of basic skills….so we should avoid them….right? And each calculator improvement has led to outcries of weakening math skills – even though my kids are doing more complex math than I ever did when I was a student….(and yes, I did finish Algebra 12) and their focus is learning many strategies to solve problems (the calculator app is ‘a’ tool, but not ‘the’ tool to use)


Also in the 70s came Scantron. An easy way to mark multiple choice/true-false questions. So, if easier is better (for teachers that is, not the students) then it must be good…right? The business model: free machine! just pay for the grading forms! No questions?



Then in the 1980s came the personal computer. I still remember my dad getting in trouble for bringing in some computers ‘when we had a very good typewriter lab right next door’ – a parallel when I’ve been questioned about wanting to bring in and use tablets when we have a very good computer lab just down the hall’ <– it’s not about doing old things in ne ways, it’s about doing things that wasn’t possible previously.



And the battle between operating systems (cheap deals vs what will actually be used) began :


Remember those calculators? In the 80s it got worse: they started to be able to do graphing. and long equations. and play ‘snake’ (sidebar: have you seen )


Then through the 1990s, chalkboards started to be replaced by whiteboards (much better for my hands that would too-easily dry out when using chalk) – which led to some trying out how to make them into smartboards (while more often seen as a 2000+ tool, they did start in the late 1990s) – and a bit better than my ‘first use’ which just had a projector aimed at a white board that I would have students interact with. But then again, smartboards are SO 2010 anyways……




iClicker: handful of multiple choice tools to quickly poll students and get results in real time. This has been replaced by many apps….unless your school bans cellphones….


laptops: ranging from ‘one laptop per child’ to enhance learning in developing countries to concerns over students breaking them in schools unlike the more reliable desktops (or the compromise of zap-tying them to the office-space-type rows (sorry – personal bias slipping through as I’m a big fan of using technology in classrooms, not taking the class to a separate room for group indoctrination instruction). I was able to see first hand how the tech being able to come into the established learning environment and how this was better than going to the lab…..but I also admit that we were using apple iBooks and I was very keen to use them with all their built in programs – without the right teacher having the right tool, I don’t know if the use would be as powerful….


iPads: I quickly flipped my love of laptops for tablets. When asked (as I am now) I freely admit that I hope my next Learning Lab (not computer lab) will have a mix of (mostly) iPads but with some androids and chromebooks (and maybe a surface) as I continue to advocate: I may not agree with the operating system you use, but will fight for your right to use it.


smartphones: I know some schools still band them outright, but I prefer to use a rather simple rule: TOOL or TOY?  When being used as a tool for research or creation, I provide very positive feedback; when a ‘toy’ and a distraction I give reminders about appropriate use of technology during our valuable learning times together. (and wonder what would happen if we were to embarrass/single out students who distract themselves in class by reading/writing/drawing in the same manner as someone on a screen….) When students have the right tool for themselves to work with, it helps to let them do their learning ‘when it’s right’ because surprisingly, not everyone gets fully inspired to do some creative writing at 10:30 because that’s when the visible calendar indicated the right time would be…


Apple TV: has been another useful tool to allow quick sharing of screens. And using bluetooth, it doesn’t even create the strain on wifi signals that techies can so often be fearful of! I used to have to hook up my laptop to the projector and then use a bluetooth keyboard/mouse to have students interact with the machine – now their personal devices can be shared ‘as needed’ <– and AirDrop has been another invaluable tool to archive artifacts of learning from students as well.



Internet in general: this has lead to innovations such as Khan Academy and a range of online websites with specific (and general) use. To not be using the web as a learning tool (especially for research) is crazy. Especially as it becomes faster and easier to use on all mobile devices.


Social Media: Twitter for Educators is so important. I recently had a kindergarten teacher ask/wonder what the point would be for her, and I mentioned #kinderchat and the names of a couple of other great kindergarten teachers on twitter who are sharing strategies and ideas – and this happens for teachers of all ages/grades/mindsets of students.

Blogging as a way to reflect on learning has also been valuable for many, but as I will restate: the right tool for the right person. I took a ‘days-of-learning’ blog challenge a few years ago and have found it to be invaluable as a tool for me to take time to reflect each day over something I learned or was thinking about. This is not an approach for everyone. But finding a way to reflect and share what you are practicing helps confirm some ideas and rethink others – but this could easily be via instagram or youtube or…..hmmm – I might have a new idea I’m going to think on…..


Apps: have been referred to, but first acceptance of hand-held tech needs to be embraced so that app use can be more widespread. It’s coming.



Change happens in Education, and technological disruption has a hand in it….just usually slower than what should be happening. Just be aware that many of the ‘old ways’ of doing things were once disruptions into ongoing practice….shift happens.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment