Day 5 (of 186) free play thanks to reminders via @edutopia

Day 5 (of 186) free play thanks to reminders via @edutopia



I had an “observer” as I was working with a new class in the gym. I was re-testing my theory around “free choice” in gym and elements needed along the way to get to “deep play”… the same time that @edutopia had an article about similar ideation via “hour long recess”



I first tried this a couple of years ago: specifically:


Why have I enjoyed “deep/free play”?

It has shown me:

How learners interact with each other

How they deal with delayed gratification (big crash mat will come out “later”

How learners deal with having to make choices for themselves (unguided play)

That not everything has to be structured (and for those who really need structure, this is a good opportunity to “try” something different and without structure)



The bigger goal: to reach “deep play” by breaking past the first 15 minutes of “this is fun” to minutes 15-30 where most conflicts will escalate

And here is where we often enter a “zone of frustration” because “the kids aren’t playing….they’re arguing…..they’re bored….etc…etc….etc (and because so much of our world is structured, this is an expectation that this amount of without being told what to do is “unfamiliar”)


Push past the 45 minute mark where many learners expect a lesson/activity to end and the “with no clear end-point” (bell etc) reach a place where things are just “fun” (and at the same point when I break out my Learning Outcomes I can see every one being used at some point of the day!).



It was also nice to hear some of the observers comments about: how interesting it is to see how students organize themselves – and I added how it’s also helpful (especially after a weekend) to a) identify students who may be struggling with “stuff” and b) do some check-ins without it being public or ‘a big deal’.


But then again, I’m also one of the fans of having hats/hoodies in class, because nothing tells you a students demeanour like a hat pulled down with a hoodie pulled tight! Physical Literacy is just a different way of getting to a similar end – while also promoting some freedom-of-choice (and older kids always seem to love the scooters and parachutes that get put away after primary…….)


The edutopia article (above)  and this one from @theatlantic have been both inspirational and reaffirming in doing some PE/Gym activities a tad different…..

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Day 4 (of 186) the secret successes

Day 4 (of 186) the secret successes

My son came home not happy about his Japanese class. Unhappy because he wasn’t able to go for a walk because he might miss something. And he had to stay in the classroom for the whole 80 minutes. 
My wife and I agreed that we would be happy to talk to the teacher (as would his LRT advocate) for the purpose of his “walks”. But we misunderstood. 
He didn’t leave the classroom because he was worried about what HE would miss if he left the class. And that was a stressor. 
So, as per Anxiety world, we acknowledged that this must have been challenging, but he did it and didn’t die. (Reminder from my rant that “death” is always an option – albeit worst case, still a viable option – to any decisions and actions. Always tough to find “right responses”. 

Because inclusivity isn’t easy. I have a boy in my class who hasn’t been in my class yet. But I’m ready and willing when he is – because that’s what inclusivity needs to have – a growth/open mindset –> which includes knowing that students may be entering zones of discomfort because it’s in those proximinal zones where the deepest learning occurs!

It’s those successes that don’t seem all that much of a big deal that are the secret successes all of us grow from!

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Day 3 (of 186) “back” to the future

Day 3 (of 186) “back” to the future


Today I got my first look at a full day classroom and they got to look at me. After a few days doing some ‘behind the scenes work’, I think I found a good fit – close to home and the family and very supportive staff to work with! When “things change” it is good to still be able to focus on the fun – and focusing on the positive, I am finally at a school that is a short commute away, so I can meet my goal of being closer/more supportive to my family as my older daughter enters her final year of school, my son works with his anxiety in a secondary environment, and my youngest gets ready for more and more soccer and other sports. And if/when another opportunity presents itself as a “better fit” for my work as an educator, I’m ready for it!


It goes a long way when a staff is welcoming….it goes even further when you hear from a third-hand source that something overheard was “it feels like we won the lottery”.  I’ve welcomed a lot of people to a school, and it was very nice to feel the same welcome that I try to provide. And of course there are the weird coincidences… former students who ‘moved away’ are now part of my world….and a student asked where I grew up…..because his mom graduated with me!



You can’t make up how small a world it sometimes is!


Looking forward to advancing some ongoing passions:

a) some Social-Emotional Learning needs emphasized within the classroom – some anxiety that lies just below the surface; looking forward to introducing Friends For Life to the school community! Can’t be using avoidance as a strategy forever!

b) bringing in technology (though I have to plug into the mounted projector (ugh) by being right under it because there is no hdmi drop where the other wires were installed….; looking forward to pushing some technologization (blending technology and curriculum into the community!)

c) ePortfolios and descriptive feedback are going to blow some minds I think….I’m looking forward to introducing the school culture to @Freshgrade – and pushing some thinkings around assessment



Looking forward to seeing what’s coming up next!

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Day 2 (of 186) Robot QuickStarts

Day 2 (of 186) Robot QuickStarts


I chose the start of my twitter handle intentionally: techno. I am a fan of technology as the best way to differentiate for individual learning that has ever been. My cursive script was always “a problem” for teachers (though I did once win a ribbon at a Fall Fair in the handwriting competition…..). But when an Apple II arrived at my house, a great equalizer arrived. No longer did I have to look at the beautiful script of others (Cheryl – you know who you are….) and know my everyday script would never compare…..but our typing would always look the same (but I can type much faster than I can write – and it’s so much more legible!)


So while this year has been off to an “unusual” start, I have been doing some work ‘behind the scenes’ to prepare some new tools in our District Resource Centre for teachers to access to help students explore robotics…


….but knowing that “coding” is scary enough…to bring in robots….oh the chaos! So, I have created some “quickstart” guides (brochure format) for the first few robots that we have for sign-out!  And for all ages – in fact, I might be most impressed with the one for our youngest learners….


  1. Primo – a no-screen coding program. A friendly block-buddy that synchs with its control board. A variety of ‘maps’ allows for a lot of storytelling to take place with coding (and subroutines!) to have students experience coding: making mistakes, fixing them, and retesting to see if it does what you want it to do!
    1. Primo QuickStart Guide  (links are better resolutions)Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 10.29.17 PM.png
  2. Ozobots – one of the more common ‘robot’ kits to arrive in schools. Great because coding can be done using colours – felt pens. In the quickguide, I wanted to emphasize what colour codes do what, and how to reset them. I like these because they also allow for coding to be programmed online – and use a screen to synch them (kinda cool on the iPad – I was not able to test it on a CRT)
    1. Ozobots QuickStart Guide  Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 10.36.55 PM.png
  3. Cubeletes – I’ve seen these before – remind me of lego – and that’s by design! They click together to create a program to run – but it depends on how they link together as to what they’ll do – so 3 blocks can create very different robots! Great to explore with, but also some very good structured lessons to provide some direction with from K-secondary! Very adaptable ‘bots.
    1. Cubelets QuickStart Guide Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 10.39.13 PM.png
  4. Parrot Drone – what? a drone? yep! ability to scaffold lessons from discovery to scaffolded – from remote control to programmed code to create flight plans. And durable!
    1. Parrot Quickstart Guide                                                                    Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 10.31.29 PM.png


Robots are great tools to combine with both Coding and Design Thinking challenges. I am comfortable focusing on discovery learning, but I also know that not everyone is as comfortable. So I have made an attempt to help ease others into the world that I enjoy – using technology to augment curriculum and learning. Likely edits will occur and I will change the above links and pics to reflect that!


Looking forward to getting to a school and signing out these resources and working with a class to model for other classes to take a plunge into robotics! After all, Elon Musk has made it clear that (shoutout to ESPN’s Pablo Torre) our Robot Overlords will soon be part of our daily lives! (Pablo would love robots to take over refereeing and umpiring on their way to controlling the world)….after all….


Viva La Future!

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Day 1 (of 186) Continuing the ‘blog-each-day-of-learning’ challenge

Day 1 (of 186) Continuing the ‘blog-each-day-of-learning’ challenge



It didn’t seem like a ‘big thing’ once upon a time: an open Challenge (really more of a ‘for your consideration’) to archive events through a “days of learning blog”. I know full well it was meant more for a school/district, but at the time (and even more so now) I thought it could be a good reflection tool for myself, and  a way that my kids can find my own thinking-on-education since it took almost two decades to find my dad’s old journal (that I refer to even now).  So this is year five – and I still find the daily reflections valuable (though the edits may sometimes be rough/omitted) and the pressure staying on to ensure that I take the time each day to think about what has happened…



And today is a weird one. Both professionally when I know a change is needed (but hasn’t been able to happen yet) and family-wise as my “little alligator” has her own “last first day” as a K-12 student. She has emerged as both an amazingly intrinsic learner (creating an original score for the English Revolution for a Socials project – which received the ironic comment [for those who are familiar with Amadeus] as having ‘maybe too many notes’) as well as ‘knowing what the teacher wants’ <– and this hurts sometimes because I know she could do different/more/challenging work but that it wouldn’t be valued…..


But she’s done well so far. All-Around Student of the Year for the past two years (even though I’ll tease and ask what the criteria was -wondering if students know what it is as well as the teachers – ….I’ve been told to just celebrate that she was acknowledged as such by her school staff). And though I know she has many more ‘first days of school’ ahead of her as she looks seriously at universities that are too far away…’s great to see the photos of who she was once upon a time ago….21314343_10154658326550876_5777744376355273847_n.jpg


and who she and her siblings have ended up being…..more than just the (eventual) audience for this blog, but key learners at their school….as I’ve said:  My oldest will make every teacher feel great about what they do, my middle who will make teachers question why they do what they do (and how), and my youngest who will benefit from both of their experiences!




And though 2/3 of my kids are excited about school (I have quoted my son a few times about “if school is preparing us for the future, where is the class about youtube’ and ‘if I can’t sleep at school, why should I do schoolwork at home?’) I found photo evidence that once upon a time, even he was excited about school…..dressing up to take his sister to kindergarten even though his preschool didn’t open for another week or so…




One of my ongoing goals/beliefs: to have learners leave school as excited as they were to start school. And knowing so many students with mental wellness concerns and physical health concerns that mean each year (month, week, day) may be their last…to make each day special. That’s one of my goals to work towards this year as a weird 2017 continues…and I am going to try to focus on this as much as possible over the next 185-ish posts)

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Summer of Learning 2017 “Pour Your Heart Into It” – with thanks to @starbucks

Summer of Learning 2017 “Pour Your Heart Into It”


This summer I picked up an older book by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz – Pour Your Heart Into It…..a neat look into how Starbys got started. I was impressed how many things mentioned two decades ago can still be seen in todays stores (and what influences my oldest daughter, a barista, work). Unsurprisingly, I did find some references that I connected to education….if you change a few words….


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A neat read on:

following a passion

creating a disruption (for good)

remaining innovative

staying true to initial values

knowing that sometimes you’ll say yes to something you wanted to say no to (frappuccino)

personalization is a good thing.


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Summer of Learning – sometimes summer repeats work

I stumbled upon one of my previous blogs about getting ready for summer, when I realized that much of the advice can be good for getting ready to return to school to, so with some edits:



Day 184 (of 185) some CBT reminders as (summer) returning to school looms



It’s important to remember some of the key benefits to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. Some of the easiest are:

Listening to your body cues

Seeing the body cues of others

Coping Step Plan




In brief:
It’s important to listen to your body as it will let you know how you are feeling, even if your brain doesn’t want to acknowledge it. This can range from sweat (when not working out), to the need to go to the bathroom……even though you just went, to physical affects such as hand/leg cramps and beyond. Some of the main ones can be identified via a BC Friends for Life (a free cbt program targeted at grade 4/5 students)

Parents worksheet:


And the nice part is when you become aware of those cues, it becomes easier to “read” how others may be feeling. So that when someone yawns, it may not be because of boredom but a stressed reaction. Laughing at an accident because the body and brain doesn’t necessarily know how to react when it sees someone get hurt or be in stress. And when you can see how others are reacting, it becomes easier to be mindful in how you react and respond – giving time and slowing things down being particularly successful strategies.



And then coming up with a Coping Step Plan – breaking something down into smaller parts so that each step is achievable in order to be successful. And it’s not the same for everyone – my daughters hate asking clerks/wait staff/etc for help (whether if it’s for a different sized dress or even ketchup for fries) while my “anxiety” son has no problems asking….
But it can be helpful to take small steps: like going to the school ahead of time to see where classrooms are and where certain “distraction areas” such as counselling rooms, LRT spaces, bathrooms etc are in relationship to where the “home room” is


It’s important to be mindful that you can’t always be sure how others are feeling  but being mindful that sometimes you need to look mindfully in order to accurately sense what might be going on below the initial impression – especially at stressful times of year such as the (end) start of a school year.

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