Sharing and Telling Stories

I am still thinking about so many things walking into the start of my week after a full Saturday and Sunday at the GAFE Summit in Vancouver. New ideas of what is possible in education have caused me to reflect on how I want to be doing more. It is invigorating and life giving to be part of a community that is dedicated to changing education. The community has realized that educational reform is going to take a willingness to share and work together.  I do feel like every person that attended the GAFE conference walked away with something- a new paradigm, techie trick, or  new contact.  This weekend, I was reminded that sharing and telling stories are at the centre of building communities and generating momentum for change.


The GAFE Summit was filled with the spirit of community and of sharing. Every breakout session had the slides and resources posted online for attendees to read, glean, and share. It was a member of the Google team that said, “It is the conference that keeps giving,” because the sessions continue to live online for re-visiting. You can go to any summit, anywhere in the world, for the past 3 years and read, glean, and then re-share. Here is the detailed sessions with links to the presentations from this weekend –

I was able to learn many new features like: 2 -click collaboration functions with GoogleDocs, Chrome extensions like, save as PDF and save on GDrive, and various add ons (Doctopus and Goobric) to use in Google Spreadsheets among others found here .  There were useful videos and analogies and websites and presentations galore. There was so much that was useful that it was somewhat overwhelming. As a framework, the two days had current topics of technology integration, digital citizenship, and educational change that served as appropriate bookends at the breakout sessions. It served as a confirmation to the direction and ideas I am sharing in my district.

Beyond the content, the conference offered a community of people who were willing to share and tell stories. It was this immersive experience that caused me to think deeper about my own actions and purposes.  The reunions with close friends, shared experiences with new colleagues, or new connections with people who shared the same passions are what I will carry long beyond the conference.  In fact, the reason I continue to return to Twitter and attempt blogging is the relationships that are created which have the power to challenge, support and inspire me to do more.  If Twitter were just a place to broadcast myself, it would have died for me long ago along with Facebook.

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Telling Stories

The first keynote in the first morning given by Dr. Yong Zhao, (@YongZhaoUO) . What stuck with me the most was his presentation style, as he presented from his iPad camera roll. It was fluid, dynamic, and captivating, as he thematically connected ideas through visual analogies. There was no flashy tool, animation, or software. He knew where the images he wanted to speak to were, and in a tap and a flick, he had  his next big idea as a chart or image. He was storytelling.

In a similar vein, Brad Ovenell-Carter (@Braddo) shared his ideas of student generated content and knowledge in another session through the use of building a visual story called a Sketchnote. Sketchnotes definitely were the buzz throughout the conference on social media and within the sessions, and I think it was rooted back to the fundamental desire for telling stories and the connecting of ideas.


In both cases, Dr. Yong and Brad made it possible to visualize their points while I was listening to their explanation of their perspective.

I am finding that the bulk of my job should be about sharing ideas and telling stories, and after attending this conference I am inspired to do more of that.  I feel like I have been continuing to collect reflections and resources, and now I will strive to share what I have through effective storytelling.

Thank you @MsVictoriaOlson for being relentless in the pursuit of innovation and for being an ultimate early adopter. For your great session on #geniushour – here and awesome back channel on Googledocs here.

Thank you @paulkellybc for being a great sounding board and listener, book recommendations, and for the laughs.

Thank you @dpoe68 for being willing and excited to share your experiences of Google Apps for Education in High School.

Thank you @LS_Karl for introducing yourself across the room at your own session, I was honoured!

Thank you @gmbondi for being an inspirational and articulate writer who encourages me to read more. Thanks for being willing to chat.

Thank you @tmith4205 for diving in and taking it all on, and getting excited for the new frontier.

The One iPad Classroom

With the recommendation that teachers spend time with an iPad long before they expect to use it with their students for deeper learning, we are seeing several staffs across our district outfit teachers first with iPads as part of their implementation plan. Here is brief talk I did for Monterey Middle School last month on the One iPad Classroom.

I also came across this article called 10 Steps to a Successful School iPad Program from Abbotsford School District #34 that confirms a lot of the recommendations I am making to schools as well.
– Dave

Reynolds High School – Project-based learning in #sd61learn

This morning I was able to see innovative teacher @brad_cunningham‘s Grade 12’s in the Flexible Studies Program at Reynolds High School.  The grade 2 students from Breafoot Elementary, were just arriving at the high school to receive a children’s book that had been created by their big buddy with them in mind. This was a project that has been running for a few years and built around reading buddies. The purpose is to teach the conventions of children’s books to high school student and provide the elementary school with handmade library books and shared reading time.

IMG_9474IMG_9484What was particularly exceptional with the whole project was the quality of the books. Brad filled me in with the million’s of questions I had for him -scaffolding, framing, organization, and assessment. It was made obvious to me that it wasn’t the assessment of the final product that was the motivation, but the process of self-organizing, reflection, and student pride that drove everything.  To begin, the high school students looked at children’s books and analyzed them for structure, form, and voice. Then students needed to self-organize into a group of three – the artist, the writer, and the binder – and come up with a concept from the interests of the grade 2 student.IMG_9469IMG_9471

Each book was created totally different. Some were completely done on computers, some illustrations done by hand and then imported onto computers, and others didn’t use a computer at all.IMG_9485IMG_9477IMG_9478
Most interestingly, the final book was not assessed. Brad has his students tell ‘the story of the story’ and it is a self-reflection and self-assessment process. In Brad’s words, “After hearing all the grade 2 students be so excited to receive a book that was hand made specifically for them, how could I assess one book a C and another book an A.”

I heard a parent say, “These books are so well written!”  Brad then spoke to the effort the students made in grammar, punctuation, and choice in words.

The books will be on display and be able to be signed out from Braefoot Elementary.

I could feel the buzz in the classroom and had a hard time leaving for my next appointment. Thanks Brad.

An Inspiring Monday

To start my Monday today, I visited James Bay Community School and was blown away by the innovative educational practices. I was so excited with what I saw in so many of the classrooms, that I instantly wanted to call colleagues or run into offices to share. And I did. Then I taught to share it here so that more can see what I saw today.

One particular classroom that I will focus on for this entry is that of Ms. Joy Nugent’s Grade 4/5 classroom.

The physical layout of the class had no desks. Students had options to work at tables that faced windows, to stand at high table,  to sit at bucket chairs, at round tables, or on mats.

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At the front of the room was a smartboard and document camera, and students would take chairs and form a semi circle for instruction and discussion time.

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I was only able to observe the first 20 minutes of the day. But the day began with a MindUp exercise where the students were quiet for 5 minutes and focussed on their breathing. It seemed like something they did three times in the day, but wasnt sure. I could tell they had done the excerise before, and some students shared about how they were working their “prefrontal cortext” and how each second of focus was strengthening their brain in that area. There were charts and diagrams on the walls describing the brain and its different areas. As an adult observer, I benefitted from the exercise.

As I walked around the room, I noticed the daily schedule, specifically including “Think Tank Fridays” and “The Inquiry Unit” on Canada.

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I didn’t have time to ask Ms. Nugent about it, but I felt a certain curiosity and saw Project Based Learning and Inquiry Based Learning characteristics all over it. I couldn’t help notice the incredible student questions that were generated. I noticed the heading  at the top – “what is community?, What is Canada? and Who are we”  that I recognized from BC curriculum. I left thinking about how each question could be a unit in itself – “Why is Alaska not part of Canada?” or “How many Canadians died in World War II”. It caused me to think about how Ms. Nugent structured the class discussion, how the questions were recorded by students, and how the units would move forward. It was fascinating.

Since seeing this classroom and others at James Bay Community School, my mind was official blown. I left with so many questions.

“Is this where more classrooms need to go?”

“What does technology look like in this classroom?”

“What are the best tools for this classroom?”

“What resources can I help provide for this classroom?”

Thanks for the inspiration today Ms. Joy Nugent. I felt proud, and it made me want to shout it from the hilltops. So can I come back?

Blog and Learn

I came across this today on a internet browsing path that I wouldn’t be able to recall. At times when browsing the internet I feel like this.


There is so much information available that it can be so overwhelming and distracting and the creation of digital content can easily take a back seat. Often, it is not until I begin to create content where thoughts, ideas, reflections, and deeper learning come into focus.

As I begin to create and participate more digitally with others, I find myself refining my thoughts and observations surrounding how to blog and use twitter (I can’t get used to saying “tweet”). I am faced with choices of identity, representation of others, interaction etiquette, and blogging skill development. There is no doubt that blogging is hard for me. But like many things, I find that there is only so much preparation before jumping into something with two feet. It is not until I hit the “publish” button on this blog that I get the same experience as standing in front of a group to teach for the first time. I vividly remember standing in front of my practicum classroom, the nervous recess beforehand, and the over analysis of my 30 minute lesson. But I also remember the buzz, the deep reflection with my supervisor, and my significant learning that followed. I was hooked. And interestingly, I wanted to immediately share it.

Last night I was listening to a colleague, Judi Chessa,  a grade 5 teacher at Craigflower Elementary, reflect about her day of teaching. At the end of her reflection, I boldly challenged her and asked “And so why wouldn’t you blog about that?”.  It would be the similar motivation to share for her, and I want her to shout her reflections from the hilltops because she has so much to share.  But is she ready?

In many ways, blogging for me has been a similar experience. I have spent time collecting, preparing, reflecting, and observing blogging. But it was not till I have begun to write my reflections out that deeper learning came to life.  Along the way, I wonder how blogging with continue to shape my design, vision, and innovative tool contribution to education in my school district. At this point, I want to get as many other educators experiencing learning through blogging as I do.  I really feel like it is the way forward.  But it is also about meeting educators where they at, with support and design to lower thresholds and generate educator buy in.

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George Couros (@gcouros) –  (2011 )-  Collaborate. Create. Learn.  –

The Connected Educator – #savmp

When I got the job of an elementary computer lab teacher in Victoria School District 61, my first step was to connect with a few great computer lab teachers in our district. Since the position was part time, I was able to go visit Breafoot Elementary School and talk to Darryl Beck, as well as visit John Weston at Macaulay Elementary during school hours. I asked them all the questions I could think of at the time, observed their classes in action, and took frantic notes. These experiences significantly helped me design and implement how I was going to design the website for the computer lab program at George Jay Elementary. Since then,  I have shared my computer lab program with a number of classroom teachers around the district and computer teachers across the world as a resource, example or template.  (There are now 3 computer lab programs in our district that have used my template to run their own separate computer programs – Northridge Elementary, Craigflower Elementary, and George Jay Elementary ).

My point is that I needed to make connections with other educators to show me the ropes, and to support, challenge, and inspire me. Now in my first week of school, I have reached out to many colleagues within and outside my district to show me the ropes. Connecting with other educators remains at the heart of what I do and it should for all educators as part of their development of their PLN.


Last week I traveled to Surrey School District 61 #edcamp36 with Dr. Valerie Irvine from Uvic. She has been connecting me with educators, vendors, and leaders in the arena of educational technology integration. I had the pleasure of meeting and asking a million questions of Tia Henrikson (@TiaHenriksen), Victoria Olson (@MsVictoriaOlson) and Hugh Macdonald (@hughtheteacher) in regards to school district leadership in our province. I collected resources, blogs, Twitter handles, ideas, systems, and stories from many other educators at the conference. And as you can see, the Professional Development sessions offered a wide range of topic beyond edtech, integration, and technology.


But the most valuable piece that I took from the day was the connections I made with a wide variety of educators.

As a door prize winner, I selected the book “The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age” because I recognized many of the reviewers that include Alec Couros (@courosa), Bill Ferriter (@plugusin), and Kathy Schrock (@kathyschrock)Prize Table

The book builds on the premise that educators can be better digital connected, but that most don’t know how to get there. The book is filled with resources, blogs, contact, and tools filled with the why and how to use social media quickly and effectively to build their PLN.

My Goal:

An overaching goal for my position as “Coordinator of Educational Technology” is to design, build, implement, and facilitate new ways that teachers and administrators can connect digitally with each other to build their PLN. The use and growth of my PLN has significantly improved my teaching practice so convincingly that I need others to feel the impact of growth as well.  I plan to design blog systems, social media systems, workshops, sessions, and grants under the need for educators to develop their PLN. It has been the brainstorming of my week.

In order to build the appropriate PLN of teachers in our district I am looking at school districts all over the world for systems and design. I still have so many design questions, I am collecting the most relevant examples (on this public page  –, and will be translating these systems to the learning culture that exists in School District 61. It is going to be the challenge of my year.

Please feel free to add any ideas or thoughts below.  Much appreciated.

Starting Off Right #savmp

As educators, we are in the industry of building relationships and developing functioning levels of mentorship. I love being involved in mentorship at all levels – mentor, colleague, and mentee– for many reasons. But one of the main reasons is the learning relationships that develop surrounding from these mentoring levels.  Any moment I am able to share, discover, or learn something new with someone else is life giving and exciting. Sharing is at the core of why I am an educator.  So why would I hold anything back? Giving time, energy, and resources is an integral piece for me to develop new relationships and it is a part of my everyday life that reaches far beyond my career as an educator.

Give and Take

As my summer read, I was recommended to read the book “Give and Take” by Adam Grant by a good friend of mine,  Jamie Hubick. It has been the best read for me since Malcolm Gladwell‘s or Seth Godin’s written work, and I strongly recommend it. Grant’s book is about a new approach to success which particularly focusses on the impact of how we interact with others. Many of his ideas have reinforced how I think about relationship building and colleague interaction. Grant’s premise, which is based on compelling true stories, his own research, and others research, is that there are three kinds of people in the world: givers, takers, and matchers. Most interestingly, he shows through stories and research that it is the givers who are the least successful and who are also the most successful. Matchers and takers often end up in the middle. To keep this blog post short, I will leave the term ‘successful’ for now including the meaning, description, and definition.  As an example, Grant tells a story of a student who is a giver and helps all his classmates study for a test at the sacrifice of his own knowledge gain. In another example, Grant tells the story of a writer who continually gives credit, elevates, and encourages everyone around him, remains anonymous and continues to be a driving force for the successful cartoon series The Simpsons.


Teachers interact with students and colleagues in an extension of their identity, motivations, insecurities, and perceptions. Grant proposes that is it how you frame your interactions that is more important than your talent, hard work, passion, and luck. As he writes in his book:

“Every time we interact with a another person at work, we have a choice to make: do we try to claim as much value as we can, or continue value without worrying about what we receive in return.”  

This statement can identify the difference in either being a giver, taker, or matcher as a measure and insight into the motivation of the person in the interaction. I believe in being a giver. I try to continually offer help and support, resources and workshops, expertise and credit to the people around me. As an educator, I want to be a giver because it seems that the more I share,  the more I learn. And I don’t see this slowing down.

So what does it look like to start off right? Be a giver. But it is much more complex than just ‘being a giver’. It all depends on what, when, how and with who to share. And in the balance, also provide space to be a listener. In order to usefully share with colleagues, mentors, and mentees, take the time to listen, collect insight, and ask a lot of questions.  Listening provides space for needs to be identified. And it is in the identification of needs where the problem solving can begis. But at this point, with my new job, I still need to ask where to park my truck. In many ways, I have a long way to go.