You’ve had the power all the long my dear. -Galinda the Good Witch The Wizard of OZ Blog Hop 21st Century Teaching and Math

This Blog is a part of a Blog hop happening (hip hop happening) April 14th 2015 Starting at 8:30 pm  Read my post then click a link down below to see what others have said about Math and the 21st century.

I have been working very hard to change the way math is taught in my classroom.  I still use paper but I much prefer open tasks and concept strings to engage and help my students see the connections between different ideas in math.

I am also passionate about technology.  I like to take pictures of my students work, tweet about what they are doing, as a teacher @libramlad and as a classroom @MadocGrade3, and have my students use those pictures to explain their thinking using a variety of applications , Explain Everything and Telligami for iPad and Think Link for other devices to name a few.

One App for iPad I am really excited about is Aurasma.  Not because of the app its self but for what the app is changing in my students in the classroom. This app is an Augmented Reality App, (a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view), that allows anyone to take a picture, say of a piece of student work, and then shoot a video and super impose that video on top of the picture they have taken.  My students LOVE this app.  They take pictures of their work and make a video of them talking about their work (without faces or names, just initials ) and then we post the work around the room and students can see a video of the student talking about their work.   This helps with my students who might be shy talking in front of the class about their work, and gives them some experience crafting a message before they really have to step up and speak.  It also helps to frame questions for our Gallery walks if the students can all walk around and look at another persons work first and get some Ideas as to what other people are thinking about.  It is a dry run before they talk to their classmates about their learning.

It also helps me because I have another form of assessment right there in my hands, the video.  I can look at the paper at the same time I am watching the video and really dig deeply into what my students are saying and get more knowledge about their understanding of a particular concept.  Which means I can ask better questions, which in turn leads to better answers, which in turn leads to deeper understanding, and more questions.

Now as I am writing this, my students are Modifying their learning, as I understand it from the SAMR model of education.  They are taking two things that they are all ready doing in the classroom and using them to make something new that they can use to make their understanding of concepts better, to engage them in their learning more, and to have a little bit of fun doing it.  I have put the power of the learning in my students hands, to show what they know in a variety of ways.

I am also modifying my practice,  I am still marking papers but they are usually bigger and done in marker, and digitally storing all those videos has made me think about storage limits and what I am going to do with it when school ends, but for now it is really working well.

Implementing Tech with any subject, but especially in math,  requires that work  to have purpose, for the teacher and the student.   With that purpose there will be engagement, and with engagement there will be learning, without it the tech in the room becomes just another way of doing the same old thing, but with pixels instead of Paper

Here are the links to all the other blogs participating in the Blog Hop tonight!

Hop around have a read, leave a comment,  thanks!

Dreams are made possible if you try….. _Terry Fox

I have been trying to find blog post inspiration this week.  It has been elusive like white billed woodpeckers or a copy of Flash #1.  I made a promise on Monday that I would post on Wednesdays and Fridays but it didn’t happen.  I am not one to write a lot, it is my weakness.  The writing part and the communication part.  I speak in idioms,  I make connections to lots of different things  and comparisons that sometimes (ok a lot of the times) are very particular and are wide ranging.  So three things happened today that got me thinking about this.

1.  I was listening to music on my device today and heard a line from the  Stars Song Hold on When you get Love and Let Go When You Give It. (See what did i tell you about wide ranging thoughts?)

“Take the weakest thing in you and beat them with it (I am paraphrasing due to language)”

Which I thought to mean that you should take the thing you think is your weakness and turn it into a strength.  I thought that was interesting, what is my weakest thing?

Communication is my weakest link, being able to say or write or talk about the ideas in my head.  I don’t have trouble talking in front of other people, being the front man, as long as I have a lot of critical help in the message I am going to deliver,  the delivery is easy, its the crafting of the message that is hard.  So, am I doing all I can to improve my communication abilities?  Where do I start?  How much time do I devote to making my self a better communicator?

I think I could be better

2.  I listened to this Ted talk after hearing David Brooks on the CBC today.  It is all about where are we putting our energy, into our Resume or into our Eulogy.  Now, I know that is a bit of a dark statement talking about a Eulogy in an education blog but what David Booth is trying to get at is; where should we be devoting our energy? To our Resume, the things that make us more desirable as workers, and educators or to our Eulogy, those things that people say about us after we are gone,  the projects that need more than one lifetime to finish?  What am I doing, in a small way, to change things for the better and help as many as possible kids and adults.  How am I serving the greater good?

3. Terry Fox started his run today. April 12, 1980.  I was 11. There were only a handful at the start when he dipped his leg in the Atlantic ocean.  He wanted to raise one dollar from every Canadian for his Marathon of Hope, 25 million dollars in 1980.  An auspicious goal, one that would prove to take more than one lifetime.  To date he has raised over 650 million dollars for cancer research, and it hasn’t stopped.

I think I need to come up with a better plan, for me and the people around me if I am going to make more of a difference than I all ready am.  I do good work, I think, but I guess I am trying to say that maybe I need to up my game a little.  Im not going to write here about what I am going to do differently.  This was just a post to get the ball rolling.  It has been a long time coming this feeling of motivation to change something that will be hard to change.  And how am I going to use my skills new and old to make the world a better place.

Are you working on your Resume or your Eulogy?  Let me know,  leave a post, or a comment.   A little heavy for a Sunday night but what can you do.

See you tomorrow.

It isn’t what we say or think it is what we do…. _Jane Austin

This is a post because I have not been here in a while.  Not because I don’t have anything to write, or because I have been too busy, (well maybe a little busy).  No, my problem is sticktoitvness.  I am trying to blog, because I think it is a good habit to get into and it will let me document better my learning journey.  Sometimes 144 characters just doesn’t cut it.

How do you make a habit.  Not a bad one those are easy, too many sweets are a bad habit of mine.  How do you make a habit of something good, that you should do, you want to do but you can’t seem to get the sticktoitvness to do.   I quietly think that sometimes I am a bit of a fake in the classroom, because I let students know that they should finish their work or take it home for homework.  I think in the back of my head, if you only knew that I don’t all ways do this homework either, my students would rebel and never do work again.  So what is good for the student is good for the teacher.

I didn’t know how to start or where to start but…I have been reading a lot about organization specifically the life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo.  In chapter two, Discarding First, one of the sub headings is; before you start, visualize your destination.  That is what I am doing now.  Visualizing my destination.

I will Blog at least 3 times a week Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays.  Without. Fail.

Now this I will do.

Until Wednesday.


“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ― A.A. Milne

As with a lot of my posts here, there are few but I am slowly sailing more ships, they are a conglomeration of things I read, pictures I see and stories I hear.  This is another one of those posts.

I have written a bit on Grit.  That it is important and all students need to have, to be shown, or experience what it is like to have grit.  To grind out a problem.  To learn even though understanding doesn’t come right away.

I follow @avivaloca ‘s blog.  If you don’t yet you should, for all the wonderful thinking she thinks out loud about her practice and how it is influenced by all the people around her.  She, yesterday led me to @kkeerybi ‘s blog about letting kids be the decision makers, which was called  Risky Business.

Lastly I was traipsing through Huffington post and came across this post about Grace, the word not the person.

I like what Kristi (@kkeerybi) said about decision making in her house.

“In our house, we have made a decision to let our kids grow up having to be decision makers, problem solvers, risk takers.  We want them to persevere through trials, to learn from pain and from success.  Do they make all the decisions I would want them to make or I would advise them to make?  Not always.  But then sometimes they make better decisions than I would have advised.” -Kristi Keery Bishop

I like the formula she sets out and the way she set out the list, decision makers, problem solvers and risk takers.  It assumes in my mind at least, that if given enough time, encouragement and experience they will take hold of their own decision making.  That if done right, those decisions will be thought out.  Will they be the same as their parents? Sometimes.  Will they be worse?  Sometimes.  But sometimes they will be better.

This is where the last part comes in.  The blog about grace.  I have thought a lot about grit and how you need to get back up when you fail.  This blog talked about what you should be thinking when you fall, as you fall and get back up.  You have permission to still think you are Fabulous.  That just because you have fallen down and gotten back up does not mean you are worth less but you need to remember that you are a great person and this is only one set back, maybe of many, and that is ok.   Its another mind shift that had not thought about.  To give myself, and my students, the grace to still be fabulous.

I have seen a lot of blogs about grit and how it is an important quality to have but I have not seen a lot of blogs or tweets or instagrams about how we should go about gritting something out.  I think it is just as important HOW we grind out a problem or a task as the fact that we grind it out.  We have to give permission to ourselves and others to be FABULOUS with all our failures and our successes.  I think it is important for risk taking that you should sharpen your grit qualities but also make sure you do so with grace.

I think Grit is important but I also think that Grace, forgiveness of oneself in failure and success, is also important.  Don’t misunderstand me failing spectacularly is fine with me but we need to get back up and still be able to say

Whatever.  I’m Still Fabulous.

What do you think?  Is Grace as important as Grit in students?


You’re killing me Smalls! These are s’more’s stuff! Ok, pay attention. First you take the graham, you stick the chocolate on the graham. Then you roast the ‘mallow. When the ‘mallows flaming… you stick it on the chocolate. Then cover with the other end. Then you scarf. Kind of messy, but good! Try some! -Ham Porter The Sandlot

I must apologize to some of my twitter friends as this post is late.  @MissLFeedman I am very sorry for the lateness of this post.  I could blame a very engaging #nomnom chat but I won’t.

I saw this tweet earlier in the week;

I want to start a smore as a format to showcase tech in my class. I don’t know where to start! Help! @tina_zita @ed_rego @Libramlad #newbee
2015-01-07, 8:45 PM

I replied that I would have a post about it on Friday (hence the apology).

I have started (just two) using Smore to make my Dinner talk emails, a bi-daily (is that a word?) email that I sent to parents so they know what we are doing during the week.  I try to Tweet as well but the dinner talk emails seem to be going better.

I had seen Smore before (lol) @tina_zita uses them all the time.

But then our Librarian @marlinslibrary sent out a smore as an email and I thought, huh!  That looks much more inviting than the emails I regularly send out.  So I hopped on to the website to see how easy it was to do.

Really. too. easy.

It was like typing a regular email but I got to choose my background, and interesting font type.  It blocked out titles for me and places to put my pictures.  It helped me organize my email so it was not so laborious to read.  Nothing like opening an email that is too long and not bothering to read it.  I think I will continue to use the free site for now but I don’t think I get to make many more.  I read somewhere that I only get five smores in the free version but I have not hit that wall yet.  If I do I will let you know.

One of the interesting things is that the only way to get to the smore is if I provide you with the link.  This lets me  know how many people have visited the site which is a great way to know how many parents are actually reading my emails.  This was a nice bonus that I didn’t think about before.  I like that I can add pictures from our day or tweets in the smore sort of like Storify which uses your tweets to tell a story of your day.  My smores are not very fancy yet but it is really easy to use.  I have included a few links below to some tutorials that I liked and helped me out.

I hope this helps

Talk to you soon


If you have good thoughts…they will shine out your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely. -Matilda from Matilda

Happy New Year!  I hope you had a brilliant holiday and you had some time to rest, relax and recharge.

I came across this article over the holidays and thought it had some interesting ideas.  The article goes on to talk about how  personality traits, contentiousness and openness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism play a role in how well you do in school.  The article gives a link to the study and goes on to present the argument that students with the two traits of openness and contentiousness were graded a whole grade higher than those students who didn’t have these traits as strongly. The last line in the original article though is the one that stuck with me over my break:

“Still, it’s an interesting way to think about academic achievement for anyone who grew up believing they did well in school simply because they were “smart.””

That was rattling inside my head most of the last days of my holiday. It was an interesting idea and I wondered how that would work.

Then my wife showed me a video I had seen before.

It Clicked.

Personality in class is a HUGE deal.  Those students who are open to new ideas and learning who are contentious about getting their work done are all ready at an advantage.  Who wouldn’t want that little girl in their classroom? I know I would.  As a teacher I need to remember that what I do in the classroom affects all my students personalities.

I need to keep them open to new ideas.

I need to help keep them accountable for when they are at school, for their work, how they treat others and how they treat themselves.

Have a good start back to school for those of you who’s first day is tomorrow.


“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler

How do you teach technology?

That is a big question.  Is it even a question?  Should we be teaching technology?  Should we assume that all kids come with ideas and adaptations that automatically understand computers better than their teachers?  I as a digital Non Native wonder these things, they may even keep me up tonight!

I don’t have all the answers and the answers I come up with only lead me to more questions.    I was responding to a response Jonathan So made to a comment I made on his blog during the blog hop on Tuesday  about what technology education looks like in grade one compared to grade eight?  Does it look the same, critical thinking, problem solving, team work, or does it look different?

This leads me to the question about curriculum.  Should we have a curriculum for technology with big ideas and scaleable learning for students, and teachers to understand certain ideas and concepts by certain grades?  If that happens how do we organize it?  What areas should we concentrate on?  How should the learning be organized?

These questions lead me to wonder about equality.   Sure, all students in my class have equal access to technology, but what about outside my classroom?  How do we balance access for those of my students who don’t have as much access to technology outside school.  Because lack of access to technology is increasingly becoming a lack of access to information.  How do we teach those students who are going to find themselves behind, not because they are not interested but because they don’t have access.

Aren’t those enough questions to lead you to think maybe we need to look at a curriculum for technology?

Let me know.


Above All Watch with Glittering Eyes the Whole World around you because the greatest secrets are hidden all around you. -Roald Dhal (modified)

Jason Richea invited me to give a hundred words about what 21st century learning means to me. I had to think about that.  It means so many things to me, but I have only 100 words.

WHOOPS! I almost forgot this is a part of a blog hop with Peel District School Board.  So once your done here click a link below and see some other answers from some others in Peel.

What does 21st century learning means to me?

It means freedom.

It means freedom for my students to find an entry point through several different learning styles and abilities in my class.  It is liberating to be able to see my students search for information and be able to consume it and display it in ways that they, and others can relate to.  In turn I have to remind my self not to be a gate keeper when it comes to my students.  Give them the choice in how they access their information and how they display it.  Give them their freedom, and they will surprise you.  Now back to looking at beyblades and gears (Grade fours are amazing as to what they can come up with…)

Thanks for reading and continue the hop below:


Susan Campo @susancampo
Jim Cash @cashjim
Greg Pearson @vptechnodork
Phil Young @_PhilYoung
James Nunes @jameseliasnunes
Donald Campbell @libramlad
Ken Dewar Bestbefore2030
Graham Whisen @grahamwhisen
Lynn Filliter @assessmentgeek
Debbie Axiak @DebbieAxiak
Alicia Quennell @AliciaQuennell
Jonathan So @MrSoClassroom
Jim Blackwood @jimmyblackwood
Jason Richea @jrichea
Tina Zita @Xna_zita

A Ship in Port is Safe, but that is not what Ships are Built for. -Rear Admiral Grace Murry Brewster Hopper

I found this website today.

It basically runs through what you think it does, at dizzying speeds.  The amount of information on the Internet is mind numbing.  I posted this site on twitter commenting, as I do, that some of my Math friends and some of my Tech friends might find it interesting to use in class as a basis for discussion.

In response one of my Twitter friends posted this:
@Libramlad @tina_zita @MatthewOldridge @avivaloca @MrSoclassroom that made me feel very small & insignificant

I know how he feels.  There is so much information out there you can drown  in theories and ideas even before you get to the classroom.  I immediately tweeted back:

It was not my intention to make you or anyone else feel small.  The quality of your tweets make you feel bigger.

What I meant to say is that what people I have chosen on Twitter to follow make a difference to my teaching.  They help me understand hard concepts and thoughts.  They make the thinking work easier with wit and insight, just like real life colleagues do.  They do this not in person but online, through the internet.  I am a better teacher, maybe not because I tweet, but because I read other insightful tweets.  I can pull together ideas much faster and more succinctly than I could if I were on my own.

This got me wondering:

How do I find interesting, mind stretching ideas, education or otherwise, on the internet.  I always feel I am missing something.  I do, it’s the internet, but have I made a good go at what is out there to make my teaching better?  Do I read enough blogs, probably.   Do I comment enough or show my ideas, probably not.

How do I make my voice heard, not above, but amidst the throng of other voices.  How am I helping my colleagues near and far ?  Well maybe I should start with blogging more.

There that is a start.

If the folks that regularly tweet and blog feel small then maybe it isn’t just me.  Maybe it’s there way of putting their own ship out on the Internet Sea full of Ideas for someone to find and thereby help.  So, I think I’m going to  pull my ship out of harbour now and set this idea free, by letting other people know it’s here, and we will see how it goes.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” ― Fred Rogers

Today I realized how powerful a Learning Community can be.  I work at a small school in Brampton Ontario.  Today was Dot Day #DotDay14.  We had a wonderful day in class, all because of My learning community and the community of learners I am building in my classroom.  Before the internet came into the classroom my Learning community involved the teachers I knew at my current school and the people I graduated with from teachers collage.  Now through sites like Twitter, Pintrest, and Instagram I have teaching colleagues from all around the world to listen to, read their ideas, and bounce ideas off of when I am not sure.  I get so many ideas that I sometimes have to use a digital Pocket to file ideas away to look at later. ( I am so glad my digital files don’t look like my paper files).

I think that it is fantastic that we have all these people to talk to over various forms of communication and I have had these wonderful talks with people I have only met over twitter, but they come up to me and say Hi because we have all ready built a relationship online.  It makes the days easier and the planing not so hard when you have many hands to lighten the load.  Its nice to have helpers.  Now a days you don’t have to look too far.