Returning to FETC

Last year I was fortunate to attend FETC for the first time. What a fantastic conference! I especially liked attending the wonderful variety of workshops. Although these workshops are an additional fee, for me, they made my FETC experience all that more special.


This year I am excited to return to FETC and present a two-hour workshop – Google Tools for Learning.

Looking forward to the learning and sharing that this opportunity brings.



Google for Education Certified Trainer

As you can tell, it has been some time from my last blog post. In the near future, I will be writing about the process of becoming a Google Certified Educator and the steps to become a Google for Education Certified Trainer.

I have been through three iterations of Google Certifications as an educator. The latest process is by far the best training for a teacher. Part of my professional learning goals for this academic year was to become a certified trainer. As you can tell from the image below, and image on the side layout of this site, I was successful.

Be sure to explore my curated Twitter feed in the navigation area above. Finally, I have started creating a G Suite for Education subdomain for training and supporting teachers. You can access this site here:



Google Directory




I suppose I have been spending too much time with micro blogging via Twitter (please check out the link at the top of this site for my Twitter Stream). It is about time that I come back to this blog on a more regular basis to focus on the reflective aspect of being an educator.

There was quite a buzz in my Twitter feed early last week about a new MOOC on the topic of Digital Citizenship – #DCMOOC, being hosted in my neighbour province of Saskatchewan. As my school is expanding our 1-to-1 program from Grade 5 and 6 this year to include Grades 7, 8, and 9 next year – it is essential to have a firm grasp on the topic. My school has spent a significant amount of time researching this foundational topic in preparation for our 1-to-1 program. I am looking forward to hearing what others have found and of course will be sharing items that we have found of value. Here are some links on Digital Citizenship via a search of my Diigo links.

As you can see in the image above, writing more frequently in this blog is one of my goals for participation in the MOOC. We are coming to the end of Week 1, but it is not too late to join as the #DCMOOC site has a lot of resources and archive materials. Please refer to this page on the #DCMOOC site for more details of the weekly breakdown of  topics.

As noted on the Content Overview page:

What topics will be discussed?
“Digital Citizenship” is a broad term that encompasses the responsibility of educators and parents to help prepare students for a society full of new and emerging technologies and the ethical, social, and learning problems that emerge. Some of the topics that will featured in #DCMOOC will include:

  • the ‘dark side’ of the Internet, including inappropriate content, cyberbullying, Internet scams, issues of privacy, and other questionably ethical/legal activities;

  • popular teen social networks and mobile apps, and the related issues of digital footprint, digital identity, netiquette, and online professionalism;

  • understanding literacy in an information and media-rich environment;

  • effectively using technology in teaching and learning to connect students through social, mobile, and collaborative technologies; and

  • empowering students to better understand the responsible use of new technologies, to develop a positive digital identity and to improve their world.


Looking forward to this learning opportunity.



Where has the time gone?

Using Math XL - this student prefers using his Mac Air

Math XL Activity – this student prefers using his laptop

Amazing, it seems like it was just yesterday that I was writing a reflection piece about the end of a school year. Now, I am looking at the last week of classes before the holiday break. How time flies 🙂

I guess I know what my New Year’s Resolution will be this year – spend more time reflecting in this blog. One of the changes I have made since my last post was a redefinition of my ICT focus at my school. I have changed my department head title from Dept. Head of Educational Technology to Department Head of Learning Technologies.

I like the focus on learning rather than technology this semantic change evokes. Don’t get me wrong – I am still a big fan of educational technology, but I prefer the new focus. The new emphasis on learning reminds me of how the SAMR model highlights the transformative power of technology – to enable our students and ourselves to do things that were impossible just a few years ago. The student image in this post shows him working on his teacher designed lesson. The online software provides a wealth of content information, 24/7 access, interactive content, a connection to the electronic text book, his teacher, and so much more.

We are facing exciting times at my school. Our 1 to 1 program which is in its second year, expanding from the original Grade 5 classes (expanded to Grade six this year) to a larger scale next year. 1 to 1 technology access provides us with so many more options now that we don’t have to deal with booking lab time or laptop carts.

For those of you who are looking for a daily fix of Learning Technology ideas, please visit my site called Phil’s Learning Technology News. The content of this daily “paper” is generated by my Twitter feed.

Happy Holidays to you and yours,


End of Year Reflection

As you can see from the date on the side this blog, it has been quite sometime that I have written a post. Have you ever had one of those really busy years?

I just returned home from an interesting adventure from the middle of Canada in Winnipeg, heading east to the coast via the US to reach New Brunswick, NS, and PEI. A 10K journey there and back. A nice chance to unplug for a bit, do a bit of reading (Ken Robinson’s The Element if you have not read it yet), and travel half way across North America and back. Now it is time for some reflection, well a start at least in this blog format.

There was a lot going on in my School this past year: the first year of a 1 to 1 program for our Grade 5 students being expanded into Grade 6 next year, a big initiative to start the construction of a new Senior School modern learning facility (great classrooms and collaboration space) which began this summer, and a number of PD initiatives that I have been involved with to name a few.

I also decided to continue to tinker with my Grade 9 ICT Studies course. The inclusion of Edmodo to supplement the virtual learning space of Moodle was very popular with those two classes. This was my second year of experimenting with Google’s concept of 20% time to allow their folks to explore their passions. Some people are now calling this Genius Hour.

In my classes, I have called the process Independent Project time. The only condition, is students must somehow explore a passion or interest that in some fashion uses technology. Last year I had a student create a fifteen level game using Gamemaker, many students created amazing worlds using Photoshop, one student built his own computer. I was very pleased with the overall results as most students invested way more time and effort than I expected. Guess that is to be expected when one can pick their own area of interest.

The big change this year was that my students asked if they could do a team project if they desired. As I called the course component “independent project” – I laughed, but said why not as long as they could document what each team member was responsible for. Google Apps for Education worked so well for this. Not all of the students decided to work with a team but the group results were interesting. Some groups learned the hard way that not all their peers were so great with time management :-), but in the end the results were great.

One interesting result was that two projects from different sections of my course ended up using video to comment on the roles of young woman in the media. Maybe the Dove Real Beauty video I showed both classes earlier in the year to show how Photoshop can be used to manipulate reality planted a seed?

What do you think of their projects?




So Many Choices


My ICT Tools

It is an amazing time to be an educator in 2013! There are so many choices and decisions that we make on a daily basis, as we strive to prepare our students for their future. How times have changed from the days when I was a high school student. I had never even seen a computer until I entered university.



We live in disruptive times due to the exponential changes technology has had on society in general. Think about the dramatic changes in our phone service and dropping long distance rates over the past ten years. We can Skype or Google Hangout with friends, family and colleagues from around the world, almost for free. Education seems to be the last bastion of change in comparison to the fundamental changes occurring in all other areas of society. Moore’s Law which helps explain the rapidly increasing power of computers in conjunction with dramatic price drops continues to this day. The power of the computer in our “smart phones” is thousands of time more powerful and cheaper than the computers that helped send man to the moon back in 1969.

My school is in Year 1 of a One to One BYOD program, starting with the school’s Grade 5 students. It is hard for me at times to fathom the fantastic rate of change we face as educators and learners with the tools at our disposal. As I think back to the tools I had as a student, and compare that to the tools my students have – it is truly mind boggling.

Although my school is embarking on a 1 to 1 program, the reality is that many students in my High School are 3 and 4 devices to 1 learner. Many are fortunate to have a smart phone, a tablet, and a laptop. Moore’s law coming into play again. Just think, you can buy a Raspberry Pi computer and accessories for under a $100.00. In the past two years as we have opened up access to Wi-Fi to our students, so now there are times in my class that a student is sitting at a school PC, and is surrounded with their other tools – selecting the best tool to accomplish a given task.

The image I created for this post is the current ICT technologies I have at my disposal. As you can see I try to be device agnostic, a Windows 7 PC, iOS iPad 2, Android 2.2 phone, and the latest tool I am learning how to use – a Google Chromebook that has just become available in Canada.

As an educator, it is a challenging time to learn how to best prepare our students to take advantage of these powerful tools and to mitigate the negative aspects of technology. As with anything this important, we as educators and lifelong learners must make the time to become comfortable with these society changing tools, so that we can guide our students.

For our students, having access to ICT tools is not really that big of a deal. They have always been surrounded by technologies that give them access to the Internet and each other. What they need, is the guidance to leverage the power of the tools, to be able to thrive in our technological powered society.

A special thank you to all the teachers I had in school. They instilled in me a love of learning and critical the thinking skills necessary to prepare me for my future. I hope that I have paid it forward.

Having Fun Playing with WordPress

As I mentioned in my first post, one of my goals with this site is to teach myself a little bit about WordPress. I have been hearing more and more about this platform as a great blogging tool this past year. I have created websites with a variety of tools over the years, starting with NotePad in 1996, then moving on to the tools found in Netscape Navigator, on to Microsoft’s FrontPage, Dreamweaver CS4 and CS5, and then throwing in a few cloud based services such as Wikispaces, and Google Sites – whew.

theme screen shot

I am curious about all the themes, plugins, tools and other add-ons to add functionality to a blog. Well, the past couple of weeks have been fun. I think I have tried seven different themes in the past few days to explore the different features and looks that they all have to offer. I suppose I will have to settle on one soon. My current choice is Twenty Eleven, as I like the larger spacing for content and one side bar layout. [Still playing – you will now notice that I am experimenting with the Twenty Twelve theme as is seems to load quicker with my current configuration]

It was important for me to learn how to remove the banner graphic portion of many themes until I have an opportunity to create just the right header graphic. As one of my students stated, “It burns my eyes“. Part of the learning process – to be able to accept constructive feedback.

I would appreciate any of your feedback about the functionality of this site. I am trying to find the right balance of widgets and other tools to share EdTech resources that I hope you find useful.

Back to exploring 🙂


Thank You

So many people over the years have shared their expertise and passion for teaching with me. Too many to list I am afraid. I am also certain that I would leave out some great contributors to my learning if I tried to list them all. In this post, I would like to take the time to thank four individuals who have inspired me to start this blogging journey.


life long learners.comThe first thank you is to a long time friend and valued member of my PLN (Personal/Professional Learning Network), Brian Metcalfe. Brian was one of the first educators to provide me with support as I began my journey learning about educational technology strategies, back in my early days in the 80’s and 90’s – yikes, the last century 🙂

Brian has been and continues to be an active promoter of edtech use, way before it was even referred to in that manner. His motto “Take care & keep smiling” has always resonated with me. Now that Brian has “retired” from Winnipeg School Division, he has a bit more time to work on his blog “Life Long Learners”. And a life long learner he certainly is. Be sure to review all the wonderful learning and sharing on Brian’s site.

Thank you @bkmetcalfe


John Evans

John’s sites

I recall first meeting John at a ManACE TIN (Technology Information Night) session. He was sharing his expertise on the use of wikis. At that time, “Web 2.0” tools were just starting to be used by some educators. I was fascinated with how John used these tools to create a school website – creating in the cloud, which so unique to me at that time. I was using FrontPage to create sites at that time.

A few years have passed from those days and John has since changed careers. His current job with Manitoba Education, as a Web Technologies consultant – is an excellent hire by the province. It was John who first introduced me to the power of Diigo, an amazing social bookmarking tool. As I mention in my Sharing Space page in this site, Diigo was my first step in learning how to use collaborative sharing tools. I encourage you to explore the collection of links found in John’s Literacy with ICT Diigo Group.

At some point I will have to try my hand with – the latest tool John seems to be exploring and curating resources with. Here is a link to two of John’s publications – great sharing spaces.

Thank you @joevans

Andy McKiel

The third thank you goes out to the current President of ManACE – Andy McKiel. His passion for sharing and using various educational tools and strategies to deepen the learning of students is infectious. Andy has been the President of ManACE twice. Hopefully we can convince him to go for a third term in a few years.

Andy has varied talents, ranging from photography to creating works of art with his custom pens (I am the proud owner of one). Be sure to visit his site, to learn more about Andy. He is one of the first educators that I know of who set up a domain to share his passions.

Our face to face and virtual conversations regarding various approaches of using EdTech tools and   the upcoming trends in education are invaluable to me. It is from Andy that I first began to understand the value of Twitter. The teachers in St. James-Assiniboia School Division benefit from his expertise, where he works as a K-12 Curriculum Coordinator.

Thank you @amckiel



Ms. Bee

Ms. Bee’s Buzz

The final thank you in this post goes to Sherri Burroughs, who happens to be my wife. That is not the reason for the inclusion in this list. Sherri is a very passionate math educator who has been using technology in her teaching for many years. Although she will claim that she is just a newbie, she has been at the forefront of using a large variety of ICT tools to support her students’ learning at our school – long before she met me.

Sherri has amazing Moodle sites to provide 24/7 resources for students. These sites are tied into our student account system, so I can not link to an example – but you will enjoy exploring her Weebly sites: Ms. Bee’s Buzz and Ms. Bee’s Project Jump Site. In these sites and the linked Google Sites, you will find lots of great ideas for math projects and great examples of how technology is infused into her subject area. Be sure to explore the “Show Me ” videos her students created using iPads.

You will see from the time stamp of her first blog post in the screen shot above, Sherri beat me to the punch in having a public reflection and sharing blog. Thank you for inspiring me to finally take the blogging plunge. As you have noted, the first posts feel like the scariest.

Thank you @SherriBurroughs


All four of these individuals share a number of common traits. They are selfless and passionate about the craft of teaching. They believe in the power of giving and sharing. In the end, they all keep what is most important in mind – the student – as they model life long learning. All in their own special ways – inspiring.

Thank you all,





First Contact

As I begin this blog, a lot of ideas and thoughts have been running through my head. My first instinct was to write about my early days using technology. My second though was to start with a thank you post – thanking the many people who have inspired and encouraged me in my journey. I have decided that I will start with my history with technology as it may take a while to compile my thank you list.

A little bit about me. Being a left handed male, I was very proud to receive a prize for penmanship in Grade 2. Sadly, my hand writing skills have gone down hill from that point in time. Writing has always been a challenge, and the thought of editing my scribble was not one I cherished. It wasn’t until my early days in university that I saw my first computer in the library at Mount Allison University.

Apple II

There it was, the magical Apple II computer I had heard about, but had never seen. And left in the wide open for all to use. There were a few hand written instructions about inserting a disc, and how to turn on the computer. I was soon to discover the meaning of syntax error. And so began my journey with technology  ….




Hello world! …. and Welcome

Welcome to my first posting on my new WordPress powered blog site. It is finally time for me to take the plunge into the world of blogging. In the past I have shared many resources via wikis, Diigo tools, Twitter, and Google Sites. I hope to use this site to highlight Educational Technology resources that I have found useful in my teaching and to teach myself how to use a tool such as WordPress to blog.

Wish me luck on my journey 😉

All the best,