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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Accepting the Blogging Challenge - Blog On!

This blog post is my acceptance of Dr. Camille Rutherford's blogging challenge (@crutherford).

Challenge #1: Introductions of my Nominator:

Dr. Camille Rutherford is an Associate Professor of Education at Brock University.  As a former classroom teacher and university administrator, her work with teacher candidates, teachers, adult educators and educational leaders explores the use of technology to enhance teaching & learning and transform leadership (from her blogger bio at

Challenge #2: Share 11 random facts about yourself

1. I am named after Neil Young (who my father went to school with in Omemee, Ontario – where I grew up)
2. I have travelled to Iceland.
3. My first permanent teaching assignment in Ontario was Intermediate Core French (on a letter of permission - no FSL qualifications)
4. I have been in remission from Gray-Zone Lymphoma for 21 months.
5. The house I was building was further delayed after finding ancestral human remains on it. 
6. I sold our 2nd house by myself (no agent!)
7. I wrote a blog post-a-day for 3 months (starting with my very first published post on “Ignite. Incite. Inspire.”)
8. My wife (Chy-Anne) and I both currently teach at the same elementary school.
9. My oldest son (Liam) and I have a matching freckle in the same location on the same foot. 
10. Current favourite musician is Matthew Good. 
11. Lived (and taught) with my wife in London, England for 15 months after completing teacher's college.

Challenge #3: Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.

What is your favourite quote or saying? 
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world” (Gandhi)

Name your ideal retirement location. 
The Spanish Balearic Islands

If you could have only one educational technology resource, what would it be? 

What is your favourite travel destination? 
St. Lucia

Recommend an educational game? 
4 pics 1 word

What is your favourite app?

What is your favourite tv show? 
The X-Files

Have you ever paid it forward at a coffee shop? 
Yep. In the drive-thru, right after someone ahead of me “paid it forward” for me!

If you had to pick a song to be your theme song what would it be? 
I Wanna Rock – Twisted Sister

What is the last movie you saw in the theatre? 
The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug

What is the first thing you would do after winning a million dollars?
*Finish the renovations on my parent’s house (has been in the process since 1989!) – then, around the world trip with my family.

Challenge #4. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve a little recognition.

David Truss – “Pair-a-dimes for your thoughts” -
Joy Kirr – “My Own Genius Hour” -
Louise Robitaille -
Peter Beens – “Mr. Beens Class” -
Jaclyn Calder – “Ramblings” -
Deb McCallum “Big Ideas in Education” -
Janet Lee Stinson “This Side of the Mirror” -
Jacqui Murray – “Ask a Tech Teacher” –
Chris Roche - “Technology Meets Education” –
Tom DeRosa – “I Want to Teach Forever” -
Ana Cristina Pratas – “Cristina SkyBox” -

Challenge #5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they’ve been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

1. Choose 1 word that best describes you.
2. What sound or music best inspires you when writing?
3. If I were a student that you taught, describe one learning experience that I might have from your teaching that still resonates with me (student) today.
4. Fill in the blanks: The future of teaching is ______________ unless ____________________ .
5. What is the most exciting part of your day?
6. In 10 years, what will you be doing?
7. If you were a bird, which bird would you be? Why?
8. Why do you write?
9. Describe the moment when you first realized how important technology is to education.
10. If you could create your own school, describe how it would be different (in order to improve learning).
11. Share your best knock-knock joke.

This blog is my acceptance of the 5 challenges from Camille and I too am extending the 5 challenges to 11 people.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

How Neckties Prevent Disease

In university, I remember one of my professors sharing an anecdote about a trip to Sierra Leone. He explained that the villagers (from one local area he visited), believed that neckties protected people from disease. Strange - yes; but the conclusion that they had formed derived from the fact that all the agency workers, professionals and outside visitors (most of whom wore a tie) were never sick or impacted by the diseases to which they were often succumb. None of the local villagers wore neckties, and therefore, it must be the lack of neckties which caused there succeptability. In turn, ties were associated with health, prosperity and safety.

What I think we need to take away from this interesting anecdote, as educators, is the importance of drawing appropriate (and rational) conclusions. Especially, when it is those same beliefs that drive our programming, instruction and assessment decisions.

What the villagers had come to believe makes sense when you look at the surface evidence. Yet, when we add in the other factors and forces at play in this situation - there is certainly more to it than meets the eye.

In terms of the learning that occurs in your classroom - what assumptions are you making and how are using those assumptions to plan and assess for student learning going forward?

What "ties" are you focused on as indicators of student learning and appropriate assessment strategies?

Through what lenses can you observe, track, assess and provide feedback - in order to program for future learning opportunities?

Ultimately, what key issues do we need to shine a more critical eye on, in order to support student well-being and success?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Who Speaks for Our Students?

All caring adults do. We empathize with their emotions and advise them on their actions.

All parents do. We understand them - profoundly - in innate ways that cannot be measured or described.

All educators do. We plan, teach and assess in a way that supports who they are, what they care about and how best they can demonstrate the learning.

All communities do. We make decisions in meetings to plan for their future and support their present in our facilities and our programs.

All society does. We cultivate a future pathway that is promising and desired by talking of responsible citizenship and promising tomorrows.

But, what about students? 

Do we let them, truly, speak for themselves? If we stopped and took the time to LISTEN TO THEM – we would, finally, be able to imagine their insights and realize their dreams. Students have much to say, and with our listening silence, comes an opportunity to change our pathway and support their ambitions.

Let's allow them to speak for themselves.

This image was created by graphic artists by using the insights and beliefs of Ontario’s students on what they imagined the future of Ontario’s education should look like. Take a look and see for yourself what our students want their educational world to look like.

Image: Ontario Ministry of Education