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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Shatter Your View of the Classroom

Classrooms should be crumbling. But many stand firm in an ageless state.

I want to give credit to one of the catalysts for my own educational shift and reflective view of teaching. Changing Educational Paradigms (by Sir Ken Robinson) is media clip that completely changed how I thought of our current educational system. If you haven't seen this before...spend the next 10 minutes re-thinking YOUR educational experience and reflecting on YOUR school memories. If you teach, how can this reshape your view of the classroom? Your school? Your pedagogy? Your approach to students? Your goals?

One of the things that Sir Ken illuminates is the notion that the industrial age-defined classroom has been, largely, left unchanged. Think about how the world has changed in the past 100 years, 50 years, even 10 years. Now think about how many classrooms you could walk into RIGHT NOW and see the following:

  • Student desk in rows
  • Chalkboard at the front
  • Teacher desk in front corner
  • Teacher standing at the front
  • Filing cabinets filled with worksheets

Are some of these things still practical? Effective? Purposeful? Necessary?


But how many of these things are in place because of familiarity? Conformity? Safety? Tradition?

Now think about how many of these things are in place for student learning.

A classroom is for learning NOT teaching.

Students are tasked with the journey of learning and education. Teachers are tasked with how to facilitate this.

The school day is not block of time to be filled with activities to "keep kids busy." It should be an opportunity to forge positive relationships with students so THEIR learning is facilitated in an appropritately paced and meaningful manner.

If the goal of schools is merely to put in time and have the students feel like they remember something that the teacher has "taught them" by the end of the day - we are doing it all wrong. Because if that's the case, why not set up classroom like movie cinemas and bring in the cozy chairs and snacks?

If all we ask of students is to sit passively and learn through sight and sound alone - how different are we than the movies and television shows that we seem to associate with a negative use of time? No one ever suggests that listening to teachers will rot your brain - but depending on the conditions of learning and structure of the classroom environment - I think there's a possible argument there.

Let's shatter our view of the classroom. Let's allow students to put the pieces together. Facilitate the change. Facilitate the learning.

Friday, May 9, 2014

"Be More Dog"

It takes a great deal of courage to 'put yourself out there.' It takes a growth mindset - to view your life (and learning) as a work-in-progress. It is a profound moment when you can honestly say that reflection has truly affected your own next steps.

We all have a voice. 

Whether you are an educator or not, what you think and how you view the world, indeed, matters. We are all trying to do our best to navigate our lives and forge pathways. 

Whether you blog, tweet or simply have conversations with people - share your ideas and reflect on your experiences. The world will be a richer place with your voice in it. 

As Donna Fry (@fryed) and Mark Carbone (@markwcarbone) reminded me just 10 minutes ago (with a terrific video clip) - "Be More Dog" (shout-out to

Carpe Diem!

What a terrific day for learning here at #Connect2014. So many voices make inspiring conversations! Thanks for your voice and your thoughts today, Ann, Andrew and Anita:) Now - to keep this momentum going and plan for action!

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.