Leadership and Technology: becoming a transformational leader

I learned much in my Leadership and Technology course. (So busy to even update this blog recently.) However, one of our tasks was to create a learning log of my journey which is available at http://arclearninglog5103g.wordpress.com/ which allowed to me exercise my writing and blogging instincts on a new page.  (So hopefully, I am not totally out of practice!!!) My main takeaway was to apply new learning in my role as a technology leader in my school. To me a transformational leader requires vision, collaborative skills, creativity, supported by well founded research and interested in good pedagogy that improves learning.

I also added the text and some of the elements of my Learning Log to my professional blog after some feedback from colleagues. Next up, I begin a Technology and the Curriculum class in May.
highlights here


Digital Citizenship for the m-generation (K-6 edition)

infographics_digital_citizen_k-5 Untitled Infographics_Post a Photo_letter_051712_letter size bf u click iphone Poster version
In this age of anytime, anyplace and any-device connectivity, this “always-on” m-generation (m is for mobile) has unprecedented opportunity to share and connect globally. Children are challenged everyday to make ethical decisions and choices that impact their digital footprint now and potentially forever. Increasingly, our children are seeking opportunities to share and connect using their favourite apps, devices and even popular social media tools like Instagram or Twitter. So how do we guide them to protect their privacy, act ethically, demonstrate empathy and use technology appropriate to the their age and stage. How do we teach them (as Oprah?! suggests) to be “heroes who do good when no one (and everyone…now and in the future) is watching?”

The umbrella term for this concept is “digital citizenship” and its presence in today’s Ontario curriculum is small but change is no doubt coming as influential organizations like ISTE with their Standards for Students (formerly NET-S) include it as a major strand of learning for technology. In addition, technology like social media, mobiles, tablets and web 2.0 tools are increasingly integrated (I like the phrase, embedded) across an increasing amount of our curriculum. I believe we have a responsibility to teach, empower, protect and guide our students to use technology safely both inside and outside the school walls for the good of others and themselves.

And their exposure to technology and sharing tools is happening at an increasingly younger age. At school, conversations about sharing I am having with students in Grade 5 are increasingly happening in Grade 1 or 2. The advent of popular creation (and connection) tools like Minecraft and the opportunity to connect through a myriad of game systems,  plus the ease of use with apps like FaceTime etc. means that we need to advise, help and manage our younger techies who have the savvy to use the technology but are still developing the judgment and ethical guidance to protect themselves and others. Open and transparent communication about digital citizenship and careful and considered access to technology from the early primary years and up (“sandboxing”) will help to build trust and aid students to make better choices when using a variety of devices in a variety of situations.

Here is an overview of the resources we use to promote and explore this topic with our students starting in Grade One.

Students learn Digital Citizenship (Internet Safety) as part of our Information and Communication Technology curriculum.  About twelve years ago, I began teaching our students in Grade Five about how to keep themselves safe on the internet (back in the day we called it the “Internet Driver’s Licence” and they had to “pass the course” to access email and use the “Internet Super highway” !!) Each subsequent year, our curriculum expanded to include more elementary students as they access the internet, play games and use a variety of devices (in variety of settings) at an increasingly younger age.

In Grade One and Two, we focus on accessing safe and approved websites, protecting their privacy, maintaining a good digital footprint, creating our own digital projects and acknowledging the creativity of others. Most importantly, students are encouraged to protect themselves and to ask for help when learning about the online world. We primarily rely on the Common Sense Media resources which offer excellent guidance and resources for students, teachers and parents.

In Grade Three, students access educational games and resources using a resource called Digital Passport. This site (and now app) from Common Sense Media includes age appropriate and educationally rich activities and resources on privacy, safe passwords, digital etiquette, protecting against cyberbullying, fair use of media, safe searches and good use of digital communications. Here is a link to my detailed review. Other resources include digital citizenship videos and activities from Brain Pop (Gr.3 and up) and Brain Pop Jr. (Gr. 1-4) as well as other lessons and resources.

In Grade Four, Five and Six, our students are using the internet frequently to learn, play and communicate with others. There are a number of lessons devoted to Digital Citizenship throughout the year as students increasingly use email, our Learning Management software (Blackboard) and other tools to learn and communicate their learning. Connect Ed. has an excellent curriculum guide called reallifeonline.ca with grade specific resources, lessons and activities. Another excellent source is a site called Media Smarts which includes activities and games on media and digital literacy. Their Passport to the Internet resource covers netiquette, maintaining a safe digital footprint, online privacy, security, preventing cyberbullying, harassment, impersonation and hidden identities. In Grade Six, students learn Digital Citizenship as an online course and topics include: making smart choices online, using technology and games in moderation, risks of social networking, responsible use of media, cyberbullying and setting up good privacy and security settings on devices and other technology.

Here is a partial list of useful resources for K-6 educators (most are free)

Common Sense Media – a complete K-12 scope and sequence, adopted by schools in a variety of countries.
Digital Passport – Games, videos and activities, recommended for Grade 2 -5 students

Kidsmart – Early Surfers Zone– 2 digital citizenship ebooks with lesson plans, games, videos and resources for SK-Grade 2 students
Kidsmart – KnowITall: online videos, activities and lessons on internet safety for Grade 2 -5 students

Mediasmarts.ca – comprehensive Canadian website on media and digital literacy and Passport to the Internet* (Gr.4-6)

Cyber café – Learn about email, social networking, safe searching & mobile technology for Grade 3 -6 students
Cyber-5 – Story and quiz on online safety – Grade 1 -3 students
Brain Pop* – digital citizenship videos, quizzes, lesson plans and activities for Grade 2 to 6
PBS Webonaunt game – a digital citizenship game for Grade 4 to 6
Digizen – a digital citizenship resource site with good resources on the risks of social media
Even Google have gotten in the act with their Digital Literacy and Citizenship curriculum
A comprehensive list of the Kidsmart resources  for K -12 students and educators

Let me end with a quote from a recent study which emphasizes the need for digital citizenship to be embedded in the Ontario elementary curriculum. “Some teachers whose project was in the early elementary years, felt that getting notions of digital citizenship in from the beginning of school life would alleviate many problems later as that knowledge would be taken for granted as children moved through the grades.” from a research paper posted on the Ontario Ministry of Education website called “Shifting landscapes…” by Pauline Biggs from Curriculum Services Canada.

I hope those resources aid your digital citizenship discussions in your class and school. On Twitter, I use two good hashtags for this topic: #digcit and #cybersafety. I can be reached on Twitter @anthonychuter and at my professional blog at ict4kids.ca.
qrfree_kaywa blog post

* not free

Going “QR Qrazy” with QR codes in our iPad BYOD middle school environment

One look at the walls and displays in our new iPad BYOD  middle school demonstrates  some exciting changes to our school environment. Displays on walls and hallways are now “alive” , as teachers use QR codes to create scavenger hunts, links to videos, documents, sites, student work even text messages. The walls are well and truly interactive which makes sense as each student has a tablet (and/or phone) in their pocket ready to scan.
Here is are some examples.
IMG_4590 edit    IMG_4588     IMG_4592 edit    
IMG_4589 edit     IMG_4591  qr code slidedeck

1. Schedules 2. Important Links 3. Student created QR code 4. wifi information. 5. Student work 6. Slidedeck for teachers

The 3rd  is my favourite. Students often decorate the lockers of their friends on birthdays. This group of friends actually covered their locker in QR codes with birthday wishes and messages which appeals to my both my geeky and sentimental side. A typical sign of how millennials seamlessly use and weave technology in their personal and social lives.

What is a QR code?

A QR is a scannable barcode that can

  • take you to a website
  • open an online file
  • link to a video
  • generate a text message.

At the beginning of the year, I had the opportunity to lead our teachers in a hands-on perhaps “scan-on” workshop where we discussed and explored the possibilities of using QR codes in class. Tony Vincent’s Learning in Hand website and Twitter feed proved to be a valuable source of resources and ideas for using this technology to aid and support students, parents, teachers and other members of our learning community.

Here is Tony Vincent’s excellent introductory video.

Scanning QR codes

Using these apps you can turn your smartphone or tablet (or even computer) camera into a programmable scanner. To effectively use QR codes in the class, you will need to create QR codes and provide resources for students, colleagues to read or scan them.
I-nigma QR app – Free
Scan – $1.99
More examples are listed here on this excellent blog site.

Three QR code creation sites on computer


I usually create QR codes and use them to share, print or insert in a variety of digital or print materials. They can be copied and pasted like any digital image.

Further possibilities for QR codes
I love this idea of creating a QR code voice message. Do your students ever mention that they hear your voice at night? Now you can really make that happen.  Create a message or instructions to students using this website. and put in their handouts, notes or even textbooks (cue evil laugh) http://qrvoice.net/
How about student book reviews as a number of librarians have began putting QR codes in books so that students can hear from peers while browsing.

QR code scavenger hunts are also fun too. Here is an example at http://www.classtools.net/QR 
Useful QR code articles and source material
Vicky Davis’s awesome QR code classroom implementation guide
Tracy’s Watanabe iPad blog – some great ideas and resources for QR coding in the class.
Monica Burn’s article from Edutopia – 5 reasons I use QR codes in the classroom
Mr. Avery’s “Going Rate” Math QR code scavenger hunt
Richard Byrne’s review of QR Voice – lots of other good QR resources below the article too
Jackie Gerstein’s Mobile learning activities
Tony Vincent’s Learning in Hand blog – http://learninginhand.com/
Online QR creating with Kaywa Code Generator – using this on all my devices
Stylish QR codes with Visual Lead
Janiet O’Hara’s site on QR codes – love tagmydoc and visual lead
YouTube QR code generator

And here is the QR code for the site. Coming to a wall or screen near you!

Technology Integration and the SAMR model

What is Technology Integration?

Technology integration is when students to learn, explore and create in a variety of subjects using technology.  The focus is on exploring good essential questions or themes with technology (technology integration) not on the device or software itself (using technology.) In my ICT classes, I strive to expand upon exciting themes and lines of inquiry in our lessons, activities and projects while meeting both the ISTE-NETS standards and CommonSenseMedia.org expectations. The new setting of the lab provides a new environment with new online tools for their research, exploration, collaboration, creation and sharing. The open “secret” is that a good theme or a rich essential question is never answered or finished as there is always more to know. (Although, students are pretty honest (thankfully) when they are ready to ahem -move on!)

Collaborating with teachers and students is critical for the success of technology integration. (I ask so many questions on what students are learning in other classes, I call myself Mr. Nosy. A colleague called Garth Nichols calls himself “the destroyer of classroom walls” which I like too!) Effective time to collaborate, plan and share will help determine where the theme or inquiry is to be explored (class, lab, home, school, all…) and what the best approach (pedagogy) for learning (team teach, solo effort, flipped, blended, F2F, online etc.)

My 3 reasons technology integration is effective for students

1. An integrated approaches validates the topic i.e. The student believes that this topic is important as multiple teachers are talking about it.
2. The lab or devices (or me too!) provide new tools (online) and a different context (software) to explore the topic
3. Allows students to study topics in greater depth (They bring their prior knowledge to class and they transfer their learning from ICT to other subjects.)

What is the SAMR model?

The SAMR model was designed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura and allows teachers to evaluate how technology enhances or transforms the learning experience. Is it substitution of a practice already occurring WITHOUT technology?  Does it augment the practice with additional features? Does it modify the task in different and exciting ways? Or does this technology completely redefine the task?


How is the SAMR model useful for technology integration?
While researching  mobile technology and pedagogy for my graduate course, I discovered that the SAMR model was a perfect complement and expression of my current integrated approach to the curriculum with technology. Before learning about it, my simple goal was to ONLY integrate technology that enhanced student learning and knowledge. The SAMR model takes this idea one step further by breaking down the manner of that integration in projects or activities. This is an excellent resources for curriculum planning and collaborations with colleagues.

Reflecting upon the SAMR model

In my initial enthusiasm, I boldly declared (thankfully to myself!) that all my student activities with technology should be redefinitions. This is lofty goal will surely be true someday very soon but for now in 2013 a healthy balance of activities in different areas of the model might be best to win over all parties in our environment.

Final note – although this post refers to technology integration into classes, I am lucky to work with other specialist teachers who ALSO believe in an integrated approach. Thankfully, Art, Music, Physical Education and other Languages are spread liberally through the experiences and curriculum of students. AND being nosy I try to find out what all the specialists are doing too for integration opportunities. Perhaps I should wear a t-shirt with Mr. Nosy from the Mr. Men on it!

Further Questions
Should we use the SAMR to classify apps/software or tasks/inquiries or a combination of the two? (leaning towards to the latter)
example poster – Apps in Education SAMR poster
Where does PBL (Project based Learning) fit into the SAMR model?

Further resources on Technology Integration
A useful flowchart for Technology Integration  – So helpful for teachers evaluating when to use technology in their lessons.
Mitchel Norris’s exploration of Tech integration vs.Tech classes – I am arguing that a mixed approach works very well i.e. 1:1 environment  + ICT classes + integrated projects = 🙂Research from Edutopia on Technology Integration – lots of case studies and different model to explore
Excellent chart on “Using Tech vs. Tech. Integration” – clear and helpful!

Further resources on the SAMR model
Dr. Ruben Puentedura’s weblog – lots of slide decks on emerging technologies and exploring Horizon reports past and present
Dr. Puentedura’s slidedeck on SAMR(and TPCK)  models in Action – Some great examples and advice when considering technology integration
Jennifer Magiera’s blog post on using SAMR model for iPad integration – useful for us as we integrate iPads in classes!
Jamie Richard’s exploration of the SAMR model for Tech. integration into his middle schools classes
Allan Carrington’s Padagogy Wheel – combining the SAMR and Bloom Taxonomy for iPad apps and activities

My top 3 online curation tools for teachers and students

Traditionally as teachers, before we start a new topic or theme with our students, we collect a variety of educational resources (activities, worksheets, games, posters, models, songs etc.) to share in lessons or provide as resources for students in the classroom. Using technology, we can also provide multimedia and other interactive materials like graphics, slideshows, videos, files, websites, social media  accounts, hashtags etc. to enhance learning in our classroom and perhaps beyond. It would seem then that collecting a variety of traditional and digital materials would be an effective strategy to differentiate learning for students and appeal to our classes full of “screenagers” but not quite teenagers.

Here are three sites to help teachers curate educational digital content for discussion, resources and sharing with students. In online courses or blended environments, variety is important to help the visuals interesting while creating vibrant, diverse and educational rich experiences remain vital. All are useful in flipped classrooms too! All these sites are perfect for sharing by a link but work best when “embedded” directly into an online course/LMS like Blackboard or Moodle.

1. Symbaloo 
One online tool allows you to create a web page of links (as symbols) to sites on specific  theme or topic. (I find that the more specific, the better; (Grade 2 Time rather than Math.) Your symbaloo can be shared to students (or parents) as a link through email, Blackboard, Twitter etc. Your symbaloo page might be filled with links to websites but could also include links to graphics (from Google images), videos (from YouTube), even files (I used a link to a file in Google Drive) or any material with a specific URL.

Below is a link to a symbaloo I created for Grade 4-6 students to practice their keyboarding skills using a variety of tools.

keyboarding symbaloo

2. Edcanvas

Edcanvas is a website for collecting and assembling a variety of media (images, Word docs, Power Point, videos etc.) as a single presentation/webquest for students. Your “edcanvas” can be shared by email or posted on an LMS like Blackboard. Older students (Gr.4 and up) might create their own “edcanvas” to research and presentation their learning on a particular topic.

Here is one I made for a Social Studies/ICT project in Grade 5.


3.  Live Binders is one of three excellent websites (Symbaloo, Edcanvas being the others)  to help you collect, curate and present a variety of digital resources for students. Teachers have used Live Binders to build up a collection of images, resources and links on a specific topic. Students (perhaps Gr.5 and up) might also create an account and have their own Live Binder(s) for individual or collaborative research and presentation. Finally, the final product is easily shared with students (and parents) through our LMS (Learning Management System) AKA Blackboard, or email, Twitter etc.

Live Binders for Teachers

Featured Live Binders
(check out the ‘Binders by Grade (scroll down on right of the screen)


Honourable Mention: to MentorMob for the ability to create learning playlists. Next on my list to investigate. Thanks in advance for your comments and suggestions.

tmtt – A quick summary of Game-Based Learning

Like it or not, digital games loom large in the lives of our 21c kids today. Most of our students and perhaps you too, received some kind of device/game/gadget over the holidays! Happy New Year BTW!) From Minecraft guides on YouTube, to interacting with their virtual pet on a DS to reading(and playing) a Dr. Seuss ebook/game on an IPad /smartphone, our kids use these devices to play, share and learn about the world. (And this is not just how I spent my break!)

GBL is an powerful tool when: used purposely to teach a topic, age appropriate, easy to start but suitably and increasingly challenging and most importantly, fun. For our Grade Four’s, our truck driving simulation called Cross Country Canada 2 is an effective (and sneaky) way to teach them Canadian geography. When keyboarding, our Grade Five students earn levels by improving their skills and when they “level up” they “unlock” new activities and challenges. Like drama and other resources, digital games can be an excellent resource to motivate, differentiate and engage a variety of learning styles and offer experiential learning through well designed games and simulations. I believe that strategically chosen games and educationally rich simulations can be a strong element of a well-rounded curriculum to target this generation.

Here is a good video as an introduction to GBL (ignore the background piano playing as it is only slightly better than mine!) and also included is an excellent comprehensive GBL resource page from Edutopia.
Let me know what you think and please feel free to share any GBL strategies and resources from your lessons. I am happy to share our current GBL resources, collaborate and search for more on your topics.

Here is a link to a prior article on how I “gamified” my ICT lessons.

Also here is a Symbaloo on Keyboarding resources, I created and posted on our LMS (Blackboard).

symbaloo keyboarding sample

*tmtt = Our two minute technology tip shared with our staff.

Two min. tech. tip #8 – Welcome to the Class Dojo!

We are all familiar with the practice of rewarding students and classes with points for specific behaviours and good practices.

Class Dojo is a free website to aid teachers to record and manage specific learning goals and behaviours to extend this practice further. Students can create their own avatars, check their points at home and their progress is easily displayed on a laptop or SMARTboard or tablet with the app.

Below is a video of a teacher using Class Dojo to start his class. At my school, I am using the same model to start my class in the computer lab and it works really well. (I created my own “tribute” video that I shared internally to help staff see this app in action.)Here is a screen capture of the video.
cd transition pic
I chose Independence (1 of 6 my skills) for the class as an area of development. When each student enters the class they immediately login to the computer and open their project. Then, they reward themselves by going up to the SMARTboard without asking and giving themselves +1 for independence and then returning to their project.

Overall, Class Dojo is an excellent tool to manage transitions especially when students are arriving at different times. It is student-friendly and a measurable record of progress and success in the classroom. I welcome your feedback and let me know if I can help get you started.

More visuals – http://www.digitalplay.info/blog/2011/11/04/reward-or-punishment-gamification-with-class-dojo/

Introduction to class dojo video for students

Two min. tech. tip # 5 – Organizing all those emails in MS Outlook!

What to do with all those tech tip messages… Here is a short video on how to take get a handle on all those messages in Outlook. Dragging completed or read emails in folders allows me to feel like I am staying on top of things(!) However, limiting this system to only 3- 5 general folders (i.e. school, coaching, PD, personal etc.) seems the quickest way to drag and find messages easily. This folder system is a quick tip that helps me (feel like I’m) getting things done.
Thanks. I hope that helps.