Category Archives: Teens in Digital Spaces

Mental Health as a Priority: What’s Digital Identity Got to Do With It?

Recently I have been fortunate to be asked to present at two different venues (Refresh2016 in North Bay, and the DSBONE Professional Learning Day) on the importance of understanding how digital identities impact mental health in teens, and where we as educators can find resources.

Here are the reading slides for this topic.

Thinking Differently About Absent Students

Twice this year I have been fortunate to hear the very engaging Provincial School Attendance Counsellor, Tony Di Lena, speak about the persistent absenteeism issues in Ontario – northern Ontario in particular.

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 6.51.35 AM
Shared by @cogdog CC-BY-2.0

Persistent absenteeism is defined as missing 10% of school days – 2 days per month, essentially.

Last time, he was speaking to a group of parents.

Parents were quick to defend the absences.  In the north, it can be a 4-hour one-way trip to the orthodontist, and all of the children in the family have to go, because the parents cannot get home in time for school dismissal.

Sports days mean that students must take a full day – or more – off school to play a single game of basketball in the north.  Hockey tournaments need driving days.  Grandparents live far away and family visits are important.  Poor weather limits bus travel.  Reliance on the 2-lane Trans Canada Highway means access to school is frequently cut off because of accidents and bridge closures.

It’s hard to attend school regularly even when you desperately want to.

So why aren’t we connecting children with the school remotely?

Instead of purchasing school computers and devices, why not purchase devices – with mobile data plans – for kids?  A child in a car for 8 hours can attend school and learn remotely while travelling.  A child at home on a snow day can synchronously collaborate with the classroom.

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 7.00.00 AM
Image shared by @shareski CC-BY-NC-2.0


And that child away for two weeks to visit grandparents in Texas? Think about how much that child can teach her class about Texas! She is a resource for classroom learning, not a “make work project” for the teacher who has to “send work” for her to do while she is away.

We can do so much more to keep students “in school” even when they physically cannot attend.  And we can start today.


Supporting Minds, Ontario Ministry of Education


The Digital Networked Lives of Our Children – #picsymposia2016

Today in Thunder Bay, close to 60 parents gave up their Saturday to learn about parent leadership in our education system.

The Ministry of Education sponsored event was an opportunity for parents to learn all about what is important in education and how to access funds to share knowledge in their boards.

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 10.28.19 PM

I was so impressed with the dedication to improving the education in the classrooms in their boards.  What rich discussion in the room!


Below are the slides I presented on the digital networked lives of children.  Please contact me if you have questions about the presentation.

Thank you to colleagues who shared work for this slide show:

Alec Couros

George Couros

Lisa Neale

Doug Belshaw

Aviva Dunsiger

Jamie Reaburn Weir

Tim Robinson

Canadian Education Association

Scott McLeod

Cathy Montreuil

Alan Levine

Stacey Wallwin

Karen Enders

Darla Myers

Steven Wilson

Tina Zita

Silvana Hoxha

Mark W. Carbone







Open Resources for #onted: Becoming a Digital Leader

You’ve decided to self-direct your professional learning on Twitter.  Your students want a class Facebook page.  Your school board is implementing a BYOD policy.

Where can you go to ensure you and your students will thrive in online environments?

OSAPAC has led the creation of three series of resources for Ontario educators.

  1. Digital Citizenship and Leadership for classrooms
  2. What Principals Want to Know about Digital Leadership
  3. OSSEMOOC – a community of leaders supporting each other in getting connected.


  1. Digital Citizenship and Leadership for the Classroom

Recently, Ontario educators identified the need for resources for teaching the various aspects of Digital Citizenship.  When OSAPAC looked for a suitable product, it was decided that a living resource was most appropriate.  Ontario educators curated suitable resources for Ontario students by organizing them by division and topic.  Then, they wrote classroom connections for teachers.

The full, open, living resource can be found here.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 9.09.46 PM
Images shared by under a CC-BY-NC-2.0 license
Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 9.09.14 PM
Images shared by under a CC-BY-NC-2.0 license
Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 9.09.27 PM
Images shared by under a CC-BY-NC-2.0 license
Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 9.09.35 PM
Images shared by under a CC-BY-NC-2.0 license


Educators choose a category and a division, and are then provided with a list of appropriate resources.

For example, Critical Thinking, Junior Division

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 9.29.27 PM

As well, many classroom connections have been written to guide educators in using resources.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 9.10.54 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 9.33.25 PM


2. What Principals Want to Know About Digital Leadership: School Leader Learning Series

Ontario Principals have written a set of resources for their colleagues who are learning to use and to lead the use of technology to enhance learning.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 9.36.17 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 9.36.40 PM Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 9.37.35 PM Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 9.38.43 PM Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 9.39.48 PM

3. Ontario School & System Leaders Educational Technology MOOC (Massive Open Online Community) 

OSSEMOOC was created to scaffold and support school and system leaders in their personal self-directed professional learning about how to leverage technology to enhance and enrich student learning.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 10.04.56 PM

The open (no password required, no sign up required) site has a content area where information is shared about events (live chats, Twitter chats, livestreaming conferences, GHO on air, blog hops, collaborative projects, book studies, etc.).

Blogs written by school and system leaders and aspiring leaders are linked to the site.

Courses on how to use social media are run regularly, and can also be completely self-directed.

Links to other OSSEMOOC social media are on the site as well as our 30 days to get connected in 10 minutes per day program.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 10.06.35 PM

Be sure to access these free, open, no password required resources.

Contact ossemooc at gmail dot com for more information on free personal support services for education leaders.


Feature image by, under a CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 licence.

Learning that is 24/7

When we consider the factors that impact learning, we have to think about:

1) the characteristics of the individual child

2) the learning that occurs outside of school

3) the learning that occurs while at school


As educators, we often believe that we really only have control over the learning that happens in school.

No matter how good our lessons are, if children are not in school, they don’t participate in that learning.  But they could.

We know that attendance has a significant impact on student achievement, as measured in the school setting.  Attendance is a complex issue.  In early grades, custodial care of children is part of the equation.  As children enter adolescence and high school, they begin to have more control over their own attendance, and disengaged students often choose to stay away.

While certainly we want to work to involve our communities and ensure that we all believe our schools are the best places for our children to learn, we do know that there are some factors that we have little control over.

When medical appointments require long drives and the necessity for entire families to miss school, and when a single school basketball game means a full day absence because it is a 6-hour round trip, we need to think about ways to have a bigger impact on the “learning that occurs outside of school”.

Blended learning – using digital tools to support student learning when they are not physically in the building – demonstrates a willingness on the part of the school to support the lives of young people.  Collaborative technologies support synchronous and asynchronous learning for students separated by time and distance.  They allow teachers to asynchronously provide assessment for and as learning in multiple modalities, even when the student is away.

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 10.23.55 PM

Students who are travelling become resources for learning as they share what they see with the class back in the building.

Innovative thinking and simple, free, available tools allow us to provide ongoing learning support and empowerment for our students no matter where they are.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 7.38.28 PM
SNCDSB Google Apps For Education Student Summit 2015

Learning is not confined to a school building.  Technology can transform our thinking about what learning looks like, sounds like and feels like for students and teachers in 2016.


#ltelt – Leading Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching.  Are you an Ontario educator looking for help with Blended Learning?  Contact your board’s TELT Contact, a position in each board, funded by the Ontario Ministry of Education.  TELT Contacts engage in regular professional learning to help support TELT in their board.

Featured image shared by Darren Kuropatwa – CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0


School Attendance, RDSB Research

Future Ready Leadership

When Will You Be Ready? 9/10

Are we preparing our students for the world we grew up in or the world they are growing up in?*


This post is part of a 10 day posting challenge issued by Tina Zita. You can’t be a connected educator if you don’t contribute. Sometimes we need a nudge to remember that if nobody shares, nobody learns. Thanks Tina!


Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 7.37.03 AM

This image of disruptive technologies caught my interest this morning.  I see that John Mikton has written further on this image here.

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 10.51.23 PM

Over and over we see images of the fast pace of change in the world.

Over and over we hear that schools are becoming irrelevant because they are not changing fast enough.

Over and over we hear about goals for student achievement that include no technology integration whatsoever.

Over and over we hear stories from parents – my child spent four nights at the kitchen table colouring maps this week, or my child got a 0 because one word was spelled incorrectly.

Over and over we hear from leaders and educators that they are “not ready” to integrate technology into their practice.

Where are the rights of the children in these scenarios?

Tina Zita asked this recently:

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 10.43.20 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 10.43.35 PM

I responded with a link to Tom Whitby’s post here.

How do we stop illiterate educators?

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 10.53.43 PM

Is educating our students for their world a priority in your school?


What Drives Student Achievement?

*With special thanks to Patti Pella, Thunder Bay Regional Manager, Field Services Branch, for asking this question in one of our learning sessions: “Are we preparing our students for the world we grew up in or the world they are growing up in?”

Innovation in Secondary School: The #ELADSB Journey – 8/10

How can we provide rich digital learning environments to ensure that all students have access to the pathways they need for success?


This post is part of a 10 day posting challenge issued by Tina Zita. You can’t be a connected educator if you don’t contribute. Sometimes we need a nudge to remember that if nobody shares, nobody learns. Thanks Tina!


Over the past 2 years, I have been incredibly fortunate to be learning with an innovative group of eLearning educators in Algoma District School Board.

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 11.44.52 PM

Last spring, the group shared their story with Ontario at On The Rise K-12.  David Truss was a keynote speaker at the event, and as a leader in the Inquiry Hub, we shared many ideas around how to engage all students in rich, authentic, relevant learning opportunities.

Recently David connected me with his colleague, Will Eaton, and I offered to share the work of the #elADSB educators to give him some idea of how Ontario is working to use innovative strategies to make online learning an exceptional opportunity for secondary students.

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 11.43.38 PM

In Algoma District School Board, there is a 3-year commitment to eLearning teachers to provide opportunity and the supports needed to work on a collaborative inquiry around best practices in eLearning.  During the first year, over 20 teachers worked together to think about how to move from text-based online courses, to online instruction that put relationships ahead of content, and utilized a strong understanding of student assessment to allow for choice in how students demonstrated evidence of meeting course expectations.

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 11.18.07 PM

The Theory of Action for Year 1 was: “If we as e-learning teachers develop rich learning tasks for/with our students and IF our courses incorporate effective on-line collaboration and communication strategies (s-s, s-t, t-s, s-w,t-w) THEN students will become more actively engaged RESULTING IN a positive experience and a stronger sense of classroom community”.

The story has been captured in this video:

Several of the eLearning teachers in Algoma District School Board are now blogging about their work, and it is worth learning about their personal journeys.

Brandon Grasley

Laura Mitchell

Joe Caruso

Kaila Wyslocky

As well, some of the educators who have been brought in to support aspects of the collaborative inquiry can be found online here:

Mark W. Carbone

Kathy Pick

Heather Theijsmeijer

Ron Canuel

We shared some of our ideas for growth in this video: What’s Your Next?

We have shared some of our thinking on our Flickr site

Be sure to share your ideas and resources about online learning using the #eladsb hashtag on Twitter.

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 11.44.05 PM