CodeBreaker Rocks!!

Oh boy, finally have a wee little time to finally do this…

I was incredibly excited to hear that; The One, The Only, Crazy Rockstar Educator Brian Aspinall wrote a fantastic book called; Code Breaker!!

Also for those of you whom do not know he has a Tweetmeet tomorrow at 9 am EST at #CodeBreaker, which I was incredibly excited to join as a host a couple months ago, as I absolutely love incorporating Coding within my classroom!

So, this is more of a shout out then anything for this INCREDIBLE book! Brian takes such an abstract concept and idea and makes it REAL for all, whether you are a newby or more advance this book has something for everyone!

I love his QR links to his remarkable Blogs, Lessons, Activities that you can adapt and use within your classroom tomorrow! That’s right you heard it, tomorrow people!! With or Without ANY PRIOR KNOWLEDGE you can and will be successful IF you take the leap and get this book at

I love George Couros’ comment ‘Brian puts a human face on coding and helps the reader understand it not just for computer geeks…’ so true, Brian takes his witty yet inspiring philosophy of learning with computational thinking using Scratch and various other means to bring coding down to earth for everyone and anyone!

Curriculum is always at the heart of the classroom learning, and Brian takes his passion in coding to engage his audience whether it be young or old. He demonstrates various means of using coding for assessment but in a meaningful, thoroughly engaging manner for students!

Best part of any book is personalization within the book from the author; this book takes you to the beginning with Papert, to a peak within Brian’s classroom, to pooping babies algorithms (don’t ask just buy it… worth it), to developing a growth mindset in students learning and work to instill resiliency in learning to trouble shoot, problem solve and overcome failures! He explains how failures are fantastic opportunities for learning as it IS about the process more-so then the product!

Within this engaging, witty read you will find yourself within coding projects, dabbling and trying things out! Jump in and learn alongside your students….become a Coding Ninja as Brian takes you into the incredible world of Coding!

Looking forward to seeing posts of peoples journeys!

Thanks Brian for continuing to inspire!! You ARE The Man!!


#MSFTIncludEd; The Future…

Well, its that time again…I was hoping some inspirational would have occurred to launch into this blog from the Olympics, but something else caught my eye a bit…the Florida School Shooting….inspirational, I think not, sad? Yes, could have been prevented? Without a shadow of doubt! So, #Launching (this will be explained in a bit) into the future I see Microsoft at the forefront of things.

Currently I am a huge supporter with Microsoft; I see so many valued, inclusive aspects into programs, applications and whatnot for diversity in learning and accessibility / inclusive education. When I find something I love, I get behind it and help, support, promote it as much as I can! There was a recent blog posting from another key Team / Company; Fair Chance Learning shared on Twitter;

Yes, an oldie but definitely good! This article explains 5 key things assistive technology can do for kids;

  1. Gives kids confidence (Text-to-Speech / Spell Checking etc…)
  2. Students can better reach potential (Voice Synthesizers etc…)
  3. It can help them become more independent (Speech Recognition and LiveScribe pens)

#MSFTIncludEd (Present) Inclusion

So, being that we are working within February a fantastic month for inclusive education as we also have the accessibility / inclusiveness embedded within the 2018 Olympic Winter Games too. I was watching the new on TV this morning and Tom Renney (Hockey Canada’s President) and he was congratulating and setting up for the announcement of Canada’s Sledge Hockey Team heavily favored to win this year in the Olympics!

I was very humbled and honored to be Canadian in that moment as family, friends and people from from around our Great Nation celebrated and honored our representatives in a sport near and dear to my heart in hockey! Our Country speaks volumes to accessibility and feature of inclusiveness from coast to coast!

So, with that I now lead into my months exploration into exclusiveness….last week I reflected upon the past in my blog

This posting is on a current situation occurring within my classroom….actually two as I am having trouble deciding upon which would be best to share. So, let start with my friend ‘R’….whom is on an IEP functioning in a low grade 1-2 grade level in reading and writing. Very few sight words are easily recognized within print, which makes decoding extremely difficult when he sounds words letter by letter, as blends and whatnot do not work well for him too. Therefore, we regrouped and really focused on his comprehension strategies, as technology now can read aloud for him, while using classroom tablets and now his own personal device using Office Lens (with OCR scanning capabilities) OneNote Learning Tools and now even Word. His comprehension skills will be something he will require now and also in the future.

R has become very proficient at utilizing Office Len and OneNote….handouts, worksheets are independently scanned inserted within a Classroom OneNote student section where R then dives into the Learning Tools features to have his document / reading / article (which ever it is) read aloud. He then is able to highlight and control what sentences are being read, paragraph by paragraph, question by question and then using voice dictation inserts his answers to questions as if there was no need for an IEP or previously required scribes to complete any given task. Seems intense, yet with a fair amount of training, re-training, failures, re-builds, and finally complete and utter happiness being able to fully independently do all this on his own….R can now partake in literature circles, classroom discussions and book clubs! R typically kept to himself and was really shy I think because he couldn’t partake before and be one within his class without requiring direct one to one assistance to complete anything. As we know this is far from ideal in grade 6, therefore self confidence and self-esteem has drastically changed and altered….he was also a frequent behaviour problem as well, mostly because he couldn’t partake and instead of being identified as unable or in kids minds ‘stupid’ he choose to act out.

Now, this fella is a big part of our classroom. His simple BYOD cell phone, which ONLY has access to Wifi allows him to be immersed and involved in all classroom inquiries and activities….actually a sought out partner by many as his friends love the ease of access to information his phone can now provide him with. His skills in OneNote with Learning Tools have now been transferred into Word with the Immersive Tools now within those as well….even better that they are also in Apps now too! This guy used to wear a hood over his head within the classroom, not confident at all, shy very quiet. Now after walking within the classroom, he pulls his hood off….this is the ONLY sign I need to see after all the hard work put in with R this year! Successful, proud teaching moment each day when he walks to our door with his hood on, but pulls it off once seating within the classroom! Yahoo

Now my other friend; D. Again an IEP student for reading and writing. I tried hard to lump D and R together into the same mix using the same tools but D was not taking to things as easily and eagerly as R, so I did what all great teachers do…..regrouped…walked away thinking, watching and learning this guys interests and found it in technological aspects in Coding with Micro:bits and also Minecraft….be patient on this one as I try to explain.

Starting with Micro:bits D found an extreme love and fascination with these cool little devices instantly (actually asking to write an interest talk on Micro:bits), which was fantastic as he avoided writing tasks before! Best part…..he wrote his talk within the programming and used the Micro:bits LEDs to share his messages….with simple ‘when A pressed…’ he had it display ‘this’ or ‘when B pressed….’; it displayed ‘that’….(all written out….edited and spell checked as I said we CANNOT show and share errors on this awesome devices). He also dived deeper into the programming, adding in his voice which read his written script he wrote out and recorded. D programmed his Micro:bit ‘When tilted left / right / up / down / shaked’ to say various things he learned about it during research with another web based tool he used on his SEA equipment; Microsoft Edge. Edge allowed him to screen shot, read within the browser, highlight key points he liked and copy / paste into a new word doc….which then using the immersive reader read his script to him in one ear while he then repeated it into the Micro:bits Coding. D also used alligator clips and attached them to ear buds for his audience….one at a time (myself and a few friends). This is one of two events I want to share about this guy!

Second one; Minecraft. We tried a Terry Fox ‘Point of View’ writing task, which was slightly painful for D! Pencil and paper are not his strengths, his writing is legible and spelling is good, but he has no interest in it. So, one day I had a fantastic Skype Lesson / Meeting with Katja Borregaard whom showed us how to use blackboards, NVP’s, Portfolios, Selfies and so much more. D walked away from this Skype lesson excited! He was not 100% sure on how to do some of the things Katja shared so we explored them that week together. Gathered a few Minecraft Masters (expert students) whom taught both myself and D how to using and incorporate them into his world.

D went to work one day, math was coming up (a BIG strength of his and he always eagerly looks forward to math) and D came up to me and asked if he could keep writing  and skip math that day. Now, my first thought was no, but I was also taken back upon the request that he wanted to keep writing! So, I thought what the heck! He is strong enough in math to miss one, so for S&%$s and giggles, I let him go at it……so thankful I did! D not only wrote from Terry Fox’ point of view but mapped out his route in Minecraft with signs of roads and a few highlights along the route for big events. Along the way Terry NVPs told his POV of the run….the thoughts and feelings, anxieties, hopes, fears and pain. I have to also mention this….of the grade 5/6’s (some of whom are gifted), D’s work was within the top 5 for this given assignment. Now being the rather ‘odd’ teacher that I am not providing grades, my feedback and conference with him brought tears to my eyes and his as well! He was ecstatic too… my troubles with D is trying to get him to try other things outside Minecraft….as you can imagine being autistic is difficult enough!! (I know eh….I wanted to share that earlier but I thought the impact would be more powerful now).

So, my ‘Present’ Accessibility / Inclusive Ed blog posting concludes….I am working on parents a bit to share more from these actual events, however being individuals whom struggled with the education system, its not quite a leap they are able to take at this time.

Next week I dive into the future of accessibility / inclusiveness in education…I cannot wait to watch and see if I can pull in some Olympic Magic into that posting….I always love the closing ceremony, especially when the torch / flame is passed to ‘The Youth of the World’ to meet again in four years….fitting I believe as a walking in point!

Until then, looking forward to hearing more from others!

#MSFTInclusED Reflection Upon the Past with Inclusive Ed.

February is one of my favourite months of the year, report cards go out…get a little relief and some new units, inquiries, experiments and whatnot going within the classroom. Just that first rejuvenation, and or breath of new fresh air is a relief….not to mention the days get a little longer as the sun begins to go down a little later in the evening as well!

This year its a little more so pleasant as I begin reflecting and thinking about what Microsoft Canada is promoting and getting behind with its #MSFTInclusEd program, Which you can check out here. So, thinking ahead throughout the month I want to make the #Inclusive Education piece prominent as an educator it is so key and so important. Therefore I was thinking a reflection upon the past, present, future and finally a final reflection during the four weeks of February, based upon Inclusive Ed and Accessibility for students.

Before I jump into my first reflection piece from the past I want to briefly share a blog posting by Luara McKenna on (which is a fantastic sight for educators to read, reflect and think). Here is the link shared by my friend Brian Aspinall;

based on ‘Will Letter Grade Survive’? I know, I know at first thought you are probably thinking how does this apply to Inclusive Ed…well here it comes. Within the blog it indicates; “Competency-based education is a growing movement driven by educators and communities focused on ensuring that students have the knowledge they need to flourish in the global economy” and an executive officer indicating that; “The future of jobs and the workforce will demand a new set of skills, and students capacity to solve complex problems for an unknown future will be essential” which if anyone whom knows me I totally agree! This is why I love the computational thinking and coding movement as it exemplifies and provides a fantastic means for students to begin using, working with and learning new 21st competencies (which can be found here

As Laura indicated within her blog; “Grading systems right now are demoralizing and is designed to produce winners or losers” and that; “The purpose of education is not to sort kids – its to grow kids…..but with grade, teachers turn into judges”. My theory has always been student first, recently in the past two years I have adapted my professional pedagogy to provide feedback and not grades. That is not to say I do not grade students; I do but they need not to know the final grade, they read into the feedback. The only time they see a grade is IF parents let them see their report cards; which I strongly encourage parents not to do, only provide feedback as well. Now, my leap into the past for the #MSFTInclusEd piece….(I may sound like a leap into something else but keep reading please).

I remember one of my very first experiences in education in a very difficult classroom of Mixed Exceptionalities (anything from behaviour to Learning Disabled, MID, Developmentally Delayed, Austism etc…the list goes on and on) also grades 4 to 8. This was an eye opening experience for me, but the beginning of when and why I used my Masters Thesis; Education for ALL using Technology.

So, now my case study; I remember one unit we dived into like it was yesterday. We were investigating the future and jobs students wished they could and would consider doing. One lady was really struggling, which caught me off guard a bit as most kids love the fun police, fire fighter, doctor, vet type jobs….but she couldn’t decide. She was caught in a moral dilemma, as her grandmother, mother and elder sister all were unable to perform in school due to minor intellectual struggles and could not obtain a highschool diploma nor ever hold a job. They all receive government assistance to live and this girls ultimately said I will never amount to anything, therefore I will just do what my family has done in the past.

Yikes, heart dropped, then broke and I really struggled with the notion of early defeat and not an ounce of hope. It was my mission from that point onward to make the possibility of an education hopeful for this student.

Jumping into the inclusive education pieces years ago is a bit of a struggle as we did not have the many resources and applications that Microsoft O365 suite now offers use, but there was technology….simple things such as word and the ability to spell check was key. We also used Dragon Voice Dictation to place thoughts, feelings and brainstorming ideas on paper (as she could barely write a 4-5 word sentence in grade 4). These two simple tools became her go to’s, however she was reluctant at first, but lots and lots and lots of persistence from me, she began to use them daily! She actually started training others within the class in the same manner that she was with me. She started to obtain a voice within herself, begun advocating with other teachers during ‘integration’ periods for gym / health and science. They seen a new ‘student’ then what they previously knew.

These two simple yet powerful tools to provide her with the ability to be included eventually lead her to a 90% inclusion by the end of the first school year with me in regular classes….the other 10% was always a check in with myself and my EA’s at the time. The inclusiveness became empowering and this girls self-confidence, self-esteem and even the way she walked altered drastically. I remember asking her at the end of the year what she wanted to do as a job when she grew up; the answer was instant… many things! She went on and on for five minutes and then stopped….and said much more then before Christmas eh?!!? Enough said….

Now going back to the notion of grades. This particular student was obsessed and so driven by past failures and told she was / would never amount to anything… was ingrained within her! She was instilled and thoroughly believed there was no hope for her! So, my question is why define kids by a grade…..what are we actually doing by giving kids an actual letter or numerical value!?!? Nothing but problems….it was demoralizing for this girl and designed her to be a consistent loser. We need to dive into the unique abilities of each student within our rooms, provide them with the means of becoming inclusive dispite struggles and or issues they may have…..empower and be that person for them!

My goal has always been to be that teacher; I remember Mrs Kinnear, Mr. McAurther, Ms Field and all the things they did for me when I struggled as an IEP student myself. I spent most of the time in the resource room. Becoming that teacher allowed me to meet the needs of all my students; and in this case got me an invite to grade 8 graduation even though I left the school two years before. Watching her strut across the stage with her certificate was awesome especially seeing the smile on her face….best part was she told me she was going to be integrated into regular classes in highschool when she started in the fall because SHE requested it and proved to her teachers whom advocated on her behalf too!

The power of Inclusion is remarkable! It can make a significant difference in peoples lives…I am looking forward to this Spring….it will be this gal’s final year in HS, I am hopeful, wishing I get that call again to see the ear to ear grin as she gets her diploma this time around proving to her family and others, but mostly to herself that hard work pays off and that SHE CAN amount to anything she sets her mind too!!

Thanks for listening!



#CodeBreaker Tweetmeet…

Well I wish I could say I was surprised….but as always Brian Aspinall never let us down! If you do not already follow Brian I would highly suggest it, you can do so here Within his twitter handle you can also find links to his website which contains endless resources, videos, blog postings etc…as well!

After writing and getting his amazing #CodeBreaker Book published he launched the first ever #CodeBreaker #tweetmeet this morning at 9 am (You can order here)

This tweetmeet was awesome, meeting more people and listening to how they are exploring and using #coding within the classroom! The host was none other then THE MAN Steven Isaacs whom is a legend in my opinion! Here is the Storify of this meet if you missed it…. It was even trending on Twitter….I had mentioned to Brian before hand wouldn’t it be cool if you get a Best Seller Book (which he did) AND get the First ever #CodeBreaker Tweetmeet Trending (Which he did as well) in one year?!?

Brian will be continuing #CodeBreaker Tweetmeets every 3rd Saturday at 9 am for 30 minutes of stimulating conversations, sharing and showcasing the world of #Coding and #ComputationalThinking

Working within Grand Erie District School Board and infusing a love and passion to explore Computational Thinking and Coding is a passion of mine! I see so much value and endless possibilities to provide incredible learning experiences and possibilities for future careers and success in all aspects of life! You learn so much from coding, such as decomposing hard tasks into manageable problems to tackle, seeing pattern recognition and how to apply pre-learned material to and throughout other aspects of life and problems in coding too, abstraction, algorithms and iterations as my friend Derek Tangredi loves sharing and talking about. Most of all for me Coding and Computational Thinking teaches kids that while in the process of learning (all aspects and curriculum areas) it is totally ok and common to fail, and fail often….within those failures we explore and learn deeper and be able to apply this learning later in life! Failure is attempts in learning as I learned from friends….I see its value now and I am passionate about sharing this with others and infusing / instilling this into Ss, Ts and people in all aspects of life!

When life throws you lemons, you don’t get handed lemon aide for free! You need to face those challenges and the ‘vehicle’ of #coding #computational thinking provides you with the ability to use those Transferable Skills to anything and everything you face throughout your life! People….you are NOT ENTITLED to ANYTHING! You need to WORK FOR EVERYTHING therefore, fail but BE RESILIENT in doing so! This is the #OneWord (please see this blog posting my #Oneword.

Coding teaches kids, adults and all learners to be RESILIENT and IF nothing else, this should be more then enough for ALL Ts and Parents to inspire to try, and infuse a passion in their children and students to try too!

I am incredibly excited for the next #CodeBreaker Tweetmeet on Saturday Feb 17th as I will be hosting for Brian! Looking forward to some awesome chatter and showcasing some cool projects Ss created and items that people can take away and try out immediately within their classrooms!

So mark those calendars; Saturday, February 17th, 9 am (30 minutes) @ArcherJoe hosting #CodeBreaker Tweetmeet # 2…yahoo

Until next time…

Write to Give…

Here we are now into the first week of Write to Give. This year I have again taken on the Ambassador role and devised, pulled together a dynamite team of educators in Maureen Richardson, Kristine Hollaway, Johnathan So and our reading / coding buddies classroom for the illustrations.

As, the last couple years; this year I am diving deeper into the meaning behind the words we are using within our section ‘Characters and Setting’ as we set the tone, and pace, events within the descriptive words used will writing our section for the rest of the book….to some degree! I am excited to share and see what comes from our ‘subtle inferred meanings’ behind the words and seeing / wondering if other teachers / students ‘see / recognize’ what we could be trying to do!

Another thing I want to try out this year is providing a dialogue between classrooms via OneNote and Skype while writing the book within given parameters. So, for instance once our section is completed it gets submitted. The next and ONLY the next classroom can see that. On the following Friday (next Friday) I would love to touch base after that classroom submits there section, and discuss the outcome. Provide our ‘brainstorming thoughts and feelings’ (Section within our Tab in the OneNote) and see if that teacher / classroom read between the lines and analyze whether or not our ‘subtle inferred meanings’ were indeed deep enough or slightly weak. Also a discussion on why or why they did not go with what we were thinking as well!

This process; otherwise known as the editing process ‘as editors’ will allow me to help support my students, other classrooms as well in character, plot development in their own writing as it did last year when teaching in grade 3 at Hagersville Elementary.

I love Write to Give! I think there is so much we can pull out of this experience for all students; mine and those in Africa and those involved from the other classrooms as well!

What makes this year that much more special is the fact that this July 2018 I am travelling down to Africa alongside Amy and Carey from Write to Give to visit some the of the school’s being built from the effort and teamwork of our students!

Anyways, Write to Give has officially launched and thoroughly looking forward to this event, process and the outcome at the end for my schools and those in Africa!

Until next time…we all have a ‘Write to Give’ back or to those less fortunate…how will you, your students and school pay it forward in the duration of the school year?!?!

My 2018 Bucket List

One of the people I follow via twitter; Adam Dovico posted this blog posting on his 18 Bucket List items for 2018! I thought this was awesome, so jumping on Adam’s bandwagon here is my 18 2018 Bucket List Items in no particular order!

  1. Use Flipgrid more and more at home on my own and with my students.
  2. Utilize Utube to show and share more of my thoughts and innovations with others.
  3. Ditch That Worksheet (yes Adam used it too) but working in a new division these are my quick and easy go to items; I want to get far away from these in 2018!
  4. Utilize my training in the Emergency Field with the Fire Fighters more often and more efficiently! Piggy backing slightly on this amp my training up more and more to be thoroughly prepared for anything and everything!
  5. Learn Swahili; as I am going to Africa with Write to Give; Amy and Carey to visit some amazing schools being built and I want to interact with the students as best as I can and learning Swahili will allow me to really show the kids I am eager to learn and work with them now and in the future!
  6. Hit the home gym 3-4 times a week. I find the weights elevate stress, allow me to be physically and mentally more capable and able to respond to anything and everything!
  7. OneNote….rock it even more! Use my Archer’s Super Notebook and my Classroom Notebook more and more with the students and parents to document, share and learning together in collaborative means and measures! Maybe even a little Write to Give OneNote Binder for my team this year!
  8. Mentor more; this is something that got away a little near the end of 2017. I love mentoring and working with others to reach their full potential; via Indispire, NTIP, Student Teaching, Teacher Candidates etc….
  9. Change the Culture of phone calls home; celebrate the positives and less the negatives. Parents need to hear and enjoy what I see more often!
  10. Work more within the Microsoft Educator Network; develop Skype Lessons on Canada, Ontario and even my home town of Port Dover, Ontario for the world and provide Skype Lessons and Field Trips for others!
  11. I missed out this year on being a Skype Master Teacher; this year I will not miss out! I will get on as a Skype Master Teacher! Big Goal this year!
  12. Using my new designation of Global Minecraft Mentor and learn and share how Minecraft can be used in Game Base Manner for Mathematics and so much more within the classroom.
  13. Explore Minecraft more myself, especially the Edu Version!
  14. Get my students to explore and venturing into the world of Skype with Skype Club
  15. Create and implement a Coding Club using Micro:bits, Scratch and so much more!
  16. Continue my personal professional learning reading more Dave Burgess Published books; Launch, Ditch That Homework, Explore Like a Pirate etc….
  17. Continue sharing my story via twitter and blog more often!
  18. Infuse myself into my new school by taking more risks and attempting new things to help my new school venture deeper into the 21st century in learning!

There they are….I know I will think of so many more, but off the top of my head these would be the first 18 to tackle first!

What are your 2018 Bucket List Items?!?!

Looking forward to reading them!

My #OneWord for 2018

Wow, so hard thinking of just #OneWord…being a father of three (7 year old son, and 5 year old twin gals), husband and Volunteering Fire Fighter, not to mention a full time 5/6 teacher (new to junior division even….) one word is tough to decide upon. So, something that I always strive to tackle is ‘obtainable goals’; therefore my 2018 #OneWord is… Agility.

I thoroughly believe that life has a plan and no matter what obstacles it throws at us there is a reason; sometimes it is a rotten and horrid reason but it is something that we can learn and adapt from; therefore with the crazy, busy lifestyle that this ‘life’ has thrown at me I believe that I will need the tack, but mostly importantly ‘Agility’ to juggle everything within it!

Family, work, interests, hobbies and time for myself is very important to stay happy and healthy and without the acknowledgement and understanding of agility I think things within this busy lifestyle can fall apart very quickly!

Let’s start with #1; Family. My wife and I enjoy keeping our kids busy in Hockey, Swimming lessons / dance (during the winter) and Baseball / Soccer (Summer), we are lucky to have one evening a week not out and about doing / going somewhere with the kids sports and activities. Moving ahead in 2018 this needs to change otherwise burn out will fade in quiet quickly after a much needed break this Holidays! Knowing that using personal agility to ensure I am prepared, mentally and physically (less sleep deprived and more time in the personal gym downstairs in my hockey shrine (Detroit Red Wings Room) will be important to ensure that I am ready and able to take on any task, event or problem when / if they arise!

#2; Work. This year has been a challenge for me personally, a new division, a new school and an extremely challenging class! So, I am taking a step back not trying to tackle everything and anything within the curriculum as I felt I needed to within the past 4 months during flight and fight mode! I am going back to basics; teaching MY students life lessons and them first and foremost before going at the curriculum! Having the agility to know when and how to add in pieces within the next 6 months to each inquiry driven learning experience will be of the utmost importance!

#3; Volunteer Fire Fighter. I love being able to jump and help people in need. My training allows me to utilize the skills and knowledge for any problematic, emergency situation in a clam orderly fashion without stress effecting my work. Automaticity is extremely important and agility comes in handy as I need to take all situational awareness into consideration to problem solve and work through anything that arises!

#4; Personal Interests. I love the technological world; Microsoft Canada and the Educators Network, showing, sharing and teaching my colleagues, friends and students what I know and also using twitter PLN to push my own personal learning as well! I am an avid twitter lover and user and agility will be something I will use to learn, share and work with others via twitter through blogs and facebook, skype and OneNote. Agility will allow me to presue my interest and professional learning further and deeper in 2018! My goal is to reach 3000 twitter followers as well and agility will be important in that as well to show, share and learn alongside people while blogging more, interacting and exploring more and more tweetmeets and whatnot (that fit within my schedule).

Something else I really want to continue once the 2018 school year starts up in a week is my 45-60 minutes home gym routines 3-4 times a week. I am now into my 5th day and feeling like a million bucks as I did during the summer when I hit the weights HARD! Agility will be important to stay motivated, on schedule to make time 3-4 times a week and also planning and implementing various circuits; as I find working within circuits allows me to reach twitch muscles and hit them harder to get more out of a 45 minute workout that will last a day or two, also agility to understand and maintain recovery periods too.

A friend used ‘Presence’ which I love as well; but I think Agility is something that is obtainable for myself! Goals are important but you have to ensure they can be achieved….slightly out of the norm as of now but achievable with hard work and determination! Another word I love is resiliency; especially in learning and especially with my students this year as this is something they do not understand nor know…..therefore with agility in teaching come the understanding of being resilient myself and share my successes with my students to ensure that it could / can be reached by them as well!

Thanks Vicki for challenging and request my #OneWord… to continue the theme; what is your #OneWord friends?!?

Looking forward to reading many of these in the near future!

75 Years of Port Dover Minor Hockey history…but, so much more!

So, this weekend marks the 75th anniversary of Port Dover Minor Hockey and the Great; Red Kelly’s homecoming at the local rink.

In August, I recall a call out to all Port Dover Alumni Players to be part of this big day in November. At the time I originally thought; ‘Hey this could be fun to be part of’, but as this week approached and I was getting updates and scheduling information for tomorrows event I began reflecting and recalling, remembering all the wonderful experiences, events in time that are still fresh in memory and friends that were made a long the way.

Let, me take you all on a very cool journey; one in which I did not realize brought me into the life that I have today until recently reflecting upon things.

I recall, 1983 easily as I was 3 years old wheeling around on blades faster then I was actually running or able to walk at the time. Mom and Dad had the outdoor rink that was my playground throughout the winter months, which during those days were long and cold unlike what we get currently. I was playing tyke hockey for Mummery Fisheries; this was an avid memory as I still recall the awesome ride on the Mummery Tug Boat that was given to our team that year. I like many other players experimented with goal tending, and apparently was half decent at it so luckily enough for me I got asked to play atom house league as a goalie, because they had no goalies in that division. This was the beginning of the end for my parents, as I fell in love not only with the game but with the time spent on the ice mastering my newfound love and craft.

My second year in tyke hockey I would play goalie, and out in my aged group, but also played goalie for atom house and even peewee house league from time to time, lots of practices too for various teams. I also was able to somehow get Mom and Dad to take me to Friday and Saturday free skates. My time on the ice was greatly increasing and the passion continued growing. I was Mark Messier in the 80’s ripping around the ice and Grant Fuhr while tending the net; the Oilers were my team and my Grandfathers too. My Dad an Torontonian at heart being born and raised in Toronto was a poor misguided soul of a Leaf fan. Lots of heated debates and many numerous conversations on route to the rink about players and teams and trades occurred between my father and I. Hockey became a passion, hobby and lifestyle for me, it was the be all end all through and through!

When I reached Atom I made the rep team, played goalie, but mostly out as I found I would get to move around and obtain more ice time if I did both. It helped that I increased my tending skills and played peewee house and bantam house with my fathers friends team. Power skating was introduced and Friday, Saturday free skates continued. My life revolved around one thing….hockey.

I was waking up early everyday, getting Mom or Dad depending on if Dad was on nights (he was a shift worker) to lace up my skates at sometimes 5:30 am to hit the backyard rink, coming in to get a quick breakfast and running down Don Jon to Doverwood school just in time for the bell. Living close to school was wonderful as at lunch I would high tail it out of school home, get Mom to lace my skates up again for the 55 minutes of lunch time at school before heading back to beat the bell again. After school the same; until we were called in for dinner, then whichever team had a game, practice or power skating. Day after day my poor parents and grandparents navigated our families schedule around my passion for hockey and the game I still love today.

We won Silver Stick, OMHA’s and many tournaments that year. This only infused a profound dedication to push harder, master my art and craft. When summer hit it was road hockey in the driveway. Mom and Dad paved that driveway 3 times, due to ware and tare. The poor garage door received endless patch works and when my brother Mike began firing the puck; my father finally decided a mesh net would save lots of patchwork time and lots and lots of money! Me, I couldn’t shoot for the life of me, still cannot to this day, but I have never been a huge goal scorer. My passion of the game was instill by watching the Great Moose; Mark Messier. He was amazing, but no Gretzky! However, Mark made those around him better and I loved that! So, I emulated my craft similar in fashion to The Moose! Tough, determined, lead by example and made those around me better! Assists for me became everything, goals…not so much. I still liked them but I prefer and still do to this day making that extra move or setting up that team mate for the perfect pass! It felt great giving others a chance, giving others gratification and achievement of a goal.

Looking back and reflecting I began seeing how my passion and love of the game slowly became and lead me to where I am today….

We won Silver Stick and OMHAs again the following year in Atom, then again in Peewee the year afterwards. Tournaments anywhere in Ontario became the ultimate prize; especially bringing home a new trophy to add to the multiple shelves Dad had to continue building year after year along with medallions, plaques, flags, pins and so much more! I did hockey schools, summer camps, summer hockey even traveled to Blenhiem to partake in their yearly summer hockey school where I was asked to come down to help run drills and chase pucks down for the Warner Family; yes…..Todd Warner a former Toronto Maple Leaf and NHL player.

Bantam hockey was my last year in Port Dover, memories became a little vague as I reflect on these days; once in high school focus become less and less but my passion lived on despite the Oilers being dismantled! These were tough years; however I always enjoyed watching highlights from another Canadian unsung hero in Steve Yzerman, so began my love for the Detroit Red Wings….and continues to this day! My rec room is Red Wings top to bottom, lots of memorabilia of any kind I could begin getting my hands on! There is a story behind everything…. I also began supporting others and was asked to help coach my youngest brother Tim’s hockey team and loved more ice time, but found a love for sharing and teaching the skills I had to others learning the game at an early age.

This summer I was asked to come out and play summer hockey with Rob Blake, Nelson Emerson, Geordie Kinnear and Jassen Cullimore….a funny story to go with this was one time I had the puck flying in the corner and the next thing I knew I woke up on the bench, standing over me was Rob Blake. I recall this like it was yesterday; he said ‘Sorry buddy, you were going too fast and I was afraid you would make me look bad’ I got knocked out by THE Rob Blake! One of my claim to fames! hehehe

My second year in Bantam took me elsewhere; to Brantford….this was an incredible year where I traveled so much it was actually quite ridiculous, I still to this day do not understand how my parents made it happen with three boys! Long story short I was approached by Michigan State for a full ride hockey scholarship….fast track ahead to the following summer. Coming home from summer hockey which was a yearly request after hitting Atom level, I recall being tired and exhausted after a dry land workout and two hour practice dazed and on the verge of a much needed snooze, somehow reaching a state in which I was dreaming….and dreaming of a roller coaster ride, which was odd for me as I do not do heights. As it turned out upon reaching full consciousness being covered in red, blood and feeling numb all over we were t-boned driving through an intersection in Boston when someone ran a stop sign….life changed in that moment for me! Hockey and the NHL was the dream, the be all end all! But, with two bummed knees from the accident, things went South in a hurry!

Tried as much as I did, pushed myself harder then ever and three knee surgeries later I could never get back to where I was and the path I was on. Scholarship got revoked, depression set in and blackness filled my life, hockey was no longer an option, numerous doctors said it would never happen! I tried so hard to get back but began realizing it wasn’t going to happen after a try out weeks after the accident once again waking up on the bench from passing out while skating….turns out walking into rink on crutches in Michigan with a hockey bag on my back, strapping skates on and reaching into the depths of courage and heart lead me passed out again from a shock I put my body into way too early as the doctors and my parents said. Heart….I couldn’t and wouldn’t give up, but I realized in that moment my path in life changed and altered.

What next? Where to go? I had no intentions on anything but a career and life in hockey, but as it turned out all my time on the ice learning and mastering a craft from others, working hard and diligently on failing, trying again and again and finally mastering cross overs, stick handling and so on and so on, I found showing and teaching others my skills was fun. My parents actually put the notion into action; I recall ‘Hey Joe, you love sharing and teaching younger people your hockey skills as a coach, and a coach is basically like a teacher and you are great at coaching, why not teaching?’….hmmm well low and behold when one door closes another opens. This was when I learned that life sucks, but their is a plan and everything is meant to be, even the crappy stuff! What will be will be, if I continued on my hockey path I would not have spent the night watching Steve Yzerman finally hoist hockey’s greatest prize over his head, tears rolling down his eyes and celebrating with my friends Detroit Red Wings winning Lord Stanley’s Cup, only to kiss my future wife that evening and setting a new relationship and love into motion.

Shannon and I started dating this year in 1997; fast forward through college, university, teachers colleges and masters program, married, three kids and now living and working as a teacher in Port Dover in 2017. 20 years in the making on the 75th anniversary of Port Dover Minor Hockey I get my homecoming as well…after 9 years of teaching, targeting returning back to Port Dover I have now reach my newfound dream; to return back home to my beloved hometown and teach at Lakewood.

You see Minor Hockey gave me a love, a passion a dream. When that dream shifted and altered hockey lead me into a newfound love and passion similar to Messier and Yzerman; leading by example, setting the tone for others and teaching others… a teacher! Now, I love running into former teachers of mine and when asked what I am doing today, they either do two things; laugh so hard or instantly obtain ‘jaw drop’. I guess I was not the greatest student, but what I heard often was I loved my hockey and what I love becomes everything for me! My family, my wife, my kids, my sport now my career….although it is not the original path and dream it is now my new dream!

Being a father and a teacher is unbelievable! I get to mold and craft young minds to find their love and passion for whatever it may be; watching that unfold and take flight is the greatest feeling in the world! Hockey brought me to this life and my wife, infused me into this town something fierce, I grew up rollerblading the streets, playing road hockey in various driveways, bringing trophies, plaques and banners to our beloved rink in Port Dover. Now I teach next door to the local rink, as a  Fire Fighter at Station #2 Port Dover we support the members of our amazing community in many ways as well. I coach my kids, my friends kids and live and breath Port Dover!

Watching my kids find themselves through hockey now is the ultimate gift! I see myself in my son often while he is on the ice; his stride, heart and intensity and hope and dream that not only he, but also my daughters find the incredible love and life lessons hockey offered to me!

Wrapping things up I reflect upon past Port Dover coaches, my father, Kent Cleland, Eddie Hunter, the late Tom Breeze and many, many others and think if not for them where would I be; so in closing to all those parents out there take the leap….get your kids into the most amazing sport of all! Its OUR game as Canadians’ its our games as kids, parents and fans loving and living the moments ourselves and alongside our kids! Get involved and infuse yourself into sport in some form fashion or another….you can and will make a difference for the little bodies finding themselves on the ice learning life lessons such as sportsmanship, dedication, teamwork, manners, cooperation, determination, heart, hardwork and perseverance! Teach those little ones that in a lose is a learning moment, a time to reflect and learn from….life sucks! But in sport we learn how to deal with all the crap life throws at us….overcome defeat, job loss, divorce….reset, fail, reset, fail, reset and overcome! Learn from mistakes, failures and loses….teach your kids that sport and this incredible game is so much more then just a game!

Thank you Port Dover Minor Hockey for taking this youngster through some amazing up’s and horrific downs, but for teaching me along the way that entitlement is not a given but effort, determination and hard work is rewarded as so in life as an adult!

Live in the moment and enjoy your time! Learn from the moments and craft your life in which you can be proud of! I found myself in hockey….and in hockey I became an adult, a husband, a father, teacher and fire fighter whom works hard at everything I do and will ever do!

Without Port Dover Minor Hockey, my passion and dreams would not have been fulfilled and reached! Thanks to minor hockey past, present and future members for molding the children and youth of Port Dover’s past 75 years and the next 75 to come ahead.

#ScreenBeamEdu within classrooms…

So, this month there was a fantastic little challenge put out by the ScreenBean crew, which I decided would be a prefect time to explore and expand my own personal usage of screenbeam within the classroom.

I used ScreenBeam Actiontec 750 after receiving it from last years trip to Toronto during the Microsoft Educational Exchange; otherwise known as E2. This product was incredibly easy to install, use and connect within moments, immediately having a drastic impact within my classroom last year. I was able to teach from anywhere within the classroom without a wire restricting me to the front of the room by the projection board. With students that have behavioral concerns; screenbeam allowed me to be more agile and supportive discretely during my lessons with the entire group. With the ease of walking around still discussion, sharing and collaborating with everyone, those in need of a gentle tap on the shoulder or subtle reminder to use attentive listening, or back on track ‘miss magoo’ my classroom management was made incredibly easier and less disruptive in nature.

This year in a junior classroom with a rather challenging group of students I am still able to provide a lesson with a little more effort I will say; but within the same manner….but during this months challenge I decided to amp things up and use collaboration and as many programs within the O365 suite to enhance the learning occurring with screenbeam. So, here is what transpired throughout this month!

  1. Various Skypes; Guest Speakers, Skype Field Trips, Cultural Exchanges, Mystery Skypes (using maps and sharing desktops to problem solve and eliminate areas within the map of the world) allowed my grade 5/6’s more agility and means of collaborating in a shared manner, constantly connecting and disconnecting from one tablet to the next to share each others insights and thoughts.
  2. Snips / Office Mix; these are two easily infused programs that I try to teach students at the beginning of the school year for digital inking. Snip and Mix allow for audio and video recordings showing student work, which infused with screenbeam allow me to preset success criteria that kids try to hit / reach when explaining their inquiry into problem solving new techniques and methods of working through a math equation using BEDMAS, Input / Output Tables (which ScreenBeamEdu’s own David Lopez was on sight at Lakewood to see in action – super cool having you visit two days this month buddy!). Students began seeking out Snip and Mix once completed other work to try digital inking and problem solving math equations outside of math time, recording their work and requesting that I share with their classmates during math class using screenbeam from BYODs students are bringing in on their own.
  3. Video Recordings of presentations; students would create Snips / Mixes and go up to present, while….ready for it…..wandering around the room simular in nature to how Mr. Archer does it during lessons. When I asked one student why she was doing it in that manner, she told me that it helps so and so, and these others stay on task, stay focused and hear the lesson and learning, so she wanted to ensure they heard and understood her as well! Talk about powerful…..I know as teachers we see things, hear things and can picture why it would be helpful, useful and practical for us as educators, BUT when students see, identify and begin using it, this just goes to show the true power and ability to reach all, any student within a classroom.
  4. Presentations; I recently took my Lakewood Ed Tech team (grade 5 and 6’s) to share their skills with Snip / Mix to NTIP (New Teachers) so they can teach within their classrooms. I totally forgot my screenbeam, and the kids were restricted to the front of the room. The sheer frustration of being tethered to the front of the room was well known throughout the presentations. Many teachers actually requested more info on these ‘screenbeams’ the kids kept referring too! Super funny too!
  5. I am a Fire Educator on the side in my role as a volunteer fire fighter. We train with fellow fire fighters from ages (19-70 years), so I thought why not try the power of screenbeam, digital inking with adults too. As a newly fire educator I tried teaching / presenting without it my screenbeam at the fire hall and it was like walking into the dark ages, caveman world again. So, I put out a call for help and was giving a great opportunity and it is working amazingly with the adult learners. Within the fire hall we have deeper conversations, more thorough explanations and visual representations rather then verbal indications of what is being presented. We can teach, discuss and actually walk around and show group work with a quick snap of a photo, record a discussion and share with the entire group on running portable pumps, pump operations on specific trucks, how to trouble shoot this or that. The learning has enhanced drastically.
  6. Now, to top things off….throw into the aforementioned into the world know ‘OneNote’ and you have a a super duo combination. Think this ScreenBeam and Pedagogical Documentation… bamb boom! Photos, videos and snips, mixes etc….of student learning / real time student learning which is saved within OneNote that demonstrates anything and everything within the continuum of learning! From the beginning steps to trials and finally achievement….you have the whole gamete! Think now of parental conferences, team meetings and professional supports… you are not talking about someone you can show that actual student live in action for anyone not within that moment in the classroom with you! I have shared with parents content that day or days afterwards their child learning occurring in real time OR struggle with long division….actually circle the missed step(s) so parents can support at home as well! Powerful!

So, I have to stay within my allotted timeframe (doing report cards currently) otherwise I could go on forever about these amazing devices! ScreenBeam will take you into the 21st century of teaching! It will be your ultimate tool that enhances your professional growth and development in so many ways!

I am incredibly excited to continue learning, using and implementing ScreenBeam within my classroom, sharing with others and super pumped for the release of Classroom Commander shortly which is an addition to the already incredible usage of ScreenBeam within the classroom!

Keep up the great work ScreenBeam….loving that you are keeping it simple yet dynamic!