Operation #SecretElves

Oh, so fun today!

I was farting around browsing Instragram when I came across Amy and Stu McLearn (if you are not aware of them they are amazing, inspiring people whom founded #VillageImpact please see; Write to Give; Kenya for more insights into this), when I came across their Instragram story of making an #Impact on others, and share this with their children as a family tradition.

Watching this was truly inspiring, absolutely wicked, so I decided to take a page from the McLearn’s and give it a whirl. Please visit; Operation Secret Elves to see our expierence within Instragram.

Suffice to say, it was fun, exhilerating but most of all it taught the kids that this IS the Season for giving….not just recieving! It was exciting watching my kids get excited when people walked into Tim Horton’s after we provided the lady at the cash with a gift card to buy the next few customers their coffee / tea / hot chocolate from ‘secret elves’ as we said.

So, we sat anxiously awaiting people walking into Horton’s the kids, eagerly smiling away as a sweet lady was surprised at cash! She winked at the ‘Secret Elves’ on her way out the door with a huge grin on her face, then two elderly ladies walked in and it took them a couple minutes to comprehend what just occurred. The lady at the cash had to explain it twice….my ‘secret elves’ we giggling away smiling too!

I would say mission accomplished! Best part for me was watching the ‘Elves’ smiling and feeling how they can make a small impact on someones day! Even better was what I recieved getting into the truck to go home; “Dad, can we do that again next year!?!?”

So, within our instragram story, Xander set out a challenge; which was, go out and do something special for someone like he and his sisters did!

This was a fantastic learning experience for the kids!

Share you adventure please!

My 2019 #OneWord

A few years back someone shared; their #Oneword to lead them into the New Year! I been doing this alongside and last year actually wrote a blog about it; seen here (click the highilight text). Within last years blog entry for my #Oneword I used ‘Agility’, basically to juggle and withstand all the vast assortment of activities and life itself within our choices as a family and also myself as an individual.

This year the word I am choosing is somewhat piggyback from one of my new Canadian Icons; David Saint-Jacques (you can follow him on twitter using that linked text) mission outlook he choose, which was ‘Prespective’ as it refers to his ‘Unique experience of seeing Earth from Space’.

He says; “From the ground, it can be difficult to fully appreciate the complexity and intricacy of our planet, but the astronaut’s vantage point gives them the chance to appreciate our home from a distance and to get a better perspective on its beauty, fragility and history”

“When I was a young child, I saw one of those photos of the Earth from the Moon, and it opened my eyes to a different way of viewing the world. I’m looking forward to seeing our home from space for myself, without borders or differences, and can’t wait to share my experience and new perspective with others.”

David Saint-Jacques
So, my #OneWord this year is; Prespective
I am choosing prespective because; life presented me with an option of a job I would be extremly happy and successful with just before closing out before Christmas Holidays. A fresh start even, but I really pondered and thought hard about it and it all came back to the word prespective. From my view, I worked so incredibly hard since beginning teaching to make it to Lakewood (formerly Doverwood) and I am far from being done making the impact I wish to make within this building!
In similar fashion to David, when I was young my eyes were set not on school, not on teaching but hockey! But, being a believer in fate, and that life has a path, direction for each of us a car accident took a career in hockey out of the picture and lead me into teaching (I will have to share this story / path in another posting sometime soon). Within the building I work I see great potential, no borders or differences but there is work to be done, and I would like to be part of that movement; as for me the prespective I see when I close my eyes is powerful, is exceptional for all teachers and students alike….but we are not quiet there yet!
Prespective is a fantastic word because when pondering and thinking about all life is offering you as an individual, a piece of a family, a member of a community service, coach, aunt, uncle and or whatever you choose…you have to keep things honned into prespective! What I mean by this is that there are many really amazing options out there is life, but you need to go work for them, they wont just jump on your lap! Effort is needed…. but at the same time we ALL need to kee things in prespective for us! Is this choice or option the best for the family, for me, for your child(ren) or is it a want?!?! For me….I need to think often recently about prespective! 
During the summer I was incredibly lucky and fortunate to go on a trip with Write to Give; Amy and Stu McLearn to Kenya, Africa and see how much of an impact we can have half way across the globe with some empathy and compassion for others! I know the two weeks for me was life altering and came home with a newfound notion of ‘Hope’ and also a profound understanding of ‘Prespective’! From our vantage point we often do not consider the whole picture; similar now in nature to David Saint-Jacque fly 17,500 kms an hour around our beautiful blue planet I seen things this summer that I couldn’t fathom, nor believe! 
I seen love, humility and compassion from people whom I could not even converse in a conversation with because they appreciated the effort and possibility of a new life for their families through Village Impact and Write to Give! I thought we had it good, but in reality behind all the shiney gadgets, bells and whistles in North America, in a First World Country we are lost in the reality and notion of life itself! We don’t appreciate the simple things in life like the Kenyan’s did I met this summer! From my prespective I was embrassed I never offered more support before I had! But, heading into 2019 its not the support that we need to offer its the compassion to look at each group of people and think, say and wholeheartidly believe that we are ALL ONE GROUP of humanity!
Prespective is a powerful word! Its a word that I will not take for granted heading into 2019! I know I have some big things coming alight in the near future (I am scared but also beyond excited to take a leap into a world of entrepenuership), looking at taking courses for training officer for Fire Fighting, and courses for Teaching with some amazing educators but all in all needing to be reminded to keep things into prespective for myself, family and life! 
Too much is not a good thing! Being humbled this summer in Africa taught me to take little bites into things and enjoy the journey, the adventure and learning within the BIG picture of things….one step at a time, a toe in the lake…a foot, and slowly find your path, the right prespective for you to make an impact (this ‘impact’ was the other word I was considering)…and the deeper and more effort you put within to the right ‘prespective’ right option, the right choice for you…..the deeper impact you will have on those around you!
So, continuing with a friends notion, alongwith my blog posting last year; what is YOUR ONEWORD for 2019?!?!?
Looking forward to reading everyones thoughts!! 
Have a fantastic Holiday everyone! 

An Hour of Code Reflection

The Planning Team for Lakewood’s 2nd Annual Hour of Code Event

Well… Lakewood Elementary School’s 2nd Annual Hour of Code Event has concluded, the hard work and effort was well worth it, but the learning outcomes from this event were much more inspiring and enjoyable for me watching unfold!

Check out the Simcoe Reformer’s Article; Lakewood Students Learn to Code

The three ladies above approached me a few weeks prior to our event that we hosted, after I had mentioned that our classroom would be planning the event again this year. Last year they all partook as we launched the Hour of Code at Lakewood’s Girls Can Code Event, which they all thoroughly remembered and enjoyed.

I was asked if I would consider letting them plan and organize the entire event. At first I was a little taken back, slightly as this was my baby…but taking a step back I thought how empowering would it be for these exceptional students to take the lead and run with it. So, somewhat unwillingly but very optimistic the driven, determined ladies took over with the planning. They had multiple planning meetings with each other during recesses, nutrition breaks, which they met with the Administrator within the building to share their desire to plan a day for ALL to enjoy an Hour of Code. They had a date set, a target group (Grade 2/3 students as we have 6 classrooms and 6 periods within our daily schedule), which would fit the timeframe / periods we had to work with.

From here the girls, met with all teachers involved asked when their preps were, organized a timeframe that worked so all teachers involved would not miss their preps as well. They then devised, edited and presented me with a classroom schedule, teachers involved and even a letter they created inviting all classrooms to our event, delivered the letters and within two days we had it written in stone….it was on like donkey kong!

We had a meeting the following day discussing what centers we would provide for the grade 2/3 students coming in, looked at classroom numbers (students to devices we would have on hand), found out we were short (problem solved by asking teachers involved to donate classroom devices to our event for the day as their admission into the Hour of Code). With this problem solved the ladies came up with 8 stations; Makey Makey, Micro:bit Fidget Spinners and Critter / Faces, HourOfCode.Org, MinecraftEdu, Scratch, Inksmith’s K8 Robot and Box Island.

Once, we determined our stations the girls requested a meeting to discuss their next job assignments. They presented me with station leaders, whom excelled within the given stations they choose (which were all right on the money), then shared the support teams within the lead students team. They shared that for them to manage all 23 other classmates it would be too much, therefore by running one station themselves and ONLY have 7 other lead helpers coming to them they would be able to manage 2 each…if I would help with one of the stations too. Another problem solved!

The ladies then met with each leader in the group shared their thoughts and feelings and then asked them to meet with their team and devise a ‘plan of attack’, which occurred the next day during our ‘learning commons’ period. These leaders then came back and shared the next day their plans with myself and the girls, which was well done. Now the ladies decided to create lists (I think to ensure Mr. Archer kept / got all his ‘toys’ ‘gizmo’s’ and ‘gadgets’ back) as Mr. Archer is a tad bit OCD and is obsessive at times with returning his personal items. The lists included a checklist of items that would be collected the day before into a small bin to take down for the leads stations to run smoothly (i.e., Micro:bit Fidget Spinners; Real Fidget Spinner, 5 Micro:bits, 5 cords to transfer files, 5 power sources), which the leads would also gather and check off prior to leaving the Learning Commons space once the event was over (I greatly appreciated the attention to detail they had).

The girls shared these with leads, asked for feedback (if anything was missing, again adapted lists and again this was checked off the list). I found with each given day they became more and more particular ensuring all the fine details were wrapped up and tied up with bows! They also decided to have ballots, for feedback on the grade 2/3 students favourite stations they visited during their hour visit with us, they told me I could use the ballots for math (which we did this week, data management graphing and analyzing the outcomes; favourite stations, least favourite….looked at possible reasoning why, how to encourgage people to go to that station next year; looked at creating ads, comics, witty sayings etc…).

The day before we had a mock ‘run through’ during our ‘Learning Commons / Library’ period, which ran smoothly! The girls then also tacked on another addition; creating a checklist for each student to ensure they tried everything. They even told me when I did my ‘Welcome Presentation’ to ensure to encourage them to visit at least 4 stations, if they did they could throw thier checklist in a box to be pulled for prizes the following day (class by class too). I obtained stickers from Microsoft for Microbits and whatnot for the kids too!

Low and behold the day was upon us….the outcome; smooth as ice! Incredily seamless infact, no issues that couldn’t be problem solved with ease! They tought of everything and then some! The best part was they requested a ‘reflection meeting’ with me the following day…..I thought to miss recess again, but it was to help me plan for next year with my new group of kids! Too funny eh?!?!

So….what was learned?!!? Well….just like coding; run a program, regroup when testing ‘if not work’, iteration needed, ‘fixed’ re-run, mastered then move on, innovate, recreate better…when run into trouble, revisit ‘if not work’, iteration needed….insert forever loop! In a round about way the ladies learned how to manage, run and plan a seamlessly incredible event for 140+ peers at the age of 11 years old.

One word….amazing! My thoughts? Well….to be honest, prior to sharing what I think I would love to hear what you all think….

I did rely to my good buddy Brian Aspinall the effort and work the gals put into this event. He was pumped to see what the outcome would be, very proud to hear the interest the girls had into running the event and sent a signed copy of his Code Breaker Book for the girls! I will pitch this as well…..Block Breaker coming soon in the new year!! Woot woot!

Anyways, please take a peak at the Sway (click highlighted text) for Lakewoods 2nd Hour of Code to see within our event.

Simcoe Reformer Article

One proud teacher is what I will say!

Way to go ladies! Well done, blow away with the effort, focus on all the fine details and committement to planning!

Looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks of the girls effort! Please share!

Moving ahead….even though the Hour of Code / Computer Science week is over we can always continue to use and implement coding / programming into learning each and everyday moving head! Take a leap of faith, well worth the risk!

Until next time….

Fantastic Friday!

Have you ever awoke to the alarm and thought…oh boy last one this week, just pound through it!?!?! Almost there….yep, yep as a teacher some weeks are like this, so as per my regular routine; I checked the weather my twitter (I am addicted) and a few other quick things prior to the morning shower!

Today, within a few minutes I was emotionally charged! I was ready to take on the day! Thanks so much Nycol, you kicked off my day with a bang!

As a teacher this time of year become exhausting, tiring and draining….today was a much needed boost, check this out; https://ideasinelementary.wordpress.com/2018/12/13/when-you-get-to-reconnect/

I always get a chuckle to some degree when reflecting upon various Ed Tech Conferences and events I go to firstly because my wife calls them ‘geekfests’ and yeah they may be but we are the coolest geeks out there! And two; the people you meet the experiences  you have and the things you learn are incredible, but most of all the PLN that you grow is powerful. Teachers need teacher, we all need each other to get through the gruling year, those long tedious weeks prior to Christmas and the dreadfully short days of January and Febraury as darkness settles in so quickly after work.

This morning I was reminded how powerful my PLN is, not just for networking and sharing ideas, thoughts and helping each other problem solve, but to support each other! I look at some of the incredible names within Nycol’s Blog and become instantly charged knowning I was placed within the same paragraph as the iconic Martha and Dustin Jez! Throw in a Brian Aspinall and top it off with the incredible smile from Jennifer Casa-Todd and this teacher is pumped!

Within Nycol’s Blog she also included a photo from the amazing Canconnect #Ignite Event hosted by Fair Chance Learning and I instantly was brought back, surrounded by incredible educators I greatly admire; Jonathon So, Lee Martin and so many others!

Find your PLN people, these individuals will forever be in your corner, forever able to be ear, a voice a helpful hand, friend and colleague! PLNs are extremely pwoerful, inspiring and emotionally uplifting, today I owe a great deal of gratitude to Nycol!

Who will you inspire today!?!? Reach out and shout out….

I walked into the building today listening to the Arkles; Knocking at the Door and another amazing song by Panic; High Hopes….look out kids today I am going to finish this week off with a bang! (Inspiring songs got to add these to the play list!)

Until next time, chat soon!

Inksmiths; Crazy K8

I would like to introduce you all to someone / something really cool!

This is Crazy K8 (Kate)

Crazy K8 (Kate) made her first ever appearance at Lakewood Elementary Schools #HourOfCode event this past Thursday, December 6th, 2018.

K8 was introduced to intice and engage students into the Abstract World of Computer Science (during Computer Science Week) for grade 2/3 students (140+ students to be exact).

For students who are in mid primary its hard to understand the reality / notion of coding and computer programming. Especially the message that I was trying to share; that “Coding provides you with ‘visual understanding’ of mistakes / errors in your work” and that “these mistakes / errors show teachers / people that you are trying / working and immersing yourself into your work”

One of the key things we teachers love for our students is growth in learning, which leads to success stories and understanding of big ideas and concepts embedded within curriculum content. For me, the key, the absolute largest impact I can have on my students is “Teaching them how to respond when they are NOT successful”. This is how and when I pull in the fabulous world of Coding / Computer Programming.

Coding is in my opinion the new ‘cursive writing’ its the 21st century version of sharing information in a meaningful way with 21st century products that are thoroughly engaging for todays youth! The world they (our students) have grown up in is drastically different then our world during our youth, therefore as Educators; we have a duty to teach to our students interest areas in order to engage, inspire and create a culture of inquiry driving learning. 

For this teacher I am trying, with exhausting efforts to constantly find items, interests and engaging ideas and concepts my students love and want to learn about, let alone a creative means of tying these into our Ontario Curriculum Document. Coding is something I have been able to find vast assortment of curriculum connections while using, Micro:bits (which can be purchased from Fair Chance Learning Online Shop, click that highlighted text please)

Now, enter my new friend; ‘Crazy K8’ (aka Kate). Crazy K8 uses Micro:bits to Code / Program and basically move. K8 requires a reciever Micro:bit and a remote control Micro:bit that sends radio signals to the actual robot, aka K8. The hardness for the robot itself allows for an insertion of a Micro:bit, which is fantastic because with ONLY one K8 Robot, the entire classroom can create meaningful coding programs that they want in collaboration to manipulate K8. So, once creation occurs, students can then try out thier program inserting their Micro:bits into K8 and see their success or mistakes/ errors in reality. Talk about powerful eh?!?! (Yep, I am Canadian).

So, moving back to our #HourOfCode event, what I was sharing from my slide deck (link is added at bottom of this blog) before students were about to go out and explore our 9 stations (Makey Makey, Micro:bit Fidget Spinners / Critter Faces, HourOfCode.Org, mBot Soccer, MinecraftEdu, Scratch) was that K8 (Kate), was driving me (a teacher) bonkers, but more then bonkers moreso crazy…. the students were instantly inticed!

I could imagine and see the confusion on their faces, a teacher being driven crazy by a robot!?!? So, I shared that I was struggling understanding the concepts, I was going crazy trying to figure out how to create the program the drove the K8 robot correctly, infact I looked up youtube ‘how to do’s’ (because I am a troubleshooter, problem solver, but enjoy doing it on my own) and had no luck! I was stuck…(just like them within the classroom).

Now, being an Educator with 10 years of experience we become fantastic storytellers, we become incredible prompters, probers and forthought thinkers. So, these kids were sad, as they thought they would get to see K8 roll out… one individual said; why didn’t you ask for help?!?! Bingo!…. I actually contacted my buddy Doug Braden (who is one of Inksmiths own as the Chief Technology Officer, click that highlighted text to get to his twitter handle, give him a follow too a great educator and inspires me) who helped me out. The key I was missing was the ‘Collaboration’ piece to this puzzle in order to figure out the programming I was not totally able to understanding even with Inksmiths tutorials, which are fantastic and can be found here; https://inksmith.teachable.com/

You see, teaching students ‘Critical Thinking’ and ‘Computational Thinking’, we can infuse a new way of approaching difficult tasks, problems they will face in the future with any struggle they may have. Classroom teachers provide lots of curriculum content learning, which is often difficult for people to gain a strong confidence in their abilities to succeed (this was me with anything math related, and still is the same today).

This all goes back to my need to infuse the ability to “Respond when they are not successful” within my students. Looking ahead to the future we will have a drastically different reality, drastically different jobs and drastically different problems to solve within our world; therefore the workforce / problem solvers of the future (our students) need to be armed and ready to conquer these problems using ’21st Century Competencies’

So, lets go back and revisit Thursday, December 6th, 2018. Students were in the moment engaged and thoroughly infused and listening to my every word, as I said; “K8’s programming was really hard, she was driving me crazy….I had to make 17 ‘Iterations’ (adjustments to the orginal program I wrote to control her) and I still need to make adjustments as she is not perfect yet”. One student mentioned she was cute though….and that she was (I added purple pipe cleaners for crazy ponytails), another mentioned that no one is perfect, not even teachers as you are people just like us too! Jackpot….if kids see us fail and make mistakes it allows them to see that the mistakes are fine to make, it is within a mistake that we analyze and find solutions to problems!

Now, the ridicously crazy educator in me always tries to inspire and infuse problem solving into any oppertunity, and I was not going to miss this one as I had my 26 students, 140 + grade 2/3 students, 6 fellow teachers, many drop in parents a local newspaper reporter (Click Here, to read the article he published later that day) sharing the learning on hand.

I actually programmed K8 wrong on purpose, for ‘purposeful learning’ to allow everyone to Computationally Think (using decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction and algorithic design). The program I wrote using the Micro:bit, went like this; ‘When tilted forward, motors spin backwards’ and ‘When tilted backwards, motors spin forward’ and visa versa with left to right movements.

I told the audience that I am still very determined, but ran out of time last night and needed thier help figuring it out….teaching to the power of ‘Collaboration’ (even a teacher needs help), but the most powerful piece, is that I am well known as a fantastic robotics, cool toys and tools guy…..but this guy, this teacher needs a students help to find a solution to a problem….that is / was the powerful piece! Some people tried it out and low and behold  K8 wouldn’t do what they wanted it to (but what the actual program I wrote DID tell her to do), she was driving everyone ‘Crazy’, hence ‘Crazy K8’.

I had many thoughts and suggestions, lots quite good, all thinking with abstraction! I did have two little ladies (seen below) who figured it out! Two whom neither ever seen block coding before, two whom heard others suggestions, worked the problem, again, again, again and finally got it! (I love ‘The Martian’ and Mark Watney is the Ultimate Problem Solver…infact I always show my grade 6 students this movie at the end of our space unit and Watney is referred to afterwards throughout the entire year).

So, thanks Inksmith

This 3D Printed Robot, known as K8, but within Lakewood Elementary known as ‘Crazy K8’ (Kate)….I think I am going to change her to a capital ‘K’ because crazy cool things for the really cool kids use a ‘K’ for ‘Kool’, therefore; ‘Krazy K8’ is inspiring, ridicously engaging and wicked awesome as well for teachers, students and anyone! She was a hit at Lakewood Elementary Schools 2nd Annual #HourOfCode (click on that highlighted text to see a Sway for that day).

K8, would make an incredible Christmas Gift that is under $80. If interested please visit Inksmiths Online Shop! (Click the highlighted text).

Meet my wonderful, incredible class this year that hosted the #HourOfCode at Lakewood Elementary in 2018 below; Archer’s 2018 6’s


Meet the two awesome gals who figured out ‘Krazy K8’s’ errors within her programming below;

Thanks for reading and listening to our story of our #HourOfCode event!

Krazy K8 Rocks!!!!!!

Here is my slide deck I used for this day; http://bit.ly/2L4qugT

Here is the handout I was giving out this day; http://bit.ly/2L3i8WU



Hour of Code at Lakewood Elementary School

Hey All!

Been a while, but been crazy busy lately.

I am currently writing this Blog on prep listening to Fair Chance Learning / Lets Talk Science Facebook Live with Sir Robert Thirsk (Canadian Astronaut), so kind of cool as they are talking about STEM Education and Coding directly related to Curriculum Content Areas with Micro:bits and skills going into the future!

Flip back; Yesterday Archer’s 6’s hosted a wonderful day of Coding during Computer Science Week. We had over 140 + students walk through Hour of Code with us. It was crazy busy, but so much fun!

During the event we shared 8 stations; Makey Makey, Micro:bits (2 stations), Hour of Code, MinecraftEdu, Scratch, Box Island, mBot soccer.

Students were exposed to Computational Thinking and features embedded within the aforementioned stations. The message we tried to share can be seen within our local papers news artcle found here; http://bit.ly/2L2VsWP 

I would highly encourage people to explore any of the various options embedded within my friend; David Carruthers Google Doc; http://bit.ly/2L0X6bx

I am very proud of these kids! They worked very hard planning, implementing and running the entire event! A Big Shout Out to Lucah, Gabby and Emma for the extra time put into the nitty gritty behind the scene planning as well!

So, closing up Computer Science this week I want to encourage, inspire all teachers, students to go out and explore various means of coding and programming within your own personal learning and connect into classrooms as well!

Follow people to develop a strong PLN surrounding Coding and Programming online; lots of great options out there! Please take a look at my following list to find many, many amazing people and educators to follow with!

In closing during the next 6 1/2 months Canadian Astronuat; David Saint-Jacques will be aboard the International Space Station conducting research, experiements and much more! Please take a peak at; http://bit.ly/2L3iMnt

Chat soon people!