Lets Get Started Already!

Well, its that time of year again! Labour Day weekend has become the ‘turning point’ within each year for me since 2009 when I obtained my one and only LTO. Its the time when a new year and new beginning starts…

So, after spending the past week within my new school setting up my new classroom; I am ready to get this show on the road! You can see the classroom here https://youtu.be/hQIj0H9VZ2g

I always find myself preparing for the upcoming year mentally this given weekend. I always wonder why not earlier, but truth of the matter is that I try not to prepare too much as each year is different, each set of students, grade level, teaching partner and even principal is different….not to mention the parents as well. So, for my sanity I tinker, gather and implement things unconsciously up until this point in time. This given weekend always marks the turning point for me, as I get the wheels turning and spinning again, knocking those cobwebs off and really beginning to plan out things….

This year as I ponder, plan and program I see things in a much larger global scale of things. I recently was chosen to become a Microsoft Innovative Educator Fellow, but also was turned down as a Skype Master Teacher. A big high, yet a bit of a blow too….so as I plan I began consuming more and more Mystery Skypes, Virtual Guest Speakers and booking many Virtual Tours that link to Social Studies and Science Curriculum links and expectations. The elusive Skype Master Teacher will be a target I set my sights on throughout this year and taking my programming into a global atmosphere with Skype Collaborations on the Global Climate Action Project, TeachSDGs Worlds Largest Lesson, Hackathon, Skypeathon, and so many others….I feel I am on the right track to obtain that esteemed honour of Skype Master Teacher.

The way I look at things has always been, everything happens for a reason and this is one of yet many unforeseen circumstances that have graciously slipped into view in the last 4-6 months! All these items have pushed and lead me into some amazing learning opportunities and circumstances as well enhanced my teaching pedagogy. As I continue to jump into those uncomfortable unknown charted waters I continue to grow, develop as a teacher and my students obtain a much richer program and learning experiences.

So, thinking and transitioning myself into planning mode I am looking at the endless possibilities, learning experiences and inquires we are going to dive into and explore this year with excitement that I have not felt before! Its more elated passion and eagerness to share my love, passions with my students to take our learning outside the walls of the classroom into real world global learning and issues out there and help my students understand that they can always make a difference and impact on live of others anywhere within the globe.

I am super eager, excited to partake in Write to Give again for my second year; I am hoping as a Teacher Ambassador again! This program is unreal in its impact on my students and those in Africa as well! I think this program will be that much more meaningful to me this year as I am going with Write to Give August of 2018 to Africa to schools being built with the funds raised by the Authored books we create and sell to our loved ones.

Utilizing Twitter and the Microsoft Educators Community, Skype and Microsoft O365 Tools we will create a global footprint with @Archers56s this year. After reading Jenn Casa Todd’s SocioLEADia I have a knew profound love of Twitter and creating student profiles that can and will make a difference across the world.

So, 2017-2018 school year here we come!

With anxious anticipation and delight its about to get interesting, intriguing and exciting yet again!

Best of luck everyone and best wishes on the year we mark our impact on the globe, the year we take learning to new heights and levels of understanding and sharing with others!

Godspeed All…..

Top 5 Defining Moments; What has defined my career?!?

A PLN friend on twitter; Johnathan So aka Mr. Bowtie tagged me in a great reflection piece entitled ‘Top 5 defining moments; whats has defined my career’, in this he reflected on his moments; one of which was with his daughter Izzy starting school….so the following is my top 5 defining moments….(at least as I see them at this point in time….tomorrow could be another day – as it should be).

These are in no particular order just as they filtered through my memories…

  1. Opening my classroom to partnerships; now for me partnerships began as face to face partners within the classroom. Some of my most notables are my classroom Mommies (My first gigs classroom Educational Assistants; Linda and Kathy), these ladies ensured I was well taken care of (ate my lunch, took my breaks, laughed and learned to love my job, the kids and the new profession I just walked into), I thoroughly believe these two incredible ladies began my partnership / teamwork understanding / mindset and know how into what it is now! They among another EA; Starr were invincible, powerful and the best of partners!! They all taught me one thing…..you need to laugh and laugh often! To this day anyone teamed up and partnered with me I am sure would say one thing; he loves to have fun and laugh often! Thank you ladies for teaching me this! Once I walked into kindergarten I had two amazing Early Childhood Education partners in Kim and Krista; again two incredibly hardworking, lovely ladies whom made my practise and the students classroom experience that much more powerful, stimulating and fun as well! I cannot say enough about these two!! Partnerships are not only hired hands; I see my High School Co-op Students / Mohawk College DECE Students / University Teaching Students / NTIP Mentee’s (Natalie, Athena Tiffany, Nicholas, Christina, Presley, Joseph, Cheri and so many more). Twitter / Skype / and digital PLN partnership are so powerful too! All these partnerships have made me whom I am today; someone who loves mentoring and instilling a love and passion for this incredible profession we work in. We alongside our partners can make an impact that will last a lifetime, set memories that will never be forgotten, instill a love for life long learning in all that walk through the doors! These partnerships for me will never be forgotten, names will always be close to heart as they all inspired and change who I am and how I do things today! Take the leap people….make that partnership key as I did….I know consider all these amazing people colleagues and teammates that still inspire me today….align yourself with incredible people and they will bring value to your practise in times when needed!
  2. That ‘Person’ at work who believes in your crazy antics, ways and methods; for me this ‘Person’ is really two people; Dennis (hired me on my first contract) and Janice. This sounds funny but these two are very similar in nature! They know what they want to see, they push you to go the distance and stand behind you on your journey. They also are great at bringing your head back down from the clouds and ensuring your feet stay planted on the ground too. I always say that the body within the office can impact things within a school, as well as your practise as well. I had a really ‘bad’ experience too, and I went to a very dark and depressing place…but with some guidance I choose to leave a school, community, staff and students I loved, and it worked out incredibly well for me! So, while applying to job be aware of what you are getting into, know what you have to do and understand your place and consider if this IS the place for you! I am moving to a new school this year, in my hometown, where I went to school, where I did my High School, College and University Placements, where my own children go, but the body within the office is someone I trust, someone that will believe and inspire everyone within the building….I know this is the right place for me at this time at Lakewood Elementary! I will miss Hagersville Elementary; my home for the last 4 years!
  3. The Choice to become ‘Uncomfortable’; this one sounds funny, so let me try to explain this. I was taught rote learning, worksheets, read and summarize, drill and kill patterns and remembering and recalling dates, details, sets in solving long division; when I got outside this traditional teaching method and got uncomfortable and really ‘let go’ my experience and practise with inquiry driven student lead learning soared. I grew more as a person, changed my questioning techniques, conferences, guided which eventually turned to becoming a learning within the journey with each student as well. When I got uncomfortable I started learning more about what was being taught in the classroom, I was a students within my classroom alongside the kids, I became one with them. When this occurred I seen ‘more’ I actually seen why kids were still struggling with wanting to learn, and as any teacher does I adjusted, flipped and changed my ways….the outcome is what I design, how I work alongside kids, partners and colleagues now. When I walk into a situation my first thought is how do I become uncomfortable; because within this IS the growth in learning! I am constantly told my practise is incredibly progressive, totally outrageous and out there in good ways, but not the norm….my response is always ‘Great, I learn more from the kids then they do from me!’ So get ‘Uncomfortable’ people take leap of faith and try crazy, outrageous and becoming a big kid….its so much fun, doesn’t even feel like work and this is the true power of uncomfortably; changing from being a job to becoming something you thoroughly look forward to everyday!
  4. Getting into the Microsoft Educator Community; now let me start with this….yes we are a Microsoft Board, yes we use O365 all the time, but it is not the be all end all! I love Microsoft products, in fact my Surface Pro 4 is unbelievable!! By far the best computer I have ever had, highly recommend it too people! Working and learning within the MEC I learned so much about accessibility, and differentiation and how behaviour / classroom management could be eliminated with simple DI and mind blowing leveling programs that even the playing field for all! Within this journey I learned that there is NOT one answer for all, not one name but IF you explore everything Apple, Android, Microsoft, Samsung etc….there are so many possibilities we can find something that works for all! My journey took me into the Microsoft Innovative Educator Pathway route two years ago, which lead to the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, Microsoft Innovative Expert Trainer, Microsoft Surface Pro Expert last year and just recently a Microsoft Innovative Educator Fellow! Yes I love my Microsoft!! I learned to develop those partnerships through Skype, O365 tools and that distance is no longer problems or issues as collaboration and teamwork can be done despite time zones, distance! Through my Microsoft Connections I learned about Remind 101 (communication tool for home school connections) and became and Remind Ambassador, I learned about Write to Give (Incredible Learning adventure – please see other blog postings) and became a Teacher Ambassador and will be venturing with Write to Give to Africa next August to meet the staff, students and schools in Africa. Microsoft brought me to the incredible team at Fair Chance Learning; Martha and Dustin are amazing people! Lia; whom after meeting her at this years E2 in Toronto feels like one of my previously mentioned EA Mommies….through email and twitter I feel as if I know her for my whole life and that first face to face meeting and hug was something that set a tone and inspired me to continue working on my partnerships on twitter even though they are overseas! Because as Kaylyn Dorland (another inspiring amazing twitter friend and Ignite speaker partner) has seen on her trip this year in Spain; she actually connected and met with a few of her twitter friends during her trip. I met Brian, Lisa and Derek through FCL whom inspire and push me everyday! I love Brian’s crazy ways with anything and everything he does and Lisa’s fantastic video’s of her children trying new innovations and her inspiring coding demo’s and Derek’s passion and energy in his practise! Microsoft has started an incredible journey that I hope is long from being over!! I thoroughly look forward to all things Microsoft everyday!
  5. My children; now I know Johnathon did this one as well, but I have to totally agree with him! I was a different person, a different teacher prior to kids. I was also a different person and teacher prior to my three amazing kids; Xander (6 yrs), Callie and Abbie (4 yrs my Twins) started school. Xander really struggled and I truly finally seen the ‘other side of the coin’. When parents come to us and state their case, their concerns for their child, I honestly thought I knew what they were talking about….but during my first conference with Xander’s kindergarten teacher (whom was also my highschool co-op and college placement supervisor) I stopped dead in a middle of my parental concerns for my child, totally lost my train of thought and finally seen / understood past, current and future parents perspectives….it was this moment when I was given insight into truly understanding parents! I remember my wife and that teacher being concerned I had a stroke or something…but it was a flash of reality! I have tried to explain this to others, but honestly I do not believe nor think anyone without a child (even without a child IN school) can see and understand this! Not that I am promoting having kids, although I would consider them my greatest achievement in life to date and they challenge and drive me nuts everyday but I love them so much that I wouldn’t change a thing! Xander and my girls are all totally different people, yes my identical twins (whom even have identical teeth…or so I was recently told by the dentist after x-rays) are different…each child is unique, incredible and come with different backgrounds, experiences yet they also come armed with ammo! Just like Johnathon’s daughter Izzy and my son Xander their ‘ammo’ can spark such powerful learning, we as teachers need to see what their arsenal, bag of tricks is and bring it out for all to see! I just had a flashback on a blog posting on ‘My Friend Gabby’ this past year….that was a moment I will never forget…all it took from me was acceptance! All kids are gifts! I thoroughly believe everything happens for a reason and its a comforting notion in hard times, but also uplifting to know at the same time as teachers! Each child is unique and there with you for a reason….find that reason, build rapport and get to know your kids…..when I learned this I took my rapport building to new heights and levels. The best feeling is the last day of school each year as tears run down your face because you love each child and will miss them so much, but the best part….know they will be awesome because of the time you had together!

OK, so there we go, all done, but when thinking and reflecting on this I know tomorrow this list could / should possibly be different! On so it should, having a growth mindset and forward thinking movement the future should always bring forth learning for you, everyday holds something new, every experience and moment can teach you something….grab it, embrace it and learn from it!! Until tomorrow…….

Summer Innovation with Fair Chance Learning!

Well, here we are again; reflecting upon a trip that was inspiring, innovating and also very emotional for me too!

Being an Avid Twitter Follower of the remarkable, inspiring and incredible work Fair Chance Learning does not only for teacher support, students learning but also provide opportunities for ALL types of learners, people and situations as seen in today’s posts with Children’s Wish Ontario! I had seen a few weeks back the awesome learning environment / situation / experience they provided for Peel Students, I decided to reach out and inquire about the possibility of bring some kids from Grand Erie District School Board.

Martha (Director of Professional Services); responded back to me with an eager yes! Anyone who knows, witnessed or been part of a Martha Jez workshop would understanding this; ‘Eager Yes’…she is an incredible speaker, innovator and empowering leader in our field!! So, with this I would love to share our awesome-sauce (as current International Space Station Astronaut; Jack Fischer would say) adventure with Fair Chance Learning and Microsoft Canada!

So, I; myself am walking into a new school at Lakewood Elementary, new grade level (5/6) with new students whom I wanted to bring along to instill a passion of innovation from the best; Martha @marthajez and Dustin Jez @DustinJez, Derek Tangredi @dtangredi. Being tied closely to my former school (my home away from home) I also wanted to include them as well; so three students from Hagersville Elementary, our wonderful principal; Janice Hughes and her two boys came along as well. Alongside Janice (principal), a step father of one of my students this year came along (whom is a special education teacher consultant) and myself (classroom teacher) we had a lot of bases covered within Grand Erie @GEDSB with a small contingent. A highlight personally for me was that Fair Chance and Microsoft allowed my son; Xander (6 years old) to tag along as well with his little buddy.

After a little side work organizing we were all set and pumped for the big day! Carpooling and navigating through some intense traffic we arrived at our destination at Microsoft Head Office in Mississauga. On most trips this traffic would instill a sense of a strong desire for some coffee, however walking into a place of innovation, empowerment and invigorating passion to inspire, infuse and instill a growth mindset; coffee was not on my mind at all…..however, the washroom was!

Upon walking into the front doors you feel as if you were walking into a nerd/geek dream. A side note; my wife calls my trips and workshops ‘geekfest’ when doing anything related to technology and or computers, but I am totally fine with this! I could rock the Big Bang Show alongside the geek squad!

Martha met us; shook hands with each student, parent and introduced herself and welcomed them all with open arms into the world of Microsoft! After a hug for myself (yes, we geeks tend to do that when inspiring young minds is in hand for the day) we went upstairs where we seen the ‘brain trust’, the storage of anything and everything digital within the Microsoft World. Being an avid fan of the new series Salvation; I felt we were walking into Darius’ realm of innovation and meeting ‘Tess’ (his virtual brain working alongside everyone as an Artificial Intelligence being). We were brought into a room where the energetic, creative Derek Tangredi was to meet us (I would have been incredibly pumped; but Derek and I touched based the evening before via twitter, so I knew he would be there – If anyone gets a chance you have to sit with Derek sometime……talk about an empowering person to get behind and model your practice from!!). I also finally, officially met Michelle Valtas (Director of Marketing and Communication for FCL) Karen Truyens (One of Microsoft’s Leading Ladies) and my Buddy Alex from a TweetMeet I hosted a couple days before!

Karen welcomed us to Microsoft Head Office and partook in the days events with us; provided us with some awesome OneNote Avenger Capes for the students and us big kids as well, and as incredible as these were this was far from a highlight from the day! The highlight was watching pure eagerness turn into a desire, invigoration a passion to explore all the cool tech on the table in front from the kids! We had Makey Makey, Sphero’s, Windows Computers and today’s big exploration…..the new Micro:bit!! (Insert crazy fun music now!!)

With Derek at the helm leading the micro:bit education we began coding our initials; an easy simple starting point for anyone getting started! A few of my former troops programmed; when A/B both touched the LED’s lit up writing ‘My brothers feet smell’ and ‘My sisters are crazy’ (simple yet a step another step in the learning process of scratch / block coding). After some laughs and frowns from brothers and sisters within the room it was time to get funky!

Derek lead a lesson in creation of some awesome activities that could be used for physical education / DPA through coding and programming the kids coded programs that ran hula hoop counters, egg catching games and even limbo! Watching the kids learn the basics of code and the immediate application into a fun game right afterwards was awesome! Soooooo much fun playing the games with the kids….but the conversations were the best! I heard ‘I cannot believe I made that into a game’ and ‘coding can do this!?!’, ‘Mr. Archer I am going to miss this next year’ (former students), ‘Mr. Archer we have to do lots of this stuff this year (new students) and ‘Dad this is the stuff we do at home, but sooooooo much better’ (From my goofball; Xander).

Some of the key highlights was watching parents, my former principal and also the teacher consultant desire to dive in and try (all of which walked away purchasing a micro:bit by the way – so you know they were inspired!!), explore and ask so many deep and amazing questions that connected to curriculum content, clubs, activities, Camp 21’s and from one parent ‘I just love the smile on my kids faces when they are inspired like this’. One word comes to mind; empowering!!

On a more personal note; watching my son interact and learn from Dustin and Derek (two idols of mine in education was incredible to see). Xander is a really, really busy kid! He does not sit long nor attend to anything he is NOT into, however he was glued to each and every word these two said and time they spent with him. Something that does not happen often with Xander, yet another reason these two guys inspire and are models from my practice!!

We also had the opportunity to finally meet the Jez clan! The power couple; Martha and Dustin brought along their kids and a friend and seeing them pure enjoyment with the tech in them just drove home for me the incredible power we all have on and for our kids! In a place so far from home in a totally new environment it felt homey and very family oriented! Microsoft Canada; Karen Truyens and Fair Chance Learning not only spoiled us with an incredible day of innovation but also what seemed to become of rather larger new family of passionate people with a desire and eagerness for innovation!

To top things off we were even spoiled with lunch from Microsoft! If you talk to any parent; those dreaded brown bags lunches are dreadful (insert ‘oh crap’ September is around the corner on those lunches are coming back). We sat in the cafe; along with the buildings employee’s and even these people welcomed us with open arms and conversations too!

This little summer adventure just instilled so much more passion and desire to continue my learning journey with Microsoft and Fair Chance Learning in my own professional practice! Being an innovator as the aforementioned professionals within this blog takes hard work and commitment to be the best and explore, fail, adapt, change, fail some more and more and more and then you get it! But, then something new comes along and the process begins again, to be an innovator you have to get ‘uncomfortable’ as my friend Derek says! Growth is found in uncomfortable situations that are not the nor…..be innovating for you kids, students, parents and families people and most of all give anyone and everyone a ‘Fair Chance in Learning’ and explore accessibility, coding and differentiated means of delivering and accessing material using Microsoft’s O365 tools!!

The possibilities are endless….develop a PLN on Twitter otherwise opportunities such as this would not happen….twitter is my adaptation into innovation and global teaching, let it by your guide and voice as well!

 

Fall of 2017 is fast approaching!!

Well here we are in August, on the downward side of summer holidays and school is fast approaching again!

Looking ahead I am not entirely sure what the future will hold in the new school, with a new grade level, new students, families, colleagues and whatnot but what I do know is that it will be a new adventure! I always say change is good; therefore this move will be a nice change of pace and location for me, as my own students will be at Lakewood, which will make life before and after school a wee bit easier for my family!!

As for my new students; I am looking forward to an older crowd! Last year we touched on many new and innovative things in grade three, but I found we started to top off around April where and when I could not take kids much further into the digital world, as things began to become a little too far abstract and difficult. So, as with any problem and issue; I reassessed and regrouped and thought why not lets give an older group a whirl and see how far and where I can take them!

So, looking ahead this year one of the things I am very excited about is the sheer independence and depth I can take kids on through a new means of acquiring learning; project based student inquiry driven assignments and tasks. Very individualized and hands on more so for the students and less so for me. So a bit of a flip for most people; myself I will have to adapt tracking, conferencing, documentation and consolidation methods. Be more insightful and creative with my ideas and suggestions for students to add more depth into their projects, consider teaching students the ability to connect and collaborate into a new realm of twitter, skype and blogs within the safe confines of the classroom as well. I want to instill the passion I have for collaboration, networking and learning alongside people digitally and globally!

Some of the projects we will be jointly exploring during student driven 20% time; thanks A.J Juliani and John Spencer (Empower Book – Fantastic Read by the way!! Highly recommend it) will be; Write to Give writing and publishing a book for students in Kenya, Africa (where I will be travelling next August – thanks Write to Give!!), Koen Timmers; Global Climate Action Project in October (very excited to partake alongside over 250 other classes throughout the globe and 59 other Countries), Working with Micro:Bits and @dkiang ibook ‘Making with Micro:bit’ and actual Micro:bits (I will be requesting parents to purchase) first time ever exploring this but have worked through the 14 week Intro to Computer Science Coarse during the summer with my own three kids and they loved the Project Based Learning / Maker Projects!! Super excited to work with these great little coding machines and continue learning from https://www.fairchancelearning.com/ Team (Fantastic Group of very knowledgeable people); Lead by the energetic tandem of Martha and Dustin Jez; the dynamic dual behind the Company! This team provides so much; please take a peak at their site for lots of awesome stuff; also online purchasing of Makey Makey and Micro:Bit Kits too!!

Something I am going to continue rolling with and amp up even more so this coming year will be the depth of Coding and amazing tech to lead and use with Coding such as; Makey Makey, Micro:bits, Ozobots, mBots, Dash and Dots (can now borrow from Public Libraries), Vex Lego Kits, Sphero / Ollies (purchased two this summer from Kijiji) and so much more! Endless possibilities and links throughout the entire curriculum!

Another thing I am getting right into this year is Maker Spaces! I am going to work on a ‘Maker Mentality’ type program within my classroom, which will be the driving force behind all project based learning throughout the year! I have acquired many, many resources and will be requesting items from home, community partners and much more! Super excited to partner with Norfolk Public Library for 3D Printing to add more depth to my Maker Mentality / Mindset within the classroom…..possibilities are endless this year!! Super excited to take what Nicholas Provenzano (‘Your Starter Guide to Maker Spaces’) and John Spencer / A.J. Juliani’ Empower Book taught me about Maker Mindset and Spaces!! Two incredible reads if interested in Maker Spaces!!

A side note; Norfolk Public Libraries (I also know Brant as well) are implementing and trying to support schools with STEM learning, so please be sure to connect and touch base with them before school to see what they can support and offer to classrooms too!

Super Excited to also implement and include my former Nipissing Teaching Students STEM Club OneNote Binder within my weekly schedule! We will be exploring their numerous STEM activities and lessons weekly to link students to curriculum in meaningful / fun and exciting ways!!

STEM is excited but armed with the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and the amazing Surface Dial I am going to add the ‘A’ to STEM and make lots of ‘STEAM’ going the distance and adding Art into programming within STEM! Look out Archer’s 5/6s this year are going to be ‘STEAMING HOT”!!

Looking forward to connecting with new colleagues, teaching / grade partners at Lakewood, developing new connections within the community (which should not be too hard seeing as I live in Port Dover already and work as a Volunteer Fire Fighter and have numerous connections already). Also excited to continue working alongside Nipissing University taking on Teaching Students; hopefully would love to continue with High School Co-op Students, and for sure will be continuing with Indispire Native Support for the fourth year!!

This will be the first year I will be remote from my amazing A-Team comprised of some dynamic teachers (Krista King, Nick Reynolds, Presley Sibbick, Joseph Bishop, Christina Demeter) distance will be troublesome yet just a small hurdle to work around!

Looking ahead; things look super exciting and bright!

And there goes July…..

Well July came and gone so fast and now we are into August!

Its funny when you think about it; but as a teacher the somewhat dreaded ‘August’ just means we are back to the grinding stone soon.

Personally refreshing in the summer is awesome; but I think summer is even more amazing for us all to reset, read, learn and create with some actual time on our hands. People do travelling and day trips but one of my favourite things this summer has been taking my own kids into the 21 century and learning along side them with the Micro:bits coarse! They have made and created some very cool things; but by far the best is watching my son independently coding the micro:bits on his own now….simple things but still on his own.

Reading, reading and reading some more! Jenn Casa-Todd’s SociaLEADia is awesome (still working through her book), A.J Juliani and John Spencer’s; Empower Book is amazing for project based learning and maker space concepts too!

Been working hard through the Microsoft Educators Community on Summer School 101 and 201 too! Learning and create Microsoft Team for this year, my new super OneNote Binder (Which I inserted within my Team) for Lakewood Elementary this school year too!! Lots and lots on the go!

So; bring on August and lets see what it holds!

One final thought before signing off; it is now 1 year before I leave to go to Africa with Write to Give as well! Super excited it is now within reach!

Have a fantastic August everyone!!

Summer PD for a teacher…future looks bright!

So, we are well into week two of summer!

Been busy planning, creating and reading lots and lots of various things for my new classroom, new school and new grade.

Trying to continue my growth and development in the 21 century usage of tools and strategies moving forward next year and look back it was a fantastic year, but looking ahead with an older group the possibilities open even more so!

Had a discussion with my wife regarding how moving to a new school, closer to home is exciting, but also to some degree a bit of a step backwards again; as I was thoroughly involved, invested and part of Hagersville Elementary; covering the office, leading student ed tech, the tech lead within the school and a go to guy for anything and everything! Looking into the Fall of 2017 I am now starting off yet at the beginning again; however all the involvement is somewhat lessened…now I was thinking a bit of a step back, but rethinking, reflecting and planning ahead I see more time, opportunities and possibilities with an older group (grade 5 and 6 students).

I plan on taking the new room, and well moving in take the design concept of a Maker Space / 21 Century Flipped Paperless Classroom; driven by student lead inquiries and project based learning opportunities seem like another step ahead and forward into my personal desire to continue to grow as a 21 century educator.

I have yet to determine a classroom motto; which I always create and try to focus on with the students throughout the year, so if you have any thoughts and or suggestions please let me know! Innovation and Collaboration Project Based Learning need to be incorporated within the motto. I want a strong, clear direction once read people gather and fully understand it!

Last year with Write to Give we looked to expanding and creating a better tomorrow for others; so in some manner I would like to continue that as well somewhere within the classroom motto too.

I am hoping to continue my Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator journey; expand horizons, connect, collaborate and instill a love for learning and eager anticipation to obtain differentiation instructions using the O365 tools we have at our disposal from Microsoft Canada too! I am also anticipating a few announcements myself; hoping to become a Microsoft Fellow, Microsoft Master Skype Teacher and also a Microsoft Surface Pro Trainer to support and teach others using my amazing Surface Pro 4 computer to show others the limitless possibilities of O365 apps and programs!

Another piece I am thoroughly looking forward to is the NEW Microsoft Teams and my continual growth with OneNote Classroom with my students, my new super OneNote 2017 – 2018 Binder that has my Day Book, Mark Book, Pedagogical Student Documentation, Field Trip / Permission Forms / Fundraising, Co-op / Mohawk / Indispire and Teaching Student Info / Student Emergency Contact Information / Computer Passwords and Account information, grade 5 and 6 curriculum documents across all strands. I have included links within this Super OneNote Binder that links to my OneNote Classroom (Collaboration, Library etc…) and student pages for direct access to anything and everything students are doing within the classroom. I also have links to my day book and even my Archer’s 5/6’s Microsoft Team too! I even downloaded the new stickers to add to the learning tools and math add-in’s too!

I am slowly adding content to my Teams channels and pages. Students are included already within Teams and OneNote Classroom Binders (both incredibly easy to do so through search tools). So between these two tools the direct, easily access to network and collaborate within the classroom will be incredibly powerful and simple using student devices, cell phones and computers anywhere within the globe.

I am also looking at adding Student Blogs and Twitter Handles into programming as well so that not only students can link out to the globe through our classroom twitter handle, they can do so on their own as well and start to gather and create a digital presence that begins to instill contributions and support as valued citizens.

I constantly am told that I am beyond out there; that I am very ‘forward thinking’ and even ‘almost to far ahead for others’ but I think its key and important to lead by example, to show our kids, students and family as well as friends that yes the digital-verse can be scary but if used appropriately and efficiently it can open so many doors for students as it has with me!

One of my larger goals this coming year is for students to be able to include a twitter handle, blog link to resumes in the future so that future employers can visit and see what incredible, remarkable change makers they have the possibility of hiring for their business’ and companies!

So, again looking back to the conversation with my wife about taking a step back; it doesn’t look so painful as I really thought! I am excited for a new change and new group, new classroom, school, and colleagues to work, learn and share what I know with!

I have always called Port Dover my home since I was born. I went to grade school, high school here! I did my HS Co-op placements at Doverwood, College ECE placement in Kindergarten at Doverwood and even my Teachers College; Teaching Placement at Doverwood. I grew up playing minor hockey and baseball, I coach my children now going through minor hockey and baseball! I bought my first house in Port Dover (still own and currently a landlord with this original house), purchased our second home, got married and had my three kids here and also a Volunteer Fire Fighter at Station # Norfolk in Port Dover. Now, I get the ultimate prize the ultimate goal I always said I wanted to reach at some point in time; to get to Doverwood! Well, the Old Doverwood school is no longer but Lakewood Elementary is our towns local public school and basically the same thing, so I made it, I got it and the goal has been reached!

I am looking forward to becoming even more invested, infused and part of Port Dover’s culture and future instilling a love for our town with the students of Lakewood and supporting our towns growth and development as well!

Port Dover; I made it back home! See you in the fall Lakewood Elementary!!

Becoming a student in your own classroom…

I was browsing Twitter, as usual one evening when I cam across a Twitter PLN Friend; Nycol Didcote Blog posting http://bit.ly/2ta9q2Y on ‘The Year I Allowed Myself to be a Student in my OWN Classroom’…this got me thinking and pondering a little as I love reflecting and thinking of how to always improve and grow as an educator!

So, the past week I have been thinking lots about this year! We have taken many risks and exploring some tough, new, innovative things that are not the norm. I have never tried these things out myself and I alongside the students took a role that I myself was uncomfortable with and unaware of as well. The outcomes were; in one word……incredible!

This year more then ever, simular to my friend Nycol; I let my students dive into things and take the lead! With my kindergarten inquiry-based learning background I created provocations and when my students interests peaked, soared and exploded we dove in utilizing collaborative means through Microsoft O365 tools, apps and programs, coding for computational thinking and teaching ‘Resiliency’ in my students, Epic Reading within the App to promote a love and passion for the written word which; ‘Then it Happened….’ (yes a slight plug for a friend Michael Wade), the written aspects of reading exploded and by using Office Lens, OneNote Immersive Reading and Voice to Text tools we supported IEP students with Differentiated Means of creating and co-creating some wonderful stories!

I found by becoming less authoritative and instructional as an educator and more passive and constructionist in nature my students took a lead and soared, not only within one area of study but expanded their learning to other areas such as the Epic reading to the ‘And then it happened’ stories for writing! By becoming a co-learner aka student within my classroom we took simple things, concepts and curriculum content and blew them into large, insightful, real world applicable learning opportunities!

We attempted Write to Give (which by the way is incredibly amazing and everyone should try this out next year!! please see http://writetogive.com/ for more details) which began with simple writing components while teaming up with five other classrooms on a given topic. What we found together was that by formulating / planning and implementing a story ‘plan’ we could ultimately effect the rest of the story with our given 150 words within the introduction, of climax within a story! The students and I seen the value of pre-planning stories and figured out character development helped create the quality and depth within a story to make it much more meaningful for a given audience; which also was another lesson we dived into; writing for an audience due to the simple 150 written piece for OUR Write to Give TEAM. The students written work grew immensely within a week due to this simple yet complex assignment and task we decided to jointly attempt. My favourite part of the whole process was our reflection after the assignment and the kids thoughts and feelings and ‘Next Time I would…..’

AS Nycol mentioned by becoming that student my personal pedagogy and understanding of my role as a teacher transformed and became much more explor-a-tive and adventurous in nature! By putting myself out there and showing that attempting and trying new things shouldn’t be feared, shunned or tried we are a team in @Archers3s became powerful together! I to simular to Nycol wanted to Micro-manage everything (which is exhausting), but letting go and co-learning along side my TEAM this year we networked, collaborated, explored things in incredible detail utilizing Skype, Twitter and various O365 tools such as Sway and Mix to co-collaborate on topics of study around the world with people overseas, within Canada and even the International Space Station with Astro Peggy and Thomas Paquest while trying to understand growth in plants in soil within the grade 3 science curriculum!

Our depth and understanding was remarkable, the students began all inquiries hitting Microsoft Educator Community https://education.microsoft.com/ to see whom they could connect with on Skype for Virtual Field Trips / Guest Speakers who are experts in a given field of study and even going through my Twitter Handle http://@ArcherJoe to network within MY PLN. These connections within my Twitter Handle brought forth a conversation of integrating and implementing a classroom Twitter Handle where kids could connect within a safe environment with the world. So, http://@Archers3s was created; within this we investigated and explored the 21 Century Competencies http://bit.ly/2ta8ITA (Found here), many discussions on digital citizenship and cyber bullying and internet safety! We then networked with http://www.granderie.ca PR Man; Shawn McKillop and he provided a few awesome Skype Guest Talks for the students on these given topics. We also talked to various employers about them exploring potential employee’s Facebook / Instagram / Snapchat and Twitter pages to gain more insight into that person. This then lead to a HUGE inquiry on ‘Personal Branding’ what this means, safety and promoting yourself appropriately!

The outcome again of a simple thing grew to something spectacular! I now know and MY students now understand that their digital footprints can have dramatic effects on the future; their concept of themselves changed, and their personal behaviors altered to becoming remarkable ‘change makers’ fantastic citizens and much more creative, caring and empathetic, cooperative people! They became more resilient and there self-confidence and self-esteem grew immensely this year! I seen many people walk in frightened to the bitter end of failing, but now WE all embrace and anxiously look forward to those aforementioned failures, as they are now launching points for learning something awesome about ourselves and the topic being investigated! I myself have changed my own resume alongside my students to include my Twitter handle and Facebook page to showcase my personal brand! I loved doing this alongside my students as they to decided they wanted a twitter handle to showcase themselves as I am doing now!

I laugh when I read Nycol’s blog posting as she dived into books that I read throughout the year as well; George Couros’; Innovators Mindset, Dave Burgess’; Teach Like a Pirate and so many more! I think we are somewhat like-minded in nature and similar to Nycol I was inspired by these Educational Guru’s (as she mentioned in her blog), they have become my ‘Village’ as Nycol mentions as well! By connecting and networking with innovative, forward thinking like-minded individuals you become empowered, your students become empowered and the learning within the confines of your classroom become limitless and remarkable! I had students coming to school sick this year because they didn’t want to miss anything. I even had a few pull up the garbage can beside their desk to make it through the day so they too, alongside myself could explore, invent and create something remarkable from what we were exploring that day!

I find it funny that Nycol felt the same way that while learning and exploring we lose track of the realization that we are working and earning money! This job (which I always thought was remarkable from the get-go) became something so much more! It became me, and my students a journey we took together and I am sure most people always get to the end of the year and always say I will miss my students, but I will miss OUR TEAM; Archers3s; this team took me to new heights, level of understanding, new pedagogical discoveries and a new wave practice! I was told this year by a Superintendent that I had an Mindset that was unnatural, innovative and forward thinking! I loved those words, but upon more reflection it IS and WAS because of the TEAM I was with this year, it was that of becoming a co-learning and student within my own classroom that I became the person I am today. I didn’t become great, we all became great….but looking ahead I am losing my TEAM, not just as they move to a new grade level, but I am moving to a new school…so this final week will be hard, incredibly hard for me as I lose my network and team that I grew with this year!

We leaned and learned from one another this year, they from me and I through them hand in hand we did it altogether, just as Nycol did with her ‘Village’ now I walk away knowing / hoping that they will continue to share and help next years teacher as they did with I this year, and I too walk into a new school; Lakewood Elementary with the same mindset; that jointly together with my ‘New Team’ we will create a better tomorrow starting within the classroom as we did this year!

Everyone needs a village as Nycol says, and within the village we all support and help one another! My village was Archers3s and the #MIEExpert Canadian Team and the Microsoft Educator Community this year….next year a new adventure to explore and expand the horizon with! Everyone needs a village and I too similar to Nycol am incredibly grateful, charmed and honored to have shared this 2016 – 2017 school year with my remarkable TEAM and humbled by their commitment and mindset to co-learn, co-collaborate and co-grow as individuals from!

I will miss you all Archers3s!! So much more then you can ever imagine because all 16 of you brought me into the 21 century as an educator; as I now seen, learned and partook in the incredible power of becoming one with the students! The outcome was remarkable and something I will strive for with every group walking into my classroom in the future as I share my uncanny, brilliant adventure I had with you all this year!

Do not be surprised if your ears are burning often next year kids; as I will be bragging about you all!

Life Changes and New Experiences…

Sometimes we come to points in life where we have to evaluate things; how does this effect the family, my job the people around me and whatnot and sometimes life throws you curve balls that are mean to throw you for a loop….the questions always come back to why? Why did this occur, what did that happen, what is the meaning of it? So many questions, so many unknowns….

Life has a funny way of doing this from time to time. Sometimes a change is good, others a change is challenging and sometimes not so good. WE have to embrace these changes in life, we have to take them on full force with everything we got and see them for what they really are….a new adventure, a new experience to learn something else, possibly even part of a bigger plan for some unknown reason this was ‘just meant to happen’ at this particular time and place.

My theory, has always been that ‘Everything in life happens for a reason’ answers and question can only be determined within the process of the experience….sometimes its choice to change, sometimes change happens without a choice, either way we have to embrace and face it! I am trying to keep this posting somewhat ‘discrete’ as it helps me absorb things writing things down. In this case the choice was mine; but something since hearing I have been digesting and I thoroughly believed I would be much happier then I am today….and it’s not that I am not happy, I think its because I am going to be leaving something that I love, people I thoroughly enjoy being around and spending time working and learning from and with.

I always try to put my heart and soul into everything; and sometimes in times like this it comes back to bite me in the behind…in a good way though! The effort and work is a testament of how hard and difficult this new transition will be for me, going to a new experience will be fantastic and great for my family and has always been a goal of mine (more of this in another post) but for now ‘discrete’ is the word…my wife mentioned something that really hit home for me and that I am extremely thankful for….I have time left to enjoy those around me, to spend time ‘transitioning’ not only for me but for them as well….my experiences have always lead me to great adventures and awesome times; I really try to make the most of everything! Not only for me, but those around me too…I know the change will be hard for me, but I always wonder; ‘If I am ever gone….for whatever reason….how will those around me feel?’

A great friend of mine is retiring this year; and Norma is leaving a living legacy behind. Living because her impact and work resonates within all those she worked with and shared her knowledge and experiences with. I know this as I am one of those people! I wonder if I will leave that mark, if my ‘legacy or mark’ will be felt in this manner as well? Does that sounds weird? I am not saying that to be big headed or anything like that….I mention this as its something I always wonder….the saying goes; ‘If a former student see’s you walking on the other side of the street, would they come running over to say hi?’ – I want to be that teacher that has many of those moments…..and its the effort and hard work that will get these….so I guess within a short time I will be finding this out….I will be finding out how I did, if I will be enjoying those ‘moments’ on the street, maybe its a text picture from a parent in the future and or a phone call even sharing fantastic news!

When I was younger I worked with an amazing family; both parents were teachers and one a principal at the time of their passing in a sudden disaster. It was all a blur and so emotional but I recall the community coming together, parents, students and everyone whom they ever met….it was unreal! The power and opportunity educators have is incredible and actually unreal in my opinion! We have a career that can be so empowering yet so traumatic at the same time, what will you embrace and make of it?

I know I choose empowering not only for myself but for those walking within the school doors, my classroom door and within the halls I walk into yearly!

Looking forward to a change but will miss everything about my current ‘experience’!!

Opportunity of a lifetime!!

So, here we are again. Trying to keep with my goal of trying to share weekly with you all, but this week I am at a lose, a lose of when and where to begin, not because I have nothing to share but more so how to share the amazing opportunity now in front of me!

This Tuesday, we traveled to Brantford to the Sanderson Center and if you are a twitter follower of mine you already know, but part of the amazing experience provide by Write to Give for the staff and students involved also entailed a draw for one Write to Give Teacher Ambassador to travel along side them in August of 2018 to Kenya, Africa. Suffice to say my name was drawn, now four days later I have been trying to fully absorb this incredible opportunity to bring it into a full perspective, but to no avail I am not sure I can absorb it, and given an entire year to gather myself, prepare and imagine what this experience can bring, not just for myself (as incredible as I can imagine, and have been losing some wake-less nights over) what I can bring to you all; my colleagues (face to face and digital twitter PLN friends), friends, family and most of all the students.

I am incredibly humbled and one could say numb as of now still trying to fully gather the emotional, life altering shift that this opportunity will hold for me! My life has always been directed and navigated towards supporting those less fortunate, more so those whom are physically and mentally challenged in some form shape or another; whether it be deaf, blind, wheelchair bound, physical impairment, mental / cognitive struggles…..the list goes on! Until now I never really thought of those less fortunate as those living outside OUR immediate surroundings such as those in third world countries. Now, as I reflect upon this week and being a thorough believer in all hard work pays off and life never throws you challenges that you cannot handle nor better yourself in some form or fashion, I have now been giving an opportunity to expand my horizon and experiences to date into something outside my comfort and ‘known’ world.

I cannot help but think in some manner that the world has a plan (as I have always believed, being an educated person makes it hard at times to be faith based and firm in that notion but, the simplistic notion that ‘everything happens for a reason’ comes in motion now). I may be wrong, but if so the world will somehow, someway alter my shift in reality and perspective to put in back on the correct direction and course, but this incredible opportunity will open my eyes and shift my life experiences in ways I cannot imagine!  I think that is why I cannot and have yet to fully absorb this in its entirety!

A friend of mine told me ‘Make your mark, make it in stone so it will be forever embedded in time’. So, that always sat with me and up to this point  I thought (am still do that my ‘mark’ is with MY kids and my students within my profession), but a small part of me considers that may be something that will shift my pedagogy, paradigm and understanding of all things will occur within this experience coming in August of 2018. Write to Give is a ‘known’ to many, and we ‘know’ of it through our experiences writing books for those in Kenya, but…..do we fully understand IT in its actual entirety? I think not, I think its much larger and being humbled and incredibly honored to explore what this really is I feel it would be, will be life altering!

The trip itself seems incredible, without sharing some of the details that was shared briefly I think back on an experience I had with my wife in Honduras almost seven years ago prior to our first child arriving. We walked into a marketplace off of our cruise ship and were greeted by three children from Honduras, they toured us through their village and even took us to their homes, school and brought us back to civilization afterwards changed people! With dirt floor homes, schools that were open aired without windows and the basic needs of clean water it was eye opening and enlightening as it was my first – first hand experience seeing and feeling what life is like in a third world culture for mankind. Talk about an awe inspiring, life altering event in my lifetime to date!

As mentioned I am struggling with absorbing this opportunity; but if I can relate its possibility to anything it could be this event in time. I am sure it will be so much more as well, but I reflect back upon why, as in why me?!!? I have heard for many, its well deserved, we hoped it was going to be you but being who I am I think its much larger then a right and or deserved notion, I think its somewhat meant to be as I can share this experience with everyone, anyone similar in fashion to the Canadian Icon; Chris Hadfield in his experience in Space and time on the International Space Station. Now I am no Hadfield, but I am someone whom enjoys sharing with others and learning along side others and reflecting also!

So, looking ahead over a year from now I foresee an adventure of a lifetime for us all, an opportunity to experience life in a new perspective in which none of us know nor understand!

A safari seems sweet and amazing but I am more so looking forward to seeing the school build by Teacher Aide and Write to Give; to see the community and the impact this foundation has made within this small piece within the world. Even more so, The ‘Mark’ the actual footprint made in time, in the history of events for these people in Kenya, Africa. The experience at the schools, with the staff, students and community and cultural shock is what I am anxiously anticipating!

I cannot help but think there is a reason I was sitting within that seat at the Sanderson Center, choose to do the program this year as opposed to last when I first heard about it and while sitting with friends, parents, colleagues and my students rejoiced when my name was called. At first I was somewhat disappointed it is not this August for this adventure of a lifetime, but upon reflection I think a year it perfect….I can and will challenge myself to learn and absorb the African Culture from afar in self directed learning, attempt to learn basic Swahili and gather more and more insight into the foundations at work. So, when it comes my time, when I step upon African soil overseas I am ready, willing and able to fully absorb and take the experience in its entirety fully and completely as I know that within my ‘belief system’ and understanding in life that ‘All things happen for a reason’ and the stars are aligning in some form or fashion for me, that this moment, this opportunity could be the one thing that allows me to gain insight into what my ‘mark’ in time will, could be, could bring forth etc…

So, in keeping with reflecting in mind; I will be exploring and sharing once a month what I have learned and gathered prior to leaving Canada on this journey of a lifetime. If you have anything to share, moments in time and experiences of Africa I would love to hear about them, absorb them and gather more and more insight! Please share with me, others and the world as we can and will have an opportunity to learn from one another and to gain a new perspective of life of those within other parts of the world.

Thanks, and check in often to see, hear more!

 

Write to Give and so much more!!

So, sitting during my prep today looking ahead to the week and tomorrow’s BIG Write to Give Celebration Day!

This was my first of what will be many, many more experiences with Write to Give! Such a wonderful program and concept to support, help others in need, but what I am most appreciative of is the flipped side of things that people may or may not typically think about, OUR students writing these awesome books!

I look at my kids whom struggled to formulate meaningful stories with coherent begging, middle and endings of stories let alone peaks, valleys and little problems and solutions within their own writing. But the entire Write to Give process supported and helped my students understanding the meaning and depth within writing…..

So, picture this you are team / classroom 2 or even lets say 3. You are highly anticipating seeing what was done so you can write you piece of this book to be published (being published is something extraordinary itself let alone the process and program). Upon receiving the pre-written material you are thinking writing for someone in need will be so awesome and meaningful, but then you get the pre-written material and go ‘Oh boy….now what?’ as what was written is good,….but not what you would have thought was coming, but you have to work with it, you cannot stray away from the pre-written path otherwise the entire book loses depth and commitment.

So, taking what others wrote, we dive into things, dissecting what was written, the plot, characters and setting (basic items) then go more into depth and look at the character development process, what was written provides some insight in how you (writing your section now) have to continue to develop the plot and these characters journeys within the story. Yikes, scary as we found (thanks goodness Carey and Amy asked for more helpers and on our third book we mastered the process of dissection and creation).

My kids found  that within OUR part in the writing process we could pre-mold what would become of the rest of the story whether being the 2nd, 3rd and yes even the 4th class writing. Based on how we utilized pre-written material the kids really jumped into development within the characters themselves. What I enjoyed most was watching them debate and change / alter things to ensure certain characters ‘changed’ during other classes written parts! So rich debate and so much depth without fully understanding nor comprehending what they had done in its entirety until today!

Today we recieved our books in the mail. Today we celebrated and read our books, and the outcome was spectacular! Not the final product (although the books themselves were incredible and super happy the outcome) what I am talking about was my students seeing the final product of their 1/5 th piece of the pie….their conversations and predictions / assumptions and alterations to help / support the other classes in their written pieces came out today when we read our final products!

Students seen the depth and art within their work, so many weeks ago….my favourite piece was that many asked to start a new written project and story! Wow, talk about empowering kids behind the scene eh!?!?

What kid asks to do work!??! For me this was the pinnacle of the the entire experience! The empowerment that this process provided for my kids….I am thoroughly looking forward to their creative writing in the upcoming weeks and see the debate / conversations between people during this writing process! For me as an educator this Write to Give experience is SO MUCH MORE then supporting and helping others….the whole program is awesome for all students involved and even the teacher’s as they too have to work within a team of five!

Sign me up next year, not only for the program but sign me up to be a team leader again! Such a fanastic program!! An incredible journey and empowering movement for all involved!!

Thanks Write to Give, Amy and Carey!! Loved being involved this year!!

Speaking on behalf of my empowered students, from an inspired educator….thanks for all you do for others….and so much more!!