#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 http://sites.granderie.ca/jarcher/2018/02/04/146/

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…..now 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!

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 http://bit.ly/ 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…..so 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…..as 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…..bing 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…..now 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!

#IMMOOC – Week 1 – Innovation from Adversity

Over the next four-five weeks I will be partaking in the Innovator’s Mindset Massive Open Online Course (short form IMMOOC…I always wondered….now I get it) with George Couros’ and many other awesome people from TVDSB and hoping to see other friends too!

This is the 3rd event to be discussed around Georges’ book; The Innovators Mindset. Just Like Marc Hodgkinson and many others I am assuming, I read the book last year, attended George Talks in Brantford live face to face and walked away with so much its hard to share within a short period of time (I have 20-25 minutes before having to leave for my sons hockey practice).

This week we are to read the Forward and Intro of book. We have to share two things…so here we go!

  1. Why is innovation in education so crucial today?!!?

Well, friends Innovation is soooooo incredibly important in education today as we are all venturing into a new territory, and world that requires us to adapt, change and become innovative and create new wave extensions and means of making our future better, stronger and long lasting for the next generations. Not much different from past generation but moving within the 21 century things are changing so fast we need ti instill, infuse and create an inherent passion within our students, as this will be thoroughly ingrained and infused into their soon to be reality and work force. Without being armed and ready they will falter and dwindle out! So lets arm them with the know how, ability to innovate and inspire! George says; ‘To succeed (students) will need to know how to think for themselves and adapt to constantly changing situations’; which is basically what I have said above. I read another fantastic book this summer; A.J Juliani and John Spencer’s; Empower and also another book by Nicolas Provenzano; Your Starter Guide to Maker Spaces. What I learned within both reads was that going beyond outside of the box and becoming an innovative individual utilizing a ‘Maker Mentality’ we can go far outside the norm and standards set within education systems today. The Maker Mentality as I see it is Inspiring Innovation that sets others around spinning on their heels to achieve similar standards….which on route change and adapt into something different every time into a new wave and or change from the original project…thus innovation at work!

As Marc mentioned within his blog posting ‘We need fearless creators in our future,…that don’t shy away from challenges! Just today I was working on some awesome coding using Micro:bits http://bit.ly/2hs9u9K  (Click on the link for a quick video) on https://makecode.com/ which are amazing if anyone has not used them! You can purchase these from https://www.fairchancelearning.com/ anyways one of my students was recreating a ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ game using the project tutorials….once completed he came to show me….I suggested he ‘tweak’ the game and program somehow; so he left came back with ‘SAM’ (which was his name….SAM stands for ‘Screw Driver’, ‘Atomic Bomb’ and ‘Mom’s Look’ – which I am guessing is the ‘your in trouble look’) he had new faces and new program behind it so that the variable ‘M’ for ‘Mom’s Look’ occurred not 33.333 chances but with a probability of 40%. This jumped into a large scale class discussion and lesson on probability….something so simple yet so powerful from one simple ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ algorithm. Innovation….I think so! Creative?!!? Without a doubt (I can relate to that ‘Mom’s Look’ for sure…I will leave it at that one this one). Students like this took creativity to new highs within a passion for Micro:bits and Coding….students need to be adaptive, innovative and passionate as Marc mentioned in his blog posting too! Thinking on Juliani and Spencer’s; Empower Book….Sam took his previous understanding and tweaked things to make it intreguing and fasinating for others to play….I cannot wait to hear the conversations about ‘Mom’s Look’…..

2. Talk about a time you dealt with adversity in education, and how you overcame it?

Well, I am not your typical teacher, nor was the atypical student; which I believe is why I can relate to those ‘not so desirable students’ easily and within time. Growing up I was set on one thing; becoming an NHL Player…made it through Junior hockey at the age of 14 (doesn’t happen often….actually kind of rare) then got a full ride scholarship at Michigan State University. School was not my thing, nor remotely close to anything I wanted to do….beside getting the full ride for hockey to the next step on route to NHL. Well….I guess it was not meant to be…that summer someone ran a stop sign and dinged my Dad’s van on the passenger side (which was where I was sitting), two knee operations and many hours or rehab later I tried to push myself to summer camp two week after accident…well, not happening! I spent a year at community college and training hard, really hard to get back physically where I was at….this never happened and my dreams dwindled quickly!

At the time I was coaching hockey for my younger brothers and was told I was great with young kids and people suggested to become a teacher….well for someone not interested in school in the past this was not something I wanted to hear…..but the more I thought about it the more I loved it….(July and August seemed wicked awesome too) so I jumped but wow I didn’t realize how much I missed out on when diverting and letting my mother do my work for me! I did not know how to be a student…..it was the hardest battle I have ever had! Getting back into that form and mindset was incredibly difficult….but for me reflecting now I see it as ‘what was needed for me’ in order to fully understand and reach my students today! Most people complete teachers college in 4-5 years….well being the dismal student I was and was eager to change it took me 8 years (2 community college….used transfer credits to get BA in University…which was 4 years, decided to do a victory lap as developed a love of history and Great Books and then one full accelerated year in teachers college in the States….which included my Masters in Technology Integration in Education). Low and behold I did it….school was and still is hard, but constant reflection and always believing in myself along the way pushed me now into whom I am today….which I think is a pretty good teacher…well at least I try!

So there we are 20-25 minutes later all done, wish I had a little more time but that’s it for today! Looking forward to tonight!!

 

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!