HP Fellowship

So as you may have seen on the front page, recently I’ve been selected as one of six teachers in Canada to be in an HP Teaching Fellowship. We will be working with HP, Microsoft, and Digital Promise to help understand, promote, and and distribue ideas around the idea of Reinventing the Classroom. The program has just really started rolling out, but you can check out more about ME here and more about the program HERE. Over the course of my time in the Fellowship, I’ll be sharing here some of what I am learning, and pointing you towards what’s going on and what I’m noticing. If you have any questions, please let me know. It’s going to be a fun time!


#SchoolTechChallenge : Flipboard Literacy

As part of our school literacy push, this year I’ve been using Flipboard app to do our reading in current Social Studies issues. I’ve been using the app for ages, and am glad to use it in class. The students can access our SS9 magazine on their phones, tables, or computers. As we read, we do two article reviews over the course of the year–the focus is then just learning more and getting a better sense of the world, not strict assessment.

We do this every week, and though the students don’t all love reading current events every week, I’m hoping they gain a bit more understanding of the world and what’s going on around them.

More opportunities to learn! More chances to get kids interested in something. What at time to be alive.

Fall Update: #SchoolTechChallenge

I’ve said that I’m going to do as @MrFiliplic is doing and blogging about #SchoolTechChallenge. I haven’t done any writing about it yet, so I’ll update you on what’s been going on.

Three major things:

1. Microsoft Teams

2. FlipGrid

3. FlipBoard

1. Microsoft Teams

For this piece of tech, I wanted to introduce students to Teams, and let them see how it works, how it feels, and what the ecosystem for it was like. I posed an assignment to them and they had to respond to a visual prompt. The results were varied, as it was a non-graded task to introduce them to the app and the idea. Those that responded (most of them, maybe 90%) responded well. I found the app a little odd to navigate, and it wasn’t a slick and easy as it is to comment and grade in Google Classroom. I will use it again, off-and-on, but I won’t be relying on it too much. I DO find that it has been useful for students to ask me questions in a private manner rather than in Classroom which isn’t conducive to individual, general questions (we have Google Chat/Hangouts disabled in our district, so there’s no communication available within the Google ecosystem).
Result: Will continue on a limited basis, especially after more student feedback.

2. FlipGrid

Similar to what I did with MS Teams, I did an intro assignment on FlipGrid, where students had to make an introduction video to the rest of the class. There was a lot of kick-back from students initially, though I think in the end they really enjoyed using it. I found it easy to use and implement, and though watching all that video will be hard when it comes time to mark the assignments, I think it will be worth it. Besides, I don’t think I’ll have ALL students do a response video for marks, but will require that 1/2 do the video that answers a curriculum question, and the other 1/2 of the class to respond to that video. Both will be marked, but I’ll split the big marking for the video that answers my question, and leave some easier points for the response video.

Result: Will continue into the next chapter and beyond. Perhaps 2-3 videos total over the course of the year.

3. FlipBoard

I’ve been using this app for years personally, and now use it in G9 to expose students to Social Studies-related articles to help with their content area literacy (and general knowledge of current events). We read from FlipBoard every Friday for about 10 minutes or so, and students will start doing response journals on an article of their choosing beginning next week. They will have something like 3 or 4 to do over the course of the year. I’m hoping that this will also help them get used to article summaries that they will be asked to write and read in G10 and beyond.

Result: Keep it up! Seems to be working well.

So that’s about it for now. I’ll update later on how things are continuing on. But for now, the #SchoolTechChallenge is a go!


Loading in 3…2…1… #SchoolTechChallenge

Hello everyone! As you know last year I wrote about two different challenges on this blog: my #30DayChromebookChallenge and my #iPadProDecemberChallenge. This year, I’m part of a Microsoft Innovators group with my district (shoutout to @CMcKee27), and we were given Lenovo 300e Windows 10 laptops. @MrFiliplic and I decided to try another challenge, so here we are.

See MrFiliplic’s blog post HERE.

In his post, Filiplic discusses the fact that he’s used Windows for years, and is already pretty familiar with it. I suppose he is right. So to actually make the challenge more of a challenge for himself, and I guess for me, he has called the challenge the #SchoolTechChallenge. Because really, it’s not about the tools we use, necessarily (though everything is better on a Mac), but it is about how we implement them with our students. So I’ll follow his lead (as always) and try to make the challenge about using all the tech I can to help kids. Sometimes, that might mean new tools that will make learning a little messy. Sometimes, it will be using tried and true old tricks, and very “low-tech” solutions. So be it. What’s the best tool to accomplish the task at hand? That’s what I’ll try to explore.

Follow along with me! I’ll be writing my blogs on my new Lenovo to get myself back into the Windows ecosystem a bit more. My video production and audio work for school will still be done on my Mac, simply because that’s where I’ve set up my workflows. I know that Windows can handle these tasks, with such supports as Adobe’s Creative Suite, but I’m not buying new systems just to do them on this computer.

So yes–follow along, offer suggestions, and let’s see where things lead!


What A Time To Be Alive

There has been a lot of writing recently about how great the new 9.7in iPad (“for Education”) is. Most notably, check out iMore’s Serenity Caldwell’s article HERE. I think it really is a great summary of what I was reading about the new iPad, and she does an excellent job at telling everyone what it is great for and what perhaps needs more work.

As you know, I’ve got an iPad Pro with Pencil, and I’ve been doing most of all my school work only with this device. Work has never been easier in terms of creating content for class, marking, assessing, giving feedback, and doing general teacher-ish stuff.

But what really excites me about the new iPad, as well as the tech world in general, is that I think we are FINALLY at the point where I was promised we would be. My whole life, I’ve been told how easy it would be “one day” to do x, y, or z, and how technology or computers would help with that. I think we have finally arrived at the point where the tech tools that are available to us are ubiquitous and varied enough to give us the perfect situation for technology to enhance creativity and productivity in schools.

I think we have finally arrived at the point where the tech tools that are available to us are ubiquitous and varied enough to give us the perfect situation for technology to enhance creativity and productivity in schools.

If you think about it, with merely an iPhone or iPad, students can research a subject, write a report, get feedback from classmates and instructors, take the ideas in the research and try to draw it/sketch it/model it in 3D. Shoot a video of the whole process, write the music for the video, upload it to YouTube or Classroom or whatever the teacher wants, and do it all over again with innumerable variations. All with one device.

Sure, we have preferences. Some prefer Samsung or Pixel phone, some love Chromebook, but the device doesn’t really matter. The point here is that it is in our hands. We control it. We create. We distribute.

We control it. We create. We distribute.

Think: before, with VHS camcorders, we had to get tape, get a camcorder (which very few people had), and we had to make a video with basically no editing available, no titles or inserted graphics, and no music. If we recorded anything for music, it would be on a cassette. Posters were written up on big sheets of paper–don’t mess up! You’ll have to buy a new one! Things were “available” to us but not compatible with one another. We are at the point where all of it is finally there for us.

If a student wants (or has time to figure it out), they could write, record, mix, produce, and release an album of original music from their bedroom. They can become YouTube stars. They can create vivid portfolios of work and share it with Universities or in the workforce. The tools are easy and accessible.

There is a large amount of work to be done. Access and affordability are still big issues, and we must often check our privilege when discussing these things. The perfect world does not exist yet, but we’re closer than we’ve ever been. When kids get empowered to take control of what they learn and how they learn it, good things will happen.

This is why I’m so excited about the new iPad. But along with this I’m excited for Chromebook, Microsoft’s Teams app (lots of cool stuff packed in there), PowerTeacher UnifiedClassroom, Google for Education, and a host of other tools out there.

What a time to be alive.


#iPadProDecemberChallenge Finished. Easy.

Well, that was easy.

As I stated earlier, I’ve been able to do almost all of my school work using the iPad Pro. The work that I didn’t do with it was more into the realm of stuff I needed for Broadcast–video editing, compiling, saving and sharing, moving files to the TriCaster for our Broadcast sessions. Even then, 90% of that could have been done in iMovie, but I wanted to use an app with more features, so I turned to my MacBook Pro for Final Cut Pro X. Even then, getting the stuff to the TriCaster required using a flash drive, which is a bit more dicey with an iPad.

Is there a learning curve?

Depends. I’ve used iOS devices for since 2009, so I’m used to the ecosystem and how to think through a problem and solution. That being said, I do think the learning curve is no more or less than that of the Chromebook. You just have to poke around and try things until you find something that works for you.

For me, this works. I love it, and I enjoy using it, even when doing “work”. That’s a good sign to me. Tech is cool and interesting and everything, but I think that unless you like it, unless you enjoy working with that particular piece of tech, it’s not worth it. For you, if you love working with the Surface Pro, then use that. If you love a desktop and Windows, then use those. In learning about Tech and the combination of software and hardware, there is no best answer. There’s the answer that works for you. And I think that in teacher’s lives, sometimes that’s all we can hope for. The status quo. There’s a lot of other things to consider: grading, duty schedules, parent emails/meetings/phone calls, IPPs, lesson plans, curriculum mapping, meetings, actual teaching, lesson prep, etc.


I these challenges have also reminded me to take risks. To try something new. To experiment. Tell the kids you’re trying it. Tell them it might fail. Be open to everyone. Teachers, as well as being busy and keeping the status quo going, also forget to push themselves sometimes. We forget that we have to upskill ourselves all the time. That’s more than just downloading and trying Snapchat because “the kids use it.” It’s learning the tools, it’s figuring out what they can and can’t do, so that we can relay that information to our students. It’s not about knowing everything about Tech, it’s about being open for change and new things. If we can model that, I think we’ve succeeded with our students.

And with that, folks, the #iPadProDecemberChallenge is officially complete.

Welcome to 2018.



So I’ve been working nearly exclusively on my iPad Pro. Simply lovely still. The big setback for the Chromebook was the inability to enter grades in our grading program, but with this and using the dedicated iOS app, I can enter and mark all at once.

In the meantime I’ve ordered a Fintie case with a detachable magnetic keyboard. The keyboard isn’t the best in the world, but it’s pretty good considering the cost (about $40 from Amazon). With the case, it can hold my Pencil and accessories, and it’s pretty handy all around. I can see why Apple’s iPadPro keyboard is so good and useful, but it just costs too much for me to be able to justify.

The cool thing about the keyboard is that it makes the computer nearly just like working on a regular computer. Sometimes, in fact, I actually forget I’m not on my Mac, and reach for the trackpad, etc. So with the keyboard, it makes the whole process pretty perfect.

So maybe what’s unfair here is that while I want/need the accessory to help complete the whole iPadPro experience, I don’t need anything extra for the Chromebook. But for now, it’s wonderful and lovely. I’ll keep letting you know how the whole thing is going.

#iPadProDecemberChallenge well on the way!

It’s Been a While Now, so Time for a New Challenge

Since the #30DayChromeBookChallenge ended, I can honestly say I’ve barely touched the Chromebook. For about a week or so, I still used it exclusively in school. I left it at school and used my MacBook Pro at home. It worked well. No computers to schlep around, no power cords to worry about…all was good.

But then something happened. Something big. Something life-changing.

I got an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.

Now: a quick disclaimer. I am an Apple fan-boy. I love Apple products, and all my personal tech stuff is Apple. So I’m a little biased here.


Wow. What a joy to use this iPad Pro. Since getting the iPad, I’ve barely touched the Chromebook. Here’s a quick run-down of why:

  • I can mark–formatively or summatively–with my iPad, right from Classroom
  • I can put grades on PowerSchool with the iPad
  • I can text message (hello again, iMessage!), email with personal or work email, create music, edit video, shoot video, draw, and tweet with ease with the iPad
  • It’s a fraction of the size and weight of the Chromebook
  • It’s sexy as all get-out
  • Touch-ID!

But, you may ask, can’t you do most of those on your Chromebook? Most of them, yes. And that’s where I think I’ll take it from here, in the


What exactly can and will I do with an iPad Pro in the next month? Let’s see where I can push this device and see what corners of the educational world I can reach. Come with me!

That’s All, Folks…

The #30DayChromeBookChallenge is over. Have I succeeded? Perhaps. But much like @MrFiliplic’s journey, mine was filled with fits and starts.

Everything big has already been posted elsewhere, but there’s one thing that I need to follow up on: screen recording and creation of videos. I never quite got what I wanted done (schedule and time), but I did end up experimenting a bit. Screencastify is a great Chrome extension that is generally pretty solid. However, I noticed that a website rendered differently on my Chromebook and my Windows Desktop computer at school. So, I thought, I’ll do a video of the website on my CB, save it in Drive, and then do a video on my school’s computer, and then use my Apple Clips to link them together.

Well. Screencastify didn’t work on the desktop. It got stuck in a loop of logon screens, and I never was able to turn it on. I gave up.

So that was a fail for video. I’ll keep trying, but I’m not 100% confident in a full outcome.

Conclusions at the end:

Mixed thoughts here. Again, I think @MrFiliplic said it all best, but I’ll add one big thing here. For me, it wasn’t as much the Chrome ecosystem part of the challenge that bothered me, but the hardware of the particular Chromebook I was using. Let me say it is a solid machine. Reliable, useful, etc. But compared to my MacBook Pro, it just can’t compare. So part of me feels unfair judging it on the hardware, because you CAN get $1000+ Chromebooks. I’m sure the hardware is solid and great.

But as a person who does a bit of music creation, writing, and uses pro apps for these things, the Chromebook just doesn’t live up. I use Logic Pro X for my music, and Scrivener for my writing. Apple Music for listening. These can’t be matched on any Chromebook.

So in the end, it’s a great machine, but not for me personally. Great for work–and barely limiting. For the regular teacher that’s not into big tech stuff and power apps, then I think a Chromebook comes highly recommended. They take a little getting used to and some workarounds to figure out, but overall they are pretty solid. Still, I am a long-term Mac guy, and the Chrome ecosystem isn’t quite what I get on Mac OS. Not a bad thing, just different.

It’s been a fun ride for the past month, and I know I’ll still continue to use it and explore as I learn more.

Almost Everything

Well, I’ve been following the #30DayChromebookChallenge, and I’ve done nearly all my work on the CB for school. The one big snag I’m hitting is the fact that our gradebook system doesn’t run online, and I need a specific program for it. Thus, I can only run that program on my desktop or my MacBook Pro. For those heavy lifting items, I still need something beyond the CB.

In the past few days, I’ve done more grading through Google Classroom on it, and using it with Google Docs is pretty slick. Not a dream–nothing on the CB is a dream, per se–but it worked well and did everything I needed. As @MrFiliplic said in his posts, when the Chromebook is working in the Google Ecosystem, it shines.

In our school, we’ve confidently ordered a big set of Chromebooks for student use, and just today I ordered a few more for use on an individual basis. So for recommendations so far? Yes–if used for school. Perhaps these aren’t for people that need to do “real” work on a computer–they’re just too light. But if everything is done online, it’s a nice, cheap, decent machine.

An issue came up today with a new student, and trying to set up translation help for him on a CB. We found it to be a bit cumbersome, and there wasn’t a great way immediately that we found that helped us out. But with a few more app extension experiments, I’m pretty confident we can find a good solution.

So overall–it does everything I need it to. Well, almost everything. And that’s enough for now.