Monthly Archives: October 2013

Where does the time go?

When I set out on the blogging journey, I feared one thing, a stagnant blog.  This fear was probably the one thing that kept me from blogging in the first place, that and knowing what to share with the greater blogging world that was out there.  There was always the time, but it was dedicating the time or choosing to write a blog first before something else that could take priority.  For years, everything else was a priority, the blog was just a thought.  But like an earlier post on this blog that I have started, I came to realize that sharing and reflecting on my practices as a teacher is important professionally.  I write tonight because it has been a couple weeks without a post and that fear of stagnation is real, that and I ask my students to blog 5 of 7 nights every week, reflecting on what they learned each day in school, discussing their genius projects, sharing what they have recently read or just sharing random thoughts they have that they are willing to put out to random readers from where ever they will come from and well I am not modelling what I am expecting from them.  Now, yes I could probably throw out a few reasons for my lack of contribution to my blog but I often find myself at 11:30 or 12 asking the simple question, “where does the time go?”

So, I ask those that may read this post, do you have dedicated time for blogging?  Or do you write when the thoughts come to mind?  Do you start a post and leave it in limbo as a draft? Or immediately publish what you write?

My Grade 3 Parents

Hello Parents of Grade Three students at Treeline Public School and welcome to my Blog.

I began this year thinking about the direction I would take with the students who I see for technology.  While there are literally hundreds of possibly learning opportunities using technology. I have decided to start with a basic approach to using technology that will allow students to demonstrate a variety of academic skills (writing, word processing, reading and reflection).  Often, when using technology for a variety of purposes, the pace at which we are able to learn is impacted by the speed in which we are able to navigate and put thoughts to the keys or screen.  For this reason I have decided to begin the year with “blogging”

Your son or daughter may have already come home speaking of technology class and it is most likely that this discussion may have been focussed on their blog.  They are excited about the opportunity.  So far most student have been able to publish their very first blog post by sharing an introduction to themselves the “blogger”.

This year each and every child will be publishing their thoughts, ideas, work and reflection on learning to their blogs.  You can follow your child’s blog by having them visit the appropriate class login page linked below.

Class 3A blogs can be accessed by visiting or without logging in at

Class 3B blogs can be accessed by visiting or without logging in at

Class 3C blogs can be accessed by visiting or without logging in at

As Treeline parents you may also choose to follow the learning students are experiencing by following Treeline on Twitter @treelinepdsb or our school hastag #treelineps OR myself @_PhilYoung where I share the learning occurring during technology classes with my grade 3’s and 7’s

Mr. Young

The Next Steps

They are, READY!  But am I? The next steps of our Genius Projects are upon us.  Weeks of planning and developing their ideas is beginning to pay off for a few who are READY, to delve into the next steps of their project.  Some will be experimenting, others baking, building, tearing down and re-building, starting up their own business, writing proposals, and so many more that it would be too lengthy to share what each and every child is challenging themselves with for this project.  The one thing the I can be certain of, is that not one student will follow the same path as a peer during their journey exploring their passions.  For myself, this ensures that I will always be thinking on my feet as I am there to support each and every student on their journey no matter which direction their passions have taken them.  While this could potentially be overwhelming, I must say that I am excited and look forward to the development of each and every project because some touch on my own passions (food, experimentation) while others have truly got the kids excited themselves.

Onward down the many paths these projects may take me…

My First Post: BYOD, An Old Fashioned Idea

I came to a similar realization this August as hearing George speak @TLDW.

Miss Kit Kat

So this blog has been five or six years in the making. I keep making excuses to myself why I can’t, shouldn’t, won’t and finding other work to occupy my time. Last week I wrote an entry for a newsletter that I had been contemplating for a long time as my first blog post. I realized this weekend that it just seemed silly since it was written and everything. So here it is. I’m jumping off the cliff. Hope I can swim!

My Old Tool Belt

About a year ago I was at my Great Uncle’s funeral. It was a celebration of his long and happy life and there in the front of the room sat his much used tool belt. I wasn’t surprised to see it there. He was a carpenter his whole life. I think Sir Ken Robinson would say he had found his element in building and creating. Observing the tool…

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Can We Stop Longing for the Good Old Days?

TZ the Good Old Days, I had a parent this week suggest it would be better to go back to the days of passing notes rather than texting.  Kids long for the social connections they have whether it be passing notes or texting.  Why resist change!

Miss Kit Kat

I read the Globe and Mail article Classroom fads and magic beans a little while ago and I have to admit that there was some screaming at the screen on my end (Ok, well it was more like mumbling under my breath at my cell phone). Debunking research with one source didn’t seem very critical but everyone is entitled to their opinion. It wasn’t any different than the conversations I experienced while visiting family this summer:

  • “Kids today don’t know how to do math.”
  • “All these new ways…”
  • “What’s wrong with how we used to learn?”

I learned early on in my career that when it comes to education, everyone seems to have an opinion (including those in the field). Responding with research or facts has never really worked for me (maybe I don’t have a stern enough voice) but sharing a classroom success story always guaranteed a thoughtful ending.

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Which Device? Just One Educators Opinion

In our school board ( there has been a shift away from traditional computing technologies (The Desktop Computer) towards mobile technologies (smartphones, tablets, ultrabooks, etc.) that better allow for student collaboration and mobility.  At the TLDW  (Teaching and Learning in a Digital World) conference held this past August, the popular devices in the hands of the educators during the two-day conference were iOS devices.  This is quite indicative of the movement schools are making in terms of their technology plans.

The questions for those responsible for making purchases are simple yet overwhelming, “Which Type of Device?” and “What Device?”.  The decision about the type of device is often the easiest to make, and typically based on power or portability though there are many other factors to consider when making this decision.  The second decision about which device is a far more challenging task to chew on.  There are literally hundreds of choices with your iOS/OSX, Android, and Windows devices being the most popular in the marketplace.  Under the umbrella of each of those operating systems, iOS/OSX offers the fewest options, while Windows and Android-based devices are plentiful.  Google has also entered this battle for the education market with the Chromebook.

So much to consider (Type, Device, Cost, Uses), but it’s time to make the decision, devices need to get into the hands of the educators and their students, otherwise one will fall behind the other.  The general consensus has been to purchase iOS devices; because they hold a large portion of the mobile technology marketplace, students and staff are familiar with them.

Is there a “best” choice, of course there is.  What is it?  I would have to say that the “best” choice would be dependant on a school’s technology plan that would outline the vision for technology in the learning environment.  With this being considered those responsible for making purchases can wade into the deep end “the market” to make their decision.  There are PROS and CONS with each option and while I have recently become a proponent for the iOS/OS X devices, I am also a user of Android, Windows and even Blackberry devices and the decisions we have made in regards to the devices we have purchased in my school have focused on “Improving Outcomes” with an outlook on keeping our technology plan sustainable.

Genius Hour Breakthrough

We have been struggling since Day 1, with the whole idea of following our passions to help drive learning.  It is called “Genius Hour.”  The whole idea of time be given to explore our own areas of interest is an ideology focused on ensuring the success of the participants.   I teach 11 and 12 year-olds whose primary interests are connecting with peers online, playing video games, sports and for a few academics.  So when the idea of “Genius TIme” was shared with me, I thought “Why not?” and honestly I could not answer the question.  So the planning began, and though my direction was unknown, I wanted to believe that they, my students would be excited, enthusiastic and willing to explore their interests as a part of the learning program this coming school year.

I presented the project, the of idea of Genius Time to my students by asking them the question, “What do you love to do?”  The reactions were mixed.  I kind of expected this, these kids had been trained for years now to follow a specific set of guidelines in order to demonstrate some sort of knowledge about a given topic.  But here they were being asked to share those things that the love to do but have always been led to believe were ineffective in supporting their growth and development.  I had to convince them that it would be possible to learn from those things we loved and were passionate about.  I shared with them my love of technology, though after a week and a half of school I think they already had a sense of my love for technology and how it could be used in my classroom. But what they likely didn’t know was that my drive to integrate technology in my classroom was the push that led me to explore and learn about new technologies and apps that could be used to support my teaching practices and their learning.

I set them off, to think about those things that they would love to explore and create.  They would come back to me day after day even more confused than the previous day.  It was clear that they were thinking about the focus of the Genius projects but for many connecting their passion to learning was a bridge they were struggling to conceive.  Many discussions and conferences would follow.  That initial week saw only a few of my students find a passion that they would follow and begin to develop as their Genius project.  So many would approach me, saying “I just don’t know”.  I asked them to record their interests in their Genius journals, so that some discussion around potential topics could be had.  I also asked them to blog about their feelings towards the project as a gateway that would keep them thinking about possible project ideas.

Earlier this week I discussed the idea of keeping it simple to start and then developing the idea into something more that could demonstrate learning.  We turned our attention to documenting the process of exploration and learning during Genius Time.  This would be important because an aspect of the project would be to share their learning with a global audience and it would be their documentation that would be shared.  On thursday, I returned to conferencing with those who were still in the dark, struggling to find a project idea.  The conferencing on Thursday was unlike those previously held.  Students presented their interests with a curiosity. One student after another slowly came to a realization that a simple idea, a passion, could be turned into a project full of learning.  An example of the our Genius Breakthrough, was one student, lets call her S. who presented the idea of making bracelets, selling them and donating the proceeds to charity, a simple project idea but one that now has led to learning about marketing, sales, connecting with a charitable organizations, gathering donations and more.  She would realize that there was so much to learn and so much to share with others.

They, almost all are now excited about their prospective project for Genius Time and I cannot wait  to see how things will develop in the coming weeks.  Up next, co-developing the criteria for assessing NOT the project but the PROCESS.

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