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The Long Awaited…SGTS Imagery and Data

The sorting of many photos that would best show the result of the hard work put forward by the Grade 6 class at Countryside Village is now here.

One short, “Blair Witch-like GoPro video” to start.  WARNING…if you are not a fan of spins this may not be the video to watch.


A wonderfully sunny, clear day for launch (Ground-level view)


Must be getting ready to go, pictures/videos are being taken


Moments after launch, in the background the CARE facility in Egbert, ON


A little sideways…


Much better @ 1500 feet


Farmers Fields for as far as the eye can see!


Nearing 6000 feet…that’s a long way down!


Does anyone recognize the body of water in the background?


The sky is darkening…as we near 10 000 feet!


Things are a little turbulent at ~13 000 feet!


A little closer to that body of water… HINT: 44.18479, -79.71455


There it is again!


We’re NOT in Egbert anymore!


That sun is really bright today!

Moving quickly at this point (125 km/h) ... What could be helping us along so quickly?

Moving quickly at this point (125 km/h) … What could be helping us along so quickly?


Really bright!


Cool sun shot!


The darkness of space from 45 000 feet!


Yup that’s the curvature of the Earth! Just passing by Newmarket!


~50 000 feet and climbing…


Things are a little hazy at ~65 800 feet, moments before burst! May have added a tad too much helium to this balloon ride!  We are just NE of Vivian, ON right now!


You can see the trees that we would land in just a couple thousand feet below

Our payloads final resting place until its recovery 2 days later! 40+ feet up in a cedar tree just North of Whitby!

Our payloads final resting place until its recovery 2 days later! 40+ feet up in a cedar tree just North of Whitby!

A look at the data acquired from the Eagle Flight Computer courtesy of Sahil, Arthika and Gurleen for their analysis.


The Night before #TLDWpeel 2014

It’s the night before this years Teaching and Learning in a Digital World Conference #TLDWPeel and I sit here with my laptop in front of me at the island in our kitchen, coffee made, music playing in the background and my wife Shivonne (@SLewisYoung) to my left as we discuss our poster sessions and prepare for the two days ahead.  We certainly find our ourselves in a familiar situation with a little night before the deadline preparation.  For myself, I find the added pressure almost energizing.  Some might say that is the coffee but its Decaf.  Nonetheless, I am again super excited to be sharing some of my experiences over the next two days and I know Shivonne is just as excited to share her experiences.  Shivonne and a colleague will be sharing  their experience with Genius Hour in primary classrooms and I will be sharing my experience with using Social Media in the Intermediate classroom.

Other posters sessions for this years’ #TLDWpeel conference @

When I was asked by a few PDSB colleagues to present at this years’ TLDWpeel conference, the wheel began to turn.  I started a mental list of the various topics that I would be willing to share my experience with but as some may agree mental lists are not always the best if you are expecting to come back and have something to work with, especially days or even weeks later.  High on the list however, was to share about my experience using Social Media with my Grade 7’s,  School-based iPad management, and the others….it was a mental list and I am writing this blog post some three months after submitting my proposal.

I chose to talk about the use of social media in the classroom for a few reasons.  The first being that I have found great benefits as an educator to have come from Social Media tools such as Twitter, Blogs, Storify, Thinglink, Youtube and a ever expanding list that support the learning environment that I am trying to promote as well as my own professional learning.  The second, my students use it so why not take advantage of their prior knowledge, and help them make more of Social Media tools. Another was to help colleagues take advantage of the Social Media tools so many of our students are using and settle the fears they may have about them.

Here is to an excellent conference of sharing and learning.

Coming soon…. (June, a blog post I couldn’t just step away from)

June has been one of those months, when is it not for a teacher? Year-end trips, events, report cards and of course the inevitable look ahead to the summer.  June is certainly not a month to sit back a relax now that the kids in your class have fully-grasped the expectations that you have drilled into them all year.  The fact is it is a month to keep them interested and motivated with their learning, what better time for collaborative inquiry-based learning.  Students love working with their peers and enjoy the opportunity to explore topics freely.  This June has been all about inquiry, collaboration and sharing.  My students just wrapped up an inquiry project on the impacts of a global issue related to the use and/or extraction of natural resources and now are working together as an entire class on a geographic inquiry about a country or region they wanted to know more about.  While it seems chaotic to have 24 Grade 7’s working on one project, it is amazing to see the division of responsibilities, the planning and the following through that is occurring as time ticks.  I have definitely set out my expectations, first to work together to accomplish a goal, two being that they will sharing the findings of their inquiry with my other two classes and a far greater audience using Twitter and other social media like their blogs.  As well, to have them gain a better geographical understanding of a place, make global connections with experts (Hopefully 😉 ) and to enjoy learning.  And to top off the learning, I have surprised my students by stepping in and participating in the inquiry.  What can I say, I love geography and certainly enjoy digging up new information about places I know little about.

On a professional level June has been all about sharing as, Shivonne and I have led a push on Peel’s very own Project184 blog, a place where the Peel District School Board family can share their learning experiences with others within the board and beyond.  Three weeks into the pilot of the #peel21st184 blog we have seen nearly 20 Peel educators share their responses to the question, “What did you learn today?”   The response has been overwhelming, many have expressed their excitement about the project and lots look forward to the 2014-15 edition of the #peel21st184 blog project.  While thinking ahead to next year is probably the last thing of most are doing, we already have put out the Call for Writers ( and are looking for contributors whether it be students, teachers, office managers, or superintendents.  The goal is to have as many PDSB’ers share their experiences, to inspire others.

Speed Geeking

It’s the next evolution of PD for teachers here in the Peel District School Board It was the second #peel21st north Edtech Network meeting held at HBSS.  This session would take on the well known format known as ‘speed dating’ used by many singles seeking companionship or someone to spend a little time with but with a Peel Tech Twist…which is to geekify.  Out fabulous team of ITRT’s (Intstructional Technology Resource Teacher) led by Tina Zita has prepared an excellent schedule of sessions for the coming school year.

These meetings are not only a great way to share and gather information about what is happening around our board but a chance to connect with those who are trying to do just as many other teachers are which is integrating technology into their teaching and learning practices.

The a focus was the topic of BYOD “Bringing Your Own Device”.  Our school board recently “approved a $7 million investment in technology for Peel students that will ensure our schools are increasingly connected and relevant in the 21st Century” with its focus on WiFi infrastructure for all schools.  The result has been a push towards opening the teaching-learning environment to the personal devices many students own.

I was given the opportunity to share my experience with BYOD at the intermediate (Gr. 7 and 8) level.  The primary question asked by the groups during this session was “what does BYOD look like in Grade 7 and 8?”  My response has evolved greatly since the beginning of this school year.  My vision that I shared was, devices out and available at all times, ready to perform. This year however, BYOD has taken on a much different look.  I have far fewer students who bring more than their iPod or smartphones and while there is a use for these devices there are far greater limitations to their usage.  I also shared that I feel that BYOD has been plagued by actions of a few during the previous school year and during the first part of this school year.  And of course this is where the discussion continued.   One group asked the questions, “Have you experienced any issues?”  Whether it was connectivity, to the inability to access device app stores and of course what they were probably trying to get at, bullying/inappropriate use, I was able to share that yes, I have experienced it all.  But of course this allowed me to share that as with any new initiative it is important to lay the groundwork (build a strong sense of Digital Citizenship and an appropriate use policy) for all groups who will participate or face an uphill battle to fix what has been broken.  

Before I knew it the session was over, there was a sense that everyone wanted more, who wouldn’t.  It was a laid back environment where learning was happening at its own pace and in its own direction.  And everyone was able to take just what they wanted away, back to their own school and classroom where they could add it to their arsenal of technology knowledge and tools.  Have questions about my experiences with BYOD at the Intermediate level, feel free to comment, tweet @_PhilYoung or contact me via email @  And you can always check out the BYOD video shot at Treeline Public School a couple years back. 

Until the next session

#Project184 – A Fresh Look on an Old Idea!

It was Mid-February of last school year when I was looking for new way to have my students reflect on the learning that they encountered on a daily basis in order for them to gain a better appreciation of what we their educators were sharing with them within the confines of each classroom, it would also was a way for me to acquire feedback on my teaching practices.  Would the kids on my class reflect on what was being taught in my Language and Geography class or were they more likely to comment on the learning that they were doing in Science, History, Math or Art?  So I set out to my lifeline, the World Wide Web or those  educators who I followed on Twitter in search of ideas.  Of course, I came upon many suggestions the most common being #blogging.  But for myself #blogging was something I valued the benefits of but just never seemed to be able to dedicate the time to.  So I crossed that idea off the list.  The search continued, #twitter thats right “social media”.  Social media and education, are you kidding? Of course, why not? We could use #twitter and share our thoughts with a small following using a # (hashtag) created for the sole reason of sharing our thoughts about learning and the added benefit is that students could expand their musings with a greater audience by connecting with a hashtag such as #comments4kids.  That would be my plan through the remainder of the year.  I would consider blogging and the idea of #project184 in the new school year.

The #TLDW (Teaching and Learning in the Digital World) Conference, August 22nd and 23rd at Castlebrooke SS in Brampton lead by many innovative educators from @peelschools would be like the light switch that would turn on the blogging light switch both for myself professionally and for my teaching practices.   Of course I wouldn’t forget my close friends #twitter, #edmodo, and #google+ but I would turn myself toward the blogging world and my students this year would have the opportunity to be a part of #project184, a chance to reflect on and share about their learning experiences.

11 Days in, and I would have to say that my students are enjoying the opportunity both to blog and to share their learning experiences and it has not only told me much about my students as reflective learners but also as writers, where their interests lie, experiences that they have enjoy to date in this new school year and areas where they are struggling already.  They have done all of this by answering what would seem to be a simple question, “What did you learn today?”  I couldn’t be happier with the outcome of #project184, 11 days in.

Thanks George @gcouros #PSD70 and the #edu180atl project  your thoughts and sharing have been an inspiration for this project @treelinepdsb.  Maybe next year I’ll organize and school-wide or board-wide project sharing project.

Another new school year…

Three weeks into another school year, and the journey has already proven interesting.  Some may ask, why?  The answer is not so simple.  Every teacher spends any number of days over their summer break preparing for the return back to school following Labour Day, at least in Ontario most of us do.  We revise plans to meet newly released curriculum, we re-think teaching method to reflect best practices, we consider trying something new (e.g., Inquiry-based learning, genius hour), and we organize our classrooms in preparation for the new year.  And, that final weekend before school starts for many is the time to relax with family especially for those with children who are also returning back to school.  Everyone has hopefully managed to survive the summer without illness and our immune systems are in top shape to fend off the new breed of germs a class of 20 or more will throw at us.  I speak for myself, this year was like but unlike all of my previous returns to a new school year.  I was up late the night before the first day, thinking over everything that I would run through ad say on day one with my new group.  I was also returning to a grade that I had not taught in several years, so I was rehashing the whole years’ plans in the back of my mind.  Finally, I would lay down telling myself that sleep was needed.  My son, daughter and wife had all been sick over the long weekend and I figured I was in the clear, I was wrong.  I woke up and mentally tried to get myself prepared for the day ahead.  Mental preparing myself was one thing, but physically my gut was telling me otherwise.  I fought the feeling of nausea, there was no possible way that I wouldn’t make it to my first day.  I mean I had to set things straight on day one, or else I might find myself playing catch up with the whole classroom management piece that we work so hard to develop in week one of a new school year.  I arrived at school after and what would seem like a forever commute, looking according to others “a white as a ghost.”  Thankfully, I had first period prep, it was exactly the way I wanted the year to start, having my students be greeted by someone other than myself but it was a chance for me to gather myself and get a little colour.  I prepared my class with a little letter of introduction outlining some basic expectations and simple beginning of the year activities knowing that I wouldn’t be able to face them on this day one of the new school year.  I made my way to the office and asked my secretary if she could put a 1/2 day job in the system.  I would cross my fingers and hope that at 12 I could fight my way up the stairs to meet each of the 3 classes that I would teach this year.  I made it and I survived the afternoon though I am sure those who saw me would have thought otherwise.

Day Two – Rougher than the first.  How could it be possible to miss the 1st one and a half days.  I guess I would have to wait until day three to set into motion the wheels of learning for the year.

Day Three on….check back for a reflection on some new ideas for a new school year!

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