Call for Presenters!


university of Ottawa

University of Ottawa: Teacher Education Program

“ Minds on Learning for a Digital Age”

September 16 & 17, 2016

Call to Presenters


The Teacher Education Program at the University of Ottawa are thrilled to host two days of professional learning that are focused on three goals: Learning, Sharing, and Connecting for a Digital Age.


  • Friday, September 16, 2016- 8:30 am -3:30 pm– Professional Learning for Lead Associate Teachers and teacher candidates.
  • Friday, September 16, 2016- 5:30-7:30 pm– Ignite Event
  • Saturday, September 17, 2016- 8:30 am -3:30 pmDay of Discovery presented by Discovery Education


We would like to invite you to lead or host a 45 minute-long workshop, presentation, hands on activity or demonstration at the upcoming professional learning event on September 16 and 17, 2016. As a presenter, you will work with groups of educators to explore and share ways to integrate digital media and technology tools into the curriculum and classroom. You might share how you integrate digital media resources into your lessons, share a favorite project or app or anything else you think our attendees would be interested to learn about (like digital citizenship, STEM, Coding…). Your workshop could be done individually, in teams, or in coordination with a community organization.


If you are interested, please submit a brief proposal for your presentation by May 31, 2016, by sending an email with the following information:


  • Your name, association, and contact information
  • A short description of the workshop/breakout session you would like to present
  • The teacher division most appropriate for your workshop (Primary/Junior, Junior/Intermediate, Intermediate/Senior, or all)
  • The number of participants will be capped at 30 participants
  • Your technology/room requirements (laptop, smart board, projector, etc)
  • Your availability: (please list all that apply)
    • September 16, 2016- morning or afternoon or both
    • September 16, 2016– Ignite Event
    • September 17, 2016– morning or afternoon or both

If you are interested in presenting at the Day of Discovery event could you also register at Day of Discovery


For more information, please contact the symposium planning committee at


We look forward to hearing from and working with you.

Have a great day.

Tracy Crowe

Directrice adjointe, Assistant Director

Teacher Education

Faculté d’éducation/ Faculty of Education

Tél. | Tel. : 613-562-5800 (4149)

Téléc | Fax : 613-562-5354
145, Jean-Jacques-Lussier (341)

Ottawa ON Canada K1N 6N5


The Innovator’s Mindset: Powerful Learning First, Technology Second


What I really like about this book are the provocations that are put out there in every chapter.  In chapter 9, George Couros writes about the importance of the appropriate technology being introduced into schools, but more importantly, he writes about the mindset that needs to go along with that.

We are trying to implement 21st-century technology with management systems that sometimes seem to harken back to the 19th century.

Our management systems have not caught up to the terrific learning opportunities, assisted by technology that are out there.  Couros quotes Seymour Papert in this chapter and I have to add part of the quote in this post because it defines the bind we are in as we try to revolutionize our inflexible education structures:

So if I want to be a better learner, I’ll go find somebody who’s a good learner and with this person do some learning.  But this is the opposite of what we do in our schools.  We don’t allow the teacher to do any learning.  We don’t allow the kids to have the experience of learning with the teacher because that’s incompatible with the concept of the curriculum where what is being taught is what’s already known.

Seymour Papert, Seymour Papert: Project-based Learning,” Edutopia, November 1, 2001.

What is really needed is a change of course (pg 146) when it comes to the application of educational technology in our schools.

George quotes Tom Murray from the Alliance for Excellence in Education and an article he wrote on “10 steps Technology Directors Can Take to Stay Relevant.” Based on this article, George poses  four questions that focus on the intelligent implementation of technology:

  • What is best for kids?
  • How does it improve learning?
  • If we do ______, what is the balance of risk vs. reward?
  • Is this serving the few or the majority?

These are essential questions – how often are these questions asked when it comes to the implementation of technology?  I believe, in my experience, these questions are asked by technology departments, but too often their way is barred by system decision makers who do not have as clear a vision on how to answer these questions.

Are we really asking what is best for the learner, or are we asking what is easiest, cheapest fastest in the short-term?  Are we really exploring what is best for all learners and do we really have a comprehensive plan to come up with the intelligent implementation that involves all learners – students and teachers alike.


OSSEMOOC Blog Hop – What if…

risk taking.png

What if we promoted risk-taking to our staff and students and modeled it openly as administrators? 

This is the ‘what if’ statement that really jumped out at me from George Couros’ book, The Innovator’s Mindset.  As an administrator, I really think that risk-taking has to be part of our job.  How can we expect that anything will ever get done if we wait for someone else in our organization to do it?

This is one of the great challenges of leadership.  Administrators must be accountable to the school boards who employ them.  School boards are ultimately accountable to the public.  This is very clear, but at the same time, I would argue that part of being accountable means taking the risks that are going to push the boundaries of educational practice.

If not the administrator in your school, who else is going to do this?

Taking risks can be a challenge.  We work in systems where compliance to a whole set of regulations is expected.  I recognize this and I take my responsibility seriously.  But, at the same time, I think we are all called upon not to ‘wait’ for the next great innovation, but to play an active role in being part of that next new wave.

This does not mean you have to have to jump on every bandwagon that comes along, but it certainly means that you have to live out on the edge a bit and be willing to take the kind of risks that will create an atmosphere in your school where others will also feel free to innovate and create.

This can get you labelled as a ‘rogue’ from time to time, but at least you are out there trying to make a difference.  The discomfort of being labelled will always pass, but the changes you initiate can have lasting benefits for your school community.

Just imagine.  When teachers and students feel free to create and follow their dreams in a safe environment that accepts innovation what great things will happen?  Things that you could never imagine if you spend all your time being in ‘control’.

I think more of us need to take that leap.  I think it is part of our job.  We were not put in these positions to remain complacent and comfortable.

So, start taking risks and see where this leads!


community hub

This is a great writing prompt that is good enough to drag me away from reading report cards for a few minutes.

First, I have to say how much I have enjoyed the on-going Voxer chat on the Innovator’s Mindset – a great good by George Couros which is great reading and wonderful as a discussion piece.

Some of the conversations have really changed the way I think about innovation and leadership and the constraints put on us by the system we are in.

So, for today’s prompt – I don’t really want to go ‘pie in the sky’ on this one, but there is one thing I would really like to see in schools.

Equity – this is becoming a really big issue for me.

I think there needs to be more of an effort put into schools in low-income areas.  It is not just a matter of not having the same amount of financial resources as suburban schools, it is actually an issue of how we support children and families.

Too often I hear about kids who can’t get support at home because parents are working extra hours or just do not have the capacity to offer the support their kids need.  Many are supporting families on a single income or are dealing with life in a shelter or other issues we can hardly imagine.

Often these families cannot afford the after school sports and recreation programs other families take for granted.  These programs are really important to help kids have a really well rounded education.  We try to provide some of these extras through our school programs, but we simply do not have the resources to bring as many programs into the school as we need.

My ideal school would be restructured to offer a really good tutoring/homework club staffed by qualified teachers.  The program would be supplemented by a recreation or arts program that would take place after the tutoring is done for the day.  The students would all have their own Chromebook to bring home to work on really good digital programs like the Discovery Science Techbook or Mathletics.  We would make sure the students had a healthy snack before being picked up with extra food available if the family was in need.

Our school would be open to parents who could use our wifi to work on their own courses or take advantage of instruction in areas that they need.

None of these things are ‘pie in the sky’.  I know this because I have heard of schools that provide these supports to their families.  The problem is that these are shining examples of what should be happening in all our low income schools.  There are not enough of these schools.

Our school needs to be a hub for the community, especially for our students and our parents – every day of the week and throughout the summer as well.

We have the resources and the models to make this happen if we really invested in making a change in the lives of the most disadvantaged in our society.

All that is missing is the will.

That would be a great school to work in!


Four take aways from FETC

FETC Banner

It has been two weeks from FETC in Orlando. Easily the most exciting conference I have been to in a long time. For me, there are some really important takeaways that I have been thinking through for the past two weeks.

First – coding is king (or queen)


Reshma Saujani was for me a highlight of the conference. It is so inspiring to listen to a young person who has taken hold of an important issue and has created real change within a large community. Reshma spoke about Girls Who Code – a group I would really like to bring to Canada. She is making a great effort to get more girls and women into computer science by working with great partners like Google and Facebook and by linking up to businesses across the United States who pledge to hire graduates of the program when they complete their studies.

Apart from this inspiring talk, I saw so many companies that are bringing out new technologies that allow students to learn to code at an early age.



Programmable robot by K’nex coming out in July

We have been fortunate enough to buy some of these kits from Lego and Pitsco and we will be adding these to our maker space and science classes as soon as possible. The applications in the class for these kits are endless and the engagement potential makes them so valuable for our teachers. Before FETC, I had never seen any of these kits, now they are being produced by a whole range of innovative companies. What makes these kits really important is that students can learn coding as a way to make machines move and complete complex tasks.

Second – you need a learning management system if you are moving to 1:1

This is something I really never thought too much about before FETC. What I noticed, however, is that most school systems are using some sort of an LMS to manage the use of computers in the classroom. Whether it is Google Classroom, Moodle, Webanywhere or in our case Hapara, you need a way to manage the amount of information your students are accessing and sending back to you in the form of assignments.

We have had Hapara for more than two years, but it never occurred to me that as we move closer to a 1:1 school at all grade levels, the most important digital tool that we can make available to teachers is a management system.

Within two weeks of returning from FETC, I arranged a half-day training session for all of our teachers and we hope to follow this up with another session this April. Teachers are now starting to use Hapara to send out material to students and monitor their work during the school day. It is amazing that I had to go so far to learn the value of this great program.

Technology tips are everywhere

I took in at least three workshops that acted as a survey session on technology tips for the classroom teacher, for the administrator, for anyone. These sessions were so important. Which such a huge selection, you really had to take in a few of these sessions – if you could get in, they were very popular.


Twitter notes from The Top Ten Technology Tips to Transform Teaching in one hour!

The pace in these sessions is so frenetic that the only useful way to take notes is through Twitter. I wrote tons of posts during my time at FETC and tried valiantly to quickly use as many tools as I could so I could remember what I was learning and pass this on to our staff.

Last take away – if you get an opportunity to go to a conference go!

To be honest, I don’t know how you can get by these days without getting to a conference whenever possible. My passion is education technology and I use Twitter and a whole variety of blogs, but there is no better way to stay current than by attending one of these great events.

You all need to get out and learn, talk to people who are making the innovations then take back as much as you can to staff.

Finally, I leave you with some of my visual impressions taken with my new GoPro. It’s a bit jumbled, but I hope it gives some sense of the great creative energy of FETC.


Why attend major conferences

Every once and awhile I am able to make it to major conferences either here in Canada or in the US.  Last week, I attended the FETC Conference in chilly Orlando Florida and have just spent two hours with John Sowash on Google and the Paperless Classroom.


FETC 1.png


on the first day, I attended a three-hour session on Makerspaces, MaKey Makey and eTextiles.  Later I will be attending a session on filmmaking in the classroom.  All this at the preconference!


my attempt at eTextiles

We really need to attend these conferences if we want to move learning in our schools.  As a principal, I am very fortunate to be able to attend a major conference every two years.  I have always taken advantage of this opportunity and I have always learned a great deal to bring back to my school.


Conferences also gets the creative juices flowing.  My to do list just from this morning includes learning Pear Deck, arranging a workshop on Hapara and connecting again with Discovery Education.  Not bad for the first two hours!


Creativity and innovation are the lifeblood of education.  Educators need the opportunity to share and exchange information as often as possible.  Twitter is a great help, but there is nothing like a real, live conference to really get the creative juices flowing.


This is a great place to connect as well.  Many of the people I follow on Twitter are here, Richard Byrne (Free Technology for teachers) and George Couros (The Innovator’s Mindset) are both here as keynote speakers.  The chance to see these educators live and possibly talk with them is exciting – my version of attending a Rock concert!


This may seem a little nerdy, but these conferences really revive my love for innovation in education.  The workshops fuel me with ideas that we can try back at our school.  Conferences fuel my desire to write and share with as many educators as possible.  I even present at some of these conferences and was briefly on the organizing committee for one in Ontario, Canada.


I should probably be doing more of this sort of work, but I am happy to attend and share right now.


As we get ready for our next workshop, I am meeting people from all over the States and Canada. I have talked to the presenter who I know can help us propel our makerspace to the next level.  


My job – just share everything!

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Makerspaces in a box: An opportunity to create

The first day of FETC was great.  We had a chance to really focus on  important technical innovations that are changing the nature of education.  Google applications to make a paperless classroom, experiencing a makerspace and methods of film-making in the classroom.  A full day!

The three-hour format allowed us to try out some really interesting tools for the classroom.  The makerspace workshop had me totally engaged making circuits using play doh, metal tape and fabric.  Nothing that we were using cost more than $25.00 for a simple kit that uses play doh as a connector.  Other materials cost just pennies, but I really enjoyed having the opportunity to work with these materials to make different circuits.  This is a good lesson for me – you don’t need to have the latest technological gadget to create something new.

my paper circuit – a work in progress

I quickly got caught up in making my own inventions, lighting up diodes and connectiung buzzers.  Each station had a differnt challenge for us and what we created was our own.  What freedom – to simply use your imagination and succeed at making something new.  

Each kit was labeled with its own QR code linking to a website expanding on the activities in the box.

The three-hour workshop just flew by and I thought to myself what would it have been like to learn about circuits and innovation when I was a student, free to invent what I wanted to invent. I never understood circuits drawn on a caulk board.

Although I have understood for a long time the importance of makerspaces as a way to encourage innovation and creativity, I have never taken the time to actually sit and work through some of these tasks.  So simple, but so empowering.

The paper circuit website

The Squishy Circuits site – kits cost $25.00, but you can buy the parts separately 

When I return to school, I will look for ways to incorporate some of these great ideas into our makerspaces.  No need to look for the newest robotics kit – kids can create with some of the simplest materials available.  The key element in all this is simply to let kids create, don’t wait to amass a huge pile of wires and diodes, just get a few simple kits and get started!

 eTextile project – again, very simple materials that kids could use to innovate