Final Thoughts

This was my first chance to be a PSD 70 leader as I am a new teacher.  I found that it was nice being the person giving information rather than being the person looking for information.  It felt like I could contribute to the school which was a welcome change.

I am a grade 4 teacher at Millgrove and teach with 4 very accomplished teachers.  The learning leader program allowed me to keep up with my grade level partners and not slow them down when it came to technology. Looking to the future I feel I will learning a lot being where I am and possibly become a tweeter.

In our school there were 6 learning leaders and it was nice having other people to bounce ideas off and run in-services.  Our discussions primarily surrounded Ipad apps as not many of us are proficient with twitter.  Below I have listed some of the apps we thought worked well in our early year school.

Here are some of the Apps we use at Millgrove:

Haiku Deck

Used for Social Stories with children who require pre-teaching for a fieldtrip or cultural event


Great for learning Math for example going on a shape walk in and around the school and making a movie of those things that are similar

Endless Alphabet

This helps children learn the letters and build vocabulary at their own pace

Bad Piggies

This app allows students to use critical thinking, problem solving skills and cooperation

Number Rack

Here is an app that is open-ended and uses Base 10 beads.  We use is for “How many ways?”

Dolch Words

Students read the words, trace them and can complete a voice recording

Felt Board

Inspired by flannel boards, Felt Board is an app with hundreds of flannel pieces in digital form. It has enabled students to collaboratively  illustrate scenes from a story, and has inspired student writing as well. It’s great for use in a literacy station where students can create a picture and then write about that picture. The illustrations can be saved to the iPad’s photo roll, and is great fodder for beginning story-writing.

Story Buddy 2

This user-friendly app enables beginning writers to publish their own polished, illustrated books. Students can include pictures from the iPad’s camera roll or from an internet search and even allows students to include an audio recording on the pages. The book can be saved as a PD and is a great way for students to showcase their writing and learning.

A-HA Moments with Social Media:

We see the value of Social Media to enhance our teaching by connecting us with fellow colleagues around the world.  We also see how articles are found and conveniently retweeted.  This cuts down the search time and links us directly to relevant information.

Learning Leader Final Project: Putting It Out There

In the Learning Leader Project, I have changed my mindset and learned the value of “putting it out there”. I have had the opportunity to take a basic or background knowledge and find/explore ways to expand and reflect upon ways to use an iPad and apps in the classroom and for professional use.  My favourite apps are: Evernote, Show Me, Zite, Twitter/Hootsuite, and Google Drive. I use Evernote within my class and professionally. For example, while attending the ELAC conference last weekend, I was able to type my own notes, voice and video record, and photograph aspects of the sessions I attended. In my class, I have created a notebook for each student and am able to provide instant feedback to students, parents, and administrators. Show Me is an app that I use at Outreach to instruct/tutor students who are having difficulty with a particular concept. I have started to play around with Show Me by making my own tutorials and have also used a variety from the data base. Google Drive has given me the opportunity to go “paperless” in my ELA classes. I am able to provide feedback to students as they are drafting an essay or personal response. I am eager to learn and use the voice feedback option. I use Twitter/Hootsuite to build a PLN, share resources, and find resources. I have found many ideas, blogs, articles, websites that have inspired me to find more and do more.

My”a-ha” moment: Education is constantly changing and evolving. By being involved in this project, I have learned to “put it out there” and to use the apps and technology to meet the diverse needs of students and my own teacher style. In some instances, I was able to go “all in” with an app and in some instances I had to play around or reflect on a best practice for my students prior to sharing what I had learned.  With technology, it is important as educators to reflect upon the purpose and practice of technology and know when and how to introduce to students and staff.

I recently attended ELAC where one of the keynote speakers, Sean Aiken, spoke at length about exploring, finding your passion, and “putting it out there.” By being a part of this project, I have put it out there (twitter) where I have connected with other professionals within PSD70 and many other districts. Accepting that we are vulnerable to everchanging technology and educational trends allows one to learn about ourselves and collaborate with others and discover our passion for learning and teaching. Putting it out there leads to great learning opportunities. One area of vulnerability for me that I still struggle with (but am becoming much better) is the process of blogging.

Today, I shared my learning and understanding with the Memorial Outreach department. I took the apps learned in the Learning Leader Project and shared how they can be used in our Outreach setting. I focused on Evernote, Show Me, and Google Drive. We discussed professional uses of twitter and blogging. We had a great conversation regarding how iPad apps can become overwhelming and a best practice is to learn or master one or two apps well before moving on to the next.

Final Reflection

I was very excited to have the opportunity to be apart of the learning leader project with the focus on integrating technology and mobile devices into my Kindergarten classroom. My professional goal was to find ways to use the technology such as an Ipad for assessment and in all honestly I am not sure that I have met that goal yet (beyond documenting my student’s skills and knowledge through video and pictures). I plan on investigating the SHOW ME app more because I think it will be a great tool for my Kinders to draw and talk about their learning. I have especially liked working with google docs and google drive and find using Hiaku Deck an incredible resource for social stories.

My A-HA moment came from a session at teacher’s convention. I came to understand what a “flipped classroom” was and how technology can be used to support the initial learning of knowledge concepts for “homework” and how the classroom then becomes the place where learners further developed their skills through projects and collaborative learning opportunities with the teacher. I am incredibly excited by this notion and am a tad bit jealous of those that teach higher grades as I would find this very exciting to implement as a teacher.

My sharing included discussing and sharing information in PLC grade level grouping, sharing Hiaku Deck with my staff and sharing apps during a tri-school professional development day. I am learning to appreciate Twitter more but prefer to learn and share through blogs. I follow blogs of other teachers and have enjoyed sharing the work and life of my own classroom on my classroom blog. My mantra in regards to technology is that it is a tool to which my students and I can learn, share and document our journey.

Laura Coutts-Mills
Millgrove School

Learner Leader

After taking time to work with my colleagues and students with the ipad, I realize what an endless tool this piece of technology is. I especially enjoyed using Zite with my students and fellow Social Studies teachers, the quicklist of World News, sports, travel and technology allowed students to immediately be up to date, to read information and share current events that are happening today.
Show Me was also useful for the students to show and share their strategies for solving Math Problems. They especially liked the audio as well as the visual.
Haiki Deck worked well to stimulate ideas by choosing a from a plethora of pictures to use as a background for their poem.
The ipad is an amazing learning tool and very teacher, student friendly.
Thanks George for your time and patience.

Learning Leader Final Project

My Favourite Apps:

I would have to say that my favourite app is hootsuite/twitter. This may seem like an easy-out, but I haven’t found that I have had time/opportunity to use the other apps that we have discovered and played with. However, I have found that twitter has really been a great learning and sharing opportunity for me. I have used it to find resources, share resources, share memories and great things our school and my classes have been doing, and I can forsee using it in the future with classes to inform them of assignments, etc. as I have seen some other PSD teachers do.

‘A-ha!’ moments:

Again, it may seem like an easy out, but seeing how easy twitter is to find resources and to connect with like-minded educators has been my ‘a-ha!’ moment. I teach FSL, which can at times be isolating as FSL teachers are often the only teacher of that subject in the school. It is difficult to share resources and to find colleagues to share ideas with without having the benefit of years to get to know other FSL teachers in the division or in the professional community. I have connected with more FSL teachers in the past few months than I have had the opportunity to in the past 3 years as a result of twitter.

What I have shared with staff and what the effects in the school have been as a result:

Fortunately, I am at a school where technology is a strong focus for some staff, and they have recently started a forum for sharing their knowledge and resources with other staff members. This is a wonderful thing for our school, but makes it a bit difficult to offer something that is not already available to our staff. As a result, I have shared in the teaching of some of the tech sessions that have already been taking place by helping staff implement google docs into their classes. In addition, I have been lucky enough to be able to share classroom blogging with one particular teacher at my school. I love that I have been able to do this because he has been interested in classroom blogging for a long time but hasn’t found an accessible way to be able to learn about it and put it into practice. I am so glad that I have been able to show him that it is easy and that it is within his reach to do. In fact, he plans to use classroom blogging as a communication tool with parents and families, so I anticipate that he will be able to cut down on time spent trying to communicate items like homework, spelling words, etc. that can easily be put on the blog. I love this because I like seeing technology save people time and create streamlined and efficient ways of doing some of the same things we have always been doing as classroom teachers.

Preparing for the PAT

I am stressed about getting my apathetic students to  write persuasive essays and see the importance of this task. The gap between the students who “get it” and those who don’t is widening by the day and there is not a bridge long enough to connect the two sides. Woodhaven is piloting an Intervention program that is designed to leave no student behind and I hope this will be the answer we are looking for.


When I reflect on some of the things that were shared not only in the Learning Leader sessions but the many other PD sessions I have attended over the years  that have been technology related, I see that a tremendous evolution in teaching and learning has occurred.

When I first started teaching, I recall having every class attending a formal computer class, which was built into the weekly school timetable. It was treated as a separate subject.

What I didn’t see happening was a change in my teaching. As the years have passed, the formal computer class has disappeared. Teaching word processing and the like are almost gone.

So what has happened? Technology (which can mean many things) has morphed into our everyday curriculum. It has become a tool to enhance student learning. I look at all the endless educational opportunities that use technology in some way and it boggles my mind. It’s exciting and transformational. I have come to the realization over time, that I don’t have to use them all, even though there are many possibilities out there.

Where do I go from here? I must keep being open minded to different ideas and opportunities. Keep taking risks and trying new things. What works for one person may not work for the next. That’s O.K. The key is to keep  my eyes and ears open to what my colleagues are sharing from their experiences and you just never know how that might change one’s teaching pedagogy, and in the end challenge students to learn in new and exciting ways.

Social media a modern day tool

I’ve always been intrigue with the debate of whether social media is a distractions and waste of time or a way for people (in particular students and teachers)  to collaborate effectively and productively with each other. Recently I  came across a blog post by Lisa Nielsen titled “Newsflash: Social media is real life.” In her post Lisa argues that social media is not a distraction, but a modern day tool  that can be used to foster, grow and transform learning. That adults and teachers have to compete with mobile devices for attention and the best way to win their attention is to become a partner with them. I especially like this last statement of becoming a partner; often I hear of the battle that teachers are having for attention versus student mobile devices. If students are using social media to engage with one another then teachers should be actively seeking ways to engage with students this way also. Students are more inclined to give you attention if you can relate to them in ways that they find interesting. Instead of battling the social media movement, how about learning something new and adding social media as a tool to your teaching tool kit. As Lisa Nielsen puts it adults need to put aside their misconceptions about social media before they are left behind.


Escaping the Cult of “Busy”

A few months ago, we had a presentation at one of our “early years” staff meetings from our representative for Healthy Schools.  She gave us pamphlets and options for modules and lessons that we could use to teach our kids about being healthy, both emotionally and physically. However, she also said to the staff that the best way to destroy a relationship, or fail to create a relationship with anyone (a student or colleague) was to respond with something along the lines of  “I’m busy right now, can we talk later” when they try to talk to you about something. As I sat with my colleagues at the table in the library we talked about the number of times we have said that. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I have used some sort of saying such as “One second, I’m busy” numerous times both in my personal and my work life. After this presentation, I promised myself that I would make a more conscious effort to remove that from my vocabulary as it truly makes sense that it would destroy a relationship. When I think to how I feel if someone says that to me, the way it comes across is that the person is not interested in hearing what I have to say and I absolutely do not want my students to think that I am not interested in what they have to say.

So when I came across the article “How to Escape the Cult of Busy” ( I couldn’t think of a better article to tweet and reflect on. The part of this article that really stood out for me is the section where the author talks about how saying “I’m busy”, often means something different, essentially you are “engaging in doublespeak”. For me, the other meanings for being busy that would seem to make the most sense when engaging with adults in my personal or work life, not students, are “I’m giving an excuse” because I don’t want to do something, or “I’m afraid” because I am afraid of where the conversation could lead or I am afraid of missing out on other things. My challenge to myself after that staff meeting where I began to make a change was to no longer use the language “I’m busy” if I were doing a million things and a student or someone else wanted to tell me something. I have always had the ability to develop relationships with my students, but this has helped to deepen the relationship. I find myself listening more to my students’ stories and engaging in more meaningful conversation with them about their stories. It is heart warming to see how excited they get when they talk about their dad going to China, or taking their dog for a walk, or even the ice chunk they found outside on their way in from the bus.  Although I always engage in conversations with my students, actually taking the time in the day to step back from my “work” and just take in what they’re saying helps form a whole new relationship.

I can’t remember the last time I used the term, or some form of, “I’m busy”. I encourage everyone else to try to do the same and see the difference it makes when talking to someone and letting go of your “work” or what you think is important at that moment.

The Flipped Classroom

Are teachers becoming obsolete? I don’t think so… we need the classroom to connect and collaborate. I love the idea of a flipped classroom and I think devices and technology play a big part in it. In my mind it means using technology to research and discover the content and knowledge of the curriculum during traditional homework time and then using the classroom time for reflection, discussion. critical thinking tasks and skills based learning activities using the information. The classroom becomes more of the place where the students collaborate and use the knowledge and information.